Book Series Cursor Mundi, vol. 2

The Ways of Jewish Martyrdom

Simha Goldin

  • Pages: 399 p.
  • Size:160 x 240 mm
  • Illustrations:0 b/w, 0 col.
  • Language(s):English, Hebrew, Latin
  • Publication Year:2008

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-52523-5
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56057-1
  • E-book
  • Available


"Enlisting a wealth of sources, the author attempts to explain the valorization of martyrdom as a cultural norm in medieval Jewish communities of Germany, France and England." (Susan L. Einbinder, in: The Medieval Review, 09.02.06)


Jewish martyrdom in the Middle Ages is a most intriguing social, cultural, and religious phenomenon. It was stimulated by ancient Jewish myths, and at the same time it was influenced by the Christian environment in which the Jews lived and operated. The result was a unique and unprecedented event in which the Jews did not simply refuse to convert to Christianity; they were ready to kill themselves and their children so they would not be forced to convert. The Ways of Jewish Martyrdom discusses the phenomenon of Jewish Martyrdom in medieval Germany, northern France, and England from the time of the First Crusade (1096) until the mid-fourteenth century (that is, the time of the ‘Black Death’), in light of modern research and with ample use of hitherto-neglected primary sources. In order to understand the unique phenomenon of Jewish martyrdom, the various Jewish and Christian antecedents that might have influenced the notion of Jewish martyrdom in the Middle Ages need analysis. The texts on which the analysis is based are various, ranging from chronicles through memorial books to liturgical materials and Piyyut. The last part of the book reviews the development of this phenomenon after the fourteenth century and delineates the essential changes and transformations therein at the dawn of the early modern period and beyond.