By Aya Elyada
Elyada’s research of quite a lot of philological and theological works, in addition to textbooks, dictionaries, ethnographical writings, and translations, demonstrates that Christian Yiddishism had implications past its simply linguistic and philological dimensions. certainly, Christian texts on Yiddish display not just the ways that Christians perceived and outlined Jews and Judaism, but in addition, in a contrasting vein, how they seen their very own language, faith, and culture.
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Extra resources for A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish: Christians and the Jewish Language in Early Modern Germany
13 Apart from the New Testament, the Hebrew Bible too was translated into Yiddish for missionary purposes. 1. Title page of Elias Schadeus’ Yiddish translation of five books of the New Testament (Strasbourg 1592). Source: Sammlung Tychsen, Harald Fischer Verlag. 26 Yiddish in the Service of Christian Theology aulus Fagius in Constance. 15 During the following century, however, these early endeavors to use Yiddish as a linguistic tool for missionary work among the Jews were apparently no longer pursued.
The far-reaching adaptation of missionaries to the rituals and customs of the peoples they wished to convert, as was the case for example with the Jesuit mission in China and India during the seventeenth century,6 was unthinkable in mission among the Jews. Whereas some pagan customs and rituals could be considered theologically neutral, at least to the extent that they allowed the missionaries to reconcile them with Christian practice, Jewish customs and rituals were overtly rejected by Christian dogma.
It was a discourse that both expressed and helped maintain the existing power relations between Jews and Christians, and the marginal place of the Jews within German culture and society. This form of “discursive” or “ideological” domination becomes especially evident when we examine the ways in which the Christian authors depicted the Jewish language and literature in their works. The second question in the book concerns how the Christian texts depict and represent the Yiddish language. Far from being neutral, matter-of-fact linguistic presentations, the Christian depictions of Yiddish were often shaped by their authors’ views of the Jewish culture and religion, as well as by underlying ideological motivations and agendas.
A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish: Christians and the Jewish Language in Early Modern Germany by Aya Elyada