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Margery Kempe and Medieval Anti-Judaic Ideology

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Although Margery Kempe (1373-1440) probably never had regular contact with a Jewish person, she depicts the Jews as symbols of evil in her autobiographical Book. Despite the rebellious nature Kempe displays to patriarchal authorities in the church by refusing to behave as a nun, to wear black, or to remain in a cloister, she is entirely orthodox in portraying the Jews as Christkillers in her vision of the Crucifixion. This anti-Judaic ideology appears in the Gospels and in official doctrine, beginning with Augustine, continuing with Pope Gregory I the Great, and worsening with Aquinas and the Franciscan and Dominican friars in the lourteenth century. Medieval drama, especially the N-Town Passion Play (which Kempe may have seen) provides a striking analogue tor Kempe's vision at Calvary. Kempe, extraordinary in some ways, is entirely conventional in her dratnatiration of the Jewish soldiers as dcicides.

Affiliations: 1: California State University, Fresno


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