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A Goy Who Speaks YiddishChristians and the Jewish Language in Early Modern Germany$
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Aya Elyada

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804781930

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804781930.001.0001

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Introduction: Christian Hebraism and the Study of Yiddish in Early Modern Europe

Introduction: Christian Hebraism and the Study of Yiddish in Early Modern Europe

(p.19) Introduction: Christian Hebraism and the Study of Yiddish in Early Modern Europe
A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish
Stanford University Press

During the Renaissance and until the Reformation, Christian scholars became increasingly preoccupied with the interrelationship between language and religion on one hand, and philology and theology on the other hand. This focus gave birth to a branch of Christian scholarship known as Christian Hebraism, which dealt with Hebraica and Judaica from the late fifteenth century onwards. Some of the most renowned and influential Hebraists and Orientalists in early modern Germany, from Paulus Fagius and Sebastian Münster to Johann Buxtorf, August Pfeiffer, and Johann Heinrich Callenberg, devoted their time to the study of Yiddish literature and language. The result was a phenomenon called “Christian Yiddishism.” Christians, especially theologians, were encouraged to become proficient in the Yiddish language in order for them to missionize among the Jews, to read Jewish literature in Yiddish, and to use the language in the study of Hebrew and the biblical text.

Keywords:   Christian Hebraism, Yiddish language, Yiddish literature, Germany, Christians, Christian Yiddishism, Jews, Jewish literature, Renaissance, Reformation

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