A Scholarly Blind Spot: the term 'marrano'
By DoĞan Davit Akman1

I. The term 'marrano'

Historically, on the Iberian Peninsula and beyond in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies, marrano was a vituperative term, as a matter of fact a bundle of vituperative appellations for the converted Sephardim.

To this day, the term remains vituperation.

II. The object of this paper

In the course of their careers, scholars tend to develop blind spots with respect to a particular subject or matter within the scope of their expertise. Historians are no exception.

This paper addresses the blind spot of Jewish scholars2 and institutions3 that generally define the term marrano as theSephardim who were forcibly converted on the Iberian Peninsula and continued to practice their former religion secretly, although some of these definitions make no mention of the secret practice.

History is not written only for the living. As St. Augustine aptly pointed out "The dead are invisible, but they are not absent." Hence, a historical treatise speaks to the collectivity which is its subject-matter as well as to the descendants of members of the collectivity and to their collective memory. In the case of the contemporary descendants of the Sephardic converts, it is fair to say that the historical past is still very much in the present. Anecdotal information from a variety of sources suggests that a progressively increasing number of them are searching for, attempting and coming to grips with their Jewish ancestry, cultural and religious heritage with an increase in the number of those who are electing to return to their ancestral fold.

The object of this paper is to demonstrate that it is high time to remove this blind spot and jettison the impugned term and its derivatives to the trash bin of odious terminology, save where appropriate, to refer to them in order to explain the historical and geographical trajectories of these terms, their meanings, the uses to which they have been put on the Iberian Peninsula and beyond and for closely related pedagogical purposes.

Contemporary Spanish scholars and a number of Portuguese ones have managed to rid their discourse of the term without prejudicing the quality of their scholarship. If they can do so, surely Jewish scholars and institutions can and must do no less.

III.  Background

About three years ago, the writer undertook the task of tracing his paternal ancestors who hailed from Spain, and his maternal ancestors who last originated from the Apulia region of southern Italy, sometime between 1510 and 1545, all settling in the Ottoman Empire.

The undertaking started by progressively drawing up the first cut of a working reading list on the history of the Sephardim on the Iberian peninsula from the invasion of the Visigoths through the Reconquista,4the inquisitions, the Spanish expulsion, the forced conversion of the Jews in Portugal and the subsequent flights of converts from the peninsula who settled in the Ottoman Empire.

Not far into the reading assignments, the writer encountered the termfor the first time, despite having been brought-up in a Sephardic community at a time when Judeo-Spanish was still the mother-tongue.5 It was this encounter that triggered the search for the meaning of the term.

IV. The point of departure: The Judeo-Spanish dictionaries (1)

1. Klara Perahya and Karen Gerson Șarhon

This is the most recent Judeo-Spanish dictionary of the Istanbul Judeo-Spanish dialect published by two Sephardic researchers.7 It defines the term, spelled marános, as "the Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity in Spain and Portugal during the Middle-Ages."8

2. Ladinokomunita

This organisation published two electronic dictionaries.9The term is not found in either one.

3. Albert Passy

The definition of the term, spelled "marano(s)" in Albert Passy's dictionary turned out to be a revelation as it includes, of all things, a reference to the word 'pig' placed in parenthesis right after the term.10

To what end did Passy insert this word?

V. A preliminary answer: the Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary  

The Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary11 provided the preliminary answer to the question with the following two definitions:

1. "marrano-na adj. Filthy."
2. "marrano-na m, f (fam) 1. (animal) (m) pig, hog ;( f) pig, sow 2. (Col) (carne) pork 3. (persona-despreciable) swine (colloq) ;(-grosera) dirty swine (colloq)"12

VI .The questions

The very idea of Jewish historians, referring to the converted Sephardic forebears using a term which translates as meaning "filthy", "pigs", "hogs", "swine", "dirty swine", "despicable" and "contemptible13 is, to put it mildly, shocking.It is particularly shockingconsidering that a large number of them sought to and did continue to practice their former religion secretly, at great risk to their safety, their livelihood and wealth (if any) and that of their mishpaha 14, while others fled the Iberian Peninsula, again at great risk, and returned to the open practice of it.

How could these historians possibly justify referring the original group of forced converts and their descendants as marranos, the very same appellation the converts loathed? How did they justify it? Did they succeed?

These questions are addressed through one book written by each of the four scholars whose work has been selected for the task at hand. They are, Cecil Roth,15 Benzion Netanyahu16 and Yirmiyahu Yovel,17 Ellis Rivkin18 whose book illustrates an irony in their use of the term.19 The four books were published between 1932 and 2009.

However, before proceeding to address these questions, it was necessary to determine first whether the meanings provided by the Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary captures both the formal meaning and the popular usages of the term during the material historical periods.

VII. The 1380 Order of the Cortes20 of Castile

Joseph Perez in Los Judíos en España 21 refers to an Orderissued in 1380 in Soria by the Cortes presided over by King Juan I. The Order, inter-alia, reads:

"....cualquier –cristiano o judío--que llamare marrano o tornadizo u otras palabras injuriosas a los que se tornaren a la fe católica, que le peche trescientos maravedís cada vez que lo llamare..." 22

Judging by the fact that the Cortes felt compelled to issue this Order, it must be concluded that the vituperative use of the term gained wide currency well before 1380. This conclusion is buttressed by the evidence marshalled, among others, by Norman Roth, Netanyahu and Joan Corominas.23

VIII.   Iberian Dictionaries


The definition of the term in the 1984 edition of the Diccionario de la Lengua Española published by the Royal Academy of Spain reads:

"MARRANO.- (Del ár. "muharram", vedado prohibido, aplicado al cerdo).m. Cerdo, puerco, animal. 2. Fig. y fam. Hombre sucio y desaseado que no hace las cosas con limpieza.U. t.c. adj. 3. El que procede o se porta mal o bajamente. U .t.c. adj. 4. Aplicábase comodespectivo al converso que judaizaba ocultamente. 5. m. y f. ant. Persona maldita o descomulgada." 24

The 22nd edition of the Diccionario published in 2001 further sanitized the 1984 definition, by removing the word puerco altogether and moving the words cerdo and cerda to the very end of the definition:

"marrano, na. (Del ár. hisp. muarrám, y este del ár. clás. muarram, declarado anatema).1. adj. Despect. Se decía del converso que judaizaba ocultamente. U t. c. s.2. adj. ant. Se decía de la persona maldita o descomulgada. Era U. t c.s.3. m. y f. coloq. Persona sucia y desaseada. U. t. c. adj. 4. m. y f. coloq. Persona grosera, sin modales. U.t. c. adj. 5. m. y f. coloq. Persona que procede o se porta mal o bajamente. U.t. c. adj.6. m. cerdo (mamífero artiodáctilo). 7. f. cerda (hembra del cerdo)."25

Some of the definitions of the term found in other Spanish dictionaries are provided below.26


A Complete Account of the Portuguese Language, 1701 with Grammatica Anglo-Lusitanica27 whose author is identified by the initials A.J., provides:

Marrão : porco: A barrow hog28
Marrãno: A new plant, also a new (sic) professor or convert.

Cândido de Figueiredo's Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa of 1973 29 , inter-alia, provides an expansive definition of the term without reference to a time-frame, to conversion or to the secret practice of Judaism by the converted:

"Marrano ,m.e.adj. Designação injuriosa que se dava aos Moiros e Judeus, talvez por não comerem carne de porco..." [also spelled as Marranho]30

The Dicionário de Língua Portuguesa Contemporânea of 2001 provides two definitions.31 The first defines the term as negative attributes and then proceeds to refer to three groups of people: those of Jewish and Moorish origin respectively, and those of Jewish origin practicing Judaism who were forcibly converted to Catholicism. The second definition focuses on the injurious nature of the term used by the Moors with respect to Jews who eat pork; and then specifically-refers to Jewish converts who," more often than not," secretly practice their former religion.32

The Grande Diccionário -Língua Portuguesa of 2010 defines the injurious term expansively to include all the Jews and Moors who lived in Portugal. The definition makes no mention of conversion or to crypto-Judaism, and for that matter, does not provide a time-frame.33

The comparison of the historical and contemporary definitions of the terms marrano and marrane and the evolution of these definitionsfound in the Iberian and French dictionaries provide an instructive comparative perspective on the cultural dimensions of these terms.

IX. Taking stock so far

The foregoing review of Iberian dictionaries ought to convince readers who were not aware of the fact, that the term marranos as an appellation for converted Sephardim and their descendants was and remains an odious insult both as a noun and as an adjective.34

X. Judeo-Spanish Dictionaries (2) - Joseph Nehama

Joseph Nehama is a noted Sephardic historian who received his higher education in France and whose list of publications includes the landmark Histoire des Israélites de Salonique35(Histoire). In this work, he referred to the converted Jews of the Iberian Peninsula as marranes.36

The Dictionnaire du Judéo-Espagnol was published posthumously in Spain in 1977.37Consequently, the nature and scope of his final input into the definition of the term, which is spelled as 'maráno' is not entirely clear.

The Préface to the French edition, written by Nehama's long time associate Jean Carasso, sets out the nuances and the particularities of the language of the old country as spoken by the Sephardim of Salonika, which incorporated various Spanish dialects (claimed to have been some twenty of them). The language that emerged from this incorporation was soon dominated by the Castilian dialect.

The Salonican Judeo-Spanish further incorporated some Hebrew, spiced with Aramaic originating from Jewish rites and practices and some Arabic as a result of the Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula for almost eight centuries.

The language continued to evolve over time with the injection of new vocabulary from Spanish, Portuguese, Italian (southern Italy and Sicily), French (Provence) and Arabic (North Africa, mostly Morocco), brought by the successive waves of refugees who were either expelled from Provence, Italy and Sicily or managed to flee the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions or from the problems encountered in Morocco. In due course, the vocabulary was augmented by some Greek and, inevitably by Ottoman, and after 1923, by modern Turkish vocabulary. As Carasso pointed out to the extent the dictionary is a Salonican version of the Judeo-Spanishspoken in various parts of the Ottoman Empire and could have been just as easily titled Dictionnaire du Judéo-Espagnol Salonicien. 38

From the foregoing synoptic history of the language, it is indubitable that the Sephardim who settled in Salonika were well acquainted with the various meanings and popular usages of the term marrano on the Iberian Peninsula and of  the terms marrano and marrane in France.

