The history of name-calling and the treatment of Jews and Judaism as dogs and doggish by Christians, is a painful yet fascinating tale to discover. Invective toward outsiders as dogs was conflated with an admonition to beware of dogs and the notion that the Eucharist was the body of Christ that Jews supposedly sought to savage and pollute. The Jews became the dogs for which to watch out. When this was later extended from the body of Christ to the church as the body of Christians, the dangers posed became incalculable. This notion was an important element in the charges of ritual murder that echo down through the centuries. The tradition was also expressed in the policy of ghettoizing “Jewish dogs,” to limit them from contact with the holy people and host, whom they were accused of seeking to defile. Discovering the role of the Belgian Bollandist Jesuits, first as perpetrators of these destructive tales since the 12th century, and then eight hundred years later in the 20th century forcefully refuting them to be untrue, at some price to themselves in the conflict that ensued with their Italian Jesuit counterparts, is one of the many interesting elements of Stow’s in-depth research. How Stow ties these destructive accusations back to exegesis of the Church Fathers is surprising, revealing a continuous mentality about the threat Jews have been supposed to pose to the Christian, especially Catholic, West, a continuum of connected tales by which many nefarious accusations and policies have been legitimated. Such invective may be largely absent from the American scene, and thus unfamiliar to some readers, but it is, sad to say, still alive in New Testament exegetical traditions, and as Stow shows, unfortunately it is not unknown to schoolchildren around the world to this day. Bibliography and index.
Mark D. Nanos, Ph.D., University of Kansas, is the author of Mysteryof Romans, winner of the 1996 National Jewish Book Award, Charles H. RevsonAward in Jewish-Christian Relations.