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Christian Ethnographies of Jews and Judaism

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Contents

  1. Historical context of the source
  2. Source
  3. Discussion of the source
  4. Questions for discussion
  5. Selected bibliography
  6. Further reading
  7. Useful web resources

1. Historical context of the source

What did Jews really think about non-Jews in the early modern period? This is difficult to determine because there are not many historical sources. Because they were a small religious minority, often marginalized and persecuted, Jews had learned to be guarded in the way they expressed the discontent and frustration they felt at being in exile and under the authority of a Christian regime.

In order to find out more, historians have to find ways to explore the mentality of powerless and marginalized groups. An interesting range of sources are ‘Christian ethnographies’ of Jews and Judaism (a term first coined by Ronnie Po-chia Hsia), which describe Jewish rituals and ways of life for a Christian audience from an ethnographic perspective. What is remarkable about these texts is that most of them were written by former Jews who had converted to Christianity. This genre thrived between 1530, when the convert Anthonius Margaritha wrote his pioneering book Der Gantz Jüdisch Glaub, and the 18th century, and was particularly popular in German lands.

For a long time texts written by converts were dismissed as mere polemics of disgruntled and hostile traitors who had left the Jewish fold for a more comfortable life as Christians. While there is no doubt that most of these authors had a polemical agenda, and described their former religion in a somewhat biased manner, their works are still valuable because they provide us with rare insights into how members of a minority group managed to find ways to express their real feelings towards the, often oppressive, Christian regime, without putting their very existence in danger.

The anthropologist James C. Scott has explored how powerless and subordinated groups had and have a number of strategies of resistance and defiance. The Ethiopian proverb which stands at the beginning of his book, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, provides a vivid example of the subversiveness of the oppressed: ‘When the great lord passes, the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts’. If we analyse only the public, respectful bowing of the peasant, we are missing an important aspect of the relations between the master and his subject. Scott draws attention to what is hidden, the ‘silent fart’, as it were, and he argues that in order to read and understand the ‘often fugitive political conduct of subordinate groups’, we have to study the ‘hidden transcript that ‘every subordinate group creates, out of its ordeal, that represent a critique of power spoken behind the back of the dominant.’ (Scott, 1990)

The Jewish community in late mediaeval Germany was just such a subordinated group. After a series of expulsions from nearly all major towns and cities throughout the late 15th and early 16th centuries, many Jews had migrated to the East. Those who remained in German lands experienced a strong sense of threat, instability, and rising financial demands by Christian authorities in exchange for protection.

Anthonius Margaritha, a later convert, spent much of his childhood in Regensburg in southern Germany, where his father served as the chief rabbi. This was a long-established and well-respected Jewish community, and in the 14th and 15th centuries it was the largest community in the Holy Roman Empire. Margaritha must have been very familiar with its history of persecution and anti-Jewish agitation,  which lasted several decades. In 1476, 17 Jews were arrested under the suspicion of having committed ritual murder. The assets of all Jews were frozen, the Jewish quarter sealed off, and Jews were prohibited from leaving the city. Two of Margaritha’s ancestors were among the accused. Both withstood torture, as did most of the interrogated Jews. While the men were imprisoned, their wives and children were kept under house arrest. Despite the intervention of Emperor Friedrich III, the men were kept in prison for 54 months, until the community managed to raise the enormous sum that had been negotiated between the Emperor and the city. The community was punished twice: it was compelled to pay the Emperor for guaranteeing their freedom and to compensate the city for the costs of the trial and their upkeep while in prison. In addition, the town passed the fine the Emperor had imposed on it over to the Jews. Most of these unfortunate community members lived through another wave of anti-Jewish sentiment that broke out after 1490. One man even lived to see the final destruction of the Jewish community. In 1519, immediately after the death of Emperor Maximilian I, the town council exploited the political vacuum and expelled about 800 Jewish men, women, and children from Regensburg.

