Like Them Iconised:
Edith Stein, the Ambiguity of Jewish Female Sainthood in WWII
History: The Nazi Occupation, the Jews, the Christian Jews and the
July 11, 1942, a collective letter of ten Protestant and Catholic Dutch
Churches was sent to the occupying German authorities. In this letter the
ten most prominent Christian representatives, Protestants and Catholics,
expressed their dismay at the decrees and exclusion of the Jews from normal
life due to recent deportation of men, women, children and entire families.
Appealing to the Christian sentiments of the occupiers, the Churches ended
their pleas arguing that the Christians Jews moreover would be cut off from
the Church way of life and devotion.
The nazi General Schmidt offered a concession to the Dutch Churches,
in which Christian Jews converted before 1 January 1941 were to be exempted
from deportation. This exemption was meant to appease the protesting spirit
of the Churches before a large deportation of the bulk of the Jews was to
take place on 15 July 1942. Five days later, the occupying general declared
that it had never been his intention to exempt the Christian Jews
indefinitely. His future policy would depend on the attitude of the
Churches. For this purpose, the German occupying police was given ‘Kanzeluberwachung’,
a right to listen to Church sermons during the coming Sundays. The original
letter to the occupying Nazi general from July 11, 1942 was first circulated
on 23 July, with the intention of having it read on Sunday 26 July from the
Churches’ pulpits. As a
result of a warning from
Generalkommissar zur bezonderen Verwendung, Gruffke, on July 24 1942,
the larger branch of the Protestant Church, the Reformed Church, withdrew
its planned protest. Both the Catholic and the smaller and more orthodox
branch of the Protestant Church, de Gereformeerde Kerken decided to proceed with their plan. The
original 11 July letter was indeed read on Sunday 26 July 1942 from most
pulpits throughout the country belonging to these two clerical organisations,
with a pastoral letter attached to it.
Archbishop de Jong of Utrecht and the Bishops Breda, Roermond,
Haarlem and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, all signed the sermon.
the Nazis rounded up Catholic Jews on one day, Sunday, 2 August 1942. The
massive arrest included monks and nuns, among them Edith Stein.
They were to perish in concentration camps a few weeks later. Their exact number seems unclear. In ‘Memoriam to
Edith Stein’, Maria Buchmuller mentions 1200 Catholic Jews.  In their biographical book of Sophie van Leer, Marcel
Poorthuis and Theo Salemink write that the Nazis possessed a list of 722
names. 213 Jews were detained in a camp in Amersfoort, and unknown number of
detainees were held in Amsterdam. For various reasons, a number of Catholic
Jews from the original list were originally exempted, others were detained
and then freed later. 114 Catholic Dutch Jews from the original list of 722
are known to have perished in the Camps.
On the one hand, the discrepancy between the two sources shows that even a
reliable academic research is left with an open information like ‘unknown
numbers detained in Amsterdam’, which in turn may be liable for
speculation. On the other hand, the same ambiguous information may initiate
legendary numbers of martyrs, which is classical of legends of saints.
The Text, its Sacred Intertext and The Church
sermon of July 26 1942 followed the spirit of the original letter to the
nazi occupiers from 11 July 1942. Like
the original letter of protest to the Nazis, the sermon read to the
Christian believers expressed dismay at the harsh decrees imposed upon the
Jews. Proudly it was presented that their letter to the German occupiers
resulted in the safeguard of all Christian Jews converted before January
1941. Was it not an unspoken bargain between the Churches and the Nazis to
bargain lives for lives, the lives of the converts for the lives of the
Jews? As for the Jews themselves, non-Christian Jews, the Church
representatives wished them strength during their hour of bitter trial. The
collective lot of Jerusalem was then brought up as an intertext from the New
Testament. Luke 19:41-45 was woven into the contemporary text of that
Sunday, as a sacred and authoritative truth. The text quoted Jesus weeping
over Jerusalem, prophesying the destruction and death to befall its
community. The deity claiming to have fallen short of recognition of His
message of salvation by the city premeditatedly spoke out His merciless
judgement over the Jewish community of Jerusalem. In this spirit, praying
for a just peace, the Bishops pleaded with God to stand on the side of the
Jews in their hour of bitter trial. In the same breath they added their wish
that it (their deportation) may bring them to see their true redemption in
Jesus Christ. The message of the sermon was clear; those who were
converted were to be saved. Recent converts who necessity forced to become
Christian as a result of the occupation were too late. The bulk of the Jews
were to be subject to a divine prophecy recounting their disbelief in
Christ. In turn, their lot might bring them to find the salvation of their
souls possibly in death, like their ancestors in first century Jerusalem.
Five years later, on 11 June 1947
in memoriam of Edith Stein and the Dutch Jewish nuns deported in 1942,
Monsignor Keuyk spoke in a similar spirit. His sermon read as
follows: ’In this sermon I
try to give an answer to the question why God had let Edith Stein, Maria
Aloysia Lowenfels and others suffer and perish. To my mind there is a double
reason; first, so as to contribute to the victory over evil, through
yielding their souls to God and through the offer of their lives, and
thereby to bring the redemption of fallen mankind; in the second place, to
bring atonement for the sin of their people who cried: ‘His blood be on
us, and on our children’ (Mat. 27:25)
The Converted Jew and the Jewish People. Text and Intertext
other Jewish nuns were rounded up on the fatal 2 August 1942 from their
convents, apart from Edith Stein. Their last remarks were recorded by their
friends, detainees and witnesses. Sister Judith Mendes Da Costa left a
Others left letters. Here I quote from two other Jewish converts and
catholic nuns who shared Edith Stein’s fate. The medical doctor Lisamaria
Meirowsky, a German Jewish convert, who was novice at the time, found refuge
in a Dutch monastery in
Berkel-Enschot. She writes on 6
August 1942: ‘We go like children of our Mother the Church, we wish to
amalgamate our suffering with the agony of our King, Redeemer and
Bridegroom; the offering for the conversion of many, for the Jews, for those
who persecute us, and thereby contribute for the Peace of the Kingdom of
Christ. In case, that I shall not survive…let my beloved parents and
brothers know that the sacrifice of my life is meant for them. May God
bestow on them the light of the true religion, eternal and temporary
happiness, when it is His will’.
Sister Miriam was born Else Michaelis, a German Jew and a convert
like Edith Stein. She was more laconic and more ambiguous on her arrest on 2
August 1942: ‘Now the Old Testament suffers for the New’.
this time of extremes, Edith Stein, at the time a Jewish convert, a
philosopher, a writer and a Carmelite nun, felt a sense of sacrificial
mission. In the isolation of her convent she confessed to prepare
herself for the offer of life for world peace. In 1939 she describes her
life as ‘a sacrificial expiation for the sake of true peace; and that the
Anti-Christ’s sway may be broken without another world war, and that the
new order will be established’. However in her testament the same year she alluded
that her offer of life was meant as a propitiation for the ‘unbelieving
In ‘The Road to Carmel’, written in 1933 she wrote:
‘I spoke to our Saviour and told Him that I knew that it was His
cross which now being laid on the Jewish people. Most of them did not know
it; but those who did understand must accept it willingly in the name of
A stanza from her poem ‘Sentenzen im Monat Juni 1940’ conveys a
similar apocalyptic message:
have for Thy tender knocking no ears,
Thou had to strike with the heavy hammer,
a long night dawn will break into day,
heavy labour Thy Kingdom shall be born.
The Powers of a Power Text; Mimesis and Intertextuality; The Triple Mimetic
the history of the summer of 1942, three parties functioned in a triple
drama amalgamating three mimetic roles: the murderer, the protector and the
innocent victim. This triple drama was empowered by three parties: the Dutch
Churches, the Nazi occupiers and the Christian Jews. The Nazi occupation
played a clear role as the murderer and persecutor. The Dutch Churches
played their role as the protector; and the Jewish Converts embodied the
innocent victim. The deported Jews were disqualified for the role of the
innocent victim, for the sin of disbelief tainted them in the eyes of all
Dutch Churches seemed to stand their ground against the Nazi anti-Semitic
decrees. Nonetheless, the Church’s historical politics of defamation crept
through their protest and sermon. Ironically, it overlapped the Nazis’
anti-Semitic policy. Both ideologies defamed the persecuted Jews ¾
the one by secular ideology, the other by theology. The converted Jews
played, on their part, an ironic and tragic role in the history of the Dutch
Jews’ persecution. The Church representatives’ texts show the power of
the word vending a defaming socio-cultural attitude that survived throughout
history. The writings the converted Jews left behind give us a unique look
into the converted minds of Jews that adopted the long history of ideology
defaming Jews and Judaism.
questions to be asked relate to these three parties. What primeval evil
should we look for? What was the deep structure of the Churches’ sermons?
What was the role of the converted Jews in relation to the persecuted Jews?
These questions are bound together in a complex pattern of history, culture,
ideology and textual dialogues.
Text and Intertext
text can be seen as a dialogue with its collective heritage. This textual
dialogue is materialised in complex interrelationships with preceding texts,
which accumulate in a history of a literary corpus. This dialogic relation
exposes the text as a field of tension rather than a point. This field is
seen as a surface of various forces of encounter and agreement, absorption
and adaptation, conflict and neutralisation, construction and
reconstruction. The text becomes a surface representation of ideas,
quotations and systems from preceding texts, in their permuted and
transposed state. A text is thus perceived as a space into which systems and
ideas from the collective corpus are processed. As systems undergo
transposition of various degrees of magnitude, a process of reconstruction
and redistribution of constitutes takes place.  These constitutes are consistent and recurrent. Their
textual interplay however is creative.
intertextuality, on the other hand, stresses the dialogue a text develops
with culture, society and its collective history; and how it places or
displaces culture, society and history.
All the same, external intertextuality may highlight he way culture,
society and history enter into a dialogue with a text; and no less
importantly, how culture, society and history place or displace history,
culture and society in their courses. The
meaning of a text is actualised by its dialogic relationship with society,
culture and history and vice versa.
Anti-Semitism as dynamics of texts; the Power of the Text; Past and Present
years ago as a young student, I taught English at an elementary school in
Bussum in Holland. One of the teachers related to me her admiration for,
according to her, the stoic spirit the Jews showed going to meet their lot
in the Nazi Camps. For they knew, she said, that they rejected Jesus in
biblical time. Four years ago, my daughter who was then eleven came home
distraught. Her teacher had
told the pupils during history lesson that Hitler killed the Jews because he
thought that they did not believe in Jesus. Three years ago I followed a day
seminar on Edith Stein in Amsterdam. The course supervisor whose M.A final
work was dedicated to the study of Edith Stein,
advocated that Edith Stein turned to Christianity, because Jewish
life offered her at home with her family was unsatisfactory. Last year, my
nephew at sixteen, received a death threat on the e-mail, calling him a Jew
and a scum of the earth not deserving to live. January 2000, I followed a
two-day conference on ‘Anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John’ at Leuven
University in Belgium.
In spite of the organisers’ expectations, only a few voices faced the
challenge. Most theologians resorted to defensive arguments so as to
whitewash the New Testament texts as well as early Christianity of bigotry.
One participant said that if he were to admit that anti-Judaism
existed in the New Testament, he would have to doubt his Christianity.
Finally, a good friend of many years related to me in a gush of emotions
that the most precious present she could receive would be the salvation of
my soul. I have not spoken to her since.
to my subject with these thoughts in mind, I face the complexity of text and
intertext, history, theology, collective heritage and politics. Some
fifty-eight years after the summer of 1942, I will treat the policy of the
Dutch Churches and the tragedy of the converted Jews as interrelated events.
I will fall back on the power of collective heritage and collective memory
of groups, and in the case of the converted Jews a double heritage, Judaic
and Christian respectively. My analysis will be thus based on principles of
intertextuality. In this I shall rely on writers like Bakhtin, Kristeva and
The Sacred and Authoritative Text and the Church; the Myth, the Jews and the
Dialogic Mechanism of Texts with Texts.
arguments concerning the relationship of the Jewish people and the Western
world since the Holocaust are divided between the critical rereading of the
New Testament on the one hand, and diligent efforts to defend and whitewash
it on the other. Defenders of the Christian Text excuse it by laying blame
on the historical polemic of Early Christianity. They claim that
anti-Judaism is to be found merely in later interpretations of the New
Testament, for which the Evangelic message can not be taken into account.
