Cursing the Christians?: A History of the Birkat HaMinim

Front Cover
OUP USA, Jan 12, 2012 - Religion - 432 pages
0 Reviews
Ruth Langer offers an in-depth study of the birkat haminim, a Jewish prayer for the removal of those categories of human being who prevent the messianic redemption and the society envisioned for it. In its earliest form, the prayer cursed Christians, apostates to Christianity, sectarians, and enemies of Israel. Drawing on the shifting liturgical texts, polemics, and apologetics concerning the prayer, Langer traces the transformation of the birkat haminim from what functioned without question in the medieval world as a Jewish curse of Christians, through its early modern censorship by Christians, to its modern transformation within the Jewish world into a general petition that God remove evil from the world. Christian censorship played a crucial role in this transformation of the prayer; however, Langer argues that the truest transformation in meaning resulted from Jewish integration into Western culture. Eventually, the prayer shed its references to any specific category of human being and lost its function as a curse. Reconciliation between Jews and Christians today requires both communities to confront a long history of prejudice. Ruth Langer shows through the birkat haminim how the history of one liturgical text chronicled Jewish thinking about Christians over hundreds of years.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

About the author (2012)

Ruth Langer is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department at Boston College and Associate Director of its Center for Christian-Jewish Learning. She received her Ph.D. in 1994 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. Her research and writing focuses on Jewish liturgy and Christian-Jewish relations.

Bibliographic information