In the history of Jewish-Christian relations in the High Middle Ages the Devil assumes an important role. It is well-known that Christians associated the Jews with him, a fact that proved to be fateful (and sometimes fatal) for the latter. In the second half of the 15th century we find reverse notions in the writings of at least four Spanish kabbalists concerning Christianity. What we may gather from the anonymous authors of Kaf ha-Ketoret and Sefer ha-Meshiv as well as from Abraham ben Eliezer Halevi in his Meshare Kitrin is that Jesus was the incarnation of Samael or of the Devil. These three apocalyptic writers might have been influenced by Sefer Zerubavel (8th century), where Armillus — the mythical Anti-Messiah, the parallel of the Antichrist idea - is described as a creature in whose conception the Devil is involved. The connection between Jesus and Armillus, both of whom are the incarnations of Samael, is made explicitly by the 16th century Gala Razia. The article's main concern is with another Spanish kabbalist — Abraham Saba. In a censured passage he asserts that the real origin of all the customs of the Christian clergy is demonic. The only example he gives is that of the tonsure which was intended to make them resemble demons, who are bald according to a midrashic tradition. It seems likely that Saba, who talks in yet another censured sentence about 'the demon who rules the Cross according to the Christian faith', considered Jesus to be the incarnation of the Devil. An attempt is made to trace the development of such an idea from the 13th century. The direct Christian 'contribution' might have been the popular demonic view of the origin and nature of the mythical Jewish Antichrist attributed to him since the 10th century. The conception or surfacing of such ideas in the second half of 15th century Spain might be partially explained by the particular inter-religious tense atmosphere in the generation prior to the Expulsion.
|Translated title of the contribution||Satan and Christianity: The Demonization of Christianity in the Writings of Abraham Saba|
|Journal||ציון: רבעון לחקר תולדות ישראל|
|State||Published - 1993|