Defenders try to divert attention away from Jewish bigotry by
identifying the defamed Jews of New Testament with the Jews who rejected
Jesus, thus exempting the rest of the Jews of anti-Evangelism, and the
Evangelists from anti-Judaism. Who really were the Jews referred to in the
New Testament, they ask? If the New Testament Jews were a contemporary sect,
merely the Pharisees for example, then the evangelists never meant to
implicate the Jews as a whole. Still, the New Testament recurrently uses the
word Jews. Like a classical example of bigotry; the subject is an open text,
liable to insinuations.
Some defenders of the New Testament try to purge the sacred text of
its anti-Judaic expressions by paradoxically employing the old ‘blame it
on the Jews’ anti-Semitic argument. It is said that early Christians were
themselves Jews who professed lethal hostility against their Jewish brothers
in the rise of Christianity. Other arguments support the idea that Jews were
responsible for anti-Judaic expressions in the New Testament. One such
argument proclaims that the Jews have been known for their flaw of
self-hate, as they lack a sense of inner and outer boundaries.
Needless to say, this thesis is brought up without a shred of academic
research to support it. These
arguments imply that if anti-Judaism was imbedded in the New Testament, it
had been the reminiscences of filial members of violent character, that of
the Jewish society. In this, bigotry against the Jews is denied by wending
criticism towards the loathsome character of the Jews themselves.
Defenders of the New Testament who purge it of suspicion of bigotry,
defame the Jews, and elevate the Christians. Eventually, it becomes a
self-evident truth that the Evangelic creed is based on love. It is
therefore inconceivable that it might contain hateful attitude. Therefore,
one has to look for hateful characteristics in the object not in the
subject. As the Jews rejected salvation through love in rejecting Jesus who
embodies love and universal salvation, they fell from Grace with God and
with Christ’s redemptive love. Albeit the Evangelist message, as the Jews
rejected the New Testament, they denied themselves God and humanity. Is it
possible that contemporary Christian theologians still characterise Jews in
New Testament texts by defamed constitution, much like their founders?
Eventually, all these arguments manage to blur the fact that by the
time the New Testament was written down and compiled, neither its writers
nor its audience were Jews, in their convictions, their way of life, or even
in their original ethnic and national identity. Since Paul’s radical
changes, no Christian could be called a Jew any more. Only 20th century
racial perception could define someone who negates all principles of Judaism
including dietary laws, as a Jew and anything but a member of a distinct
The Defenders of the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible
defenders recognise the bigotry of the Evangelist texts yet claim to
relativise it by a comparison with the prophetic wrath found in the Hebrew
To a Jewish thinker the comparison is preposterous. Here not only the Jews
are defamed, but their most revered texts as well.
The prophetic wrath was part of the criticism exercised by an inside
member of the group. The prophets spoke to the Hebrews. They embodied the
living moral compass of their people. The Hebrew prophets never
disassociated themselves from their people, whom they called ami,
my people as in Hosea 2:20. The
expression appears 1123 times in the Hebrew Bible.
The evangelists’ manner of reference ‘the Jews’ implies a definition
of an outsider.  The relationship of the prophets and the Israelites
was that of love, a close and intimate association, and that of shared fate
and suffering. The relationship between God and the Hebrew people was
described in the Hebrew Bible as that of devotion, mutual commitment and
love. It was presented as troubled and turbulent, which humanised it.
Accordingly, to enliven the character of this relationship, the
prophets personified it in domestic images which became their recurrent
metaphors: husband and wife (Hosea Ch. 1-3); father and son (Hosea 11:1,
13:12-13; Isaiah. 30:1); mother and child (Isa. 44:24); a devoted worker and
a protected land lord (Isa. 44:1).Their eschatological prophecies of future
promise of peace and restoration for their people
were as equal in its compassion as their prophecies of wrath. The
prophets promised that all past controversies, mistakes and sins would be
erased as though they had never occurred, (Isa. 44:22); the cities of Judea
will be rebuilt (Isa 44:26); the nation is destined to be saved and restored
to its prime (Isa. 52:, 53, 54, 60-65 ; Jerm. 30:18-24, and Ch. 31-31 ). In
such eschatological texts God’s limitless loyalty, compassion, grace,
lawfulness are promised like that of a loving husband (Hosea 2:22), and like
a mother remembering her labour when she delivered her child (Isa. 44:24).
Analogous to human love, the relationship between God and His people is
initiated in an idealistic beginning, passes through trouble and
disappointment and ends in reconciliation to the reality of human
limitations and in a renewed bond in spite of it. Eventually, prophetic
theology explained the harsh lot of their people as a divine decree. Their
people’s suffering was personified in the subjective voice of the
vulnerable female victim and that of the bereaved mother: ‘a voice was
heard on the heights, a lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for
her children, refused to be comforted. (Jerm. 31:14). Their lamentation
universalises the victim and the vulnerable, in giving the ruined nation the
first person’s voice of an abused, desolated and bereaved woman. So strong
is the prophet’s call for subjectivised empathy with the victim, that he
challenges divine judgement (Lamentation 1:13; 2:20). As harsh as their
criticism was, so moving were their lamentations and hopeful prophecies for
a better future.
Unlike the Hebrew prophets, the Evangelists did not speak
to but against the Jews. As
opposed to the prophet’s call to the Hebrews to keep and return to their
original covenant, the evangelists called the Jews to abandon the old rules
of their original covenant and replace them by a new theology they did not
believe in. The evangelist’s call was radically different than that of the
Hebrew prophets. The prophets advocated a return to their original covenant
with God, and called the Hebrews to commit themselves to the rules of the
Torah given to them at mount Sinai and thereby to renew the Brit,
their own covenant with God. For
the Jews, Christian belief was not a renewed bond but rather a Christian
definition of ‘their’ own beliefs. Their texts demarcate Christianity as
a separating identity emerging from its original matrix, Judaism. However,
this demarcation went on to dissociate Jews from humanity, which objectified
the latter. The Evangelists mythified prophecies of harsh decrees against
the Jews to sanctify their separation. In the course of history these
pronouncements became atrocious self-fulfilling prophecies. The Bishops’
sermon of July 1942, the convert’s texts, and the sermon in memory of the
Jewish nuns of 1947 overlap the New Testament texts they quote. The Bishops
evoked the spirit of bigotry behind the text describing Jesus weeping over
Jewish Jerusalem while speaking out an atrocious prophecy of avenging
destruction. Jesus justified the destruction and death over the city by a
theology he presumes to force upon its inhabitants against their
In their 1942 sermon, the Bishops expressed their dismay at the
destruction of the Jewish community at the hand of the Nazis’ anti-Semitic
creed. They proudly amalgamated the Nazis’ exemption of converted Jews
into their apostolic message on their predicament to the bulk of the Jewish
people. The Bishops made use of these atrocities as a triumphal message for
their own apostate policy against the Jews. They objectified Jewish
suffering in propagating it as a road to Christian salvation, which was
alien to Jewish beliefs in the first place. In both texts, Luke and the
Bishop’s sermon, the suffering of the victimised Jews was objectified and
processed as part of theological imperialism and bigotry.
In Monsignor Keuyk’s 1947 sermon in Memory of Edith Stein and other
Catholic Jews, he quotes Matthew 27:25. In this passage the Roman Procurator
Pilatus washes his hands of Jesus’ blood, while the
Jews admittedly said
His blood be on us, and on and on their generations to come.. It is a
fact that both Jewish beliefs and the Christian redemptive road
are at the heart of admission
to those religions. The messianic road to God and the Kingdom of God
is exclusively via the messiah, whose identity is disputed among the
main beliefs. This conviction makes Christian salvation and Jewish
redemption conditional and mutually exclusive. However the text from Mathew
27:26 in which the Jews claim to take the blood of Jesus upon themselves
makes the Christian messiah lethal for the Jews. He is paradoxically
conceived as their innocent victim. If members of other religions have been
considered unbelievers, Jews have been considered both unbelievers and
God’s killers throughout history.
All this not only turns the Christian messianic redemption into an exclusive
road closed to Jews, but also into an anti-salvation. Any Christian message
thereby becomes an anti-message for Jews; and the Christian biblical Word is
transformed into an anti-biblical word for them.
The ‘Sacred’ Bigotry; The Demonisation of the Jews.
objectifying the Jews, they became an abstraction, an image detached from
humanity. Upon Jesus’ mythification He became both a divinity and a role
model of perfect humanity. Once Jesus became divine, bigotry against the
Jews became sacred in itself. The Evangelic hostile prophecies of atrocity
against the Jews became a ‘sacred’ bigotry empowered by divinity and
humanity; because the Jews had transgressed against divinity, embodied in
Jesus, the atrocious fulfilment of these prophecies became sanctified as
well. This ‘sacred’ bigotry was divinely legitimised to be carried out
by human beings on the Jews, who were demarcated as their antithesis. Jews
became the abjection of all that Jesus Christ was made to embody for the
adherents of the new religion. This bigotry was empowered on the one hand by
the divinity the Jews were said to have rejected, persecuted and killed, and
on the other hand by the humanity of which he became a perfect embodiment
to, and to which the Jews dialectically became an inverted image of
dehumanisation. In these dialectics, Jews become the sons of Satan, and
offspring of demonic darkness.
The Bible translated into Greek by seventy Jewish sages was to become
a permuted text in the hands of New Testament writers some two hundred years
In John 8:33 the Jews refer to
themselves as Abraham’s seed. In 8:44
Jesus refers to them as the sons of the Devil, or Satan: ‘Ye are of your
father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer
from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in
him…’ In Mathew 27:26, the Jews are given the first person voice and ‘subjectified’.
Yet it is a mock first voice, which is used to de-humanise them. A voice is
given to them so that the writer could present them as lethal enemies of
humanity and divinity alike. Their first voice, not that of the writer,
brings condemnation upon themselves. Hence the Jews, the Pharisees and
Jerusalem are all described as the killers of their own prophets, (Luke
11:57; Rom. 11:3; Math. 23:27-33, 37-39). Luke, Paul and Mathew evoke the
blood of all the righteous ever shed from Abel to the prophets to befall
upon the Jews. The reference to the Hebrew Bible is unclear; the only
possible text to support it is the one describing Queen Jezebel, a foreigner
and an adversary to the Hebrew creed, massacring God's Hebrew prophets.
New Testament Texts like the ones mentioned above have created a
massive intertextuality of defamation, which, with tragic consequences,
associated the Jews with the Devil and Anti-Christ.
Christian Defence against the Allegation.
the Dead Sea Scrolls, (biblical and Essene writings dating from 100-200 B.C.
discovered in 1947) were translated, these texts as well have been employed
to purge the allegations of Christian dualistic bigotry against the Jews.
Defending theologians employ the Hebrew texts of the Qumran in ways similar
to those other defenders have done with prophetic texts. The Qumran scrolls
are used to prove that if defaming dualism of Jews exists in the New
Testament then it was originated by the Jews themselves some 200 years
earlier, namely by the Essenes. The Essenes, a secluded community from the
Dead Sea Area, propagated the choice between good and evil in metaphors of
the sons of light and men of God struggling against the sons of darkness and
Defenders of the New Testament claim that the anti-Jewish dualism originated
in these Hebrew texts. This dualism was employed as an inner polemic between
different fractions of Judaism who demonised their adversary brothers, the
defenders say. In claiming that historically Early Christians were a
domestic fraction of Judaism, the analogy is found. In simple terms, the
policy of ‘blame all on the Jews’ is re-employed, and that includes
A misleading translation of the Qumran texts is the essence of this
misinterpretation. These texts by the Essene Community known as the Qumran
Scrolls, represent believers as men of God who keep to the ways of His
covenant, as opposed to others who do not, the bni-blial.
