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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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“From the Jews' own books”

“From the Jews' own books”

Yiddish Literature, Christian Readers

(p.39) Two “From the Jews' own books”
A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish
Stanford University Press

The Christian Studiosis Theologiae were advised to master Yiddish to enable them to read Ashkenazi Jewish literature in this language, although Protestant scholars denounced Jewish literature published in the Yiddish language during the early modern period. They argued that Yiddish texts were harmful and damaging to Jewish readers. Jewish rabbis and scholars were also critical of Yiddish adaptations of secular German literature, particularly epic poetry and chivalric romance. Two targets of Christian criticism were Christoph Helwig's 1612 German translation of various stories from the Mayse-bukh (Book of stories) and Jacob B. Isaac Ashkenazi's Tsene-rene, the most popular book of traditional Yiddish literature. Nevertheless, Christian authors actively promoted the reading of Jewish literature written in Yiddish among their fellow Christians, not only to help them strengthen their faith, but also to equip them with useful and reliable arguments for disputations with Jews.

Keywords:   Yiddish literature, Yiddish language, Jews, Christians, Jewish literature, German literature, Christoph Helwig, Ashkenazi

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