SCHWARZ, PETER (PETRUS NIGER or NIGRI):
German Dominican preacher and anti-Jewish writer of the fifteenth century. According to John Eck ("Verlegung cines Juden-Büchleins," signature H, i.b), Schwarz was a Jewish convert to Christianity; but for this assertion there are no proofs. Having obtained the degree of bachelor in theology, Schwarz turned his attention to the Hebrew language and literature. He studied at different universities, among them that of Salamanca, Spain, in which city he secretly associated with Jewish children and listened to the lectures of the rabbis in order to perfect himself in Hebrew. He then entered the Order of St. Dominic and set himself the task of spreading Christianity among the Jews. To this end he obtained an imperial edict compelling them to attend his sermons. In 1474 he preached in Hebrew, Latin, and German at Frankfort-on-the-Main, Ratisbon, and Worms, challenging the rabbis of each place to a disputation, which they, however, declined. Enraged by this failure, he composed two works vehemently attacking the Jews and the Talmud: one in Latin, which has no special title, being designated as "Tractatus Contra Perfidos Judæos" (Esslingen, 1475); the other in German, bearing the title "Stern Maschiach" (ib. 1477). Later he was invited to direct the Dominican College of Alt-Ofen, Hungary; and he wrote there the "Clypeus Thomistarum" (Venice, 1482).
In the first two of the above-mentioned works Schwarz brought to bear all his scholarship, and at the same time all his spite, against the Jews. He characterized the Talmud as an infamous and deceptive work which no Christian should tolerate and which ought to be burned when found in any country of Christendom. Reuchlin, naturally, declared Schwarz's works absurd ("Augenspiegel," p. 3). Both books are supplied with appendixes containing the Hebrew alphabet, rules for reading Hebrew, some grammatical rules, the Decalogue in Hebrew, etc., and they are among the earliest specimens of printing from Hebrew type in Germany.
- Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, s.v.;
- Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. ii. 17, 1037, 1110 et seq.; iv. 525 et seq.