Origins and Early History

Ruth Langer

in Cursing the Christians?

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199783175
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919161 | DOI:
Origins and Early History

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Much has been written drawing on the sparse data pertaining to the origins of the birkat haminim. This chapter reviews that data and the literature on it, looking first at the inner-Jewish discussions, then at the Christian evidence, and concluding with a synthesis and critique of modern scholarship. It argues that evidence for the origins of the birkat haminim is ambiguous and that unambiguous testimony to its existence dates only from Epiphanius and Jerome in the late fourth century, not from Justin Martyr in the second, the Gospel of John, or Yavneh. Even then, we know only of a few words from the prayer: Christians, minim, and zedim. Retrojection of texts from the geniza or late rabbinic texts is unwarranted.

Keywords: origins; birkat haminim; Epiphanius, Jerome; Justin Martyr; rabbinic literature; geniza; Gospel of John; Yavneh

Chapter.  12432 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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