Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Anton Margaritha:
His conversion to Christianity,
his use of a pronounceable form of the Tetragrammaton
& his persecutions /

Αντόν Μαργκαρίθα:
Η μεταστροφή του στον χριστιανισμό,
η χρήση φθεγκτής μορφής του Τετραγράμματου
& ο καταδιωγμός του




MARGARITA, ANTONIUS:

«Convert to Christianity in the first half of the sixteenth century; born about 1500 at Ratisbon (Regensburg), where his father, Jacob Margolioth, was rabbi; died at Vienna; baptized in 1522 at Wasserburg, Bavaria. He was teacher of Hebrew successively at Augsburg, Meissen, Zell, Leipsic, and (from 1537 till his death) at the University of Vienna.

He wrote "Der Gantz Jüdisch Glaub mit Sampt ainer Gründlichen und Wahrhafften Anzaygunge, Aller Satzungen, Ceremonien, Gebetten, Haymliche und Offentliche Gebreuch, Deren sich dye Juden Halten, Durch das Gantz Jar, Mit Schönen und Gegründten Argumenten Wyder Jren Glauben," Augsburg, 1530; Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1544, 1561, 1689; Leipsic, 1705, 1713. The author ridicules Jewish ceremonies, accuses the Jews of usury and of sentiments hostile to Christians and Christianity, and argues against their Messianic hopes. He denounces the 'Alenu prayer as anti-Christian in tendency. Declaiming against the usury and idleness of the Jews, he appeals to the magistrates to remedy the evil and to force the Jews to perform manual labor. He charges the Jewish physicians with ignorance and greediness, and asserts that, despite their minuteness in ritual, the Jews are neither pious nor charitable, and that, notwithstanding their apparent aversion to proselytism, they are eager to gain adherents to their faith.

This libelous book had a great influence upon Luther, who made use of it in writing his "Von den Juden und Ihren Lügen." It was praised by Hoornbeck, B. Lutberus, and Joseph Müller; but Wagenseil speaks of it less favorably. When it appeared, Josel of Rosheim, being at that time at Augsburg, made complaint to Emperor Charles V., who appointed a committee to examine the denunciations contained in the book. The author was imprisoned and later expelled from Augsburg.»

* The Jewish Encyclopedia,
Vol. 8, pp./σσ. 326, 327.



«[Margaritha] became not only the most influential early modern convert to write on Judaism. [...]

In stark contrast to this successful “best-seller,” Margaritha’s other publications remained mostly obscure. While he taught Hebrew in Leipzig, he published in May 1533 Psalterium hebraicum, an edition of the Psalms in Hebrew with full vocalization and with the root consonants listed in the left hand margin of the pages. The slim volume also includes part of a Hebrew translation of Mark [Matthew] up to chapter 3, verse 4. This text is only partly vocalized. Margaritha promised in a bilingual Hebrew and Latin address to his readers a full translation of the New Testament book should his endeavors find a favorable reception. The book is aimed at scholars and students wishing to study the Hebrew language and to gain deeper understanding of the holy tongue. Margaritha probably used it as a teaching aid for his students who learned the basic root-system of the Hebrew grammar and who could practice their own translation skills by comparing it with a well-known text. [...]

While Margaritha’s treatment of rabbinic literature followed traditional patterns, his description of Jewish community life, to discuss just one example of his “ethnographic” approach, rested upon his own experiences and impressions. Margaritha grew up in a distinguished family who boasted scholarly achievements and was closely involved in community affairs. His grandfather was the scholar Rabbi Jacob Margoles, his father Samuel was a rabbi in Regensburg and a representative of the communities with Christian authorities and later served as the Chief Rabbi of Greater Poland and Masovia and the head of the rabbinic court in Póznan. His brother was a hazan and his uncle Rabbi Eisik Stein a former student of Israel Isserlein and the owner of the largest known private Jewish library in fifteenth century Germany. Margaritha must have been very familiar with the structure and administration of the Jewish community, the tasks it had to face, and the problems that could arise. [...]

Even if Margaritha’s own judgement of his abilities may appear a bit exaggerated, his knowledge of Hebrew was apparently sufficient to teach at the university level. [...]

The most influential reader and recipient of Margaritha’s ideas was certainly Martin Luther. [...]

Margaritha’s major contribution to Jewish-Christian relations in the time of the Reformation and beyond was his choice of ethnographic tools when writing about Judaism. With all the problems such an approach entails, Margaritha’s Der gantz Jüdisch glaub set a model which was copied and imitated for more than two hundred years and shaped, for better or worse, the image of Jews and Judaism that Christians acquired


* Maria Diemling,
«Anthonius Margaritha on the “Whole Jewish Faith:” A Sixteenth-Century Convert from Judaism and his Depiction of the Jewish Religion»
Ο Αντόνιους Μαργκαρίθα στο έργο "Ολόκληρη η Ιουδαϊκή Πίστη": Ένας Προσήλυτος του Δεκάτου Έκτου Αιώνα από τον Ιουδαϊσμό και η Απεικόνιση της Ιουδαϊκής Θρησκείας»],
in/στο
D. Bell & St. Burnett,
Jews, Judaism, And the Reformation in Sixteenth-century Germany (Studies in Central European Histories),
Brill 2006,
pp./σσ. 304, 308, 317, 318, 323, 328, 333.


«Margaritha's portrayal of Judaism was also the most comprehensive book of its kind in any non-Jewish language and served to inform an otherwise ignorant German reading public about the realities of Judaism as it was practiced.»


* Stephen Burett,
«Philosemitism and Christian Hebraism in the Reformation Era (1500-1620)»
Φιλοσημιτισμός και Χριστιανικός Εβραϊσμός στην Εποχή της Μεταρρύθμισης (1500-1620)»],
in/στο
Irene A. Diekmann & Elke-Vera Kotowski,
Geliebter Feind, gehasster Freund: Antisemitismus und Philosemitismus in Geschichte und Gegenwart,
Vlg.F.Berlin Brandenburg 2009,
p./σ. 140.


«Margaritha’s work had a tremendous impact on Luther, for he viewed it as good table reading. [...] Was Margaritha imprisoned for his writings on the Jews or for his evangelical beliefs?»


* Paul D. Nolting,
«Studies in Luther: Luther’s relationship with and writings about the Jews»
Μελέτες στον Λούθηρο: Η σχέση του Λούθηρου και τα συγγράμματά του σχετικά με τους Ιουδαίους»],
The Church of the Lutheran Confession Journal of Theology,
March 1999 / Μάρτιος 1999.
[English/Αγγλικά, PDF]


See also: / Βλέπε επίσης:

* Stephen G. Burnett,
«Distorted Mirrors: Antonius Margaritha, Johann Buxtorf and Christian Ethnographies of the Jews»
Παραμορφωτικοί Καθρέφτες: Ο Αντώνιος Μαργκαρίθα, ο Ιώχαν Μπάξτορφ και οι Χριστιανικές Εθνογραφίες των Ιουδαίων»],
Sixteenth Century Journal XXV/2 1994,
pp./σσ. 275-287.

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