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'Monuments' to the Truth of Christianity: Anti-Judaism in the Works of Adam Clarke

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The prevailing historiographies of Jewish life in England suggest that religious representations of 'the Jews' in the early modern period were confined to the margins and fringes of society by the 'desacralization' of English life. Such repre- sentations are mostly neglected in the scholarly literature for the latter half of the long eighteenth century, and English Methodist texts in particular have received little attention. This article addresses these lacunae by examining the discourse of Adam Clarke (1760/2–1832), an erudite Bible scholar, theologian, preacher and author and a prominent, respected, Methodist scholar. Significantly, the more overt demonological representations were either absent from Clarke's discourse, or only appeared on a few occasions, and were vague as to who or what was signified. However, Clarke portrayed biblical Jews as 'perfidious', 'cruel', 'murderous', 'an accursed seed, of an accursed breed' and 'radically and totally evil'. He also commented on contemporary Jews (and Catholics), maintaining that they were foolish, proud, uncharitable, intolerant and blasphemous. He argued that in their eternal, wretched, dispersed condition, the Jews demonstrated the veracity of biblical prophecy, and served an essential purpose as living monuments to the truth of Christianity.
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Keywords: Adam Clarke; Catholics; Jews; Methodist; representations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: European Association for Jewish Studies/Melilah (Manchester Journal of Jewish Studies)

Publication date: 2017-03-01

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