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A World Without Jews

An exhilarating new intellectual history argues that anti-Judaism is at the heart of Western culture

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A mosaic featuring St Paul is displayed over the chapel of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls on December 12, 2006 in Rome, Italy. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
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The title of David Nirenberg’s new book, Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition, uses a term pointedly different from the one we are used to. The hatred and oppression of Jews has been known since the late 19th century as anti-Semitism—a label, it is worth remembering, originally worn with pride by German Jew-haters. What is the difference, then, between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism? The answer, as it unfolds in Nirenberg’s scholarly tour de force, could be summarized this way: Anti-Semitism needs actual Jews to persecute; anti-Judaism can flourish perfectly well without them, since its target is not a group of people but an idea.

Nirenberg’s thesis is that this idea of Judaism, which bears only a passing resemblance to Judaism as practiced and lived by Jews, has been at the very center of Western civilization since the beginning. From Ptolemaic Egypt to early Christianity, from the Catholic Middle Ages to the Protestant Reformation, from the Enlightenment to fascism, whenever the West has wanted to define everything it is not—when it wants to put a name to its deepest fears and aversions—Judaism has been the name that came most easily to hand. “Anti-Judaism,” Nirenberg summarizes, “should not be understood as some archaic or irrational closet in the vast edifices of Western thought. It was rather one of the basic tools with which that edifice was constructed.”

This is a pretty depressing conclusion, especially for Jews destined to live inside that edifice; but the intellectual journey Nirenberg takes to get there is exhilarating. Each chapter of “Anti-Judaism” is devoted to an era in Western history and the particular kinds of anti-Judaism it fostered. Few if any of these moments are new discoveries; indeed, Nirenberg’s whole argument is that certain types of anti-Judaism are so central to Western culture that we take them for granted. What Nirenberg has done is to connect these varieties of anti-Judaism into a convincing narrative, working with original sources to draw out the full implications of seminal anti-Jewish writings.

The main reason why Judaism, and therefore anti-Judaism, have been so central to Western culture is, of course, Christianity. But Nirenberg’s first chapter shows that some persistent anti-Jewish tropes predate Jesus by hundreds of years. The Greek historian Hecataeus of Abdera, writing around 320 BCE, recorded an Egyptian tradition that inverts the familiar Exodus story. In this version, the Hebrews did not escape from Egypt but were expelled as an undesirable element, “strangers dwelling in their midst and practicing different rites.” These exiles settled in Judea under the leadership of Moses, who instituted for them “an unsocial and intolerant mode of life.” Already, Nirenberg observes, we can detect “what would become a fundamental concept of anti-Judaism—Jewish misanthropy.” This element was emphasized by a somewhat later writer, an Egyptian priest named Manetho, who described the Exodus as the revolt of an impious group of “lepers and other unclean people.”

As he will do throughout the book, Nirenberg describes these anti-Jewish texts not in a spirit of outrage or condemnation, but rather of inquiry. The question they raise is not whether the ancient Israelites were “really” lepers, but rather, why later Egyptian writers claimed they were. What sort of intellectual work did anti-Judaism perform in this particular culture? To answer the question, Nirenberg examines the deep history of Egypt, showing how ruptures caused by foreign invasion and religious innovation came to be associated with the Jews. Then he discusses the politics of Hellenistic Egypt, in which a large Jewish population was sandwiched uneasily between the Greek elite and the Egyptian masses. In a pattern that would be often repeated, this middle position left the Jews open to hostility from both sides, which would erupt into frequent riots and massacres. In the long term, Nirenberg writes, “the characteristics of misanthropy, impiety, lawlessness, and universal enmity that ancient Egypt assigned to Moses and his people would remain available to later millennia: a tradition made venerable by antiquity, to be forgotten, rediscovered, and put to new uses by later generations of apologists and historians.”

With his chapters on Saint Paul and the early church, Nirenberg begins to navigate the headwaters of European anti-Judaism. Paul, whose epistles instructed small Christian communities in the Near East on points of behavior and doctrine, was writing at a time when Christianity was still primarily a Jewish movement. In his desire to emphasize the newness of his faith, and the rupture with Judaism that Jesus Christ represented, he cast the two religions as a series of oppositions. Where Jews read scripture according to the “letter,” the literal meaning, Christians read it according to the “spirit,” as an allegory predicting the coming of Christ. Likewise, where Jews obeyed traditional laws, Christians were liberated from them by faith in Christ—which explained why Gentile converts to Christianity did not need to follow Jewish practices like circumcision. To “Judaize,” to use a word Paul coined, meant to be a prisoner of this world, to believe in the visible rather than the invisible, the superficial appearance rather than the true meaning, law rather than love. More than a theological error, Judaism was an error in perception and cognition, a fundamentally wrong way of being in the world.

The problem, as Nirenberg argues in the richest sections of his book, is that this is an error to which Christians themselves are highly prone. Paul and the early Christians lived in the expectation of the imminent end of the world, the return of Christ, and the establishment of the new Jerusalem. As the end kept on not coming, it became necessary to construct a Christian way of living in this world. But this meant that Christians would have need of law and letter, too, that they would need to “Judaize” to some degree.

That is why the theological debates in the early church, leading up to Saint Augustine, were often cast as arguments about Judaizing. Marcion, a 2nd-century-CE heretic, followed Paul’s denigration of “the letter” to the point of discarding the entire Old Testament (as the Hebrew Bible was now known); to keep reading Jewish scriptures was to miss the point of Christ’s radical newness. On the other hand, Justin Martyr, Marcion’s orthodox opponent, believed that this reduction of the Old Testament to its merely literal content was itself a way of repeating a “Jewish” error. In other words, both Marcion and Justin each accused the other of Judaizing, of reading and thinking like a Jew. This, too, would become a pattern for subsequent Christian (and post-Christian) history: If Judaism was an error, every error could potentially be thought of as Jewish. “This struggle to control the power of ‘Judaism,’ ” Nirenberg writes, “will turn out to be one of the most persistent and explosive themes of Christian political theology, from the Middle Ages to Modernity.”

With the rise of Catholic polities in the Middle Ages, anti-Judaism took on a less theological, more material cast. In countries like England, France, and Germany, the Jews held a unique legal status as the king’s “servants” or “slaves,” which put them outside the usual chain of feudal relationships. This allowed Jews to play a much-needed but widely loathed role in finance and taxation, while also demonstrating the unique power of the monarch. The claim of the Capet dynasty to be kings of France, Nirenberg shows, rested in part on their claim to control the status of the Jews, a royal prerogative and a lucrative one: King after king plundered “his” Jews when in need of cash. At the same time, being the public face of royal power left the Jews exposed to the hatred of the people at large. Riots against Jews and ritual murder accusations became popular ways of demonstrating dissatisfaction with the government. When medieval subjects wanted to protest against their rulers, they would often accuse the king of being in league with the Jews, or even a Jew himself.

Accusations of Jewishness have little to do with actual Jews

The common thread in Anti-Judaism is that such accusations of Jewishness have little to do with actual Jews. They are a product of a Gentile discourse, in which Christians argue with other Christians by accusing them of Judaism. The same principle holds true in Nirenberg’s fascinating later chapters. When Martin Luther rebelled against Catholicism, he attacked the church’s “legalistic understanding of God’s justice” as Jewish: “In this sense the Roman church had become more ‘Jewish’ than the Jews.” When the Puritan revolutionaries in the English Civil War thought about the ideal constitution for the state, they looked to the ancient Israelite commonwealth as described in Judges and Kings.

Surprisingly, Nirenberg shows, the decline of religion in Europe and the rise of the Enlightenment did little to change the rhetoric of anti-Judaism. Voltaire, Kant, and Hegel all used Judaism as a figure for what they wanted to overcome—superstition, legalistic morality, the dead past. Finally, in a brief concluding chapter on the 19th century and after, Nirenberg shows how Marx recapitulated ancient anti-Jewish tropes when he conceived of communist revolution as “the emancipation of mankind from Judaism”—that is, from money and commerce and social alienation. And this is not to mention some of Nirenberg’s most striking chapters, including one on the role of Judaism in early Islam and one devoted to a close reading of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

Nirenberg has a sure grasp of a huge variety of historical and intellectual contexts, and, unlike many historians, he is able to write elegantly and clearly about complex topics. Not until the very end of Anti-Judaism does he touch, obliquely, on the question of what this ancient intellectual tradition means for Jews today. But as he suggests, the genealogy that connects contemporary anti-Zionism with traditional anti-Judaism is clear: “We live in an age in which millions of people are exposed daily to some variant of the argument that the challenges of the world they live in are best explained in terms of ‘Israel.’ ” For all the progress the world has made since the Holocaust in thinking rationally about Jews and Judaism, the story Nirenberg has to tell is not over. Anyone who wants to understand the challenges of thinking and living as a Jew in a non-Jewish culture should read Anti-Judaism.


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Cynthia Morris says:

Jew-baiting alert: This book review will serve as red meat in attracting the population of rabid “anti-Judaists” that frequent Tablet who will argue that anti-Judaism has been a natural outgrowth of the “fact” that throughout history, Jews have been unsocial, intolerant, obsessed with money and commerce, and enablers of feudal oppression.

    CygnusA81 says:

    Sad observation, but most likely true.

    Monkish says:

    An yet the very fact that they spend any of their time trolling on a jewish website bespeaks a profound malaise – a loathing of Jews that comes from an equally intense yet strongly repressed desire to possess some intrinsic quality that they imagine all Jews to possess (such as the ability to survive for over millennia, in spite of brutal oppression and the charms of assimilation). The twisted psychological mechanisms of the anti-semite are fascinating to behold!

      CygnusA81 says:

      Sadly, it seems one of those trolls GearoidMacConfhiachlaigh seems to have stumble upon Tablet. He is usually trolling around The Atlantic Monthly’s website ranting about how ‘racist’ Israel is and if you don’t agree his is demented views on Israel then you too are a racist. Sigh.

        GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

        I’ve read Tablet off and on for some time thank you. Not that it’s any of your business. But this is a historical book, something within my interest and specialty.

        You however, are defaming me when ALL I did was come here and comment on the book in question. That is childish sir.

        Is this how people like you treat others? Mischaracterizing my issues with Israel and turning me into some rabid anti-Semite even though I criticized a book on historical grounds (while recognizing the validity of it’s thesis). It’s childish and rude. That’s no way to defend anything.

          CygnusA81 says:

          Why yes I will ‘defame’ you.

          To anyone who is Jewish and reads Tablet, this is more or less Gearoid’s stance on Israel.

          Israel is an evil occupier.

          Israel is a human rights abuser.

          Israel mistreats its Arab citizens.

          Israel has no right to defend itself.

          Israel is the aggressor in the Palestinian and wider Arab-Israel conflict.

          And if you don’t agree with Gearoid, you are either, loon, racist, or a fascist.

          And like Cynthia and Monkish have stated, this guy trolls the internet for Jewish topics it seems, so he can opine his two cents.

          Engage him at your own peril, if you don’t agree with his views regarding Israel, the conversation will turn ugly…fast.

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          Don’t pretend to speak for me, you have no right.

          I’m here to talk about history. Not engage with some rude fool like yourself.

