Friday, January 30, 2015

Christian Censors as Morality Police in the censoring of Hebrew Books - Luigi da Bologna

I recently sold a copy of the Bet Yosef printed in Venice in 1565, the Even HaEzer volume. The copy was censored by Luigi da Bologna a converted Jew working for the Inquisition as censor (active 1597?-1610): inscribed with his name as censor at end of book: Visto per mi Fra Luigi da Bologna 1599.

Da Bologna was not the most brilliant of censors, and the JE mentions several instances of his ignorance: " 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. "

In this copy of Even Haezer, De Bologna appears to have taken the task of being the Morality Police, censoring any words of sexual nature in which he found offense. The Centuries since have mostly erased his markings, and thankfully we can make out the original words. See below for the censored words: