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Boston University professor gives lecture on Christianity and Judaism in medieval Europe

By Carles Lopez
On March 10, 2014

Monday March 10, the 4th-lecture of the yearlong series about the relationship between Jews and Christians, "Exile in the Eye of the Beholder, Jews, Christians and the Embrace of Exile in Medieval Europe." The lecturer, Deeana Klepper, an associate professor of religion studies at Boston University spoke about how Jews and Christians experienced and interpreted exile throughout medieval Europe.
In her lecture, Klepper made the distinction of how Jews and Christians viewed the Jewish exiles across Medieval Europe differently.
Christians viewed the Jewish exiles in terms of a "divine rejection: they believed that Jews were going across all of these hardships in Spain, Germany, Israel or France because God had rejected them as the chosen people.
Klepper said that we can see how medieval Christians viewed the exile of the Jews by looking at different medieval Christian text decorations, which depicted St. Paul as the one who helped Abraham cast off Hagar and Ishmael-the two people who are credited as the first "Jews."
Klepper said medieval texts describe the different exiles of Jews across Europe. Historians used the word "Captivitas," which means bondage or captivity, instead of "Exscilium," which means exile or banishment in political and legal terms. They used the word "Captivitas" because they believed Jews were captive in their own religion and because they didn't worship the "one true God."
On the other hand, Medieval Jews viewed their exile in a positive way. Klepper described Jews as being the "son of an angry, but still loving parent". Jews embraced their exile and even celebrated it.
We can see this idea of Jewish embracement of exile in the "Song of Songs" which is sung during Passover. The song is about Jewish exile from Jerusalem; however, they also sing about their redemption, and when they will be able to go back to their homeland. This song portrays exile as suffering.
The lecture, Klepper said, was supposed to be directed towards\ undergraduate students, however most of the attendees were scholars in different Medieval S\studies areas. However, Klepper was still able to captivate and encourage discussion in the audience.

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