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What Are Jews For?History, Peoplehood, and Purpose$
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Adam Sutcliffe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691188805

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691188805.001.0001

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What Are Jews For?

What Are Jews For?

History and the Purpose Question

(p.1) Introduction What Are Jews For?
What Are Jews For?

Adam Sutcliffe

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores over four centuries of debate among both Jews and non–Jews on the “Jewish purpose” question. It explains the historical unfolding of ideas and arguments and captures both the local contextual nuances, as well deep continuities and connections of Jewish purpose across centuries. It talks about Jews and non-Jews in the medieval period that developed contrasting and separate concepts of Jewish purpose in the world. This chapter mentions Judah Halevi who took the view that Jews were inherently superior to non-Jews and Maimonides who thought that the special feature of the Jews was their philosophical inclination. It also analyzes the medieval Christians' perception that the purpose of Jews was to provide evidence of the truth of Christianity.

Keywords:   Jews, non-Jews, Jewish purpose, medieval period, Judah Halevi, Maimonides, medieval Christians, Christianity

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