Censorship is the regulation, first decreed by the Church and then carried out either by that institution or by the state, whereby books (both manuscript and printed) were examined for the purpose of ascertaining whether they contained heretical or other objectionable passages. Upon this examination depended the conditions under which a book might be used or printed, or its condemnation. If a book was unconditionally rejected, it was laid under the ban, and all copies that could be found were destroyed. If a book was authorized conditionally, all the words and passages that the authorities found objectionable had to be expunged, being either omitted entirely in works that were about to be printed, or rendered illegible in those that had already been set up. Censorship, however, as regards the books of the Jews, is generally taken to mean only the revision, expurgation, or purification () of the text undertaken in Italy by persons appointed by the Inquisition.

The Words "Censura" and "Censor." A Censored Page from Jacob ben Asher's "Arba 'Ṭurim," Printed by Soncino in 1516.(In the Columbia University Library, New York.)

The word "censura," in the sense of objection to questionable passages, is found from the middle of the fifteenth century. "Censor" was the title of the official appointed by the Church to decide, after examination, whether a book was beyond all revision, and hence would have to be prohibited, or whether it could be revised and allowed to circulate after expurgation. But for the examination of Hebrew books before printing there were no censors, in the exact meaning of the word, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Such censors, employed by the state, are not found before the second half of the eighteenth century, and then not in Italy, the chief seat of censorship, but in the territory of Austria. Since the beginning of the nineteenth century they are met with in Russia also. The description "censor" is not once found added to the signature in the numerous certificates of censorship of Hebrew books that have come down from Italy; but "reviser" ("revedetor," 1557; "reveditor," 1597; "riveditore" and "revisore" in the seventeenth century) is the usual title, and, as an exception, "expurgator" (1627). It would be more correct, therefore, to speak of the "revisers" than of the "censors" of Hebrew books in Italy. The three converts appointed by the bishop of Mantua to revise the Hebrew books are only occasionally (and then incorrectly) designated as "censores," in a document dated Aug. 27, 1595 (printed by Stern, "Urkundliche Beiträge," No. 158). Evidently none of them ever bore the title "censor" or added it to his signature.

No Censorship Proper.

There was no censorship for Hebrew books appointed and authorized by the Church as such. For even after a most careful expurgation the books of the Jews were not to be given such ecclesiastical authority as was conferred upon non-Jewish works when revised and certified by censors. Therefore the persons employed to examine the Hebrew books were not considered by the Church as censors in the full meaning of the word.

The censors (using the term in its common acceptance) proceeded as follows: The Hebrew books were demanded from their Jewish possessors in the name of the Inquisition, and were handed over to the local office. Concealment of books was rigorously punished, not only by seizure of the books and by large fines, but, under certain circumstances, also by imprisonment and by confiscation of property. The books collected were examined by the appointed revisers, who destroyed the interdicted ones, and punished their possessors. The objectionable books were then expurgated and restored to their owners with a certificate of censorship. The Jews had to provide the costs of the censorship; that is, the payment of the revisers. It was forbidden, on pain of heavy punishment, to restore the expurgated words, or to supply the missing passages between the lines or in the margins.

Objectionable Phrases and Passages.

All passages which, in the opinion of the revisers, contradicted the doctrines, regulations, or customs of the Christian Church, or contained blasphemies, heresies, or errors, were condemned. Thus they rendered illegible in Hebrew books any account of Christians and baptized Jews, clericals or heretics, the uncircumcised, Judæophobes, or observers of strange rites (), unless the context showed unmistakably that only the idolatry of antiquity, and not Christianity, could be intended. They also expurgated all references to Judaism as the one true religion in contrast to all the others; all mention of the Messiah to come; any passages of Scripture interpreted apologetically in favor of Judaism, or polemically in an anti-Christian sense; all complimentary epithets (as, for instance, = "pious," "holy") when applied to the Jewish race, to a Jewish community, or to individual Jews, especially to Jewish martyrs (in the Latin edition of Benjamin of Tudela's "Itinerary," expressions like "bonæ, felicis," or "probandæ, memoriæ," etc., following the names of rabbis; "honesti viri," following "Judæi"; "sacra" before "synagoga," etc., are also condemned by the papal index of 1612). The revisers also deleted any reflection on non-Jews and non-Jewish matters, or even a commendation of Jews or Judaism, that could be construed into a reflection on the opposite parties; all expressions like ("wicked kingdom" "sectarian," "Roman," "Edom," "stranger"), that really or apparently referred to Christians and Christianity; all mention of the word ("Talmud") or of the euphemistic phrase ("may his dignity be exalted"; usually applied to rulers), and similar expressions, when appended to the names of non-Christian rulers.

Proceedings in Detail.