          CygnusA81 says:

          I finally figured you out. You really think of yourself as some sort of amateur intellectual. Amazing. Your prose gave it away.

          But in reality, you are the quintessential pseudo-intellectual; your thought process is weak, your theories are pedestrian, and your grasp of complex subjects are pathetic at best.

          We both know that you have a fragile ego that can’t handle ideas that differentiate from your early/mid 20th century view of the world, hence the attacks from the get-go.

          Please keep on posting your ‘arguments.’ From now on, I’ll just take out the popcorn and watch you blow up with the next person who takes you down a notch or two or three.

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          I know more about history than some apologist like you ever will.

          Early 20th century? Coming from the man that whitewashing a colonialist venture? The irony is palpable.

          Again, I’m not here to deal with idiots like you. I came here to read the review of a historical book, and to make note of what sounds like, from the review, inaccuracies in at least part of the book. Something I find odd considering the scholarly work on ancient Egypt and the Hebrew kingdoms is both numerous and relatively easy to find.

          CygnusA81 says:


          Whatever you say GearoidMacConfhiachlaigh, Ph.D ( Underwater basket weaving). Since you are a super smart guy, you might realize Tablet Magazine is a left-leaning Jewish publication; but Tablet is still a Zionist supporting website. So keep on calling me a ‘colonialist,’ for supporting Jewish self-determination and Israel’s right to exist.

          The only people who will take you seriously here at Tablet, are your fellow Gentile trolls.

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          I called you a colonialist for being an occupation apologist.

          Supporting Israel doesn’t mean supporting an immoral occupation. I would think you were intelligent enough to know that.

          But sure, you can go ahead and try and insult me if it helps your fragile little ego. I really don’t care. Fact is fact, and the fact is you are wrong.

          Ar aghaidh leat, Gearoid, agus na bi ag caint raimeas. Go maire muintir an Israel go deo.

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          I don’t understand why all of you are so bloody sensitive to a slight criticism of a book based on historical problems.

          Take your nationalistic statements elsewhere. I really don’t care. If having your views challenged is a threat to the state of Israel, then I suggest you all give up.

          People like you??

        Scumbag Goyim says:

        Israel is not racist?………..really?

      I agree – though the ‘reified’ and ‘profound’ are a bit indigestible – and I hope you carry the idea further. There is certainly a type or exoticism or orientalism in how antiJudaists look at Jews. In our anomic, modern societies, Judaism is seen as an affront of sorts. Its traditions and exceptionalist claims arouse envy. The strength of bonds between Jews, especially the devotion to family, only remind others of what they do not have, or have lost. That may help explain why the new left Western intellectuals (so called) have turned against Israel, and against Jews.

        Kristof says:

        Yes, Jewish ethno-centrism is the envy of the post-modern world. We’re about to see how that mentality (“loyalty”) works out when wed to a Jewish nation-state determined to control demographics “democratically”.

        The fact that Jewish culture has survived in some form is an object of pride, but also of pity–because it had to make an effort not to be eradicated (assimilated). Pity about the anti-Judaic prejudice that arose wherever our people settled down through the centuries.

        Your post expresses one aspect of Jewish identity–our pride as the Chosen People–that never fails to incite derision (“envy”) from those it excludes. That is the tragedy of being Jewish rather than simply a human being. Progressive intellectuals will always reject tribalism in the name of cosmopolitanism, humanity, ultimately of [Greek] philosophy.

    JacobArnon says:

    Is that what you think Cynthia Morris?

      CygnusA81 says:

      She’s right, we have one of these trolls posting in this thread right now.

CygnusA81 says:

“When the Puritan revolutionaries in the English
Civil War thought about the ideal constitution for the state, they
looked to the ancient Israelite commonwealth as described in Judges and

This could help explain why the hard-left hates the United States of America at a fundamental and philosophical level.

    Amusingly, though, the reviewer omits one thing–the Puritans were using the ancient Israelites as a positive model, rather than a negative. Similarly, the Anglo-Israelites, alone among the groups pretending to be the ten lost tribes, were not hostile to the extant Jews. Why doesn’t England hate Jews as much as other European countries?

      oaklandj says:

      “Why doesn’t England hate Jews as much as other European countries?”

      That’s not true.

      CygnusA81 says:

      I really wished Adam explored pre-revolutionary America in his review, unless for some reason Prof Nirenberg doesn’t go into detail himself in his book.

      But what I do know about pre-revolutionary America, was that they were all fascinated with ancient Israel, but in a positive way. Not only did our elite universities of time maintain that their students know Greek and Latin, many also required to study Hebrew as well. Yale probably being the most famous of them all at the time.

      While, there has been mild antisemitism here in America, is has always paled in comparison to Europe or the Middle East.

        But that’s anti-semitism masking itself as philo-semitism: they love to study us, but they won’t let us in. Even Einstein wasn’t allowed to work at Princeton for some time.

          CygnusA81 says:

          They certainly do. The thing I hate the most is when people state that Einstein came up with Theory of Relativity while being a patent clerk. He was only a patent clerk because that was the only job he could get since no university would hire him because he was Jewish.

          But the troll I was fighting with on the thread is a real piece of work.

    Jerzy Kaltenberg says:

    I don’t see how this is related. Both John Calvin and Martin Luther were outspoken antisemites and persecutors of Jews. Shouldn’t forget that Puritans saw themselves AS Israel, as in their covenant replacing the Israelite one. This does not make them in any wise friendly towards real Jews whom they saw much as Calvin and Luther did.

    The antisemitism of the new left stems from several sources, most notably:

    1)from Marx, for whom Völkerabfälle (racial trash, people who haven’t achieved nationhood in the sence of national independence) were only fit for extermination.

    2) internationalism of the communist idea which is inimical to nationalism of any kind.

    3)institutionalized antisemitism of the Soviet union, that country being the main propagator of marxist-leninist-socialist ideology.

    4) folk antisemitism – inspired by traditional hatred of foreginers, reinforced by religious instruction

    5) excuse of “Anti-Zionism” – as in RAF, the rejection or transcendence of paternal nazi guilt ( at least for RAF & like groups, that is)

Habbgun says:

Definitely a book worth reading. Americans were well aware that anti-semitism was used in Europe as a means of promoting certain viewpoints and did their best to remove it from the USA early. Unfortunately it manages to thrive quite well in the University system which is an anachronistic Old Europe institution. Hopefully this book can shine some light on how academics think as well.

    Monkish says:

    “The University system” is an “anachronistic Old Europe institution”? Where on earth do you think the author of this book got the financial, intellectual and logistical resources required to write to such a book?

    “David Nirenberg is the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor
    of Medieval History and Social Thought at the University of Chicago.
    His work focuses on the interactions of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic
    cultures in history.”

    On are you one of those people who like the Maoists in the 60s and 70s would dismantle any institution that contained ideological elements he didn’t like?

      Habbgun says:

      You are mistaking a means of production for a necessity of production. The basis of the University is to use rational, scientific methods to further and test knowledge. Only the true sciences can operate that way. The principles of science are readily proved by any engineered object such as a light bulb. The University instead has a self created, self administered mission of somehow representing Western Civilization. Western civilization is an abstract idea which is under attack especially within these universities.

      They are a self appointed guardian of civilization whose basis in America is a continuance of the Universities of Europe. These Universities were originally theological institutions as were the original American Universities. Their very nature is one of bias. It is no accident that the prejudices and conceits of Europe find their biggest support among academia. The high cost of tuition, the ideological excesses and the hypocrisy of sports being a profit center even though they are supposedly amateur is the sign of an institution that is filled with contradiction and a complacent sense of its own historical relevance.

      By the way. Maybe it is worthwhile to see how China rebuilt their centers of higher learning. They are obviously working to some extent. I wouldn’t tear something down as a Maoist but I certainly would love to be a reformer. After all, not saddling entire generations with debt might be a worthwhile goal.

        Monkish says:

        You conflate issues having to do with the economic utility of a university degree, the financial viability of higher education system and academic bias/intellectual integrity. There’s an important debate to be had about the first two issues, but I fail to see any meaningful connection with the last. In fact, you seem to have tacked the economic argument against universities onto your real gripe, which is the alleged bias of academia. Or is it? I detect several poorly thought out and muddled ideas here, on top of a totally unhistorical narrative of continuity between theological seminaries and the modern university.

        But let’s leave the history of the institution to one side. From what I gather, your argument seems to be the following: universities are now primarily centres for teaching in the humanities. The humanities are inexact, and inherently biased. Like theology, of which they are the 21st century equivalent, they grounded on unverifiable assumptions. Ergo, we should do away with universities or turn them into technical colleges.

        >>I’m not going to bother addressing your implied scientism as that’s been debunked by so many before me (ever heard of Lysenko?). If this is your argument then surely the political inclination of academics is strictly irrelevant as any work in the humanities (history, politics, literature, philosophy etc.) is inherently biased and therefore futile/unverifiable/pointless. Factual, empirical history can be collapsed into pseudo-history as the rules of “true science” can only be successfully applied in the physical realm and in design. The Holocaust didn’t happen is as valid a proposition as the holocaust was a genocide. But isn’t this exactly the sort of relativist trash you were decrying? If you are adopting the position that all that can’t be crammed into a narrow “light bulb” model of science is worthless, then surely you should have no beef with those who trash such an abstract and empirical notion as “Western civilization.” If that is your position i’m puzzled that you would consider any book that isn’t a technical manual or pure science “worth reading” (c.f. your first post). Please clarify…

          Habbgun says:

          All fair and good points. My point is this. The muddle you detect is that the University has now become an institution of contradictions yet given the huge amount of tuition and indirect funding by government through student loans an immensely profitable one. Any corrupt institution can be exploited. I feel the anti-semitism and anti-zionism on campuses is real and pernicious but they are symptoms of an overall decline that must be reformed. I don’t think Universities should be reformed because of how they view Israel. Just the opposite. We do have the problem that the bias is so extreme that it shows the very non-thinking, ahistoric aspects that the modern University shows in many fields. It shows a failure in the very kinds of thinking they purport to build and support. It is happening in economics, etc. Without the brake that real laboratory work provides it is easy to go in this direction. Now add a corrupt atmosphere and you have a real, though expensive decline.

          Secondly although the modern university is different from its theological roots if you think traditional Judaic thinking will ever be accepted by it you are wrong. The Yeshiva and the University are mostly incompatible. Jews will always be on the defensive in the University and the more corrupt the University system the more this can be exploited (such as we see today). Many Jews have used the University as a kind of escape from their heritage and have increased and not lessened the bias.

          I myself am not a fan of so-called Western Civlization since I believe it is more of a construct than a reality except in cases such as the US Constitution which used specific ideas to build a state. Most of what is thought of as Western Civilization is a series of isolated writers in different time periods and locales. Europe itself spawned two world wars, some genocides and communism and fascism. As such we should have a jaundiced view of all institutions having its roots (even remotely so) on that continent.

          I do not believe a four year University is the only way to deliver knowledge. That would confuse the process with the knowledge itself. I do believe that the traditional four year college needs to face some real competition and and alternative means of education. If people want it and are willing to pay for it fine. It is now a monopoly with all the pitfalls a monopoly naturally has.

