Friday, October 07, 2005

Judische illustrations from the 18th century

Judisches Ceremoniel, oder, Beschreibung dererjenigen Gebrduche.
Nurnberg : Verlegts Peter Conrad Monath, 1724.

This book is an example of a specific genre in the writings of Christian Hebraists, which includes works that describe the customs, ceremonies and rituals of contemporary Jews. Like many writers of these books, Paul Christian Kirchner was a convert. Beside this book he published a work in 1719 that was aimed to help with the conversion of the Jews, entitled Lehar'ot or emet la-yehudim. The Judisches Ceremoniel was originally published in 1717 and later on was revised and enlarged by Sebastian Jacob Jungendres (1684-1765). According to Jungendres the original work by Kirchner was inaccurate and biased because he wanted to prove the evilness of the Jews. Another addition to this imprint are 27 engravings that portray various customs and ceremonies held by the Jews. The book was published at least eleven times between 1717 and 1734, including a Dutch translation, and was reprinted in 1974 by Olms and in 1999 by the Reprint-Verlag, Leipzig.
The phenomenon of Christian Hebraism before the modern era fascinates me. Although strictly speaking this work is not from before the modern era and its author was actually an apostate Jew, I think the illustration is really interesting. As you can see, it shows a kohen duchaning, men giving malkos, a kappara ceremony, a Torah, mezuzah and magen david, lulav and esrog and a halitzah boot. Great illustrations although it must be said that the lulav looks suspiciously like a feather.

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