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DOMINICANS, Roman Catholic religious order, whose official name is Ordo Fratrum Praedicatorum, the Order of Friar Preachers. Often referred to as "Jacobins," after their Saint-Jacques Monastery in Paris, they were also popularly known as domini canes, "the [watch-] dogs of the Lord" because of their leading role in the *Inquisition. Founded by Saint Dominic and sanctioned by Pope Honorius III in 1216, the order's first mission was preaching against Christian heresies in the south of France. From 1232, the Dominicans (along with the *Franciscans) were also in charge of the Inquisition, which was initially an institution directed only against the Christian heresies of the *Albigenses and the Waldenses. Because of their duties in these and other spheres, the activity of the Dominicans soon became largely directed against the Jews.

When Popes Gregory X in 1274 and Nicholas IV in 1288 and 1290 reissued the Turbato corde bull of Clement IV (1267), which had likened to heretics those converted Jews who had later returned to Judaism together with those who had assisted them in the process (see Papal *bulls), they entrusted the Dominican and Franciscan inquisitors with the prosecution of such persons. The Dominicans proceeded with these prosecutions in southern France from the close of the 13th century. In his Practica inquisitionis, an Inquisition textbook written in about 1323, the Dominican Bernard Guy, inquisitor in Toulouse, inserted lengthy passages dealing with the Jews. The interrogatory model which he proposes was above all intended to uncover the accomplices of the converted Jews who had reverted to Judaism. Without any doubt, the cruelest role in the imposition of Inquisition policies against converted Jews was played by the Dominican Tomás de *Torquemada, inquisitor-general in Spain until his death in 1498.

The Dominicans also played a predominant role in the proceedings against the Talmud (see Burning of *Talmud) and the *censorship of other Jewish books following the denunciation by Nicholas *Donin in 1239; after the confiscation of March 3, 1240, these books were collected by the Dominicans (as well as by the Franciscans). When at this point one bishop came to the defense of the Jews, the Dominican Thomas de Cantimpré accused him of having been corrupted by the Jews. Both in order to be able to understand such books themselves, and also to be the better prepared for their spoken and written missionary activities among the Jews, the Dominicans introduced the study of Hebrew from the middle of the 13th century, a development in which the Spanish Dominican *Raymond de Peñaforte played an important part. Raymond *Martini, another Spanish Dominican, held a chair in Hebrew until his death (shortly after 1284), but at first it was mainly converted Jews who directed these studies. At the Council of Vienna in 1312, the Spanish Dominican Raymond Lully elicited a general decision calling for the teaching of languages (Hebrew and Arabic) for missionary activities. However, after the meeting of their general chapter in Rome in 1571, the Dominican attitude toward the teaching of Hebrew grew more reserved. On the insistence of the apostate Pablo *Christiani and Raymond de Peñaforte, the compulsory attendance of the Jews at Dominican missionary sermons was decreed in 1263 (see also *Sermons to Jews). In 1278, Pope Nicholas III ordered the grand master of the Dominicans to make such sermons and their compulsory attendance general practice. The Dominicans obtained the consent of Edward I of England for the introduction of such sermons in 1279; and subsequently many Dominicans, especially Vicente *Ferrer, and Peter *Schwarz, made widespread use of forced sermons to the Jews. The Dominicans were also in the forefront in organizing public *disputations, beginning with the one in *Paris in 1240, to which the Jews were compelled to send delegates. The disputation of *Barcelona in 1263 was convened on the initiative of Raymond de Peñaforte and Pablo Christiani.

