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Anti-Judaism in Ælfric's Lives of Saints

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008


Anti-Judaism existed in Anglo-Saxon England without the presence of actual Jewish communities. The understanding of Jews and Judaism in Anglo-Saxon England is therefore solely a textual phenomenon, a matter of stereotypes embedded in longstanding Christian cultural traditions. For instance, consider the homily De populo Israhel (written between 1002 and 1005), a condensation and translation of selections from Exodus and Numbers by the prolific monk Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955–c. 1020). The text narrates the tribulations of the Israelites in the desert: Ælfric explains that although God ‘worhte feala wundra on ðam westene’, the Israelites were ‘wiðerræde witodlice to oft’ and angered him. The intractable attitude of God's chosen people in the desert demands an explanation; why did the Israelites spurn the heaven-sent manna and long for the repasts of their Egyptian captivity? Ælfric clarifies their behaviour through a string of typological associations. He explains that the manna ‘hæfde Þa getacnunge ures Hælendes Cristes’.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1999

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1 Scholarly consensus maintains that Jews only settled in England after the Norman Conquest: see the Encyclopedia Judaica, ed. Roth, C. et al. , 16 vols. (Jerusalem, 1971) VI, col. 747Google Scholar; Jacobs, J., The Jews of Angevin England (London, 1893), p. ixGoogle Scholar; Hyamson, A. M., A History of the Jem in England (London, 1908), pp. 16Google Scholar; Calisch, E. N., The Jew in English Literature as Author and Subject (Port Washington, NY, 1909), p. 33Google Scholar; Michelson, H., The Jew in Early English Literature (Amsterdam, 1926), pp. 1221Google Scholar; Baron, S. W., A Social and Religious History of the Jews, 2nd ed., 20 vols. (New York, 19521993) IV, 76Google Scholar; Roth, C., A History of the Jews in England, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 1964), p. 2Google Scholar; Ben-Sasson, H. H., A History of the Jewish People, trans. Weidenfeld, G. (Cambridge, MA, 1976), p. 394Google Scholar; Poliakov, L., The History of Anti-Semitism: from the Time of Christ to the Court Jews, trans. Howard, R., 4 vols. (New York, 19651985) I, 77Google Scholar; Little, L. K., Religious Poverty and the Profit Economy in Medieval Europe (Ithaca, NY, 1978), p. 45Google Scholar; Pollins, H., Economic History of the Jews in England (Rutherford, NJ, 1982), p. 15Google Scholar; Stow, K. R., Alienated Minority: the Jews of Medieval Latin Europe (Cambridge, MA, 1992), p. 41.Google Scholar On Jews in Roman Britain, see Applebaum, S., ‘Were there Jews in Roman Britain?’, Trans. of the Jewish Hist. Soc. of England 17 (19511952), 189205.Google Scholar For nearby continental communities, see Encyclopedia Judaica VII, cols. 7–14 (‘France: Roman and Merovingian Periods’, esp. the map cols. 11–12).

2 Thus, this study deals with an understanding of Jews little influenced by Jewish culture. Mellinkoff, R. suggests, in ‘The Round, Cap-Shaped Hats Depicted on Jews in BM Cotton Claudius B. iv’, ASE 2 (1973), 155–65Google Scholar, that the observation of real Jews could be responsible for the iconographic innovation of round hats on Jews (as opposed to pointed ones) in the illustrations of London, British Library, Cotton Claudius B. iv. For knowledge of Hebrew in the period, see Keefer, S. Larratt and Burrows, D. R., ‘Hebrew and the Hebraicum in late Anglo-Saxon England’, ASE 19 (1990), 6780.Google Scholar Such bits of evidence do not argue for a substantial impact of Jewish culture on Anglo-Saxon England. Any influence of Hebrew literature on Anglo-Saxon literary culture was probably through an intermediary text; see Biggs, F. M. and Hall, T. N., ‘Traditions concerning Jamnes and Mambres in Anglo-Saxon England’, ASE 25 (1996), 6989, at 85–6.Google Scholar

3 For the date of De populo Israhel, see Clemoes, P., ‘The Chronology of Ælfric's Works’, The Anglo-Saxons: Studies in some Aspects of their History and Culture presented to Bruce Dickins, ed. Clemoes, P. (London, 1959), pp. 212–47, at 244.Google Scholar

4 Ælfric, De populo Israhel, in Homilies of Ælfric: a Supplementary Collection, ed. Pope, J. C., 2 vols. EETS os 259–60 (London, 19671968) II, 638–66, lines 38–40Google Scholar: ‘created many miracles in the desert’; ‘indeed rebellious too often’. Further references to De populo Israhel will be cited by title and line numbers. Although De populo Israhel and other texts in this study sometimes push beyond the generic definition of ‘homily’, I have retained the term throughout for convenience. All translations are my own.

5 De populo Israhel, lines 128–9: ‘had the signification of our Saviour Christ’.

6 Ibid. lines 132–3: ‘afterwards that same Jewish people killed him and would not take him as a sustenance for their souls’.

7 Ibid. line 134: ‘we believe in him’.

8 Ibid. lines 297–9: ‘were carnal men and suffered their torment in this world, according to the law of Moses’; ‘now we are spiritual men under the grace of God’.

9 For a similar contrast in the homily between the earthly rewards of the Israelites and the greater spiritual rewards of the Christian community, see ibid, lines 376–89.

