The Medieval Roots of Antisemitism: Continuities and Discontinuities from the Middle Ages to the Present Day, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Medieval Roots of Antisemitism

Continuities and Discontinuities from the Middle Ages to the Present Day, 1st Edition

Edited by Jonathan Adams, Cordelia Heß


474 pages | 45 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-02-07
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This book presents a fresh approach to the question of the historical continuities and discontinuities of Jew-hatred, juxtaposing chapters dealing with the same phenomenon – one in the pre-modern, one in the modern period. How do the circumstances of interreligious violence differ in pre-Reformation Europe, the modern Muslim world, and the modern Western world? In addition to the diachronic comparison, most chapters deal with the significance of religion for the formation of anti-Jewish stereotypes. The direct dialogue of small-scale studies bridging the chronological gap brings out important nuances: anti-Zionist texts appropriating medieval ritual murder accusations; modern-day pogroms triggered by contemporary events but fuelled by medieval prejudices; and contemporary stickers drawing upon long-inherited knowledge about what a "Jew" looks like. These interconnections, however, differ from the often-assumed straightforward continuities between medieval and modern anti-Jewish hatred. The book brings together many of the most distinguished scholars of this field, creating a unique dialogue between historical periods and academic disciplines.

Table of Contents


1. Volcanic Archives: Towards a Direct Comparison of Pre-Modern and Modern Forms of Antisemitism

[Jonathan Adams and Cordelia Heß]

Part I: Longest Hatred versus Invented Tradition

2. The Medieval (and Ancient) Roots of Antisemitism

[Steven Englund]

3. The Making of Antisemitism in Nineteenth-Century Europe as an Invention of Tradition

[Ulrich Wyrwa]

4. What is Antisemitism Like?: An Analogical Approach

[Brian Klug]

Part II: Antisemitism Without Jews

5. Reception of Medieval European Anti-Jewish Concepts in Late Medieval and Early Modern Norway

[Yvonne Friedman]

6. The Imitation Game?: Japanese Attitudes Towards Jews in Modern Times

[Rotem Kowner]

Part III: Christianity and Antisemitism

7. The Role of Medieval Northern Europe in Generating Virulent Anti-Jewish Imagery

[Robert Chazan]

8. Between Anti- and Another Modernity: Anti-Judaism, the Imaginary Jew, and Catholic ntisemitism in Fin-de-Siècle Poland (1880–1914)

[Grzegorz Krzywiec]

9. The Gospel According to Gibson: Medieval Passion Plays, a Mean-Spirited Nun, and What ne Movie Can Tell Us about Jewish-Christian Relations at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century

[Jonathan Adams]

Part IV: Islam and Antisemitism

10. Narrating Antisemitism in Historical and Contemporary Turkey

[Behruz Davletov and Tahir Abbas]

11. Arab Antisemitic Discourse: Importation, Internalisation, and Recycling

[Esther Webman]

Part V: Bodies, Gender, and Antisemitism

12. What’s in a Nose? The Origins, Development, and Influence of Medieval Anti-Jewish Caricature

[Sara Lipton]

13. Jewish Bodies in Postcards and Street Art: Changes in Anti-Jewish Visual Polemics

[Isabel Enzenbach]

14. Masculinities, Carnal Israel, and Antisemitisms

[Victor Seidler]

Part VI: Blood Libel and Ritual Murder Allegations

15. The Ritual Murder Accusation as Medieval Invention: Linking Libels and Boy Martyrs

[Miriamne Ara Krummel]

16. Norwich 1144: Origins and Afterlives

[Miri Rubin]

17. A Rational Model for Blood Libel: The Aftonbladet Affair

[Jonathan Adams and Cordelia Heß]

Part VII: Neighbours

18. "…and order was upset": Easter, the Eucharist, and the Jews of Prague, 1389

[Milan Žonca]

19. Towards 1391: The Anti-Jewish Preaching of Ferrán Martínez in Seville

[Maya Soifer Irish]

20. "The Present Causes of Past Effects": The Background Beliefs of the Kielce Pogrom (4 July 1946)

[Joanna Tokarska-Bakir]

Part VIII: Economy and Finance

21. Jewish Usurers, Blood Libel, and the Second-Hand Economy: The Medieval Origins of a Stereotype (from the Thirteenth to the Fifteenth Century)

[Giacomo Todeschini]

22. The Deeper the Roots, the Deadlier the Antisemitism?: Comparing Images of Jewish Financial Control in Modern Germany and the United States

[Richard E. Frankel]

Part IX: Land and Home

23. The Theology of the Land in Jewish-Christian Relations and its Role in Misunderstandings Between Jews and Christians

[Jesper Svartvik]

24. Yearning for Zion in Jewish Tradition

Ruth Langer

25. Between Eternity and Wandering: The Anti-Jewish Discourse on the Wandering Jew in the Long Nineteenth Century in Germany and Austria

[Tuvia Singer]

Part X: Medieval Roots and Anti-Judaism

26. Europe, Christianity, Violence, and Jew-Hatred

[Victor Seidler]

27. Postface

[Carlo Ginzburg]

28. Which Past for Which Present?: A Reply to Carlo Ginzburg’s "Postface" on Anti-Judaism

[David Nirenberg]

About the Editors

Jonathan Adams is a researcher for the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, and docent in the Department of Scandinavian Languages at Uppsala University.

Cordelia Heß is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General