Antisemitism: A History






Publication: Church History
Author: Moore, Rebecca
Date published: March 1, 2012

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This collection of essays traces the history of antisemitism from the antipathy toward Jews found in the ancient world to modern justifications for genocide and elimination of all Jews. An introduction chiefly authored by Albert Lindemann, one of the co-editors, helpfully problematizes the term "antisemitism." What then follows is a series of well-written essays by experts in antisemitism who discuss specific historical and cultural eras. The editors and most authors are careful to differentiate between theological anti-Judaism and contemporary antisemitism. While most articles find possible roots or foundations for antisemitism in past beliefs and practices, none seem to argue for an unbroken history of hatred for the Jews.

The book's strength is its comprehensive approach. Chapters on antisemitism in Europe from the age of Constantine to the rise of Nazism revisit and update traditional scholarly assessments of the subject. Especially useful are the discussions of antisemitism in the Arab and Muslim world, in Russia and Eastern Europe, and, most recently, arising from the Arab-Israeli conflict. The concluding essay, by co-editor Richard S. Levy, ties the essays together and argues for understanding antisemitism as a call to action against Jews, rather than prejudice alone. "Antisemitism, in summary, is best understood as a modern historical phenomenon," he argues (255). This book provides an excellent opportunity for evaluating the accuracy of that argument.

Author affiliation:

San Diego State University

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