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Judeophobia

Eisenmenger, Johann Andreas. Endecktes Judenthum

Frankfurt : Christi Gebuhrt, 1700.

Johann Andreas Eisenmenger, 1654-1704

Eisenmenger was the son of German court official who had  received a good education. He studied at the Collegium Sapientiae at Heidelberg and was known for his interest in Hebrew studies and Semitic languages, mastering Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic. Furthering his education in England and Holland, he studied rabbinical literature with Jewish assistance for some 19 years both at Heidelberg and Frankfort-on-the-Main, under the pretense of wishing to convert to Judaism.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Endecktes Judenthum  was the result of his research of over 200 sixteenth and seventeenth century editions of Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic, and Greek texts, including the Talmud, prayer-books, and commentaries by Maimonides and Nachmanides. The work became a foundational scholarly antisemitic text, used by like-minded journalists and pamphleteers.

Eisenmenger read these texts literally, finding ‘evidence’ that Jews “swore false oaths”; “killed children who converted”; “tested experimental remedies on Christians, and sold them spoiled meat”, and believed that “God danced with Eve and braided her hair”. Eisenberg’s scholarly, reasonable tone belied his evident preoccupation (like Luther) with tales of Jewish ritual murder of Christian children and poisoning of wells.

Though repeatedly denouncing the Entdecktes as malicious libel, the Habsburg Court Jewish members’ various attempts to suppress it failed to stop its popularity.

The Prussian monarchy seized this original edition, published in Heidelberg. In 1711, Friedrich I of Prussia authorized an edition with some minor spelling changes and an index. Several English translations soon followed, and the seized edition was finally reprinted in full in 1740.