Description

This presentation explores the boundaries of the concept of the ‘Jewish book’ on the basis of Yiddish and Hebrew texts distributed by Protestant missionaries among the Jews in 18th-century East Central Europe. Such texts were not always recognised as Christian by their Jewish readers. The case in point is the brochure Or le-Et Erev circulated by the Halle Pietists. The Yiddish text does not give the name of the author or the place of publication; it does not refer explicitly to Jesus’s identity with the Jewish Messiah until the final pages; and it bases much of its argument on Jewish precepts. There are testimonies suggesting that some Jewish readers did not grasp the understated Christian motifs or read the booklet through to the end. There are even testimonies of communal rabbis recommending Or le-Et Erev as a ‘good and pious book’. In a sense, despite the fact that it was composed by a Christian cleric and aimed to expound Christian teachings, the reception of this work turned it into a ‘Jewish book’. This development made a full circle in the 19th century, when Or le-Et Erev was rediscovered by the missionaries of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews. Unaware that the brochure was composed by the German Pietists, the London missionaries also assumed it was a work of Jewish rabbis. They marvelled at the text’s pronounced sympathy for Christianity and Christian tenets, translated it into English, and published it as proof of existence of a ‘progressive’, pro-Christian tendency within Judaism.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

  • Or le-et erev (Light for the Evening, 1728)

Click here to view the video

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Event Website

http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/emw/emw2009/

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Audio and video of the workshop are available with each presentation and on iTunesU

Start Date

25-8-2009 1:00 PM

Location

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University

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Aug 25th, 1:00 PM

Sefer Or le-Et Erev: a history of a misunderstanding

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University

This presentation explores the boundaries of the concept of the ‘Jewish book’ on the basis of Yiddish and Hebrew texts distributed by Protestant missionaries among the Jews in 18th-century East Central Europe. Such texts were not always recognised as Christian by their Jewish readers. The case in point is the brochure Or le-Et Erev circulated by the Halle Pietists. The Yiddish text does not give the name of the author or the place of publication; it does not refer explicitly to Jesus’s identity with the Jewish Messiah until the final pages; and it bases much of its argument on Jewish precepts. There are testimonies suggesting that some Jewish readers did not grasp the understated Christian motifs or read the booklet through to the end. There are even testimonies of communal rabbis recommending Or le-Et Erev as a ‘good and pious book’. In a sense, despite the fact that it was composed by a Christian cleric and aimed to expound Christian teachings, the reception of this work turned it into a ‘Jewish book’. This development made a full circle in the 19th century, when Or le-Et Erev was rediscovered by the missionaries of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews. Unaware that the brochure was composed by the German Pietists, the London missionaries also assumed it was a work of Jewish rabbis. They marvelled at the text’s pronounced sympathy for Christianity and Christian tenets, translated it into English, and published it as proof of existence of a ‘progressive’, pro-Christian tendency within Judaism.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

  • Or le-et erev (Light for the Evening, 1728)

Click here to view the video

https://fordham.bepress.com/emw/emw2009/emw2009/13