The biblical word bliial, recurring
27 times in the Hebrew Bible, refers to an earthly adjective describing
riffraff and criminals. It is an attributive implying worthlessness, evil
doing and outlawry. Its etymology points to a compound of two elements;
bli: without or the absence
of, and iaal: of worth, or al
meaning rising up. The Hebrew word is dissimulated in the Syric word bliar.
latter does not appear in the Hebrew Bible, yet occurs in the New Testament,
in 2Cor. 6:16. The word bnei is a
standard reference to association of or of a sort; it needs not literally
What is the nature of this polemic? Translations of the Qumran
systematically capitalise the Hebrew word blial,
meaning the wicked ones. In this, an adjectival is transformed into a
personal pronoun. The capitalisation of the term, instead of a literal
translation, was obviously made and repeated by those who neither understood
the Hebrew word nor took the trouble to investigate it. This
misinterpretation is first found in the Vulgate in Deuteronomy 13:13
‘egressi sunt fulii Belial de medio tui et averterunt habitaores urbis
tuae atque dixerunt eamus et serviamus diis alienis quos ignoratis’. The
construction is retained in the King James English Bible from 1611, and in
Dutch Bibles until it was corrected in a new edition in 1935: ’Certain
men, children of Belial are gone among you, and have withdrawn the
habitation of the city, saying. Let us go and serve other gods which ye have
not known’. The Vulgate
however provides the correct translation to the Hebrew word blial in Job 34:18: ‘qui dicit regi apostata qui vocat duces
impios’. The King James translation follows this example: ‘Is it fit to
say to a king, Thou art wicked and to princes, Ye are ungodly? The
Septuagint was consistent in its exact translation of bnei
blial, representing it by the
Greek word andres paranamoi. In
articles by defenders of the New Testament, a Hebrew concept appearing both
in the Bible and in the Qumran is reconstructed in its translation as a
mythical concept to fit the term devil or Satan.
When used as a pronoun Belial turns
the translation of bnei-blial, the
wicked ones, into sons of Blial,
sons of a demonic figure.
In misrepresenting the Hebrew texts the defenders translate the term into
sons of the devil. In this they divert attention away from the claim that
John 8:44 contains demonising bigotry in defining the Jews as offspring of
the devil and Satan worshippers. The defenders argue that bnei-blial means sons of the devil and that the Jews have already used it
as their inner filial polemic. This has become a self-evident truth for the
defenders of the New Testament. Henceforth texts have been quoted by texts
in the contingent manner of intertextual mechanism. Voices raised to combat
these falsified arguments sound like lonely cries in the desert. In his Introduction to Anti-Semiticism
and Early Christianity, the editor Craig A. Evans follows this policy.
Presenting his point about the writing of the Essenes, misinterpreted as
such, he posits the query about the Essenes’ writing: ‘their criticisms
have never been thought of as anti-Semitism’. 
Like the Hebrew prophets, the prophetic wrath of the Essenes was
directed at law-breakers. Like the Prophets, the Essenes’ criticism was
not directed at an ethnic group; perhaps it did not literally referred to
living people. It spoke a metaphoric language and was referring to a moral
choice; it was a metonym. They
needed a fierce God to put the fear of law into their audience.
The conceptualisation of sin and evil in biblical Judaism and that of
the Essenes expressed by words like blial,
was a definite term, a social, down-to-earth and ethical term closely
related to law and outlawry. It can be seen in the following:
‘Thus speakth the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgement,
and show mercy and compassion every man to his brother: And oppress not the
widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you
imagine evil against his brother in your heart’ (Zech. 7:8-10). The Hebrew
term is reea, which closely
relates to such terms as the Other or a fellow human being. This concept of
sin is far from the mystical, mythical and demonised evil found in New
Testament texts like John 8:44, Luke 8:26-40, or Revelation 11 and 20. There
was little myth left by the monotheistic priesthood that introduced the
Sinai covenant of the Torah.
Mere fragmentation of mythical figuration can be found in texts like Genesis
6 and Job 2:1 in the term bnei-elim,
implying angels or offspring of divinities. Mythology was negated or used as
a pure literary metonym as in Ezekiel 28:1-20. High mimesis was consciously
attributed to Hebrew God alone, whereby all the mythological
personifications lost their mimetic figuration and turned into physical
nature or God’s messengers. Even Satan, like sin, became equated with an inner
inclination. The biblical Hebrew Satan who merely appears 27 times in the
Hebrew Bible was more of a messenger of ill advice unequal to a divinity, as
in Numbers 22:22, Job 1:7, or I Chronicles 21:1. The Ten Commandments are a
bundle of social laws meant to safeguard the rights of the individual by
other individuals; other books of the Hebrew Bible give expression to this
covenant. The prophets’ rage
was directed towards a group that would today be defined as criminals and
outlaws. Their crimes were well defined by the Mosaic laws. There was
nothing ethnic or mythical about this class of people. Those meant to be
protected by these laws were the most vulnerable members of society and
frequently its victims; the orphan, the widow, the foreigner, the elderly
and in general everyone who is the Other in relation to the Self. This bears
witness to the highly social and moral consciousness of the Mosaic laws in
their time. Even crimes of faith against the Hebrew God were connected to
the abuse of the vulnerable members of society. Worship of demons or devils
are abhorrent to God and to the Mosaic Law because their worshippers
sacrifice their sons and daughters, shedding children’s innocent blood
(Psalm 106:35-39). Like other prophets, Ezekiel directs his wrath against
those who abuse the foreigner, the poor, the orphan and the widow (Ezekiel
22:7). The Hebrew word foreigner, ger,
is mentioned ninety two times in the Hebrew Bible. What one misses in the New Testament can be found in these texts.
The foreigner is defined as the one who lives among the members of the
community with a different identity than that of the Israelites. Their
attitude towards such a citizen is based on the subjective experience of the
Israelites in Egypt which subjectifies the foreigner not the Israelites (Ex.
22:20, 23:9; Lev. 19:34; Deut. 1019). This bitter experience is presented as
a text of collective memory; the Israelite’s experience is not used to
avenge or to discriminate against such a person, but in teaching tolerance
towards the foreigner. The foreigner’s emotional state of mind, nefesh,
should be understood on that account (Ex. 23:9). This attitude is
implemented in the law equalising the foreigner with the Israelites, and
placing him under God’s guardianship.
God protects the foreigner (Psalm 141:9). The same law will be
applied to both Israelite and foreigner (Num.16:15). One should never abuse
the law to exploit the foreigner. Love the foreigner (Deut. 10:19). One
should feed and clothe the foreigner (Duet. 10:18), and leave him not to
sleep out of door ( Job 31:32). None of the ninety-two cases ever mentions
that the foreigner’s legal protection, tolerance and compassionate
attitude may be conditioned by admittance of the Hebrew faith. Needless to
say intolerance or abuse of foreigners has been strictly outlawed and
Last but not least, Qumran was an isolated and probably a secretive
and secluded community. It is unlikely that their writings were known
outside the Essenes’ settlement, even at the very time they were active.
Printing circulation was yet a futuristic dream. Three hundred years later,
the likelihood of the Evangelists in Asia Minor employing the Qumran texts
as their intertext is unbelievable, though Hebrew messianic ideas may have
spread. It is more likely that
the Evangelists found their demonic imagery in the local cultures in which
they grew up and within the population whose conversion was the target of
their new religion.
The Satanic Verses
Gospels of John and Mathew complement one another. In the dialectics of
their texts, the Jews become enemies on all fronts – on political,
theological, and mythical levels. In John 8:44 Jesus is subjectified, being
given the first person voice. He initially refers to those Jews who believe
in him. By calling himself the Son of God, he defines all Jews who doubt him
as the offspring of their father, the devil.
In Mathew 27:25 the Jews are given a voice to promote the author’s
accusation of the sin of divine blood. The Jews accumulate a bundle of
metaphors, being all and at the same time the religious and mythical enemies
of God, divine truth, His son, the messiah, Christianity and Christians, and
finally of humanity. Their role is expanded to the mythical level of high
mimesis. On this high mimetic level, the Jews embody an image that recurs as
an anti-thesis of life; as the enemy of humanity and of the reigning
divinity who is the creator and protector of life.
Anti-Semitism as an Intertext of a Myth
texts related to the drama of the summer of 1942 show an ambiguous
relationship to the anti-Judaic texts in the New Testament. Though defensive
literature has accumulated on the subject of the anti-Judaic texts in the
New Testament, the question of the power of these texts remain unanswered. I
will claim further that anti-Semitism finds its power in mimetic thinking
and in the structure of myth. The myth initiated by New Testament texts is
thus further generated in proceeding texts by the contingent power of
intertextual mechanism. In this one could find anti-Judaism evolving into
anti-Semitism, a difference which seems to be a point made by Christians and
not by Jews.
The Structure of Myth
1993 a science-fiction comedy called The
Attack of the 50f Woman was made by Christopher Guest with the actress
Hannah Daryl. In the film a woman grows out of her natural proportion, which
gives her the power to literally hold her husband in her hand. The whole
town watches her marching with her husband squeezed between her fingers. The
National Guard is called. One soldier says to the other: ‘How are we going
to shot missiles onto a woman’. The other answers: ’Don’t think of her
as a woman. Think of her as a target. We always do.’
In this film one sees the dehumanised effect of a mythical perception
and its purpose. This mythical principle is based on the expansion of human
characteristics into high mimesis. In this mimetic presentation of a myth,
the figure retains her human identity; but her proportions are vastly
inflated. At that moment, the figure may function as a target.
In Le Cru et le Cuit, Levi-Straus states: ‘we are not therefore
claiming to show how men think the myths, but rather how myths think
themselves out in men and without men’s knowledge’. In ‘The
Effectiveness of Symbols‘ he defines the unconscious as an organ
generating limited rules and functions of recurrent types.
The content of a myth may be permuted, while the form persists.
Following this in his next chapter on ‘The Structural Study of Myth’,
the structure of myth is accounted for in relationships of clustered
varients. These variants are bound by associations generated by the logic
bound to the myth, logic which is paradoxically self-evidentially mythical.
Mythical structures show repetition within a story and a recurrence of such
variants in various myths. The mythical structure is organised according to
a vertical model and a horizontal one. The horizontal model shows
syntagmatic relationships of metonyms, sequences, and aspects of time. The
vertical model accounts for a deep structure which manifests paradigmatic
relationships between constitutes according to metaphoric units that can be
clustered according to relational associations. The structure may recur and
may follow a consistent pattern, while its content may be contingent.
Complementary, myth shows properties accounted for above the ordinary
linguistic level, a language on its own. 
features reinforce the mythical structure; dialectics and mimesis. Myth
operates by presenting a structure of opposites that seeks an intermediary
resolution. Levi-Strauss approaches myth as a structure with a system of its
own. His concept of myth is closer to mythology and tales of genealogy, and
is not completely compatible with myth according to the mimetic system. Myth
operates by presenting a structure of opposites that seeks an intermediary
resolution: ‘two opposites terms with no intermediary always tend to be
replaced by two equivalent terms which admit a third one as a mediator; then
one of the polar terms and the mediator become replaced by a new triad, and
Levi-Strauss states that: ‘two opposite terms with no intermediary always
tend to be replaced by two equivalent terms which admit a third one as a
mediator; then one of the polar terms and the mediator become replaced by a
new triad, and so on’. This prolongs the tale until a resolution is
However since the final resolution is pre-conceived, the deeper message
presents a self-evidential truth that might be otherwise inconceivable. The
basic principle of binary opposites promotes a dualistic view of the world.
This also polarises values like the corporal and the spiritual, the feminine
and the masculine, the earthly and the divine.
Within the dualistic binary values are presented as self-evident truth.
Northrop Frye in his Theory of Modes sees
myth within a formal scale on the spatial classification of modes: ‘Myth,
then is one extreme of literary design; naturalism is the other, and in
between lies the whole area of romance’. 
As Levi-Strauss posits the content of a myth as contingent unlike the
mythical structure, which is consistent, this leads him to the conclusion
that form always takes precedence over content. 
Both scholars, Levi-Strauss and Northrop Frye, see myth as a formula on its
own right, creating a self-evidential reality systematically built by
metaphorical language. Metaphoric language reconstructs its recurrent
archetypes and by permuting their mimetic imagery between degrees of mimesis
Mimetic Feature of Myth
theory of Mimesis may shed more light on the power of myth. Mimetic theory
perceives reality as a given data that can be imitated by means of
representation. Variations in degree of elevation are thus measured
against the matrix of average men and natural reality of all men. In setting
out ‘Theory of Modes’, Northrop
Frye draws upon Aristotle’s mimetic assumptions to show the relationship
between mimetic elevation and fictional modes of expressions. Mimetic
elevation of a character in action and being is conceived in related works
of fiction. The mimetic features of characters accommodate the roles they
play in the various works of fiction.
