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Cursing the Christians?A History of the Birkat HaMinim$
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Ruth Langer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199783175

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199783175.001.0001

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The Birkat HaMinim in Europe of the High Middle Ages

The Birkat HaMinim in Europe of the High Middle Ages

(p.66) 3 The Birkat HaMinim in Europe of the High Middle Ages
Cursing the Christians?

Ruth Langer

Oxford University Press

In Christian Europe, Jews adopted versions of the birkat haminim similar to that of the ninth-century liturgy of Rav Amram Gaon. This text omitted any explicit mention of Christians, but both Jewish and Christian sources suggest that all the categories cursed in the prayer were applied explicitly to Christians. This chapter explores the evidence for this meaning of the prayer, first in inner-Jewish discussions, including commentaries from the world of kabbalah, and then as it gradually becomes a regular topic of Christian anti-Jewish polemic, from the reports of the Paris disputation to Alfonso de Espina’s fifteenth- century summaries of the critiques of Abner of Burgos and others. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Jewish apologetic responses to this polemic from Paris through the Ẓedah LaDerekh, the Ezer Emunah, and the Sefer Niẓẓaḥon at the end of the fourteenth century.

Keywords:   High Middle Ages, commentary, polemic, disputation, birkat haminim, Abner of Burgos, Alfonso de Espina, Ẓedah LaDerekh, Ezer Emunah, Sefer Niẓẓaḥon

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