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Contents:
  1. Other videos
  2. Christian-Jewish Dialogue
  3. Ecumenical Considerations on Jewish-Christian Dialogue
  4. Interfaith Dialogue - Jewish Studies - LibGuides at Duke University

Cunningham, Ph. We hope participants become acquainted with the complicated dynamics that led to a revolutionary transformation in Catholic teaching about Jews and Judaism over the last century. This opening presentation will discuss how antisemitism influenced Catholics, making living in Europe as a Jew during this time far more dangerous. The event will feature Kevin Spicer, C. Three interfaith dialogues will be featured in April. Quite apart from the classical and humanist discourse about amicitia —which set the bar for friendship quite high, even between Gentiles—there were situations in which amicable relations with Jews were clearly within the realm of the conceivable.

One can, of course, object that these cases were exceptional because they involved two unrepresentative protagonists, a scholar and a court Jew. To counter this argument, it is necessary to examine the dimension of everyday life. This does not imply an irenic concept of daily life—indeed, prejudice and hatred were a common feature of premodern social life in all strata of society. On the other hand, recent studies on hatred as a social institution in premodern Europe show that except in times of crisis, everyday Jewish-Christian relations were quite the opposite of what one might expect.

Early modern Jewish history is generally viewed within a coordinate system that has only two axes: one Christian, the other Jewish. Adding further axes might enable us to situate Jewish history, especially interfaith encounters, within a more multidimensional space. The complexity of this enterprise becomes particularly apparent on a microhistorical level, as can be shown in a case study based on the memoirs of a German merchant. In this context, the heightened role of travel and mobility, the effects of the confessionalization of Christianity, and the importance of local identity as commonality emerge as particularly important factors in expanding the spectrum of Christian-Jewish relations during the early modern period.

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This leads to a number of methodological challenges and desiderata that need to be addressed if we wish to achieve a more differentiated understanding of interfaith relations in the early modern period and thereafter. T he experiences of Hans Ulrich Krafft — , a merchant from the region of Swabia in southern Germany, provide a fascinating case study in this regard, both because they elude simple classification and because Krafft's memoirs have remained largely unknown to historians.

Krafft was born in Ulm, in southern Germany, to a patrician family who had played an important role in the political, economic, and religious life of the prosperous imperial city for generations. Krafft was raised as a devout Lutheran; in fact, later in life he collected autographs of Luther and Melanchthon almost like relics and kept them in his Bible, in Luther's German translation. After apprenticeships in Lyon and Florence, he was hired by the Augsburg-based Manlich Trade Company, which sent him to the Levant as head factor.

Along with a few other Manlich employees, Krafft arrived in the Levant in the fall of He also had extensive dealings with local Ottoman subjects, especially Turks and Jews. Krafft quickly realized that the latter were indispensable as translators and business brokers. For the most part, he got along well with them. He recorded, for instance, his respect for a Jewish translator named Elias, who spoke Italian, Greek, Arabic, and Turkish, and was highly respected by the French merchant community in Tripoli.

Christian-Jewish Dialogue

Life might have gone on this way if dramatic news had not arrived from Europe: the Manlich Trade Company had gone bankrupt. In the summer of , the news spread like wildfire in Tripoli, and it was not long before Krafft and two colleagues were taken to court there by numerous local creditors. He was twenty-four years old at the time.

This dismal situation lasted for three years, during which Krafft faced moments of real crisis. One problem was that in order to manage his legal and business affairs from inside the prison, he often had to pay outside parties and officials large amounts of baksheesh.


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His financial reserves were soon depleted, as a result of which he had to find a way to earn some money. At this point he became acquainted with a fellow prisoner, a Levantine Jewish button-maker who had received permission to continue making cords, ribbons, and buttons in prison. This Jew—whose name Krafft unfortunately did not record—taught Krafft the skills necessary for making buttons. Interestingly, the student was soon outproducing his master, but the Jew—who by then had been released from jail—remained an important adviser and supporter.

He served as Krafft's translator, warned him of imminent intrigues, and was of vital help in selling the buttons Krafft made. Sometime later, Krafft was transferred to the prison in the citadel of Tripoli considered by his creditors to be more secure , where he suddenly found himself no longer able to make buttons, because the warden there prohibited the use of scissors and knives in the cells.