Both Aristotle’s original mimesis and Frye’s modes posit two
mimetic types of elevation, high and low mimesis. The mimetic scheme can be
comprehensively expanded to encompass intermediary categories showing five
degrees of mimesis instead of two. This
can be seen in my diagram as follows:
concept of High mimesis will be extended to characterise divinity. Myth, the
first fictional mode, presents divine characters who are classified as
superior to both human beings and to their natural environment
is applicable to characters figuring in the mode of romance found in tales
of royal heroes and legends of saints. These characters are only superior to
other men and to their natural environment in degree.
is applied to the epic or tragic hero who is superior in degree to other men
but not to his natural environment.
Mimesis. Figures who
are neither superior to other human beings nor to their natural environment,
and are found in comedy and realism.
Figures who are inferior in relation to other human beings and to their
natural environment belong to the fictional form of irony and are given a
low mimetic profile. These characters embody the fiction of satire and
exaggeration and the pathetic and the grotesque modes.
Relying on Aristotle’s mimetic principle, the mimetic
representation of reality is measured against the matrix of average men and
the natural reality of all men. Mid-low mimesis of natural humanity and its
environment becomes the matrix of the mimetic scale. The two ends of the
axis are myth of high mimesis and modes of low mimesis of humanity. The two
poles of the mimetic scale, high mimesis and low mimesis form bi-polar,
diametrical opposites. The extreme poles demarcate their dialectics on the
principle of the hyperbolic expansion of human characteristics. The degrees
of expansion of human characteristics create a scale of gradual elevation,
starting from mimetic representation of very low humanity to the highest
point of divination. Myth is conceived of as the exalting expansion of human
characteristics. Low mimetic representation on the other hand is encompassed
in the aspects of the low modes, seen in satire and the pathetic
The ironic modes can be equated with exaggeration of human characteristics
found in the mode of grotesque.
The mimetic model thus projects a hierarchical system of mimetic
elevation as well as a dialectical one: the highly elevated versus the
humiliated, the divine versus the earthly, the powerful versus the helpless,
etc. Crossing characteristics of different categories could imbue a
character with a new metaphorical aspect.
Transcending the limits of a category or shifting a characteristic from one
category to the next will infuse a character with the effects of
displacement, which charge a character with metaphoric complexity. Literary
displacement can be seen in a character of low mimesis with a hidden divine
quality, or a divine character with humanised characteristics belonging to a
category of mid or low mimesis.
Jews: a Consistent Mythical Form
mythical Jews became intrinsic to the Evangelists’ desire to establish
Christianity as a myth with a sacred origin. For this reason the discussion
of the their historical identity is futile. Whoever the real Jews of the New
Testament were, and in spite of what the historical Jews of the New
Testament were, the Evangelists created a myth out of them; the ‘mythical
Jews’. Here I see a ‘conspiracy’ of creating a fictional evil out of
an actual living people. In the Jews, the Evangelists recruited an archetype
of mythical evil recurrent and restricted to myths and legends. It is in
this that the secret power of the Evangelists’ bigotry against the Jews,
not in history and events but in the persistent structure of the myth. The
power of this bigotry is derived from a mimetic presentation of a living
subject, which is attached from verifiable reference to plausibility and to
events. A stereo type is a root of evil, as such.
The Evangelists forged a textual representation of Jews, which is more
powerful than a stereotype, as it is already a root of evil. They sailed
beyond the stereo type to reach the mythical and legendary archetype. As
much as the object of description was from the mid-low mimesis of reality
and naturalism, the targeted subject of its bigotry was an existing group,
well defined by its way of life, theology, clothing, dietary rules and
ethnic and national identity. Once the gap collapses between the fictional
object and the real one, this living object is destined to be dehumanised.
In this mimetic space, the cruelty of man to man is realised. As an
archetype, the term Jew became part of a metaphoric binary structure. The
Jew was materialised as a mimetic image of a myth on its own. According to
the principles Levi-Strauss proposes, the content of a myth may be
contingent; its structure remained persistent. This accounts for the fact
that the image of the Jews could be emptied of its contemporary content,
transposed from one context to another, from period to period, from one text
to another, from a religious context to a secular and social one; yet the
structure survived. The image could be actualised anew over and over again
by current contents in time, relocates a region, while retaining its deep
power. This witnesses to the fact that the Jews found themselves a target,
which was legitimised and actualised by so many different non-Jewish
communities in different periods.
in all its properties offers a multi-dimensional structure. The
multi-dimensionality of myth is rich in structure. This mythical structure
assisted Christianity in its effort to create a genealogy with an infallible
origin by the dialectics of negation. The dialectical dynamics of the myth
provided the new religion with an infallible thesis of an absolute identity
emerging from a struggle with its anti-thesis. This was materialised in a
demonised myth that empowered Christianity as the absolute and only truth as
the thesis of the dialectics. The mythical dialectics of opposition
synthesised the in-group of all the negative characteristics that their
anti-thesis was imbued with, leaving the positive pole as the sole
possession of the new religion. Emerging as the utter negation of humanity,
the mythical Jews provided the new religion with a perpetual external
danger. The presence of the real Jews was thus necessary in order to arouse
the in-group unanimity from within. The negative dialectics imposed on the
Jews elevated Christians with a power equal to its dialectic negation. As
with the principle of a swing, the heavier the other side is, the higher one
swings oneself; the higher one throws oneself upwards, the lower the other
sinks down below. For the existing group the mythical foe fortified the new
religion, perpetually renewing its identity by negation, while at the same
time camouflaging common characteristics that may associate the subject with
mythical figuration of the Jews derives its invincible power from the
expansion of human characteristics that covers the extreme of dialectics of
the mimetic scale and all its intermediary categories. This expansion
reaches for the two most distant poles of the mimetic matrix. One pole
encompasses high mimesis of myth attributed to divine forces. The other pole
homes in on the lowest mimesis of satire and pathetic modes focussing on
exaggeration and grotesque. All the same the image becomes a mixed metaphor
by drawing on the intermediary categories of mid-high of legends and
religious romance and mid mimesis of the epic. The depiction of the Jews
becomes a metaphoric complexity. In this metaphoric complexity,
dehumanisation is achieved by mixing the grotesque and exaggeration of low
mimesis with mythically high mimesis characterising cosmic forces. This
metaphoric complexity draws a scale of mimetic representations; on high
mimesis of myth, mid-high mimesis of legends and religious romance,
mid-mimesis of the epic, and the very low mimesis of negative satire and the
pathetic modes. The only category that the Jews can never function is on the
level of mid-low mimesis, that is the natural representation of homologous
Within the limitations of this article, Egyptian Mythology may serve
as an example. The cult of Seth offers an example of an all-round figure of
negation and ambiguity drawing his characteristics from high and low
mimesis. He is of divine origin as the offspring of Geb and Nut. In one
variant of his myths Seth mythifies fratricide and deicide. As a divine
power he murders and severs the body of his brother Osiris, a divinity
himself. In another version it is Horus or Re, the divinity of light and
resurrection, whom Seth opposes. His victory over his enemy Osiris includes
sexual mutilation, which thus endowed him with demonic sexual supremacy.
Isis, Osiris’ sister and wife, restores Osiris and rebuilds his mutilated
body. These myths are associated with winter rituals in which lament are
pronounced over its waste, and with cults of spring involving symbols of
resurrection. Ambiguously, Seth is also found in the mystery of sexual
degradation in which he loses his testicles. On the lowest mimesis, Seth
appears as an animal god, first as a canine and later associated with the
ass, pig and hippopotamus. The demonic level, combining low mimetic
exaggeration with divined power, presents another figuration of Seth. In
some texts depicting the cosmic struggle of Re the god of light for
supremacy, Seth ambiguously appears as the champion of the sun god in his
fight with the cosmic serpent demon of darkness Apophis. In other texts he
himself embodies Satanic power, a storm god or the powers of desert. He
eventually evolves into the personified power of Seth-Typhon, the demonic
monster that endangers cosmic order. On the mid-high mimesis of royal epics,
Seth plays a mysterious role in the rite of the ‘Baptism of Pharaoh’
connected with the initiation and purification of their coronation. On the
pathetic mode of low mimesis, he later embodies the sacrificial victim in
the mystery of the Baptism of Pharaoh, as a surrogate victim who reconciles
the parties. In these sacrificial rites Seth becomes a slain offering
equated with the defeated enemy. On this low mimetic level, Seth also
personifies foreign invaders such as the Assyrians and Persians.
On the high mimesis of myth, the image of the Jews functions on the
level of cosmological structure. By accusing the Jews of deicide,
the killing of a divinity, the Evangelists endowed the Jews with a power
equal to divinity. Only a divinity can harm another divinity. In this, the
Jews are mimetically expanded to empower the ancient intertexts of
archetypal killers recurrent in myths and legends of sacred genealogy. These
figures are recurrent in polytheistic cults, which personify life and nature
as a cycle of waste and resurrection and as a struggle between the
personified forces of nature. They are natural forces of destruction, death,
winter and darkness projected in images of highly mimetic figuration. Here
one finds that archetypal killers receive mimetic expansion according to the
mimetic elevation of their victims. Figures
like Osiris, Damuz and Adonis are divine personification of cosmic forces of
regeneration, life and resurrection. Like Seth, the enemies of such positive
divine figures must be elevated into high mimesis equal to that of their
divine victims. This archetypal pattern thus supports the personification of
the mythical Jews as a deciede, the killer of the gods.
the mid-high mimesis of legends and mid mimesis of the epic, the Jews figure
as the prophets’ killers. The figure intertextually derives its properties
from folk-tales and legends mixing epic elevation with the pathetic mode.
The victim is holy, pure and divinely blessed. His murder is morally
despicable and psychologically associated with the dark, uncontrollable
psyche and madness, all that the gods abhor. Parallel to cosmic myth, the
foe on the mid-mimesis of the epic represents an intrinsic threat to the
order and harmony of society, which prophets and men loyal to the law and
God represent. This can be recalled in permuted forms in legends about the
Maenads or Bacchae, or in a biblical story of Queen Isabel persecuting
God’s prophets (I Kings18:7). Related,
one finds on the low mimesis of negative satire and grotesque, figures of
social evil, disloyalty, and brotherly hatred. The Jews are said to have
persecuted their brothers the Christians, oppose all human beings and lethal
enemies of people and of God, (1Thes. 2:14-16). Paul propagates love of all
human being in 1Thes. 3:12 and, and equates love with knowledge of God
1Thes. 4:9, but manages to materialise the Jews as abjection of
The Lowest Mimesis
The lowest mimetic category embodies dehumanisation. Grotesque and exaggeration introduce the typology of negative satire and pathetic figuration. On the lowest mimesis one finds all characteristics in an expanded object loathsome to the subject, whose resemblance the subject objects to finding in himself. By negative exaggeration the human resemblance between subject and object is excluded in the eyes of the subject and eventually in the eyes of his object as well. By mimetic dialectics, the subject thereby elevates himself above his negated object. On the low mimetic form of satire and the pathetic form, the Jews are the persecutors of the helpless and the innocent victim. On this lowest mimetic figuration, base and grotesque human characteristics are attributed to the Jews to befit the mimetic level of their victim. The Jews call for the execution of the innocent, cry to have the blood of the innocent on themselves and their generations to come while asking to free a murderer (Math. 27:26). Low mimesis thus becomes a double-edged sword against the Jews. Low mimesis endowed the subject with all the properties that the non-subject is deprived of. The Christians are beloved by God, and are the innocent victims who are promised salvation. The Jews are despised by God and oppose all human beings. Mythical sin is intrinsic to their dehumanisation. They wish to fulfil their sins and withhold salvation from mankind (I Thes. 2:14-17).
The Jew as a Mixed Metaphor.
