Aspects of Jewish Culture in the Middle Ages: Papers of the by Paul E. Szarmach

By Paul E. Szarmach

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That task has already been performed by Gavin Langmuir of Stanford in a careful and eloquent study of "Majority History and Post-Biblical Jews" published in 1966 in the Journal of the History of Ideas, which I heartily recommend to all. I have rather in mind those medievalists, be they in history or literature, with a serious interest in medieval Jewry or an incipient desire even to direct some of their own research toward medieval Jewish topics. The most telling fact is that these do not even know the language (or languages) of the Jews, and there is not the vaguest indication of a trend to acquire them.

Whatever their other sins, it must be said for twentieth-century Judaic scholars that they have by no means neglected the archives or the non-Jewish languages and sources relevant to their fields. Question: How many general medievalists who have spoken of the Jews have ever bothered to familiarize themselves with the Jewish liturgy? With minor regional variations, that liturgy was recited by all medieval Jews, rich and poor, scholars and vulgus, whether in Paris or Baghdad, three times each day.

The rejection and murder of Christ is the foreordained conclusion of the evil history of a perfidious people. " The basic form of this idea is to see Jewish history as a heritage of rejecting and killing the prophets, of which the rejection and killing of Christ, the final prophet, are the climax. The theme, begun in the New Testament and carried on in the patristic writings, paints a picture of the Jews as a people who never heard the prophets, always rejected the prophetic message and refused to repent, and finally killed the prophets.

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