Yet, Nehama's definition of the term does not contain a single reference to these various meanings and usages. It reads:

« maráno. ---S.m. ='juif espagnol ou portugais' converti de force du catholicisme et conservant la foi et les pratiques du mosaïsme dans le secret de son foyer." 39

As it turns out, Nehama's definition is substantially identical to the current sanitized French definitions of marrane which no longer include, for example, even the phrases "mal-convert", let alone any of the other unsavoury meanings of the terms.40

This omission is particularly baffling, considering Nehama's breadth and depth of scholarship in the history of the Sephardim; the status of Professor Cantera who collaborated in the preparation of the dictionary and last, but not least, the high standing of the major Spanish research institute, inter-alia, in philology, that put its imprimatur on the work by supporting its preparation and publishing it under its auspices.

The omission becomes inexplicable when the length of the entry for the term, a few lines in one of the three columns that comprise each page of the book, is compared with the substantial amount of space allotted to other entries where the various usages of the words are canvassed at length through proverbs, sayings or expressions. For example, just about one page and a half is devoted to the verb "komér" (to eat), while another page (plus or minus a line or two) is devoted to the words "azno" (donkey) and "azniko"(young or small donkey).41

Besides this major deficiency, Nehama's definition discloses two further deficiencies in common with the definitions provided by numerous other dictionaries and in some of the scholarly writings excerpted in this paper.

The first of these is that both the Iberian and the French populace save in a limited number of cases, did not make a distinction among those converted forcibly who continued to practice the former religion with their Judaism and those who converted voluntarily and sincerely sought to espouse their new religion, for the simple reason that they were unable to distinguish readily the first group from the second. More to the point, the Iberian populace used the term indiscriminately because it suspected all converts to be fake Christians and, just as importantly, it resented the higher social standing, economic and political power acquired by these New Christians as a result of their conversion. On the other hand the French appears to have used the term marrane with a greater emphasis on race and imputed racial traits while the Portuguese seem to have viewed the Sephardim as people rather than as converts.

The second deficiency of the definition is that it arbitrarily excludes those who outwardly converted voluntarily or were deemed to have so converted by the rabbinical establishment and the Sephardic community, but nevertheless continued or strived to continue to practice their Judaism secretly.

Consequently, the distinction made between this group and its descendants and the "Marranos" defined as those who were forcibly converted who continued to practice their former religion and their descendants is one without a difference.42

To sum up, it is fair to describe Nehama's definition of 'maráno' as having some "Judéo"; not much "Espagnol" or, for that matter, Portuguese, and the entirety of the contemporary French meaning of marrane. 43

XI. The meanings of 'marrano' according to Jewish historians

1. Consulting dictionaries

In reviewing the work of many Jewish authors who refer to or use the term, the first thing that struck the writer is their seemingly peculiar refusal or reluctance to consult dictionaries, or having consulted one or more of them, to carry on with the consultation upon locating in the entry the words cerdo, puerco, pig, swine or porc.

2. Those who shunned the term as an appellation

Clearly, there are Jewish historians who shun the impugned term except in an explanatory context or in order to substantiate or illustrate a point through quotes from third party texts. A sampling of such authors follows.

David Gitlitz44 referred to the term marrano in the context of identifying the list of Spanish appellations that have been historically used to refer to the converted Sephardim.

Quite correctly, he did not capitalize the word. Instead, he used the term crypto-Jew to refer to the converts who sought to protect their "Jewishness, Jewish culture and Judaism" upon and despite their conversion. While some would say that the term has a built -in slant and is not exactly the most elegant term one can think of, it has the virtue of not being a vituperative one.

Norman Roth acknowledged that the term's "essentially insulting and derogatory meaning was clearly understood." 45

However, he emphatically rejected the leading Jewish historians' translation of the term as "pig" or "swine", relying instead on the early sixteenth century writer Antonio de Guevara's "eloquent statement" concerning the meaning of the term.46

Nevertheless, Roth refused to use the term in his own narrative, save to illustrate or sustain a point through quotations from other works. Instead, he used the term converso.

Likewise, Meyerson referred to all the Sephardim who converted, including the forced converts, simply as converts, conversos or neophytes and where necessary, qualified these terms as, for example,"forced converts", "Judaizing conversos." 47

Yitzhak Baer48 translated the term marrano as 'swine'; and described it as "a term of opprobrium never used in official parlance or polite literature." He referred to this term solely in the context of what he called "the converso problem" i.e. the problem created for the Spaniards [and, one should add, by the Spaniards] by the presence of large numbers of Jewish converts in their midst. Baer made the point that "if there was a distinction to be made among the conversos it was made by the Jewish community itself, by the rabbis and the rabbinical courts in their Responsa where they characterized the converts' religious status as anussimor meshumadim."49

Haim Beinart preferred the term conversos, save in one instance.50

3. Those who defined the term as"pig" or "swine" and used it as an appellation

Cecil Roth, after summarily reviewing the literature about the origins and diverse meanings of the term, which he characterised as "linguistic speculations", rejected all of them on the ground that they are needless. He flatly asserted that the term is an old Spanish word dating back to the early Middle Ages meaning 'swine' which ultimately "became a general term of execration which spread during the sixteenth century to most of the languages of Europe." He further noted that "the word expresses succinctly and unmistakably all the depth of hatred and contempt which the ordinary Spaniard felt for the 'insincere neophytes' by whom he was now surrounded."51

Jane Gerber translated the marranos as 'swine' and described it as "a derisive labelling of Jews (along with the term 'turncoats') who had converted only under extreme pressure and secretly returned to Judaism when the wave of persecution ceased, but later faced hostility from the majority population".52 The author used the term as one of the three categories comprising her typology of Sephardic Jews i.e. Jews, conversos and marranos. Gerber, like Gitlitz, did not capitalize the term.

Yerushalmi 53 asserted that the term 'marranes' is a XVth century Castilian word which simply translates as 'pig' or 'pork'; applied to converts and expressed the old anti-Semitic prejudices to which the Iberian populace resorted at the time55; was never accepted by the converts. It simply became the present-day appellation of crypto-Jews; and thus, an insult, over time, became a glorious name.55

Rivkin defines 'Marrano' as "Jews who had converted to Christianity or the descendants of these converts." He defines the term as meaning literally 'pig' and describes it as "an opprobrious epithet."56

XII. Cecil Roth, Netanyahu , Yovel and Rivkin

By way of preliminary observation, all four authors capitalize the word. This capitalization is inconsistent with the well-established rule of the English language that words that do not identify a specific nationality or ethnic group or race [or conversely, identify them pejoratively as general scholarly historical writing conventions demonstrate], historical events or periods; or are not significant religious terms, [marranism, is decidedly not a significant religious term] are not capitalized.57

Cecil Roth

Cecil Roth, notwithstanding his translation of the term as 'pigs', used the term both in the title of his book and in his narrative.

In his foreword to the first edition of the book in 1932, he wrote, rather curiously, that: "It is not, however, its importance, which gives the history of the Marranos its appeal, but its incredible romance."

And further,

"It is the constancy shown by them i.e. the "insincere neophytes" and their descendants that has redeemed the term from its former insulting connotation, and endowed it with its enduring power of romance." 58

Incredible as it may seem, this appears to be Roth's justification for using the term.

However, by 1958, after witnessing the abominations inflicted on the European Jewry by the Nazis and others, Roth, chastened, if not cured, of his romanticism, wrote:

"The events that have taken place since this work was first published have changed the entire perspective of Jewish history. Pathetic parallels to Marrano history were known in Europe during the tragic period of Nazi oppression. Moreover, very important research has been done recently on the early days of crypto-Judaism in Spain, on the origins of the Inquisition and on various aspects of the Marrano Diaspora. Years have diminished, though it is hoped not entirely obliterated, the author's high romanticism of a quarter century ago."59

It would appear that the author's hope to salvage the remnants of his high romanticism distracted him from re-visiting and re-assessing the propriety of his continued use of the injurious term. And if he did re-visit and re-assess it, the outcome left something to be desired. 60

Benzion Netanyahu

Netanyahu published the first edition of the book in 1966; the second enlarged edition in 1972; and the third updated and expanded edition in 1999.

In this book, the author placed both forcible and voluntary converts and their descendants, as well as the crypto-Jews amongst them, in the 'Marrano camp' and focused his study on this camp. According to the author, the marranos who comprised this camp prior to the establishment of the Inquisition included an ever-diminishing number of semi-dormant small groups of secret Jews in some localities, practicing some Jewish rites. The camp experienced marginal 'muted neo-crypto-Jewish spasms' from time to time in response to the collective violence perpetrated against it, and later in response to the abominations perpetrated by the Inquisition. Otherwise, these "Marranos" moved inexorably towards religious 'dejudaization' to the very limit. So much so that, by the time the Inquisition was established in 1481, "the process of social and religious assimilation of this camp into the gentile world was so deep and thorough going that the camp as a whole appeared to Spain's Jews as a predominantly gentile camp." 61

The author did not provide his theory and opinions with respect to the etymology and meanings of the term in the first edition. They appeared for the first time in a footnote of the second enlarged edition published six years later in 1972. He wrote:

"Notice the repetition of the synonymous terms הּוֹכּרחוּ and נּאָנּסּוּ. The term.לּהּסּיּרּ which he [Saadia ibn Danan] uses here serves as an introduction to the term מּוּמּרּיּם which he uses later to describe the conversos (see above.p.135), the word mumar, then indicating, all grades and forms of conversion, having been somewhat less derogatory than meshumad, a willful and complete convert ( for a view of the antithetical original meanings of those terms, see S. Zeitlkin in JOR, LIV [1963],84-86: on the absence of mumar in ancient Hebrew literature, however, see S.Lieberman...). In line with this, it may be assumed that the appellation mumar, rather than meshumad, was often attached to the forced convert, and this, in my opinion, may well have been the source of the term marrano: a haplologic contraction of the Hebrew mumar-anus (which caused the omission of the first syllable), effecting the transformation: mumar-anus, maranus, marano, marrano. Supporting this supposition is the form murranus found in a Latin document from 1291 (A. Farinelli, Marrano, Geneva, 1925, 29), and the forms Marani (Latin, pl., 1304; ibid). and marano (Latin, dat. sing., from 1220!-see Joaquim da Silveira, in Revista Lusitana, XXXV, p.138), all possible variants of that contraction. The derogatory meaning of marrano-swine, stemming from accidental word similarity, if it did not serve as catalyst in the transformation, may have been attached to the term soon thereafter, or even much later, since marrano as a vituperation cannot be definitively shown before 1380(...). For other views on the origins of the term and the related literature, see: J. Corominas, Diccionario Crítico Etimológico de la Lengua Castellana,III, Berne, 1954, 272-275."62

Netanyahu's treatment of the etymology of the impugned term through a multi-step reasoning, where each step is based on highly hedged opinions that verge on the purely speculative. It simply does not withstand scrutiny on, at least, the following four grounds:

First, while the two Hebrew words may have been used together often or usually in the Hebrew literature reviewed by Netanyahu, this would not per se, and as a matter of fact, did not result in a new hyphenated word mumar-anusim in Hebrew or, for that matter, in any other language.

