Skip to main content

Long Before Hitler

In their attempt to explain the widespread horrors of the Black Death, medieval Christian communities looked for scapegoats. As at the time of the crusades, the Jews were blamed for poisoning wells and hence spreading the plague. This selection by a contemporary chronicler, written in 1349, gives an account of how Christians in the town of Strasbourg in the Holy Roman Empire dealt with their Jewish community. It is apparent that financial gain was also an important factor in killing the Jews.

The following is from Jacob von Konigshofen, "The Cremation of the Strasbourg Jews."
In the year 1349 there occurred the greatest epidemic that ever happened. Death went from one end of the earth to the other.... And from what this epidemic came, all wise teachers and physicians could only say that it was God's will.... This epidemic also came to Strasbourg in the summer of the above mentioned year, and it is estimated that about sixteen thousand people died.

In the matter of this plague the Jews throughout the world were reviled and accused in all lands of having caused it through the poison which they are said to have put into the water and the wells that is what they were accused of and for this reason the Jews were burnt all the way from the Mediterranean into Germany....

[The account then goes on to discuss the situation of the Jews in the city of Strasbourg.]

On Saturday . . . they burnt the Jews on a wooden platform in their cemetery. There were about two thousand people of them. Those who wanted to baptize themselves were spared. [Some say that about a thousand accepted baptism.] Many small children were taken out of the fire and baptized against the will of their fathers and mothers. And everything that was owed to the Jews was cancelled, and the Jews had to surrender all pledges and notes that they had taken for debts. The council, however, took the cash that the Jews possessed and divided it among the working-men proportionately. The money was indeed the thing that killed the Jews. If they had been poor and if the feudal lords had not been in debt to them, they would not have been burnt....

Thus were the Jews burnt at Strasbourg, and in the same year in all the cities of the Rhine, whether Free Cities or Imperial Cities or cities belonging to the lords. In some towns they burnt the Jews after a trial, in others, without a trial. In some cities the Jews themselves set fire to their houses and cremated them selves.

It was decided in Strasbourg that no Jew should enter the city for a hundred years, but before twenty years had passed, the council and magistrates agreed that they ought to admit the Jews again into the city for twenty years. And so the Jews came back again to Strasbourg in the year 1368 after the birth of our Lord.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Spurgeon Doesn't Help Us With Trump

Of two evils, choose neither." Spurgeon's quote has been posted numerous times on social media by Christians who find themselves in a moral conundrum at the very thought of voting for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Here’s the problem with Spurgeon’s idea. Biblically there is no such thing as a choice between two evils. Let me explain.
Moral philosophers and theologians have long spoken of the problem of "tragic moral choice", also known as the “incommensurability in values.” The man on the street simply calls it “choosing between the lesser of two evils.”  
The best known example of tragic moral choice is the one about the Nazis during WW II. Do you handover the Jews knowing that your choice makes you complicit in their deaths? Or do you lie and violate the Ninth Commandment? The Lutheran scholar, John Warwick Montgomery, has argued that such choices are unavoidable and of necessity cause us to sin.
The Bible, however, takes a dim view of the so-called less…

Andy Stanley and the “NEW Hermeneutic”

The problem of faith and reason is longstanding in the history of theology. Augustine held that faith aids reason (credo ut intelligam) and that reason aids faith (intelligo un creadam). The church father is, however, inclined to stress the later over the former. It was with Thomas Aquinas, and his Summa Theologica, that the effort to reconcile faith and reason reached its apex. Rejecting the medieval doctrine of double truth, he placed natural reason prior to faith in effectively every area of the Christian life. The restrictions are the mysteries of the faith that reason cannot penetrate.
Thomas’ affirmation of the high role of native reason in Christian belief is linked to his stress on dialectical method in study, seminally set forth by Peter Abelard. The form of study is dependent largely on logic to argue both sides of a theological question. Christian belief is thus the proper result of process or synthesis. Faith then assents to the final proposition arrived at by reason.
Thom…

Fighting Abortion is Not the Fourth Sign of the Church

Some Christians are what I call, “single-issue.” I recall one family that left a church because everything did not revolve around Evangelism Explosion. But that's just one issue.
The issue I'm thinking about is abortion on demand. Some concerned Christians expect their pastor to thunder away almost each week on this topic, or at least mention it. He must make it is his central motif. He must protest outside the abortion clinic. If he doesn’t, he can say he’s against abortion all he likes, but it’s not enough.
Motivating the single-issue congregant is a deeper judgment. He thinks that the ultimate reason abortion on demand still happens is because pastors let it. Churches let it.
As one who has taken a virulent stand against abortion, both in the pulpit and with pen, I can say without qualification, “I hate it.”  Period. I pray the day that Roe is overturned. Nonetheless, as a former pastor, an as one who may return to the pulpit someday, here’s the bottom line.
We are called to …