The words to be expurgated were scored through more or less heavily with pen and ink, and sometimes were rendered quite illegible by means of crosslines. In consequence of this heavy crossing with acid ink, the paper in the course of time frequently crumbled, as was especially the case with prayer-books, Bible commentaries, and liturgic works, wherein many so-called anti-Christian passages were treated with unusual severity. At the same time, in many other cases, the ink of the expurgator has in the course of centuries gradually faded and revealed the original text. The application of printing-ink, to render the passage completely and permanently illegible, seems to have been an invention of nineteenth-century censorship. Occasionally the objectionable passage was emended, not by being stricken out, but by the addition of one or more words, such as after , "worshipers of the stars and constellations"), in order to exclude any possibility of applying the word to the holy images of the Christians. Sometimes a totally unobjectionable word was substituted for that erased by the reviser: thus, instead of , that might be referred to the Christians, was inserted the word ("Cuthean") or ("Babylonian"); and for , abbreviated into ("strange rite"), which might also mean Christianity, was substituted , abbreviated ("idolatry"). Still, such emendations can hardly have been made by the Christian revisers, on account of the trouble connected therewith; they were probably undertaken by the Jewish owners themselves, either under compulsion or as a precaution. From the end of the sixteenth century, whenever a large part of the text of a folio, of a page, or even of a column was considered objectionable, the reviser, not taking the trouble to strike out the several expressions and passages, preferred to deal summarily by cutting or tearing out the whole folio or a part of it. This explains for example the absence of several folios from the middle (ch. iii., § 25) of Joseph Albo's "'Iḳḳarim" in most of the Italian copies of the first three editions.

Expurgated Page from "Sefer Sha'ar ha-Shamayim," of Gershon ben Solomon, Printed at Venice, 1547.Holograph Approbation of the Censor Vincentius Matelica on Front Cover of "Sefer Sha'ar ha-Shamayim."

In several cases it has been definitely stated that the revisers lightened their work either by correcting only one copy of each book, and using that as a pattern for all the other copies of the same edition, or by employing the so-called "Index Expurgatorius" (), a list of passages to be expunged, prepared either by themselves or other experts.

Censor's Certificate.

When the work of expurgation was finished, a short certificate by the censor, in Latin or in Italian, occasionally in Hebrew, or in Italian and Hebrew, was affixed to the last page of the book, or sometimes to the title-page. The oldest censor's note extant is as follows: "1555 Die 10. dec[em]bris Reuisus per D[ominum] Jac[obu]m Geraldini comiss[arium] ap[ostoli]cum. Cæsar Belliossus Curiæ Ep[iscopa]l[i]s Bonon[iensis] et dicti D[omini] Comiss[arii] not[a]r[ius] uicar[ius]," which may be translated: "Dec. 10, 1555, Jac. Geraldini, apostolic commissioner, revised this book and Cæsar Belliossus, notary (and vicar ?) testified to this by his signature to the bishop of Bologna and to the above mentioned commissioner." There is a similar endorsement of the episcopal notary at Reggio made in 1556 by order of the above-mentioned apostolic and ducal commissioner Geraldini.

The earliest censor's certificates (and even those as late as 1604) were formulated, at the request or with the consent of the ecclesiastical authority, by the notaries or the vicars of the Inquisition, who sometimes added the information that the inquisitor N. N. authorized the book, and that he (the notary or vicar) signed by order or in the place of the former. Toward the end of the sixteenth century, and less often during the seventeenth, the local inquisitor signed alone, sometimes adding a statement to the effect that he had commissioned the reviser N. N. to look through the book. In 1594 a reviser (Hippolitus Ferrarensis of Cremona) testified to the effect that the book revised by him had been passed by the Inquisition with the permission of the vicar N. N. A double signature to the same revision is also often found; as, for example, that of the reviser commissioned by the Inquisition, and below it that of the inquisitor by whom the order was given (end of the sixteenth century, at Turin); or that of the reviser, and below it that of the notary (1600).

Beginning with 1557, censors' certificates of the reviser—who sometimes adds that he has revised the book by order of the inquisitor (1590, 1622; Ancona, 1629) or of the Inquisition (1687)—are found side by side with these censors' certificates signed on the authority of the Inquisition by its officials, which, however, were declared inadmissible by the Roman Curia from the end of the sixteenth century. Sometimes, instead of the signature of the reviser himself, that of another person occurs (1622), with the remark that the revision has been undertaken by order of the appointed corrector, N. N., or that the book has been revised by another in the presence of the signer, by order of the Inquisitor. A curious entry of the year 1566 is found, to the effect that Rabbi Judah ha-Dani revised the book with the permission of the Inquisitor of Alexandria, Vincentio Perera. The books revised at Mantua in 1597 often have the signatures of two revisers, Domenico Hierrosolymitano and Alessandro Scipione. In most cases, however, the expurgation is testified to by one signature only, often containing merely the name of the expurgator, but occasionally other matter, as date, place, the nature of work done (correction, expurgation, revision, seldom approbation), and details of the commission (middle of sixteenth century): Vittorio Eliano, baptized grandson of the famous grammarian Elijah Levita of Venice wrote: "De ordine dei Essecutori contra la Biastema" (by order of the Executive Commission against Blasphemy); others wrote: "1622, by order and in the name of the bishop"; "1623, by the order of Rome"; "1683, by order of the archbishop of Urbino"; "1754, by order of the magister Sacri Palatii." The following protest, written in 1640-41 by the corrector Girolamo da Durallano, in the name of the possessor of the book is an exception: , , probably meaning that expressions of disdain (, probably misspelled for ) have been applied not to Christians, but to idol worshipers. Once, in 1754, in addition to the certificate of the reviser, Peruzzotti, there occurs a warning to the owner of the book (who has affixed his signature thereto), that the restoration of the erased words is forbidden on pain of a fine of 100 scudi.

