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Final Judgement and the Dead in Medieval Jewish Thought$
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Susan Weissman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764975

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764975.001.0001

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(p.373) Chapter Nine Conclusion
Final Judgement and the Dead in Medieval Jewish Thought

Susan Weissman

Liverpool University Press

This concluding chapter summarizes the findings and main points of the book. What this study has revealed is that Jewish attitudes towards the dead and the hereafter in medieval Ashkenaz resembled more those of their Christian neighbours than those of their rabbinic ancestors of talmudic times. The unconscious interiorization, within Ashkenazi society, of Germano-Christian beliefs, customs, and fears about the dead — a result of acculturation — is clearly manifest. Although popular in origin, these practices, beliefs, customs, and fears were found among both elite groups and ordinary people within this small medieval Jewish enclave. Even the literary mediums through which the material was conveyed within the host society — visionary literature and the ghost tale — were adopted in Sefer ḥasidim and other, non-Pietist sources. The chapter then draws a sketch of the Pietist aspirations that emerge when one ties together the various strands of Pietist teaching on many of the subjects touched upon in previous chapters.

Keywords:   Jewish attitudes, medieval Ashkenaz, death-related beliefs, afterlife, Ashkenazi society, Germano-Christian beliefs, acculturation, Sefer ḥasidim, Pietist teaching

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