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Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of…
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Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence

by Elliott Horowitz

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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 negative feelings of Christians like Martin Luther and Jews looking for a more universal attitude. The second looks at Purim celebrations and the violence sometimes associated with them. The book looks at uncomfortable things in a scholarly manner.
  raizel | Mar 13, 2014 |
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Epigraph
If it permitted by human sagacity to discover the causes which have influenced the singular fate of the Jewish people, it must be sought by a more intimate knowledge of their feelings and history, than has fallen to the share of ridiculing Polytheists, of hostile Christians, and of doting Rabbins. ---Isaac D'Israeli, The Genius of Judaism (1833)
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

--W.H. Auden
"September 1, 1939"
The most odious form of moral bias is found in the history that loudly condemns the crimes and persecutions of one side, and conceals or defends those of the other. ---G.M. Trevelyan, "Bias in History" (1947)
Dedication
To my parentsfor their boundless encouragementand to my childrenfor their boundless tolerance
First words
No book in the Old Testament, it has been aptly observed, "has occasioned more antipathy for some readers, and more enjoyment for others, than the book of Esther."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691124914, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:23 -0400)

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