Gene Expression

Justify Judeo-Christianity!

One of my more quixotic quests has been to dispute the use of the term “Judeo-Christian” in normal conversation. Many people who use the term do so without much forethought, it’s just one of the definitions you use to point to the bracketing of the two traditional religions of Western civilization. In our modern context where there are great tensions between the world of Islam and the West it also alludes to a cleavage between the Abrahamic faiths where Islam is painted as the outgroup.

My own contention is that the term misleads, and emerged out of an attempt to acknowledge the rise of religious pluralism in what used to be called “Christendom,” that pluralism being tested on the margins by the predominant non-Christian tradition of the West, that of the Jews. As a matter of fact for most of the past 2,000 years, or more precisely the period between the Christianization of the Roman Empire (circa 300-500) and the Jewish Enlightenment (circa 1800), Jews were not part of Western civilization.* Rather, Jews were in the West, and in the Islamic World, but they were generally not of them, with the exception perhaps of Al-Andalus.

Of course the Christians share with the Jews much of the Hebrew Bible (there are minor differences due to the chain of translation). But the Judaism of the Bible which Christians are familiar with is not the dominant form of Judaism for most of the past 2,000 years. The Rabbinical Judaism which tied together most of the Jewish world over the past 2,000 years is a descendant of the sect of the Pharisees, and famously relies upon the extensive corpus of scholarship compiled in the Talmud, as well as a host of secondary commentaries. During the period of the Roman Empire there were Jews who rejected the vision of the Pharisees, often collapsed into the catchall label “Hellenistic Jews,” but these groups seem to have declined and gone extinct by Late Antiquity.** During the Medieval period there was a sect which rejected the Talmud, the Karaites, and some strands of modern Reform Judaism which stretches back to the 19th century espouse neo-Karaitism, and even assert that they are inheritors of the tradition of the Hellenistic Jews. But again, the point is that between 500 to 1800 Judaism existed at the sufferance of Christian and Islamic authorities, and that Judaism was Rabbinical Judaism (Christian authorities even persecuted Jews specifically when they deviated from Rabbinical Judaism, as only that religion was deemed an appropriate fossil witness for Christians to the superseded covenant). Many Jews converted to Christianity and Islam, but those who espoused the Jewish religion and adhered to Jewish law, Jewish Jews, were not mainstream participants in Western or Islamic civilization.

My own position from a phyolgenetic viewpoint is that Rabbinical Judaism, the dominant form of Judaism between 500 to 1800, resembles Islam much more than Christianity. Islam and Rabbinical Judaism have a more orthopraxic orientation (e.g., Halakah, Sharia) and less of a focus on Greek tinged theology than Christianity. I have pointed out before that Rabbinical Jews had arguments as to whether Christians were, or were not, monotheists, but agreed than Muslims were. I agree that some strands within both Judaism and Islam don’t fall into the bounds of this narrative, but these streams have been marginalized for most of the past 2,000 years, just as Judaizing movements within Christianity were never dominant or influential until the Radical Reformation (though I would contend that the Judaizing of most Radical Protestants is rather weak tea, and only notable due to the de-Judaization of Pauline Christianity). I am claiming here that the Great Tradition of Christianity is the outlier when it comes to the various strands of the Abrahamic faiths (along perhaps with the extreme rationalists among the Mu’tazili and various Jewish schismatic groups).

Why does this matter? Because the term Judeo-Christian makes everything I said above totally surprising. Rather, it might give the impression that what we know of as Reform Judaism was the norm for Judaism in the West for the past 2,000 years. I think a clustering of Reform Judaism with mainline Protestant Christianity is very plausible. What I’m trying to say is that if you had all the mainstream branches of Judaism and Christianity and generated a a phylogenetic tree, Judaism would be a paraphyletic class (Reform Jews being accepted as Jews, while Christians are not). But it isn’t only history that is misrepresented by the Judeo-Christian model, most people are rather ignorant, so trying to portray Islam as an outgroup to Judaism, instead of highlighting its similarities of character with Orthodox Judaism, simply wastes the opportunity to impart information-by-analogy to lazy people who can’t be bothered to learn anything about Islam. The reality is most ignorant people will remain that way, and will continue to talk about issues which relate to categories which they are grossly ignorant of (e.g., various religious sects and groups). “Judeo-Christian” compounds the follies of modal stupidity.

With all that said, perhaps I’m full of crap and don’t really know what I’m talking about. Tell me why! Why does the term Judeo-Christian really make sense? Remember that I agree that Judaism is the parent religion of Christianity, but I simply reject the contention that Rabbinical Judaism was the Judaism which was the parent religion of Christianity. And Islam is obviously also strongly shaped by Judaic models, and by the time Islam arose Rabbinical Judaism was the overwhelmingly dominant form of the religion, so by the criterion of Jews-as-antecedents I think Judeo-Islam still wins. Is Judeo-Islam more of an affront to reality over most of history since the emergence of the world of Islam than Judeo-Christianity? If you don’t seem to know anything about religion or history I’m not really going to publish your comment. Just a friendly notice.

Related: Judeo-Christian, an abuse of language?

* Baruch Spinoza was I think a forerunner of the 19th century “Confessionless Jew,” but not typical for his age.

** Some scholars argue that Christianity is actually a form of Hellenistic Judaism.

Comments

  1. #1 bwv
    January 13, 2009

    And if the term is only to acknowledge origins, can you say Judeo-Christo-Islamic Culture about, say Egypt? or Judeo-Christo-Islamic-Hindu about Northern India?

    The non-theological distinctions between the West and the Middle East only really begin with the Enlightenment. Prior to say 1700 there is too much common heritage to draw hard lines anywhere from the Mediterranean across to South Asia aside from sectarian ones. And even with this, to an impartial outsider is the difference in 1500 between Sunni Islam and Catholicism that different than their respective differences with Orthodox Christianity, Calvinism or Shiaism? The observer might pay more attention to the common alphabet, number system, liguistic commonalities.

  2. #2 Nayagan
    January 13, 2009

    i’m not going to dispute your point but it would be interesting to know who you regard as the most egregious offenders.

  3. #3 razib
    January 13, 2009

    And if the term is only to acknowledge origins, can you say Judeo-Christo-Islamic Culture about, say Egypt? or Judeo-Christo-Islamic-Hindu about Northern India?

    i think the jewish population of egypt (which mostly lives outside of egypt) has origins in the expulsion from spain, so i would drop “judeo” from that. for india, i would drop “christo” since unlike south india there was never a robust indigneous christian population in north india (in fact, the gangetic plain is still notably christ-free in comparison to south india). but i’m trying to fix on the use of the term judeo-christian in the west today, with all its historical prologue. not a general theory of cultural phylogeny (which is out there, see boyd & richerson).