This restriction was eased only after the Levantine Jew made a special petition and personally vouched for Krafft. No less important, he eventually managed to convince the authorities to transfer Krafft back to the municipal prison, where he was able to work more easily and received better food. The Jew even went so far as to incur a small debt in order to return to prison and be with Krafft it was a minor enough offense that he was permitted to sleep at home. Such a sense of solidarity was beyond anything that Krafft—and proba-bly most historians today—could have expected.

Another example involving Krafft also shows the complexity of early modern Christian-Jewish relations.


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  3. Judaic Studies: Jewish Christian Dialogue?
  4. In this case, a relationship was forged on the basis of a common place of origin. The stranger said that he had heard about Krafft's misfortune and had decided to make contact. They were even more surprised darIber verwundertten wir vns Noch mer to learn that they were both from the same region of Swabia: the stranger introduced himself as being from Neuburg, a small hamlet on the Kammel River, some thirty miles from Krafft's home city of Ulm.

    Apparently, it was only then that the two men exchanged names, at which point Krafft realized that his fellow countryman was a Jew named Mayer Winterbach.

    As it turned out, it was those creditors who had urged Winterbach to go to the jail and find out more about the personal circumstances of the foreign prisoner. Having met Krafft, however, Winterbach had changed his mind. Winterbach went even further: he explicitly offered Krafft his support and help. He explained that he was about to leave for Safed in the Galilee, where he had to deliver a message. But once that mission was fulfilled, he would return to Germany, at which time he would be happy to deliver a letter to Krafft's family in Ulm.

    It even emerged that Winterbach knew Krafft's father well from mutual business dealings. Winterbach also proposed a scheme in which he would use his report to the creditors to downplay Krafft's role in the hierarchy of the Manlich Trade Company and to present him as the son of an impecunious family. Krafft hesitated at first, but was eventually convinced. Winterbach kept his promise: he led the creditors to believe that Krafft was only a minor figure in the business, as Krafft quickly learned with great satisfaction.

    And on his return from the Galilee, he visited Krafft regularly in jail. For Krafft, this must have been a welcome distraction from his grim life in prison; in turn, Winterbach apparently enjoyed the opportunity to share stories—particularly the less nice ones—of his journey to Safed. By the sixteenth century, Safed had become a major center for the study and transmission of Jewish mysticism Kabbalah , as well as for Hebrew printing; it was also a place of Jewish settlement and pilgrimage in the Holy Land. According to Winterbach, they were arrogant and cunning and had cheated him.

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    Ecumenical Considerations on Jewish-Christian Dialogue

    A few days later, he left Tripoli on a ship bound for Venice. As soon as he arrived in Ulm, as Krafft learned later, he delivered the letter and personal items that had been entrusted to him. The story of their relationship, however, does not end there. Following a protracted legal deal, Krafft was finally released from prison in He returned safely to Europe, but it was not until that he moved permanently back to Ulm, where he later married. In he accepted the position of bailiff Pfleger in the small Swabian town of Geislingen.

    We know that Winterbach eventually learned that Krafft was back in Swabia, but we do not know exactly how or when he received that information.

    Interfaith Dialogue - Jewish Studies - LibGuides at Duke University

    In August , fifteen years after the two men had met in the prison in Tripoli, a gray-bearded stranger turned up on Krafft's doorstep in Geislingen. What stands out in this account is the affection with which Krafft described the reunion twenty-five years later. In his memoirs, he admits that he had already given up hope of ever seeing Winterbach again. Winterbach and Krafft may well have maintained a correspondence that has not survived. Three years later, for example, while traveling through the south of Germany, he visited his Christian friend in Geislingen again.

    And it was apparently only his relocation to Prussia where he married off his daughter that caused them to lose track of one another, at some point after We get an even fuller picture of Krafft's warm feelings for Winterbach if we place the story of their relationship within the broader context of Krafft's memoirs.

    Indeed, his purpose in writing them was to give an account of his imprisonment and his travels preceding and following it.

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    No less significant is the insight that we gain from one of the appendixes to Krafft's memoirs. It lists the objects that his sons would find with the manuscript, after his death, in an old locked chest.