Reception of Christian Hebrew Studies in Renaissance Poland
Rajmund Pietkiewicz (PWT Wrocław)
Paper given at: Christian Hebrew studies in Central and Eastern Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment conference, held at Wittenberg (2012)
In the first half of the 16th century in West Europe reception of Jewish studies on Hebrew and Aramaic languages took place. It was instigated by humanistic interests in Antiquity and the Reformation comeback to the sources of Christian faith.
Also, in Poland and Lithuania the reception of Hebrew studies took place, which is supported by three widely commented, non-Catholic translations of the whole Hebrew Bible into Polish (the Brest Bible, the Nesvizh Bible and the Danzig Bible), as well as the Catholic Bible in the translation of a Jesuit priest Jakub Wujek, who translated the Bible from Latin Vulgata, while comparing its text with the Hebrew and Greek versions. The edition of four translations of the Scripture, representing different Christian confessions, over several dozens of years would not have been possible without the reception of Christian Hebrew studies in Poland. It is the process of that reception that constitutes the subject matter of the present paper.
The reception of the Christian Hebrew studies in Poland triggers off several questions:
- How did the reception process of the knowledge of Hebrew in Poland happen?
- Were the Christian-Hebrew studies in Poland creative or imitative?
- Did the contacts with the followers of Judaism, who inhabited the territory of Poland in bignumbers, influence Christian Hebrew studies?
- Were the Polish studies of the Hebrew language humanistic or confession-like in character?
- How were the studies of Hebrew organized in Poland?
- What purpose did they serve?
- What was the command of Hebrew language among Polish Hebrew scholars?
- How popular was Hebrew among contemporary society?