Download A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish: Christians and the Jewish Language by Aya Elyada PDF

By Aya Elyada

This ebook explores the original phenomenon of Christian engagement with Yiddish language and literature from the start of the 16th century to the past due eighteenth century. through exploring the motivations for Christian curiosity in Yiddish, and the differing ways that Yiddish used to be mentioned and handled in Christian texts, A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish addresses a big selection of matters, such a lot significantly Christian Hebraism, Protestant theology, early sleek Yiddish tradition, and the social and cultural heritage of language in early smooth Europe.

Elyada’s research of quite a lot of philological and theological works, in addition to textbooks, dictionaries, ethnographical writings, and translations, demonstrates that Christian Yiddishism had implications past its simply linguistic and philological dimensions. certainly, Christian texts on Yiddish display not just the ways that Christians perceived and outlined Jews and Judaism, but in addition, in a contrasting vein, how they considered their very own language, faith, and culture.

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Additional info for A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish: Christians and the Jewish Language in Early Modern Germany

Sample text

The importance attached to the German language as a major constituent of German national consciousness, and the efforts to cultivate the language and purify it from foreign elements, were central motifs in the discourse on language in early modern Germany; this possible influence on the way German authors perceived the Jewish-German language should not be overlooked. The Christian concern with the relation between Yiddish and German was also manifested in the discussions regarding the use of Yiddish for the composition of missionary literature, explored in Chapter 8.

However, Müller presents his work as if it were a Jewish answer to the Christian Hebraists. By this he attempts to create a pretended alliance with his Jewish readers: if Hebrew has become a tool in the hands of Christians for anti-Jewish polemics, here, in Yiddish, his readers would find comfort (nekhomes) and reassurance. In other words, Müller was using the high degree of intimacy and solidarity produced by the use of Yiddish in order to convey the message that even if works in Hebrew could not always be trusted, for they might have been written by Christians, works in Yiddish were safe, for they had surely come from inside the Jewish community.

The chapter attempts to elucidate the complex matrix of motivations that stood behind the Christian discussions on this topic. Apart from the direct theological criticism of the Jews for failing to understand their Hebrew prayers or to read the Bible in its original tongue, the separation between the Yiddish-speaking Jews and the Hebrew language enabled the Christian authors to create a debased image of Jewish-Ashkenazi culture and religion, in contrast to which they could affirm and emphasize their own theological and cultural superiority.

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