By Aya Elyada
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
4 Even if Yiddish literature could be considered harmless amusement to Christian readers (although as noted by one of the authors, it should be taken “with a grain of salt”),5 it was nevertheless denounced by Christian scholars as harmful and damaging to Jewish readers. The Jews, so ran the argument, spent their time reading this idle literature instead of the Bible.
13 Apart from the New Testament, the Hebrew Bible too was translated into Yiddish for missionary purposes. 1. Title page of Elias Schadeus’ Yiddish translation of five books of the New Testament (Strasbourg 1592). Source: Sammlung Tychsen, Harald Fischer Verlag. 26 Yiddish in the Service of Christian Theology aulus Fagius in Constance. 15 During the following century, however, these early endeavors to use Yiddish as a linguistic tool for missionary work among the Jews were apparently no longer pursued.
However, one cannot fully understand the Christian engagement with the Jewish language and culture in modern Germany without a deeper acquaintance with its earlier stages. Indeed, a comprehensive study of the Christian engagement with Yiddish culture in early modern Germany, as offered in the present book, is indispensable for a better understanding of the broader theological, cultural, and social discourses on Jews and Judaism, not only in the early modern period but in Germany of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as well.
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