The Broken Staff: Judaism through Christian Eyes

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9780674083707: The Broken Staff: Judaism through Christian Eyes
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In this history Manuel ranges over the centuries, from antiquity to recent times, analyzing the diverse responses of European Christendom - Catholic, Protestant, and freethinking - to the culture and religious thought of the Judaism that survived, even thrived, in its midst. It is a history of marked contrasts. Though prolific in the outpouring of diatribes, European writers never agreed about Jewish thought and religion. should the worlds embodying Jewish beliefs be burned or ignored? Should they be consulted for what might be learned from them? Manuel shows the "rediscovery" of historical Judaism by Renaissance humanists alongside the vicious attacks mounted by Reformation leaders. He surveys the Christian Hebraists in the period that followed: clergymen, university professors, and gentlemen-scholars who studied Jewish religious thought and Hebrew to further Christian purposes. And he discusses the many ends - missionary, political, eschatological, Judeophobic - to which Christian thinkers turned their learning. In the 18th century the English deists and French "philosophes" - notably Voltaire - virulently attacked what they described as a primitive oriental religion. Manuel's picture of writers in 19th-century Germany encompasses the learned research, negative image-making, and polemics of the period.

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About the Author:

Frank E. Manuel is Kenan Professor, Emeritus, New York University, and Alfred and Viola Hart University Professor, Emeritus, Brandeis University.

Review:

Mr. Manuel's aim is to set Jewish and Hebrew scholarship against the background of Christian obsessions, in a sense to see it as an aspect of Christian ideas, a subject that the author of books on Isaac Newton and modern utopias, who has long taught history at Brandeis and New York University, is well qualified to present in grand perspective...[A] tightly packed and learned book. (George Holmes New York Times Book Review)

Manuel shows that the story of Europe's discovery of Judaism was as rich, as complex, and sometimes as paradoxical as the better-known story of the discovery of ancient Greece and Rome...Manuel tells his complicated story with clarity and panache...The Christian enterprise of understanding Judaism has been, and probably will remain, a torment as well as a stimulus to both parties. It is a situation that is not likely to change--except, perhaps, in Manuel's utopian future. But his learned and honest book exposes the twisted, bitter roots of error. A master historian has practiced his necessary craft. (Anthony Grafton New Republic)

[An] erudite and pioneering work on the Christian relationship to Judaism. (Shalom Goldman Newsday)

This work by a distinguished intellectual historian of early modernity charts the developing image of Judaism held in various Christian circles from the 13th century to the present...[It] is a treasure of information and is full of deeply perceptive insights. (Choice)

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9780674865013: The Broken Staff

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ISBN 10:  0674865014 ISBN 13:  9780674865013
Publisher: Harvard University Press, 2014
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