Summary: Written by a Catholic priest, this classic book on antisemitism traces the events of twenty-three centuries, including Christian involvement in this tragic story.
Edition/Copyright:85 Cover: Paperback Publisher:Paulist Press Published: 01/28/1985 International: No
The republication of this twenty year old history of antisemitism undertaken on the initiative of a Christian publishing house is, paradoxically, a measure of both progress and failure in Jewis-Christian understanding and dialogue of the last score of years. A Christian publishing initiative taken on so self-incriminating a subject is obviously significant and encouraging. No less significant but less encouraging on the other hand is the need to republish it at all. The first objective of the original publication of the book was to acquaint Christians generally with the immense sufferings of Jews throughout the Christian era. The objective has not been realized. The problematic that supplied the motivation for the first publication still obtains. The vast majority of Christians, even well educated, are all but totally ignorant of what happened to Jews in history books or social studies, and because Christians are not inclined to read histories of antisemitism. Jews on the other hand are by and large acutely aware of this page of history if for no other reason than that it is so extensively and intimately intermingled with the history of the Jews and Judaism. It is little exaggeration to state that those pages of history Jews have committed to memory are the very ones that have been torn from Christian (and secular) history books. This new edition of the original volume is a repeated effort to contribute toward the reinsertion of those pages. Such a project holds more than academic interest. Indeed the fate of the fledgling Jewish-Christian dialogue is in a real sense at stake. The disparity of knowledge separating Christians and Jews in an area that touches them so closely renders authentic communication difficult. How in effect can the Jew, laden with the knowledge of his/her people's centuries-old oppression in Christendom, engage in fruitful dialogue with the Christian who is sincerely convinced that his/her partner in dialogue is simply too persecution-minded? OR, inversely, can the Christian dialogist, uninitiated to the dark pages of Jewish-Christian history, succeed any better with his Jewish partner who believes that Christians are fully familiar with these pages and yet callous concerning the persecution and suffering of his/her people? This imbalance of vital knowledge can only serve to impede, even vitiate the dialogue. The Holocaust, the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials, and many Church documents touching the problem of antisemitism have helped to increase interest in the subject of antisemitism and to rectify the imbalance, but far from adequately. The inclination to deny the reality of antisemitism and to regard the Holocaust as a latter-day aberration with little or no roots in the past of connection with the present is till widespread, and thus the problem is not faced. This historical ignorance is pregnant with untoward consequences. It robs the Christian of grounds for motivation to take hatred of Jews as a serious social and ethical problem and to discover it in him/herself. It prevents the Christian from understanding Jews, their needs, hurts, and aspirations, many of which were shaped in the crucible of perennial oppression. Further, it blocks the way to Christian self-understanding, for antisemitism has left its mark on the Christian (and his/her Church) as much as on the Jew. It denies the Christian an opportunity to confront a capital sin of the Christian past, recapitulated in the present and in him/herself, and to undertake the metanoia this requires. Of grave consequences, finally, is the fact that this Christian refusal to face the antisemitic past is an important contributor to the extraordinary durability of this longest hatred of human history. This volume then may serve as an invitation to Christian readers to enter into the dark side of the Christian heritage, to undergo what might be called a historical psychoanalysis in the hope that by tracing out the origin and development of Jew hatred this ageless evil will be banished from history and from the depths of the modern (and Christian) soul. For the Christian, such a venture would, in most instances, be an almost total uncovering of repressed material, a painful catharsis. Only such an exorcism of the demons of the past will permit a reassessment of the quality of our Christianity and the truth of our theology and lead to that attitude of maturity and responsibility so essential to the mutual understanding and cooperation with Jews to which the Church is committed. Basically, the present edition retains the purpose, method, and factual content of the first. It purports to present a substantially complete but succinct exposition of the data of the anti-Semitic development, proceeding age by age and region by region as the course of events dictates. It is not written for the scholar but for the educated person who in his/her studies missed these important pages of history. It is the writer's hope that it will serve as an introduction to an extensive and complex subject, to an abiding interest in the struggle against antisemitism, and to the improvement of Jewish-Christian relations. The new edition is to a certain point revision, not of facts but of some perspectives. In a critique of the first edition in 1965 Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg wrote: What came through to me in Flannery's writing is his still ongoing education in a very painful subject. I heard a decent man, who has been nurtured in conventional Catholic education and attitude, who was recasting these attitudes as he was confronting, for the first time, the underside of the history of the Church. This knowledge was clearly remaking him, but the process was not yet complete... Excluding the personal compliment, I can make Rabbi Hertzberg's works my own, but would change the ''was'' of his last sentence to the present