Renewed Revision.

As the censorship of Hebrew works was never given an authoritative character, the Church refusing any responsibility for conscientious expurgation, books that had once been revised and attested could be again demanded for censorship, either by the Inquisition of another place, or even by the same local Inquisition. Frequently books are found containing five different censors' certificates within half a century; hence it is evident that the certificate of expurgation was by no means equivalent to an ecclesiastical sanction of the expurgated book. The repeated domiciliary visits and revisions of books in the sixteenth century may have been due to the suspicion that some Jews owned prohibited books, such as Talmud treatises. But even after experience had shown how groundless these suspicions were, the authorities did not cease to demand Hebrew books. Even works published with the permission of the authorities ("con licenza dei superiori"), and, hence, examined and sanctioned before printing, had to be produced again and again for purposes of censorship. Furthermore, the conscientiousness of the earlier revisers was sometimes doubted; and they were openly accused of superficiality and negligence in correcting, of unreliability, and even of bribery. It became evident at each new revision that, in spite of the censor's certificate, many books had, either accidentally or intentionally, been left wholly or almost intact: for, on the one hand, much offensive matter had not been expunged; and, on the other, many erased passages had been restored by means of chemicals or had been written in the margin, the severe interdiction notwithstanding. One local inquisition distrusted the other; one inquisitor, his predecessor; all mistrusted the baptized revisers and the Jewish owners. This distrust, increased by repeated denunciations and by the prevailing inclination to harass the Jews, led in Italy to repeated domiciliary visits and to the confiscation or renewed expurgation of Hebrew booksin the old territory of the Pontifical States in 1753 and 1754. This last extensive book-inquisition marked the end of expurgatorial censorship in Italy.

Principles of Censorship.

The rules followed in the expurgation became more and more stringent as time went on. The revisers up to the end of the sixteenth century were much more lenient than those who came after; and the latter, again, were not so rigorous as the revisers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A list of the general rules to be observed in expurgating Hebrew books is found in the preface to the , of which (as now known) only five copies are extant in manuscript. This book, written in Hebrew, is an "Index Expurgatorius" for several hundred Hebrew books, and was begun in 1594 by an anonymous Capuchin. It was finished in 1596 by Domenico Hierosolymitano, who made additions, bringing it down to 1612. Finally it was further enlarged in 1626 by the reviser Renato da Modena. It was not used, however, until the seventeenth century. Although theoretically there was a definite agreement as to the methods to be followed in expurgating a book, practically the revisers acted most arbitrarily; so that frequently different copies of the same book were severely scored by one censor and hardly touched by another. No similarity of treatment was observed even by the same censor. At one time he would be severe, at another lenient; at one time thorough, and at another lax. Chance and bribery also came into play. As the revisers were paid by the Jews, and were mostly poor converts to whom money was a consideration, the Jews bought their good-will in order to save the books from being mutilated; hence the revisers were often bribed to certify to the expurgation, though the books had hardly been touched.

Ignorant Censorship.

Numerous blunders were made by the generally ignorant censors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The following striking examples, unlike the fictitious illustrations which, given first in the "Literaturblatt des Orients" (v. 548, vii. 251), have been widely copied, are genuine and attested. Laurentius Franguellus (1575) strikes out the word ("knowledge," not "Talmud") in the prayer "Let us heed all the knowledge of Thy law," ; the verse of the Psalm ; and similar Biblical passages, in which occurs, as though these passages referred to Christianity. Luigi of Bologna (1602) deletes the words in the book (ed. Venice, 1545, § 86), where the cutting of the hair is referred to. Hence he read and took it to mean a cleric (). In the book (ed. Venice, 1546) the same censor strikes out the first words in , ("He who bathes while he holds an insect in his hand,") which he here connected with Christian baptism. Giovanni Domenico Vistorini (1609) deletes the Biblical passage in the book (Venice, 1547, fol. 10). In Abraham ibn Ezra's preface to his Pentateuch commentary the words are stricken out by several expurgators, who evidently took them to refer to the Messiah, to Jesus, and to all Christians, while, in reality, two Karaite commentators, Mashiaḥ and Jeshua, and similar sectaries, are meant.

The extent of the work of a busy censor may be estimated from a manuscript notice of Domenico Hierrosolymitano, probably of the year 1612 (in Porges copy of "Sefer ha-Ziḳḳuḳ"), which states that he had expurgated 21,167 (read "22,167") printed books, 4,311 manuscripts, and 2,533 books, partly printed and partly in manuscript; a total of 29,011 works.

History of Expurgation.