          As for myself my aptitudes tend towards verbal and not scientific. I know from experience those aptitudes only go so far and I suspicious of anyone who is very proud of having them.

gwhepner says:


Emancipation of mankind from Judaism, Marx’s goal

was also that of Paul about two thousand years before.

You don’t need human beings in this adversary role

in order to express how very greatly you deplore,

not Jews, of course, for anti-Semitism isn’t cool,

but Judaism, which when it’s regarded through a prism,

reveals a coat of many colors good men ridicule

as so uncivilized it even leads to Zionism.

Edward Cohen says:

Freud had a theory about Christian Antisemitism (as postulated by Rabbi Nathan Lopez Cardozo of Jerusalem): It was not because the Jews refused to accept Jesus, but rather because they were responsible for giving them Jesus. They had been quite happy to be pagans, but Jesus converted them to Monotheism, and for that the Jews can not be forgiven.

    Freud also said the Jews invented their religion because they were guilty about killing Moses, and his idea of the Oedipus complex has never been borne out. He was a whacky guy, and I wouldn’t take anything he said too seriously.

GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

I find some of this to be historically questionable.

I think the thesis in general has a good deal of merit. Many cultures partially form themselves based off an “other”, and at least for the Christian period Judaism makes sense as an other.

But talking about it in Egypt? That’s a MAJOR stretch. First, you’re assuming the Exodus ever happened, which isn’t a done deal, and the evidence is against it. Second, you’re presuming that those references apply to ancient Hebrews, rather than one of dozens of semi-migratory peoples that came and went in Egypt’s delta region for times. Even ancient Alexandria is being oversimplified, the Jewish community there was fairly powerful, and sometimes initiated riots and violence of it’s own against others.

I’d be interested in reading the book itself, since I understand the author is a historian and perhaps this review is the one making leaps and bounds the author does not. But this seems to me to be one of those “popular” histories that tries to answer a question too large to actually be answered, where too many things that disagree with your thesis are forced out in the name of simplicity. It’s too broad, too grand by design, and that makes it fail historically.

That said, I think you could make a good case that Medieval European Christian culture was partially based off of using Jews as the “other”, especially before that designation was partially taken over in the 1500s by the Turks or “Saracens”, and that it continued in some forms right up to the rise of secular anti-Semitism.

    “the Jewish community there was fairly powerful, and sometimes initiated riots and violence of it’s own against others.” [citation needed]

      GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

      I would start with the ancient accounts surrounding the death of Hypatia.

      That’s not to suggest that the Jewish community there was the majority, nor free from persecution or violence, which was not the case. But neither were they the much weaker type of communities that existed in Medieval England or Germany. In Alexandria, depending on the period, the Jewish community was political powerful, and capable of organizing it’s own mob violence (generally between them and Christians). I believe Socrates Scholasticus’s Historia Ecclesiastica is the main (and most respected) classical source on it.

      Again, it seems oversimplification is the problem, not the thesis itself. Though I see a severe lack of knowledge on the current understanding of ancient Israeli history as well, which I find odd.

        So we are using a Christian church’s account, an organization that, as documented in pretty much yah know, everything ever, was rabidly anti Jew. Ok, that makes sense.

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          No, it’s an account from a Christian, who wrote a history of the Church.

          He’s pretty widely considered to have been an even-handed writer. I haven’t seen any historians significantly suggest otherwise.

          Moreover, his references to the Jewish community of Alexandria are not direct. He does mention violence that came from communal disputes, when Jews attacked Christians, but he doesn’t demonize them for it, he simply relates that it happened (I believe in response to provocation from the Christians).

          If you’re going to be immature enough to off-handedly ignore a source like that you have no business in this conversation. Worrying about potential biases is fair. Not bothering to learn about the source in question is intellectually weak.

          Dear MacCornflakes, Hans pointed out that Hypatia was lynched by a Christian mob. I was taught that the mob was made up of gentle monks. In any event, this happened in the early 5th century, in the year 415. She was the last of the philosopher teachers In Alexandria. She ran the last philosophical school there. Now, the most notorious pogrom against Jews in Alexandria took place in the first century CE, as far as I know. So what does Hypatia’s death have to do with it, since she died about 350 years later have or take a few decades. Are you saying that one or more writers about her death also wrote about the pogrom hundreds of years earlier?
          Be that as it may, I advise you to read the Stromata of the Church Father, Clement of Alexandria, who had some favorable things to say about the Jews and unfavorable things to say about some of the Christian sects of his day.
          But back to your annoying obsession, why are you so concerned to have an accusation to throw at the Jews? Are you so insecure as to need to see the Jews as guilty of something or other in order to validate yourself?

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          Are you simply blind, or illiterate?

          Nothing you’ve said disagrees with ANYTHING I said. Yes, one of the most notorious pogroms was earlier. They Jewish community rebuilt, though never again to that level. They were, however, a player in Alexandria’s politics in the time of Hypatia.

          Yes, they had nothing, as far as any source has said, to do with her death. I don’t allege they do. It’s called using a source for INDIRECT information. I explicitly stated that.

          I don’t like to go into the early Church fathers, being a non-Christian the debates get a little dull. But I’m familiar with Clement off the top of my head. I, once again, don’t see your point here. I’m not disputing what you said, what you said it irrelevant to my points, though adding extra sources in fact strenghtens my original assertion, that the Jewish community in Alexandria was at times a major player in local politics.

          An accusation? What accusation? Did you READ what I wrote? I suggested part of this book seems historically questionable to me, based on the review, specifically the parts dealing with Ancient Egypt, because the author is using a series of assumptions that are demonstrably false. I think the authors general thesis is likely correct, and I’d expect when talking about say Medieval Europe is extremely well researched, but the early period in Egypt relies on a poor reading of documents and assumptions that aren’t supported by modern scholarship on ancient Egypt or the ancient Levant.

          So please, before insulting and accusing me of something, please pay attention to what I actually wrote. If you’d like me to explain my specific objections on historical grounds then I will. But it seems to me you have some confused interpretation of what I said. I never accused Jews of anything.

        So we are using a Christian church’s account, an organization that, as documented in pretty much yah know, everything ever, was rabidly anti Jew. Ok, that makes sense.

        Hans Vonfusse says:

        From Wikipedia: “According to the only contemporary source, Hypatia was murdered by a Christian
        mob after being accused of exacerbating a conflict between two
        prominent figures in Alexandria: the governor Orestes and the Bishop of
        Alexandria.[8 “

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          Yes? I don’t see your point? I was never suggesting she wasn’t murdered by a Christian mob, that’s well known.

          I’m saying if you read the account you get an indirect picture of the Jewish community at the time.

    abunudnik says:

    Yes, why don’t you read the book? Why don’t you read it before you comment on it? Why comment on what you haven’t read? Worse, why make judgements on a book you haven’t read? This is odd.

      GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

      I’m making a judgement based off the review?

      What is the problem you seem to have with questioning a book on historical grounds? Not even all of it, but specifically the ancient parts, part of which is specifically explained in the review. THAT is what I have an issue with.

Robert Starkand says:

It’s been my thinking that at the root of antisemitism/ anti-Judaism is the fact that Judaism undermines Man’s power because we all are humble before God and answerable to God.

    oaklandj says:

    I think it’s that Judaism was the first faith (and maybe the only one) that puts mankind on a trajectory. Others that want us to return to a circular history, or even a regressive one, hate Judaism.

      Anthony Nassar says:

      That clearly doesn’t explain left anti-Semitism, since it’s the Jewish insistence on a historically defined particularity that interferes with whatever utopian project.

JacobArnon says:

I was looking for the book under review but it doesn’t seem to have been published yet.

The reviewer probably got a desk copy to review.

It is hard to comment on this superb review before having read the book.

Still I am familiar with the work of Norman Cohn whose pursuit of the millennium and warrent for genocide were superb studies of Jew hatred. If David Nireberg’s study is as good as those of Professor Cohn than it should become required reading for anyone who is interested in this topic.

I am glad Nirenberg brought Western anti semitism up to date by including a study of antiZionism which is the form antisemitism has taken in our day.

Great review, Adam.


abunudnik says:

Toynbee said that it was unfortunate that Marcion was unable to sever the OT from Christianity but that there wasn’t enough material in the NT upon which to create a body of Christian law. I’ll say! “Had it not been for the Law, I never would have known sin… the law breeds sin,” wrote Paul. Christianity is anti-legal in its essence and has had to depend upon the basic notion of the Covenant, a Jewish idea, to have any semblance of civilized life. The New Covenant is, in fact, not a covenant at all: it is grace through love and faith. There is no agreement whatsoever and therefore no relationship between the creator and creature, no structure, no hierarchy, no order. This is impossible in a real world and thus, Christianity needing Judaism for life, despises Jews as all who are dependent hate those upon whom they depend. It wants the fruit of the tree but can only think of getting it by hacking away at the root.

FifthHorseman says:

Does not man kill off what he either fears or do not understand. My God is better than your God is always used and it is do not our God but how we worship that God. We worship God in the right way while you on the other hand have the same God, but you does not worship God like we do so you are wrong.
Just look at the 5500 plus Christian denomations in the USA. Not what the Catholic Church wants to hear. Each one with their own way to pray to their God even with in the branches there are splinter groups who do their own thing.
Have always wonder that if man does not worship will God go away, be forgotten as something that never was? Just think of all the old Gods that are just but picture on dusty tomb walls.

Leone Hull says:

To be brutally honest, “Anti-Judaism” is a good thing. As the basis of Abrahamic religion, no ideology has poisoned minds of the last standing bipedal humanoids as much as this monotheistic meme.

    CygnusA81 says:

    What a stupid argument. Monotheism is the reason why humans kill? What type of fantasy world do you live in? People don’t need a belief in a single higher being to massacre other people.

    Pagans massacre other pagans. Idolatrous murdered different idolatrous.

    Finally, the modern secular religion of Communism murdered over 100 million people.

    The only thing that stands out in your comment, is that you’re an anti-Semite. So keep on scapegoating Jews. That’s what you people do.

      oaklandj says:

      I love that anti-Semites of the atheist flavor believe that mankind would be loving, peaceful, and rational at all times if it hadn’t been for the Jews. As if mankind were all those things before Jews came to the scene.

        Right, people would be peace-loving like Caesar, Alexander, and Ghenghis Khan. Though, Gheghis, admittedly, might have been a monotheist. But he was also a Shamanist, which in New Age terms, is the ultimate peaceful religion.

herbcaen says:

every morning millions of euopeans wake up, sigh, and contemplate how much better the world would be if Hitler had killed all the Jews. As they wake up at around noon, thumb thru the Guardian, they contemplate how much they have fallen, in that they no longer have the 15 seconds of energy needed for reproduction, and hope that the virile Pakistanis, Somalis, Iranians and Arabs among them will have the energy to complete Hitlers dream

SherwoodRobin says:

Whenever a new group, nation, party, association of street gang appears they must have an agenda, a bonding message, that’s rule number 1, rule number 2 is they must declare that they will protect their members interests, families, jobs, finances and welfare. Since no one ever believes they will accomplish this then they introduce an underground culture of hate, violence and fear towards others. If your white then they choose negro’s or Jews to hate, if your black then whites and negro’s get the raw deal, and if your Jewish you’re too sensible to be bothered hating anyone (hates so time consuming if it’s done properly) so you hate all that’s phony in the world and who could be better than Jesus. a fictitious mythical person who did not exist, the Catholic Church who turned the other way as the mythical Jesus advised them to do so, and Hitler (the boy corporal and suitcase carrier at Vienna Rail station). Well that the chess board set out, now you can start moving your players around it. The other rules you’ll learn the hard way, rich people are disliked, poor people cannot be tolerated, and Mrs Astors 400 club is still an object of veneration.

