Christians and Jews

Ora Limor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The term ‘boundary’ in reference to Jews is a complex one. Like Muslims, Jews were outside the Christian faith but, unlike the Muslims, they were present within Christian society. Like heretics, Jews were present in Christian society but, unlike them, they were not perceived as a part of the body of faith. These three groups represent three disparate types of boundaries, each determining a different attitude towards the group defined by the boundary. Yet, the Christian world did not view these groups as completely distinct from one another, and its attitude towards each carried over to its treatment of the other groups. In this way, the crusades, explicitly declared against the Muslims - the enemies of the church in foreign lands – influenced and aggravated the treatment of the enemies within Christian lands – the Jews. Similarly, the intensive campaign against heretical sects initiated in the thirteenth century led to the erection of sturdier barriers between Christians and Jews, In addition, the Jew figures in the Christian world on two levels – one physical and the other theological – and the two are not fully congruent. The theological (or hermeneutical) Jew is present in Christian imagination and thought; the Jew forms an integral part of the Christian worldview as an internal entity bearing unvarying characteristics, and this perception also dictates the attitude towards living Jews. Moreover, even when ‘real’ Jews are absent from Christian society, in spite of their absence they continue to function as an internal, imagined ‘other’.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of Christianity
Subtitle of host publicationChristianity in Western Europe c. 1100-c. 1500
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781139056021
ISBN (Print)9780521811064
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2009 and Cambridge University Press, 2008.

RAMBI publications

  • Christianity and antisemitism -- History -- To 1500
  • Christianity and other religions -- Judaism
  • Christianity and other religions -- Judaism -- History -- To 1500
  • Jews -- Europe
  • Judaism -- Relations -- Christianity


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