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Dying in the Law of Moses

Crypto-Jewish Martyrdom in the Iberian World

Miriam Bodian

Publication Year: 2007

Miriam Bodian's study of crypto-Jewish martyrdom in Iberian lands depicts a new type of martyr that emerged in the late 16th century -- a defiant, educated judaizing martyr who engaged in disputes with inquisitors. By examining closely the Inquisition dossiers of four men who were tried in the Iberian peninsula or Spanish America and who developed judaizing theologies that drew from currents of Reformation thinking that emphasized the authority of Scripture and the religious autonomy of individual interpreters of Scripture, Miriam Bodian reveals unexpected connections between Reformation thought and historic crypto-Judaism. The complex personalities of the martyrs, acting in response to psychic and situational pressures, emerge vividly from this absorbing book.

Published by: Indiana University Press

List of Illustrations and Maps

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pp. ix-

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Preface

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pp. xi-

This book explores the careers of a handful of men who were tried by the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions, who became celebrated martyrs among some of their Jewish contemporaries. It will examine what drove them to choose a path of martyrdom, and how they both improvised and drew on established patterns as they asserted and reaffirmed their...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-

To examine the sources that provided the raw material for this book, I have had recourse to a number of institutions, and invariably benefited from the expertise of their well-trained staffs: the Bodleian Library at Oxford University; the Archivo Hist

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xvii-

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1. The Historical Setting

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pp. 1-22

Famous acts of martyrdom involve conviction. But they also entail a power struggle. Martyrs ‘‘triumph’’ over their persecutors by refusing to renounce their beliefs under threat of death. Such acts diminish the persecutor and galvanize fellow victims of persecution. This, in essence, is the dynamic of martyrdom, stripped of all the particularities that give the martyr’s act...

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2. The Dogmatista Crypto-Jewish Martyrs

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pp. 23-46

The dogmatista martyrs who are the focus of this book emerged only in the late sixteenth century. For them, the Inquisition—whether Spanish or Portuguese— was a familiar and ubiquitous presence. Few of their contemporaries (if any) remembered a time when it was otherwise. In other ways, too, these men were conditioned by circumstances that were radically...

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3. A Conquistador's Nephew in New Spain

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pp. 47-78

Luis Rodríguez de Carvajal was born in 1566 in Benavente, a town in Castile near the Portuguese border.¹ Both of his parents were New Christians with some ancestral roots in Portugal. The family moved to Medina del Campo in 1577, where Carvajal’s father engaged in retail trade to support his growing family. Luis was the fifth of eight children at the time; a ninth would...

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4. A Monk of Castanheira

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pp. 79-116

Three years after Carvajal was burned at the stake, a young Capuchin monk in Portugal, Diogo d’Asumpção, was seized by the Inquisition.¹ This curious and tormented figure had little if any Jewish ancestry. He was born in the port town of Caminha, near the mouth of the Minho River in northern Portugal, where his father was a customs inspector.² Frei Diogo had fled...

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5. A Converso Surgeon in the Viceroyalty of Peru

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pp. 117-152

In 1639, more than a generation after Frei Diogo d’Asumpção’s death, the converso physician Francisco Maldonado de Silva was burned alive in Lima as an impenitent judaizer. During his twelve years in prison, he engaged in lengthy disputations with theologians summoned by the Inquisition. His dramatic career made a great impression on the ex-converso...

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6. A Hebrew Scholar at the University of Salamanca

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pp. 153-177

In 1644, a hidalgo named Lope de Vera y Alarc

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7. Echoes in the Portuguese-Jewish Diaspora

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pp. 178-196

The celebrated dogmatista martyrs’ resistance to the Church was shaped, in part, by an awareness of Christian religious dissent in early modern Europe. It drew strength from the insistence of Protestants that it was wrong to withhold knowledge of sacred texts in the name of ecclesiastical authority, and that indeed Scripture was the very font of religious...

Appendix A: Commemoration of Individual Martyrs in the Literature of the Portuguese-Jewish Diaspora, to 1683

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pp. 197-198

Appendix B: Summary of Luis Carvajal’s Nine Reasons for Adhering to the Law of Moses, Audience of February 15, 1595, PLC, 235-238

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pp. 199-200

Glossary

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pp. 201-202

Notes

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pp. 203-252

Bibliography

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pp. 253-268

Index

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pp. 269-278


E-ISBN-13: 9780253116918
E-ISBN-10: 0253116910
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253348616

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 15 b&w photos, 4 figures
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: The Modern Jewish Experience