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Isidore of Seville: His Attitude Towards Judaism and His Impact on Early Medieval Canon Law

Bat-sheva Albert
The Jewish Quarterly Review
Vol. 80, No. 3/4 (Jan. - Apr., 1990), pp. 207-220
DOI: 10.2307/1454969
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1454969
Page Count: 14
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Isidore of Seville: His Attitude Towards Judaism and His Impact on Early Medieval Canon Law
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Abstract

This study presents a discussion of Isidore of Seville's attitude toward Judaism and the Jews as reflected in his works, and offers a tentative assessment of the impact of this attitude on medieval anti-Jewish legislation as reflected in the anti-Jewish decisions of the Fourth Council of Toledo (633), over which Isidore presided and the decisions of which he redacted. Isidore's views on Judaism and the Jews are stated both in his polemical ("De Fide Catholica") and in his exegetical works ("Allegoriae and Quaestiones in Vetus Testamentum"). They were written for the instruction of the clergy, and anti-Jewish polemic was an important feature of this educational program. Yet the sheer number and vehemence of his anti-Jewish exegeses reveal the extent of Isidore's anti-Jewish attitude: the Jews were the killers of Christ and were therefore condemned to exile and persecution. Jews who persist in their faith should be condemned to servitude and eventually to extermination. Isidore's theological anti-Judaism was translated into practical measures through the legislation of the Fourth Council of Toledo. Although the problem of Isidore's authorship of the Hispana is still unresolved, all citations of the anti-Jewish enactments of this council in the canonical collections of Burchard of Worms, Yvo of Chartres, and Gratian prove his lasting influence. Two Toledan decisions were Isidore's original and harsh contribution: Canon 60, calling for the removal of Jewish children from their families and their education by Christians, and Canon 65, forbidding Jews and Christians of Jewish origin (aut his qui ex iudaeis sunt) to hold public office. Burchard, Yvo, and Gratian retained Canons 59, 60 and 62. Gratian alone retained the original text of the famous Canon 65 and included seven out of ten anti-Jewish provisions of the Fourth Council of Toledo in his Decretum. As the Decretum became almost the only source for previous canonical decisions, it was Gratian who assured Isidore's lasting influence on anti-Jewish legislation.

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