Cursing the Christians?: A History of the Birkat HaMinim

Hardcover | November 24, 2011

byRuth Langer

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Ruth Langer offers an in-depth study of the birkat haminim, a Jewish prayer for the removal of those categories of human being who prevent the messianic redemption and the society envisioned for it. In its earliest form, the prayer cursed Christians, apostates to Christianity, sectarians, andenemies of Israel. Drawing on the shifting liturgical texts, polemics, and apologetics concerning the prayer, Langer traces the transformation of the birkat haminim from what functioned without question in the medieval world as a Jewish curse of Christians, through its early modern censorship by Christians, to itsmodern transformation within the Jewish world into a general petition that God remove evil from the world. Christian censorship played a crucial role in this transformation of the prayer; however, Langer argues that the truest transformation in meaning resulted from Jewish integration into Westernculture. Eventually, the prayer shed its references to any specific category of human being and lost its function as a curse. Reconciliation between Jews and Christians today requires both communities to confront a long history of prejudice. Ruth Langer shows through the birkat haminim how the history of one liturgical text chronicled Jewish thinking about Christians over hundreds of years.

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Ruth Langer offers an in-depth study of the birkat haminim, a Jewish prayer for the removal of those categories of human being who prevent the messianic redemption and the society envisioned for it. In its earliest form, the prayer cursed Christians, apostates to Christianity, sectarians, andenemies of Israel. Drawing on the shifting ...

Ruth Langer is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department at Boston College and Associate Director of its Center for Christian-Jewish Learning. She received her Ph.D. in 1994 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. Her research and writing focuses on Jewish liturgy and Christian-Jew...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 0.12 × 0.12 × 0.12 inPublished:November 24, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199783179

ISBN - 13:9780199783175

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Table of Contents

1. Origins and Early History: Late Antiquity2. Under Early Islam: The Period of the Geonim and the Geniza3. The Birkat HaMinim in Europe of the High Middle Ages4. Living with Censorship: Early Modern Realities5. The Modern Period: Changes by Choice to the Text