Syncretism and Faith Blending in Modern Crypto-Judaism

Janet Liebman Jacobs

in Hidden Heritage

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233461
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936614 | DOI:
Syncretism and Faith Blending in Modern Crypto-Judaism

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This chapter explores the postcolonial construction of syncretic belief systems among a small number of crypto-Jewish descendents who have chosen to blend their preexisting Christian faith with Jewish theology. Within the context of theological transformation, syncretism among contemporary crypto-Jewish descendants can be understood as a process of partial conversion whereby individuals select aspects of their newfound Jewish faith and combine these with their preexisting Christian beliefs to create a syncretic belief system that incorporates both dimensions of their cultural and religious heritage. In a reversal of the medieval phenomenon in which crypto-Jewish converts transformed Judaism to accommodate and/or resist the imposition of Christian doctrine, modern descendants engage in a Judaization of Catholicism. Through a theological recasting of Jesus and Mary as historical Jewish figures, the descendants create a link between Christianity and Judaism that parallels their own ancestral histories of Jews who became Christians.

Keywords: crypto-Jewish descendents; Jewish theology; syncretism; cultural identity; ethnic identity; postcolonialism

Chapter.  6986 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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