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Toleration and Persecution
Christian Attitudes to Jews and Judaism in "Latin" and "Orthodox" Christendom
Medieval and Early Modern Perspectives


The main question underlying the project "Toleration and Persecution. Christian Attitudes to Jews and Judaism in "Latin" and "Orthodox" Christendom. Medieval and Early Modern Perspectives" may be posed as follows: how were attitudes to the Jews and to Judaism shaped in the orthodox and western Christian worlds in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period? How did these attitudes evolve? How significant were the differences? To what extent were these differences predetermined by the confessional and historical peculiarities of Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism?

Several international workshops and colloquia were held in 1997-2005 (Moscow State University 1997 and 2004; Paris Maison des Sciences de l'Homme 1998 and 1999; University of Alberta (Edmonton [Canada]) 2000; Mainz Institute for European History 2002; Central European University (Budapest) 2005; University Montpellier III 2005)

These colloquia and proceedings publication were sponsered by Maison des sciences de l'homme (Paris); Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris); Centre for Ukrainian and Belorussian Studies at the Moscow Lomonosov State University; Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences; University Paris-I Sorbonne-Panthéon; University Paris-IV Sorbonne (Centre d'études juives); University of Alberta (Canada); Institut für europäische Geschichte (Mainz, Germany); Central European University (Budapest).

The research seminar was working in Paris in 1998-1999, in Edmonton (University of Alberta) in 2000 and in Moscow (Moscow Lomonossov State University and Russian Academy of Sciences) in 2000-2003.

The first book resulting from this project was published in 2003 (Les Chrétiens et les Juifs dans les sociétés de rites grec et latin. Approche comparative. Actes du colloque organisé les 14-15 juin 1999 à la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (Paris).Textes réunis par M.Dmitriev, D.Tollet et E.Teiro. Paris: Honoré Champion Éditeur, 2003). The second one will include proceedings of Edmonton 2000 and Mainz 2002 colloquia as well as some other articles; it will be published in the series «Jews and Slavs» (edited by W.Moskovich, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) in 2004.

Since 2002 more specific project «Anti-Judaic and Anti-Semitic Discourses in the East Slavic Orthodox Cultures, XIth through XVIIth Centuries» started being implemented. The main research problem to be addressed in this project may be posed as follows: How was the anti-Judaic and anti-Semitic discourse constructed and how did it evolving in the Orthodox "learned" culture of the Eastern Slavs before the westernization of these cultures in the XVIIIth century? How significant were the differences from the Western (Catholic and Protestant) anti-Judaic and anti-Semitic discourses?

Its particular aims are:

(a) to uncover the links between the specificity of the Byzantine-Orthodox cultural and confessional traditions, and the construction of anti-Judaic and anti-Semitic discourses in the Orthodox cultures of Eastern Europe; (b) to broaden our knowledge of manuscript Eastern Slavic writings dealing with Jews and Judaism; some manuscripts collections in Moscow, Petersburg, Kiev and Vilnius will be examined and the appropriate texts will be identified, described, copied and subjected to preliminary analysis;

(c) to share this knowledge with the academic milieu, larger groups of our societies and especially with students.

The project aims to explore little known aspects of Christian-Jewish relations in the Orthodox societies of Eastern Europe. This problem never has been studied in depth, especially from a comparative angle.

As a rule, the problematic of Christian-Jewish relations in Byzantium and the Orthodox countries is either excluded or very superficially and often inadequately treated in books conceived as generalization of Jewish history, the history of European Christianity or European anti-Semitism.

The history of Christian attitudes towards Jews in Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia represents a particularly neglected area of studies. There are many books on Jews and anti-semitism in late imperial Russia and the former Soviet Union. Naturally enough, attitudes towards Jews that were shared in these epochs by some portions of population are usually viewed as a direct continuation of deeply rooted traditional anti-Semitism, supposedly going back to Muscovite religious intolerance and even farther - to the Kievan Rus'. J.Klier has been the first to revisit the whole problem of the genesis of anti-Semitism in Russia. A short survey of the historiography on Christian-Jewish relations in Russia can be found in his book (Klier J.D., Russia gathers her Jews: the origins of the «Jewish question» in Russia. De Kalb, 1986, pp. xiv-xviiii).

However, one of the main problems with scholarly studies of the history of Jewish-Christian relations in Russia comes from a projection of 19th century circumstances onto the medieval and early modern past. The Judeophobia of the late 19th - early 20th century in many cases has overshadowed the differences between imperial, Muscovite and medieval Russia in this respect. For example, it is commonly assumed that the outbursts of anti-Jewish violence in Ukraine in 1648 and thereafter were due to a "traditional Orthodox anti-Semitism" as well as to social tensions and ethnic prejudices in early modern Ukraine and Belarus'. In recent years a revisionist tendency has emerged in historiography. "Although the Eastern Church has been seen as more Judaeophobic than the Western, we do not yet have sufficient study of the dissemination of earlier Judaeophobic texts or the writing of new tracts by the clergymen of the Eastern Church in the 17th century Ukraine" (Sysyn F.E., "The Jewish Factor in the Khmelnytsky Uprising", in: Ukrainian-Jewish Relations in Historical Perspective. Ed. by P.J.Potichnyj and H.Aster. Edmonton, CIUS, 1988, p.49). Still no single special study on the attitude of the Ruthenian orthodox clergy towards Jews and Judaism has been produced yet, although there are sources that bear witness on Orthodox attitudes to Jews and Judaism in Ukraine and Belarus' in 1550-1650. Jews and Judaism are the topic of sermons and polemical writings and some treatises deal directly with them.

In general, Christian attitudes towards Judaism in the Orthodox cultures of Eastern have been studied much less than analogous problems pertaining to the Jewish history in the West. And yet the experience accumulated by historians allows us to ponder the question of difference in Christian-Jewish relations in the two worlds of European Christendom.

Methodologically, the project rests on three approaches:

(1) Reconstruction of the internal logical structures of writings under analysis (leading themes and motives; sub-motives; elaboration of primary and secondary motives; their interaction and interdependence in the discourse under analysis).

(2) Comparative analysis of all constitutive aspects of anti-Judaic and anti-Semitic discourses in the East Slavic and western medieval and early modern writings.

(3) Establishing links between particuliarities of the Byzantine theological traditions and the ways of constructing anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic discourses.

Technically this will be achieved through elaboration of detailed questionnaires which are to be applied to sources individually and in groups (polemics, hagiography, liturgical books; homilies; historical writings etc.). As a result, some patterns or models of anti-Judaic discourses will be identified.