By Eliane Glaser (auth.)
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Additional resources for Judaism without Jews: Philosemitism and Christian Polemic in Early Modern England
79 Prompted by his opponents' recourse to arguments drawn from rabbinical authorities, Bilson accuses those who argue that Christ did not descend to Hell of Jewish bias, which was associated, for him, with heretical appeals to the heathen Classics: Neither Jewish Rabbines with their grammaticall observations, nor Greeke poets with their fantasticall imaginations may be suffered to contradict it. Howe easie it is to wrangle with the words, NEPHESH, SHEOL, and HADES a meane scholar maie soon perceive; but I hold it no sound course to fetch the explication of the mysteries of christian religion, either from such impudent impugners of it, as were the Rabbines, or from such ignorant deluders of it, as were the prophane poets ...
Indeed, a common habit among early modern Christians was not only the adoption of Jewish ideas, but also the adoption of Jewish practices. Scholars have struggled to account for why Christians practised Jewish customs, often regarding such behaviour as eccentric. 106 In fact, Jewishness was frequently imagined less as a characteristic of the Jewish people, and rather as one which could be attached to Christians. The Oxford English Dictionary cites John Milton as being the first to define Judaism (in 1641) not as a religion but as 'the act of Judaizing; adoption of Jewish practices on the part of Christians; a practice or style of thought like that of the Jews', but this meaning can be found considerably earlier.
As Joad Raymond has shown, furthermore, printed controversies conformed to certain rules: if a tract or a pamphlet was written by one faction, it had to be answered by the opposition, otherwise it could be considered irrefutable; this genre became known as animadversion. 6 Not only had the general gist to be answered but also each pOint had to be considered in turn; and, with other commentators becoming involved, the controversies were prone to escalate, resulting in complex families of interrelated texts.
Judaism without Jews: Philosemitism and Christian Polemic in Early Modern England by Eliane Glaser (auth.)