Second, the author's opinion that this twin term somehow found its way into the Latin idiom through an unexplained process of haplologic contraction whereby it became mar-anusim and then continued its journey to enter the Spanish language as marrano but keeping its Hebrew meaning strains credulity.

For one thing, Netanyahu seems to ignore the fact that the presence of a word in a Latin text does not ipso facto warrant the conclusion that it is a Latin word. Indeed, the historical practice of Spanish, Portuguese and French authors, to mention a few groups, borrowing words from their own as well as from other languages and inserting them into their Latin scripts, when and as they saw fit to do so, is a well established fact.

This can be readily illustrated by the absence of the words murranus, marano, marrano, which Netanyahu used by way of illustration, in the Latin dictionaries consulted for this paper.63

The other two terms referenced by the author i.e. maranus and marani are not different words but two forms of the same word, and both forms are found in Du Cange's dictionary.64

Some of the anusim turned out to be--or in due course became--meshumadim. Netanyahu's reasoning begs the question as to why the latter Hebrew word did not also find its way into the Spanish language, via Latin or otherwise and become a Spanish word? 65

Third, the author's etymological assertions concerning the historical relationship between the use of his non-vituperative marrano and that of the vituperative one are couched in purely speculative terms. In this regard, Littré, Farinelli and Corominas are surely fatal to Netanyahu's position.

Thus while the authoritative Littré's definition of the French term marrane, inter-alia pointed out:" On trouve un radical du sens péjoratif mar, dans maranus, marrones, marruci (voy. Du Cange)", the work of Farinelli and Corominas rebutted the rest of Netanyahu's arguments. 66

Instead of joining issue with the latter two authors, Netanyahu simply directed the readers to Corominas, "for other views on the origin of the term and related literature" and simply ignored Farinelli.

Finally, Netanyahu's contention that the use of marrano as a derogatory termwith respect to the converts cannot be "definitively" shown before 1380 is not consistent with historical record.67

At all events, even if Netanyahu's premises and conclusions were to be accepted for sake of argument, his admission that the impugned term did acquire a vituperative meaning and was used as such from 1380 onwards, renders the entire issue moot. This, in turn, raises the question as to why the author still decided to use the term, when he could have just as well chosen one that is not vituperative.68

Yirmiyahu Yovel69

Yovel defines 'Marranos' as

"...the former Jews in Spain and Portugal who converted to Christianity under coercion or hard pressure, and their descendants in later generations."70

For the purposes of this paper, the problem with this definition starts with four sets of basic questions,71 three of which are:

First, looking at the matter from the perspectives of the Spanish mobs, populace, the crusading  priests, and friars of the mendicant orders, the officialdom of the Inquisition, high ecclesiastical authorities and the crown,

a.) was there anything special about this category of converts, as compared to the following four categories of converts, namely; those

  • who were not converted in such circumstances;
  • who were deemed to have converted voluntarily, although in fact they did so because they were crazed, bewildered, frightened, panicked by what was coming to or going around them;
  •  who converted in the hope that sanity would return and so they would be able to resume their religious practice openly; or
  • who seemingly converted voluntarily but had no intention whatsoever to practice their new religion and every intention to carry on as they did prior to their conversion, and the descendents in the later generations of each of the foregoing four types of converts

Based on the historical record, the writer contends that insofar as the foregoing inhabitants of the Spanish universe were concerned, the converts in all five categories belonged to one and of the same crowd.

Insofar as the Sephardic communities were concerned, whatever distinctions there may have been made among the five categories of converts prior to the Inquisition, these ceased to be material in a large measure after the Inquisition got on its full footing.

Second, from the Sephardic perspective, conceptually or empirically, what, if anything, distinguishes Yovel's converts and their descendants in the later generations, from those in the other four categories? More specifically, did the former individually or collectively, acquire , develop or possess specific qualities and attributes, psychological traits, world-views or behaviour patterns in dealing with the existential challenges they had to confront with respect to their "Jewishness, Jewish values and Judaism" by reason of their conversion under the circumstances identified by the author so as to distinguish them from the converts in the latter categories of considered individually or collectively? The writer is not aware of any empirical evidence that could sustain such distinctions.

In the event the previous two sets of questions are answered in the negative, as they must, then these five categories may be readily consolidated into a single sub-category of the total population of converts or 'Conversos'. It follows therefore that the grouping of the converts identified in Yovel's definition under a separate label is not conceptually or empirically justifiable and as such it does not serve any useful purpose. Consequently, it is surplus to the terminological requirements of the subject- matter of the book.

Even if, for sake of argument, it were to be assumed that Yovel's category can stand on its own, this would not solve the problem with his categorization but instead raise two further questions, namely: If the author's definition of "Marranos" has a distinct conceptual or empirical value and purpose sufficient to merit a separate term, then how could he reasonably use this term interchangeably with, "Conversos" or "NewChristians"? On the other hand, assuming such use is reasonable, why then bother assigning a separate appellation to those converted in the defined circumstances instead of referring to them simply as 'Conversos' or 'New Christians', where necessary with a qualifier as, for example, Meyerson did? 72

These two question, in turn, raise two further ones: Since the three terms are going to be used interchangeably, why not simply use 'Converso'? Why use two Spanish terms, one of which is an odious one, while the other is not? 73 Since the terms 'Conversos' and 'New Christians', are synonyms, why inject both terms into the narrative, when only one would do?74

The author sought to justify the use of the term 'Marranos' interchangeably with the other two terms on the basis that,"Some scholars draw distinctions among these three terms but using separate definitions has proven unsatisfactory and often confusing." 

This may well be so. Yet, the interchangeable use of the three terms cannot be said to have produced a more satisfactory and less confusing result.75

The definition is also problematic because it fails to differentiate the historical situation in Spain where, unlike the situation that prevailed in Portugal, conversions occurred over a period of time, with the causes of or the reasons for these conversions falling along a wide fact-driven spectrum ranging from the informed voluntary ones to the forcible ones and, in between these two scenarios, a large number of cases of various shades of gray on the issue of volition.

Hence, while it is correct to assert that in Spain the 'Marranos' (as defined by Yovel) constituteda sub-group of 'Conversos ' or  'New Christians', one cannot make this assertion about the entire Sephardim population of Portugal converted through coercion in one major swoop in 1497.

In the premises, Yovel's notions of equivalency and interchangeability of the three terms are not helpful, particularly in light of his concession that "no synonyms are fully equivalent"76 and that consequently, "where necessary, [he added] a further specification or adjective (such as 'a Judaizing Marrano', or an assimilating New Christian or 'dissident Conversos' and so forth)."77

Yovel takes comfort from the fact that his terminological approach puts him in the company of "Révah, Netanyahu, Yerushalmi, C. Roth, N. Wachtel, and the French school," when, with respect to the issue at hand, no such comfort can be had for a fair number of reasons including those identified next.78

Further, the author's following admission and his way of dealing with the issue raised by the admission does not assist his position on the interchangeability of the three terms:

"... [the three terms] differ at least in ring and connotation.... in choosing which of the three synonyms to use in a given context, I often follow its current ring as guideline. The basic semantics does not change, though the music, perhaps, does."

Borrowing from the author's terminology for a moment, these assertions have a rather odd ring for historical research and analysis, the primary purpose of which surely is the reconstruction of the past in a manner that is consistent with the available body of evidence and the reasonable inferences that may be drawn from this evidence.

If by the term 'semantics', Yovel is referring strictly to the meaning of each of the three terms, then he has indeed changed the semantics of the term marrano.

In so far as "the ring and connotation" or as Yovel puts it, "the music" is concerned, considering  the fact that his book addresses the times, identity issues and fate of the 'Marranos' between the 14th and the 18th centuries, surely it is the historical ring instead of the current one that ought to matter because it was that music that mattered to the converted Sephardim and still matters to those of their descendants in search of their historical communal roots and religious identities.

Further, his comment: "No doubt, Marrano had initially been a bad word, a kind of expletive. (Some believe it meant a pig),"79 also obscures and distorts the term's full historical ring, connotation and import.

What then are the arguments advanced by Yovel to justify the use of this vile appellation, besides those already reviewed?

The author contends that

"... appellations draw their emotive charge from public usage not the dictionary... Otherwise, euphemisms would work, which after a while they usually do not. Today of course, the originally prejudiced word Marrano is used as a neutral scholarly term."

Yovel seeks to support his argument by analogy with the popular usage of the words 'Confeso' and 'Converso' whichhe assertswere also bad words.80

In this regard, his point that "appellations draw their emotive charge from popular usage not the dictionary" has some merit. For example, innocuous terms such as 'northerner', 'southerner', 'cowboy', 'banks', 'railways', 'apple', 'yellow' have been used as vituperations. And, the two words identified by the author fall into this group of words.
However, the analogy between these two terms and the term 'Marranos' falls short in that unlike the former, the latter's odious meanings in historical popular usage corresponded to its formal meanings then, as they still does at present. Hence, regardless whether converted Jews were called Marranos in the 15th century or now, in both instances, the formal definition of the term as well as it vituperative usages refer to a bundle of odious nouns and adjectives, despite the relatively recent contemporary efforts of dictionary publishers to sanitize their definition of the term.