As this case study demonstrates, Jews in the early sixteenth century were acutely aware of their vulnerable position. They had to maintain a delicate balance in order to survive as a religious minority in a difficult political and religious climate. Jews were keen to maintain their religious autonomy, but needed political protection and had to adapt themselves to economic opportunities. While they were in close contacts with many Christians of different social backgrounds, the power relations between Jews and Christians were very clear. Strategies available to ensure legal protection and economic security can be regarded as the ‘public transcript’ of the relationship between Jews and Christian authorities. Jews had to pay heavy taxes to officials, and often also to bribe them, in order to gain the right of settlement and legal protection. They also employed various spiritual strategies, such as praying or fasting to prevent pending disaster. Margaritha’s contemporary, Josel of Rosheim, skilfully played according to the expected ‘public transcript’. Appointed as the Official Leader of the Jewry of the Holy Roman Empire, he served as their tireless spokesman, intervened on behalf of persecuted Jews, and used a wide range of political means to ensure the protection of Jews.

Beneath this accepted behaviour within a clearly defined power relationship, Jews developed a ‘hidden transcript’, which enabled them to express anger, hopes of revenge, and the belief in their own superiority as God’s Chosen People despite their lengthy exile. Prayers and rituals, which in earlier times were directed against the Babylonians and the Romans, were now understood as referring to their Christian oppressors. Holiday rituals in the relative security of their homes provided the opportunity to vent some of their anger and frustration and to express their hope for swift redemption, the end of exile and punishment for their often cruel oppressors under whose rule they lived.