tense. Rabbi Hertzberg is right. Education in the history of antisemitism is on-going painful, and a remaking process. It is, moreover, probably never complete. The prototype and paragon of all prejudices, antisemitism is a rich source of insight into history, human nature, and into one's self. For the Christian in particular it is a valuable instrument for sounding the depths of the Christian psyche and character. The twenty years that separate this edition from the first exemplify some effects of this process. A comparative reading would show several divergence's from the original. Pre-Christinan antisemitism is conceded less weight in the development of Antisemitism. The role of the churches is of necessity granted more. Rationalist antisemitism is also given greater importance. A tighter historical bond is found joining Christian and modern racist and Nazi antisemitism----and therefore the Holocaust-----but at the same time they are sharply distinguished as opposites in their essential nature. The demonic character of antisemitism is sensed more clearly, and its spiritual and pathological depths are emphasized. Whoever will continue the journey into this cavernous hatred will find that he/she is at grips with an unfathomable evil. Those who will not do so risk remaining or becoming its prey. The reader must be warned of the unavoidable refraction that is produced by a history of this kind that focuses relentlessly upon the negative content of the record of Jewish-Christian relations. The refraction is further magnified by the summary manner is which the seemingly endless series of negative occurrences is presented, giving off thereby an unintended suggestion that these data tell the whole story. As an antidote to this distorting effect the reading of a comprehensive history of Jews and Judaism is recommended. Something must be said about definitions. the term ''antisemitism'', a misnomer, is also a problem. First used in 1879 to signify racial antipathy toward Jews, it has since come to include anti-Jewish hatred of all types and of alleras. Misnomer though it is, common usage permits it t o be used in the wider sense. Care however must be taken not to confuse it with ant-Jewish manifestations that are not strictly speaking antisemitic. The distinguishing mark of all antisemitism in the strict sense is hatred or contempt and a stereotyping of the Jewish people as such. In the absence of either of these qualifiers antisemitism does not exist. It should be distinguished therefore from indiscriminate hostility to which all peoples and groups have been prey; from anti-Judaism, a theological construct, with which it is often intermingled; and from anti-jewish manifestations that may lead to-----or in history have led to-----antisemitism but do not possess the attributes specified above. Unfortunately, even seasoned scholars have failed to respect distinctions such as these and have thus created a semantical confusion that has often rendered rational discourse on the subject well night impossible. In this volume we shall restrict ourselves to applications of the term in the strict sense without, for all that, discounting the fact that other manifestations, such as anti-Jewish peril, etc., are usually richly laden with antisemitism or used as fronts or disguises behind which it does its damage. This strict usage, further, does not negate the fact that there are attitudes and policies which though not antisemitic in themselves are dangerous to the Jewish people and their vital interests. Some authors have effectively warned against such attitudes and policies and have entitled them the ''real'', the ''new'', and even the ''ultimate'' antisemitism. Their emphasis on these new Jewish perils is well taken, but their use of the word antisemitism dilutes that rigor of terminology which alone will bring clarity to its meaning and dispel the present confusion. Beyond this, an overextension of the term plays into the hands of the antisemitic who would divest it------and the reality it denotes------of all specific content. It is a pleasure to express thanks to those without whose assistance or encouragement this book would have already found its last resting place on library shelves. First thanks should go to Fr. Kevin Lynch and Mr. Donald Brophy of Paulist Press for their invitation to update the book for republication. Thanks is due to Bishop Louis E. Gelineau of Providence, Rhode Island, who encouraged this effort and allowed a work schedule without which it would not have been possible; to Monsignor John M. Oesterreicher, founder of the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies and Distinguished Professor of Seton Hall University without whose assistance the first edition would never have been attempted; to Dr. Eugene Fisher, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the Nation Conference of Catholic Bishops for supplying relevant materials; to Dr. Robert Michael of Southeaster Massachusetts University, the first to urge republication and offer help; to Donald Martin, Esq., who worked so hard and fast to acquire the author's publication rights from the former publisher; and to my secretary, Louise Pastille, who typed and retyped the manuscript repeatedly. Special thanks must be given to those thousands of Jews who in discussions following some two hundred and fifty lectures in Temples or Jewish centers, especially during the Oneg Shabbat, gave me an insight into antisemitism and the Jewish reaction to it that could never be picked up in books and scholarly symposia. Thanks, above all, to God, our common Father, who continues to reconcile his chosen peoples that have been so long estranged.
View Table of Contents
1. The Ancient World 2. The Conflict of The Church and Synagogue 3. A Critical Century 4. Shifting Fortunes 5. The Vale of Tears 6. An Oasis and An Ordeal 7. The Age of The Ghetto 8. The Struggle For Emancipation 9. The Racial Myth and Its Consequences 10. A War Within A War 11. The Final Solution 12. Red Antisemitism 13. Polite Antisemitism 14. The Last Twenty-Five Years 15. The Roots of Antisemitism.
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