Medieval Antisemitism?

Is it possible to talk about antisemitism in the Middle Ages, before the appearance of scientific concepts of “race”? This work analyses this question and offers a nuanced response.

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£12.95 ISBN-13: 9781641890090

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François Soyer

Is it possible to talk about antisemitism in the Middle Ages before the appearance of scientific concepts of "race"? In this work, François Soyer examines the nature of medieval anti-Jewish sentiment and violence. Analysing developments in Europe between 1100 and 1500, he points to the tensions in medieval anti-Jewish thought amongst thinkers who hoped to convert Jews and blamed Talmudic scholarship for their obduracy and yet who also, conversely, often essentialized Judaism to the point that it transformed into the functional equivalent of the modern concept of race. In a nuanced manner, he argues that, just as many historians now refer to “racisms” in the plural, we should not consider antisemitism as a monolithic concept but accept the existence of independent historical meanings and thus of antisemitisms (plural), including "medieval antisemitism" as distinct from anti-Judaism.

Contents

Chapter 1: Historians, “Medieval Antisemitism,” and the Problem of Anachronism
Chapter 2: Judaism and the Jews in Medieval European Religious Thought
Chapter 3: The Dehumanization and Demonization of the Medieval Jews
Chapter 4: Purity of Blood: An Iberian Exception?
Conclusion

Reviewer Quote(s)

Das erschreckende Wiedererstarken des Antisemitismus in Europa gibt Anlass zu erneuter kritischer Reflexion über die »Wurzeln« des Phänomens beziehungsweise über seinen Ort in der »westlichen« Tradition1. Vor diesem Hintergrund widmet sich François Soyers willkommener Essay speziell der Frage, ob und in welchem Sinn von »mittelalterlichem Antisemitismus« gesprochen werden kann. […] Dessen ungeachtet bietet der Autor einen zeitgemäßen Diskussionsbeitrag zu einem–ganz im Sinne des Reihentitels–unerledigten Problem der europäischen Geschichte., Christoph Cluse, University of Trier, Francia recensio 3 (2020), 1 October 2020