    The non-theological distinctions between the West and the Middle East only really begin with the Enlightenment.

    i think the enlightenment period strengthened the distinction, formalized it in explicit terms, and amplified it due to the divergence socially & economically between the west & the rest. but i think a non-sectarian distinction predates it in some ways, and in fact the renaissance probably saw the emergence through its neo-classicism a revival of the construct of the european distinct from the christian. i have argued elsewhere that it is possible that the majority of the world’s christians did not live in europe as late as the year 1000 or so, but in the middle east. this demographic reality would have dampened the association of europe with christianity, and the medieval period exhibited some latency i think (there are some references to europeans by the medieval period from what i have read, but it isn’t as distinct and formalized a construct compared to that of the christian vs. heathen, as evidenced by the legend of prester john).

    The observer might pay more attention to the common alphabet, number system, liguistic commonalities.

    i have noted that the chinese have sometimes had difficulties parsing the differences between the ‘western religions.’ though with the case of catholic christianity they have interpreted it as a form of pure land buddhism! islam & judaism in particular were difficult to distinguish, and the jews of kaifeng have mostly assimilated into the hui community.

    as for non-sectarian distinctions, i think one can not deny the importance of language, though that is confounded with sect. e.g., the role of latin as a lingua franca among the ‘franks,’ persian in the muslim east, arabic in the muslim west, and turkish among the muslim military class.

  4. #4 razib
    January 13, 2009

    i’m not going to dispute your point but it would be interesting to know who you regard as the most egregious offenders.

    the usage of the term is so widespread, and i am such a freak to dissent, that i can’t really even pick anyone specific. i do get depressed though when intelligent people who know history and religion use the term. but perhaps i’m the weirdo. i don’t really blame the typical ‘tard or ignorant for using the term when their betters do.

  5. #5 Derek Scruggs
    January 13, 2009

    Re: egregious offenders – too many names to list them all, but this is representative. “Judeo Christian” was just “Christian” back in the 50s when soft anti-Semitism was still socially acceptable.

  6. #6 razib
    January 13, 2009

    Re: egregious offenders – too many names to list them all, but this is representative. “Judeo Christian” was just “Christian” back in the 50s when soft anti-Semitism was still socially acceptable.

    yes. it was an attempt to be inclusive during the protestant-catholic-jew era. unfortunately, it misleads people. now that soft anti-semitism isn’t acceptable there isn’t any utility for this “noble lie,” so perhaps we could go back to admitting that the civilization of western europe and its diaspora was self-consciously christian, not “judeo-christian,” until 1950. even those who were not christian believers (e.g., many of the deists, freethinkers like frederick the great, etc.) saw themselves as heirs of a civilization which had a christian flavor and origin, and often expressed the dominant prejudice against the superstitions of the jewish religion, which was deemed an alien in the body of the west.

  7. #7 razib
    January 13, 2009

    p.s., i’m aiming specifically at people who have no real interest in skewing the taxonomy, especially secular people. there are arguable pragmatic reasons why politicians, for example, should continue using the term.

  8. #8 Nayagan
    January 13, 2009

    derek,

    You’re right but Prager is low-hanging fruit. (he did devote two columns to guide for husbands to successfully beg their way to coitus…with their wives.)

    razib,

    It’s easiest to repeat the mistake when one thinks only in terms of the present and the particular–which so easily lends itself to a brunswick stew of terms instead of a message mindful of history (as you have so helpfully outlined.)

    you may be fighting this battle intermittently for a very long time as I don’t see the trend abating in the near future.

  9. #9 bwv
    January 13, 2009

    can you say Judeo-Christo-Islamic Culture about, say Egypt? or Judeo-Christo-Islamic-Hindu about Northern India?

    I think the jewish population of egypt (which mostly lives outside of egypt) has origins in the expulsion from spain, so i would drop “judeo” from that. for india, i would drop “christo” since unlike south india there was never a robust indigneous christian population in north india (in fact, the gangetic plain is still notably christ-free in comparison to south india). but i’m trying to fix on the use of the term judeo-christian in the west today, with all its historical prologue. not a general theory of cultural phylogeny (which is out there, see boyd & richerson).

    The point being that the term Judeo-Christian only has historical meaning in terms of denoting the Judaic roots of Christianity, but no one similarly recognizes the combined Judaic and Christian roots of Islam by referring to Judeo-Christo-Islamic Culture or the more complex mix of Northern Indian brands of Islam

  10. #10 ben g
    January 13, 2009

    while the term implies a false history, it still has value. it is a nice shorthand to refer to the aspects of *current* Western public morality rooted in the overlapping values of modern Christianity and Judaism.

  11. #11 Colugo
    January 13, 2009

    Would you prefer “Hellenic Abrahamism” for Christianity?

  12. #12 Moopheus
    January 13, 2009

    I’m not going to justify it–I basically agree with you, and have thought this for a long time myself. The term exists for political, not religious, reasons. You’ve just worked it out in much greater detail than I could ever be bothered to do. But most people just accept the term without really thinking about it. It was expedient in the modern era to encourage Xtians to be more accepting of Jews by thinking of a “judeo-christian” religious/cultural continuity, even if that perception doesn’t hold up very well under philosophical or historical scrutiny.

  13. #13 coldequation
    January 13, 2009

    [this is kind of dumb comment i'm not letting through ;-) i don't disagree that fictions are useful for ignorant people]

  14. #14 Thorfinn
    January 13, 2009

    I agree common usage is driven by concerns of inclusion rather than truth, but I think Judeo-Christian can mean something a little different which doesn’t require Jews to be active participants in Western life post-500. In America, people use the term for the way in which the Puritanism which dominated early American life drew from the theology of the Hebrew Bible and saw itself as carrying out a moral mission along the lines of early Jews. (You can argue about the degree to which colonists reshaped the Bible–the actual content of “Judeo”–but if the colonists themselves see it that way it’s interesting. See the importance of Old Testament iconography in American art.)

    You could also talk about the essentialness of the Hebrew Bible in defining Christian faith; the importance of the Jews lies in defining a coherent substrate and then passing the baton (similarly one might want to talk about “Judeo-Christian-Islamic” values when emphasizing the contributions of “The People of the Book” in defining Islamic values, theology, and self-conception).