Frank Messmann says:

Despite what Prof. Nirenberg seems to believe, there is no evidence that Jews were in Egypt about 1200 BC or that Moses existed. At that time there were Canaanites and Hebrews, but the word “Jew” was not used until about 400 BC in the Book of Esther.

    oaklandj says:


      AgnesDomini says:

      Yes, but semantics are important, and precision in language helps
      defeat confusion. I’m going to apologize in advance for the somewhat lengthy response herein, but since God is said to have created the world with words, they are important currency in discussing His Chosen People.

      Full disclosure: I can be counted amongst the camps of Christians and Gentiles, although I pray I am not perceived as a troll for what I share on this site (which I’ve only recently discovered): I am working towards Holocaust Certification at my state university, and have had a fascination with Scripture (especially Torah) for roughly twenty-five years. My two graduate degrees are in art history of non-Western civilizations (with a personal emphasis on biblical archeology and cultural anthropology) and in English, emphasis in language and literature, including–you guessed it–semantics and semiotics), and I am currently working on a Ph.D. in the history of ideas, and am deeply interested in etymology and philology.

      YHVH’s term for His Chosen People is “Israelites,” and that is how the group self-identified in Scripture; “Jews” was a political distinction in the same way “Israelis” is, the former meaning a citizen of ancient Judea and the latter meaning a citizen of the modern State of Israel (Judea re-established according to

      The language of the entire account indicates that the ancient Egyptians could not have moved against the Israelites except along
      racial lines; the Israelites dwelt on Egyptian soil, thus it was not a
      territorial move, in that the Israelites had not inherited the Promised Land, and had no stake on Egyptian soil. It could not have been based on religious grounds, since, even though the Israelites did not worship Egyptian deities, the Torah had not yet been given to the Israelites until they gathered at Mount Sinai, post-exodus. Being born in and dwelling in the land of Egypt could not have been the distinguishing trait of being identified as an Egyptian, for the
      Israelites had been born and lived in the land for four centuries (in
      accordancewith the prophecy), yet still were not considered Egyptians by their overlords.

      How, then, did the Egyptians discern who to enslave, if not by racial lines? Exodus 1 provides the proof that the distinction is racial (which is to say, by familial bloodlines). What made one
      an Israelite even back then is exactly the same thing as what makes one an Israelite today—-being descended from Jacob/Israel. It is clear from Exodus 1 that the Egyptians discerned between themselves and the familial line of Israel, thus the selective oppression was based along bloodlines—and race, tribe, clan, etc., are familial designations in Africa and the Middle East, unlike, for example, some Native American or Oceanic societies in which clan association can be metaphysical (belonging to the same symbolic totem) or, say, a warrior class, which allows members to move between tribes (e.g., the Chicksaw and Chocktaw).

      ALL of the language of Exodus 1 indicates that the Egyptian oppression of the Israelites was based on blood, hence my
      position that it was a racially-motivated persecution; at no point in
      the account do the Egyptians refer to the religious beliefs of the
      Israelites, and since the Torah was written by YHVH (and merely recorded by Moses) post the Mass Exodus, it was not religious strife which caused the oppression.

      (The distinctions between “they” and “we” placed in the voice of the Egyptians underscores the racial division, since the terms do not pertain to land, religion, socio-economic, or cultural reasons—simply that the Israelites are “more and mightier” than the Egyptians. The Egyptians feared being outnumbered and
      succumbing to military domination at the hands of the familial,
      blood-related Israelites, unlike the case with centuries of Western
      accusation of a plot to dominate the culture and finances of the
      natives; the argument cannot be made that the Egyptians accused the Israelites of conspiring for control of the Egyptian homeland, but, rather, the Egyptians feared the Israelites would leave Egypt, i.e., “get them up out of the land”.)

      In the Robert Michael book (Holy Hatred), the author notes, in speaking of Richard Wagner’s “Judaism in Music” (pg. 146), that
      Wagner did not use the word “race” (Rasse), but used terms such as “Stammes,” which Michael contends do not signify race, but merely “stocks, tribes, families, clans”. Michael states that Wagner used such terms to indicate “ethnic, religious, or cultural groups”. The problem, of course, is that Wagner’s language use might be sloppy (I don’t know German, so I am ill-equipped to say as much for certain), but God’s is precise always; stocks, tribes, families,
      and clans are all kinship designations.

      Granted, a clan (from the Scottish-Gaelic word “clann,” meaning “family”) is a group united by actual or perceived kinship and descent, thus actual bloodline is not the sole qualifier. In Scripture, the term “tribes” is used to indicate a further demarcation within the ancestral line of Israel, but all of the patriarchal tribes are still Israelites, because they are all blood descendants of Jacob/Israel. Judaism is the name of the religion; Israel (post-Jacob) is ALWAYS a people—a “nation”.

      Rebekah becomes pregnant with Jacob and Esau, “And the LORD said unto her, Two nations [are] in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels” (Gen 25:23). Jacob and Esau are the same race, having the same parents; however, Esau takes strange wives (pagans and foreigners), and thereby contributes to a new race, which combines Abraham’s and Isaac’s ancestry with the blood of the adversaries of the Israelites: “Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of
      Nebajoth, to be his wife” (Gen 28:9) and “Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and
      Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite” (Gen 36:2)—the same as had Abraham’s son with the Egyptian handmaid, Hagar (Gen 16), as Ishmael takes a wife from Egypt (Gen 21:21).

      Ishmael is the progenitor of a different race of people, for Scripture relates: “Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people.” (Gen 25:17) Hagar is also told by the angel of the LORD that Ishmael “shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Gen 16:12); since Ishmael does not die with his half-brother Isaac, it should be understood that Isaac is not considered his brethren of his people, especially since “shall” is a legally-binding term.

      We do not like to use the word “Jew” in my house, unless we are speaking historically, or about actual practitioners of Judaism. The word “Jew” appears in the Tanakh only twice (Jer 34:9 and Zec. 8:23), other than the book of Esther’s multiple references to Mordecai, who was a Benjamite (Est. 2:5). The term “Jew” came to designate a person from the kingdom of Judah, and after the
      Diaspora captivity, became a generic term for any of the exiled
      descendant citizens of Judah, i.e., the Israelites.

      Biblical scholars date the Book of Esther somewhere between 460-350 B.C.E., which is post-captivity, hence the use of the term “Jew” in it. The dates of the events in the book of Jeremiah is from the Judean king Josiah’s 13th year (or 627 B.C.E.) in Jeremiah 1:2 to beyond the fall of Jerusalem ( or 586 B.C.E.) in Jeremiah 39, 40,
      and 52. As Jewish tradition is that Jeremiah was taken captive by the Babylonians when they invaded Egypt (he went to Egypt; see Jer 43-44) in 568/67 B.C.E., it could not have been actually written much later than that.

      The Book of Jeremiah mentions a scroll that Jeremiah wrote and had hidden in the Temple to be found there, so as to deceive King
      Jehoiakim. This scroll would not have been the Book of Jeremiah, but the event must have taken place some time before 598 B.C.E, giving us a perspective on the earliest material in the book. The Book of Jeremiah continues on into the period of the Babylonian Exile, when it must have been completed.

      We cannot say when Jeremiah actually began to write down his memoirs, but we can say the book was completed early in the sixth century B.C.E. Zechariah’s ministry took place during the reign of Darius the Great (Zec 1:1), and was contemporary with Haggai in
      a post-exilic world after the fall of Jerusalem in 587/6 B.C.E. Ezekiel
      and Jeremiah wrote prior to the fall of Jerusalem, while continuing to prophesy in the earlier exile period. Zechariah is specific about dating his writing (520-518 B.C.E.).

      According to the Hebrew Bible, there were three deportations of Jews to Babylon: the exile of King Jeconiah, his court and many others in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighth year; Jeconiah’s successor Zedekiah and the rest of the people in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year; and a later deportation in Nebuchadnezzar’s
      twenty-third year. These are attributed to c. 597 B.C.E., c. 587 B.C.E., and c. 582 B.C.E., respectively. The forced exile ended in 538 B.C.E. after the fall of Babylon to the Persian king Cyrus
      the Great, who gave the Jews permission to return to Yehud province and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

      According to the book of Ezra-Nehemiah, the Persian Cyrus the Great ended the exile in 538 B.C.E., the year in which he captured Babylon. The Exile ends with the return under Zerubbabel the Prince (so-called because he was a descendant of the royal line
      of David) and Joshua the Priest (a descendant of the line of the former High Priests of the Temple) and their construction of the Second Temple in the period 520–515 B.C.E. The term “Jew,” therefore, is a term used to designate the Israelites at the time of their captivity, as former citizens of the Kingdom of Judah; it should no longer be used, since the time of the captivity ended.

      “Israelites” is the name by which they are called by YHVH, and is the name by which they called themselves; “Israelites” is an unchanging, inviolate designation of blood (indicating a descendant of Jacob/Israel) which cements the covenants with God, and “Jew” is apolitical designation indicating one’s status during the captivity.

      The New Testament uses the term “Jew” frequently—but the Israelites were living under rule of the Roman Empire, and did not, as such, belong to the Kingdom of Judah—which means that in the N.T. as well, the term “Jew” was a political designation of an Israelite not under the authority of the Scepter of Judah, even if s/he still lived in the Promised Land, and in Jerusalem, no less. Moreover, it is a term used in the N.T. in the verses in which Gentiles are involved, and not as a self-identification of the Israelites responsible for having written it.(See discussion of “Hebrew” below.)

      The entirety of the N.T. is now believed to have been written all prior to the destruction of the Holy Temple in 70 C.E.; nowhere in the Gospels or epistles is this destruction said to already have taken
      place. On the contrary, the references are in the context of prophecies made by Jesus of Nazareth (called Christ by his followers) when the Temple was still standing. This makes it all the more remarkable that none of the Gospel writers make any comment about the fulfillment of this prophecy – because this
      is entirely out of keeping with their observed practice of pointing out
      where Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, or even his own
      predictions of his resurrection.

      The Book of Acts, which is clearly a sequel to Book of Luke, makes no mention of this event even though there are plenty of references to Jerusalem; neither do any of the epistles. Only in the Book of
      Revelation,which may well have been written after 70 C.E., do we find what may be a veiled reference. (And biblical scholars are coming to the conclusion that even Revelation might date much sooner than previously thought, circa 95-90 C.E. Very late datings for the gospels may be dismissed fairly readily.

