Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence

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Princeton University Press, 2006 - Religion - 340 pages
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Historical accounts of Jewish violence--particularly against Christians--have long been explosive material. Some historians have distorted these records for anti-Semitic purposes. Others have discounted, dismissed, or simply ignored the evidence, often for apologetic purposes.

In Reckless Rites, Elliott Horowitz takes a new and forthright look at both the history of Jewish violence since late antiquity and the ways in which generations of historians have grappled with that history. In the process, he has written the most wide-ranging book on Jewish violence in any language, and the first to fully acknowledge and address the actual anti-Christian practices that became part of the playful, theatrical violence of the Jewish festival of Purim. He has also examined the different ways in which the book of Esther, upon which the festival is based, was used by Jews and Christians over the centuries--whether as an ancient mirror of modern tribulations or as the scriptural basis for anti-Semitic claims regarding the bloodthirstiness of the Jews.

Reckless Rites reassesses the historical interpretation of Jewish violence--from the alleged massacre of thousands of Christians in seventh-century Jerusalem to later medieval attacks on Christian symbols such as the crucifix, transgressions that were often committed in full knowledge that their likely consequence would be death.

A book that calls for major changes in the way that Jewish history is written and conceptualized, Reckless Rites will be essential reading for scholars and students of history, religion, and Jewish-Christian relations.


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User Review  - raizel - LibraryThing

The book is divided into Part One: Biblical Legacies and Part Two: Jews Living Dangerously. The first part looks at how people have viewed the book of Esther throughout history, especially the ... Read full review

Reckless rites: Purim and the legacy of Jewish violence

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Horowitz sets out to dispel distortions of Jewish violence and passivity in this combative tome, considering both the "feminized Jew incapable of violence" as well as the opposing description of the ... Read full review


The Book of Esther For and Against
A Pair of Queens
Mordecais Reckless Refusal
The Eternal Haman
Amalek The Memory of Violence and the Violence of Memory
The Fascination of the Abomination Jews and Jewish Historians Confront the Cross
Mild Men or Wild Men? Historical Reflections on Jews and Violence
Ancient Jewish Violence and Modern Scholarship
Purim Carnival and Violence
Local Purims and the Invention of Tradition

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Page 2 - Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not ; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
Page vii - Accurate scholarship can Unearth the whole offence From Luther until now That has driven a culture mad, Find what occurred at Linz, What huge imago made A psychopathic god: I and the public know What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return.

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About the author (2006)

Elliott Horowitz, a native of New York City, is Associate Professor of Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. He is coeditor of the Jewish Quarterly Review.

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