The first notice of Jews having been forced to expurgate alleged blasphemies against Christianity dates from the middle of the thirteenth century. On Aug. 19, 1263, King Jacob of Aragon ordered all the Jews within his domain to delete within three months all the so-called objectionable passages found in their books either by themselves or by Paul of Burgos. Failure to obey the command would entail the destruction of the books and a heavy fine. Books of the fifteenth century also show many omissions in the text, gaps not filled in, and textual emendations, which are due either to previously expurgated manuscript copies or to Jewish expurgation made before printing. In 1426 the Jews of Savoy expunged from their Talmud copies and prayer-books passages pointed out as objectionable by the Inquisition. In the second half of the fifteenth century the Jews in the duchy of Milan expurgated their prayer-books in order to anticipate the denunciations of the apostate Vicenzo. When compared with earlier editions, printed books of the first half of the sixteenth century also show many omissions, indicating a Jewish anticipatory expurgation; but whether this was undertaken from fear or by order of the authorities is not certain.

Eight mouths after the Talmud was publicly burned at Rome (Sept. 9, 1553), a papal bull (May 29, 1554) commanded the Jews, on pain of heavy punishment, to give up within four months all books containing alleged blasphemies or vituperations against Jesus; but they were allowed to retain other Hebrew books that contained no objectionable passages. Hereby expurgation of all Hebrew books was naturally assumed without being expressly demanded. An ecclesiastical decision from Rome, given through the "Essecutori contra la Biastema" in Venice toward the end of 1553, declared, in answer to the question which Talmudic books apart from the Talmud proper should be burned, that the non-Talmudic books should be revised by Christians who knew Hebrew.

The first one officially appointed for this work was the baptized Jew Jacob Geraldino (Geraldini), proposed by the Jews themselves and made apostolic commissioner by the pope in 1555. In 1556 he was appointed ducal commissioner by the duke of Modena. Another convert, Andrea de Monte, appointed not by the pope, but at the request of the Jews, was soon associated with him. Their work was merely superficial; and it gave subsequent censorial authorities much cause for complaint. Probably, in order to lighten the work of the expurgators, the rabbi Abraham Provenzale of Mantua began (1555) a list of passages to be expurgated, but did notget beyond thirty books, mostly Bible commentaries.

In order to anticipate the censorship by correcting the texts before printing, the printing establishment founded at Cremona in 1556 engaged as reviser Vittorio Eliano, a baptized grandson of the grammarian Elijah Levita. The Jews were so glad to save their non-Talmudic books from expurgation, that they willingly made great pecuniary sacrifices in order to soften the severity of the expurgators. There was a tendency in the Roman Inquisition, however, to restrict as much as possible the number of books permitted to be expurgated. When, in 1559, the first papal index of prohibited books appeared—which included the Talmud with all its compendiums, glosses, notes, interpretations, and expositions—the vicars of the Inquisition at Cremona (Sixtus of Siena and Hieronymus of Vercelli) endeavored to give to it the widest possible interpretation. On complaint of the Jews of the duchy of Milan, however—to which Cremona at that time belonged—most of the non-Talmudic books were restored, although grudgingly. The two above-mentioned vicars demanded a high price for the revision of the returned books, made either by themselves or by others, and in addressing the duke the Jews could unhesitatingly say that the two revisers had cared more for the money than for the expurgation.

The index of Pius IV. of Trent, which appeared March 24, 1564, permitted the Jews to use Hebrew and even Talmudic books, provided they were printed without the word "Talmud," and were purged from vituperations against the Christian religion. The expurgation of Hebrew books, thus expressly declared admissible, was henceforth regularly undertaken before printing, either by the Jews themselves or by Christian correctors; and this accounts for the more or less mutilated state of reprints since the middle of the sixteenth century.

Although the expurgation of Hebrew books and manuscripts was undertaken about 1560-74 in accordance with instructions of the Inquisition, it was certified to neither by the signatures of the Inquisition nor by those of the expurgators. There is a single certificate (1566) that the rabbi "Jhehodah" of the tribe of "Dan" expurgated a book by permission of the Inquisition. As late as 1589-90 it must have been customary in Mantua not to sign censors' certificates; for not a single signature by Alessandro Scipione is extant from this period, although in 1589-90 he corrected and revised all the Hebrew books in that city. The statement in Neubauer's "Catalogue of Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library" (Index, "Censors"), that Laurentius "Franquella" signed censors' certificates as early as 1571, seems to be due to an error in reading the date; the signature of Laurentius Franguellus, who was one of the busiest revisers of whom there is record, is not found before Nov. 1574.

In 1571 the first papal Index Expurgatorius for non-Jewish books appeared. For Hebrew books busy expurgators doubtless used a similar index, as it would have been a waste of time to correct every book afresh page by page. None of these Hebrew indices, however, not even the "Sefer ha-Ziḳḳuḳ," already mentioned, received the authorization or ecclesiastical sanction granted to the Index Expurgatorius for non-Hebrew books. For, although the Church declared the expurgation of Hebrew books indispensable, neither the Roman Congregation of the Index, existing since 1571, nor the Congregatio Sancti Officii of Rome, founded 1588, nor any pope would vouch for the correctness of the expurgation undertaken by the Christian revisers, who were generally of Jewish origin; nor would they confer upon the purified texts the approbation of the Church. Furthermore, the opinions of the Church in regard to the admissibility and value of the expurgation of Hebrew books were continually changing, not only with successive incumbents of the papal chair, but at times even with one and the same pope.