      Citations of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts appear in the letter of Clement of Rome (died c. 102 C.E.) to the Corinthians; a document dated around 95 C.E. and generally accepted as genuine. The
      Gospel of John is also cited by Ignatius, who died 117 C.E. Interestingly, until very recently it was John’s gospel, the last to be
      written, that had yielded the earliest extant manuscript — a fragment
      which has been dated to around 130 C.E. and is now in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, UK.

      The fact that this was found in Egypt indicates that the gospels were already widely circulated by this date.) Since this was the worst catastrophe to befall the Jews in living memory, and would
      be a clear vindication of Jesus’ words, this silence is deafening.
      If the Gospels had been written after the fall of Jerusalem, there would have been no need to conceal this fact. Furthermore, the narrative of Acts (the sequel to Luke) ends with Paul’s (the Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus) imprisonment in Rome (60-22 C.E.), making no mention of the fire of Rome and Nero’s resulting persecution of Christians in 64 C.E., or the beginning of the
      Jewish revolt in 66 C.E.; so a date later than this is highly doubtful.

      All of which means what? The term “Israelite” is what should be utilized to designate the Chosen People, for their status as determined (and defined by) God changes not, since it is a blood designation, and one cannot extract one’s Israelite ancestry from one’s blood any more than Shylock could collect his pound of
      flesh by separating the blood of Antonio, as so wisely discerned by Portia in Shakespeare’s drama, “The Merchant of Venice”. The term “Jew” is a political designation, for when the Israelites are not subjects of the Kingdom of Judah.

      Even the N.T. recognizes the distinction, for when it speaks of
      prophetic fulfillment of the Israelites, it refers to them as “the twelve
      tribes of Israel,” and “tribe” in the Greek concordances indicates “a race, a nation, a people”—exactly the way the terms are used in the Tanakh. (The greeting of James in 1:1 is “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad”; he does not address them as Jews, because he is writing to his brethren (1:2, 1:16, 1:19) kinship, and not as a
      fellow subject under Roman rule.) Should the Israelites of the post-Diaspora periods be identified as Jews? Only perhaps in terms of their political status, which changes depending on the country in which they live.

      Mordecai was a Jew because of his political status in the captivity; elsewhere in the book of Esther he is identified as a Hebrew or a Benjamite. The word “Hebrew” is used in Scripture only in two instances: (1) when discussion of the Israelites is placed in the mouths of Gentiles (foreign nations/peoples); or (2) when the Israelites speak to Gentiles—never to themselves when amongst
      themselves, for they self-identified as Israelites. (See, e.g., the Genesius’ Lexicon entry for the word “Hebrew”.)

      So, should the post-Diaspora Israelites be identified as Jews? No, if we are speaking along racial lines, in which instance they should be
      identified as Israelites. They should be identified as Hebrews, perhaps, if we are speaking of them as citizens in Gentile countries, and Jews, I suppose, if they are practitioners of Judaism. With the creation of the modern State of Israel, citizens are now referred to as “Israelis,” although they are not all Jews, not all Israelites, and not all Hebrews.

    there is evidence for several of the plagues that preceded the Exodus in the Ipuwer papyrus [or document], which is an Egyptian document. But since there is no reliable chronology for ancient Egypt, only a scholarly construct made up in the late 19th century-early 20th century by amateur Egyptologists –they were all amateurs at that time– like Flinders Petrie, Sayce, Breasted, etc., the Ipuwer document is assigned to a period long before the Exodus in order to avoid this confirmation of the Biblical account. Petrie, Sayce, Breasted and the others were mainly racists [against giving credit to the Ethiopian dynasty of Egypt] and Judeophobes. So the ancient history of Egypt is a big mess, due in large part to the prejudices of these racists. They did not want to have any confirmation of the Biblical account because of their Judeophobia.

      GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

      No one without a serious interest in “proving” the Bible has ever suggest the Ipuwer papyrus supports the Exodus. I’d like to see your evidence for why it should not be dated to the 13th dynasty, as that is the modern number (compared to the older scholars you mention that suggested the 6th or 7th I think).

      Moreover, the archaeological evidence is completely missing. Essentially, despite people looking, there is none. Certainly not for the numbers used in the story. Combine that with the archaeological picture of the formation of the Hebrew kingdoms, which allows for no large outside “invasion” into the region, and you’re somewhat stuck.

      The Biblical account doesn’t become reliably historical until the 7th century BCE. The further back you go, the less sense it makes compared to the facts on the ground. That’s why most people date the composition of it’s major parts, or at least a major editing, to that time period.

        AgnesDomini says:

        Oh my, but this is an incredibly, incredibly inaccurate assessment. The BEST indications of the veracity of the Mass Exodus derive from the overwhelming superabundance of evidence regarding the proof that Joshua fought the Battle of Jericho, and then working backwards—but, as it would be impossible to get into all that information herein, I’ll just try to deflate the validity of the 13th century B.C.E. nonsense, which, if one knows where to look, readily can be established:

        “Scholars have come up with an alternative date which is sometimes referred to as the ‘late date’of the Exodus, around 1270, with a conquest of 1230, but that is simply a
        scholarly construct; there is no biblical basis for it. They base their view on Exodus 1:11, which says that the Israelites built the store cities of Pithom and Rameses. Rameses is the name that was given to a place in the 13th century, but that city existed earlier under a different name.”[1]

        Add to this discussion the following information to consider:

        “Bricks for building were made from clay and strengthened
        with straw; this was a manufacturing method employed in Egypt over 1,000 years before Christ. To pander to the pride and arrogance of the king for whom it was made, they bore the sovereign seal of Pharaoh Ramesses II who became obsessed with the desire to create memorials of himself for posterity. […] It is generally thought that Ramesses II was the ruler who used Israelitish labor to build the treasure cities of Pithom and Raamses [Exodus 1.11 2.] and also the one ruling at the time that Moses led his people’s exodus from Egypt towards the promised land.” [2]

        A date of 1230 B.C.E. for the conquest and destruction of Jericho utterly damages the integrity of the chronological consonance of the scriptures (thus creating a huge hermeneutical dilemma), and would not have the destruction by fire in the correct period for the ceramic evidence, which “shows that Jericho was occupied through the Late Bronze Period I and was destroyed about 1400 B.C.E.,[3]” as evidenced by the abandonment of the multitude of filled, clay granary jars.

        Indeed, the scriptures do give the names of Pithom and Raamses in the Pentateuch, to which the argument has been made that the texts had been subsequently “updated” to represent contemporary names (just as present maps signify the U.S.A., and no longer identify the region as the British colonies, or the former Soviet satellites are no longer mapped as being part of the now-defunct U.S.S.R.)—but this theory would negate the astounding mathematical, historical correlations discovered in the supercomputer
        experiments involving ESL coding, because an alteration of jots and tittles would necessarily cause the results to be altered.

        What creates the complication is that Exodus 1:11 indicates that the cities—Pithom and Raamses—had already been
        built, prior even to the birth of Moses, which, following the internal chronology the scriptures establish for themselves, would suggest that Moses had been born 120 years prior to reaching the Jordan River circa 1400 B.C.E., placing the creation of said cities before 1520 B.C.E. Since the two cities
        generally assumed as being named in the verse cited have been assigned to the 13th century B.C.E., which had been the official reigning dynasty (19th) of the Ramesses I and II, with the latter pharaoh (presumed to be the one whom before Moses and Aaron had appeared) dating to 1279-1212 B.C.E., the entire weight of the theory for the 13th century late date of the Pentateuch rests on a mere assumption that the cities mentioned in said verse are the cities which date to the later age.

        But, as is well established, there are instances in which
        multiple sites share the same name, such as the instance with the Canaanite name “Ai,” a practice still employed in our modern age in the U.S.A., wherein there are multiple cities named “Springfield” or “Paris,” for example. As so much of the previous disputes concerning the veracity of certain accounts given in the scriptures had been predicated on an absence of material evidence, eventually proven true by significant archeological discoveries in the past two centuries, it is altogether possible that the scriptures refer to
        two entirely separate cities bearing said names, which had been built prior to the 13th century B.C.E., and which have yet to be discovered. Yet perhaps more intriguing is the explanation put forth which aligns with such a proposition, speaking of the site identified as Raamses:

        “[I]f the name of the city were the royal residence of Rameses II [sic] as many contend, the prefix ‘Pi’ would be
        present […] ‘The use of the word Pi or Per is significant.
        It has a wide application in Egyptian texts being derived from pr (House)…In a wider context still it stood for a large temple area or the domain of a particular god, cf. Per
        Amun, Per Re, Per Ptah, etc. This usage introduces an administrative concept and implies a much greater area than
        the actual temple and its immediate surroundings.’ Thus it would seem the lack of ‘Pi’ or “Per’ in front of the word
        Raamses of Exod 1:11 should cause one to reconsider the
        association of the biblical city with that of the archeological city of Pi-Ramesse. This anomaly becomes more significant if the Egyptians own use of the terms is taken into consideration.”[1]

        Assuming for a moment that the city of Raamses in the Pentateuch and the city of Pi-Ramesse are one and the same, the historical chronology indicated by the
        archeological evidence accumulated demonstrate the Pi-Ramesse site had been occupied by the 18th Egyptian dynasty, the dynasty prior to one to which Rameses II had belonged:

        “While most scholars accept the city of Qantir as the site of Pi-Ramesse, the work of L. Habachi, Manfred Bietak, Hans
        Goedicke, and others indicates that the Eighteenth Dynasty also occupied the site […]Tombs of that time [late 12th-early 13th dynasties] have been found from the reign of Ammenemes II (1842-1798 B.C.E.). These and other tombs from the area have been dated to the eighteenth century [B.C.E.] due to MBIIA pottery. This data indicates settlement in the area of Pi-Ramesse prior to the Ramesside kings […]As Qantir has been inhabited, at least since [17th century B.C.E.], it seems improbable that [Israelite] slaves
        could have been responsible for Qatir’s construction. A further illustration that Exod 1:11 does not require a thirteenth century [B.C.E.] date.”[2]

        In a nutshell, this means that one of the cities pointed to by critics as being listed in the Pentateuch narrative had been constructed and inhabited for at least four centuries [17th
        century B.C.E.] prior to the time of Rameses II [13th century B.C.E.]. The unlikelihood that the city recognized as being the biblical site actually is said site is underscored by the evidence unearthed in the multiple excavations of Qantir:

        “‘The ten excavation campaigns so far…reveal the vital evidence which was previously missing, namely the presence of an extensive town-site belonging largely to an
        Asiatic (Canaanite) population with their own distinctive Syro-Palestinian Middle Bronze Age Culture A and B.’ […] The force of Bietak’s comments are that: (1) we have the remains of a Canaanite population from the period of
        roughly 1800 to 1650 B.C.E. present at Qantir; (2) if Qantir is biblical Ramesses, then we now have evidence of a possible slave force from which to construct store cities; and (3) this Canaanite population predates the Ramesside kings.”[3]

        The Canaanites and the Egyptians were frequently adversarial, as there are ancient treaties between the rulers of these nations, dividing territory in Syria and Palestine. From the excavations at the city which academicians point to as being the biblical Raamses of Exodus 1:11, it has been discerned that said city could not possibly be the location referred to in the Pentateuch, as it had been inhabited already centuries prior to the time given for the Hebrew enslavement—whether early or late dating of the Mass Exodus—and there is evidence of a labor force substantial enough to have constructed the site centuries prior to the 13th century B.C.E. age during which Rameses II had lived and reigned.