As metaphoric complexity, the image of the Jews becomes the mimetic
representation of the dark side and evil psyche of man closely associated
with and leading to the personification of the underworld. This can be seen
in the uncontrolled powers of madness and murder, as well as the personified
power of destructive nature seen in death and illness. These forces embody
all that is undesirable and fearful to men.
In crossing characteristics of extreme categories of human expansion,
that of high mimesis of deicides and the lowest of the grotesque and
loathsome human qualities, one finds demonic imagery. Demonically high
mimesis embodies apocalyptic myths and horror legends. Demonically high
mimesis complements the other pole, being the lowest mimesis of the
underworld reaching for satanic fantasy and the monstrous. In the
demonically high mimesis, one finds the cosmic hostile forces equal in
strength to the ruling divinity. The demonic and monstrous figuration is
materialised in the grotesque and loathsome images of the underworld crossed
with high mimesis of the supernatural in mythical thinking. It is the
anti-thesis in negative mirroring of the ruling divinity being the positive
thesis of life. The demonic enemy of the ruling divinity emerges through a
misplacement of mythical mimesis of divinity into the underworld world of
lowest mimesis of the underworld.
Hebrew Bible diminished diversionary personification of nature. The angel
Satan appears as an adversary of minor mimetic power who seldom appears in
the Hebrew text. Unlike
their subdued figuration in the Hebrew Bible, Satan and demons receive a
great mimetic empowerment in the New Testament (Luke 8:12, 27-33; Rev.
12:3). Expanded into a demonic power threatening the ruling divinity (John
8:42-45), the demonic evokes the dialectical structure of myth. The motif of
the Christians’ mythical genealogy reverses itself here.
Patrilineal genealogy, so vital in antiquity, is employed to claim
that Jesus’ line stems from a divine father, while that of the Jews stems
from Satan (John 8:44). Judaism is therefore a satanic cult; their house of
worship embodies the practices of Satan and the devil (Rev. 2:9, 3:9). By
the logic of the mythical dialectics, all this alludes that Christianity is
sanctified. In the demonisation of the Jews, the myth of the Jews was
transformed into a mixed metaphor. In this mixed metaphor, negation both on
the level of humanity and super-humanity becomes complementary and
attributive on the wide scale of mimetic elevation and degradation.
Paradoxically, the deep motivation behind myth is not as much to
prove the object’s inhumanity, as to establish the subject’s mythical
super-humanity. The mythical inhumanity of the object is an inverted mirror.
The dialectical structure of opposition is deployed here to establish the
subject, by negation of the other. In
this myth can be compared with politics, as Levi-Strauss suggests.
I will take this one step further to argue that myth can be compared with
political propaganda, for the message of both is pre-conceived. The
Christians are thus elevated into the realm of high mimesis, the holy, the
innocent, the pure, those who are fathered by the divine, as the Jews negate
all these. If Christianity can be summarised as x properties, Judaism must
be summarised in all that is minus-x properties. The dialectical structure
of a myth offers logic based on binary symmetry so as to force a resolution
outside plausibility, a resolution that would have otherwise been
inconceivable. The mythical binary opposition generates this final
resolution in its drawing on fictional symmetry. This symmetry is archetypal
and generated by mimesis. It is divorced from mid-low mimesis of the human
matrix, its natural laws of physics and humanity. For this reason, mythical
structure offers its power of symmetry, which irradiates logical thinking.
In John 8, the Christian Messiah combats mortality. To establish the
movement’s colonial ambitions, the only way to God is limited to the
Christian Messiah and is rewarded by immortality. This message had a
stronger appeal to a polytheistic audience, promising more than the old
religion from which it had emerged. Mosaic laws promised to its obedient
members long life and contentment of living
on earth (Deut. 5:17). The Hebrew Bible prescribes the dialectics of
peaceful and long life as opposed to a life of trouble, and the death
penalty as a part of its system of punishment and reward. Its’ laws
concentrated on the recognition of familiar humanity in the other.
Eventually, evolved by the dialectical structure, belief in Jesus promised
the cleansing of all human sins to reach immortality.
Disbelief in Jesus materialised sins and punishment in a single
breath. If belief in Jesus promised eternal life, disbelief meant blood
contamination, death and eternal damnation. The dialectical structure of
myth thus offers logic based on binary symmetry so as to force a resolution
outside plausibility, otherwise both inconceivable and implausible.
the highest and lowest categories of mimesis imply expansion of human
characteristics. Eventually, mimetic expansion of human characteristics
eradicates plausibility. Plausibility characterises mid-low mimesis of
naturalism, comedy and realism. We may recall the diagram: mid-low mimesis
classifies figures that are neither superior to other human beings,
nor to their natural environment. These are found in comedy and
realism. Mimetic expansion reaches for the two extreme poles of the mimetic
matrix. On the one end, the highest category for the sanctified and the
mythical is found. On the other end, one sees the lowest mimetic category
for the inferior, the loathsome and the damned.
For Early Christians, it was inconceivable and politically unwise, to
declare a strong group like the Romans their enemy. Moreover, the Romans
were also their prospective believers. This explains the reason why the
Romans came off so lightly. Paradoxically, the Romans were the ones who
officially banned the new religion, declared it an illegal practice
punishable by death, promptly executed its followers, and would as a rule
crucify any subject for the slightest disturbance of the general order, let
alone a leader of a popular movement. Mythical logic and surrogate violence
removed from the laws of plausibility could explain the emergence of the
Jews as Christianity’s archetypal enemies. Mythical logic made the Jews
the original enemy of the origin of Christianity not plausible logic.
Mimesis explains how the Jews became the original enemy of Christians, in
spite of the fact that an oppressed party who had lost practically any
political power with the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. It is
tragically ironical that the Jews who never crucified anyone nor ever asked
the Romans to crucify any Jew or gentile became the crucifying archetype.
All the same, the historical Pilatus was notorious for his murderous policy
in Judea and decorated its landscape with human crosses. He was to be
removed from office by Rome for these excesses. Nevertheless, as a mimetic
figure he became an archetype of the merciful Roman. The actual historical
involvement of the Jews in the history of Jesus remains enigmatic. As
enigmatic is of Jewish persecution of Christians under a tight Roman regime;
with what power? So is the arrest of a detainee in the middle of the night
instead of in daytime and without two lawful witnesses for the prosecutor,
both of which are against Jewish law. Ambiguously, the Evangelist texts bear
witness to the fact that synagogues were open podiums for wandering
preachers, random speakers and popular healers (Mark.1:21, 39; Luke. 31-38).
As for the Jewish persecution or even irreconcilable hostility between
Jewish fractions and Early Christians. In Palestine of 66 A.D. Christian
Jews fought together against the Romans alongside Jews of all fractions for
life or death and for the same ideals 
and Expansion of Human Characteristics
on characteristics of the binary poles of mimesis; the mythical, the
demonic, the grotesque and the pathetic, the Jews were endowed with mimetic
power that they could never plausibly have had in reality nor ever asked for
as human beings or as a religious group. Like the woman in the film The Attack of the 50f Woman, the New Testament endowed Jews with
mimetic power they never had, and had their human characteristics expanded
both beyond and below the mimetic matrix of their human nature. Like the
fictional woman of this film, the mimetic expansion of the image answers the
needs and fears of the community and not those of the woman herself. However
as the fictional expansion gains its momentum, the human woman bodies forth
inhumanity. As she appears inhumanly distended in the eyes of the beholder,
she becomes a doomed target of inhumanity. The executioner uses mimesis to
erase his human empathy with his victim. His mythical victim endowed him
with superior humanity. The execution of the victim ‘elevates’ the
executioner above the sin of inhumanity towards the victim. As the victim is
mythified and turns into a target, he is found unqualified for humanity. The
subject is dependent on his negated object for his dialectical identity,
although the object need not be dependent on his negating subject. The
negated object however may become a passive or willing partner in the
interdependent dialectics of binary identities. On entering the mimetic
vicious circle, the victim himself may sway between the poles of expansion
of human characteristics – that of the lowest and highest mimesis.
The Surrogate Victim
mythical Jew evokes the cultic rites revolving around the surrogate victim
recurrent in primitive societies.
The Jews as a mythical archetype, can be seen as a metonym of the
surrogate victim. As a surrogate victim, the Jews must represent a
terrifying mimetic reality and embody the entire spectrum of hostile
properties, which the subject is afraid of finding in himself. All the same
the victimised object shares human characteristics so as to trigger horror
and pity, which is intrinsic to catharsis. This is an ambiguous catharsis
– strong enough to release fears, yet so arbitrary that no compassion
could disturb it. The surrogate
victim must embody the transgression of all that the community holds sacred.
On the one hand, the surrogate is alienated enough from the in-group so that
it can vent its aggression in a way that averts in-group violence against
one another. On the other hand,
the surrogate must be part of the world of values of that group so as to
validate the transgressor’s values and embody the transgressor. The
surrogate inverts upon himself the in-group negative properties and faults,
purifying it from its ‘sins’. As a part of society, the surrogate victim
can pose for its negative pole. He can thus camouflage the violence directed
towards him as a justified act of elimination. Yet at the same time, the
surrogate victim must be powerless in order to eliminate the possibility of
reciprocal violence, if he has the means to resist. The victim’s innocence
thus aids the process of catharsis. This endowed the surrogate victim with
the lowest mimesis of the pathetic mode. The surrogate victim camouflages
the truth from the community about its violent tendencies. The mythical
surrogate functions in a way similar to the cultic surrogate victim, which
was so deeply imbedded in mythical cults. Ironically the Jews became the
displaced subjects of such mythical concepts which they feared as the evil
root of inhumanity. I would transpose Levi-Strauss epitomising mythical
thinking in Le Cru et le Cuit,
quoted above by saying that it is how Christians think out Anti-Semitism,
and how mythical Jews think themselves out in Christians and without their
The Summer of 1942;The Converted Jews
third party in the history of was the group of converted Jews. All three
parties were in need of a surrogate. The Nazis 2 August 1942 deployed the
converted Jews as their surrogate victims to divert the attention of the
Churches away from Jews who had been deported. They thereby shifted the
focus away from the atrocity of Jewish deportation and laid the
responsibility on the Churches who, the Nazis claimed, had not kept their
end of the bargain. Meanwhile this served to camouflage the dubious morality
of the bargain between the Churches and the Nazis. The Churches were
ambiguously satisfied with saving their converted Jews and equipped the mass
of the deported Jews with an apostate message of Christian supremacy. The
policy of the Dutch Churches was thus as discriminatory and defaming as that
of the Nazis. The Dutch Churches seemed to save their good face in
expressing their dismay at the hostile acts against the Jews. They were in
fact using it to enhance their policy of conversion and replacement in
leaving it to providence and to the Nazis to send out their Christian
historical message to the victimised Jews: ‘Christianity or death’. They
merely verbalised more subtly. .
the Converted Jews placed themselves as the Jewish people’s surrogate and
sacrificial victim, believing in the atonement present in conversion into
Christianity. In a
self-alienated psychology, they may perhaps have believed that in denying
their faith and eliminating those differences which separated the community,
hey were inspiring tolerance for the Jews. The converted Jews were made to
appear as the antithesis of the Jewish people to themselves as well as to
the Churches. In adopting Christianity, they too seemed to have absorbed the
policy of replacement and defamation of the Jews. The converted Jews thus
adapted Church policy as an integral part of their own Jewish identity. In
their conversion they saw themselves as the forerunners of the only true
redemption for the Jews. Their calls to their families and people to see the
true light in Christianity, proved that they had fully accepted this Church
conflict between the Church and the Nazis cost the converted Jews their
lives. Hence not the Jews were the ones to paint the innocent victim; for
they were the transgressors. Converted Jews became the innocent sacrifice
instead. The Christian Jews became the repented element of the defamed
group, the non-Christian Jews. The converts therefore, were to be elevated
to the position of the murdered innocent. However the converted Jews agreed
to play the role of the sacrificial victim as an after-thought and a lip
service. None of the converted Jews deported ever willingly intended to join
their families and people in the deportations which were planned and which
by then was known to the entire Dutch society, both religious and secular.
Edith Stein personally received a letter from the Bishop of Roermond dr. J.H.
G. Lemmens reassuring her of her safety and that of her sister concerning
the coming of the great deportation of the Jews.