10 The Lives of Saints was written over a number of years, but was probably completed between 992 and 1002: see Clemoes, , ‘Chronology’, p. 244.Google ScholarLapidge, M. argues for a terminus ante quem of 998 in ‘Ælfric's Sanctorale’, Holy Men and Holy Women: Old English Prose Saints’ Lives and their Contexts, ed. Szarmach, P. E. (Albany, 1996), pp. 115–29, at 118.Google Scholar See also J. Hill, ‘The Dissemination of Ælfric's Lives of Saints: a Preliminary Survey’, ibid. pp. 235–59.

11 These stereotypes, in tandem with the notion that the historical dispersion of the Jews is God's punishment for killing Christ, comprise what Langmuir, G. calls ‘the core of Christian anti-Judaism’ (History, Religion, and Antisemitism (Berkeley, CA, 1990), p. 285).Google Scholar I follow Langmuir's distinction between the anti-Judaism of the early Middle Ages, characterized by ‘logical’ (albeit non-rational) conclusions about the Jews that are derived from empirical thinking, and the anti-Semitism of the centuries following 1100, characterized by more fantastical, irrational suppositions. In addition to History, Religion, and Antisemitism, see Langmuir's, Toward a Definition of Antisemitism (Berkeley, CA, 1990)Google Scholar and ‘The Faith of Christians and Hostility to Jews’, in Christianity and Judaism, ed. Wood, D., Stud, in Church Hist. 20 (Oxford, 1992), 7792.Google ScholarTrachtenberg, J., The Devil and the Jews: the Medieval Conception of the Jew and its Relation to Modern Antisemitism (New Haven, CT, 1943)Google Scholar is still a useful survey of medieval anti-semitism. In a recent study, Young-Bruehl, E. characterizes anti-Judaism as an ethnocentrism, and anti-semitism as an ‘ideology of desire’ or an ‘orecticism’; see her compelling analysis informed by psychoanalysis and sociology in The Anatomy of Prejudices (Cambridge, MA, 1996), pp. 184–99 passim.Google Scholar

12 On the early Christian and patristic background of anti-Judaism, see Williams, A. L., Adversus Judaeos: a Bird's-Eye View of Christian Apologiae until the Renaissance (Cambridge, 1935)Google Scholar; Berdyaev, N., Christianity and Anti-Semitism, trans. Spears, A. A. and Kanter, V. (New York, 1954)Google Scholar; Runes, D. D., The Jew and the Cross, 2nd ed. (New York, 1966)Google Scholar; Ladner, G. B., ‘Aspects of Patristic Anti-Judaism’, Viator 2 (1971), 355–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Abel, E., The Roots of Anti-Semitism (Rutherford, NJ, 1975), esp. pp. 112–38Google Scholar; Ruether, R. Radford, Faith and Fratricide: the Theological Roots of Anti- Semitism (New York, 1974)Google Scholar and ‘The Adversus Judaeos Tradition in the Church Fathers: the Exegesis of Christian Anti-Judaism’, Aspects of Jewish Culture in the Middle Ages, ed. Szarmach, P. E. (Albany, NY, 1979), pp. 2750Google Scholar; Cohen, J., The Friars and the Jews: the Evolution of Medieval Anti-Judaism (Ithaca, NY, 1982), pp. 1932Google Scholar and The Jews as the Killers of Christ in the Latin Tradition, from Augustine to the Friars’, Traditio 39 (1983), 113CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Maccoby, H., The Sacred Executioner: Human Sacrifice and the Legacy of Guilt (New York, 1982), pp. 134–62Google Scholar; Gager, J. G., The Origins of Anti-Semitism: Attitudes toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity (Oxford, 1983), esp. pp. 1334Google Scholar; ‘To See Ourselves as Others See Us’: Christians, Jews, “Others” in Late Antiquity, ed. Neusner, J. and Frerichs, E. S. (Chico, CA, 1985)Google Scholar; Stow, , Alienated, pp. 640.Google Scholar For a collection of important studies, see Essential Papers on Judaism and Christianity in Conflict: from Late Antiquity to the Reformation, ed. Cohen, J. (New York, 1991).Google Scholar

13 This understanding informed the official policy toward Jews in the kingdoms of Europe in the Middle Ages, and contributed to the relative stability of Jewish life in the period when compared to the later Middle Ages: see Bachrach, B. S., Early Medieval Jewish Policy in Western Europe (Minneapolis, MN, 1977)Google Scholar and the legal evidence collected in The Jews in the Legal Sources of the Early Middle Ages, ed. Linder, A. (Jerusalem, 1997)Google Scholar, esp. ‘Index of Subjects: Protections of Jews’ (p.714)Google Scholar, and “Violence: against Jews’ (p. 717).Google Scholar

14 Augustine, , De civitate Dei, CCSL 48, 644, lines 1318 (XVIII.46)Google Scholar: ‘However, the Jews who killed him, and would not believe in him, because it pleased him to die and rise again, were more miserably destroyed by the Romans, and cast out from their own kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and they were uprooted and dispersed throughout the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and thus by their own scriptures they are a testimony to us that we have not made up the prophecies about Christ.’ This sentiment is expressed widely in Augustine: see Blumenkranz, B., Die Judenpredigt Augustins: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der jüdisch-christlichen Beziehungen in den ersten Jahrhunderten (Basel, 1946), pp. 175–81.Google ScholarCf. Orosius, Paulus, Historiarum adversum paganos libri VII, ed. Zangemeister, K., CSEL 5, 443 (VII.IV.16)Google Scholar: ‘Iam hinc post passionem Domini, quem Iudaei quantum in ipsis fuit persecuti sunt, continuae clades Iudaeorum, donec exinaniti dispersique deficiant, incessabiliter strepunt’: ‘From the passion of the Lord until now, the Jews, who had persecuted him as much as they could, have complained incessantly of continuous disasters for their people, until finally, scattered and desolate, they passed away.’

