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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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Yiddish in the Judenmission

Yiddish in the Judenmission

(p.22) One Yiddish in the Judenmission
A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish
Stanford University Press

Both the Reformation and the Protestant movement provided an impetus to the long-standing Christian ambition to convert the Jews to Christianity. This Jewish conversion initially failed to materialize, but remained a constant hope for Protestant thought and practice in early modern Germany. Protestant theologians and missionaries turned to non-violent ways to conduct successful missionary work by embracing Yiddish, the colloquial language of the German Jews. The use of Yiddish in the early modern Judenmission was founded on so-called “linguistic adaptation.” This chapter examines the use of the Yiddish language by Christian missionaries to write texts, from the sixteenth century up to the seventeenth century, with the rise of the Pietist movement. It also discusses the advantages of Yiddish as a missionary language, the strategies employed by missionaries to overcome Jewish resistance to missionary work, and Yiddish literature devoted to missionary efforts.

Keywords:   Jews, Christianity, conversion, Germany, missionaries, Yiddish language, Yiddish literature, linguistic adaptation, missionary work, Judenmission

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