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Marked in Your FleshCircumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America$
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Leonard B. Glick

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176742

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/019517674X.001.0001

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 “The Height of Foulness”

 “The Height of Foulness”

Circumcision in European Religious and Popular Culture

(p.85) 4 “The Height of Foulness”
Marked in Your Flesh

Leonard B. Glick

Oxford University Press

Images of circumcision in European religious and popular culture were consistently, often profoundly hostile. Abelard, Aquinas, Luther, and others wrote or spoke on the subject critically when referring to Jewish circumcision, but piously when the subject was the circumcision of Jesus. Fantasies about circumcision entered ritual murder accusations, while Italian farces portrayed rabbis bent on emasculating frightened Christian men. Circumcision appears in the work of John Donne and Alexander Pope, and possibly as a theme in The Merchant of Venice. It was featured in satires composed in reaction to the British “Jew Bill” of 1753, and it provides a foundational scene in Tristram Shandy.

Keywords:   circumcision, Abelard, Aquinas, Luther, Jesus, ritual murder, Merchant of Venice, Donne, Alexander Pope, Jew Bill

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