  15. #15 razib
    January 13, 2009

    You’re right but Prager is low-hanging fruit

    yes. i know that the guy has raw material, but he produces too much low hanging stuff. must be the demands of his audience.

    while the term implies a false history, it still has value. it is a nice shorthand to refer to the aspects of *current* Western public morality rooted in the overlapping values of modern Christianity and Judaism.

    true but trivial. specifically, what does adding the term “judeo” include which is already not included within “christian”? my argument above is that modern jews who express values in congruence with their christian colleagues aren’t expressing views which are fundamentally jewish in any distinctive way at all. to me the term has as much value in this context as judeo-christian-human values.

    But most people just accept the term without really thinking about it.

    right, most people are dumb, it’s not really important. the problem is when say someone who is smart wants to extend an argument using historical examples and pops in the term to trace some intellectual lineage.

    i specifically thought of this topic today because james puolos used the term:
    Bono’s Christian Hegelianism is a lot like the un- or even anti-Christian Hegelianism of secular humanists who want, as Rorty puts it, to “pull up the ladders” from oogedy-boogedy land while retaining the precious earnest of values and commitments that our Judeo-Christian heritage wound up bequeathing us. Those who seek to secularize Christianity aren’t, as Charles Taylor has suggested, merely ’subtracting’ from it; they’re adding to it, even trying to ‘purify’ it of the things within the tradition of Jesus that they think make it imperfect (like Church dogma or even God the Father).

    what does the term really add? he’s really talking about christianity! but i think it will confuse “close readers,” and especially the more ignorant who don’t know as much as poulos does.

    You could also talk about the essentialness of the Hebrew Bible in defining Christian faith; the importance of the Jews lies in defining a coherent substrate and then passing the baton (similarly one might want to talk about “Judeo-Christian-Islamic” values when emphasizing the contributions of “The People of the Book” in defining Islamic values, theology, and self-conception).

    your argument is totally acceptable to me. the main issue i have is that in the post 9-11 era there’s been a tendency to want to add ‘islamic’ to judeo-christian as if islamic is the outgroup.

    granted, my objection doesn’t mean that i don’t think the term has utility for the typical stupid person. i’m not a bit vexed at how often this cheap currency leaks its way into discussions about intellectual history.

  16. #16 razib
    January 13, 2009

    p.s. my main emphasis has been on a narrow focus of intellectual history (which is why i’m deleting comments from people who aren’t interested in that topic and want to change the discussion). but, there is one practical geopolitical implication here to what i’m talking about: 50% of israeli jews are non-ashkenazi; iow, they are jews of the islamic world. decoupling judeo from christian would be a good way to suggest to people that “oriental” jews aren’t quite the same as ashkenazi jews in deep cultural ways, as some people have been arguing that the israeli state is becoming less western over time as the influence of the oriental jews has increased (the influx of russian jews in the 1990s stopped and somewhat reversed the trend). the point is that the similarities between the jews of islam an muslim peoples wouldn’t be seen as surprising if one didn’t think there was a great chasm between judaism and islam. as a point of fact, non-orthodox judaism and the welter of extreme sectarianism isn’t an issue among oriental jews, secular or religious.

  17. #17 razib
    January 13, 2009

    while the term implies a false history, it still has value. it is a nice shorthand to refer to the aspects of *current* Western public morality rooted in the overlapping values of modern Christianity and Judaism.

    and let me put all my “cards” on the table. i’m intent on reviving an acknowledgment of the christian nature of the west. but, i’m also intent on figuring out, and being skeptical of, deriving the culture of the west from some specific christian theological configuration. i don’t think it’s that simple unfortunately. i’m tempted to invert the causation and wonder if christianity is more a product of greco-roman late antiquity than the other way around. but that’s not important at the end of the day.

    as part of the project i am trying to refute the taxonomies an associations people complacently have in the first place. after which i think they’ll be more open to examining the presuppositions of their models.

    (long time readers will know what i’m getting at)

  18. #18 razib
    January 14, 2009

    and to be clear: if you’re not the type of person who is interesting in details of history (e.g., your knowledge of history doesn’t go much beyond wikipedia), you probably shouldn’t comment. you aren’t interested in what i have to say, and i sure as hell am not interested in what you have to say ;-) different ecosystems.

  19. #19 csrster
    January 14, 2009

    The term Judeo-Christianity tends to be unpopular amongst committed (not only Orthodox) Jews for many reasons, including the historical ones you mention, but mostly because it tends to reduce Judaism to an ideological satellite of conservative xtianity.

    An important aspect of the phylogenetic connection which you don’t mention is that xtianity is, in part, also a descendant of Phariseeism. Paul of Tarsus was definitely a pharisee, and Jesus may also have been ideologically associated with them, so rabbinical Judaism and xtianity share at least one ideological ancestor. But how useful is a “phylogenetic tree” model for religious philosophy anyway? Religions have multiple and complex influences on each other – for example Reform Judaism was originally heavily influenced by German Lutheranism – so influences amongst religions could perhaps be better represented as some kind of directed graph. But that would be to ignore the time axis, so you’d still be missing something important.

  20. #20 razib
    January 14, 2009

    An important aspect of the phylogenetic connection which you don’t mention is that xtianity is, in part, also a descendant of Phariseeism. Paul of Tarsus was definitely a pharisee, and Jesus may also have been ideologically associated with them, so rabbinical Judaism and xtianity share at least one ideological ancestor.

    i was taught that jesus was probably just like hillel. i.e., if rabbi jesus existed, he’d obviously be a pharisee (i mean, he was a rabbi!). and yes, paul was a pharisee too. but i don’t think that that means ideologically christianity was every truly pharisaec, though making a sharp distinction between jewish christianity and pharisaec judaism is probably dumb anyhow.

    Religions have multiple and complex influences on each other – for example Reform Judaism was originally heavily influenced by German Lutheranism – so influences amongst religions could perhaps be better represented as some kind of directed graph

    bingo! that’s kind of my point, and is one of the major reasons i think it’s important to deconstruct and tear down a term like ‘judeo-christianity’ among people who want to analyze culture in a deep manner informed by the facts, not what people would prefer the facts to be. granted, i’m not too interested in convincing the stupid, superificial or uninterested in the aforementioned topics that judeo-christianity is a bad term. they’d never want to have the discussion that i want to have, or wouldn’t be able to.

