Timeline - Queens' Old Library

Timeline: Cambridge and Jewish Thought

1218 – England becomes the first country to require its Jews to wear a distinctive badge

1290 – Edit of Expulsion in England

1448 – Queens’ College founded

1473 – First Hebrew press established and first Hebrew book printed by Abraham ben Hayyim del Tintori

1483 – Gershon Soncino opens Hebrew press in Milan

1494 – Soncino prints first complete Hebrew Bible (prior to this only individual Hebrew books or Pentateuchs were printed)

1503-08 – Bishop John Fisher is President of Queens’ (and University Chancellor 1504-1535), promotes the study of Greek and Hebrew

1510-1518 – Reuchlin defends Hebrew books against confiscation, the ‘Reuchlin Affair’ divides Europe—Reuchlin eventually wins


1518 – Gershon Soncino prints Galatinus’ defense of Reuchlin and kabbalah study (Opus de Arcanis Catholicae Veritatis)

1510-15 – Erasmus resides at Queens’ during his tenure as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, lecturing on Greek and working on his Latin-Greek New Testament—Queens’ becomes a centre of Greek study

1517 – First Rabbinic Bible (Hebrew Bible with Jewish commentary and Targum – Aramaic translation) printed by Daniel Bomberg

1535 – Henry VIII becomes head of Church of England, two years later allows publication of first English Bible to be translated directly from Hebrew and Greek—Tyndale’s Bible

1540 – Thomas Wakefield is the first Regius Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge (established by Henry VIII at Oxford and Cambridge)

1559 –The Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books bans the Talmud and many other Jewish books, leading to one of the largest losses of Jewish books due to censorship

1577 – Queens’ first Hebrew lectureship endowed with bequest from its first notable Hebrew scholar, John Joscelyn (1529–1603)

1592 – First book with large amount of Hebrew printed in England (Rheses’ Cambrobryttanicae cymraecaeue linguae institutiones)


1655 – Resettlement Act, Jews legally permitted to live in England

1707 – Queens’ scholar and graduate Simon Ockley publishes a translation of Jewish scholar Leon of Modena’s History of the Present Jews throughout the World

1753 – Jews become citizens of Great Britain

1857-92 – George Phillips, Syriac scholar, becomes President of Queens’ until his death—Arabic and Syriac study flourish at Queens’ alongside Hebrew

1866 – Solomon Marcus Schiller-Szinessy appointed first Reader in Talmudic and Rabbinic Literature at Cambridge

1867 – Reform Act (allowing any male householder to vote) allows Jews to vote in Britain

1871 – Removal of the Universities Tests Act, the requirement to be a member of the Church of England to attend or be a fellow at Cambridge, Oxford, and Durham

1934 – R.H. Kennett Memorial Library created and placed on 2nd floor of what is now the War Memorial Library, in honour of Queens’ eponymous Regius Professor of Hebrew


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