At all events, highly emotionally charged historical terms such as marrano never cease to draw an emotive charge, because even if the populace ceased to do so, the victims of the insult and their descendants continue to draw their own emotive charge from the term. For example, in the present case, the charge continues to be drawn both from the Sephardic collective memory of the abominations perpetrated on the Sephardic Jews on the Iberian Peninsula to the tune of the populace's 'music' as well as from the broader Jewish collective memory that over centuries, European Jews have been consistently called 'pigs' and 'swine'. Thus, in so far as the Jews are concerned, the word usually holds the key to the validity of Yovel's point about the relatively short shelf life of euphemisms. When the subject is anti-Semitism, hardly anything, save abuse and oppression, is usual.

The fact of the matter is that the collective historical experiences of the Jewish people clearly establish that the contents of the historical inventory of insults hurled at them do not shrink simply because the populaces fail to get a charge from the use of one or another term in the inventory, at some point in time and for a period of time, no matter how long that period may be.
Rather, the inventory bides its time, and sooner or later it gets pressed into service, again and again, both in old and new combinations and permutations of the vituperations for the same old libels as well as for the new ones.81

Consequently, Yovel's arguments and assertions cannot justify his use of the impugned term. If anything, they support the writer's contention that it is time to discard the historically tainted old Spanish terminology and to replace it with a new terminology that is neutral.

Yovel refers to the fact that during his visit to Belmonte, Portugal in 1985,82 a young person he interviewed used the expression "Marrano Judaism" to distinguish his community's Judaism from Orthodox Judaism.83 In this connection, the point has also been made that, unlike in Spain; the crypto-Jews of Portugal have used the term historically and continue to do so at present. Consequently, it is asserted that they did not and currently do not consider the term to be an insult.84 While the premises of this proposition are factual, they do not necessarily warrant its conclusion.

First, historically, the crypto-Jews of Portugal did not refer to themselves as "Marranos" (or "marrãos") but as the Portuguese Nation or the Nation (Nação). In any event, as Yerushalmi pointed out, they certainly did accept or care to be referred to or called marranos.

Second, the very fact that, presently, the impugned term is not generally used by the crypto-Jews amongst themselves and in their villages, strongly suggests that they are not particularly fond of it.85 And, in so far as it is still used by some crypto-Jews, such a use is equally consistent, among others, with: the use of the word out of habit; the documented cases of the long oppressed groups who adopt the terminology of their oppressors and identify themselves through that terminology; and last but not least, the user's belief that the term derives from Hebrew mar-anus and as such is not a vituperative term. 86

Ultimately, Yovel seems to argue that an impugned term severed from its pejorative popular usage, by the passage of centuries, is thereby cleansed of its ugly historical meanings and usages and that consequently it can be recycled "as a neutral scholarlyterm" and used respectfully. Surely, the answer to this argument is that such a term, as an appellation, retains the same injurious meanings today as it had in the mouths of the Iberian populace, and simply cannot be cleansed or rehabilitated by the passage of time by applying some kind of scholars' Statute of Limitations. The efflux of time is not and must not be allowed to operate as a sort of car wash and wax with respect to matters of grave historical importance, the consequences of which continue to reverberate to this day.87

Ellis Rivkin

 "The Editor's Note" in Rivkin's book illustrates one of the cruel ironies in the use of the term marrano. The note is reproduced below.88

Evidently, pre-occupied with the necessity of revising his book in order to comply with the contemporary cultural requirement that authors must use gender neutral or inclusive language, Rivkin went to the trouble of re-writing or supervising the correction of entire passages in the book that breached this requirement.

While Rivkin was doing that, it does not seem to have occurred to him that the term "Marranos" is not a neutral or inclusive term, but, as he put it, an "opprobrious" one. Had it occurred to him, hopefully, he would have replaced it with a neutral term. If it did occur to him, regretfully, he did nothing about it.

XIII. In summary

On the basis of the foregoing considerations, the use of the term "Marrano" cannot be reasonably justified and therefore its use in academic or public discourse, save for the narrow purposes outlined above, is wholly unacceptable.

XIV. A closing statistical note

In two articles published in 2009 and 2011, Abraham D. Lavender raised the question as to the exact term that ought to be used in the growing academic work on crypto–Jews to describe the Jews of Spain, Portugal or Italy who converted or pretended to convert to Christianity at the time of the Inquisition. The terms considered by Lavender are: marrano, converso, crypto-Jew, secret Jew, hidden Jew, New Christian, or anusim.89

Dr. Lavender's findings indicate an encouraging trend in the progressive reduction of the number of titles and narratives which use the term marrano improperly.

Nevertheless, the findings also substantiate the fact that far too many authors still needlessly continue to use this odious term, when a single such title, sub-title or narrative use is one too many.90


1. A.k.a Nisim Davit Aseo is a Sephardic Turkish Jew. He was born, raised and schooled in Istanbul. Upon his graduation from the Lycée, he immigrated to Canada with his family. He holds degrees from the Université de Montréal (B.Sc.), University of Pennsylvania (M.A.) and McGill University (LL B [J.D.]). He taught sociology, criminology and social policy at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In his youthful exuberance, he co-authored a monograph and some articles and authored a few articles of his own. He sat as a judge of the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Subsequently, and until his retirement, he practiced law as a trial lawyer for the Crown; first as a prosecutor and then as defence counsel litigating aboriginal claims where the key evidence comprised expert reports and testimony concerning pre- proto- and historical, ethno-historical and anthropological facts and issues.

2. The writer wishes to make it clear that the object of this paper is not to impugn the good faith or the integrity of the scholarship of the authors whose use of the impugned term is reviewed and discussed in this paper. Rather, the sole purpose of using their work is to identify the problems associated with the use of the term.

3. The 'others' include, for example, the Jewish Encyclopedia; the Jewish Virtual Library; Casa Shalom-The Institute for the Studies of Marranos- Anusim of Jerusalem, www.kulanu.org.,, and a learned journal which, despite its name i.e. Journal of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian Crypto-Jews, publishes articles about marranos, as for example in the Volume 4 Spring 2012 issue:"The Life and Death of a Marrano Dramatist from Colonial Brazil" by Jonatas DaSilva.

4. The Spanish re-conquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moorish-Arab rule.

5. The results of the writer's quick survey among his former schoolmates and some other childhood friends suggests that while the writer's ignorance of the term was by no means unusual, it became so by its duration.

6. Given the constraints of space, the writer does not review all the Judeo-Spanish dictionaries published to date. The five selected for this paper, provide a fairly representative sample of the published ones. The first four are presented  under this heading. The fifth that of Nehama, Joseph, the most elaborate of these dictionaries is presented in the section immediately following the one on Iberian dictionaries.This is necessitated byNehama's  peculiar  treatment of the termand the need to place it in an appropriate historical context.   

7. Perahya, Clara and Şarhon, Karen Gerson (Ed.), Diksyonaryo Judeo-Espagnol -Turco , Sentro de Investigationes Sovre la Kultura Sefardi Otomana-Turka, Istanbul; [Primera Edision,1997],  Gȍzlem , Secunda Edision Ampliada, 2012

8. The writer's translation from Turkish.

9. Ladinokomunita, Diksionaryo de Ladino a Espagnol; Diksionaryo Djudeo- Espagnol: Castellano/English /Turkish. The writer's copies downloaded from electronic texts are undated.

10. "MARANO(S) (pig) also named converso, a Jew who converted to Catholicism during the inquisition but secretly practiced Judaism". Passy, Albert Morris, Sephardic Folk Dictionary: [Ladino/ English]-A Collection of the Most Used Words from Everyday Speech and Correspondence of the American Descendants of Sephardic Jews, Los Angeles: self-published, 1999, 4th ed.      

11. Sub-titled: El Diccionario Oxford Esencial, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

12. It defines the Spanish term "despreciable", as, inter-alia, "despicable"and "contemptible".

13. Not to mention, "wretched" (maldito), "grubby" (desaseado), "rude"," ill-mannered" and "crude" (grosero), "bad mannered" (sin modal), and "anathema" (anathemai.e...anything accursed" or "consigned to damnation"].   

14. Judeo-Spanish (Istanbul usage). In the present context the writer would define the term as extended family including by descent.

15. Roth, Cecil, A History of the Marranos, New York: Sepher-Hermon Press, 1992, 5th edition, published to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. First published in 1932.

16. Netanyahu, Benzion, The Marranos of Spain; From the Late 14th to the Early 16th Century, According to Contemporary Hebrew Sources ,Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London: 1966 ,1972:Cornell Paperbacks, (3rd edition), updated and expanded ,1999.

17. Yovel, Yirmiyahu, The Other Within, The Marranos, Split Identity and Emerging Modernity, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009

18. Rivkin, Ellis,  The Unity Principle: The Shaping of Jewish History, Springfield, N.J.:Behrman House, 2003.This is the revised and expanded edition of The Shaping of Jewish History,1971

19. Rivkin, op.cit, section XII, infra

20. Representative assembly.

21. Perez, Joseph, Los Judíos en España,Madrid: Marcial Pons, Ediciones de Historia, 2005.

22. The following translation of the full text of the Order is found in Roth, Norman, Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995, with a new afterword in 2002, at p. 3: "An offense and great harm and insult to the holy Catholic faith is that Jews or Muslims, recognizing, that they live in mortal sin and [then] receiving the sacrament of baptism, should be insulted by Jews or by Christians or others because they convert to the holy faith. And Jews and infidel Muslims excuse themselves because of these injuries from not becoming our faith Christians, even though they know to be holy and true. Therefore, we order and command that no one shall call any convert Marrano, Tornizado [renegade] or any other injurious term. Anyone who, on the contrary, does this shall pay 300 mrs.[maravedis] each time that he calls him, or says this about a person to insult him; and if he has no property with which to pay, he shall spend fifteen days in prison."

