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Jews, Turks And The Devil Notes

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Protestant Scholars and Yiddish Studies in Early Modern Europe -­‐ Aya Elyada

! Interest in learning Yiddish -­‐ Jewish-­‐German vernacular at the time

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‣ Wider interest in Jews and Judaism at the time
‣ Roots in the Reformation era and work of reformers -­‐ German phenomena
Broader theological and cultural discourse -­‐ texts produced by Protestant Yiddish
scholars reveal perceptions of Jews and Judaism and contrasts with Protestantism
Mainly seen as a degenerate language -­‐ mix of German and Hebrew
‣ Language of German underworld, Rotwelsch, contained words from Yiddish
‣ Linked Jews and their language with moral and social corruption
Learn Yiddish to read their literature and to missionise among the Jews
‣ Luther's call from the 1520s to deal kindly with the Jews
16th century -­‐ Yiddish translations of the Bible and the New Testament
Image of Yiddish as the Jews' 'secret language' used to conceal Jewish affairs from
Christian eyes
‣ Yiddish literature was confined to the private sphere of the Jewish home
‣ Familiarity with Yiddish was an important tool for Christians who wished to
expose and censor all Jewish blasphemies against Christianity
Body of philological knowledge created by the Christian scholars on the Yiddish
language and literature was directly linked to the exercise of power -­‐ conceived as an
effective tool for exerting control over the Jews
Idea that the Jews had insufficient knowledge of Hebrew -­‐ did not understand what they
were saying in their prayers
‣ Strongly criticised by Protestants
‣ Implied a lack of devotion -­‐ worthlessness and superstitious nature of practices
‣ Protestant authors -­‐ prayed only with their lips and not with their hearts
‣ Incorporation of Christian polemic -­‐ Jewish women praying in Hebrew
compared with Catholic nuns praying in Latin => lack of understanding
Criticism of word-­‐for-­‐word translation of the Bible -­‐ seen as stylistically inferior
Jewish 'Other' -­‐ spoke Yiddish => further cultural distinction


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Luther, Bucer and Eck on the Jews -­‐ Steven Rowan

! Should look at other writers -­‐ context of Luther's writings
! Expulsion of the Sephardim from Spain in 1492

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‣ Simply the most dramatic episode in a series of acts against the Jews
‣ Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland harboured the remaining
handholds for Jewish activity and residence outside of Islam
- Increasingly precarious and marginal position
Printing -­‐ extensive literature hostile to Judaism
‣ Yet they were not a staple of publication even in the 16th century
‣ Often an embarrassment to governments -­‐ could be seized in periods of
relative calm
Purported martyrdom of Simon of Trent in 1475
‣ Classic blood accusation incident
‣ Celebrate in text and picture in the Nuremberg Chronicle in 1495
1539-­‐44 major period for anti-­‐Jewish polemic
‣ Most articulate, dramatic and memorable statements on Jews
Erfurt -­‐ Opinion on Whether a Government Can Allow Jews to Live Among Christians (1539)
‣ Intended for Landgrave Philip of Hesse
‣ Moderately tolerant charter for Jewish residence -­‐ practise peddling and
mercantile trade in communities without guilds
- Bucer and others did not agree with the petition -­‐ went on to question
the basic premises of Jewish residence in any Christian community
✦ Looked at Roman Civil law and canon law -­‐ many restrictions on
the Jews
✦ Praise of princes who took Jewish children away to be raised in a
Christian household
✦ Forbidden contact with Jews
✦ Usury must be stopped
Landgrave Philip of Hesse -­‐ used the Bible => Jews are a noble race and it is the duty of a
Christian prince to prevent harm from coming to them
‣ Bucer, therefore, came off very badly in this exchange
Jews published Bucer's opinion and its refutation by the Landgrave of Hesse
‣ Bucer published a response in May 1539 -­‐ letter to an unnamed correspondent
- Denigrates the Jews through their association with the Catholics
- Jews should not be allowed to practise any craft which relies on a shared
trust
- Money trades -­‐ gave them power over others because they refused to
accept a community of love with the Christian neighbours
Dr Johannes Eck -­‐ professor of theology at Ingolstadt, Bavaria
‣ Wished to confute a pamphlet defending the Jews by Andreas Osiander
‣ September 1541 -­‐ Refutation of a Jew-­‐Book
- Compendium of every horror story medieval anti-­‐Jewish polemic could
encompass
✦ Said he had personal experience of Jews killing Christian children -­‐
Jews of Waldkirch in the Breisgau in 1503
‣ Eck's book represents the absolute nadir of anti-­‐Jewish polemic in the early
modern period

‣ Comments that Lutheranism is the new Judaism since it upset Church discipline
and excused Jewish crimes
Luther
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‣ That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew (1523)
‣ By 1537 -­‐ reports of Jewish practices by Christian radicals in Moravia and dark
rumours of conversions to Judaism
‣ Against the Sabbatarians (1538)
‣ On the Jews and Their Lies (1543)
- Futility of the Jewish faith
- Reduction to hard menial labour and ultimately expulsion -­‐ similar to
Bucer
‣ Last sermon at Eisleben, preached the day before his death in 1546
- Against the residence of Jews in a nearby principality
- 'Warning against the Jews'
All these writers spoke polemically from a position of weakness rather than strength
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‣ Large, sceptical opposition
‣ Did not win general applause or even grudging support
‣ Should listen to the other half of the argument -­‐ silent response or refusal to
alter established patterns => shows failure of these men's arguments

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! Political element
! Later 1530s and early 1540s -­‐ revival of Habsburg claims to rule in the German Reich
‣ Josel of Rosheim tried to lead Jews into a public alliance with the emperor as
their only protector
‣ Emperor supported the Jews
! Attacks on the emperor may have been expressed through attacks on the Jews
‣ His protection of the Jews could be attributed to bribery
! Pacifist voices of Andreas Osiander, Philip of Hesse and Josel of Rosheim


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