Anti-Judaism by David Nirenberg
The Western Tradition

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“Exhilarating . . . a scholarly tour de force. The story Nirenberg has to tell is not over.”—Adam Kirsch, Tablet

This incisive history upends the complacency that confines anti-Judaism to the ideological extremes in the Western tradition. With deep learning and elegance, David Nirenberg shows how foundational anti-Judaism is to the history of the West.

Questions of how we are Jewish and, more critically, how and why we are not have been churning within the Western imagination throughout its history. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans; Christians and Muslims of every period; even the secularists of modernity have used Judaism in constructing their visions of the world. The thrust of this tradition construes Judaism as an opposition, a danger often from within, to be criticized, attacked, and eliminated. The intersections of these ideas with the world of power—the Roman destruction of the Second Temple, the Spanish Inquisition, the German Holocaust—are well known. The ways of thought underlying these tragedies can be found at the very foundation of Western history.

About David Nirenberg

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David Nirenberg is the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Medieval History and Social Thought at the University of Chicago, where he is also director of the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society.
Published February 4, 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company. 625 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Church officials equated Jews with carnality and the flesh, while the Muslims deemed them “hypocrites” and “non-believers.” In the medieval era, Jews worked for monarchs as moneylenders, and thus, resisting their influence became a preoccupation from the Spanish Inquisition to the Enlightenment p...

Oct 07 2012 | Read Full Review of Anti-Judaism: The Western Tra...

Publishers Weekly

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Nirenberg (Communities of Violence), professor of medieval history and social thought at the University of Chicago, contends that anti-Judaism is “one of the basic tools with which [Western thought] was constructed,” yet he stresses that this device depended less on an acquaintance with real ...

Oct 29 2012 | Read Full Review of Anti-Judaism: The Western Tra...

Open Letters Monthly

Nirenberg veers away from a focus on blind racial hatred against Jews, specifically choosing not to use the term anti-Semitism, agreeing with Hannah Arendt that the designation “labels its targets as enemies of Jews and Judaism” but “implies that there is no reason for that enmity, that the enmit...

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