Articles

The Erection of Essential Boundaries: Christians and Jews

The Erection of Essential Boundaries: Christians and Jews

The Erection of Essential Boundaries: Christians and Jews

By Ora Limor

The Cambridge History of Christianity IV: Christianity in Western Europe, c.1100-c.1500, edited by Miri Rubin and Walter Simon (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Introduction: The term ‘boundary’ in reference to Jews is a complex one. Like Muslims, Jews were outside the Christian faith but, unlike the Muslims, they were present within Christian society. Like heretics, Jews were present in Christian society but, unlike them, they were not perceived as a part of the body of faith. These three groups represent three disparate types of boundaries, each determining a different attitude towards the group defined by the boundary. Yet, the Christian world did not view these groups as completely distinct from one another, and its attitude towards each carried over to its treatment of the other groups. In this way, the crusades, explicitly declared against the Muslims – the enemies of the church in foreign lands – influenced and aggravated the treatment of the enemies within Christian lands – the Jews. Similarly, the intensive campaign against heretical sects initiated in the thirteenth century led to the erection of sturdier barriers between Christians and Jews.


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