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The Satanizing of the Jews: Origin and Development of Mystical Anti-Semitism Paperback – October, 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
Unlike other forms of prejudice, anti-Semitism took on a mystical character with the advent of Christianity, asserts Carmichael. Images of Jews as inhumanly evil and satanically powerful were promulgated by the early Church Fathers. The Crusaders exploited the ancient theme of Jews as demonic murderers of God, and after Luther's campaign of violent anti-Semitism, the stereotype of Jew as primordial sinner became central to the catechism taught to children. Carmichael, a specialist in Christianity ( The Death of Jesus ) and Russian history, follows the lineage of ``mystical anti-Semitism'' from Christian medieval theology through secularized modern Christendom to its ultimate, demented manifestation notion of Holocaust as a `flowering' of anything seems offensive in Hitler and the Holocaust. He views Arab hostility to Israel as a collective enmity distinct from the mystical variety of Jew-hatred and rooted in the conviction that Jews should be subjugated to Islam. This important, lucid critique offers a provocative perspective on centuries of bigotry.
Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The story continues into Protestant times, where Luther showed great ferocity against Jews but Calvinism was willing to tolerate Jews. And the author makes the point that we ought not be surprised that some Jews did indeed survive the Middle Ages, given that mass murders of Jews were far enough apart so that the Jewish community had a chance to regroup. Next, we get into secular times, where Voltaire is used as an example. For Voltaire, the Jews were to be condemned not because they killed Jesus but because they wrote the Bible, produced Jesus, produced the Christians, and sent away the Roman civilization, along with the Roman Goddesses and Gods. While I understand Voltaire's criticism, I can't agree with it. We non-monotheists ought to be busy inviting the Goddesses and Gods to return to us, not busy blaming the Jews (rather than ourselves) for sending them away.
After that, we get to some new ideas: pseudo-scientific claims about an Inferior Race (of Jews, of course). And that leads to a discussion of antisemitism in Germany in World War Two and in Soviet Russia. The book concludes with an analysis of the support for anti-semitism from left wing movements, including from left-wing Jews.
I happen to disagree with Carmichael on some topics. I know that three millenia ago, the Jews may have been characterized by their opposition to child sacrifice and to Sun-worship (and to Paganism in general). But nowadays, I think the overall perception of what Jews are is defined as much by Christians and Muslims as by the Jews themselves.
In addition, I think it is no accident that some non-Christians survived the Middle Ages. There were always some people who could not abide Christian rituals, or the divinity of Jesus, or simply refused the idea of taking orders from Roman priests. One could avoid all this by becoming (or remaining) Jewish. Dissent could not always be prevented, and this option was often open. Judaism was a coherent enough choice that it would have been very difficult to completely annihilate it. Perhaps if Christianity had been demonstrably True and Judaism False, that would have made a difference, but to most dissenters, Christianity seemed about as far from truth as possible.
So I see both Judaism and antisemitism as a little less special than Carmichael does.
Nevertheless, I think it is a great book, and I highly recommend it.