15 Cf. Rom. XI.1–31.

16 Ælfric, St Apollinaris, Ælfric's Lives of Saints, ed. Skeat, W. W., EETS os 76, 82, 94 and 114 (Oxford, 18811900; repr. as 2 vols. London, 1966) 1, 472, line 6Google Scholar: ‘the cruel Jews’. All further references to homilies in the Lives of Saints are to this edition by homily title, volume, homily number and line numbers. Cf. the invective of St Stephen against his Jewish executioners in Ælfric's Passio Beati Stepham Protomartiris, Ælfric's Catholic Homilies: the First Series, ed. Clemoes, P., EETS ss 17 (Oxford, 1997), p. 199, lines 41–6, passim.Google Scholar

17 Abdon and Sennes, II, no. 24, lines 99–100: ‘It is told to me that the Jews plot and scheme among themselves how they can betray you.’

18 The Forty Soldiers, I, no. 11, lines 318–19: ‘when they conspired, with dark thoughts, how they could kill Christ’.

19 Ibid. lines 321 and 323: ‘completely guilty’; ‘although our Lord allowed them to do the deeds’.

20 The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, II, no. 27, lines 4–5: “The Jews concealed it with hateful intention; they did not wish the treasure to become a comfort to men.’

21 Cf. the efforts of the Jews to keep secret the location of the cross in Elene

22 Ibid. lines 165–9 and 176–80: ‘Neither the Jews nor the secret traitor was compelled by God to that horrible intent, but when Christ, he who sees all things, saw their evil will, then he turned it to good so that their evil became our salvation … Now the Jews and the shameless traitor who plotted against him are guilty of Christ's death, although it became eternal redemption for us; none of them shall ever come to the kingdom of Christ unless they make amends for it and bow to Christ.’

23 For the anti-semitism inherent in representations of the passion in the later Middle Ages, see Bestul, T. H., Texts of the Passion: Latin Devotional Literature and Medieval Society (Philadelphia, PA, 1996), pp. 69110.Google Scholar

24 Ælfric's concern for the possibility of error in the interpretation of scripture is well known: see the Prefaces to the First and Second Series of Catholic Homilies, the Lives of Saints and the Preface to Genesis, collected in Ælfric's Prefaces, ed. Wilcox, J. (Durham, 1994).Google Scholar

25 St Swithun, I, no. 21, lines 435–42: ‘Such signs make known that Christ is almighty God, who revealed his saints through such good deeds, although the Jews, deceived by the devil, will not believe in the living Christ until the Antichrist is slain by God. Then the miserable ones who are left over at the end of the world shall submit to Christ with belief, and the men of old shall be lost who previously would not believe.’

26 St Edmund, II, no. 32, lines 264–75: ‘Among the English (as it is widely known) there are also many other saints who work many miracles as praise to the Almighty in whom they believed. Through his glorious saints Christ reveals to men that he is almighty God who makes such miracles, although the miserable Jews completely scorned him because they are accursed, just as they wished for themselves. No miracles are wrought at their tombs because they do not believe in the living Christ, but Christ makes clear to men where the true belief is when he works such miracles through his saints far and wide across this earth.’

27 The passage condemning the Jews is not in Ælfric's source for his vita of Edmund, the Latin Passio S. Eadmundi by Abbo of Fleury: see Three Lives of English Saints, ed. Winterbottom, M. (Toronto, 1972), pp. 6787.Google Scholar

28 Many texts exemplify this ethnographic curiosity, including Beowulf, The Wonders of the East, Alexander's Letter to Aristotle, the voyage of Ohthere and Wulfstan digression in the Old English translation of Orosius, Widsith, etc.

29 Chair of St Peter, I, no. 10, lines 176–83: ‘The Jews thought that they alone were chosen by God, and therefore spoke thus. In the old days under the law of Moses, the Jews would not come near the heathens or eat with them, and rightly so at that rime because they believed in the living God and the heathens believed in false gods, who were not gods but rather fierce devils.’

30 Dominica. V. Quadrigesimae, Ælfric's Catholic Homilies: the Second Series, ed. Godden, M., EETS ss 5 (London, 1979), 128, lines 50–1Google Scholar: ‘The Jews were from God and they were not from God.’

31 The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue: a Study in the Origins of Anti-Semitism (Philadelphia, PA, 1961), p. 374.Google Scholar

32 Augustine, , Sermones de sanctis (Sermo CCC: In solemnitate martyrum Machabaeorum), PL 38, col. 1377Google Scholar: ‘Indeed, the Old Testament is the veil of the New Testament, and the New Testament is the revelation of the Old Testament’. P. Clemoes notes the importance of typological interpretation of the Old Testament for Ælfric (‘Chronology’, p. 240); see also Szarmach, P. E., ‘Ælfric as Exegete: Approaches and Examples in the Study of the Sermones Catholici’, Hermeneutics and Medieval Culture, ed. Gallacher, P. J. and Damico, H. (Albany, NY, 1989), pp. 237–47.Google ScholarAuerbach's, E. essay ‘Figura’, in his Scenes from the Drama of European Literature (1944; repr. Minneapolis, MN, 1984), pp. 1176 contains essential background material.Google Scholar