  21. #21 razib
    January 14, 2009

    as a point of clarification…up until 1950, western intellectuals, whether believing christians or not, accepted that western culture developed while christianity was the only religion of said civilization. in 1950 they started using the term ‘judeo-christian.’ did the prefix add anything substantively? was there a ‘secret history’ of jewish contribution to western civilization between the period when christianity no longer identified itself as a sect of judaism and before the ashkenazi (secular) influx into the western intellectual class? no, i don’t this so.

    but for many stupid people the term does connote a close relationship and the integration of jews in western culture for the past 2,000 years. i’ve talked to plenty of stupid people who know somehow that ghettos existed, but, still assume that jews were integrated into western culture and always contributed to it like they do today. and, i’ve talked to plenty of stupid people who talk about the fact islam is of course abrahamic, like the sister religions of judaism & christianity, a cousin if you will. so it seems the mind naturally starts generating phylogenetic inferences when you construct the semantics in a specific way. which is fine for political manipulation, but rather frustrating when you’re talking to people who are well read and know they’re shit.

  22. #22 razib
    January 14, 2009

    p.p.s., and the fact that reform judaism and protestantism may form one religious family vs. orthodox judaism and traditionalist islam, depending on how you look at it, is important and gives us insight into particular cultural dynamics. religious labels are to some extent trivial packaging. OTOH, reform jews still enthusiastically identify themselves as religious jews despite their protestant retrofitting of judaism.

  23. #23 Paqid Yirmeyahu
    January 14, 2009

    “I am claiming here that the Great Tradition of Christianity is the outlier when it comes to the various strands of the Abrahamic faiths”

    And, to orient you to the general direction of my response, in this regard you are right.

    “Islam and Rabbinical Judaism have a more orthopraxic orientation (e.g., Halakah, Sharia) and less of a focus on Greek tinged theology than Christianity.”

    This is grossly under-understood and undervalued.

    “Remember that I agree that Judaism is the parent religion of Christianity, but I simply reject the contention that Rabbinical Judaism was the Judaism which was the parent religion of Christianity.”

    Herein lies your error. You are unaware of the combination of [a] the historical antiquity of the Pәrush•im′  and Tzәdoq•im′  sects, on the one hand, and [b] their shared obedience of Oral Law (albeit distinct interpretations; see Qimron on 4Q MMT). It has been amply demonstrated (see our website and documentation supplied there) that Christianity is a Displacement Theology and Christian claims of supersession. By definition, Displacement Theology is not offspring. The genuine and its Displacement Theology / Christian claims of supersession are intractably mutually-contradictory. Neither Christianity nor Islam are offspring of Judaism. They are both counterfeits.

    4Q MMT has proven (see Qimron, et al.) that the Oral Law was the undisputed core of all three major sects of Jews (Pәrush•im′  and two contradictory versions of Tzәdoq•im′ ) going into the first century (B.C.E. to C.E.).

    A close scrutiny of the period beginning B.C.E. 175 demonstrates that an irreversible Hellenizing-apostasy of the Judaic Kәhun•âh′  began when the rabidly-Hellenist brother of the last—ever—Tor•âh′ -legitimate Ko•hein′  ha-Ja•dol′  purchased the office of Ko•hein′  ha-Ja•dol′  in the “Temple” (properly Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ ) from the Hellenist ruler (Syrian; and later, Roman), displacing the last Tor•âh′ -faithful Ko•hein′  ha-Ja•dol′  and permanently and irreversibly Hellenizing the “High Priesthood” and the “Temple” they controlled.

    That last Tor•âh′ -faithful Ko•hein′  ha-Ja•dol′  was Yәkhonyâh Bën-Shimon II Bën-Tzâdoq ha- Ko·hein; and, lә-hav•dil′ , his rabidly-Hellenizing brother was Yәhoshua Bën-Shimon 2 Bën-Tzâdoq—who preferred the Hellenized form: “Jason.” (See the Khanukah story at the Nәtzâr•im′  website: http://www.netzarim.co.il.)

    Awareness of this Hellenism becomes critical since the shared origins of pseudo-Tzәdoq•im′  Hellenist beliefs and Roman Hellenist beliefs has never enjoyed its intrinsic place as the determinant factor in the equation that led to Christianity. Christian doctrines trace back through Hellenism, via the pseudo-Tzәdoq•im′ , without ever having any genuine connection to Judaism (pre-Hellenized Sadducees or Pharisees). Seeming “connections” are limited to post-Paul the Apostate (a Hellenist Turkish-Jew) and Hellenist-perspective stories of “eye-witness history” obtained by Hellenist Roman gentiles (who redacted and compiled the NT) from assimilated Hellenist Jews subsequent to 135 C.E. That is a watershed point.

    “Of course the Christians share with the Jews much of the Hebrew Bible (there are minor differences due to the chain of translation). But the Judaism of the Bible which Christians are familiar with is not the dominant form of Judaism for most of the past 2,000 years. The Rabbinical Judaism which tied together most of the Jewish world over the past 2,000 years is a descendant of the sect of the Pharisees, and famously relies upon the extensive corpus of scholarship compiled in the Talmud, as well as a host of secondary commentaries. During the period of the Roman Empire there were Jews who rejected the vision of the Pharisees, often collapsed into the catchall label “Hellenistic Jews,” but these groups seem to have declined and gone extinct by Late Antiquity. (Note: Some scholars argue that Christianity is actually a form of Hellenistic Judaism.)”

    This is a diametric misunderstanding based on ignorance of the “Hebrew Bible” (i.e., Tor•âh′ , Ta•na”kh′ ) and historical Judaism of the first century, which has been demonstrated, inter alia, by Prof. Qimron from 4Q MMT. The Talmud and “secondary commentaries” are, undisputedly, codifications of the Pәrush•im′  Oral Law; no more and no less than the Tzәdoq•im′  “Χειρογραφον τοις Δογμασιν” (kheirografon tois dogmasin; handwritten-document of dogmas, doctrines, decrees) was their codification of their Hellenized previously-Oral Law. Within the Judaic community, the Oral Law has NEVER, from the time of Har Sin•ai′ , been any less Tor•âh′  than Tor•âh′  shë-bi•khәtâv′ . Review the story of Yitro (Hellenized to “Jethro”).