        As for Pithom, the alternate biblical site, archeological evidence has been accumulated which dates the construction of two cities which are believed to be alternate
        possibilities for the biblical city:

        “‘There are two possible sites for the biblical Pithom: Tell el-Maskhuta and Tell er-Retabah…We need not debate which of the two should be identified with Pithom. The important point is this: The same Syro-Palestinian (Middle Bronze II) culture which marks the early period at the site of Raamses has now been found at both these candidates for Pithom as well. At Tell-el Maskhuta (the site favored for Pithom by the majority of scholars), the early remains include probable grain storage facilities, perhaps explaining the term “store cities” [the translation of Pa-Tum, the Egyptian term for Pithom].’ On the merits above, it can be stated that the names of Pithom and Raamses in the biblical
        text do not mandate a later date, but rather allow for an early date of the Exodus […]Therefore it would seem that the textual, grammatical, and archeological evidence does not necessarily support the late date of the Exodus, but rather would indicate that an early date [is] a strong possibility”[4]

        [1] “The Date of the Exodus: Introduction to the Competing Theories,” D. Cameron Alexander Moore, http://members.tripod/Cameron_Moore/Exodus.html.

        Moore cites here Vetus Testamentum 13, “Exodus 1:11,” Donald B. Redford (1963), p. 409-10, and “Pithom and Raamses: Their Location and Significance,” E.P. Uphill, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 27 (1968), p. 292.

        Interestingly, Genesis 47:11 states that Joseph, in the 19th
        century B.C.E., had given his family the best of “the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.” E.W. Bullinger states that this is a reference to the region called Goshen, directing readers to Exodus 1:11. Moore’s commentary on this verse is as follows: “It is by no means certain that the city of Rameses was named after the Pharoah of that name […] unless we postulate an anachronism, for which there is not the slightest proof, we must conclude that there was an area by that name before there ever was a Pharaoh Rameses. It could well be that there had been an ancient Ramesside dynasty long before the Ramessides of the Ninteenth Dynasty were named for them, the city also having taken this name.”

        [2] “The Date of the Exodus: Introduction to the Competing Theories,” D. Cameron Alexander Moore, http://members.tripod/Cameron_Moore/Exodus.html.
        The 18th Dynasty reigned from 1570-1293 B.C.E., and the Ramesside pharaohs belong to the 19th Dynasty, Rameses II dating circa 1279-1212 B.C.E.

        [3] “The Date of the Exodus: Introduction to the Competing Theories,” D. Cameron Alexander Moore, http://members.tripod/Cameron_Moore/Exodus.html.
        Moore is refering here to “The Middle Bronze Age of the Levant: A New Approach to Relative and Absolute Chronology,” Manfred Bietak, “High, Middle, or Low?
        Acts of an International Colloquium on Absolute Chronology,” University of Guttenburg, Germany, August 1987, op. cit. 232.

        [4] “The Date of the Exodus: Introduction to the Competing Theories,” D. Cameron Alexander Moore, http://members.tripod/Cameron_Moore/Exodus.html.
        Moore cites here “Redating the Exodus,” John J. Bimson, Biblical Archeology Review 14, no. 4 (1998), p. 43.

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          First, if you’re going to quote BAR nonsense at me you’ve already lost. BAR is NOT an objective source of scholarship. They’re preachers looking to support their sermons, nothing else. You have one bloody scholar. One, who apprerently, from what I can find, is a bloody theologian, NOT an archaeologist or historian. He’s less qualified than I am.

          Second, this thread is 4 months old.

          Third, you’ve provided no evidence, just more Biblically based assumptions. There is NO REASON to associate a burn layer at Jericho with non-existent Israelites. You’re suggesting pushing back the Exodus into the time when the New Kingdom controlled Canaan quite thoroughly? Do you have any idea how ridiculous that is? Egyptian hegemony in the region was strong until the Bronze Age Collapse, anything prior to around 1200 BCE beggars logic.

          Second, there WAS NOT HEBREW CULTURE until at least 1100 BCE, and that’s taking the very early, very poor material cultures of the highlands into account. It would be a stretch to suggest they were a definitive people that early. You’re not looking at either of the Hebrew kingdoms until 900 BCE or so, with Judah’s rise circa 700 BCE about a century and a half past Israel’s strongest point circa 850 BCE under the Omrides. So where exactly were your mythical Exodites during the five centuries between 1400 BCE and 900 BCE? Not in Canaan certainly, because there is continuity of material cultures in the lowlands and the highland regions later inhabited by Hebrews were mostly uninhabited.

          You sir have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t care what you want to believe, your faith is your own. But you don’t get your own facts. If that author suggested all of this, I suggest you never read them again, because they have led you into error. Error that could be avoided with a basic understanding of the situation.

          AgnesDomini says:

          That the thread is four months old is irrelevant, because the nonsense you spew is being vomited onto an unsuspecting audience for however long your ad hominem posts are available, and I consider it a moral and intellectual duty to combat ignorance (of both varieties) whenever I encounter it. Moreover, there is EXTENSIVE scholarly research of archeological discoveries which both prove biblical accuracy of the Joshua at Jericho event AND the existence of Hebrew culture MUCH sooner than previously thought (in fact, I have written extensively about as much, and simply have not yet published it, since I am too busy in my Ph.D. program at present), but the extreme length of those writings (with extensive scholarly documentation, I might add) precludes me from posting the information on this site. (Perhaps I will edit portions, and offer some of it to the Tablet as an article. And newsflash: Motive does not negate results, so the intent of the people who publish information via the BAR does not preclude the accuracy of the work, merely calling into question their intentions and interpretations— possibilities which atheists are prone to as well) And if you are soooo superior in your perception than are those who disagree with you, then perhaps you can tell me how on earth you possibly could address someone called “Agnes” as “sir”…

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          There is NO PROOF of the Jericho event. There is NO PROOF of ANY “Hebrew” culture prior to 1100 BCE.

          I don’t give a f*** what you’ve written. You’re clearly a religious radical, not a scholar. If it’s so bloody good put it up on a third party site and let others read it. But if you publish it in some religious trash rag don’t expect any respect from actual scholars.

          Motive biases results you fool. If you were half the scholar you think you are you’d know that. BAR has been consistently wrong. They exist to prove your religion, nothing more.

          AgnesDomini says:

          Again with the ad hominem attacks? There is ABUNDANT proof of the Jericho event and Hebrew culture, else I could not possess copies of the archeological finds which attest as much. You are shooting blanks, and as someone raised in a bi-faith home, I am hardly a religious radical of either strain. But as you seem to relish making sweeping judgments without ANY sort of evidence to substantiate your inane and erroneous assessments (such as my gender, the qualitative extent of my scholarship, or my actual religious beliefs), I deem you an inconsequential, pontificating blowhard, and not worthy of any further engagement: “Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship,” said the Greek painter Zeuxis, and you are all barbs and offer nothing substantive to counter your opponents. I terminate my communication with you with my favorite quote by Winston Churchill: “I do not resent criticism, even when, for the sake of emphasis, it parts for the time with reality.”

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          What proof? Where? Provide it.

          If you believe the clearly biased people at BAR are scholars, that ANY Biblical Archaeologists is not working out of a deep seeded need to support their faith, rather than a desire to improve the historical record, you cannot be as intelligent as you claim. They telegraph it. They’ve done sloppy work (the dig at Khirbet Qeiyafa comes to mind). When the strongest argument in favor of the high chronology is casemate walls, your work is not doing well.

          So you’re honestly suggesting the destruction layer circa 1600 BCE was Hebrews? With no archaeological culture to support that? With continuity in earlier Canaanite systems? Before the Bronze Age collapse? You think the Hebrews somehow took over land in Canaan during a time when Egypt controlled the region? If the Hittites could not beat the Egyptians, you honestly believe a group of semi-nomadic herders could? It beggars belief. I don’t know how much fact you’re willing to sacrifice on your mad quest to support your religious feelings, but it seems to be quite a bit.

          Run away like a coward if you choose. It won’t make you any less wrong. It’s like you stepped out of a time capsule, 40 years ago your argument would not be as ridiculous. But we have better data now.

          Jerzy Kaltenberg says:

          You seem to overlook actual archeologiacal evidence, viz. the Merneptah Stele. First written record of the term Israel, it is reliably dated to his reign ( 1213-1203 BCE) and declares ‘Israel is laid waste and his seed is not’ in the context of pacification of Lybia and Caanan. Why would Merneptah declare victory over a people ( probably agrarian, since the claim is ‘his seed is not’, and it was a well practiced tactic to destroy enemies stock of seedcorn ), if they did not exist ?

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          First, the translation of Israel there is not undisputed. The best of the other translations is Jezreel, which was A. an area of known importance to the Egyptians B. makes more sense for the time period in question as the highland regions later associated with the Kingdom of Israel have been shown to be nearly uninhabited circa 1200 BCE.

          In 1200 BCE you’ll find the same Canaanite archaeological culture in what later became the kingdom of Israel (or Samaria to avoid confusion). The culture associated with the Hebrews does not show up until later. So assuming the Merneptah stele is accurately translated, it could refer to a geographical area with that name, but not the Hebrews who later inhabited it. This is possible since the God El is a known Canaanite God that predates the Hebrew kingdoms rise in the region.

          I’m sorry, but one heavily contested stele cannot change the weight of evidence from hundreds of digs across the Levant. This is why you cannot twist archaeology to support religion. Biblical Archaeologists have been seeing what they wanted to see for the past century, willful blindness or outright lies no matter what the evidence says.

          Jerzy Kaltenberg says:

          The stele can only be considered ‘heavily contested’ if one takes into account the works of amateurs, religious and otherwise, who see a political/religious capital to be made in affirming or denying its content.

          The proximity in time to the beginnings of the kingdom of Israel ( Samaria) & the fact that its material culture & religious cult were a fusion of Canaanite and Israelite origins, make it a doubtful enterprise to deny the interpretation of the stele which points to a political entity.

          It does appear that Karnak inscriptions somewhat corroborate the content of the stele, for all that it is in fact not certain that Merneptah ever actually pacified the area, he does seem to have bragged about it though.

          GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

          Uhm, no. A considerable number of serious scholars have taken issue with the “it’s about Biblical Israel!” claims, which were first put forward by the men who discovered it, who were very clearly biased. The translation is far from certain.

          It’s a solid 200 years before the kingdom of Israel reached state level complexity. Considering how widely surveyed the region is, if there was a material culture of sufficient complexity to be related to a state, we would have found it. The culture associated with the Hebrews doesn’t show up for another century, and even then its way too simple to be representing any sort of unified political group. IF the stele is correct, a big if, and is not referring to the Jezreel valley or the city itself (which was on a major military highway that led out of the coast, was a center of Egyptian administration, and was considerably more important than some pastoralists in the barely inhabited hills), then the most likely interpretation is a group of semi-nomads, possibly in Transjordan (the theory has been raised before).