23. Op.cit. Roth, N. pointed out the pre-existence of similar provisions in the local law [Fuero] circa.1239-42 and in the law enacted in 1242 by Jaime I of Argon-Andalusia with respect to the use of the words'tornadizo' and 'tornadico' respectively; and that the same thing is also found in the Fuero Real[Royal law] and the Siete Partidas of Jaime's son-in-law Alfonso X of Castile.Netanyahu, andCorominas infra.

24. Real Academia Española, Diccionario de la Lengua Española, Madrid: 1984, vigésima edición.
This definition somewhat sanitised the 1956 definition by attenuating the emphasis on the word "Puerco"  by removing the bold font and printing it in the lower key. Real Academia Española Diccionario de la Lengua Española, Madrid: 1956.

25. With all this excising and shuffling around, the question arises as to how to reconcile the Academy's latest definition of the term with those of the Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary provided above.

26. Barcia, D. Roque Primer Diccionario General Etimológico de la Lengua Española, Barcelona: Seis Editor, 1902 (El cerdo....Por extensión, se llama así a toda persona sucia en su porte o de malos procederes...Etimología : Bajo latín maranas, morrones, en du Cange, significando cosas que no son dignas de ser apreciadas: francés:'marrana'; italiano: 'marrano', 'traidor'; catalán:"'marrá' , carnero no castrado:'malto nó sanat'; Alonso, Martin, Enciclopedia del Idioma: Diccionario Histórico y Moderno de la Lengua Española (siglos XII al XX), Etimológico, Tecnológico,Regional e Hispano Americano, Madrid: Aguilar, 1958 (re-printed in 1968). Alonso's definition reads: MARRANO (tal vezde mahahanna), m. s. XV al XX. Puerco. 2. fig. y fam. s. XVII al XX. Hombre suzio y desaseado o que no hace las cosas con limpieza…3.El que procede o se porta mal o bajamente…4.fig.s.XVI al XX. Apl. como despectivo a los judíos .Com y enl. Sch y Bon.,1-62.Cfr.Nebr.,1492; A de Molina, 1571;Rosal,1601;Palet,1604:Oudin,1607;Covarr.,1611;Fancios.,1620;Sobrino,1705; Stevens, 1706; Requjo,1717;Alonso, Martín, Diccionario Medieval Español: Desde las Glosas Emilianenses y Silenes (s. X) hasta el siglo XV, Salamanca: Universidad Pontifica de Salamanca, 1986 provides the following definition: MARRANO (tal vez de mahahanna) m. s. XV .Puerco. La acep. más ant. es de 965. En la acep.de "cristiano nuevo" es una aplicación  figurada de "marrano" (cerdo) a los judíos  y moros convertidos, a causa de la repugnencia natural que sentían  por la carne de este animal. En su primera acepción es una palabra ant.española y del portuguésmarrao, procedente del ár.máhram"cosa prohibida". Cfr. Nebrija: Voc. esp.lat. (c. 1495).
The etymological linkages made in Spanish and some Portuguese dictionaries between the Arabic words muharram and its variants such as máhram and marrano andthe imputation of the meaning of the Arabic word to the intended meaning of  marrano by the populace, are difficult to reconcile with the chronology of events and in particular , with the fact that the presence of Jewish communities on the Iberian peninsula long preceded the Moorish –Arab invasion in 711.

27. A.J., A Complete Account of the Portuguese Language 1701 with Grammatica Anglo-Lusitanica, Menston: The Scholar Press Limited, 1970. (U.K.)

28. To distinguish from Marrão de férro.

29. De Figueiredo, Cândido, Dicionario da Lingua Portuguesa, Bertrand Editora, 1973 (23ª edição).This definition does not explain  precisely why the Christian populace was incited to copy the insult them. The fact of eating pork prohibited to eat is not blameworthy per se, and the fact that a Jewish person whether converted or not who ate pork would have been a good indicia that the person became good convert or was a good prospect for conversion.

30. Dicionário Universal - Língua Portuguesa, Texto Editora, 1999, essentially adopts the definition of de Figueiredo with respect to Jews and Moors.

31. 1. "MARRANO, MARRANA. - Adj. (Do cast. marrano, do ár. "mahram" 'coisa proibida') 1. Que foi excomungado; que é impuro, imundo, sujo. 2. Que é de origem judia ou moura. 3. Que, sendo de origem judia e professando o judaísmo, foi obrigado a converter-se ao catolicismo. "Comunidade marrana de Belmonte."2."MARRANO, MARRANA.- s. (Do cast. marrano 'porco') 1. Ant. Designaçao injuriosa mouros. "Os marranos devem esta designaçao, talvez, ao facto de nao comerme carne de porco ou per serem dada a judeus e considerados impuros, imundos" 2. Pessoa de origem judia que foi obrigada a converter-se ao catolicismo, mas que, muitas vezes, em segredo, professao judaísmo...",Diccionário de Língua Portuguesa Contemporanea, Lisboa , AdCdL e Editorial Verbo, 2001

32. The writer's translation from Portuguese. Again, the second definition fails to explain why the Christians populace would adopt a Moorish insult directed to Jews who ate pork since that is precisely what they wanted Jews to do.

33. Grande Dicionario -Língua Portuguesa,Porto Editora,, 2010.The definition reads: "marrano [...] n.m. 1 [pej.] designacao injuriosa que se dava aos judeus e mouros que vivian em Portugal; 2...* [fig] sujo; 2 [fig] maldito, excomunigado * Do castellano marran, "porco."

34. The meanings of the term in popular usage could not be reasonably claimed to have been confined to 'pig' or 'swine'. Rather, it included all the other epithets provided in the foregoing definitions, since all of these are factually or figuratively associated with the physical attributes of pigs and swine and the conditions in which they live. The irony in all of this is that historically, Spaniards considered, and still do consider, pigs (word used generically) to be a most valuable source of food. According to M.J .Surribas, a Spanish colleague of high standing in genealogical research, almost the entire animal, possibly save for the eyes, is edible.

35. Nehama, Joseph, L'Histoire des Israélites de Salonique, Salonika: 1935-1978. The first five volumes were published between 1935 and 1939. They cover the period from the beginning of the settlement of the Romaniotes in Salonika through the Sabbatean religious crisis (1669) practically to the eve of World War II. The manuscripts for the sixth and seventh volumes reached the proof-reading stage in 1940 but war made it impossible to carry on with their publication. Deported from Greece in 1944, he managed to survive the horrors of Bergen-Belsen. The extermination of about 90% of the Salonican Jews resolved Nehama to publish a full dictionary of the Judeo-Spanish language and he spent decades working on this project along with other projects. Nehama passed away in 1971. The remaining two volumes of Histoire were published posthumously in 1978 in a single tome. This brief biographical sketch reports and reconciles the information provided by Mathilde Tagger on the website www.SephardicGen.org  in her introductory comments to her Annotated Index of Nehama's work from the Spanish introduction to the original and from the Preface to the French edition of the dictionary .infra.

36. For the historical and contemporary definitions of this French term, see end note 79.infra

37. Nehama, Joseph, Dictionnaire du Judéo-Espagnol with the collaboration of Jesús Cantera [and others before Cantera], published in French by Les Éditions de la Lettre Sépharade, Gordes : 2003, pp. vii-ix. (France). The original edition was published in Madrid by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Instituto "Benito Arias Montano", 1977, with an introduction in Spanish reprinted in the French edition.

38. The three paragraphs commencing with the phrase "The Preface of the..." and concluding at this endnote are the writer's translated, edited and abridged version of the corresponding French text.

39. Unfortunately, there is a printing error in the definition. In order to give effect to the intention of the author the word "du" in the phrase "converti de force du catholicisme" ought to be read as "au catholicisme".

40. For exemple : 1. Le Petit Larousse Illustré defines the term as: MARRANE n.m. (esp. marrano). HIST. Juif d'Espagne ou du Portugal converti de force au catholicisme et qui continuait de pratiquer sareligion." Paris : Larousse/Her 1999. 2. Le Grand Larousse en 5 Volumes provides an identical definition save for the insertion of the phrase 'juif espagnol' in parenthesis after the word marrano, and  the concluding sentence, that reads: "Persécutés du XIVe au XVIIIe s. les marranes furent nombreux à s'exiler. "(also in parenthesis). Paris: Larousse, 1987 For a review of the historical definitions of the term, see endnote 79, infra

41. While the writer can appreciate the extensive entry with respect to matters culinary among the Sephardim of Turkey, reputed to be great cooks, it is hard to fathom such interest in donkeys, mature or young, particularly since these two terms can be and from time to time are used as an appellation in friendly jest or as an insult.

42. Another category of converts, probably quite a large one that has not received as much scrutiny as it deserves is that of the persons who converted in states of craze, panic, bewilderment or confusion and remained profoundly confused about their identity after the conversion. For example, see : Pullan, Brian,  "A Ship with Two Rudders' : 'Righetto Marrano' and the Inquisition in Venice', The Historical Journal, 20 1(1977), pp.25-58; Zeldes, N., "Sefardiand Sicilian Exiles in the Kingdom of Naples: Settlement, Community Formation and Crisis" Hispanica Judaica, 6,  5769/2008, pp.237-265

43. At all events, the logic and process by which a Spanish term, known to Sephardim since, at the latest, the 13th century, seamlessly flowed into the Judeo-Spanish vocabulary and ended up being defined exclusively as a synonym of the contemporary sanitized definition of the French word marrane without reference to the French term's historical popular usages against the converted Sephardim, the French Jews and Jews in general, is difficult to fathom. One possible explanation is that the "so-called" marranos who fled the inquisitions and settled in Salonika were those who turned it the city into the all around sophisticated and wealthy city it became. They were the ones who ushered and sustained the city's, alas, all too short, "Golden Age" (that lasted only about 90 years or so) in all spheres of communal life. They financed every aspect of the community, from paying the lion's share of the heavy tax burden imposed by the Ottoman authorities to financing the communal, religious, social, educational and cultural institutions and services. In the circumstances, it is quite plausible that, as the refugees became the elite of the community and acquired the levers of power, they excised the word marrano from their daily speech. The community, on the other hand, who used to call these refugees "traitors" prior to their arrival, excised the term from its own daily vocabulary, out of gratitude for the newcomers' contributions to their personal and communal well-being; respect for their elite status, and probably fear of their power. Ironically, the use of the term re-surfaced when six hundred Jewish families converted to Islam following the lead of the false prophet Rabbi Sabbatay Tzvi who converted, "under hard pressure", as Yovel would put it. Some of the writer's Istanbul classmates recall first hearing the term when it was used in connection with these converts and their descendants who were irrevocably excommunicated.

