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Moses as a Germanic hero? Biblical Poetry in Anglo-Saxon England
Talk by Samantha Zacher
Given at Cornell University on March 11, 2015
Excerpt: I was really surprised to learn that despite the fact that there were no Jews living at all in England – that we can discover – that in fact they were quite obsessed with Jews. They wrote a lot about them and the attitudes tended to fall into two categories. The one is a quite negative attitude towards contemporary Jews, or what they imagined to be contemporary Jews. They saw them as the killers of Christ, as willful negators of Christ and the Christian truth, and as a blind people that are blind and deaf to the word of the Gospel. On the other hand there is this really positive attitude, and it comes out of a kind of fascination of the Jews as a prototypical nation, the idea that Israel is a nation, as the Chosen People of God, and all these valorous characters like Moses and Abraham, who really were the prototypes for the New Testament and the new religion. So they were able to maintain these two attitudes and it sort of became a great paradox in the literature, that on the one hand you would find these texts were super, super-positive, where Moses becomes a Germanic hero, and on the other hand you have these negative and really nasty attitudes towards Jews.