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Anthonius Margaritha and the Jewish Faith

Jewish Life and Conversion in Sixteenth-Century Germany

Michael T. Walton

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: Wayne State University Press


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pp. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix

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pp. xi

I am grateful to the librarians of the Klau Library for their extraordinary competence and helpfulness, especially for approval to use illustrations from their collections. The librarians at the University of Chicago Regenstein Library, the Andover-Harvard Theological Library, and the...

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pp. xiii-xvi

Anthonius Margaritha was perhaps the best-known Jew of his generation in Germany to convert to Christianity. Born in the 1490s, Margaritha was the grandson, son, and brother of noted rabbis.1 His conversion in 1521 had the effect of making him in his own eyes two people, a Jew by flesh and a...

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1 The Margoleses of Bavaria

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pp. 1-15

Anthonius Margaritha was born into a family of rabbinic scholars. The family’s rabbinic tradition may have extended to his great-grandfather and beyond, but can be solidly dated to his grandfather, Jacob (c. 1430–1501). Jacob Margoles [Margolith] spent most of his life in Germany—Schwabia...

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2 “I Will Be Your God and You Will Be My People”

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pp. 17-39

Anthonius Margaritha’s presentation of the Jewish life cycle and its associated customs and practices is the essence of his ethnographical value for most scholars. If one turns from ethnography to Margaritha’s own Jewish life, his description reveals his daily and cyclical routines and observances....

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3 The Messiah Who Has Been Sent

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pp. 41-67

Margaritha emphasized Messianism in his discussion of daily life and holidays as well as in his translation of the Hebrew prayer book. The community’s petitions to God and ritual practices designed to bring the Messiah and with him Israel’s redemption from her cruel exile shaped his Jewish...

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4 Anthonius Margaritha—Christian

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pp. 69-89

Margaritha’s conversion was by all measures sincere. He retreated from impure rabbinism to the faith of the Messiah who had come. He acknowledged his Jewish birth, but rejoiced in his new birth. Whether his fiancée/ wife shared his conviction cannot be known; she is, for us, a silent player in...

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Appendix A: Margaritha’s Refutation of the Jewish Faith

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pp. 91-121

Margaritha appended his Refutation of Judaism to the end of Der gantz Jüdisch glaub, a placement that may indicate that it was composed somewhat later than the rest of the work. Certainly he considered the ethnography and prayer book translation that preceded it...

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Appendix B: Margaritha’s Kabbalah

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pp. 123-135

In the biography above, Margaritha’s prayer kabbalah was briefly situated in the context of kabbalah in sixteenth-century Germany. The complexities of the phenomenon of which Margaritha was a part were left to this appendix with its full translation of the passages from...

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Appendix C: Der gantz Jüdisch glaub in the Sixteenth Century

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pp. 137-146

Der gantz Jüdisch glaub was Margaritha’s most influential and enduring composition. Its history in the sixteenth century indicates how it might have shaped attitudes toward Jews and Judaism. Margaritha composed two editions, the first in 1530 and the second in 1531. The second edition contains...

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Appendix D: Margaritha’s Prayer Book

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pp. 147-180

Margaritha’s coupling of his ethnography with a translation of the prayer book was a logical outgrowth of his goal of explaining Judaism and its private and secret aspects to Christians. The prayer book was and is an essential element in Jewish religious life. In the sixteenth century, there was no...


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pp. 181-220


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pp. 221-227


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pp. 229-242

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780814338018
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814338001

Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Margaritha, Anton, 1490-1537.
  • Christian converts from Judaism -- Germany -- Biography.
  • Judaism -- Relations -- Christianity.
  • Christianity and other religions -- Judaism.
  • Judaism -- History -- Medieval and early modern period, 425-1789.
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