Jewish Anti-Christian Polemical Treatises in Early Modern Central and Eastern Europe

Where are They?


Jewish anti-Christian polemical treatises comprise a well-known genre in medieval Jewish literature. It is generally thought that these books were written in response to Christian missionary pressure. Yet, when considering Central and Eastern Europe in the early modern period, one sees that this genre is almost nonexistent, despite continuing Christian attempts at converting Jews. An analysis of medieval Jewish anti-Christian writings shows that rather than being necessarily a response to Christian missionary pressure, many of them are part of the larger Jewish theological enterprise. Hence, such works are prevalent in areas where Jews engaged in theology – the Islamic world, Iberia, Provence, and Italy – and almost nonexistent in northern Europe (Ashkenaz), where there was little interest in theology. This pattern continued into the early modern period, at which time Ashkenazic Jews still produced almost no anti-Christian polemical works. The most important early modern, Central and Eastern European anti-Christian book, the very popular Faith Strengthened, was written by a Lithuanian Karaite Isaac of Troki (died 1594), reinforcing our knowledge that Central and Eastern European Karaite Jews did not share the Ashkenazi intellectual ethos of their Rabbanite neighbors.

Słowa kluczowe

Polemics, Jewish-Christian; Relations, Jewish-Christian; Early Modern, Central and Eastern Europe; Interreligious Polemics; Karaism

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Akhiezer G. – Lasker D.J., “Solomon ben Aaron of Troki and his Anti-Christian Treatise ‘Migdal ‘Oz’,” in Eastern European Karaites in the Last Generations (eds. D.D.Y. Shapira – D.J. Lasker) (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem 2011) 97–129 (Hebrew).

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Lasker D.J., “Saadia on Christianity and Islam,” in The Jews of Medieval Islam: Community, Society, and Identity (ed. D. Frank) (Leiden: Brill 1995) 165–177.

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Lasker, D. (2019). Jewish Anti-Christian Polemical Treatises in Early Modern Central and Eastern Europe. Wrocławski Przegląd Teologiczny, 26(1), 61-72. Pobrano z

Daniel J. Lasker
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel  Izrael

Daniel J. Lasker – the Norbert Blechner Professor of Jewish Values (Emeritus) in the Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Beer Sheva. In addition, Prof. Lasker has taught at Yale, Princeton, Ohio State, and Yeshiva Universities; University of Toronto, University of Texas, University of Washington; Boston, Queens, Ahva and Kirkland Colleges, and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. His areas of interest are medieval Jewish philosophy (including the thought of Rabbi Judah Halevi, Maimonides, and Rabbi Hasdai Crescas), the Jewish-Christian debate, Karaism, and selected issues in Jewish theology and law. He is the author of Jewish Philosophical Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages (1977; 2nd ed., 2007); The Refutation of the Christian Principles by Hasdai Crescas (1992); From Judah Hadassi to Elijah Bashyatchi: Studies in Late Medieval Karaite Philosophy (2008); The Sage Simhah Isaac Lutski. An Eighteenth-Century Karaite Rabbi. Selected Writings (2015; Hebrew); (with Johannes Niehoff-Panagiotidis and David Sklare), Theological Encounters at a Crossroads: A Preliminary Edition of Judah Hadassi’s Eshkol ha-kofer, First Commandment, and Studies of the Book’s Judaeo-Arabic and Byzantine Contexts (2019); and many other publications.

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