33 Hermann, J. P. labels this process 'sublation’, the ‘incorporation of a prior stage or concept by a subsequent one’ (Allegories of War: Language and Violence in Old English Poetry (Ann Arbor, MI, 1989), p. 55).Google Scholar See also the comments of Bloom, H. on the relationship between the Old and New Testament in ‘“Before Moses Was, I Am”: the Original and the Belated Testaments’, Notebooks in Cultural Analysis I, ed. Cantor, N. F. and King, N. (Durham, NC, 1984), pp. 314.Google Scholar

34 On the iconography of Ecclesia and Synagoga, see Schlauch, M., ‘The Allegory of Church and Synagogue’, Speculum 14 (1939), 448–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Seiferth, W. S., Synagogue and Church in the Middle Ages: Two Symbols in Art and Literature, trans. Chadeayne, L. and Gottwald, P. (New York, 1970)Google Scholar; Camille, M., The Gothic Idol: Ideology and Image-Making in Medieval Art (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 178–80Google Scholar; and Mellinkoff, R., Outcasts: Signs of Otherness in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages, 2 vols. (Berkeley, CA, 1993) I, 4851.Google Scholar

35 Prodigal Son / Elder Brother: Interpretation and Alterity in Augustine, Petrarch, Kafka, Levinas (Chicago, 1991), p. 40.Google Scholar

36 M. Godden notes that Anglo-Saxon interpretation of the Old Testament was multifaceted and often moved beyond typology to a use of these narratives as a repository of culturally significant resonances: ‘Allegory was used to make the Old Testament safe for Christian readers or to make it consonant with the New Testament by discovering Christian doctrines such as the Trinity hidden within it. But allegorical interpretation soon became a way of using the Old Testament, and the New Testament as well, as a vast store-book of imagery, a source of riddling metaphors and imaginative parallels. The impetus here is not to save the Old Testament for Christianity but to invite the reader to see imaginative parallels between moral truths and physical actuality, or between spiritual experience and historical events’ (‘Biblical Literature: the Old Testament’, The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature, ed. Godden, M. and Lapidge, M. (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 206–26, at 208CrossRefGoogle Scholar).

37 Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore, MD, 1978), pp. 151–2.Google ScholarStallybrass, P. and White, A. call this process the ‘law of exclusion’ in The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (Ithaca, NY, 1986), p. 25Google Scholar, and Mellinkoff describes it as ‘who was included in the great feast of life and who was excluded” (Outcasts I, p. li).Google Scholar

38 Cf. the work of Gilman, S., who describes his investigations of nineteenth- and twentieth- century anti-semitism as an attempt to ‘understand how stereotypes are generated, how they are embedded in cultural artifacts (texts, in the widest sense of the word), and, most important, how once sanctioned in this arena they form the basis for action’ (Inscribing the Other (Lincoln, NE, 1991), p. 11).Google Scholar

39 For the sources of the homily, see Loomis, G., ‘Further Sources of Ælfric's Saints’ Lives’, Harvard Stud, in Philol. and Lit. 13 (1931), 18, at 23Google Scholar, and the more comprehensive discussion by Lee, S., ‘Ælfric's Treatment of Source Material in his Homily on the Books of the Maccabees’, Bull. of the John Rylands Univ. Lib. of Manchester 77 (1995), 165–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Ælfric's Maccabees is extant in several copies. London, BL, Cotton Julius E. vii, s. xiin (Ker no. 162) is the base manuscript for Skeat's edition of the Lives of Saints. Other manuscripts include Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 198, s. xi1 (Ker no. 48); Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 303, s. xii1 (Ker no. 57); Cambridge, University Library li. I. 33, s. xii2 (Ker no. 18; an acephelous copy, beginning at line 319 according to Skeat's edition). London, BL, Cotton Vitellius D. xvii, s. ximed. (Ker no. 222) lacks most of the homily due to fire damage, ending at line 29; Cambridge, Queen's College [Home] 75, s. xiin (Ker no. 81) is only a fragment, containing just the first eight lines of the homily. The ‘Ker’ numbers refer to Ker, N. R., Catalogue of Manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford, 1957).Google ScholarSee also Hill, , ‘Dissemination of Ælfric's Lives of Saints’, pp. 250–2.Google Scholar

40 Maccabees, II, no. 25, lines 34–6, hereafter cited by line numbers only: ‘they stuck in his mouth, with many threats, the foul meat which Moses prohibited God's people to eat because of its spiritual signification’. Note that Ælfric adds the clause ‘which Moses forbade God's people to taste because of its spiritual signification’ to his source in the Vulgate; he immediately begins to explains why this particular meat is anathema to the Jews: ‘igitur Eleazarus de primoribus scribarum vir aetate provectus et vultu decorus aperto ore hians conpellebatur carnem porcinam manducare’ (II Maccabees VI. 18: ‘Therefore Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes, a man advanced in age and noble in appearance, was compelled to open his mouth wide and to eat pig's flesh’). All references to the Vulgate are to Biblia Sacra iuxta vulgatam versionem, ed. Weber, R., 4th ed. (Stuttgart, 1994).Google Scholar

41 Maccabees, lines 37–9: ‘We must now speak more clearly about these things, which meats were forbidden to men in the old law which men eat now nevertheless.’

