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date: 16 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Early Protestant assessments of Judaism, Islam, or other non-Christian religions were rarely positive. For Luther and most German-speaking Reformers the Jewish question revolved primarily around theological concerns. This was true even as they repeated centuries-old topoi sustained by medieval urban hostility to the emperor’s Jews. Reformed attitudes toward Jews were more theological still, developing in areas without substantial Jewish populations. Following Calvin, the Reformed tradition accorded the Jews a central role in sacred history, both biblical and apocalyptic, but agreed with Luther’s persistent denigration of contemporary Judaism. “Mahomedanism” received universal condemnation from Protestants of all stripes, drawing on long-standing medieval discourses. Judaism and Islam were equated with Catholicism in Protestant polemics against “Papist” religion. In time, this Protestant move to equate “popery” with a sacerdotal, superstitious Judaism or “Mahomedanism” established a conceptual framework for understanding “false” religion that would form the basis for Enlightenment perspectives on all human religious authority.

Keywords: Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, Luther, Calvin, Germany, England, Netherlands, typology, humanism

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