By Joshua Trachtenberg
A JPS bestseller, this can be the definitive paintings of scholarship at the medieval perception of the Jew as devil—literally and figuratively. via files, research, and illustrations, the e-book exposes the total spectrum of the Jew’s demonization as satan, sorcerer, and formality assassin. the writer unearths how those myths, many with origins traced to Christian Europe within the overdue heart a while, nonetheless exist in transmuted shape within the sleek period.
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A JPS bestseller, this can be the definitive paintings of scholarship at the medieval belief of the Jew as devil—literally and figuratively. via files, research, and illustrations, the publication exposes the entire spectrum of the Jew’s demonization as satan, sorcerer, and formality assassin. the writer unearths how those myths, many with origins traced to Christian Europe within the overdue heart a long time, nonetheless exist in transmuted shape within the glossy period.
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Extra info for The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and Its Relation to Modern Anti-Semitism
Many peoples, of course, have at various times had this libel leveled against them, not only in popular belief but even in pseudoscientific works. We may inter pret it as an effort by one group to stigmatize another, socially inferior, group as being physically inferior as well, a sort of extra prop to bolster up the former’s sense of superiority. 12 But the notion of the so-called foetor judaicus, so prevalent in the Middle Ages,13 though undoubtedly reflecting something of << Chapter >> 48 Home | TOC | Index The Devil and the Jews the same motivation (and perhaps at the outset little more than an echo of the classical charge), carried a deeper meaning to the medieval Christian.
Throughout this ac tion an acute contrast is drawn between the Jews’ rejection of God’s son and their acclamation of Satan’s. With the aid of the Jews Antichrist conquers the world, until through a series of miracles God reveals his real character: Antichrist and Jews fall dead, and the millennium is ushered in with great rejoicing, as much over the eternal damnation of the Jews as over the final victory of the Church. The German Lenten play Herzog von Burgund, by Hans Folz (fifteenth century), also based upon the Antichrist theme, omits the reference to Antichrist’s Jewish parentage but places the eager adherence of the Jews to him in sharp relief by playing up their << Chapter >> Home | TOC | Index Antichrist 37 contemporaneous situation, referring especially to the recent expulsion of Jewish communities along the Rhine and the Dan ube.
His dominion over the demons was a main feature of these legends. As early as the sixth century Leontius of Byzantium utilized this tradition in a disputation, when he charged the Jews with having subjected themselves to these same demons, or at least with being on a par with them, as the mutual subjects of the Jewish king and—quite logically—in rejecting Christ. The point was often made again. Here we have an ex cellent instance of the medieval propensity to ascribe a legendary element associated with a biblical character to the contemporary Jew.