    Moreover, Tor•âh′  specifically precludes any Christian claims of supersession (Dәvâr•im′  13.1-6). The original (post-135 C.E. Hellenist Roman) Christians—unavoidably—”claimed” a handful of passages that served to give the impression of “roots” but—it must be remembered—vitriolically rejected Tor•âh′  as “the law of sin and death,” vilifying Jews—including the original group under Pâ•qid′  Ya•a•qov′  ha-Tza•diq′ —as “demons of Sâ•tân′  and enemies of the Church.” This is a Displacement Theology, not an offspring (!); and the same is true, later, of Islam. Neither can be legitimate offspring of Tor•âh′  that expressly precludes Displacement Theology and claims of supersession.

    “if you had all the mainstream branches of Judaism and Christianity and generated a a phylogenetic tree, Judaism would be a paraphyletic class (Reform Jews being accepted as Jews, while Christians are not).”

    No, you would find two entirely mutually exclusive trees; one Judaic and the other Hellenist, which tracks back even into Egyptian and Mesopotamian idolatry. The issue of whether Reform Jews are mәshum•âd•im′  revolves around whether Ha•lâkh•âh′  can validly be interpreted in harmony with Reform views (logically, not). No such argument can even be tabled relative to any Displacement Theology or claims of supersession in light of Dәvâr•im′  13.1-6, et al.

    “Is Judeo-Islam more of an affront to reality over most of history since the emergence of the world of Islam than Judeo-Christianity?”

    Less of an affront. You are quite right that Islam is closer to Tor•âh′  than Hellenism (Christianity). It’s a pity, and shame, that political facts on the ground don’t reflect this. Still, Islam is also a Displacement Theology; thus, a counterfeit, not genuine. This is critical, as I point out below.

    “As a point of fact, non-orthodox judaism and the welter of extreme sectarianism isn’t an issue among oriental jews, secular or religious”

    Of course it is an issue. Where did you get your impression? Any estrangement from Tor•âh′  is a cause for sadness and mourning.

    “i’m tempted to invert the causation and wonder if christianity is more a product of greco-roman late antiquity than the other way around. but that’s not important at the end of the day.”

    Absolutely it is… and it’s the most important issue of the millennia in terms of relationships and understandings between the three intractably contradictory world-views. The only path to convergence is a nurtured and developed respect for history over superstition and blind faith that has the potential to bring the two Displacement Theology and claims of supersession counterfeits to the genuine in order to remedy their present dependence upon eliminating the genuine—that’s us Jews and Israel—who, otherwise, by our mere continuing, proves them counterfeits—the prime cause of misojudaism.

    That’s important.

    If the html is problematic and you’ll let me know, I’ll post this in our Web Café for you and your readers.

    Paqid Yirmeyahu
    Paqid 16, The Netzarim, Ra’anana, Israel
    Israeli Orthodox Jew (Teimani Baladi Dardai)
    Advancing Logic as Halakhic Authority
    Welcoming Jews & non-Jews
    http://www.netzarim.co.il

  24. #24 dearieme
    January 14, 2009

    You are right – it is just a piece of propagada, isn’t it? The judaic effect on Western civilisation is huge, but it’s virtually all through Christianity, not in addition to it.

  25. #25 razib
    January 14, 2009

    The judaic effect on Western civilisation is huge, but it’s virtually all through Christianity, not in addition to it.

    i think one can make an argument for “helleno-christian” tradition by analogy. the analogy is weak insofar as the sequential dependence on judaism is explicitly acknowledged within christianity, while the dependence upon greek philosophy is implicit, and often claimed not to be necessary (that is, it was just the particular historically contingent language which happened to be around to express the eternal truths necessarily entailed by the existence of the god of the jews, etc. etc.). as for whether it is huge or not, that is the question. i think it would be an interesting one to explore, but i want to get the prior assumptions right first.

  26. #26 razib
    January 14, 2009

    here’s an analogy: what if by magic arab christians were as well accepted as jews are in the USA in the arab muslim lands. how silly would a christo-islamic tradition sound? as it happens, the percentage of christians in the core arab lands was historically much higher than jews in the west. the argument for the christo-islamic tradition actually is much stronger insofar as the aspects of christianity borrowed by islam (e.g., the style of prayer from egyptian monks in the sinai) are from christian groups who have a continuous history back to the early phase of islam.

  27. #27 Danny
    January 14, 2009

    with the case of catholic christianity they have interpreted it as a form of pure land buddhism!

    Not surprising at all; when I first heard about Pure Land Buddhism I was like, OK, this is just like Christianity.

  28. #28 David Boxenhorn
    January 14, 2009

    was there a ‘secret history’ of jewish contribution to western civilization between the period when christianity no longer identified itself as a sect of judaism and before the ashkenazi (secular) influx into the western intellectual class?

    I don’t know the answer to this, though I would say that the existence of ghettos doesn’t necessarily mean that there wasn’t. Spinoza, for example, was from a Jewish background, and he made some contribution to Western civilization. As I understand it, Kabbala had some impact on Christianity. There definitely were contacts between Christians and Jews in Europe, and some degree of cultural co-evolution, though if you say it was trivial, I don’t know enough to argue.

    But there is another way that I think the term is meaningful, specifically in the American context. The vast majority of religious Jews and Christians in the US (here I am using “religious” in its most expansive sense) see the American creed (usually called “Democracy” or “Freedom”) as a natural outgrowth, and an integral component, of their own religions. In this way they both lay claim to Americanism and the arc of its traditional culture, and support it.

    I don’t know to what extant American Muslims do the same, but until recently it hasn’t been culturally significant, and at present it is, at least, not perceived to be widespread.

  29. #29 David Boxenhorn
    January 14, 2009

    here’s an analogy: what if by magic arab christians were as well accepted as jews are in the USA in the arab muslim lands. how silly would a christo-islamic tradition sound?

    By my argument above, not silly at all.

  30. #30 Spike Gomes
    January 14, 2009

    Just as a minor note, those working (or worked in my case)would never use such an absurd term for description except in explaining modern sociological conceptions.

    As for the other stuff on early Judaism, I would say something, but it’s been years since that stuff occupied my mind, and my books and xeroxed articles are halfway across the Pacific. Suffice to say if memory serves, that yes, Jesus as a rabbi was almost certainly came out of the Pharisaical tradition (as did a lot of other folks), however, if textual redaction and historical placement of the various sayings and beliefs of the time are correct, he was sufficiently unlike them enough to be notable, at least to those in authority.

    It’s all very complicated and messy, and I won’t disrespect this place by talking ex ano.

  31. #31 Shadow Caster
    January 14, 2009

    Hi Razib. Very good post. In my personal opinion modern Christianity should not be seen as a Monotheistic Abrahamic faith for their ideas concerning the deification of Jesus Christ (AS) because the unification of God is the ultimate rule of the Abrahamic faiths, it’s main identifying point.

