The Devil and the Jews: The...

The medieval conception of the Jew as devil – literally and figuratively – is the subject of this classic work, first issued in 1943. The full dimension of the diabolization of the Jew is presented through document, analysis, and illustration. It is a chilling study but an exceedingly important one.

Foreword xi to persist and to maintain its institutions in the very midst of Christian society” ( p. 176), that according to Church doctrine, the Jews were “ to be tolerated on humanitarian grounds, and indeed preserved on theological grounds” ( p. 164). Trachtenberg drew two apparently conflicting conclusions. Where official Church policy was favorable to the Jews, it was unimportant: “ It is of no point that the Church did not directly charge the Jew, qua heretic, with such [ abominable anti- Chris-tian] practices. What matters is that the common people and their clerical mentors made the association” ( p. 207). But where the policy was unfavorable to the Jews, it was more important than any of the political, social, and economic transformations of medieval society in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, for all these “ operated against the backdrop of Church policy, which determined public opinion ( and therefore juridical and commer-cial practice as it affected the Jew) and which must in the end bear the major responsibility for the transformation of the popu-lar attitude toward the Jew” ( p. 161). Where presentations of the past may have significant repercussions for intergroup relations in the present, it is all the more important that positive contributions be credited alongside the painful record of turpitude and failure. “ If the Jew is today despised and feared and hated,” Trachten-berg writes in his preface, “ it is because we are the heirs of the Middle Ages. If it is possible for demagogues to sow the seeds of disunion and discord, to stir fanatical emotions and set neighbor against neighbor, it is because the figure of the ‘ de-monic’ Jew, less than human, indeed antihuman, the creation of the medieval mind, still dominates the folk imagination” ( p. xiv). These words, set down in 1943, express a poignant attempt to relate the legacy of the distant past to the bleak reality of the present. In retrospect, they seem inadequate to express the full measure of the horrors that ensued. What Trachtenberg could not have foreseen was that the Nazi goal of total physical exter-mination for the Jews went substantially beyond anything that the Middle Ages could summon forth. Nor could he have pre-   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C  | I n d e x For use on stand- alone, non- institutional computers only. To purchase Scholar PDF version with advanced functionality, go to www. publishersrow. com

The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and Its Relation to Modern Anti-Semitism


About Book The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and Its Relation to Modern Anti-Semitism

FRONT MATTERTitle PageCopyright PageCONTENTS ILLUSTRATIONS FOREWORD. Marc SapersteinPREFACEINTRODUCTION. MEDIEVAL SUPERSTITION AND MODERN ANTISEMITISMPART ONE. THE DEMONIC JEW PART TWO. THE JEW AS SORCERER PART THREE. THE JEW AS HERETIC EPILOGUE. STILL THE DEVIL'S OWNNOTES EPILOGUE. STILL THE DEVIL'S OWN BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX
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