Vacillation in Censorship.

By permission of Pope Gregory XIII. the censored (mutilated) edition of the Babylonian Talmud appeared at Basel in 1578-81 with many of its passages changed beyond recognition, a scandalous instance of Roman censorship. But even this "purified" Talmud did not receive ecclesiastical approbation, but was merely tolerated. In the third quarter of the sixteenth and in the first half of the seventeenth century extraordinarily large numbers of Hebrew books were expurgated. Notwithstanding the many annoyances and the heavy expenses connected therewith, the Jews were glad to be able to save their books from destruction, and to be protected against the punishment attendant upon the use of non-expurgated books.

Papal Inconsistency.

The customary inconsistency of the papal court was now again shown in the continual wavering between leniency and rigor. At the instance of the Jews, who shrank from no trouble and no sacrifices, Pope Sixtus V., in 1540, ordered a renewed expurgation of the Talmud by the Index commission, and the rules to be followed were formulated; but the year after Sixtus' death the Roman Inquisition wrote that the expurgation of the Talmud was a ridiculous and useless work. In 1592 the Inquisition repeatedly declared, in accordance with the wishes of Pope Clement VIII., that the Jews had no right to keep any Hebrew books except the Bible and grammars. A year later, however, a bull of the same pope limited the prohibition to a few Talmudic and cabalistic books, together with some other Hebrew books and manuscripts—already condemned by his predecessor—which could not be permitted, even under the pretext that they had been expurgated. A papal writ of April 17, 1593, allowed the Jews six weeks in which to expurgate other books that had not been expressly forbidden. The bishops and local inquisitors, confused by these contradictions, waverings, and changes of the chief authority, treated the books of the Jews according to their own personal likes or dislikes, rather than in accordance with the severe or lenient injunctions from Rome. As early as 1591, and more frequently since then, inquisitors were censured and threatened because they had participated in the expurgation of Hebrew books, and had affixed their signatures to them.

In 1588 various Jewish communities vainly urged the Roman Inquisition to depute an expurgator to purify their books from heresies and errors. The Inquisition continued to insist that it was the duty of the Church not to engage in any way in expurgating Hebrew books, but merely to punish those Jews found in possession of uncensored or insufficiently expurgated ones. Thus, the Jews of Mantua, who at their own expense had their books revised by the convert Alessandro Scipione (1589-90), could not obtain a signed official certificate of the revision. It was not until 1595 that the Jews of that city prevailed upon the bishop to appoint as censors of Hebrew books the three converts, Laurentius Franguellus, Domenico Hierosolymitano, and Alessandro Scipione. All the Hebrew books of Mantua were again expurgated en masse; and the completed revision was certified to at the end of each book by the signature of one or two revisers. In the same way the Roman inquisitional tribunal, contrary to former ordinances, decreed in 1598 that Hebrew books, in so far as they were not among the prohibited ones, should be left to the local inquisition for correction; but in 1602 the Roman Inquisition ordered the local inquisitions to have nothing to do with the expurgation of Hebrew books. Nevertheless many censors' certificates of the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth show that the local inquisitions often disregarded this decree of their superiors, and were repeatedly reprimanded therefor by the Holy Office.

Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

The series of contradictions from Rome is repeated in the seventeenth century. Notwithstanding the strict prohibitions renewed from time to time, Hebrew books were expurgated not only by Christian revisers, but also by those appointed and authorized by the Church; as, for instance, in 1608, when Pietro Ferdinando signs himself "Revisore deputato." In 1618 Giovanni Domenico Carretto was appointed corrector for one year by the inquisitor-general of Mantua. Pope Gregory XV. (1621-23), unlike his predecessors, doubtless approved the censorship of Hebrew books by Christians; for during his incumbency of the papal chair at least three expurgators of Hebrew books were appointed by the Roman Inquisition: Vincentius Matelica, 1622, "auctoritate apostolica"; Isaia di Roma, 1623, "per ordine di Roma"; and Petrus de Trevio, 1623, "deputatus" (officially appointed to revise books). After the death of Gregory XV. more stringent rules in regard to books seem to have been adopted by Rome, probably at the instigation of the fanatic cardinal Carlo Borromeo. In 1625 it was again decreed that the Jews themselves should expurgate their books; but in the following year Renato da Modena was appointed expurgator by the Inquisition of that city.

Russian Censor's Marks on the Title-Page of the Manuscript of A. B. Dobsevage's "Lo Dubbim Welo Ya'ar."

In 1641 the work of expurgation was relaxed in Italy. The old Hebrew books and manuscripts had been repeatedly expurgated; the newly printed books were by a rigorous censorship purified of all objectionable matter before publication, and after that were generally again examined by expurgators. Yet the monk Antonio Francisco Enriquez, appointed by the archbishop of Urbino, was still busily employed as expurgator (1683-88).