    I think the term “Judeo-Christian” should only be used to refer to the fact that they share most of the Old Testament. Another reason could be to identify cultural similarities since Jews have for so long lived amongst the Europeans as to be considered a part of them (although still “separate” judging empirically). I think almost any other reason for using the term “Judeo-Christian” is erroneous or misguided in one way or another, but as long as it brings people of different faiths together and unites them then something good aught to come of it even if it is wrong.

    Islam is often seen as the “exotic” or “foreign” faith but it shares so much with Judaism it just feels right to use the term “Judeo-Islamic”. As Muslims become an integrated part of Europe they might eventually become accepted and have such a term used in their regard and they might be accepted by the majority as one of the Abrahamic faiths. Muslims just have to keep reminding others that “Allah” is just the word for God in Arabic and even Arabic-speaking Christians call God Allah.

    I’d just like to share a quote from the Quran concerning the Jews and the Christians, not only to show them that Allah is the God of the Jews and the Christians but also the God of the Muslims and all the believers whatever faith they ascribe to follow.

    [2.111] And they say: None shall enter the garden (or paradise) except he who is a Jew or a Christian. These are their vain desires. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful.
    [2.112] Yes! whoever submits himself entirely to Allah (God) and he is the doer of good (to others) he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for him nor shall he grieve.
    [2.113] And the Jews say: The Christians do not follow anything (good) and the Christians say: The Jews do not follow anything (good) while they recite the (same) Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge, like to what they say; so Allah shall judge between them on the day of resurrection in what they differ.

  32. #32 Interrobang
    January 14, 2009

    I prefer shooting down that canard with, “The last really “Judeo-Christian” tradition I encountered was when I read the Qu’ran.” It avoids getting into lengthy historical discussions with ignoramuses, and is pithier and allows one to make one’s escape while the other person is still floundering around going “Hawhu? Ah buh ah buh…” Say something about how many times the Qu’ran mentions Jesus the prophet, and most North American Christians’ eyes fall out on stalks. Amusement!

  33. #33 Alan
    January 14, 2009

    Razib -

    This term used to bother the hell out of me too only because it is a specifically US locution. No other society in the rest of “Christendom,” or the West, or whatever you want to call it, uses it. Well, now I’ve seen it creeping into some British publications recently too. Also, I think it’s of recent origin (last 30 years or so)and it was no doubt conceived of as a politically correct palliative for US Jews to feel as much a part of the system. I think it’s ridiculous for the same reasons you do – let’s be Western and leave it at that. There are plenty of Hindus, Muslims and Atheists who are part of Western society, and have Western values, but are their religions part of the Western tradition? In my mind, while it’s meant to be ‘inclusive’ it becomes ‘exclusive’ and not in a way that makes any sense other than to (falsely) make Judaism a “Western” phenomenon, which it is not.

  34. #34 razib
    January 14, 2009

    pinoza, for example, was from a Jewish background, and he made some contribution to Western civilization.

    i consider spinoza a confessionless jew, and the confessionless i see in the same vein as samaritans and jews who assimilated to neoplatonism in late antiquity, whatever their ethnic origins they were not longer part of their natal cultures. spinoza was after all famously excommunicated by the jews of amsterdam. i have seen arguments as to the influence of judaism in spinoza’s life, but the main predictor of his outlook is i think the early modern milieu of cosmopolitan amsterdam. also, he’s the only major example between mendelssohn and perhaps the jews of al-andalus. N = small.

    There definitely were contacts between Christians and Jews in Europe, and some degree of cultural co-evolution, though if you say it was trivial, I don’t know enough to argue.

    aside from the kabala, the co-evolution most was mostly christians influencing the jews. i don’t know how much though the ideas of christianity influenced judaism, i know some scholars argue that the philosophical orientation of maimonides was strongly colored by the assumptions of the gentile world (jewish and muslim). as for the kabala, perhaps it is far more influential in western history than i know. as i said, convince me. but the only ones who have ever claimed that to me are the types to read the da vinci code.

    But there is another way that I think the term is meaningful, specifically in the American context. The vast majority of religious Jews and Christians in the US (here I am using “religious” in its most expansive sense) see the American creed (usually called “Democracy” or “Freedom”) as a natural outgrowth, and an integral component, of their own religions.

    it owes nothing to judaism in a direct fashion which can not be accounted for my christianity. the american creed was not a religious creed, but it emerged of the enlightenment, which was an outcome of a development in european civilizaiton. jews were affected by this, they did not affect it (with the possible exception of mendelssohn, though i think he is more important for his role as a conduit of these ideas into the jewry than as a jew who influenced gentiles intellectually [though his social exemplar was probably important in shifting gentile attitudes]).

    In my personal opinion modern Christianity should not be seen as a Monotheistic Abrahamic faith for their ideas concerning the deification of Jesus Christ (AS) because the unification of God is the ultimate rule of the Abrahamic faiths, it’s main identifying point.

    just to be clear, i’m not particular interested in this sort of theological detail. i don’t think theology is really coherent, and though i know the opinions of jews and muslims toward christians re: monotheism, i have no interest in this game, i’m interested in the lineage of what i conceive of as 3 theological fictions.

    Say something about how many times the Qu’ran mentions Jesus the prophet, and most North American Christians’ eyes fall out on stalks

    i’m not addressing this to the typical stupid person. most of the intelligent wouldn’t be that surprised, though alas not enough.

    In my mind, while it’s meant to be ‘inclusive’ it becomes ‘exclusive’ and not in a way that makes any sense other than to (falsely) make Judaism a “Western” phenomenon, which it is not.

    i believe the same impulse turns the egyptians black. this is fine to the proles, but i have little patience for this sort of behavior among the intelligent. i am worried it won’t stop with judeo-christian (people are already talking about judeo-christian-islamic now!).

  35. #35 razib
    January 14, 2009

    FWIW, Paqid Yirmeyahu’s is a whole lot of gibberish to me. but i decided to post it anyhow….

  36. #36 Mike Keesey
    January 14, 2009

    Great discussion! I’ve long felt that the term “Judeo-Christian” was inadequate. Lately I prefer to use “Abrahamism” for the clade of religions descending from the Yahwism/Elohism hybridization.

