Pauli, Johannes

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PAULI, JOHANNES (c. 1455–c. 1535), German friar and humorist. Born in Pfeddersheim, Alsace, Pauli abandoned Judaism in his youth and entered the Franciscan order. From 1479 he taught in various church institutions and became a popular preacher. A chance meeting with the Christian Hebraist Conrad *Pellicanus in 1496 led "Paul Feddersheimer" (as the former called Pauli) to promise Pellicanus the gift of some Hebrew manuscripts bequeathed to him by his father. These texts (of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the Minor Prophets) were duly dispatched from Mainz.

Pauli is remembered for one major work, Schimpf und Ernst (Thann, 1522), a collection of 693 jests and moral anecdotes drawn from ancient and medieval sources and from oral tradition. Some 60 editions of this work were printed before 1700. Although he mocked at human failings, Pauli invariably gave an ethical point to his graphic stories, which partly inspired the Elizabethan era's Hundred Merry Tales, a source much read and exploited by William *Shakespeare.


H. Oesterley, in: Johannes Pauli, Schimpf und Ernst (1866), 1–12; B. Riggenbach (ed.), Das Chronikon des Konrad Pellikan (1877); H. Oesterley, in: adb, 25 (1887), 261–2 (incl. bibl.); J. Bolte, Schimpf und Ernst, 2 vols. (1923); C. Roth, Jewish Contribution to Civilization (1956), 80, 84; F. Secret, Les Kabbalistes chrétiens de la Renaissance (1964), 142. add. bibliography: R.G. Warnock (ed.), Die Predigten Johannes Paulis (1970); A.E. Pearsall, Johannes Pauli (14501520) on the Church and Clergy (1994).

[Godfrey Edmond Silverman]