          The stele is only a slam dunk for religious people trying to prove they are correct. Those are the people who, and I quote, “pray every day for the stele because it proves us right”. You’re siding with those people. They hardly seem unbiased or professional eh?

          Jerzy Kaltenberg says:

          We are still talking about archeology, right? I’m not interested in your theories about religious motivations introducing bias. We know that motivation of any sort introduces bias; when you create exclusive categories based ob belief and try to apply them to a field of knowledge as heavily nuanced as interpretation of finds, you can literally claim anything. Please try to keep your religious/irreligious fervor/bias out of it.

          The facts are that while interpretation of the stele is contested, it is not ‘heavily contested’ ( he’s that for loaded rhetoric). The consensus seems to be that inscription refers to a political entity or a recognizable people. There are some that contest this – as you rightly point out – and they are in an overwhelming minority. The accepted interpretation of the stele does not point to the Jezreel.

          With new research and finds in the field, this may of course change – in eiter direction, but we cannot dismiss the stele out of hand, or claim that it is an outlier – as you do. The jury is still out on the interpretation of the Karnak inscriptions.

The Puritans tried to imitate Israel? Doesn’t sound anti-Judaic to me…it’s a strange exception. what’s up with that?

    saksin says:

    I noticed the same thing. On Nirenberg’s thesis that would seem to make the Puritans non-Western, or non-European…

Frank Messmann says:

Yes… but … The artifacts found in Jerusalem, for example, dating from about 1000 BC, are not Jewish but rather Canaanite. This is more than semantics. Canaanites and the Jews had different gods, different beliefs etc.

    Some, perhaps most, of them are Canaanite, but others are clearly Israelite.

    slow down Frank. King David conquered Jerusalem about -1000 BCE. Hence artifacts found in Jerusalem from after that date are likely to be Jewish.

      Frank Messmann says:

      There is no scientific evidence that a King David ever lived. Alright — there is one rock discovered with the word “David” inscribed on it.

        GearoidMacConfhiaclaigh says:

        Not even David on it’s own, but rather “bytdwd”.

        I’d say the stories themselves are a fair indication that SOMEONE with that name lived, and was important in the highland region that later become Judah. The stories are simply too prevalent.

        That said, it’s clear there wasn’t a United Monarchy, and that Jerusalem at the time was tiny, barely more than a palace structure.

        However, I wouldn’t draw such a clear distinction between Hebrews (I don’t think it’s right to discuss Jews until after the reforms of Josiah, maybe even until during the Captivity when monotheism really took hold) and Canaanites. In most places their material cultures aren’t wildly different. Ancient Hebrews seem to have formed out of the Canaanites, and circa 1000 BCE you wouldn’t find much of a difference. Even when the Kingdom of Israel rose to power circa 850 BCE they had more in common with the kingdom of Aram-Damascus and other north Levantine states than with the Biblical United Monarchy. It was a Hebrew elite, with a Hebrew population in the highlands with a cult centre in that region, and that Hebrew elite also ruled over Phoenicians, Aramaic peoples, Canaanites, etc (based on the continuity in material cultures).

          Frank Messmann says:

          Yes, my understanding is that the Hebrews “formed out of the Canaanites” about 1000 BC. You credit them with more influence over surrounding peoples than I realized they had.

ned jacobson says:

to all discussants( and poet): Great back and forth. Thank you

So, let me see. Western culture is based on jew-hatred for sure. And since Roncevalles, on hatred of Islam. Its hatred of people of color is well documented and goes back more than half a millennium. In other words, pagan and then Christian culture is predicated on exclusion. This is not news though it is a sad fact about culture in general, not just “western” culture. It is only exhilarating if it reinforces our sense of exclusive victimhood, which has been our bane–and increasingly the basis of TABLET’s sense of its identity–since the dawn of our emancipation.

stevesailer says:

“anti-Judaism is at the heart of Western culture”

Or, is anti-Gentilism at the heart of Jewish culture?

    Tommy Glick says:

    Right–which is why the ancient Jews wrote absurd stories of the gentiles that begged Jewish leaders to kill righteous Jews, thus giving Jews a reason to slaughter and hate goyim til this day.

    Christina Svensson says:

    Exactly. Anti-Christianism is at the heart of Jewish culture. The new religion with a true enlighted master (Jesus) as the originator became so much more popular then the old one. Many Jews hate Christians even today.

Luke Lea says:

Haven’t read the article but the headline is wrong. Anti-semitism was never primarily about religion, at least in the West, where Jews enjoyed a protected and sometimes (as in Poland) a legally privileged status. Rather it was more sociological/genetic in origin — a result of generations of inbreeding in relatively small, endogamous, self-segregating population groups with a distinctive in-group/out-group moral code. Obviously we don’t have a very good vocabulary to discuss these things honestly and accurately.

Jerzy Kaltenberg says:

“Anti-Semitism needs actual Jews to persecute; anti-Judaism can flourish perfectly well
without them, since its target is not a group of people but an idea.”

As a polish Jew & a child of holocaust survivors, brought up in communist Poland, having lived in Poland before and since the fall of communism I can only marvel at the logic exhibited above; Anti-Judaism is merely another euphemism for antisemitism. Antisemitism functions just fine in the absence of actual Jews; when a Jew is needed as a target of odium or for political convenience, a Jew is manufactured by the simple expedient of making up fictitious genealogies, supposedly suppressed surnames, etc.

The Polish internet and even the world of print is full of ‘lists’ of supposed Jews who permeate the elites, antisemitic pamphlets are openly sold in churches, the very name of Jew is considered an insult…that is the reality of modern Poland, a country in which the last census shows circa 8 thousand people identifying as Jewish out of 38 511 824.

Anti Judaism? a sorry attempt to divorce the essence of Antisemitism from its well known brand.

    Christina Svensson says:

    Let us not forget that there are many Jews who hate Christianity and Christians, anti-Christianism is very strong among many Jews.

      Jerzy Kaltenberg says:

      What does that even mean, Christina? It’s like like saying “Let us not forget that there are many irrational Swedes, Irrationality is very strong amongst the Swedes”. Where is your data? What are you basing your ( ridiculous ) claims on?

      Majority of the Jews I know ( and I ought to know them, being Jewish myself) are not religious. Those few that are don’t seem to waste much time on Christianity. To me it seems that there is nothing easier and lazier intellectually than to project your hatred & inadequacy onto someone you dislike to justify your dislike. Hence the rather tired and typical demonization of Jews and – frankly – the primitivity of antisemitism.

      Nathan Warszawski says:

      Jews killed millions of Christians. :-)

Andrea Ostrov Letania says:

Jews say there’s only one God and all other gods are false. Such arrogance and contempt have marked Jewish attitudes for 1000s of years. If Jews had outnumbered pagan goyim, Jews would have wiped them out like Hitler tried to get rid of Jews.

Indeed, Christian intolerance has been the extension of Jewish arrogance and intolerance. Ohhhhh, Jews are THE chosen of God!

Infected with the monotheistic Judaic bug, the Christian West destroyed polytheistic pagan cultures and killed countless people who clung to their indigenous pagan faiths.

So, why don’t you sanctimonious and self-righteous Jews shut the fuck up. Your whole fucking history has been one of intolerance, hatred, arrogance, subversion, and genocide. Ask the Canaanites(if you can still find one alive). Ask the Palestinians huddled in ghettos. Ask Russians and Ukrainians killed in the millions by Jewish communists whose arrogant know-it-all attitude was the psychological legacy of 1000s of yrs of Jewish hatred and arrogance.

    Tommy Glick says:

    Jews are superior to Jewhating ignoramuses like yourself. Deal with it.

    So Andrea is blaming the Jews for Christian intolerance and crimes? So the Jews infected the Christians with the “bug” of intolerance which never existed before? BTW, you sound like that British imperialist Toynbee. So the Jewish communists were not imbued with Communism, a creed and cult originating in Germany in the misconceptions of Kant and Hegel, but those Communists were really Jewish in character underneath their Communist skin? Is your claim of “1000s of years of Jewish hatred and arrogance” meant to wipe out the guilt of the Ukrainian nationalists who massacred the Jews in Proskurov in 1919?
    As to Canaanites, the Bible indicates that those living in the Israelite territory were assimilated in the periods of the Judges and Kings. The Arabs now fashionably called “palestinians” do not live in ghettos in Israel. Some of them are my neighbors on my street in Jerusalem.

rameshraghuvanshi says:

People donot hate without reason.What is wrong with Jews or Judaism?They worshiped different God or doing different rituals?They think themselves superior from other people?I ask many religious scholars but not received satisfied answer.

    Tommy Glick says:

    Jews (for Judaism) and gentiles for Judaism are the only ones that don’t parrot the stupidity and moronic propaganda of lying fascist leaders. So yes, this does mean that the supporters of Judaism are more enlightened, smarter, and better able to objectively view the world than those unable to do anything beyond parroting the nonsense of lying, warmongering ruling elites.

    Cynthia Morris says:

    Hate resides in the reptilian brain and is driven by primal instinct intended to protect the individual from “the other”. From there, it bubbles up to the cerebral cortex and is rationalized with the most fantastic storytelling.

    There is no “reason” in hate whatsoever.

      rameshraghuvanshi says:

      I agree with you neuroscience explanation but sir why white Jews of Israel hated to black Jews who migrated for economic prosperity from India..In first b.c.some Jews were migrated in India.People of India wholeheartedly welcome them India is only country in the world where not a single religion people prosecuted.These migrated Jews adopted.all Indian customs, language, but kept their religion as it is.Indians behaved them most respectfully.Some become writer in Marathi language when they found out there is prosperity migrating in Israel they went there but white Jews are not treated them as a brother hated them, can you explain this abnormal behavior of White Jew of Israel?

        noshaus says:

        Haven’t there been “difficulties” between Hindus and Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs . . .?

          rameshraghuvanshi says:

          Yes there are difficulties between Hindus and Muslims ,Hindus and Sikhs but Sir They are different religious group.Indian Jews migrated to Israel on invitation of white Jews,there is religious bonds between them .Why White Jews treating very badly to black Jews?White Jews have no right to grumbled against White Christans

Hard Little Machine says:

Of course the genteel far left version of Tablet’s own antisemitism should escape no one’s attention. The Tablet more or less embrace’s Marx’s view on the subject which was ‘the problem with antisemitism is that there’s still Jews to hate.’

Bernecky says:

At what point, and how, did things change for the better, and remain that way long enough for the parents of the Framers of the Constitution to raise decent children?

Adam Kirsch: “At the same time, being the public face of royal power left the Jews exposed to the hatred of the people at large.”

I would suggest that “being the public face of royal power” today is the role of those who’re zeroed in upon, and damned, by MSNBC’s evening gang of four. There they were: Matthews, Maddow, Schultz and O’Donnell, oblivious to the fact that their royalty was now responsible for racking up American losses in a war (in favor of which there still existed no Yellowcake), all but running out of town on a rail the mother of an active-duty soldier.

