From ‘Jacob or Esau?’ to ‘Has the Messiah Come?’ Controversies between Jews and Christians as Reflected in Bible Exegesis
The history of controversies between Jews and Christians is long and varied. As early as the New Testament there are traces of anti-Jewish polemic, and in subsequent centuries a number of Christian writings appeared with the aim of persuading Jews and Gentiles (and presumably also the Christians themselves) of the truth of the Christian religion. The Christians interpreted the Jewish scriptures allegorically, typologically and Christologically, reading texts and events as statements about … or prophecies of … Jesus, Christianity and the Christians. The Christians claimed to be the ‘new’, the ‘true’, or the ‘spiritual’ Israel, while Jews were the ‘carnal’ Israel or had completely forfeited the right to bear the name of Israel. This development is clearly seen in the writings of the Church fathers and in the texts called ‘Adversus ]udaeos’.1 Some Christian scholars and clerics were interested in Jewish Bible exegesis and had access to Jewish texts, and some even studied Hebrew with Jewish scholars. Nicholas de Lyra and through him also Martin Luther were influenced by Jewish traditions but this did not stop the Christian polemics. On the contrary, in the centuries after the Protestant Reformation the Christian study of Jewish literature and Hebrew and the increased contact with Jews led to even more polemics and mission to the Jews.
KeywordsDefend Verse Hate
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- 1.See for example H. Schreckenberg, Die christlichen Adver sus-Judaeos-Texte und ihr literarisches und historisches Umfeld (I.-II.Jh.). Europäische Hochschulschriften, Theologie 172, (Frankfurt a. Main 1982), idem, Die christlichen Adver sus-Judaeos-Texte (II.-I3.Jh.): Mit einer Ikonographie des Judenthemas bis zum 4. Laterankonzil. Europäische Hochschulschriften, Theologie 335. (Frankfurt a. Main 1991), and M. Simon, Verus Israel. A Study of the Relations between Christians and Jews in the Roman Empire AD 135-425. Eng. trans. H. McKeating (London 1992).Google Scholar
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- 5.Trautner-Kromann, Shield and Sword, 142.Google Scholar
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- 7.This did not prevent Luther from totally condemning and rejecting the Jews in his treatise against the Jews in 1543 On the Jews and their Lies. Google Scholar
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- 9.Ibid., 130.Google Scholar
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