By Aya Elyada
Elyada’s research of a variety of philological and theological works, in addition to textbooks, dictionaries, ethnographical writings, and translations, demonstrates that Christian Yiddishism had implications past its merely linguistic and philological dimensions. certainly, Christian texts on Yiddish show not just the ways that Christians perceived and outlined Jews and Judaism, but additionally, in a contrasting vein, how they seen their very own language, faith, and culture.
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Additional resources for A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish: Christians and the Jewish Language in Early Modern Germany
A Jewish Language in a Christian World Despite the fact that the cultural phenomenon of “Christian Yiddishism” is almost 500 years old, the literature produced during its first 250 years, from the Reformation to the Enlightenment (which twentiethcentury Yiddishist Ber Borochov classified as primitive filologishe shriftn, to distinguish from the “modern” literature of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries),14 has received only limited consideration in modern historical research. Since the writings of early modern Christian Yiddishists deal with the Jews’ language, they have mainly attracted the attention of modern linguists and philologists of historical Yiddish.
After a general introduction on the place of Christian Yiddish scholarship in the broader context of early modern Christian Hebraism, the following chapters focus on what motivated Hebraists, theologians, and Orientalists to engage in Yiddish. This includes, in the first place, the Christian ambition to utilize the Jewish language and literature for missionary purposes and anti-Jewish polemics, discussed in the first and second chapters. By using Yiddish in both oral and written mission, the missionaries aimed to approach the Jews from a position of familiarity and even friendliness, and to make the evangelical literature accessible to Jewish readership.
Through depiction and analysis of the Christian texts on Yiddish in the context of their historical background and ideological framework, the book discusses two major questions. —relates to the various motivations for Christian preoccupation with the Yiddish language and literature in early modern Germany. In addition to the above-mentioned interest both in Jews and Judaism and in language and linguistics at the time, Christian engagement with Yiddish resulted from the recognition that proficiency in the Jewish language was important and even beneficial for various groups in the non-Jewish population.
A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish: Christians and the Jewish Language in Early Modern Germany by Aya Elyada