2. Source

2a. Transcription of source in German original

Darnach haben sie aber ein Fest am fünff vnd zweintzigsten tag des Wintermonats das חנוכה heissen/ nemen es auß der Histori da Mathatias vnd seine Süne regierten/ kamen die Griechen vnd gewunnen Jerusalem/ vnd entweiheten den Tempel/ Gab aber Gott dem Mathatias vnd seinen Sünen wider sig/ das sie die Stadt wider gewunnen/ vnd weiheten den Tempel wider/ vmb solcher gutthat willen die ihn Gott doselbst erzeiget hat/ haben sie das Fest alle Jar eingesetzt/ vnd verordnet/ feiren aber nicht recht daran/ thun die gantzen acht tag nichts denn schlemmen vnd spielen und seind frölich/ zünden aber die erst nacht ein jeder ein Liecht an/ die andern zwey/ die dritten drey Liechter/ vnd also biß auff die achte/ geschicht darumb/ Da die Griechen also den Tempel zurstöreten/ kam alles heiliges öl vmb/ vnd da sie den Tempel wider eroberten/ funden sie darinnen ein Krüglin verborgen noch ein wenig heyligs öl/ das kaum ein nacht brinnen mocht/ da thet GOTT ein wunderzeichen/ vnd brennet acht tag biß sie wider das recht öl zurüsteten vnd weiheten/ wie du im Leuit. findest/ Diß zu gedencken/ stecken sie biß auff acht Kertzen an diesem Fest auff/ haben auch etliche besondere Gebett die von dieser geschicht/ vnd von der geschicht Judith sagen. Betten auch an dem anderm Sabbath dieses Fests in der Kirchen vnder andern/ do sie Gott loben/ das er jre feind umbbracht hab &. Sprechen sie mit außgedruckten worten daselbst/ das er das Römisch Keyserthumb gar außwurtzlen soll. An diesem obgemelten Fest/ welchs sie Chonuko Kirchweih nennen/ betten sie gesangsweiß in jren heusern/ vnd wenn sie wolleben ein gesang Ismechu viranenu genannt וירננו ישמחו auf Teutsch/ sie werden frölich sein vnd singen/ betten sie daselbst vnder anderem/ das Gott jhr Regiment widerumb ernew vnd die Tochter Zion bald erlöse/ vnd das Gott wölle sein volck Israel von der hand Esau wider einsamlen (verstehe von der Christen hand) vnd so wölle denn Israel der Christen Blut auf die wand sprützen (verstehe umbbringen). O Christlicher Leser/ du mußt das mercken/ das/ wo die Juden rach bitten vnd fluchen vber die Edomiter/ Esau/ Seyr/ meynen sie alle mal/ alle Oberkeit mit sampt den Underthonen des Römischen Reichs/ das kan kein Jud leugnen/ denn sollich schreiben alle jhre Commentatores an viel orten/ vnd auch jre Bettbücher zeigen solchs an/ solches alles aber kompt her von Tito vnd Vespasiano der ein Römer was/ vnd vom Esau geborn/ nach innhalt ihres Thalmudts/ wie in diesem Buch zum teil angezeigt. Darnach betten sie aber gesangsweiß in einem Gebetlein/ fahet an/ גילם יכל Jechal gilom/ Teutsch/ jr freude soll zergehen/ vnd in diesem einigen Gesetz begeren sie/ abermal gar vil vnd unaußsprechlich rach wider die Christen/ vnd nennen sie das gottloß schalckhafftig Volck/ vnd auß dem letzten gesetz dieses gebetes/ ist klärlich zu probieren/ das die Juden alle Christen/ Edomiter/ Esau/ Seyr heissen/ wie oben angezeigt/ vnd lautet dasselbig gesetz also. O Gott/ es soll süß vor deinem angesicht sein/ Das du deinen erstgebornen Sun erlösest/ solt auch die rach erwecken/ als ein brennendes fewr/ vnd solt vber Seyr vergeltung bringen/ vnd jhnen bezalen/ das sie den Baw deiner Stadt verbrennet haben/ So folget je das sie den Titum meynen mit sampt den Römern/ denn sie selben haben den Tempel verbrennet vnd nicht die Edomiter/ Aber jr Thalmudt schreibet/ das der Titus von Edom geboren sey/ Darumb schelten sie alles Römisch Reich Edomiter/ wie vor angezeigt/ Das aber die Juden alle Christliche Oberkeit gottloß vnd schelck schelten/ wil ich klärlich probieren/ Nemlich haben sie ein bettgesang/ welchs heißt osay maim schetophuni שטפוני מים אזי / Teutsch/ denn hetten mich die Wasser verflosset/ in welchem gebett die Juden Gott fast loben/ da er sie von Egypten/ Babel/ Haman/ vnd von den Griechen beschirmet vnd erlöset hat/ vnd alle mal jre feinde hart gestrafft. Vnd am ende betten sie also vber die Christen/ darunder sie jetzt auch gefangen ligen. O wie viel feind die tag meins zwangs vnd trübsals vnder dem gewalt des Gottlosen und schlackhafftigen Künigreichs/ welches zwange vnd trübsal noch kein end ist/ vnd wenn du vns erlösen wilt/ hastu nicht kundt gethon. Merck das sich die Juden hie beklagen/ das jn Gott kein zeit gestimpt hat/ wie zu Babylonia. In Summa/ alle der Juden hoffnung vnd betten ist dahin gericht/ das der Christen Scepter hinweg genommen/ vnd zunicht werden soll/ wie sie denn jetz in des Türcken krieg ein uberflüssig freud gehabt/ vnd verhofft/ das scepter der Christen solt hingenommen worden sein/ denn alle jre Scribenten schreiben/ dieweil die Edomiter das scepter haben/ künden vnd mögen sie kein scepter vberkommen/ wenn aber das scepter von den Edomitern genommen wirt/ denn so werden sie jre scepter wider vberkommen/ Nun so halten vnd heissen die blinden nerrischen Juden alle Christen Edomiter vom Esau/ wie angezeigt/ Auß diesem allem ist wol zu mercken vnd zu sehen/ was guts die Juden den Christen günnen vnd wünschen.