  37. #37 David Boxenhorn
    January 14, 2009

    it owes nothing to judaism in a direct fashion which can not be accounted for my christianity. the american creed was not a religious creed, but it emerged of the enlightenment

    You miss my point. I meant that American Jews and Christians incorporated the American creed into their own religions, which they justify as a naturally-emerging feature.

    I’m not talking about historical development (at least up to 100 or so years ago). I’m talking about contemporary social/religious norms.

  38. #38 razib
    January 14, 2009

    I’m not talking about historical development (at least up to 100 or so years ago). I’m talking about contemporary social/religious norms.

    yes. and i’m not. if we are talking about the dynamic you refer to, then it should be accurately called the judeo-christian-secular tradition, since secularists (those who aren’t religious) have outnumbered jews for most of the american republic. but then again, secularists are not an organized interest group, and many identify culturally with judaism and christianity (e.g., ‘cultural catholic’).

  39. #39 razib
    January 14, 2009

    I meant that American Jews and Christians incorporated the American creed into their own religions, which they justify as a naturally-emerging feature.

    and, as i noted above, the very fact that this happens so naturally is important, sheds light on intellectuals who believe in the power of ideas and philosophy.

  40. #40 razib
    January 14, 2009

    and, as i noted above, the very fact that this happens so naturally is important, sheds light on intellectuals who believe in the power of ideas and philosophy.

    to be clear about this: the internalization of the american creed and the emergence of the term “judeo-christian” as a substantive matter is actually a story of how jews became mainline protestants in fact if not style. the term judeo-christian obscures for many intellectuals that reality.

  41. #41 David Boxenhorn
    January 14, 2009

    the internalization of the american creed and the emergence of the term “judeo-christian” as a substantive matter is actually a story of how jews became mainline protestants in fact if not style

    I think it goes beyond this. I’m not just talking about Reform Judaism. The majority of Orthodox Jews have also incorporated the American creed into their religion.

  42. #42 J-Dog
    January 14, 2009

    As an atheist I can put paid to your whole argument and topic with a few short words: “Youse Guys Is All NUTZ!”, but I must admit that “Judeo-Christian” makes me cringe.

    I found this on the inter-tubes:

    Abstract: Christian preachers have increasingly used the term ‘Judeo-Christian’ to cover up anti-Semitism sentiments. This became popular in the early 1980s with Jerry Falwell’s attempt to appease Jews regarding his secretarian rhetoric. Christian preachers aim to emphasise Christianity’s Biblical and Jewish origins through the use of the term, however, they omit ‘Judeo’ when speaking to Christians alone. This indicates the merely external usage of the term to hide racist attitudes against Jews. Furthermore, the belief that Christianity originated from Judaism is inaccurate since Christianity is more closely linked to paganism.

    http://www.math.metu.edu.tr/~dpierce/texts/porteous.html

  43. #43 deadpost
    January 14, 2009

    If the term Judeo-Christian is only used to refer to a narrow contemporary political alignment rather than any deep-rooted “phylogenetic” basis, that would be okay, but it is only functional, and even so in a very narrow sense.

    But then you might as well, create a category called Protestant-Confucian culture, even though Germany and Japan have little cultural similarities, or even knew of each other for most of history, to describe things they have in common in some facets (secularism, work ethic, business culture etc.).

    It’s like saying orange trees and rice belong in a category “domestic crops” because they are useful in opposition to crabgrass. Even though rice is really a grass phylogenetically.

    Okay, maybe this is a crappy analogy.

  44. #44 Danny
    January 14, 2009

    The term ‘judeo-christian’ emerged in the 50s as part of the way America defined itself vs. the the atheist-communist USSR, around the time and for the same reason that the god clause was added to the pledge of allegiance. The thrust was anti-atheist, or at least anti-anti-religion, and adding the ‘Judeo’ was a me-too-ism in the new post-antisemitic age. The term was NOT, until the present day, intended to create a juxtaposition to Islam or to any other religion.

    If one speaks of the term ‘Judeo-Christian Civilization’ or ‘Christian civilization’ as terms replacing ‘Western Civilization’ one misses two things:

    1. The Enlightenment component of Western civilization, which is huge, and very much a rebellion against the Christian component of the Western Civilization, using the term ‘Judeo-Christian’ de-emphasizes how much of what used to be Christendom has been secularized. In the USA it applies less, but elsewhere in the West it’s very apparent.

    2. The word civilization means much more than a set of theological or even philosophical ideas, it refers to political and economic practices and institutions, marriage customs, art and music, pretty much all of human behavior. To me, the emergence of democracy in the west has more to do with medieval practices of autonomy – which were never codified in any political philosophy or theological tract – than to either Christian notions of an individual conscience or to Athenian democracy.

    3. Of course, the religious background of the countries that are the core of Western Civilization are Christian, but really we are talking more narrowly about Catholic and Protestant countries, we are not talking about Coptic Ethiopia, and not even about Orthodox Russia, which had to undergo a Ataturk-like transformation in the 18th century in order to play with the other European countries.

    A couple of things regarding the impact of Christianity on Judaism:
    1. ~1000 AD polygamy was prohibited among Ashkenazi Jews (the Jews of Christendom), in imitation of the surrounding Christian society. But of course, monogamy was already a feature of Greco-Roman society which Christianity had adopted several centuries beforehand as well. So you have Christian/Jewish window-dressing to pre-existing marriage customs.

    2. Reform Judaism was originally heavily influenced by German Lutheranism

    This is somewhat a geographical accident, as German Jewry was the first major community drawn to Enlightenment values – any Protestant church would have served as a suitable object of imitation (Catholicism with its hierarchy, saints, sacraments, and more explicit anti-enlightenment views was unsuitable). The aspects of Protestantism that Reform Jews found appealing were NOT pietism, any sort of ‘religion of the heart’, fire-and-brimstone rhetoric, charismatic preachers, instead what they above all wanted was freedom from obscurantism and middle-class respectability. They wanted the equivalent of Protestantism that had made its peace with Enlightenment values.

    3. non-orthodox judaism and the welter of extreme sectarianism isn’t an issue among oriental jews, secular or religious.

    True to an extent, Reform and Haredi Judaisms are time-specific reactions to modernity that occurred among Ashkenazis who received the impact of Enlightenment values several generations before Mizrahim, but Mizrahim are receiving Enlightenment values now; and many now do become more secular or more rigidly Orthodox (think the Shas party in Israel) as a result.

  45. #45 Danny
    January 14, 2009

    a story of how jews became mainline protestants in fact if not style

    The very fact that one can speak about Jews (who are do not accept Jesus as their lord and savior or even as a great moral teacher) as mainline protestants shows how much Christian civilization has been secularized.

