Judaism in Christian Eyes: Early Modern Description of Jews and Judaism

Hardcover | July 17, 2012

byYaacov Deutsch

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This book examines Christian ethnographic writing about the Jews in early modern Europe, offering a systematic historical analysis of this literary genre and arguing its importance for better understanding both the period in general and Jewish-Christian relations in particular. The bookfocuses on nearly 80 texts from Western Europe (mostly Germany) that describe the customs and ceremonies of the contemporary Jews, containing both descriptions and illustrations of their subjects. Deutsch is one of the first scholars to study these unique writings in extensive detail. He examines books in which Christian authors describe Jewish life and provides new interpretations of Christian perceptions of Jews, Christian Hebraism, and the attention paid by the Hebraist to contemporaryJews and Judaism. Since many of the authors were converts, studying their books offers new insights into conversion during the period. Their work presents new perspectives the study of religion, developments in the field of anthropology and ethnography, and internal Christian debates that arose fromthe portrayal of Jewish life. Despite the lack of attention by modern scholars, some of these books were extremely popular in their time and represent one of the important ways by which Jews were perceived during the period. The key claim of the study is that, although almost all of the descriptions of Jewish customs are accurate, the authors chose to concentrate mainly on details that show the Jewish ceremonies as anti-Christian, superstitious, and ridiculous; these details also reveal the deviation of Judaism from theBiblical law. Deutsch suggests that these ethnographic descriptions are better defined as polemical ethnographies and argues that the texts, despite their polemical tendency, represent a shift from writing about Judaism as a religion to writing about Jews, and from a mode of writing based onstereotypes to one based on direct contact and observation.

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This book examines Christian ethnographic writing about the Jews in early modern Europe, offering a systematic historical analysis of this literary genre and arguing its importance for better understanding both the period in general and Jewish-Christian relations in particular. The bookfocuses on nearly 80 texts from Western Europe (mo...

Yaacov Deutsch is Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Humanities at the Institute of Arts and Letters, Hebrew University Jerusalem.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:July 17, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199756538

ISBN - 13:9780199756537

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. A Survey of the Ethnographic Accounts about the Jews2. May the Lord Make You My Atonement - Yom Kippur in the Ethnographic Accounts on the Jews3. Admit Him into the Covenant of Abraham? Circumcision and Other Birth Rituals4. Gorging and Carousing: Accounts on Jewish Dietary Guidelines and Eating Habits5. An Overview of the Ethnographic Writing about the JewsBibliography