44. Gitlitz, David M, Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of Crypto-Jews, Philadephia and Jerusalem: The JewishPublication Society,1996

45. Op.cit., p.4

46. Ibid. de Guevara, Antonio, wrote "...calling a Jew a Marrano is to call him perjurer, false, heretic..."However, Guevera's statement appears to be specifically related to the terminology used in the context of the Inquisition, because it ignored the history of the popular usages of term going back to the 13th century; and these usages continued during and, most likely after, the Inquisition. However, Guevara's statement is not inconsistent with the well -established meanings of the impugned term in popular usage. His statement essentially purports to interpret what the populace may have had  in mind when it used the impugned term. On the other hand,  it is not unreasonable to assume that given the temper and the popular terminology and usages of the times, the populace used these terms along with the others identified above. In the Afterword to the 2002 edition of his book, Roth ruefully conceded that a number of Jewish historians, 'felt quite comfortable with making the mistake, in translating the term as 'swine' or 'pig". With all due respect to his scholarship, Roth's statement on the meaning of the term at the material dates, expressed in a language that brooks no doubt, is untenable. Ibid. pp. 3 and  317. True enough, on the evidence, Roth's assertion that, "we have absolutely no clear idea...if it is a Spanish word at all" appears correctinsofar as the origin of the word is concerned. It has been said and demonstrated, with a good deal of success in the social sciences (history included) that the greater the number of theories about a specific issue, the greater our ignorance of and about the issue is likely to be. Hence, the very multiplicity of etymological claims about the origin of the term suggests, with good reasons, that none of these are correct. Then again, surely the debate about the origin of the term, in the context of this paper is moot. On the evidence, by the 13th century the term was decidedly a Spanish (Castilian) word for "pig" and "swine" and for the other related assortment of unsavoury nouns and adjectives. And the term was expeditiously pressed into service in popular usage against converted Jews and Muslims.

47. Meyerson, Mark D, A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004

48.Baer, Yitzhak A History of the Jews in Christian Spain-Volume 2 - from the Fourteenth Century to the Expulsion, Philadelphia and Jerusalem:The Jewish Publication Society 1966 and 1992 edition (for the Introduction) p.270.

49. Ibid. Free adaptations from the author's text.

50. The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Portland, Oregon: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilisation,) 2002, 2005; Hebrew Edition published in Jerusalem by Magness Press, 1994, 1996. To the best of the writer's knowledge, the exception is the collection of materials titled The Marranos in Christian Society and in Jewish Society: Seminar Sources (Heb.), which Beinart edited in 1976 at the Department of Jewish History, Hebrew University Jerusalem; presumably, for pedagogical purposes.  

51. Op.cit . pp. 28and 170. The author's definition of the term and of its subsequent historical trajectory are corroborated by Farinelli, Arturo, Marrano (Storia di UN vituperio), Genève, Leo S. Olschiki, Editeur, 1925 and accepted, among others by Corominas, Joan. In Diccionario Crítico Etimológico de la Lengua Castellana, Berne: A. Francke, A.G, 1954; and in Corominas, J, with the collaboration of Pascual, José, A., Diccionario Crítico Etimológico Castellano e Hispánico, Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 2000. (cf. infra.),

52. Gerber, Jane S. The Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic Experience, New York: Free Press, 1992, First Free Press Paperback Edition, 1994.Free adaption of excerpts,

53.Yerushalmi, Joseph, Haim, "Les Dernières Marranes: Le temps, la peur, la mémoire" Brenner,Frédéric, Yerushalmi, Joseph, Haim (Éditeurs), Marranes, Paris: Éditions de la Différence, 1992. Writer's free translation from French. Regrettably, Yerushalmi's statement is not r accurate. More specifically, the term: i) was in circulation as a vituperation long before the XVth century; ii) does not translated  merely as "pig" or "pork"; iii) did not simply or otherwise become the present appellation of crypto-Jews in Portugal or elsewhere; for the vast majority of Iberian scholars. In fact the reverse is consistent with the facts. Consequently, the notion of an insult becoming a glorious is highly questionable. Also see:endnote.79, infra.

54. Surely the populace resorted to these prejudices since then. According to the most recent surveys on the subject, it would appear that a significant segment of the Spanish population continues to subscribe to these prejudices from which such vituperations spring. Ken,Soeren,http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/2020/spain-anti-semitic April 7,2011

55. A glorious name for whom? Not for the converts, forced or otherwise, who reject it? Not for the Sephardim who experienced living and dying hells of the Portuguese Inquisition? Not for those who managed to survive it? For their descendants in the 20th century and beyond? See: Netanyahu at footnote 63, infra.

56.Rivkin, Ellis, op.cit. p.170

57. Track, R.L, The Penguin Guide to Publication, London, Penguin Books, 1997 pp.73-84. "Marranism' is an academic construct. Neither it nor crypto-Judaism is, as yet, considered to be a religion. Given the strong emotional charge and currents which the subject-matter generates, it is unlikely that it will be so considered for the foreseeable future. And that is as it should be, because the religious experiences of the contemporary descendants of the Sephardim converts are a long way from being played out. Some scholars may argue that the impugned term has become a "Term of Art" and that consequently, it is appropriate to write it with a capital letter. Such an argument is not defensible because a term that has been historically long used as a vituperation as well as a bundle of vituperations against the Sephardim or against any community and their individual members, is precluded from being considered or used as a Term of Art"

58. Op. cit. p. xxiii. Some romance. The chances are that during the 16th and the 17th centuries, had the author walked about Salonika, calling marranos, the former Portuguese and Spanish former crypto-Jews and converts who fled Spain and Portugal to avoid falling in the clutches of the Inquisition,he would have been given a treatment that would have left his body and limbs none the better for it.

59. New Foreword to the third edition, op.cit. All this was well and good but the author did not bother to substitute a neutral term for the offensive one

60. Why did the author not  make the substitution? Roth's explanation  was rather curt. He wrote: "... in this newedition, it has been thought best to leave this work basically as it first emerged". p. xxiv. Nor did he disclose the reasons as to why it has been so thought and by whom?

61. Op.cit. This is a synoptic adaptation that freely borrows from, quotes and paraphrases the author's narrative. For evidence to the contrary, see, for example: Meyerson, Mark D., A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain, Press, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004   

62. Op cit. pp. viii and 59 footnote 153; pp. 28 and 380 endnote 9. The alleged haplologic contraction of the combined term mumar - anus muted into the Hebrew word mar- anus (mumar-anusim in plural),variously translated as"bitter-converted ones", "bitter-converts" or "the bitter ones". The derivation of  the term marrano from mar-anus is not entirely original. This forced etymology, designed to find a substitute for the vituperative meaning of the impugned term, appears to have first surfaced in Portugal during the early decades of the 20th the century .See: Yovel and de Barros Bastos , end note 87 and text,, infra.

63. Grand Dictionnaire de la Langue Latine, directe by Dr. Guill. Freund, translated into French by Theil N., Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, 1862; Du Cange, Domino (directed by)with contributions of. Carpenteri D.P,and Henschell, G.A.L, Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis, Graz: Akademischen Druck-U.Verlagsanstalt. 1954: Novum Glossarium Mediae Latinitatis Ab Anno DCC Usque as Annum MCC, Hafniae: Ejnar Munksgaard, 1959-1969; Oxford Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976. 

64. These entries are not helpful to the author.

65. Such a word would have surely found, as did the term marrano eager users among Jews ,Christians and Muslims alike to identify, harass and abuse those of their respective co-religionists whom they suspected, ,believed or knew to be heretics.

66. Littré, Émile, Dictionnaire de Langue Française, Paris: Gallimard/Hachette, 1964 .Corominas, along with leading philologists such as Schuchardt, C. Michaelis, Baist, Alonso,D. and at least one a well established reference work Judisches Lexikon, consider Farinelli's work on the impugned term the definitive authority on the subject and rely upon it for the proposition that the term marrano meaning "pig' was used by the Spanish populace to abuse and insult Jewish and Moorish Muslim converts who were suspected of secretly practicing their former religions. In this context, Corominas , highlighting a point in Farinelli's study asserts that that the use of the word "pig" as an insult was not confined to Spain and the word and its variants, such as "swine", "suckling pigs", have also been used to insult the Jews in Provence (gourret), Piedmont (ghinouja), Austria (saujud), Baleares (xu (i)eta), Béarn(gnarrou). In Germany and in other places, there werepopular songs, literary texts and pictureswhere the Jews were referred to or drawn as pigs. Corominas, 1954, p. 273 and 2000, pp.859; Farinelli, op.cit. pp. 26-27  