For the Church, the Jewish converts were messianic victims, expiating the
sins of the disbelieving Jewish people, as the sermon of 1947 in their
memory witness. Were these Jewish nuns and Edith Stein among them,
conscientious martyrs or tragically split souls who sought sanctity in the
Church away from the lot of the Jewish people? They were indeed sacrificed
for their people as a result of the Church’s sympathy for the Jews.
Did this however sanctify them as holy martyrs, or were they
accidental heroes and arbitrary victims?
Were those Jewish nuns innocent victims?
Did they not, in their preaching of an exclusive Utopia, and by
qualifying their victimisation as atonement for the sins of the unbelieving
Jews, incite intolerance towards the Jews? Did they not deny the right of
the Jewish people to their own beliefs, did they not project defamatory
policy against the persecuted?
Text and Personality
the following, I will show insights into Edith Stein’s texts by posing the
question: what the power of historical anti-Jewish discrimination and its
hostile texts would be when inverted within the individual soul of a
persecuted, defamed and threatened group.
dealing with a person, who is no longer alive, we are left with texts they
have written as well as texts that have been written about them. Therefore
in this analysis, the personality in question will be dealt with as a text.
This means applying the same method of intertextuality for a text and for
the individual behind it. I do not imply that people are texts, but rather
that texts are people. Thus both a text and a personality can be perceived
as a field of tension. Both personality and text
relativise meanings through interplay of systems. Both text and
personality form a dialogue with the literary corpus of preceding texts.
Like a text, a personality relativises its meaning by external
intertextuality as well as by internal interrelationships. These
relationships show the manner a personality posits history, culture and
society in its tissues on the one hand, and how a personality itself may be
placed in culture, history and society. Like a text, personality is
perceived as a field of tension in which systems and bits of other
people’s individuality enter into a dialogue of transposition, imitation,
contestation and neutralisation. Thus a personality is conceived as a
production of inter-individual dialogue continuously recreating its field in
its relation to other personalities on the one hand, and to society,
culture, history and inter-individual entities like family and community,
Church and Synagogue, on the other hand.
A personality in analysis can be thus seen as an inter-individual
field. A personality as an inter-individual field enters into relationships
of dialogic imagination with other personalities who themselves embody
similar inter-individual fields. As an inter-individual field of tension, a
personality enters into relationships of contestation, imitation,
neutralisation transposition, and reconstruction of systems lent from other
fields, in the form of live personalities or texts. Such experiences can be
divided accordingly into experiences with one’s collective heritage such
as culture, society, collective memory, religion, and literary heritage, and
on the other, experiences of inter-individual and close environment
character. The collective factor can be seen in the family unit, circle of
friends, school and community. The exposure to collective heritage forges a
personality, with no less force than inter-individual experiences.
collective and inter-individual experiences transect one another.
Experiences of collective character like religion, collective memory,
culture, social politics are therefore transmitted through the family unit
and inter-personal relationships. All the same these factors may form and
change family units and inter-individual experiences. A personality like a
text hereby becomes an intersection, a field of tension in which systems
clash and cross one another, the collective and the individual meet, while
being a surface of transposed elements. Similar to external intertextuality,
a personality as an inter-individual field enters into a reciprocal
relationship with history, culture, and society. Vice versa, these factors
also enter into relationships with a personality. This explains the
assumption that relationships can be seen in the way that a personality
places itself in society, culture and history and vice versa by the way a
personality places society, culture and society in his/her life. In this
analysis, inter-individual relationships and collective factors thus cross
one another. One can claim with this approach that a religion conversion is
an inter-individual matter. A conversion thus interrelates a biography and a
family story with a community history, collective heritage, culture,
socio-history, as well as the history of the interrelationship of two
religions caught between the contemporary politics and their past history.
Edith Stein; Biographical details
on 12 October 1891 in Breslau to a Jewish middle-class orthodox family,
Edith Stein adapted the German Jewish liberal way of life. 1913 she entered
the University of Gottingen and became a Doctor of Philosophy in 1916 with a
dissertation on empathy. In WW.I she enlisted as a volunteer nurse.
Unsatisfied with her university post she left it in 1918. Another post for a
woman and a Jew was probably hard to find. She chose to convert to
Catholicism in 1921 and baptised in January 1, 1922. Hereafter, Edith Stein
gave lectures throughout Europe advocating the participation of women in
society meriting their power of empathy and ‘spiritual maternity’.
Her main works include On Empathy,
The Woman, Act and Potency, Finite and Eternal Being, an autobiography; The Jewish Family; a translation of St. Thomas Aquinas’ De
Vertitate; the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas; Husserl’s Phenomenology; and
her last work on the 16th century Carmelite Spanish mystic John of the
Cross, The Science of the Cross.
In her autobiographical work The Jewish
Family, Edith Stein aimed at educating the masses brain-washed with
hatred of Jews. By describing her family life she hoped to bring about a
more human image of Jews, and thereby promote tolerance towards them. In
relation to her time, her work was progressive and feminist. From 1928-1932
her lectures throughout Europe gave her the title ‘the voice of Catholic
Twenty-five days after Hitler came to power on 30 January 1933; Edith
Stein gave her final lecture on 25 February 1933. The German
Institute for Scientific Pedagogy that had invited her the year before
found her ‘Jewish’ presence an embarrassment. In the course of one month
in 1933 Edith Stein’s life style changed from one extreme to the other. In
April 1933, she prophetically tried to persuade Pope Pious XI to issue an
encyclical condemnation of Nazi-Anti-Semitism, but was denied admission.
However her letter to the Pope was delivered and he responded by sending her
his blessings for herself and her family.
At the end of this month, April 1933, in the face of rising fascism
and obstinate silence on the part of the Church she believed in and had
worked so hard for, Edith Stein sought sanctuary in contemplative mysticism;
she chose religious seclusion and became a Carmelite novice. This was
preceded by thirteen straight hours of prayer and soul searching. With the
exception of her sister who followed her example and converted in 1936, she
paid for this step with alienation from her immediate family and relatives. 
After the Kristallnacht, 9
November 1938, resulting in the deportation of some forty thousand German
Jews, Edith Stein fled to a Carmelite convent in Echt, Holland. She was to
live there from 31 December 1938 to 2 August 1942, the day of her arrest.
The Germans invaded Holland on 10 May 1940. Edith’s sister joined her in
the convent at Echt. By 1941 both of them had to wear the ‘Yellow Star of
David’ badge like the rest of the Jews in Holland. They applied for
admission to a convent in Switzerland, which remained neutral throughout the
War. Appeals to the Swiss
consulate at The Hague bore no fruit.
On 2 August 1942, Edith Stein and her sister were arrested at the
convent in Echt. On her arrest,
it was said that Edith Stein was overheard saying to her sister, ‘Now let
us go, we go for our people’.
The source however has never been identified. At Westerbork, the Dutch
concentration camp where Jewish detainees were first brought, her attitude
towards the other prisoners was said to have been angelic. Edith Stein and
her sister Rosa were transported to Auschwitz a few days later. During the
train voyage, she sent messages on pieces of paper asking people to contact
her Carmelite Order in Echt to have her sister and herself removed from the
transport and across the border. Upon arrival in Auschwitz on 9 August 1942
she was probably led directly to the gas chambers. Edith Stein was beatified
in May 1987 by Pope John Paul II as a Christian martyr and a Jewish victim
of the Holocaust. On 12 October 1998, Pope John Paul II elevated Edith Stein
The Jewish Woman: Socio-cultural background
Stein belonged to a generation of women at the beginning of this century,
who aspired to open up the exclusiveness of their Jewish family and
community. These women tried to reach for a more open world for themselves,
the Jewish people, Jewish women and perhaps for women in general. Their
ideals were motivated by visions of a better future.
Their ideas, visions and ways were different; making choices among
learning, social reformism, revolutionary communism, idealist Anarchism,
Zionism, liberal Judaism, and secular Judaism. Many chose assimilation and
conversion for reasons which were socio-cultural and very often economic.
Examples of such Jewish activists are women like Emma Goldman, Bertha
Pappenheim, Rosa Luxemburg, Golda Meir, and Henrrieta Szold. These women
changed the face of the Jewish womanhood of the twentieth century. Emma
Goldman, 1869-1940, a writer and a publicist, chose revolutionary anarchism
and communism. She lashed out at the immorality, corruption and hypocrisy of
capitalist American society in her series of lectures ‘Mother Earth’
given between 1906-1918. She became an outspoken advocate of birth control
before WWI, which caused a stir at the time, and openly opposed the War. All
this eventually which led to her imprisonment and deportation to Communist
Russia in 1919. Her criticism of communist Russia found expression in her
books My disillusions in
Russia,1923-1924. She fled the Russia in 1921.
Berta Pappenheim, during her youth, became the famous mental patient
epitomised by Freud as Anna O, which made her a classical case of female
hysteria. On her recovery she became a writer on the issue of the Jewish
Woman, and translated such Yiddish literature for the German public as the
diary of Gluckl of Hameln, a 17th
century Jewish woman; the Mayse Bukh, a
compilation of medieval folk tales and the ZennahRenna,
a compilation of rabbinical commentary and folk tales around the Bible
written for women, simple folk and children.
Berta Pappenheim founded Care
by Women in 1902 and the Jewish German Feminist organisation the Judischer
Frauenbund in 1904, which had 50,000 members in 1929. The German
Jewish Bond with Pappenheim as its chair-person fought women’s
poverty, white slave trafficking and Jewish prostitution. To promote these
goals she founded women’s shelters and centres of education, training and
work. She consciously aspired to meet conversion by spreading Jewish
knowledge. The Jewish German Bond worked hand in hand with the German
feminist movement on parallel goals like equal rights and opportunities for
women, until the rise of the Nazi movement from which the German feminists
refused to dissociate.
Henrietta Szold, 1860-1945, a Hungarian immigrant to the USA, chose
scholarship and Zionism as her road to emancipation and reform. She became
the first female student of a Jewish Theological Seminary in 1903 in New
York. Although she was not ordained as a rabbi like her male peers, she
assisted her professor Louis Ginzberg in his famous compilation and
translation of a six volume study of
The Legends of the Jewish People. Eventually she became a scholar and an
editor in the field of Judaica. On the political level she founded the
Zionist Women’s organisation Haddassa
which is still active today. In 1919, she was in charge of the Zionist
Educational branch and propaganda. Since 1920 she was active in Israel as
the head of the Hadassa medical
organisation and was later to hold the World Zionist welfare portfolio. With
the rise of the Nazi regime and during WWII, Henrietta Szold became the
mother of thousands of displaced European youth.
This short list could also include Golda Meirson, a Russian immigrant who
came to America as a young girl, a feminist and Zionist who later as Golda
Meir became Ben-Gorion’s second hand. She was a prominent figure in
establishing a homeland for the Jewish people and dealt with the problems
associated with it including successive wars, holding such prominent posts
as foreign minister and prime minister.
Since the 19th century, Haskala
(Jewish enlightenment) and the reform movement gradually opened the doors
for women’s participation in editing, learning, teaching, theatre,
writing, and participation in communal and religious life. In 1846 the
conference of German reform rabbis officially decided on the implementation
of equal religious rights and participation for women. Half a century later
women like Aleta Jacobs, one of the first Jewish women doctors in Europe and
the first one in Holland, and Latha Cullen chose to realise the changes in
the Jewish community by working within the system.
Conversion, Edith Stein’s choice in 1922, was an alternative taken
by other Jewish women especially among West European Jews since the
enlightenment. It was partly the result of inter-marriage, job opportunities
otherwise barred by anti-Semitism, and partly was accounted for by
socio-psychological, socio-cultural and political factors. In this my
analysis moves from the motivation for conversion to the reality of
conversion as an inter-individual phenomenon.
Self Alienation and self-devaluation of Minority Groups
his book The Jewish Mind on the history of Jewish spirituality, Raphael Patai
treats Jewish conversion, which was common among Western Jews since the
enlightenment, as part of a socio-historical and socio-cultural phenomenon. 
Paradoxically, earlier periods, with minor exceptions had seen Jews
holding to their identity in the face of oppression and persecution, except
for forced conversion. The enlightenment and emancipation of Western Jewry
exposed the Jewish community to an open society the culture of which some
perceived as higher and superior than their own.
