Ralph Keen is writing for us this week from the annual meeting of the American Society of Church History in New York City. Keen is Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation Chair of Catholic Studies and Professor of History at the University of Illinois-Chicago. In 2018 he was president of the ASCH.
In a session on uses and representations of Judaism in the Reformation era, Samuel Dubbelman (Boston U) described Johann Matthesius’s role as the source of a legend in which a Polish Jew named Michael of Posen tried to assassinate Luther with poison; Erik Lundeen (Baylor) uncovered new points in John Foxe’s sermons (on the occasion of a Jew’s conversion to Christianity) that reveal a deeper ambivalence toward Judaism than previously recognized; and Brian Hanson (Bethlehem College, MN) examined pre-1560 Tudor sermons for their use of examples from the Prophets. Thomas Becon as Elijah, Robert Crowley on the role of a shepherd—both adopting Biblical personas in their rhetoric. All three papers uncovered nuances in these Reformers’ attitudes to Judaism, the Jewish rejection of “idolatry and superstition” providing a basis for an affinity with the anti-Catholic rhetoric and tempering the anti-Judaism usually associated with early Protestantism.