SEMINAR: Emotions and the Jewish-Christian Controversy: The Case of Toledot Yeshu
|Emotions and the Jewish-Christian Controversy: The Case of Toledot Yeshu : An ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions Seminar
The Jewish life of Jesus, or Toledot Yeshu, provides a polemical account of the origins of Christianity, mocking Jesus as an illegitimate child, a false prophet and a charlatan, and describing his disciples as a bunch of violent rogues. This is one of the most important Jewish anti-Christian literary traditions, which was read, transmitted and circulated among Jews as early as the ninth century CE (if not earlier) and at least until the mid-twentieth century. The sheer number of manuscripts that have come down to us suggest that it was almost a “best-seller” among late medieval and early modern Jews. This “blasphemous” narrative was also discussed by a number of Christian authors (most conspicuously, Martin Luther), with a view to expose an alleged Jewish “hatred” of Christians and Christianity and as an illustration of the obstacles preventing the Jews from converting to the “true religion.” The different versions of the story have most often been approached through a philological perspective, with a view to reconstruct Toledot Yeshu’s complex textual history. While philological questions are of course important, they also leave a number of issues unresolved. Here we will be less interested in the origins and development of the tradition than in its audience and in its readers, both Jewish and non-Jewish. We will in particular consider the discursive construction of emotions in the texts, and how they relate to the extra-textual world of medieval and early modern Jews. We will also consider the Christian reception of these texts, exploring the place of emotions in the late medieval and early modern Christian imaginary of Jews and Judaism. The broader aim of this seminar is to question the role of emotions in religious polemics, both as a way to construct out-groups as “others” and as a way to enforce one group’s sense of its own identity.
This is a free event, but spaces are limited. please register by emailing emotionsuwa.edu.au.
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