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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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Under Early Islam

Under Early Islam

The Period of the Ge’onim and the Geniza

(p.40) 2 Under Early Islam
Cursing the Christians?

Ruth Langer

Oxford University Press

The earliest surviving texts of the birkat haminim were found in the Cairo geniza and date from c. 1000 CE. These texts allow a well-grounded discussion of the still highly flexible contents of the prayer and its intentions. While the chapter begins with a survey of the evidence for the prayer in geonic (early medieval rabbinic) literature, it focuses on an analysis of the possible meanings of the key elements of the geniza texts of the prayer, including especially the terms meshummadim (apostates), nozerim (Christians), minim (heretics), and malkhut zadon (empire of insolence). This analysis draws heavily on earlier rabbinic literature, especially the Babylonian Talmud, that which the rabbis of this period taught and promulgated as the key text of Oral Torah.

Keywords:   birkat haminim, Cairo geniza, Babylonian Talmud, interpretation, geonim, meshummadim, minim, malkhut zadon

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