A phenomenon characteristic of Western-European Jews,
self-alienation, affected the Jew of the new and open society who sought
integration. This was not common among either the oppressed Jews of Eastern
Europe, the Middle East or all the same the West European Jews of earlier
periods. To some enlightened Jews of the open society, their Jewish heritage
was perceived as inferior in the face of the Gentile culture. Others have
transposed contemporary ideas into a Jewish context and aspired to bring
changes from within their Jewish structure. Raphael Patai sees in
self-alienation a characteristic of minority members who feel overwhelmed by
a majority group, basing this on the Kurt Lewin’s research on low-status
According to the Lewinian rule, conversion alludes that as members of a
minority adapt the values of a high-status majority, in their over-eagerness
to be accepted, they may inherit the negative stereotype that the
high-status majority projected on their own minority group. As acceptance is
barred to the newly assimilated, frustration turns into self-hatred, while
aversion and contempt are directed at their own group. This hostility can
not be aimed at the dominating majority, which has become the desired target
and had been idealised. Anti-Semitism and social disillusion estranged
converts and assimilated Jews from the new circles to which they try to
attain, while bridges to the old world had been burnt behind them.
Self-alienation made them look for the negative in their own collective
heritage in the form of self-contempt and self-hate. Jewish negative
stereotypes tragically turned into a negative self-image. Here one meets
anti-Semitism in an inverted form. Raphael Patai mentions the German Jewish
philosopher Otto Weininger as an example of Jewish self-hate. In his book Geschlecht
und Character from 1902, Weininger advocates misogyny and anti-Semitism
in the same breath. In his book Weininger claims that femininity was
embodied in the Jew. Both the woman and the Jew materialise as the
non-being. Non-being and femininity is a projection of man’s lower self
and his negative shadow. Maleness on the other hand materialises the
optimistic and active aspiration to strive and embodies the noble, moral and
eternal being. All this is perceivable in the Aryan man, neither in women
nor in Jews. Baptised in 1902, Otto Weininger committed suicide a few months
later in 1903.
Edith Stein; an Inter-individual Field of Tension
Edith Stein’s initial collective heritage and inter-individual environment
one can see the traditional Jewish home in which she grew up. As a young
woman, the German society and the intellectual society of the German
University became her next homes, first as a nurse then as a student. The
gentile society thus formed her new field of inter-individual relationships.
As in a home environment, here too she entered into reciprocal relationships
of contestation, imitation and neutralisation. Equal to her former home
environment, this one was therefore inter-individual as well as collective.
Here she found the spiritual father and perhaps the father she had lost at
the age of two in Professor Husserl.
He was a Jewish convert as were other colleagues and followers of
Husserl’s, including Professor Scheler and Professor Reinach, who died in
WWI. His wife, a Jewish convert like her husband, was admired by Edith
Stein’s for being able to find strength in Jesus at the loss of her
Like other Jews of her circle and her ideal, Prof. Husserl Edith Stein
converted to Christianity, as she became part of that society.
A covert can be seen as a hybrid case, combining knowledge of both
communities. Jewish converts like Edith Stein inherited from both cultures
the heritage and collective memories of both communities. She thereby also
probably inherited most of the intolerance, prejudice and sense of guilt and
accusations that both faiths had accumulated throughout history, whether
false or true. In the convert, one may detect the intersection and
transposition of the legacy of messianic redemption, utopian dreams and
hope. The same legacy also harboured its negative inversion of apocalyptic
judgement, bigotry and exclusive worldview, which converts projected on
their old group
What transposed forms do we find in Edith Stein’s texts, both her own and those written about her? In these forms, what recurrent elements can we find of the religious disputation, adaptation and similarities between the two cultures? What relationships do these texts form with contemporary society, history, socio-culture and the Jewish and Christian religions? How universal is Edith Stein’s worldview and how exclusive is her messianism ?
Converts and Jews; Inverted Anti-Semitism?
their history, Jews imposed upon themselves a collective guilt of
imperfection, not as an original sin but as a primordial responsibility.
They viewed the collective imperfection of their community and that of the
world as the cause of the suffering in the world and theirs in particular.
They strove by good deeds and through their loyalty to their Judaism to
correct imperfect state and bring about its divinely designed perfection,
which will signal the coming of the messianic age. The accomplishment of
this utopian perfection, the Tikkun Olam, became their messianic and utopian hope.
This theosophical perception allowed the Jews to perceive their harsh ordeal
throughout history as the redemptive suffering of messianic expectations.
Their successive persecution at the hand of other nations was explained as
messianic pangs like the labour of women’s pregnancy. Jewish suffering was
thus seen by them as deferred gratification before the promised bliss. This
allowed the Jews to accept their God with love and devotion and believe in
His love and devotion to them. Jewish collective oppression and persecution were
thereby subjectivised. This subjectivisation was
based upon a belief in a sympathetic relationship between their divinity
of a high mimetic realm and their harsh reality of very low mimesis.
Christian texts objectified Jewish persecution. In a vicious circle,
persecution was carried out against the Jews and perceived as retaliation
for their sins of disbelief in the Messiah and deicide.
Accusations must however be validated by a body of laws and concepts
of outlawry commonly and mutually agreed to by the parties concerned as
being such, so as to be accepted as guilt. Converts like Edith Stein saw
their conversion as atonement for Jewish disbelief in and sin against the
Christian Messiah. Here the converts ambiguously forge a hybrid mind. The
collective guilt that Christian Jews imposed upon themselves and on their
former group was borrowed from the creeds of guilt and sin of an alienated
group. The convert’s adaptation of this collective guilt was reinforced by
the negative image that the bigotry of the other group entailed, now
inverted as they agreed to atone for it as Jewish converts.
In her texts, Edith Stein enlivens Jewish texts with a Christian
interpretation attached. As the world escalated into mass destruction and
genocide, Edith Stein was roused to feel a sense of a metaphysical mission
to promote World Peace by preparing herself for the offer of life. I quote
from her writing left in her cell. Here she described life as a
‘sacrificial expiation for the sake of true peace: and that the
Anti-Christ’s sway may be broken without another world war and that the
new order will be established’.
The coming of the messiah during a time of peace is based on Jewish
In these texts, she compares herself to Queen Esther and God to the Persian
King to with whom she should plead for the salvation of her people.
Edith Stein’s texts bear witness to the fact that she balanced on
the ambiguous borderline between being one with the prosecuted Jews,
identifying with their suffering, and denouncing them, thereby indirectly
justifying Jewish victimisation. She seemed to sway between the safe
majority of the gentile community, which she categorically joined for
whatever reasons, and the exposed Jewish minority. In her prayers to Christ
for the salvation of European Jews, Edith Stein draws on biblical texts to
picture herself as a transformation of Queen Esther.
Empowered with the strength of the biblical figure, she felt she
could plead for the rescue of her people who were faced with the prospect of
persecution and extermination like the Persian Jews. These texts show a
split personality torn between contradictions: ’I spoke to our Saviour and
told Him that I knew that it was His cross which now being laid on the
Jewish people. Most of them did not understand it; but those who did
understand must accept it willingly in the name of all’. Here I detect the self-alienated psychology of an
assimilated member of a low-status minority adapting the negative concepts
of the predominant majority. Interrelation between the fascist persecution
and Christ’s passion may be metaphysically acceptable within Christian
concepts. It is however alien and radically hostile to the worldview of
Jews. The Jewish belief deals with concepts, which do not include Christ the
Messiah nor Christ’s sacrifice of life. Christian accusations of disbelief
in Christ as the Messiah and that of His crucifixion and deicide,
killing of a divinity, were
never validated by the Jews. Moreover, historically Jews have seen these
Christian creeds as the evil root of Anti-Semitism and Jewish persecution
throughout their common history. Asking
Jews to willingly accept their suffering and persecution as an embodiment of
Christ’s passion would be perceived by Jews as the hypocritical sarcasm of
converts condoling and even justifying Jewish oppression and mass murder for
these very non-Jewish creeds. A later period of the Nazi era still speaks
for the ambiguous state of Edith Stein’s mind. These notes and writings
found in her cell after her deportation indeed recall her agony witnessing
the suffering of her people. She transcends her sympathy for their suffering
into a readiness to offer herself for the sake of a utopian peace. In these
writings, Edith Stein felt she was offering herself: ‘as a sacrificial
expiation for the sake of true peace: that the Antichrist’s sway may be
broken, if possible without another world war, and that a new order may be
While foregoing the actual opportunity to join the Jews out of her free will
when deported, her sacrificial spirit was not only hypothetical but also
conditional and discriminatory. Stein’s messianism was exclusive,
supposedly to counter-balance ‘the sins of the unbelieving Jewish
Her text evokes Christian polemic in its search for ontological identity by
negation and devaluation of the mimetic Other, namely the mythical Jews. In
this the evocation of the historically defaming Christian heritage, one
detects the schizophrenic psyche of the convert. Her self-sacrificial
consciousness in imitation of her Saviour was an expiatory atonement for
Jews ‘at fault’, who were thus qualified as both lethal and doomed
transgressors, the way Christian texts had defined them since the New
Testament. Her missionary readiness for self-sacrifice embodies ambiguously
a Jewish mind and a Christian one, and neither at the same time.
Hers is a Jewish mind ready to atone for the ‘sins of the
unbelieving Jewish people’, for a Christian soul need not atone for Jewish
sins. All this makes her, paradoxically but categorically from a Jewish
viewpoint, these texts give vent to nothing but anti-Jewish Christianity
Therefore for whom can she be considered Jewish but for Christians; and what
kind of a Jew?
the Churches, Edith Stein professes Christian empathy for the Jewish
victimisation while qualifying the Jewish victims as transgressors and their
lot as an Evangelically predetermined ordeal. Her empathy is camouflaged by
the self-sacrificial mind of an apostate. Edith Stein does not only distance
herself from her ethnic group, but also points a denouncing finger at her
own people when victimised, deported and murdered. In this, converts and
Churches that professed support for the Jews converts, while denying them
the right to their Jewish identity. In asking the persecuted party to accept
and understand their prosecution at the hand of the Nazis as an expiating
predicament, converts and Churches turned the tables, turning the victim
into an active party. The
persecuted party was however the one acted out upon by the persecutor under
arbitrary circumstances, which were determined by the latter not by the
former. Denouncing a victim is an indirect way of shifting the blame from
the victimiser onto the victim. In this one searches for an answer to an
infliction within the weak party who had no choice in the matter.
In this light Edith Stein’s writings seem to have a sinister and
threatening tone. What is the deep structure of her message in her
poem ‘Sentenzen im Monat Juni
1940’: ‘They have for Thy tender knocking no ears, / Thus Thou had
to strike with the heavy hammer, /After a long night dawn will break into
day,/ In heavy labour Thy
Kingdom shall be born’These writings
qualify the Christian world view as an exclusive projection on
‘non-Christians’, her former ethnic group. In Edith Stein’s messianic
texts, the professed Christian Utopia can thus be perceived as an
anti-utopia. These utopian ideas become exclusive and discriminatory,
harbouring intolerance for diversity as well as an ambition for power and
Jewish collective memory would be bitterly aroused by texts like
those of Edith Stein, the Bishop’s sermon of 26 July 1942 and that of 1947
in the memory of the Dutch converts. Throughout Jewish history, anti-Jewish
Christian believers and converts who collaborated with them forged
anti-Jewish mock trials, ritual-murder accusations, charges of sorcery,
host-desecration libels, Talmud burning and ‘religious disputations’. In
the latter, Jews were condemned to death if their arguments proved them
right and endangered their communities with the threat of forced baptism if
they proved wrong.
Besides her sister Rosa, seven Jewish nuns were rounded up from
monasteries with Edith Stein. None of these religious women went willingly
to join their Jewish families and people during this period of arbitrary
deportation and persecution. While sheltering in convents, none tried to
hide, assist or save even one Jewish child. Other Christians and atheists in
monasteries and private homes did help the Jews. In their accusative
expiation, did they not become part of the general conspiracy against the
Jews in the Holocaust? For its realisation was made possible by those who
carried it out, as well as by others who supported, rationalised, condoled,
denied, and justified it on any ground, political or religious.
