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Sepulchral Jews and Stony Christians

Sepulchral Jews and Stony Christians

Supersession in Bede and Cynewulf

(p.28) Chapter 1 Sepulchral Jews and Stony Christians
The Accommodated Jew
Kathy Lavezzo
Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the unstable geography of Christian and Jew during the Anglo-Saxon period through an analysis of Bede's Latin exegetical work On the Temple (ca. 729–731) and in Cynewulf's Old English poem Elene. It takes as its starting point how Bede and Cynewulf tackle a material long associated with Jewish materialism, stone, in comparison with Christian materialism and descibes their accounts of the sepulchral Jew as well as the stony nature of Jews. It also considers how Bede and Cynewulf construct Christianity by asserting its alterity and opposition to an idea of Jewish carnality that draws on and modifies Pauline supersession. The chapter concludes with an assessment of how Bede's and Cynewulf's charged engagements with supersession and “Jewish” places contribute both to our understanding of Anglo-Saxon material culture and to the important role that ideas of the Jew played in such materialisms.

Keywords:   supersession, Christian materialism, Bede, On the Temple, Cynewulf, Elene, Jewish materialism, stone, sepulchral Jew, stony nature of Jews

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