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The Myth of Jewish Cannibalism: A Chapter in the History of Antisemitism

Proceedings of the Academy (English series), vol. VIII, no. 3

סדרה: Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (English series)
Second printing 2015.
The accusation that the Jews annually murder a non-Jew in order to eat his or her entrails and blood originated in Hellenistic Alexandria at the beginning of the first century C.E. Its originator was Apion, an Egyptian scholar who wrote in Greek. The thesis of the present paper is that the background to this myth of Jewish cannibalism is to be found in the cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis. In several of the Greek Isis aretalogies (hymns about her great deeds), it is said that she launched the first great campaign to civilize the human world. One of the major aspects of that campaign was her abrogation of cannibalism, by introducing agriculture and laws for social behaviour. Whereas in the Isis texts it is the laws of this goddess that bring civilization to humanity, according to Apion it is the laws of the god of the Jews that keep them outside the orbit of civilization. Apparently, the Jewish god does not have the civilizing potential of Isis. For that reason, implies Apion, the Jews missed this decisive turn towards a civilized existence. The implicit question, therefore, is whether Jews are actually fully human, and Apion's implied answer is: No. This anti-Jewish myth had a very long life (e.g., in the Christian Middle Ages) and is still very much alive today in the Muslim world.
שנת ההוצאה: 2008
השפה: אנגלית
מסת"ב: ISSN 1565-8465
מספר העמודים: 14   מידות (ס"מ): 15 × 24   כריכה: רכה