42 Lev. XI; Deut. XIV.3–21; pseudo-Bede, In Pentateuchum commentarii – Leviticus, PL 91, cols. 345–6.

43 Maccabees, lines 40–5.

44 Ibid. lines 46–9. Bede applies the same simile to Caedmon in the Historia ecclesiastica IV.24. After displaying his miraculous poetic gifts, Caedmon is taught sacred history, with the result that ‘At ipse cuncta, quae audiendo discere poterat, rememorando secum et quasi mundum animal ruminando, in carmen dulcissimum conuertebat’ (‘He learned all he could by listening to them and then, memorizing it and ruminating over it like some clean animal chewing the cud, he turned it into the most melodious verse’): Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, ed. Colgrave, B. and Mynors, R. A. B. (Oxford, 1969), pp. 418–19.Google Scholar

45 Maccabees, lines 51–3: 'signify those who do not desire properly, neither to learn what may be pleasing to God, nor to revolve in their mind the commands of the Saviour’.

46 Ibid. line 60: ‘always chew God's commands with reflection’.

47 Ibid. lines 64–6: ‘for the signification, which then was still to come, that we cleave our claws in the two testaments, in the Old and in the New, that is the Law and the Gospel’.

48 Ibid. lines 69–73: ‘So thus the Jews who reject our Lord and hold his Gospel preaching in contempt are unclean and repugnant to Christ though they revolve the Law of Moses in their mouth and do not wish to understand [anything] except the literal meaning.’

49 Ibid. lines 74–8: ‘Many things were forbidden to God's people in the Law, which are now clean after the coming of Christ, since Paul spoke to the Christians in this fashion: “Omnia munda mundis”: All things are clean to clean men; there is nothing clean to the unfaithful and unclean.’ Cf. Titus I. 15: ‘omnia munda mundis coinquinatis autem et infidelibus nihil mundum sed inquinatae sunt eorum et mens et conscientia’ (‘To clean men all things are clean: however, to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are stained’).

50 Maccabees, lines 79–84: ‘A hare was then unclean, because he is not cloven-footed, and a swine was then unclean because it did not chew its cud. Some were then foul that are still foul; but it will be too tedious to explain here completely concerning the clean beasts or concerning the unclean beasts in the old law, which one nevertheless now eats.’

51 Cf. the dialogue between master and fisherman in. Ælfric's Colloquy. ‘Quid si immundi fuerint pisces? Ego proiciam immundos foras, et sumo mihi mundos in escam’ (‘What if the fish are unclean? I throw the unclean ones away, and I take the clean ones for my food’) (Ælfric's Colloquy, ed. Garmonsway, G. A., 2nd ed. (London, 1947), lines 94–5Google Scholar). Deut. XIV.9–10 prohibits the eating of fish without scales or fins (e.g. eels), but since this is an Old Testament prohibition, and for Ælfric's audience ‘omnia munda mundis’, why should the fisherman throw back ‘unclean’ fish? Clearly the matter is one of some confusion for Ælfric.

52 Maccabees, line 107: ‘ended his life with faith’.

53 Ibid. lines 564–73. See Cross, J. E., ‘The Elephant to Alfred, Ælfric, Aldhelm and Others’, SN 37 (1965), 367–73.Google Scholar

54 Maccabees, lines 240–2: ‘‘The army with Mattathias grew a great deal, and they fought in unity, and with great strength they expelled the heathens, who were high-minded against God’.

55 Ibid. line 244: ‘and God also helped them’. See I Maccabees II.42–8: ‘tunc congregata est ad eos synagoga Asideorum fortis viribus ex Israhel omnis voluntarius in lege et omnes qui fugiebant a malis additi sunt ad eos et facti sunt illis ad firmamentum et collegerunt exercitum et percusserunt peccatores in ira sua et viros iniquos in indignatione sua et ceteri fugerunt ad nationes ut evaderent et circuivit Matthathias et amici eius et destruxerunt aras et circumciderunt pueros incircumcisos quotquot invenerunt in finibus Israhel in fortitudine et persecuti sunt filios superbiae et prosperatum est opus in manu eorum et obtinuerunt legem de manibus gentium et de manibus regum et non dederunt cornu peccatori” (‘Then they were joined by a synagogue of Hasidaeans, strong men of Israel, each one a volunteer on the side of the Law: all of those who fled from evils joined them and supported them. They gathered an army and struck down the sinners in their anger, and the evil men in their fury, and the rest who escaped fled to the nations in order to escape. And Mattathias and his companions marched about, and they cast down the altars and circumcised any uncircumcised boys they found within the boundaries of Israel, and they did so bravely. They hunted down the sons of pride and the work prospered in their hands. And they took the Law from the hands of the pagan tribes and the hands of the kings, and did not give the advantage to the sinners’).

56 Maccabees, lines 274–5 and 282–3: ‘Lo, then Judas Maccabeus mightily arose in his father's place, and opposed his enemies … He then became like a lion in his struggles and deeds, and destroyed the wicked ones and cleared his country.’

57 Ibid. lines 308–16: ‘It is no difficulty for almighty God to help in battle and to support them whom he wishes, in regard to few men or to a large army, because victory is always from heaven. These people come against us as if they are braver, and wish to destroy us and lay waste our land; we truly fight for ourselves against them, and for the law of God, and God shall also destroy them before our sight; fear not at all.’

