Living Together, Living Apart: Rethinking Jewish-Christian Relations in the Middle Ages (Jews, Christians, and Muslims from the Ancient to the Modern World)

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9780691114873: Living Together, Living Apart: Rethinking Jewish-Christian Relations in the Middle Ages (Jews, Christians, and Muslims from the Ancient to the Modern World)


This book challenges the standard conception of the Middle Ages as a time of persecution for Jews. Jonathan Elukin traces the experience of Jews in Europe from late antiquity through the Renaissance and Reformation, revealing how the pluralism of medieval society allowed Jews to feel part of their local communities despite recurrent expressions of hatred against them.


Elukin shows that Jews and Christians coexisted more or less peacefully for much of the Middle Ages, and that the violence directed at Jews was largely isolated and did not undermine their participation in the daily rhythms of European society. The extraordinary picture that emerges is one of Jews living comfortably among their Christian neighbors, working with Christians, and occasionally cultivating lasting friendships even as Christian culture often demonized Jews.


As Elukin makes clear, the expulsions of Jews from England, France, Spain, and elsewhere were not the inevitable culmination of persecution, but arose from the religious and political expediencies of particular rulers. He demonstrates that the history of successful Jewish-Christian interaction in the Middle Ages in fact laid the social foundations that gave rise to the Jewish communities of modern Europe.


Elukin compels us to rethink our assumptions about this fascinating period in history, offering us a new lens through which to appreciate the rich complexities of the Jewish experience in medieval Christendom.


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From the Back Cover:


"This book offers a much-needed corrective to nearly every treatment of medieval European Jewish history. Instead of an emphasis on persecution and different theories about its sources in church or state policies or in popular anti-Semitism leading to the expulsions of 1290, 1306, and 1492, Elukin proposes a paradigm shift that stresses the everyday convivencia of Jews and Christians who lived side by side most of the time. This book seeks to overturn a dominant view about Christian persecution of Jews in the Middle Ages, reinforced for over fifty years by the Holocaust."--Ivan G. Marcus, Yale University


"This book analyzes the circumstances of Jewish life in medieval Europe in such a way as to explain how Jews managed to survive in Europe at all. Elukin argues that when all the evidence is considered, Jews and Christians did not live in a state of continuous hostility, nor were Jews constantly in danger of annihilation by their Christian neighbors. He really challenges the master narrative of a continuous Christian persecution of Jews whose logical and inevitable conclusion was the Shoah. Elukin will also irritate a lot of people who believe this, but he will be right and they wrong."--Edward Peters, University of Pennsylvania


About the Author:

Jonathan Elukin is Associate Professor of History at Trinity College.

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Jonathan Elukin
Published by Princeton University Press (2007)
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Published by Princeton University Press (2007)
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