In the eighteenth century, after an interval of more than sixty years, the work of revision was resumed with renewed zeal throughout the papal dominions, by Giovanni Antonio Costanzi, actively assisted by Philipo Peruzzotti (1753-54). Costanzi was scriptor in the library of the Vatican, and the author of the large catalogue of its Hebrew manuscripts that appeared in 1756 under Assemani's name. During the interval of rest, the Jews had undone the work of the censors by restoring the expunged or omitted passages. Though this was a dangerous thing to do, punishable not only by confiscation and large fines, but also by long imprisonment, as in the case of Rabbi Solomon Abi'ad Basila in Mantua, 1733, yet the Jews could not resist the temptation. They were suddenly dumbfounded when, at the instigation of Costanzi, searching domiciliary visits in quest of Hebrew books were made in all the ghettos of the pontifical states. The Hebrew books, without exception, were collected and divided into three classes: (1) those permitted without reserve, which were immediately returned; (2) those permitted conditionally, returned after having been revised and paid for; and (3) those absolutely unrevisable, which were confiscated. Whenever several copies of the same book had to be revised, the reviser corrected merely one copy, which he signed; the Jews were then obliged to correct all other copies by this one, and to bring them to the reviser for his signature.

After the arduous work of revision had been completed an edict was issued, in 1755, for the Pontifical States, either prohibiting Hebrew books entirely or permitting them under certain restrictions. Costanzi planned to formulate exact rules for the censorship of such works; endeavoring also to work out an Index Expurgatorius for Jewish books, similar to that first made by the Spanish Inquisition for non-Jewish books. His trouble was in vain; and his book, which, according to the opinion of the celebrated Assemani, was arranged with signal clearness and knowledge of the subject, is now buried in the library of the Vatican. Outside of Italy the expurgation of Hebrew books and manuscripts was undertaken only in the French territory belonging to the Pontifical States. For the censorship of Hebrew books in Russia and for a list of censors see below.

  • Zunz, in Hebr. Bibl. ii. 42 et seq.;
  • Mortara and Steinschneider, in Hebr. Bibl. v. 72 et seq., 96 et seq., 125 et seq.;
  • F. H. Reusch, Der Index der Verbotenen Bücher, 2 vols., Bonn, 1883-85;
  • idem, Indices Librorum Prohibitorum, Tübingen, 1886;
  • A. Berliner, Censur und Confiscation, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1891;
  • M. Stern, Urkundliche Beiträge, Kiel, 1893;
  • Sacerdote, in Rev. Etudes Juives, xxx. 257 et seq.;
  • W. Popper, Censorship of Hebrew Books, New York, 1899.
G. N. P.Beginning of Censorship. —In Russia:

Jews at once took advantage of the ukase of Catherine II., dated Jan. 27, 1783, permitting the establishment of printing-presses; and in the same year Hebrew books were published at Shklov and Polonnoe. These, as well as books imported from Poland (on account of there being no Hebrew censors among the censors of foreign books at the custom-houses, or among the censors of domestic printed matter in the chief towns), escaped the notice of the government. The attention of the authorities was first drawn by Governor-General Passek to the condition of affairs with regard to Hebrew books. This official reported in 1790 that he had ordered some Jewish books, imported from Poland, to be detained at the custom-house of Tolochin; holding the silence of the fiscal laws with regard to Hebrew books to be a prohibition against their admission into Russia—contrary to the dictum of the "ḳahal" (communal council) of Mohilev, which claimed that such silence implied only the non-taxation of Hebrew books. Catherine thereupon prohibited the importation of Hebrew books, stating that the Jews could obtain their supplies of religious literature from the Russian printing-offices.

At Riga.

For six years (1790-96) this prohibition was the subject of frequent complaints on the part of the Jews, who were compelled to have recourse to smuggling, the small and inadequate Russian printing-offices being unable to produce the large numbers of books needed. In 1796 the government legalized the importation of Hebrew books, having been compelled to do so in consequence of the ukase of Sept. 28 of that year, by which the liberty to establish printing-offices in Russia was withdrawn. Special censors, well versed in the Hebrew language, now became a necessity. On Oct. 17, 1796, Paul I. issued a ukase ordering the installation of two learned Jews in the censor's office at Riga, for the purpose of examining Hebrew books, both those published in Russia and those imported. The "two learned Jews" were found by Governor Richter of Livonia in the persons of Moses Hezekiel (or Hekiel) and Ezekiel David Lewy, both of Riga, who, after having been sworn (Jan. 1, 1798), entered upon their duties as subordinates of the Gentile censor at Riga, at a salary of 300 rubles a year. The first Jewish censor with full powers was Leon Elkan, a Prussian Jew, who, being well recommended to the authorities, was appointed Jewish censor at Riga at a salary of 600 rubles a year.

At Wilna.

The Jewish communities soon felt the scarcity of sacred books, due first to the interference of the government with private enterprise in the printing industry, and secondly to the forced import of Hebrew books through one channel; namely, through Riga. Jewish merchants complained to the local officials, and petitioned the higher authorities at St. Petersburg. The censors at Radzivil also petitioned the attorney-general to increase the number of Jewish censors, on the ground that in the governments of Volhynia, Podolsk, and Minsk there were many Jews who needed Hebrew books "both for prayer and for the education of their children in the Law and Faith." The request was refused, the government considering one Jewish censor sufficient for theneeds of all the Russian Jews. It was not until 1798 that a censor's office was established at Wilna, Karl Tile of Leipsic being appointed censor for Hebrew books in that year. The new office did not, however, commence operations until March 14, 1800; and in the mean while the censorship of Hebrew books, of either foreign or native production, continued to be exercised in Riga, whither the Jewish printing-houses of Grodno, Shklov, Slavuta, Koretz, and Novodvor had to send their works for approbation.


