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Johann Andreas Eisenmenger born in Mannheim , ; died in Heidelberg December 20, was a German Orientalist , now best known as the author of the antisemetic polemic, Entdecktes Judenthum Judaism Unmasked. The son of an official in the service of the Elector of the Palatinate Charles I Louis who had, in , offered Spinoza a chair in philosophy at Heidelberg , Eisenmenger received a good education, despite the early loss of his father to plague when he was 12 years old.
He eventually mastered Hebrew , Arabic and Aramaic. He was sent by the Elector to England and Holland to pursue his studies there, and in Holland established amicable relations with figures like Rabbi David ben Aryeh Leib of Lida ,  formerly of Lithuania , and then head of the Ashkenazi community in Amsterdam.
An intended sojourn in Palestine was interrupted by the death of his sponsor in , who died in August of that year. Later scholars cite two episodes during his sojourn in Amsterdam, which may or may not be apocryphal, to account for the formation of his anti-Judaic outlook. It is said that he was a shocked witness, in , to blasphemous tirades against Jesus Christ by a senior Rabbi there, identified by some as David Lida  and that he grew indignant on finding that three Christians he met had had themselves circumcised and converted to Judaism.
As a devout Christian he was further scandalized by encountering anti-Christian references in rabbinical sources, material which fueled his hostility to Judaism. For nineteen years he studied rabbinical literature assisted by Jews, first in Heidelberg and afterward in Frankfort-on-the-Main , pretending, according to some accounts, that he desired to be converted to Judaism.
Having collected citations from Hebrew books and rabbinical tracts, he published his Entdecktes Judenthum Judaism Unmasked , which has remained the arsenal for detractors of Talmudic literature down to the present day. The work, in two large quarto volumes, appeared in Frankfort in , and the Elector, Prince Johann Wilhelm , took great interest in it, appointing Eisenmenger professor of Oriental languages in the University of Heidelberg. The book was designed not only to reveal to Christians the existence of elements in Jewish rabbinical thought which Eisenmenger thought injurious to the Christian faith, but also to appeal to a free-thinking secular public, and to enlightened Jews whom he wished to shock by his revelations.
In particular he hoped to use his evidence in order to promote the conversion of 'honest Jews' to his own faith. As a recent critic puts it All this was done in an apparently scholarly and reasonable way that belied the author's evident preoccupation like Luther with tales of Jewish ritual murder of Christian children and poisoning of wells.
While piously insisting that the Jews must not be converted by cruel methods, Eisenmenger blithely recommended abolishing their present 'freedom in trade,' which was making them 'lords' over the Germans. He demanded too an immediate ban on their synagogues, public worship, and communal leaders and rabbis. Influential Jewish members of the Court of the House of Habsburg , fearing that the book's publication would give additional strength to the prejudice against them, denounced it as a malicious libel.
Only a year previously riots against the Jews had occurred in the diocese of Bamberg , and that in the same year July 21 a mob had, with the Court's permission, sacked the house of the Jewish Factor agent Hoffaktor to the Court in Vienna , Samuel Oppenheimer.
The aim of the riot was to pressure him over huge debts the Court had contracted for his services in financing the Habsburgs. However, the State refused to honour its debts to him. With him others worked for the same end, including Juspa van Geldern  the great-grandfather of Heinrich Heine 's mother.
The anecdote perhaps is intended to suggest that the success of the Jewish request for the book's suppression depended on its association with the Jesuits' criticism . According to one report written some decades later, the Jews had offered Eisenmenger the sum of 12, florins if he would suppress his work; but he was rumored to have demanded 30, florins, ostensibly in compensation for the considerable outlay from his own savings which the publication of the book had caused him to pony up.
If any such proposed transaction was negotiated, nothing came of it. Meanwhile, two Jewish converts to Christianity in Berlin had brought charges against their former co-religionists of having blasphemed Jesus. King Frederick William I took the matter very seriously, and ordered an investigation. Eisenmenger's heirs applied to the king; and the latter tried to induce the emperor to repeal the injunction against the book, but did not succeed. Almost forty years later the original edition was released.
Of the many polemical works written by non-Jews against Judaism, Eisenmenger's has remained the most thoroughly documented one. Precisely because of its extensive citations of original sources, in the original Hebrew with facing translations, it has long furnished antisemitic journalists and pamphleteers with their main arguments. Eisenmenger undoubtedly possessed a great deal of knowledge. Jacob Katz writes Contrary to accusations that have been made against him, he does not falsify his sources.