58 The Old English Version of the Heptateuch, Ælfric's Treatise on the Old and New Testament and his Preface to Genesis, ed. Crawford, S. J., EETS os 160 (London, 1922), 49, lines 785–91 and 51, lines 837–8Google Scholar: ‘because they fought mightily with weapons against the heathen army, which fought mightily against them, and wished to destroy them and eliminate them from the land that God had given them, and to suppress the love of God’ … ‘read them (if you wish) for your own instruction’.

59 Godden observes the ‘interest in military and political parallels at the literal level’ of Maccabees and speculates on the political context of the Lives: ‘It is probably no coincidence that the collection was commissioned by. Æthelweard, the ealdorman responsible for the military defence of the south-west against the Vikings; Æthelweard also commissioned the translation of the book of Joshua, another account of heroic battles against the heathens’ (‘Biblical Literature’, p. 219Google Scholar). See also his ‘Apocalypse and Invasion in Late Anglo-Saxon England’, From Anglo-Saxon to Early Middle English, ed. Godden, M., Gray, D. and Hoad, T. (Oxford, 1994), pp. 130–62Google Scholar, for more analysis of the Anglo-Saxon ‘literary response’ to Viking invasion. The tenth century saw a surge of interest in using the Maccabees as exemplars: see Dunbabin, J., ‘The Maccabees as Exemplars in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries’, The Bible in the Medieval World: Essays in Memory of Beryl Smalley, ed. Walsh, K. and Wood, D. (Oxford, 1985), pp. 3141.Google Scholar

60 See Wilcox, J., ‘A Reluctant Translator in Late Anglo-Saxon England: Ælfric and Maccabees’, Proc. of the Med. Assoc. of the Midwest II, ed. Storm, M. (Emporia, KS, 1994), pp. 118, at 67Google Scholar fora similar conclusion. Wilcox's study complements my analysis of Maccabees at several points, although he does not specifically address Ælfric's anti-Judaism.

61 Maccabees, lines 514–29: ‘The Jews were the dearest to God in the Old Law, because they alone ever honoured the almighty God with worship, until Christ, the son of God, was himself born of human nature, of the Jewish people, of Mary the maiden, without a human father. Then some of them would not believe that he was the true God, but conspired against his life, just as he himself allowed. However, there were many good men of that race, both in the Old Law, and also in the New, patriarchs and prophets and holy apostles, and many thousands that follow Christ, although some remain rebellious until now. However, they shall all believe in the end, but too many shall perish there, in the period between, for their hard-heartedness against the heavenly Saviour.’

62 Ibid. lines 549–53: ‘He [Eupator] also was inclined so that he wished to kill the faithful Jews, who believed then in God. Then they believed in almighty God according to the old ways, although some of them afterwards rejected the Saviour, and also killed him, just as he himself desired.’

63 The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca, NY, 1981), p. 85.Google Scholar

64 Maccabees, lines 676–83: “Nevertheless (as books tell us), according to historians all the battles of Judas for the defence of his friends, and all the mighty deeds which he gloriously performed in defence of his people are not written down. Manifold were his great battles; and he is as holy in the Old Testament, as God's chosen ones in the Gospel-preaching, because he ever struggled for the will of the Almighty.’

65 Ibid. lines 684–92: ‘In those days he was allowed to conquer his enemies, and most of all the heathens, who were angry against him; and he was the thane of God who fought most often against their conquerors, in defence of their people. But with his coming Christ taught us another thing, and commanded us ever to hold peace and truthfulness; and we should fight against the blood-thirsty enemies, that is, the invisible ones and the deceitful devils, that wish to slay our souls with sins.’

66 Ibid. lines 693–704:’. … against them [i.e. the invisible enemies] we should fight with spiritual weapons, and pray continually to Christ for our protection, that we can overcome cruel sins and the temptations of the devil, so that he can not harm us. Then we will be God's champions in the spiritual fight, if we scorn the devil through true belief, and the chief sins through self-control, and if we carry out the will of God with our works. The old people of God had to fight then with weapons, and their struggle had the signification of holy men who drive out sins and devils from them in the New Testament that Christ himself established’.

67 This item follows the text of Maccabees in Julius E. vii, CCCC 198, CCCC 303 and CUL. Ii. i. 33 (see above, p. 74, n. 39). In addition, the item is found independently in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 178, s. xi1 (Ker no. 41) and Oxford, Bodleian Library, Hatton 115, s. xi2-xiimed. (Ker no. 332). See Hill, , ‘Dissemination of Ælfric's Lives of Saints’, pp. 250–2.Google Scholar

68 Maccabees, lines 812–18: ‘However, it is apparent that in this world there are three orders, set in unity; these are laboratores, oratores, bellatores. Laboratores are they who produce our food; oratores are they who intercede with God for us; bellatores are they who protect our towns, and defend our land against an invading army.’ The recent discussion by Powell, T. E. in ‘The “Three Orders” of Society in Anglo-Saxon England’, ASE 23 (1994), 103–32Google Scholar investigates the use of the tripartite motif by King Alfred, Ælfric, Wulfstan and the author of the Vita S. Dunstani, known as ‘B’. Powell's discussion of the source of this scheme is exhaustive, but he concludes that Ælfric's direct source (probably Latin and Frankish) remains a mystery (p. 117). See also Duby, G., The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined, trans. Goldhammer, A. (Chicago, IL, 1980), pp. 99109Google Scholar; Godden, M., ‘Money, Power and Morality in Late Anglo-Saxon England’, ASE 19 (1990), 4165, at 55–6Google Scholar; and Constable, G., Three Studies in Medieval Religious and Social Thought: the Interpretation of Mary and Martha, the Ideal of the Imitation of Christ, the Orders of Society (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 249341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