2b. English translation of the source

Then follows a holiday on the 25th of the winter month [Kislev] which is called חנוכה. It is based on the time Mattathias and his sons ruled, and the Greeks [Seleucids] conquered Jerusalem and desecrated the Temple. God helped Mattathias and his sons to gain victory. They recaptured the city and re-dedicated the Temple. To remember God’s support during this event they celebrate this holiday every year. They don’t follow it properly, however. For eight days, they don’t do anything other than feasting, gambling, and being merry. They light one light on the first night, two on the following night, three on the third night, [and so on] until the eighth. The reason for this is that all the oil was spoiled when the Greeks destroyed the Temple. When they [the Maccabees] recaptured the Temple, they found a jar with a little oil, barely enough for one night. God performed a miracle and the oil burnt for eight days, until they had prepared and blessed right oil as described in Lev. [8:10-11; 24:1-4]. In memory of this they put up eight candles during this holiday. They also have a number of special prayers, which relate this story and the story of Judith. On the second Sabbath of the holiday, they pray in the Church [synagogue], as well as doing other things , and praise God for killing their enemies. They even say explicitly that he should eradicate the Roman Empire. On this holiday, which they call the Hanukkah Dedication, they sing a prayer in their houses, while they celebrate, which is called וירננו ישמחו[which means], in German, we will be merry and sing. In this prayer they ask among other things to renew their authority and redeem the daughter of Zion soon. May God collect His people soon from the hand of Esau (meaning from the Christians’ hand) so that Israel will splash the Christians’ blood on the wall (meaning, kill them). O Christian reader, you must understand that whenever the Jews ask for revenge and curse the Edomites, Esau and Seyr, they do mean all authorities including the subjects of the Roman Empire. No Jew can deny this because their commentators say this in many places, and their prayer books show the same. This derives from Titus and Vespasian, who was a Roman and born to Esau, according to their Talmud, as partly explained elsewhere in this book. Then they sing a prayer which begins with גילם יכל Jechal gilom which is in German, may their joy be gone. In one stanza of this prayer they ask for great and unspeakable revenge against the Christians, whom they call the godless and evil people. The last stanza of this prayer demonstrates clearly that the Jews call all Christians Edomites, Esau, and Seyr, as explained above, and the stanza goes like this: O God, may it be sweet […]. From this  it is clear that they mean Titus and the Romans because they destroyed the Temple and not the Edomites. But their Talmud says that Titus was born to Edom. That’s why they call all the Roman Empire Edomites, as explained. I’ll also demonstrate that the Jews call all Christian authorities godless and evil. They have a prayer which is called שטפוני מים אזי , in German, […], in which the Jews praise God because he has protected and redeemed them from Egypt, Babylonia, Haman, and the Greeks, and punished their enemies each time. Towards the end [of the prayer] they curse the Christians under whose authority they are currently captured. O how much enemy…[…]. Note that the Jews complain that God didn’t give them a specific time, as in Babylonia. In conclusion, the hope and prayer of Jews is directed towards the end of Christian government. They delighted in the war against the Turks and hoped that the sceptre of the Christians would be taken away. All their scholars write that they won’t gain the sceptre while the Edomites rule. However, when the sceptre is being taken away from the Edomites they will gain the sceptre. That’s why the blind and stupid Jews call all Christians Edomites of Esau, as shown. It is easy to understand and see from all this what the Jews wish and want for the Christians.

3. Discussion of the source

The Jewish community was alarmed by the publication of Margaritha’s book. They feared that a book published by a former Jew, who boasted of intimate knowledge of Jewish rituals and who explicitly wanted to inform Christian authorities about Jewish hopes for revenge, would damage them enormously. Josel of Rosheim was invited to refute Margaritha’s claims at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530. The main charges were that the Jews cursed the nations under whose government they lived, and blasphemed Christianity and Jesus in their prayers. Margaritha was unsuccessful in convincing the Emperor, who had more pressing issues such as the Ottoman threat and Lutheran heresy on his mind, that Jewish disloyalty constituted a danger to the Empire. He was impeached and imprisoned, and had to leave Augsburg under the solemn affirmation not to return. Despite this initial setback for the author, his book enjoyed numerous editions, well into the early 18th century, and influenced Christian opinions on Jews and Judaism throughout the early modern period. It was widely read, most prominently by the reformer Martin Luther, whose anti-Jewish works were influenced by it.

Margaritha’s description of Hanukkah is a good example of his ethnographic and polemical approach. He provides the historical background of the holiday and describes the rituals observed. His tone and the main focus of his account are clearly polemical. He stresses the anti-Christian rhetoric of the piyyutim of this holiday. Hanukkah has of course a strong anti-assimilationist origin, and expressions of defiance and resilience are an essential part in celebrating the Maccabees’ historical victory against the Hellenizing Seleucids.