Anti-Jewish polemics occupy an important place in Dominican writings. Raymond Martini drew up the Capistrum Judaeorum and the Pugio fidei christianae (Paris 1621, 1651; Leipzig, 1687), written in both Hebrew and Latin. Pierre de Janua, Martini's assistant, who was also well versed in Hebrew, wrote an Opus adversus Judaeorum errores accuratum. Alfonsus *Bonihominis, a Spaniard who lived for many years in Paris (d. 1353), claimed to have translated the Epistola Rabbi Samuelis (printed 1480?) from Arabic; however, it is probable that he composed the work himself. Other Dominican anti-Jewish works were In sectam hebraicam by the Italian Gratiadei Aesculanus (d. 1341); Liber contra Judaeos nomine Thalamoth (mid-14th century) attributed to Pierre de Pennis; and Capistrum Judaeorum (before 1418) by the Italian Lauterius de Batineis (or Laurentius de Valdinis, or de Ubaldinis). The obaldius of Saxony (first half of the 15th century), one of the participants at the Council of Constance, wrote a Refutatio errorum Thalmud. The Spaniard Joannes Lopez (or Lupus, d. 1464) collected several anti-Jewish sermons and arguments under the title Opus eruditum contra superstitiones Judaeorum. The German Peter Schwarz, who appears to have learned Hebrew in a Jewish school in Spain and had attacked the Jews during a public disputation in Ratisbon, was the author of Tractatus contraperfidos Judaeos de conditionibus veri Messiae… ex textibus hebraicis which includes various appendices in Hebrew and a "reply to several Jewish arguments." Later authors were the Catalonian Gaspar Fayol, who wrote Tractatus contra Judaeos (end of the 15th century); John Baptist Theatinus, who knew some Hebrew, author of De Trinitate et cognitione Dei contra philosophos et Judaeos (early 16th century); and the Spaniard Cyprianus Benetus (d. 1522), to whom is attributed Aculeuscontra Judaeos. Augustus Justiniani, who lived in northern Italy during the first half of the 16th century, translated several biblical texts from Hebrew, as well as Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed, and translated the New Testament into Hebrew; he also published Victor Porcheti's pamphlet Adversus impios Hebraeos. On a more everyday plane, Sixtus Medices, who was in Venice during the second half of the 16th century, attacked the activity of Jewish moneylenders in De foenore Judaeorum. Antoninus Stabili (d. 1583) published in Italy Fascicolo delle vanità Judaiche diviso in giornate sedeci. In the older tradition of Dominican Hebrew scholars was Franciscus Donatus of Rome (d. c. 1653), who demonstrated his sound knowledge of the language in several works on Hebrew accents and abbreviations and made various translations from Hebrew.

Anti-Jewish polemics continued in the 17th century; especially prolific was the Italian Petrus Pichius, author of: De partu virginis Deiparae adversus Judaeos; Epistola a gli Hebrei d'Italia nella quale si dimostra la vanità della loro penitenza ed aspetatione del Messia; Trattato della passione del Messia contra gli Ebrei; Stolte dottrine degli Ebrei con la loro confutazione. The Italian Tommaso Campanella (d. 1639), author of about 80 works of all kinds, compiled Adversus astrologos Judaeos; and the Frenchman Johannes of Sancta Maria (1604–1660), in addition to a Hebrew grammar and commentaries on some of the prophets in which he made wide use of Hebrew sources, published the polemic, De futura legalium apud Judaeos observatia post eorum ad Christi fidem conversionem. Josephus Maria Ciantes of Rome (d. 1670), who had studied Hebrew and rabbinic literature and in 1625 had been appointed by Pope Urban VIII to "instruct" the Jews, was the author of De sanctissima Trinitate contra Judaeos and De Sanctissima Christi incarnatione contra Judaeos; the Hebrew translation of Thomas Aquinas' Summa is also his work. The Dominicans in Cologne, under their prior Jacob van Hoogstraaten, played a prominent and hostile role in the *Reuchlin-*Pfefferkorn controversy (1509–20) over the destruction of Hebrew books. In 1664, the general of the Dominicans, Giovanni Battista de' Manni, ordered members of the order in Poland to preach from the pulpit against the *blood libel. Although the Dominican Order continues to include in its ranks a considerable number of converted Jews, it has nevertheless given up all organized missionary activities among the Jews. Of late, the Dominicans have made important contributions to biblical studies and on the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Ecole Biblique et Archéologique Francaise de Jérusalem. They have adopted a positive attitude toward the State of Israel, where they have several monasteries and churches in Jerusalem.


A.M. Walz, Compendium Historiae Ordinis Praedicatorum (19482), 278ff., 291, 509; B. Altaner, Die Dominikaner-mission des 13. Jahrhunderts (1924), 94ff.; W. Eckert, in: K. Thieme (ed.), Kirche und Synagoge (1968), 217ff.; P. Browe, Die Judenmission im Mittelalter… (1942), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: DOMINICANS IN THE HOLY LAND: S.P. Colby, Christianity in the Holy Land (1969); E. Schiller, Christians and Christianity in Eretz-Israel (2002); Directory of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land (2005).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.