Despising Talmud: Nazi Readings and Misreadings of Rabbinic Text
Wednesday 22 March 2017
Between 1933 and 1945, German publishing houses produced a voluminous body of both scholarly and propagandistic literature that was designed to vilify and discredit the Talmud. Often sordid or scatological, this material bequeathed to the German-speaking public a disreputable array of supposedly kosher beliefs and opinions. In compiling this literature, the authors made extensive use of earlier anti-Talmudic tracts, but often also engaged in independent research into the Hebrew and Aramaic texts themselves. Some of the individuals responsible for this scholarship were familiar with the original languages of Talmudic composition, while others were misled by their own unfamiliarity with rabbinic literary norms. This presentation showcases the different types of errors (both deliberate and unintentional) that the Nazis made, and notes their contribution to contemporary vilification of the Talmud.
Dr Simon Holloway is an Education Officer at the Sydney Jewish Museum and a sessional lecturer at the University of Sydney, where he teaches Classical Hebrew and Jewish History. Simon holds a PhD from the University of Sydney, for which he investigated the function of metaphors in the Hebrew Bible. His current research concerns the textual transmission of the early rabbinic literature and the use of humour in halakhic texts.