It is interesting to note that the first book to puzzle the official censor as to its being in accord with the designs of the government was an ordinary prayer-book, entitled "Rosh Ḥodesh Siddurim." The most doubtful passages were found in the "Eighteen Benedictions," in "Taḥnun," and in the Sabbatic poem "Iklu Mashmannim": the passages in the first two containing hints about tyrants and the land of exile; while the last was considered immoral on account of its exhortations to feasting and drinking. Censor Elkan did not recommend the burning of the prayer-book; but he advised that the page containing "Iklu Mashmannim" be torn out, and in the other cases that the obnoxious words be obliterated. Of other books that were condemned by the censor the first to fall under the ban was the "Ḥizzuḳ Emunah," written at the end of the sixteenth century by Isaac ben Abraham Troki. In March, 1799, the entire edition of "Niẓẓaḥon," by Lipman Mülhausen, was confiscated, on the ground that it was written as a refutation of the Christian religion. In 1800 the historical work of Joseph ha-Kohen, "Dibre ha-Yamim le-Malke Ẓarfat," was prohibited because it contained passages disrespectful to Christians and the Christian religion. The same fate befell the "Teḥinnot Immahot," because the prayers for the New Moon contained allusions to cruel potentates calculated to breed hatred. The history of the Cossack persecutions under Chmielnicki, entitled "Yawen Meẓulah," was prohibited, because of the name applied to Russians, and on the further ground that the reading of the book might prejudice the Jews against the natural-born subjects of the czar. The "Or ha-Ḥayyim," by Ya'abeẓ, was prohibited because of one passage stating that God in heaven, unlike the czars on earth, is not influenced by the high social standing of the sinner. Other books, notably "Babe Ma'aseh" and "Imre Yosef," were prohibited on account of alleged coarse or profane expressions in the text.

By the ukase of April 30, 1800, the importation of books in any language was prohibited till further notice, and the Hebrew censors at Riga were dismissed. During the 28 months of their activity in office 126 books were confiscated out of a total of 6,225 which were imported.

With the accession of Alexander I. the importation of books was once more legalized, the censorship being entrusted to the civil governors. This arrangement did not last; and in 1804 a committee of censors was reestablished in every Russian university.

Reduced Facsimile of a Censored Page of The Jewish Encyclopedia.Nicholas I. to Alexander III.

During the reign of Nicholas I. the censorship of Hebrew books was entrusted to the official rabbis, who, partly through ignorance and partly from fear of the government, showed themselves particularly severe. Under Alexander II. Jewish publications shared with Russian literature a liberal interpretation of the law with regard to censorship. Since the reign of Alexander III. Russian, and especially Hebrew, literature has suffered much fromthe severity of the censors. Thus, by order of the censor-in-chief at St. Petersburg, the press was forbidden to publish any news concerning the anti-Jewish riots. Other orders (May 2, 1882; Nov. 19, 1890; June 19 and July 12, 1891) forbade the Jewish periodicals (either in Russian or in Hebrew) to comment editorially upon, or to print any matter concerning, the "new, widely circulating rumors that some persons have the senseless and insolent intention to protest against a so-styled oppression of the Jews." Several Jewish papers were temporarily stopped; and those published abroad were not admitted into Russia. By a circular issued from the chief office of the censor Aug. 13, 1891, the publication of appeals for aid for Jewish emigrants, as well as the collection of subscriptions in their behalf, was forbidden.

The activity of the censor still continues in Russia, being exercised as late as 1901 on the first volume of the Jewish Encyclopedia, in which a passage relating to Alexander III. was blotted out in copies admitted into the czar's dominions.

  • Skabichevski, Ocherki Istorii Russkoi Tzenzury, St. Petersburg, 1892;
  • U. D. Hessen, K Istorii Tzenzury Yevreiskikh Knig v Rossii, in Buduzhchnost, ii. 1901;
  • N. A. Engelgart, Ocherki Nikolayevskoi Tzenzury, in Istoricheski Vyestnik, 1901;
  • anonymous author, Materialy dlya Kharakteristiki Polozhenia Russkoi Pechati, Geneva, 1898;
  • anonymous author, Samoderzhavie i Pechat, Berlin, 1898.
H. R.M. Z.List of Censors:

The following list of censors may be found useful in dating books and manuscripts. For Italy, the main source is Popper, with additions from Steinschneider and Neubauer. For Austria it is difficult to give more than a few selected names.