A well-known expression of this spirit is the popular Hanukkah song Maoz Tzur, which originated in the Middle Ages and is usually sung after lighting the candles at home. Its title is based on Isaiah 17:10 [“the Rock, your fortress”] and its six stanzas commemorate events in Jewish history when the People of Israel had been threatened by enemies: the Egyptians, Assyrians, the Persians, and the Seleucids. The central theme of the song is thankful acknowledgement of God’s help in times of persecution by evil regimes. The sixth stanza is relevant for our current discussion. Due to its controversial content is has often been omitted from the song. It is a plea for the end of exile and calls for revenge upon those who persecute the Jews: ‘Bare Your holy arm/ … Avenge the blood of your servants, take revenge upon the evil nation,/… repel the Red one in the deepest shadows.’  The ‘Red one [adom]’ is the biblical Edom, in its historical rabbinical context meaning ancient Rome, in the 16th century referring to Christendom.

Anthonius Margaritha did not make up his claims. The association of medieval Christendom with Edom, Esau, and Seir goes back to common Jewish terms for imperial pagan Rome. R. Akiba is one of the first to have read Edom as a metonym for Rome (PT Ta’an IV.8 (68d). When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, Jewish commentators did not perceive this as a major change for Jews: it was simply a case of one idolatry being replaced by another. As Gerson Cohen has pointed out, Jewish homilists only had to extend the term ‘Edom’ to Christendom: Esau may have replaced its eagle by the cross, but it still was Esau. Israel Yuval’s works have drawn attention to the expressions of revenge in Jewish piyyutim. He has shown that medieval Hebrew poetry and Jewish rituals include prayers for vengeance against non-Jews as part of their eschatological hopes.

Polemical Christian ethnographies are not the first texts to expose such linguistic strategies. The polemic Sefer Toldot Yeshu or the Hebrew chronicles written in the wake of the first crusade are well-known and frequently studied examples where Jews quite openly use dismissive terminology of Christians and specific Christian institutions, but those were texts aimed at a Jewish rather than a Christian audience. Leo Strauss described such texts already in his essay Persecution and the art of writing, first published in 1941:

Persecution… gives rise to a peculiar type of writing… in which the truth about all crucial things is presented exclusively between the lines. That literature is addressed, not to all readers, but trustworthy and intelligent readers only. It has all the advantages of private communication without having its greatest disadvantages – that it reaches only the writer’s acquaintances. It has all the advantages of public communication without having its greatest disadvantage – capital punishment for the author. … [a]n author … has but to write in such a way that only a very careful reader can detect the meaning of his book. (Strauss, 1952, 25)

By writing explicitly for a Christian audience converts from Judaism authoring ‘Christian ethnographies’ transgressed this silent understanding not to disclose potentially damaging sentiments to the outside world. These authors may have been motivated by the proverbial zeal of the convert to demonstrate their loyalty to their new faith community, by exposing their former community. They may have had an axe to grind with their Jewish past, or they may have been driven by malice. What is important about these texts is not only that they provide us with information about early modern Jewish rituals and customs, they also show how a community under siege found creative ways to vent their anger and frustration at their situation, and to express their secret feelings of superiority. They were conscious of their role in the spiritual history of the world, kept the memory of their past with its political autonomy and cultural achievements alive, and longed for a restoration of their former status. This tension between ‘historical memory and eschatological hope’ is expressed in many of the prayers and the liturgy exposed by Anthonius Margaritha and others.

It has only relatively recently become possible to acknowledge these subversive strategies employed by mediaeval and early modern Jews, a development facilitated by the emergence of less apologetic scholarship in the study of Jewish-Christian polemics, discourse, and interaction. These strategies offer important insights into the mentality and self-definition of a persecuted minority in late medieval/early modern Europe.

4. Questions for discussion

  1. Is the term ‘Christian ethnographies’ appropriate for this type of writing?
  2. What is problematic about these sources? Can arguments of people who left the fold and who write about their former peer group ever be reliable? Do you think Margaritha tells the truth?
  3. Margaritha questions Jewish loyalty to Christian authorities. How can such claims affect the Jewish community?
  4. What kind of codes did early modern Jews use to express their frustration during a time of subjection?
  5. Exile and redemption are recurrent motifs in the piyyutim Margaritha discusses. How did Jews imagine their victory over Christianity?
  6. Is it helpful for Jewish-Christian relations to unearth such ‘hidden transcripts’?

