chapter
The end to confessionalism
Jews, law and the Roman ghetto
ByKenneth Stow
Pages 17

The story of the ghetto, whether in Rome or those that followed, begins with St. Paul in Galatians and Corinthians, where Paul warns against Judaizing, by which he means participation in Jewish rituals, specifically circumcision, a practice he deems to cast doubt on the efficacy of faith or, eventually, baptism. The ghetto was the fruit of long development, not a sui generis early modern invention. In Rome, rigorous legal application, in the spirit of Benedict XIII, was to serve as the "pious lashes" first suggested by the late-sixth-century Pope Gregory the Great as an effective mode to cure sinfulness, a motif reprised by the authors of the Libellus ad Leonem Decem of 1513 in the form of punitive closure to hasten conversion. Ghettoization shattered the "tense intimacy" of Roman–Jewish relations. Cum nimis absurdum itself was reinforced by Talmud burning, forced preaching, economic pressure and, eventually, the ­mandatory transfer of Jews living in outlying settlements into the Roman ghetto.