Classics and Religious Studies


Date of this Version

June 1994


Published in Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 25, No. 2. (Summer, 1994), pp. 275-287. Copyright 1994 The Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, Inc. Used by permission.


Antonius Margaritha's Entire Jewish Faith (1530) and Johann Buxtorf's Jewish Synagogue (1603) were the two most influential Christian ethnographies of the Jews written during the early modern period. Margaritha and Buxtorf were not disinterested ethnographers who sought to provide a balanced and fair appraisal of Jewish life and religion, but were Christians who were violently opposed to Judaism, and their descriptions were to some degree skewed by their theological and social agendas. They criticized Judaism and the Jews from three different perspectives: Judaism as a biblical theology, the social interaction of ordinary Jews and Christians, and Jewry as an order within the political world of the German empire.These portrayals of the Jews and their religion together with the responses of Jewish leaders and intellectuals shed light upon the most important lines of Jewish-Christian theological conflict in early modern Germany.

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