5. Selected bibliography

  • Carlebach, Elisheva. (2001) Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Germany, 1500-1750. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Cohen, Gerson D. (1967) ‘Esau as Symbol in Early Medieval Thought’ in: Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies, ed. A. Altmann. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 19–48.
  • Deutsch, Yaacov. (2001) ‘A View of the Jewish Religion’ – Conceptions of Jewish Practice and Ritual in Early Modern Europe’, Archiv für Religionsgeschichte 3, pp. 273-295.
  • Deutsch, Yaacov. (2006) ‘Von der Iuden Ceremonien: Representations of Jews in Sixteenth-Century Germany’, in: Jews, Judaism and the Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Germany, ed. Dean Phillip Bell and Stephen G. Burnett. Leiden-Boston: Brill, pp. 335-356.
  • Diemling, Maria. (2006) ‘Anthonius Margaritha and his “Der Gantz Jüdisch Glaub”‘ in: Dean Phillip Bell and Stephen G. Burnett (eds.), Jews, Judaism and the Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Germany. Leiden: Brill, pp. 303-33.
  • Fraenkel-Goldschmidt, Chava. (2006) The Historical Writings of Joseph of Rosheim. Leader of Jewry in Early Modern Germany, translated from the Hebrew by Naomi Schendowich. English edition edited and an afterword by Adam Shear. Leiden-Boston: Brill.
  • Hsia, Ronnie Po-chia. (1994) ‘Christian Ethnographies of Jews in Early Modern Germany’ in:The Expulsion of the Jews: 1492 and After, ed. Raymond B. Waddington and A. H. Williamson. New York: Garland, pp. 223-235.
  • Scott, James C. (1990) Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Yuval, Israel J. (2006) Two Nations in Your Womb: Perceptions of Jews and Christians in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Berkeley: University of California Press.

6. Further Reading

Jews in Early Modern Germany

  • Bell, Dean Phillip. (2007) Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany: Memory, Power and Community. Aldershot: Ashgate.

‘Christian ethnographies’ of Jews and Judaism

  • Burnett, Stephen G. (1994) ‘Distorted Mirrors: Antonius Margaritha, Johann Buxtorf, and Christian ethnographies of the Jews’, Sixteenth Century Journal 25, pp. 275-87.
  • Deutsch, Yaacov. (2012) Judaism in Christian Eyes. Ethnographic Descriptions of Jews and Judaism in Early Modern Europe. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Deutsch, Yaacov. (2004) ‘Polemical Ethnographies: Descriptions of Yom Kippur in the Writings of Christian Hebraists and Jewish Converts in Early Modern Europe’ in: Hebraica Veritas? Jews and the Study of Judaism in Early Modern Europe, ed. Allison P. Coudert and Jeffrey S. Shoulson. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 202-233.

Studies of Jewish expressions of hatred and violence towards Christians

  • Deutsch, Yaacov. (2010) ‘Jewish Anti-Christian Invectives and Christian Awareness: An unstudied form of interaction in the Early Modern Period’, Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 55, 1, pp. 41-61.
  • Horowitz, Elliott. (2006) Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Anthonius Margaritha

  • Diemling, Maria. (2006) ‘Anthonius Margaritha and his “Der Gantz Jüdisch Glaub”‘ in: Jews, Judaism and the Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Germany, ed. Dean Phillip Bell and Stephen G. Burnett. Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2006, pp. 303-33.
  • Von der Osten-Sacken, Peter. (2002) Martin Luther und die Juden. Neu untersucht anhand von Anton Margarithas “Der gantz Jüdisch glaub” (1530/31). Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.
  • Walton, Michael T. (2005) ‘Anthonius Margaritha – honest reporter?’ Sixteenth Century Journal 36, 1, pp. 129-141.
  • Walton, Michael T. (2012) Anthonius Margaritha and the Jewish Faith. Jewish Life and Conversion in Sixteenth-Century Germany. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Maoz Tzur

7. Useful web resources

Johannes Buxtorf, Synagoga Judaica.

While converts from Judaism wrote about three quarters of all ‘Christian ethnographies’ published in the early modern period, once Christian Hebraists discovered the genre, their work were considered more reliable and of higher scholarly standard. The eminent Swiss Hebraist, Johannes Buxtorf, published his Synagoga Judaica in 1603, based on his studies of Jewish texts and some earlier works by converts, and it soon became a standard work.


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