Saturday, 27 October 2012

Antisemitism revisited

One other detail which has stayed with me from this conference, from a paper by Rebecca Peterson on how the Lutheran theologian Philip Melanchthon wrote about the Jews. Melanchthon was (in this as in many things) much more moderate and softly-spoken than Luther himself. But apparently, when he wanted to say something positive about the children of Abraham, he tended to call them Hebrews or Israelites; when he wanted to criticise them, even if he was talking about the same time period, they became Jews. The implication is that there really were good and admirable Jews: but they'd all been dead for more than two thousand years.

None of which makes Melanchthon implicit in genocide. But it does make him implicit in something.

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't the Bible pretty much do the same thing - use "Jews" negatively and "Israelites / Hebrews" positively?