  • Fischer, K., Prague, 1791-1831.
  • Gall, Joannes, 1710, Prague.
  • Georgieco, Thomas, 1710, Prague.
  • Harzfeld, Löb, Vienna.
  • Haselbauer Franciscus, 1710, Prague.
  • Kohlmen, J. C., 1837, Budapest.
  • Tirsch, Leopold, Prague, 1786.
  • Alessandro Scipione, 1593-99, Mantua.
  • Alexander Longus, 1590, Monreale.
  • Alexandro Cari, 1559.
  • Alonis Morionello, 1590 or 1620 (?).
  • Andrea Alberti.
  • Andrea de Monte, 1557, Rome.
  • Andrea Tassini, 1753, Pesaro.
  • Andreas Scribarius (Notarius), 1600, Pesaro (?).
  • Angelo Gabulozzi, 1753, Lugo.
  • Anselmo Pinapellarius (Notarius).
  • Antonio Francisco Enriquez, 1687, Urbino.
  • Antonio di Medicis, 1628-29, Florence.
  • Bartolomeo Ghislieri (Vicar), 1600.
  • Bartolomeo Rocca di Praterino, Turin (?).
  • Benaja, 1590.
  • Boncampagno Marcellino.
  • Boniforte del Asina, 1582, Asti (?).
  • Cæsar Belliosus, 1553-55, Papal.
  • Camillo Jagel, 1611-21, Ancona, Urbino, Lugo.
  • Carlo Barromeo, after 1593, Rome.
  • Clemente Carretto.
  • Clemente Renato.
  • Dionysius Sturlatus, 1589, Monreale.
  • Domenico Hierosolymitano, 1578-1618, Mantua, Venice.
  • Domenico Martinez (Berliner, "Censur," p. 10).
  • Ferdinando Bonetti, 1567, Milan.
  • Giovanni Antonio Costanzi, 1753, Rome, Ancona.
  • Giovanni Domenico Carretto, 1607-28, Mantua Venice (?).
  • Giovanni Domenico Vistorini, 1609-20.
  • Giovanni Monni di Modena.
  • Girolamo da Durallano, 1641, Modena, Reggio.
  • Guido Venturini, 1753, Ferrara.
  • Hieronymus Carolus, 1582.
  • Hippolito, 1601-21.
  • Hippolitus Ferr(is) or Ferr(eno), 1601. Cremona, 1593-1621.
  • Huesas (?), Parma.
  • Isaia de Roma, 1623, Mantua.
  • Jacob Geraldino, 1555-56, Papal State, Ferrara.
  • Jacobus Gentiline, 1555.
  • Jacobus Pola, 1554.
  • Joseph Ciantes (Berliner, l.c. p. 10) = J. Cionti, 1639-6141, Rome.
  • Jos. Parius (?), 1604 (?), Carpi (?).
  • Joshua dei Cantori, 1559, Cremona.
  • Laurentius Franguellus, 1570-1579, Mantua.
  • Leo, 1567.
  • Luigi da Bologna, 1596-1606, Mantua, Modena, Ancona, Reggio.
  • Marcellino (Berliner, i.c.p.10).
  • Marcus Antonius Lucius, 1557, Milan.
  • Mesnil, 1763.
  • Michel de Montaigne, after 1581 (Vogelstein and Rieger, "Gesch. der Juden in Rom," ii. 173.
  • Nicolas de Sorzone, 1602.
  • Parcicciani, 1753, Urbino.
  • Paul Turin.
  • Paulus Barengarias.
  • Petrus de Trevio, 1623, Rome.
  • Philipo Peruzzotti, 1753, Lugo.
  • Pietro de Fiones, 1619.
  • Pietro Ferdinando, 1608. Mantua (?).
  • Pietro Martire, 1687.
  • Prospero Ruggieri, 1669.
  • Renato da Modena, 1620-26 (? = R. de Bologna).
  • Rossi, 1753, Sinigaglia.
  • Tomasso Rufini, 1753, Ferrara.
  • Vincentius Matelica, 1622.
  • Vincento Suppa.
  • Vincento Renato.
  • Vittorio Caro (Berliner, l.c. p. 32).
  • Vittorio Eliano, 1557-67, Cremona, Venice.
  • Zomegnius (?) 1589, Turin.
  • Abraham Aba Karasik (d.1897), assistant. Kiev.
  • Baratz, Kiev.
  • Brafmann, St. Petersburg.
  • Elkan, J. L., Riga.
  • Feodoro Vladimir (Greenberg), Kiev, Warsaw.
  • Friedberg, A.S., 1889, Warsaw.
  • Greidinger, J. C. (general), Riga.
  • Hezekiel, Moses, Riga.
  • Landau. I., St. Petersburg.
  • Lewy, E. D., 1799, Riga.
  • Margolin, P., St. Petersburg.
  • Sachs, N. G., Warsaw.
  • Seiberling, Joseph (for 15 years), 1850.
  • Slonimski, H. S.
  • Steinberg, J., Wilna.
  • Stern, A. J., 1835, Warsaw.
  • Sussmann, St. Petersburg.
  • Tile, Karl, 1798, Wilna.
  • Tugendhold, J., 1791-1871, Warsaw.
  • Tugenhold, Wolf, Wilna.
  • Warschavsky, Isaac, 1894, Odessa.
  • Wohl, A., Wilna. Zimmermann, 1863-85, Warsaw.

For an additional list of Russian censors see Russia.

E. C.J.