67. Norman Roth, supra; Corominas 1954, op. cit., p.274; Corominas, 2000, op.cit. p.861; see also: Alonso, (1968) supra.

68. The facile answer to this question would be that Netanyahu, decided to use this term because  this was already being used by some Jewish historians. However, the writer suspects that the author had more than that in mind in making his terminological choice. A more likely explanation is that he felt uncomfortable to use a term which was used as an odious insult and sought a way around it. This hypothesis is based on  the helpful comments provided on this subject by Nadia Zeldes of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Another alternative and somewhat gentler explanation  of the origin and meaning of the term is that the term derived from the Spanish verb marrar whose meaning would fall within the parameters of what was then considered relatively more acceptable language or par for the course, in the context and the temper of the relevant historical times. For example, see: de Covarrubias, Horozco, Sebastian, Tesoro de la lengua castellana o Espanola,1611;online: http://fondosdigitales.us.es/fondos/libros/765/16/tesoro-de-la-lengua castellana-o- espanola  :cited  in Perez, Joseph, Los Judíos de España, Madrid: Marcial Pons, Ediciones de Historia,S.A. 2005.Perez wrote: "En 1611, el Tesoro de Covarrubias da la definición corriente de la voz marrano: "es el recién convertido al cristianismo y tenemos ruin concepto del por averse convertido fingidamente". A continuación, Covarrubias recoge una de las etimologías que se siguen proponiendo a veces: "los moros llaman al puerco de un año marrano, pudo ser que al nuevamente convertido, por esta razón y por no comer la carne del puerco, le llamasen marrano". Todavía hoy algunos autores se, atienen a esta etimología: la voz castellana marrano (puerco) vendría del árabe "moharannah" o "mahram" que significa impuro y sirve para calificar a los puercos. Es mucho más probable que marrano venga del verbo marrar, como lo señala el mismo Covarrubias: "marrar es fallar, vocablo antiguo castellano, del qual por ventura… vino el nombre de marrano del judío que nose convirtió llana ysimplemente".p.158; see also: Maeso, David Gonzalo, Sobre La Etimología de la Voz "Marrano" (Criptojudio), Sefarad, 15:2 (1955) pp.373-385. On this hypothesis, Corominas wrote: "Marrar es un alteración del antiguo marrir por lo influjo de errar…palabra de uso poco común en castellano clásico y moderno...(S. XVII…en el sentido de "desviar, desorientar; es en cambio frecuente en los bucólicos de la primera mitad del S.XVI con los acs.' faltar', "equivocar', 'no hacer bien', 'no lograr'".Her review of the word in languages and regional dialects of Spain between the12th and the 18th century did not disclose the suggested link between the verb and "marrano".Op.cit.2000, pp 860-862.

69. Op.cit. Unless otherwise indicated, all the quotations from Yovel are from p.xvi under the heading "Note on Terminology".

70. Unfortunately, this definition is a rather awkward once since it is not possible for former Jews to convert to Christianity, unless they were excommunicated first or converted to another religion.          

71. The fourth question raised by the definition is whether, apart from the conversions of those who held the genuine belief in the tenets of Catholicism, the self-seekers, the opportunists and pathological types of one kind or another, it can be reasonably said that, say between 1391 and 1492, immediately prior to the commencement of the expulsion , the Sephardim of Spain by and large converted without "coercion" or " hard pressure" of one kind or another? The writer suggests that in the light of the historical record of the events during the period in question, the affirmative answer to this question provided by the literature lacks an air of reality. It does so because, but for the words and deeds, of the Crown and Church (used in the broadest sense), it is highly unlikely that the Sephardim as a national community would have had no reason to convert to Catholicism, individually or "in masses. The designation of a conversion as "voluntary" is essentially a religious construct based on the criteria formulated by the rabbinical establishment rather than one based on the empirical objective and subjective existential conditions under which the conversion occurs.

72. All of which leads to the rationale guiding the selection of the sub-title of the book  i.e. "The Marranos" whose red colouring is an eye-catcher. Given the author's  position on the interchangeability of the three terms, surely it could have been just as well sub-titled "The Conversos", "The New Christians" or for that matter "The Forced Ones" in keeping with the author's definition of the impugned term.

73. It is also fair to ask: Why use two Spanish words, one of which is historically tainted, when a single generic English noun. 'convert', would have done the job admirably?

74. For example, among  many other instances of similar kind: chapter IV (pp.58-77) titled "Conversos: The Other Within" (pp.58-77) starts with a discussion of the 'Converso" phenomenon in Spain, then suddenly, at page 61, the narrative suddenly switches to the question "How did the Jewish leaders in Spain and abroad view 'Marranos' " and then further down, the reader is suddenly brought to the subject matter of the chapter i.e. the" Conversos". Further, for example, what is the reader to make of phrases such as "Jewish-Marrano congregations"? New Jews"? "Old Jews"? "New Jews"? "Secret Marranos (religiously)"? "Secret Judaizers"? Judaising Marranos"?   What is the reader to make of the assertions such as " Marranos" who secretly practiced Judaism i.e. "are "New Jews" upon their return to the open practice of Judasim? Or the implication that, converts who secretly practice Judaism are not Jews? The examples merely scratch the surface of the problems associated with the author's handling of the "Marrano" terminology.

75. In any event, there is no equivalency between "Marranos" and "Conversos" because theformer,at least in Spain, and as defined by the author and elsewhere in the literature is invariably a subset of the latter and by definition a sub-set cannot be considered the equivalent of or synonymous with the whole. Nor is there an equivalency between "Marranos" as defined by the author and the French "marrane" both in terms of the latter words historical meanings and usages or its current definition...

76. The illustrations provided by the author could have been, just as easily, framed as "Judaizing, assimilating or dissident" converts.                   

77. The author does not appear to be familiar with the historical definitions and popular usages of the term marrane against Jews and Jewish converts in France. (This also raises the question as to whether it is appropriate for French Jewish historians and others to use the term marrane and its derivatives, other than for the usual pro-forma explanatory purposes or in quoting from the work of third parties.). Historically, neither the Sephardim who were expelled from Spain nor those who fled the Inquisition, took refuge and ultimately settled in France, or the converted French Jews, cared to be called 'marranes'. The following is a sampling of the historical definitions and usages of the term and of its derivatives that explain their objections to this appellation. 1. De Saint- Palaye, La Curne, Dictionnaire Historique de L'Ancien Langage François: "Marrane. "1e. Le même sense que marran..." The term is defined as "Marran, s. et adj. Terme injurieux qui désigne un homme sans foi, un Juif, un Sarrazin, un mauvais converti. (En Espagnol, marrano signifie porc, maudit, excommunié)-L'origine de ce nom vient des Sarrazins, que la sévérité des lois, en 1300, de Charles II d'Anjou, roy de Sicile, contraignit à recevoir le baptême, mais qui persévèrent en secret dans leurs erreurs, ainsi que toute leurs race."Paris : L Favre, 1880. 2. Godefroy, Frédéric provides the following definitions:" MARRANE, marranne, maranne, marane, marrain, marran, maran, s.m, juif converti, et mal converti. C'était une insulte qui s'adressait particulièrement aux gens soupçonnés d'avoir eu des ancêtres juifs ou musulmans, ....Marrans et hérétique. (Ib.)" MARANÉE. s. f, nom générique des marrans ou juifs convertis: "Ces Turcs Juifs, la maranée...".MARANERIE, ... racejuive: "Ung (sic) diables " .Dictionnaire de L'Ancienne Langue Française et de Tous ses Dialectes du IX au XVe Siècle, Paris:1888. Reprinted by Scientific Periodicals Establishment, Vaduz, Lichtenstein and Kraus Reprint Corporation, New York City,1961) The texts illustrative of the usages of the term marrane cited by Godefroy show the term used in the same breath with unsavoury adjectives and phrases such as: "ruffians" (who live off women) ; 'son of a whore" ; "dirty"; "miserable" and "miserly rascal" (or scoundrel); "miser", "cheap" (miserly) ; ' an irritating...aggravating person", "vile design" and "thiefs" (writer's translation). 3. Seguin, in 1636, defined the term as injures (string of abuse or insults) cf. Jimenez and Equerry, op cit. supra. p. 6520. Godefroy's historical analysis of the term discloses an ironic twist, namely: the French having borrowed the word marrano from the Spaniards and adopted it as marrane, returned the favour to offend (along with the Italians) the Spaniards during the XVIth and XVIIth centuries. However, the insult had a new twistin that the injurious term was used for the purpose of linking the dark complexion of the Spaniards to the fact that they had been under the rule of the Arabs and Moors for nearly eight centuries. The Spaniards, proud nationalists and Christians were not amused. In the first Hymn the clerics of Tours sang before the Battle of Ivry refers to Phillip II, King of Spain, as a marrane. Similar comments are found in de Saint-Palaye's entry for Marran. 4. Aimé Bescherelle considersthe term to be the French translation of the Spanish word Marrano, as he does not provide another definition for it: "MARRANE.adj.et s.2g. Nom que les Espagnols donnent aux Maures ou aux Juifs convertis, et a leurs descendants. Ce mot pour un Espagnol est une insulte grossière. On écritaussi marane"; Nouveau Dictionnaire National ou Dictionnaire Universel de la Langue Française, Paris: Grenier Frères, 1893, troisième édition. (The notion of marrane as the French translation of a Spanish word is also found in Le Grand Robert de la Langue Française, Paris: Dictionnaires Le Robert, 2001. The definition of the term by the Centre National des Ressources Textuelles Lexicales;www.cnrtl.fr/definition/marrane,while also somewhat sanitised, is more detailed than those found in contemporary French dictionaries: It provides an illustration of the pejorative meaning of the term in France as late as 1833 (and likely beyond that), in French writer Prosper Merimee's Mosaique- Lettres Espagnoles where one reads :"Je puis me vanter de l'être (vieux chrétien), tout pauvre que je suis, quand il y a tant de gens plus riches que moi qui sentent[smell]le marrane" (p.323). 5. Edmond Huguet's Dictionnaire de la Langue Françoise du Seizième Siècle, Paris:Librairie de Didier, 1932, published in collaboration with the prestigiousCentre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) - provides a lengthy definition, based on the 16th century French literature and other writings. His definition is: "Marrane ou Marran. Maure ou juif converti ou non, mécréant, renégat. –Veniciens, Marranes, Mores, Turc, Juifz, mameluz, trop obstinez et durs Contre la foy tressaincte et treschrestienne… usurier, home avide, avare...homme perfide et malhonnête...impie." 6. Emile Littré in the 1964 edition of the dictionary, (published since 1863), op.cit. Paris: Gallimard/ Hachette, provides the following definition : "marrane (ma-rra-n'), "s.m. Nom donné par les Espagnols aux Arabes et Juifs convertis, et devenu une injure signifiant traitre, perfide.......-Esp. Marrano, porc, etaussi maudit, excommunié. Origine inconnue. On trouve un radical du sens péjoratif mar. [underline added]dans maranus, marrones, marruci (voy. Du Cange)". 7. Antoine Furetière's entry for the term Marrane, inter- alia, reads: "MARRANE. sublt. male. & fem. Terme injurieux qu'on dit aux Espagnols, ou a ceux d'entre 'eux qu'on ne croit pas bon Chrétiens, qui sont descendus des Mahométans, ou des Juifs. Ménage dit que quelques-uns le dérivent de l'Hébreu Marha qui signifie changer. Mais il aime mieux suivre l'opinion de M.de Marca, qui le fait venir de Mufa Maruane, qui conquit l'Espagne pour les Arabes. Borel dit que marrane vient de marranes, qui signifie simplement un savant Rabin. Du Cange dit que ce mot ne vient des Maures comme quelques-uns croyant, mais du mot Syriaque maranatha, qui est un anathème fulminé avec exécration…"Le Dictionnaire Universel d'Antoine Furetière, Paris: Le Robert SNL-.8, 1978. 8. The trajectory of the term in the successive editions of the dictionary of the Académie Française is both curious and instructive: The term marrane first appeared in the Complément du Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française. Paris: Chez Firmin Didot Frères, 1856. Its definitionmakes no reference to the Sephardim. The term disappeared in the seventh (1879) and eight (1935) editions to re-appear in the latest, the ninth edition, printed in tranches, Paris: Imprimerie Nationale /Fayard, 2012. The latest definition, like those found in the more recent editions of other French dictionaries cited, is a sanitised one and ignores the historical definitions and the popular usages of the term. 9. Finally, the term does not appear in Nicot, Jean, Thresor de la Langue Francoise –Tant Ancienne Que Moderne, first published in 1606, Paris: Editions A. et J. Picard et Cie.1960 or in Le Robert's Dictionnaire Historique de la Langue Francaise, nouvelle édition, Paris : 2010.