  46. #46 Gabriel
    January 14, 2009

    I would humbly take issue with you on two points.

    1) First, I would refer you to a rather good book entitled ‘Imperialism and Jewish Society’ by Seth Schwartz. His opinion, which is well argued, is that Rabbinic Judaism almost certainly bears little in common with pre-exilic Judaism, whatever that looked like (and responsible scholars are wise to way very little here), but it does have genuine and real continuity with the religion practised in Israel under the Hasmonean dyansty. What seems to have happened is that Jewish religious life was substantially crushed AD 70-135 and preserved by a small core and then bloomed sometime around the 3rd century. This small core included the groups who would go on to become Christians and Jews. (N.B.)
    By the time the Talmud was redacted (redacted, not written and that has obvious implication) Judaism had undergone evolution, some things were emphasised to the exclusion of others, old obsessions had withered, new ones had been inserted, but the continuity was real. The ideology of One God, One People, One temple was preserved, as was legalism and (the importance of this can hardly be over-estimated) the scriptures. Literature is an incredibly powerful force for shaping the imagination.

    To take an analogy, does Protestantism demonstrate real continiuty with primitive Christianity? Does Roman Catholicism? The answer in both cases is yes, but there have also been developments that mean the pair are irrevocably sundered from each other.

    2) Western civilization from the early 5th century to relatively recently was agressively and hegemonically Christian entity. However, it is simply not true to say that engagement with Judaism was not a part of this identity in a way that engagement with Islam wasn’t. Islam was the other and, though trade relationships were obviously important, it was not as a civilization anything more than a point of comparison (often favourable, for instance in the writings of Luther where he praises it for not separating between church and state). Judaism, on the other hand, was a much knottier problem, as the history of Jewish-Christian disputation attests. Now, much of this engagement was of a decidedly nasty form, but it wasn’t the sort of engagment that happens, or even could happen, with something definitely out of your civilization. Nothing remotely similar occured, for example, with the gypsies. I would go as far as to say that Christianity cannot exist without the Jews as an internal reference point, even if only in the imagination. In England, for example, between the expulsion and Cromwell’s ambiguous return *order*, the obsession with Jews did not end and it was qualitatively different from interest in any other civilization.

    There are so many examples one could pick of this special relationship, but for a particularly fun one, I’d recommend reading the poetry of Dryden. When you’ve found an Islamic writer who lived so deeply and so comfortably in the mental world of the Hebrew scriptures, I’d be happy to read him (assuming he’s been translated!).

    Islamic civilization has not found a similar role for the Jew, which is why until relatively recently their hatred for them was much less virulent.

    P.S. Maimonides said that Islam was superior to Christianity in being monotheist, but ruled that Torah could be taught to Christians and not Muslims. He appears to have thought shared literary heritage more important than abstract speculation and if he of all people thought that then the idea probably has merit.

    P.P.S. I hope this meets with your rigorous comments policy.

    P.P.P.S. Your argument that Rabbinic Judaism is not the same as Judaism at the time of Christ is (as well as being unorthodox, despite the best efforts of some, Rabbinical Judaism is still seen by a majority of scholars as the more or less legitimate inheritor of Pharisaism) is similar to that Protestants use to claim RCs have departed from true Christianity. One doesn’t need to swallow every claim made about the Oral Torah to recognise an organic tradition when one sees one.

  47. #47 Gabriel
    January 14, 2009

    Just two more points.

    1)The idea that Rabbinical Judaism is not the legitimate heir of older Judaism has not been the opinion of most Christian divines over the ages. If anything, they have tended to too uncritically accept Rabbinical testimony as to the details of the old covenant from which Christ freed them.

    The idea that the Mishnah and Talmud are a sort of alternative New Testament was basically rejected during the patristic era. It was revived in the 20th century by mostly non-Christian scholars. If one wishes to discuss what Christian western civilization is and is not, and whether Judaism is a part of it, one should at least be aware of what Christianity’s conception of Judaism has traditionally been.

    2)”as for the kabala, perhaps it is far more influential in western history than i know. as i said, convince me.”

    This is way out of my field of expertise, but the influence of Kabbala on Pico della Mirandola and the Florentine Renaissance philosophers, to take one group, is well known. Practically Cliche in fact. Hell, General Fairfax studied Kabbala in his spare time.

    I’m going to stop now, because I’ve just realised that the disjunction between the tone of your post and comments and what you really seem to know about the western heritage becomes progressively more grating.

  48. #48 razib
    January 14, 2009

    I would go as far as to say that Christianity cannot exist without the Jews as an internal reference point, even if only in the imagination. In England, for example, between the expulsion and Cromwell’s ambiguous return *order*, the obsession with Jews did not end and it was qualitatively different from interest in any other civilization.

    i don’t deny that christians are obsessed with judaism and jews. but, as you admit, this does not necessarily mean the influence, impact and affect of real living jews who espouse jewish religion, culture, etc. as you almost certainly know jews were not present in most of western before for a long period between 1350 and 1650. i agree that jews had some relationship with christians, but, i hold that they were accepted in any sort of way which would entail the idea of synthetic judeo-christian society. rather, jews were living fossils who existed to witness and illustrate particular aspects of christianity. the relatively late translation of the talmud, facilitated by jewish converts in the late medieval period, illustrates this i believe.

    and you comment is much better than most i let through, so no worries.

  49. #49 razib
    January 14, 2009

    please comment on the next post please (you can continue this thread there).

  50. #50 razib
    January 15, 2009

    I’m going to stop now, because I’ve just realised that the disjunction between the tone of your post and comments and what you really seem to know about the western heritage becomes progressively more grating.

    this seems like a dickish denouement, or do i misunderstand you? as it happens, i know a shit load. but, i don’t know that much about jews and how they interacted with the west compared to the total set of what i know. you seem to know a lot on this specific topic. but as it happens, if someone who reads a lot of ancient, medieval and early modern european history doesn’t encounter the contemporary jewish contributions in these periods (as i do), that suggests one of two things

    1) there’s a cover up or bias in the histories

    2) they didn’t contribute much as they don’t show up often

    i lean to #2. if you think that kabala has a large influence on european history & culture, that’s fine. i’m really skeptical of that. perhaps i’m ignorant and kabala had a huge influence. but i really i doubt it (or i might prioritize different things than esoteric spirituality and philosophies).

    p.s. your first point doesn’t even address anything that i believe, fwiw.

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