The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

Symposium on Robert and Thomas Wakefield and the Study of Hebrew in England in the Sixteenth Century

Start Date and Time:

Monday, April 30, 2018, 10:00AM

End Date and Time:

Monday, April 30, 2018, 3:00PM


Theodor Dunkelgrün, James P. Carley, Joanna Weinberg, Anthony Grafton,Judith Schlanger

The brothers Robert and Thomas Wakefield were perhaps the earliest pioneers in Hebrew studies in sixteenth-century England. Appointed reader in Hebrew at Oxford in 1529, Robert was influential in the campaign for the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon based on the Levitical prohibitions; he argued that the Hebrew Bible could be used effectively to buttress Henry's case. Thomas, who inherited Robert’s books after the latter’s death in 1533, became the first regius professor of Hebrew at Cambridge in 1540 and held the position until his death in 1575.  A conservative in religion, however, he was barred from teaching for most of his career. The surviving books of the brothers, many heavily annotated, provide a powerful insight into the study of Hebrew in England and the controversies to which it was yoked, in particular the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into English. The brothers deserve the close contextualizing analysis they have not heretofore received.


  • PIMS


Laurence K. Shook Common Room, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 59 Queen's Park Cres E, Toronto, ON M5S 2C4 view full map


Colloquia, Lectures, Research, Seminars


Faculty, Graduate Students

Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies Building
Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies Building