78. The author's rather cavalier treatment of the meaning of the termis a curious one. One would assume that an author would carefully research the meaning(s) of  a term on which he proposes to focus in the narrative of his book, and to use as a sub-title to it. Furthermore, the term was not only initially "bad" (whatever that may mean). As pointed earlier, the term remains a gross insult when used to refer to or describe a human being or a collectivity,

79. The two words are synonyms. Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary, op.cit. defines "Confeso" as "... (Hist.) converted Jew" and "Converso" as "...adj. (frml) converted...convert (esp. Jew who converts to Catholicism)".

80. This proposition is illustrated, by Farinelli's description of the historical and geographical trajectories of the word marrano ("pig"), and its synonyms that have been often used to vilify, denigrate and dehumanise European Jews verbally or in drawings; cf. Corominas,. supra.

81. Part I of the Epilogue under the title "Present-Day Marranos", pp.378-387.

82. Ibid. p.382.

83. It is quite surprising that the author did not seize the opportunity of his visit to question this person as well as a representative sample of the members of the community, in order to capture, for example; their own understanding of the origin, historical and present-day meanings and the popular usages of the impugned term within or without their community .; their individual recollections and their collective memory concerning the emotional significance and impacts of the term on the community and its members; the broad social profile (age, gender, education level and profession) of the community members who continue to use the term marrano; the reasons and purposes for which and the particular circumstances in which these members use the term, etc. In the absence of this kind of information, the significance of the use of the phrase "Marrano Judaism" or the significance of the continued use of the term by some members of the community cannot be addressed. Interestingly enough, Yovel's essay indicates that by 1913, at least one of the Christian neighbours of the community referred to his crypto-Jewish competitors as 'Judeos' rather than marranos, for reasons that are not clear from the text.

84. The internationally noted Canadian ethno-musicologist Professor Judith Cohen  who has done a great deal of field work over the years in the historical crypto- Jewish communities of Portugal and in Belmonte, in particular, confirms that the term marrano is used often enough. She further notes that "they do not use the Portuguese word for crypto-Jewish or converso, although those that live in the cities and use, along with the young ones, the internet have in some cases adopted the word anusim. In the villages and among themselves, generally theysimply use the appellations"Judeus" [m] or...Judeas [f]. Further, those who come across and are influenced by visiting Jews from various countries, also now refer to themselves, as  anusim but usually, simply as Judeus, Cohen, Judith, "Maria, sister of Aaron, play your tambourine: Music in the Lives of Crypto-Jewish Women" (2009), in Alexander, Tamar (ed.) Gender and Identity: El Prezente: Studies in Sephardic Culture 3, Be'er Sheva: University of Ben-Gurion Press,2009, pp. 293-314 at 293 supplemented by personal communication in 2012).

85. During, what in contemporary parlance may be referred to as the "Portuguese crypto-Jewish liberation movement", that began during the early part of the 20th century, the leader of the movement Artur de Barros Bastos (a Captain in the Portuguese army), Bastos and his brain trust on Judaism set out to transform the odious term into a term of pride and dignity akin to what Yerushalmi referred to "a badge of honour". They chose to do so, in part, through the process of leading the crypto-Jewish community, ignorant of Hebrew, ,and of course etymology, into believing that the odious term in fact derives from the Hebrew mar-anus . Cf. Netanyahu, at endnote 63, supra.

86. Obviously, the author's position has not found favour with the Iberian scholars who shun the term. It has not done so because these scholars refuse to confer academic respectability to a term which is an intrinsic part of a grim chapter of Iberian history that lasted several centuries. not only for the Sephardim but equally for Portuguese and the Spaniards, not to mention the Muslims who were the beneficiaries of the treaty that secured the surrender of Granada.

87. Rivkin, Ellis, The Unity Principle: The Shaping of Jewish History, Springfield, N.J:Behrman House, 2003. This is the revised and expanded edition of the author's book titled The Shaping of Jewish History, 1971. The Note reads:
"Since the publication of the first version of the Unity Principle...in 1971, language usage has steadily moved in the direction of inclusion. Among our goals in preparing this newly revised and expanded edition was the goal of achieving gender neutral language. Within this narrative, this posed little problem. History itself, however, and particularly primary historical documents, including the Bible, cannot always be amended and rendered in gender neutral language, lest the intention of writers of particular periods be entirely lost to us. For this reason, no changes were made to biblical and other texts quoted directly or to terminology that was clearly intended by earlier writers.At the same time, significant changes to the language of the narrative were made throughout the book to reflect the importance of gender neutral usage in our time."

88. Lavender, Abraham D. Major Issues in a Growing Field of Academic Research, Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto-Jews ,Volume 1,Spring 2009, pp.3-16 ; and the subsequent update titled "A list of134 books Containing Marrano, Converso, Crypto-Jew, Secret Jew, Hidden Jew, New Christian, or Anusim in theTitle or Subtitle: Changes in Usage over 86 years" Volume 3, Spring , 2011 pp.149-156 (also indicated as pp. 150-155 in the heading of the article; www.cryptojewsjournal.org/major-issues.html. These comprised the 118 books examined in the 2009 paper plus some new titles and some omitted in the 2009 article. The author acknowledged that while the list is extensive it is not exhaustive, and welcomed the submission of more titles to be added to the list. Lavender's findings and conclusions (partly edited and abridged here) are:  1. Starting with the 2 titles published in 1920s, there has been a large increase in the number of books on the subject through the decades commencing in the 1970s going from 13 to 22 during the 1980s, 31 during the 1990s, 49 between 2000-and 2009. 2. In the early "Marrano" was the most frequently used term followed by "Converso", while the phrase "New Christian" ranked a distant third. 3. In the middle period the use of the term "Converso" took a strong lead over "Marrano" and became the most frequently used term. Since 2000, the term "Converso" remains a strong first, while the term "Crypto–Jew" has narrowly overtaken the term "Marrano". 3. The terms 'Hidden Jew' and 'Secret Jew" are seldom used. 4. "Anusim" is still being rarely used for books although it is being increasingly used in the titles of articles. (In his Endnote no.1, the author points out that it is rarely used in English and even less in singular form (anus or anous), probably because of the similarity to the English word that some readers consider negative. As a Hebrew word, it is used in Israel more than elsewhere. 5. Since 2000, there is also a small tendency to use two different words, one in the title and another in the subtitle. Lavender suggests that this tendency perhaps reflects the current ambiguity about the correct word, or the existence of a transition period, or perhaps, to "play it safe" and get "the biggest bang for the buck". In this regard, he points out that the titles of books about African- Americans, or Blacks frequently follow the two term pattern.

89. Here are some sample titles on sale which include the impugned term, randomly chosen from the website of Amazon.ca: 1. History of Anti-Semitism: From Mohammad to the Marranos (strange title: from a Muslim Prophet to Sephardic forced converts? 2. Marranos: The Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot (surely "Secret Jews, Crypto-Jews" or "Forced Converts" would have rendered the same meaning) 3. Marranos and other Secret Jews: A Woman Discovers Her Hidden Identity (The title is repetitive. Surely the phrase "Secret Jews'' would have conveyed the very same idea) 4. Marrano a Metaphor: The Jewish Presence in French Writing. (Consider this: A metaphor is a figureof speech  in which a name or a descriptive term, here "pig", "swine", " filthy etc.- is transferred  to some object to which it is not properly applicable cf. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary , Oxford: Clarendon Press,1973. Quere:What does this make of the title?) 5."Spinoza and other Heretics, Volume I: The Marrano of Reason (since Spinoza is already referred to as a heretic, would it not be more accurate to say: The Heretic of Reason?) 6. The Marrano Legacy: a Contemporary Crypto-Jewish Priest Reveals Secrets of his Double Life (Why "marrano" legacy when the priest is already part of the crypto-Jewish legacy? 7. Was Shakespeare a Jew? Uncovering the Marrano Influences in his Life and Writing (Why not Jewish ancestry, Jewish influences or crypto-Jewish influences? considering that marrano influences, both by definition and popular usages during the historical period preceding and overlapping the playwright's life, would have been vile ones?)


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Maeso, David Gonzalo, Sobre La Etimologia de la VozMarrano(Criptojudio),Sefarad,15:2(1955) pp.373-385

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