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Bestiarium JudaicumUnnatural Histories of the Jews$
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Jay Geller

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780823275595

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823275595.001.0001

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“O beastly Jews”

“O beastly Jews”

A Brief History of an (Un)Natural History

(p.29) Chapter 1 “O beastly Jews”
Bestiarium Judaicum

Jay Geller

Fordham University Press

Framed by Heine’s staging of the fictional exchange of animal epithets between Rabbi Judah and Friar José in “The Disputation” this chapter depicts the provisioning of the Bestiarium Judaicum. It first traces its development in the patristic and scholastic Adversus judaeos traditions through medieval bestiaries and church iconography (e.g., Judensau) to early modern anti-Jewish polemics, broadsheets, and proverbs. The chapter then charts the changes in the figuration with the emergence in modernity of the biologistic worldview (the shift in reference from the satanic to the diseased and parasitic), the development of new media (such as the postcard, the mass-produced picture poster, and the illustrated humor magazine), the laws requiring while circumscribing Jews’ adoption of surnames (e.g., German equivalents of animals emblematic of the twelve tribes), and the taxonomic determinations of the “Jude” (Viehjude, Geldjude, Kornjude, etc.). It also addresses the use of animal-human hybrids in medieval Jewish iconography as well as the Jewish appropriation of classical and Islamic animal fable traditions.

Keywords:   animal images, anti-Jewish stereotype, bestiaries, caricature, Heinrich Heine, illuminated manuscripts, Jews and dogs, Jew as parasite, Judensau (Jew sow), naming

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