There is no serious challenge to the authenticity of the sources Eisenmenger cited. What are often challenged are the many inferences he made from these texts, his tearing of citations from their context, the correctness of specific interpretations and, more importantly, his use of a relatively small number of texts within the huge chain of rabbinical commentary to characterise Judaism as a whole.
In regard to the first two points, Siegfried, for one, argued that Some passages are misinterpreted; others are insinuations based on one-sided inferences; and even if this were not the case, a work which has for its object the presentation of the dark side of Jewish literature can not give us a proper understanding of Judaism. The Catholic theologian August Rohling , in his influential antisemitic polemic Der Talmudjude harvested much of his material directly from Eisenmenger.
The Lutheran biblical scholar Franz Delitzsch subjected Rohling's book to a close examination and found that he not only drew on Eisenmenger, but introduced many significant distortions.
In recent decades the kind of material from rabbinical sources which Eisenmenger exploited to attack Judaism in general has been often discussed in contextualising certain extremist currents in modern Jewish fundamentalism , of the kind observed in religious-political movements like those associated with the Lubavitcher Rebbe , Meir Kahane , Abraham Isaac Kook and his son Zvi Yehuda Kook , such as Kach and Gush Emunim.
Much earlier an English adaptation of Eisenmenger's volumes had been made by J. A new edition of the Entdecktes Judenthum was published by F. Schieferl , Dresden, Eisenmenger edited with Leusden the unvocalized Hebrew Bible, Amsterdam, , and wrote a Lexicon Orientale Harmonicum, which to this day has not been published.
This article incorporates text from the — Jewish Encyclopedia , a publication now in the public domain. Deutsch, Gotthard Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 16, Sign In Don't have an account? Contents [ show ]. Categories :.
He posed as a righteous Jewish convert, then wrote an antisemitic creed
Anti-Jewish author; born in Mannheim ; died in Heidelberg Dec. In Amsterdam he met three Christians who had been converted to Judaism, and this filled him with indignation. As a further cause of his hatred of Judaism, he claims the otherwise unknown attacks against Christianity which he heard from the mouth of David Lida, then rabbi of Amsterdam. For nineteen years he studied rabbinical literature assisted by Jews, first in Heidelberg and afterward in Frankfort-on-the-Main, pretending that he desired to be converted to Judaism. Having collected from rabbinical literature all that was calculated to bring it into disrepute and to give justification for anti-Jewish prejudices, he published his "Entdecktes Judenthum" Judaism Unmasked , which has remained the arsenal for detractors of Talmudic literature down to the present day.
Johann Andreas Eisenmenger
Eisenmenger, born in Mannheim, studied Hebrew while at Heidelberg University. Eisenmenger therefore set out to examine Jewish writings to find material that would deter Christians from turning to Judaism. For 19 years he studied talmudic and midrashic literature with Jews, pretending that he wished to become a proselyte. However, in the Frankfurt Jews learned that Eisenmenger was about to publish a work denouncing Judaism, titled Entdecktes Judenthum "Judaism Unmasked". A Protestant professor from Giessen, a Jesuit from Mainz, and six rabbis from Frankfurt were asked to study Eisenmenger's book and comment on it. In the meantime, the king of Prussia asked the emperor to allow the publication of the book and the elector of the Palatinate also intervened in Eisenmenger's favor. However the pleas of the Jews for its suppression were supported by the archbishop of Mainz, since Eisenmenger had also offended Catholic susceptibilities, as well as by the elector of Hanover.
Oh no, there's been an error
The son of an official in the service of the Elector of the Palatinate Charles I Louis who had, in , offered Spinoza a chair in philosophy at Heidelberg , Eisenmenger received a good education, despite the early loss of his father to plague when he was 12 years old. He distinguished himself at the Collegium Sapientiae at Heidelberg by his zeal for Hebrew studies and Semitic languages. He eventually mastered Hebrew , Arabic and Aramaic. He was sent by the Elector to England and Holland to pursue his studies there. He studied rabbinical literature with Jewish assistance for some 19 years both at Heidelberg and Frankfort-on-the-Main , under the pretense, it was rumoured,  of wishing to convert to Judaism. An intended sojourn in Palestine was interrupted by the death of his sponsor in , who died in August of that year. Later scholars cite two episodes during his sojourn in Amsterdam, which may or may not be apocryphal, to account for the formation of his anti-Judaic outlook.
Eisenmenger, Johann Andreas°