69 Maccabees, lines 819–22: ‘Now the farmer works for our food, and the worldly warrior must fight against our enemies, and the servant of God must always pray for us, and fight spiritually against unseen enemies.’ Cf. Ælfric's repetition of the theme in the Old English Letter to Sigeweard (Old English Heptateuch, ed. Crawford, , pp. 71–2, lines 1204–20Google Scholar) and the Latin Letter to Wulfstan (Councils and Synods, with other Documents relating to the English Church. I. A.D. 871–1204, ed. Whitelock, D., Brett, M. and Brooke, C. N. L., 2 vols. (Oxford, 1981), p. 252).Google Scholar Powell discusses the changing historical circumstances behind these different versions (‘Three Orders’, pp. 110–15 and 117–24Google Scholar).

70 At the end of Maccabees Ælfric asserts his authority to speak not only about martial conflict in general, but also to demonstrate his knowledge of the peril of Viking attack current in the land: ‘Secgað swa-Þeah lareowas Þæt synd feower cynna gefeoht. iustum. Þæt is rihtlic. iniustum. unrihtlic. civile. betwux ceaster-gewarum. Plusquam civile. betwux siblingum. Iustum bellum. is rihtlic gefeoht wið ða reðan flot-menn. oÞÞe wið oðre Þeoda Þe card willað fordon. Unrihtlic gefeoht is Þe of yrre cymð. Þæt Þridde gefeoht Þe of geflite cymð. betwux betwux ceaster-gewarum is swyðe pleolic. and Þæt feorðe gefeoht Þe betwux freondum bið. is swiðe earmlic and endeleas sorh’ (lines 705–14: ‘However, teachers say that there are four types of war Justum, that is, just; injustum, that is, unjust; civile, between citizens; plusquam civile, between relatives. Justum bellum is just war against the cruel seamen, or against other peoples that wish to destroy the land. Unjust war is that which comes from anger. The third war, which comes from strife between citizens, is very dangerous; and the fourth war, that is between friends, is very miserable, and endless sorrow’). Ælfric follows Isidore of Seville's discussion in the Etymologiae (Isidori Hispalensis Episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum, Libri XX, ed. Lindsay, W. M., 2 vols. (Oxford, 1911), XVIII.i.111).Google Scholar See Cross, J. E., ‘The Ethic of War in Old English’, England before the Conquest: Studies in Primary Sources presented to Dorothy Whitelock, ed. Clemoes, P. and Hughes, K. (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 269–82, at 272 on Ælfric's use of sources here.Google Scholar

71 Maccabees lines 823–32: ‘Therefore the struggle of the monks against the invisible devils that plot against us is now greater than that of the worldly men, who struggle against carnal foes and visibly fight against the visible enemies. Now the worldly soldiers should not compel the servants of God away from the spiritual struggle to the worldly fight, because it will benefit them more that the invisible enemies may be overcome than the visible ones; and it will be very harmful that they leave the service of the Lord and submit to the worldly struggle, that in no way concerns them.’ Cf. Eph. VI. 12 on the struggle against ‘invisible enemies’.

72 Ibid. lines 851–62: ‘Now the monk who submits to Benedict's rule and leaves behind all worldly things, why will he again turn to worldly weapons and throw aside his struggle against the unseen enemies, to anger his Creator? The servant of God can not fight along with worldly men if he is to have success in the spiritual combat. There was no holy servant of God after the suffering of the Saviour that would ever foul his hands in battle, but they endured the persecution of wicked tormentors, and gave their lives with harmlessness for God's belief, and they now live with God, because they would not even kill a bird.’

73 Powell, , ‘Three Orders’, p. 122.Google Scholar

74 Godden, , ‘Money’, pp. 55–6, esp. 56, n. 58Google Scholar; but cf. Powell's dissenting view (‘Three Orders’, p. 121Google Scholar). For the political use of the Maccabees in the Benedictine reform on the Continent, see Dunbabin, , ‘Maccabees as Exemplars’, pp. 36–8.Google Scholar

75 E.g. see Ælfric's reason for translating the Book of Judith, that it should be ‘eow mannum to bysne, Þæt ge eowerne card mid wæ[p]num bewerian wið onwinnendne here’ (Letter to Sigeweard, Old English Heptateuch, ed. Crawford, , p. 48, lines 777–80Google Scholar: ‘an example, so that you protect your land with weapons against an invading army’). See also De populo Israhel, lines 274–81, 291–3 and 390–6; Prayer of Moses, Lives I, no. 13, lines 147–77; Dominica VI Post Pentecosten, Pope, , Homilies, II 14, 128–35, 140–6Google Scholar; and others. Godden is particularly sensitive to this aspect of Ælfric's writings: ‘For the Anglo-Saxons the Old Testament was a veiled way of talking about their own situation … Despite Ælfric's insistence that the old law had been replaced by the new, at least in its literal sense, in many ways the old retained its power for the Anglo-Saxons, and gave them a way of thinking about themselves as nations’ (‘Biblical Literature’, p. 225Google Scholar; in addition, see pp. 207–8 of the same essay, and ‘Apocalypse’, pp. 131–42Google Scholar, on Ælfric's growing attention to English political matters in his writings, under the increasing threat of Viking invasion at the end of the tenth century).

