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The Antisemitic Imagination

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Chapter Summary

Jewish tradition explains anti-Semitism as natural to the structure of human existence. Anti-Semitism is not a seven-headed hydra, popping up in different places at different times, as some kind of constant presence in human history. One of humanity's most culturally specific and historically determined phenomena, anti-Semitism is the product of the rancorous separation between Judaism and the Jesus Movement of the first century. By approximately 1000 CE, the continent of Europe was Christianized, albeit unevenly and idiosyncratically in many places. The period of the High Middle Ages was in fact the actual laboratory that created what we know as the anti-Semitic imagination, and it was during these specific centuries that anti-Semitism first became a popular mass phenomenon. Anti-Semitism is carried inside Western culture in the most complex ways because "the jew" is sewn into the fabric of the Christian imagination. The history of anti-Semitism is a process of reconfiguration.

Keywords: anti-Semitic imagination; Jesus Movement; Jewish tradition; Judaism; Western culture



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