This article shows how the “leftist” Judeophobia of today has certain Christian roots through the ideas of Marcion and later the philosophy of Kant, Hegel and Voltaire passed down to Marx.

saksin says:

To judge by Adam Kirsch’s review, the general drift of Nirenberg’s argument is a peculiar one.
Take the Romani. Like the Jews they have maintained
themselves as recognizable minorities among a variety of nations and
cultures ever since migrating from India in pre-medieval times. I do not
know Romani history in detail, but I am under the impression that they
are typically and rather consistently depicted in an unfavorable light
in European sources wherever they show up in their peregrinations, and have received their share of discrimination and persecution. Does
that mean that in a more than trivial sense Western culture defines itself as non-Romani
culture? It obviously is not Romani, just as any of the cultures in contact with Jewish minorities are not Jewish. We know this from the simple fact that they do not practice Jewish rites, and do not hold Jewish beliefs, just as they do not adhere to Romani customs or talk their language. We know this, and can tell this, because the Jews and the Romani maintain their customs, and beliefs, and traditions in the midst of these other cultures. That is what makes them minorities, and recognizably different from the majority. Jews have presumably played a larger role as a recognizably different minority in Western culture than the Romani for reasons related to the origin of the “Western world religion” (Christianity) in events in ancient Palestine, the longer presence of Jews as a recognizable minority in Europe, and the greater prominence of Jews at various times and places of European history than that of the Romani. And by the way, were the ancient Egyptians cited by Nirenberg somehow “Western” for denigrating Jews? Of course not! The common denominator in all this is the regrettable xenophobia that seems endemic to the human mind, and can be found in the most diverse cultures around the earth, from tribal to industrial. Its most acute manifestations often occur in relations between immediately neighboring cultures. My guess is that the continuity of animus against the Jews that Nirenberg apparently traces through history reflects the continuity of separate cultural and ethnic identity on the part of the Jews amidst other cultures and ethnicities in the various epochs and arenas he analyzes on the one hand, and the xenophobia endemic to the human mind on the other. I do not see that there is much of a mystery here, however unfortunate the circumstances that attend Jewish history. Doing something about those circumstances would seem to require an accurate diagnosis, first and foremost, and I am not sure that Nirenberg has quite managed that as yet, at least as far as is apparent from the Kirsch review.

    Luke Lea says:

    Nicely put.

    stevesailer says:

    Good reality check.

    UC Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine’s otherwise brilliant “The Jewish Century” starts out with a strained attempt to come up with the similarities of Jews and Romani, but the latter are really the anti-Ashkenazis. The part-Jewish, part-Gypsy American author Isabella Fonseca reported:

    “The Gypsies have no heroes. There are no myths of origin, of a great liberation, of the founding of a ‘nation,’ of a promised land. . . . They have no monuments, no anthem, no ruins, and no Book. Instead of a sense of a great historical past, they have a collective unease, and an instinctive cleaving to the tribe.”

jonmonroe says:

I have another theory: self-absorption lies at the heart of western civilization. That’s why we have to endure these banal little inflatable theories propagated by people who, stunningly, lack self-awareness right when you would want them to have it — when they begin to conflate the particular with the universal. Cleverness trying to pass itself off as profundity. Reading history with all the subtlety and even-handedness of a wingnut or a crank, and then selling the resulting “big idea” into some welcomingly uncritical echo chamber of similarly compromised intellects. How much must history be shrunk, reduced, clipped at the edges, to satisfy such a paltry theory? How much psychology must be ignored? How many great intellectual achievements must be cornered and sneered at? How much must the significance of others be denied before we can even begin to take seriously such a paltry little idea as the one celebrated here. All of which is merely to elaborate upon my original and most succinct reaction: Yuck.

Ron Lewenberg says:

Egypt is part of the West but Jerusalem is not? Is that a joke?
I wont deny that we have been the classical “other” in Western civilization, but we have also been part of it from the beginning.

Bernecky says:

What about film, Quentin Tarantino’s movies in particular. So often, regardless of the setting, they seem to have anachronisms as their subject. Consider Django Unchained:

There was no law. There were no liberals.

Every town was Southern; every sheriff, a Confederate.

TakuanSoho says:

I would disagree with the author’s premise that Christianity was the “main reason” for either anti-Judaism or antisemitism. As briefly alluded to in the above article, Ptolemaic Egypt was hideously anti-Jewish (read about the trampling of the elephants for a sampling), and this Egyptian hatred (which became Greek hatred) was transmitted to Europe during the Judea Revolt. Indeed it was probably the hatred of Jews from these two revolts that drove the Christians out of the “Jewish” Fold (and led to the teachings of Marcion). I find it uncreditable to cite Christianity as the “main reason” for something that existed several centuries (indeed half a millennium) before the establishment of state sponsored Christianity.

The “main” reason for anti-Jewish sentiment is the eternal problem of being a notable minority between two major powers (between the Greeks and Egyptians from 300 B.C. to 500 A.D., and then between Islam states and Christian States between 600-1600 A.D.). Jews became the convenient scapegoat from the set backs of the losers, and were viewed as potential traitors by the winners).

Another “main” reason is simple tribalism (and its modern form Nationalism (which takes us from the 1600s through 1945, and even until today)). Minority outsiders are never appreciated by the majority. One only has to see the history of the Chinese in South East Asia to see that racial hatred has very little to do with religion.

When you consider only the Jewish experience in China and India, you get a strong sense that Nirenberg is exploring what will probably be many different, new, and fascinating approaches for investigating the history of anti-Jewishness/anti-Semitism/anti-Judaism.

Please note that there is a strong, and entirely mainstream, current within Christian theology that argues that Christianity is the culmination, or “satisfaction,” not only of Judaism, but of the *pagan* faiths, specifically Semitic and Greco-Roman, that preceded Christianity.

If these pagan faiths carried within them notable anti-Jewish sentiment, it’s easy to see how Christianity, as their “satisfaction,” or culmination, might have easily, even unwittingly, encoded these animosities within itself and carried them forward.

The faiths of the Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Taoists, etc., on the other hand, don’t seem to have held any latent or “built-in” anti-Jewishness, and so the Jews who lived as adherents of a minority religion in those majority-religion societies seem to have enjoyed a high level of comparative tolerance.

A shaynem dank to Mr. Nirnberg for pioneering a novel way of reconsidering Jewish history. I’ve a hunch that this is only the beginning of lots of interesting stuff to come.

    Christina Svensson says:

    I would say there are a much stronger anti-Christianity by Jews, then vice versa.

      Nathan Warszawski says:

      Christina, I hate you more than you hate me. q.e.d
      Would like to meet you …

If not at the heart certainly the liver. Just one more reason to believe the Bible. Jews still around as a people where are the Perrizites, Hittites, Ammonites, et al? They tried to off them too.

Jacob Arnon says:

“The knowledge of the Holocaust was wide spread, but those willing to act
were few. One who refused to do anything was FDR, and yet Jews
remained loyal to this evil man and his party. A true mystery”

was no savior, but anyone who thinks a Republican President would have
done better is deluding themselves. Besides a Republican President would
never have gone to war against Germany.

Antisemitism was as
strong among among Republican voters as among Democratic ones with this
difference. The antisemitism in the Republican Party was at the top
while among Democrats it was at the bottom.

Judging from the review alone, I find the ideas put forth in each section to be persuasive, while the over-arching notion of a permanent anti Judaism leaves me in doubt. Not that there hasn’t been a serious motif of antiJewish feeling throughout the ages; I simply don’t thing the author has illuminated it well.

Marcy Fleming says:

Just what we need, another rationale for us Jews to feel sorry for ourselves ! No thanks, I’ll pass.

Gloria Rhea Grante says:

I’ll be re-reading Orietta Ombrosi’s “Anti-Semitism: A Portrait of Civilization, According to Horkheimer and Adorno,” in her The Twilight of Reason (2012) tonight.

But as a response to what I’ve read so far in the ensuing discussion by readers and non-readers of David Nirenberg’s new book, I thought I’d mention her clearly elucidated understanding (and with which I generally concur) that anti-Semitism is “the end of a process that is social, psychological and philosophical at the same time; a process that took shape in the dialectic of the Enlightenment itself and culminated in totalitarian order….in this process, the Jews seem ‘predestined’ to attract projection: ‘no matter what the makeup of the Jews may be in reality, their image, that of the defeated, has characteristics which must make totalitarian rule their mortal enemy: happiness without power, reward without work, a homeland without frontiers, religion without myth.’ Put another way, the characteristics that the Jews embody are rejected by totalitarian domination because, deep down, anti-Semites—dominated, manipulated, and subjugated themselves, first by the domination of nature, then by the domination of civilization and finally by totalitarian terror—secretly aspire to them and ‘turn what they yearn for into an object of hate.’ Projection therefore plays a fundamental role in this metamorphosis from object of desire to object of hate, as the ‘ruled’ achieve it thanks to this fusion: ‘hatred leads to union with the object—in destruction’ (Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, 164-165). Anti-Semites therefore turn the world into the hell they have always suffered” (44).

In this one paragraphs, Ombrosi encapsulates much of what has been written here in the discussion about Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition. Freud may have had something after all.

Phill Entropic says:

This whole thesis exists in a deliberate asphyxiating vacuum.

There is no discussion on what jewish thought consitutes that allows the reader to explore the possibility that the prejudices mentioned in the article may be causal in nature.

The author wold have us think that for over three thousand years these fears have been utterly based on irrationality and devoid of any substance. This line of reasoning is easy to claim as fact when any discussion of ‘Jewishness’ is taboo in our society if you are not yourslef jewish first and ocassionaly, even if you are.

The mere mention that this subject is taboo is in itself taboo!

Saddly, thats how much of a strangelhold Judaism and the Jewish people have on modern thought.

Charles Steiner says:

This book uses a lot of Jewish strategies to make the West the target for justified hatred for the Jews since they are wholly innocent victims of all wrongdoing — once again. The same old twaddle as in ancient times. if history is written by the victors, this book — written by a Jew in defense of the Jews — says it all.

Kristof says:

Anti-judaism, unlike anti-semitism, is worth taking seriously. Even if it is “”merely” a prejudice–albeit one shared by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Christianity itself. They all misunderstood Judaism, as it would be inconceivable to find fault with Judaism, which represents God’s will on earth. Anti-judaism is a failure to see the inviolable truth of the Torah, which was given expressly to the Jews and no other people. Our ethno-centrism is divinely sanctioned; our justice the measure of justice. We are the exception.

Anti-judaism is an integral facet of Occidental spirituality but it says nothing about Jews per se. But Judaism’s criticism of Christianity as idolatrous and pagan DOES say something about individual Christians.

guest says:

The western system has more jewish influence than anything other faith, really can’t see what this article is trying to say, this victim culture needs to stop, its becoming parasitic.

For those interested, an entire week has been devoted to analyzing the book at the Marginalia Review of Books:

Many Zionists were Jewish converts to evangelical

who did much to shape the development of popular evangelical thinking in these matters. It was this Protestant religious discourse that
marked the family backgrounds of many of the key members of the British
political elite responsible for formulating the Balfour Declaration.

Your style is very unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from.
Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.

Louis Farrakhan says:

YHWH was the first Anti-Semite:

TORAH, Exodus 32:7-11



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A World Without Jews

An exhilarating new intellectual history argues that anti-Judaism is at the heart of Western culture