76 Cultural Politics – Queer Reading (Philadelphia, PA, 1994), pp. 34.Google Scholar

77 For a general historical overview of the connection between the Benedictine reform and the secular politics of England, see, inter alia, John, E., ‘The King and the Monks in the Tenth-Century Reformation’, in his Orbis Britanniae and other Studies (Leicester, 1966), pp. 154–80Google Scholar and ‘The World of Abbot Ælfric’, Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society: Studies presented to J.M. Wallace-Hadrill, ed. Wormald, P. with Bullough, D. and Collins, R. (Oxford, 1983), pp. 300–16Google Scholar; Tenth-Century Studies: Essays in Commemoration of the Millennium of the Council of Winchester and Regularis Concordia, ed. Parsons, D. (Chichester, 1975)Google Scholar; Gatch, M. McC., Preaching and Theology in Anglo-Saxon England (Toronto, 1977), pp. 811 and 119–28Google Scholar; Yorke, B., ‘Æthelmær: the Foundation of the Abbey at Cerne and the Politics of the Tenth Century’, The Cerne Abbey Millennium Lectures, ed. Baker, K. (Cerne Abbey, 1988), pp. 1526Google Scholar; Stafford, P., ‘Church and Society in the Age of Ælfric, The Old English Homily and its Backgrounds, ed. Szarmach, P. E. and Huppe, B. F. (Albany, NY, 1978), pp. 1142Google Scholar, and also her Unification and Conquest: a Political and Social History of England in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries (London, 1989), pp. 2468 and 180200.Google Scholar

78 See Little, , Religious Poverty and the Profit Economy, pp. 4257Google Scholar; Moore, R. I., The Formation of a Persecuting Society (Oxford, 1987), pp. 2745Google Scholar and ‘Anti-Semitism and the Birth of Europe’, Christianity and Judaism, ed. Wood, D., Stud, in Church Hist. 20 (Oxford, 1992), 3357Google Scholar; Langmuir, , Toward a Definition of Antisemitism, pp. 63133Google Scholar and History, Religion and Antisemitism, pp. 275305.Google Scholar

79 Images of Community in Old English Poetry, CSASE 18 (Cambridge, 1996).Google Scholar

80 Byrhtferth of Ramsey, , Vita S. Oswaldi, The Historians of the Church of York and its Archbishops, ed. Raine, J., 3 vols., RS (London, 1879) I, 445:Google Scholar ‘Such madness boiled up among the Christian people as once in Judea when they persecuted the Lord, in which crime the feeble head of Caiaphas was raised, and the apostolic man was made a base apostate, not to mention the villainous Pilate. The disciples became amid with fear, just as in these days the monks are with affliction.’

81 Ibid. pp. 449–50: ‘Among them they devised a wicked plan, for they possessed minds so damned and such diabolical blindness that they did not fear to lay hands on the anointed one of the Lord … And when his ambushers encircled him, just as the Jews once surrounded Christ, he sat bravely on his horse. Certainly a single madness was in them, and a like insanity. Then the worst wickedness and the savage madness of the devilish enemy flared in the minds of the venomous thegns; then the poisoned arrows of the crime of Pilate rose up most cruelly against the Lord and against his anointed, who had been elected to defend the kingdom and empire of this most sweet race on his father's death.’

82 Cheyette, B. examines similar socio-political uses of Jews in later English history and literature in Constructions of ‘The Jew’ in English Literature and Society: Racial Representations, 1875–1945 (Cambridge, 1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; he concludes that ‘writers do not passively draw on eternal myths of “the Jew” but actively construct them in relation to their own literary and political concerns’ (p. 268).Google Scholar As Fisch, H. notes, ‘[t]he Jew is often (we might even say, most often) a figure of evil [in literature]; but more than he is a figure of evil, he is a nuisance, a problem, a difficulty, something one has to come to terms with before one can come to terms with oneself’ (The Dual Image: the Figure of the Jew in English and American Literature (London, 1971), p. 13).Google Scholar See also Panitz, E. L., The Alien in their Midst: Images of Jews in English Literature (London, 1981).Google Scholar

83 Eagleton, T., Ideology: an Introduction (London, 1991), p. 221.Google Scholar

84 See Ælfric's typological explication of Cain and Abel in the Letter to Sigeweard: ‘Abeles slege soðlice getacnode ure Hælendes slege, Þe ða Iudeiscan ofslogon, yfele gebroðra swa swa Cain wæs’ (Old English Heptateuch, ed. Crawford, , p. 23, lines 175–8: ‘The slaying of Abel truly signified the murder of our Saviour, whom the Jews killed, evil brethren just as Cain was’).Google Scholar On the Cain and Abel tradition, see Mellinkoff, R., The Mark of Cain (Berkeley, CA, 1981)Google Scholar; Quinones, R. J., The Changes of Cain: Violence and the Lost Brother in Cain and Abel Literature (Princeton, NJ, 1991), pp. 2383.Google Scholar Quinones notes that the Cain and Abel story ‘reveals an encounter with the lost brother, the sacrificed other, who must be gone but who can never be gone’ and that the story has been used through the ages to ‘address a breach in existence, a fracture at the heart of things’ (p. 3).

85 A National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College Teachers (‘Absence and Presence: the Jew in Early English Literature’, SUNY Stony Brook, 1996Google Scholar) provided a helpful forum to test some of the ideas in this argument. I would like to thank the members of the seminar, especially Stephen Spector, Alfred David and Seymour Kleinberg, as well as David Townsend, Scott Westrem, Ian McDougall, Katherine Scheil, Fred Robinson and Malcolm Godden for their help.