Judging by the Book: Christian Codices and Late Antique Legal Culture



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INFAMY: Justinian’s Novel 146 seeks to regulate use of Sacred Scripture in Jewish synagogues; preface NOVEL 146 opens as follows: “Necessity dictates that when the Hebrews listen to their sacred texts they should not confine themselves to the meaning of the letter, but should also devote their attention to those sacred prophecies which are hidden from them, and which announce the mighty Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Drafters were primarily concerned with converting Jews into Christians; indeed, Section I. of Novel 146 specifies that Jewish congregations must not use Sacred Scriptures in Hebrew, but must use translations either in Greek or from other translations in Latin, “…or any other tongue.”
“And the Mishnah, or as they call it the second tradition, we inhibit entirely, it being profane and mundane, having nothing of the divine in it.”
Mishnah was thus forbidden in synagogues, and sacred “Hebrew” books which remain licit (i.e., equivalent to Christian OT) are no longer to be read in Hebrew
Justinian concludes that “…every Jew will have the chance to read, interpret, and understand Sacred Scripture for themselves without having to rely upon Hebrew teachers.”

I

THUS, JUSTINIAN ATTACKS POWER STRUCTURE AND SELF-IDENTITY OF JEWISH COMMUNITIES THROUGH DEFINING AND REGULATING THE COMMUNITY OF BOOKS THEY ARE TO USE




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