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German Literature between Faiths

Jew and Christian at Odds and in Harmony


Peter Meister

Religion is a central concern of German literature in all centuries, and the canon looks different when this perspective is acknowledged. For example, Goethe’s fascination with evil is difficult to disentangle from the Holocaust, Moses Mendelssohn is as profound as the playwright who portrayed him, and «Princess Sabbath» deserves to be numbered among Heine’s more enchanting lyrics.
This essay collection posits, and tests, the hypothesis that German literature at its best is often an expression or investigation of Judaism or Christianity at their best; but that the best German literature is not always the best-known, and vice versa. Asking whether the New Testament is anti-Jewish (and answering in the negative), essayists range through the German centuries from The Heliand to Kafka and Thomas Mann.
Contents: Peter Meister: Preface – Lawrence E. Frizzell: Jew and Christian in the New Testament – G. Ronald Murphy, S.J.: The Jews in the Heliand – Danielle Buschinger (tr. Kwaku Gyasi): Two Sages of Troyes: Rashi and Chrétien – Debra L. Stoudt: Parallels between Jewish and Christian Mystical Experiences in Medieval Germany – Albrecht Classen: Jewish-Christian Relations in Medieval Literature – Manfred Voigts: Three Rings: Mendelssohn - Nathan - Lessing – G. Ronald Murphy, S.J.: Precious Crumbs: Home... and Hansel... and Gretel – Peter Meister: Two Temptation Scenes: Jesus and Faust – William C. McDonald: «Do I Not Hear the Jordan Rippling?» Heine the Hebrew? – Manfred Voigts: Franz Kafka at the Entrance to Torah – Kelly Cherry: Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus: A Dialogue Volume – Albert H. Friedlander: Germany at its Best: Concentration Camp Heights – Steven Leonard Jacobs/Rolf J. Goebel: A Jewish-German Dialogue.