What was the role of the Jews in the shaping of the Reformation – a huge turning point in Europe’s history? This event marks the publication of Kenneth Austin’s path-breaking study, The Jews and the Reformation (Yale University Press, 2020). Extraordinarily, this is the first full-length study of the effect of the Reformation on the Jews of Europe, and comes at a time when scholars are bringing fresh approaches to the place and significance of the Jews in Renaissance and Reformation Europe – and taking together Jewish and Christian perspectives. Where we might think only of Martin Luther, Austin shows us the effects of changes in thought and action in a large range of contexts.
The author joins Professor Helen Parish and Professor Anthony Bale to consider the book’s significance for the history of relations between Christians and Jews as well as for Reformation Studies and European History – and to tease out some connections between past and present.
To enable you to get a taste of this wide-ranging study, a chapter is available here throughout Arts Weeks (from 3 May – 21 May). We will hear from the three speakers and then use questions from the chat to start our Q&A and discussion. Co-Chairs: Professor David Feldman, Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism; Professor Sue Wiseman, Birkbeck, University of London.
About the speakers
Kenneth Austin is Associate Professor in Early Modern History at the University of Bristol. His research interests include the intellectual, religious and cultural history of late medieval and early modern Europe, and especially the connections between the worlds of the Renaissance and the Reformation. His current interests include the history of friendship, letter-writing and correspondence networks in the Renaissance and Reformation.
Anthony Bale is Professor of Medieval Studies and Dean of Arts at Birkbeck, University of London. His research explores religion and popular culture in the Middle Ages. He has extensively researched Jewish-Christian relations in medieval England and was academic consultant on two exhibitions at the Jewish Museum London (Blood: Uniting & Dividing and Jews, Money, Myth).
Helen Parish is Professor of History at the University of Reading. Her research and interests lie in the history of early modern religion and belief broadly understood, including the Reformation, superstition, and the relationship between the natural and the supernatural, including witchcraft. Published work includes a history of clerical celibacy in the Latin church, a study of the cult of the saints and miracles during the reformation, and a textbook on the reformation in Europe.