6.1. Ego Ideals and the Psyche
ego ideals internalised by Edith Stein bear witness to a divided self as a
human being, as a member of an ethnic group who stepped over into another
religion and perhaps as a woman as well.
On the one hand, her ego ideals are divided between divine images and
homologous ones; and between feminine divine imagery and masculine imagery
on the other.
On the level of transcending images of high mimesis, the masculine
figure of the divine Son becomes Edith Stein’s idea of human co-redemption
Christ emerges as her ego ideal of the mystical union between man’s soul
and the divine the way Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, her ideal role
models, posit Him. In this mystical union, human subjective limits are
transgressed by the divine. The divine ego is a centralising power that transcends
her sense of ontological self, and at the same time she feels she
decentralises herself before the divine. In Edith Stein unio-mysticism is
embodied in her belief in a total offer of personal life as part of
universal redemption being a mimetic imitation of the divine offer of life,
like that of Christ. Her imitatio dei devaluates her being to the point of self-destruction.
She felt she was offering herself: ‘as a sacrificial expiation’.
Her self-sacrifice for universal peace is mimetically equated with
Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of mankind, thereby making her offer of
life transcend to the level of an expiatory act for the sake of a new
world-order. In the texts quoted above, Christ appears as a heavenly
confessor to whom Edith Stein confines her fears and confesses her soul’s
secrets. Christ becomes an ego ideal, overseer of the self and a superior
inner voice. As an ego ideal of the self, when elevated to high-mimesis, His
suffering diminishes hers. Her pain and fear of death become a sanctified
offer to enhance His salvation of the world. In this, Christ embodies the
divine husband and father who owns both her sexuality and living body and
soul. This ego ideal connects Christ to archaic divine images, who claim
human sacrifice in self-inflicted pain, death and sexuality. God the Father
too becomes the phantasmic archaic paternal divinity who is satisfied only
with the blood of a living sacrifice. The victim must be found at fault or
one has to find fault in divinity. For this reason, the fall of humans
complements God’s infallibility. Could that Divinity create an imperfect
world in which unjust pain is inflicted on the innocent, and could that
Divinity inflicts unjust pain on the innocent? This thought is unbearable
for some believers. God is grasped here as ‘Deus ex machina’ -- a divine
image that engineers changes in reality and performs actual miracles to save
victims. ‘I am poor helpless little Esther, but the King I was chosen by,
he is infinitely great and merciful’. In her personal prayers she
professes ‘a confidence in the fact that the Lord has taken my life in
exchange for all (the Jews)’ .
With that frame of mind, what happened in Edith Stein’s soul as she saw
that her divine ego ideal failed to save victims? The image of divinity
seems to take the form of an archetypal oedipal Father. She cannot withdraw
her belief in His infallibility or in His almighty power to engineer events
of reality. Fear of criticising Him is deeply rooted. Therefore as the
believer cannot find fault in God. Events are in His hand and not in that of
human beings. Therefore a believer must find fault in the victim, and the
righteous must atone for both persecutor and his victim in predicament.
God the Son ambiguously embodies a masculine judge rather than an
entity generating universal compassion, or even understanding.
Paradoxically, this universal love must be attained by means of the
destruction of the atoning victim. On the level of divine-metaphors, the
suffering of the Other, the Jews in this case, allegedly becomes the
imitation of His redemptive sacrifice on the cross. His suffering is a
sacrifice to be fulfilled and a mystical passion to be understood by the
Jews as an example to be followed. Whether the Jews understand it as such is
beside the point for Edith Stein. When it concerns the Jews, her former and
yet her contemporary ethnic identity, Edith Stein shows a Self divided
between alienation on the one hand and amatory identification with the Other
on the other hand. She relates
to the suffering of the Jews, and at the same time the Jews become a
metaphor of abjection. The abject Jew symbolises the frightening borderline
of enunciation between the Self of the convert and the Self of the apostate
committed to Christianity. One Self is the ‘I’ persona whose Jewish
identity is archaic, ethnic and biographical. The other has accumulated a
Christian identity built upon Christian polemics of the negation of Jews and
Judaism. The Jews thus symbolise a borderline between on the one hand the
mimetic power of mythical evil that victimises both divinity and humanity,
and on the other, the surrogate victim who must atone for a mythical fault.
Fear of criticising a divine oedipal image of high mimesis and fear of
separation from His blessed community and from His grace therefore overrules
sympathy for the Jews. Denunciation of the ‘Other’ serves as a surrogate
for fear. Finding fault in the victim gets God off the hook and keeps the
convert within the Christian flank.
a messianic victim who believed that her sacrifice might move the world
closer towards a utopian order, Edith Stein’s feminine ego ideals evoke a
spectrum feminine images: a messianic Saviour, a prophetess, an accuser and
a judge. Here too, Edith Stein’s mind fashions a hybrid of two cultures.
On the mythical level of high mimesis, one finds divine motherly
protection appearing as a revelation of personal light. This allusion
intertextually evokes the Jewish Shekhina,
the empowerment of the feminine aspect of God recurring in the form of light
scattered into each soul.
In her poem ‘White Sunday’ from 1942 she identifies the divine light
with a motherly hand which leads a beloved child:
Where are you, sweet light that fulfilled me
And my heart’s darkness lightened up?
You led me like a mother’s hand
And let go of me,
that I knew not how to set a step further
The motherly hand bestows empowering light but proves to be impotent. God, appearing as a masculine father was identified with an almighty and royal figure. These contradictory figurations disregard the fact that both the feminine and masculine aspects of God had, for practical reasons, proven equally helpless in the face of WWII.
Both female figures of mid-low mimesis of humanity and that of the
mid-high mimesis of royal image are embodied in the biblical Queen Esther.
Like the Shekhina, Queen Esther
brings to the fore a traditionally intertext of a female messianic figure. 
The analogy is seen in Esther, the biblical Jewish girl who saved her people
from mass massacre, risking her own life in hostile ethnic surroundings and
a totalitarian regime, in the form of the Persian monarchy with an
anti-Jewish enemy in the form of the prime minister, Haman. Edith Stein
professes ‘a confidence in the fact that the Lord has taken my life in
exchange for all (the Jews). 
The royal female image of a Saviour mingles with the image of the
willing female victim. This self-appointed messianic victim erases her
ontological self before the ultimate sacrifice demanded in the interests of
the collective and by its paternal divine protector. In this, Edith Stein
transcends her Self, through her female image of ego ideal.
The analogy between the biblical story is marred halfway to its resolution. Haman clearly played the mimetic role of the villain like the Nazis, as both wished to eradicate the Jews. However, the Persian Sultan was not a protective and compassionate regent like a heavenly father. Initially he was persuaded to massacre the Jews, in exchange for a good payment. Haman’s accusations fell on a fertile ground as the sultan like Haman believed that the Jews were a hostile abject in his community. This equates his protection with the Bishops’ ambiguous protest on behalf of the deported Jews in 1942.
In her analogy with Queen Esther, Edith Stein is selective. Perceiving herself as an expiating victim, Edith Stein internalises a Jewish feminine saviour as the Evangelists saw her, not as the Hebrew Bible presents her. Unlike the biblical Esther who was ready to sacrifice her life to save Jewish lives, Stein had rather saved Jewish souls. The messianic victim that she has become is a redemptive convert atoning for the allegedly sins of her allegedly unbelieving people, the Jews. The analogy between Edith Stein and the biblical Esther is as ambiguous as the Evangelist’s historical adaptation of the Hebrew Bible. Esther shelters in the sanctuary of the royal palace but breaks its rules and exposes herself as a woman and a Jew. Edith Stein agonises over her people’s lot, but followed the creeds of their hostile community. Stein did indeed expose herself by refusing to ever hide her Jewish identity. Like the Jewish Esther safely sheltered in the royal palace, Edith Stein took shelter in convents in Germany and Holland. Like Esther, she was divided between her fear for her personal well being, which made her human and her agony for her people, which transcended her. I do believe that in praying to God, even according to her apostate convictions, Edith believed that she was working towards the salvation of her people. Yet in refusing to recognise that the Jews might believe in another valid form of divinity, she turns a choice of religion into the fault found within the persecuted group. She thus perceived Jewish persecution itself as the atonement for their identity and belief. At this point, Edith Stein betrayed her motivation as her people’s female messianic saviour. Esther fasts but does not feel she atones for her ‘people’s sins’ alleged by the anti-Semitic Haman. She never accepted them in the first place which made her loyalty to her people unambiguous, unlike Edith Stein. Edith Stein may have followed her biblical ego ideal Esther as she pointed at the evil ones; and yet her finger also pointed at the persecuted Jews as she sheltered in the sanctuary of Christianity in the convent of Echt in Holland. In categorising the Jews as a fallen group, qualified by the words ‘sins of the unbelieving Jews’, she excluded herself from them and objectified their plea for justice and for empathy with their suffering. In doing so, Edith Stein followed in the footsteps of the Evangelists, and like the Dutch Churches, sounding as ambiguous and unacceptable to any committed Jew. In Edith Stein’s Esther, one meets a transformation of the biblical female metaphor, as an Evangelic popular heroine. In adapting the Evangelic creed of the Jewish mythical sin, she became the Jews’ accuser and judge; and amalgamated her sympathy for their plight with a classical anti-Judaism.
This leads to the evocation of other biblical ego female ideals, to be found in the female leader, judge and prophetess like Miriam and Deborah. These ego ideals are embedded in the religion of their people. Edith Stein transposes these ego ideals to befit the spirit of a Christian apostate. The religious female accuser is a Catholic convert who calls her former ethnic group ‘unbelievers’ in hope of salvation through a creed which is not their own. She does not call upon them to keep their own laws and religion as the Hebrew prophets did. She suggests that they should have abandoned them for the sake of a religion that negates their Jewish identity, and as this has brought them their predicament in the first place, this may save their souls if not their lives. The relationship between this Evangelist Jewish prophetess and her people becomes mutually exclusive ¾ either the Jews are right and the convert is wrong or vice versa. Apostate atonement and anti-Jewish denunciation overlap. Mutual exclusiveness compensates for the space demarcating the limits between the Self of the convert and the ‘Other’, being the unbelieving Jews. As self-definition depends on the mutual exclusiveness of the ‘Other’, co-existence threatens the exclusive Self with annihilation. Coexistence is therefore excluded between the convert and the Jews.
On facing the arbitrariness of mass persecution, only holy martyrdom
can elevate the low-mimetic reality of anonymous victimisation to high
mimesis. The expiatory grace of metaphysical victimisation thus elevates the
actual Nazi persecution to a sacred predestined ordeal. Thus the Nazi
persecution turns into an atoning predicament for the Jews. As Edith Stein
saw herself as a messianic victim surrogating for the mythical Jews,
metaphysical victimisation of high mimesis transcended her victimisation.
Nonetheless, Edith Stein’s flight to the Dutch convent in Echt and her
consistent attempts to save herself and her sister from their fate as Jews,
proves that her amatory identification with Jewish victimisation did not
literally mean accepting it willingly as she asked them to do. Nor did she
mean to voluntarily join them as one of the persecuted Jews. Her attempts to
find new sanctuary in a Swiss convent from occupied Holland and even from
the train en route to the concentration camps all speak for this, as much as
it may be humanly understandable.
In order to follow in the footstep of a holy martyr, a messianic
victim must be innocent. The
Jews were the victims for whose sins she atoned; they were thus disqualified
as innocent victims en masse. Here lies the mutually exclusive paradox. The
relationship between a convert and a community for whom she atones became
ambivalent. By joining them she would be qualified as the fallen victim
atoning for sins against the Christian Messiah they did not accept.
However, she is elevated to the high mimesis of holy martyrdom, for
unlike the rest of the Jews marked by this mythical sin, she was purified of
it by her conversion. She did carry the mark of mythical evil because of her
Jewish birth, but was exempted from it by having accepted the Evangelic
message of divine salvation (that imposed mythical evil upon the Jews). This
in turn posits her as the real sanctified victim, being a surrogate for the
tainted Jewish victims. On becoming one with the collective victimisation of
the Jews, Edith Stein evokes the messianic meaning of universal redemption
by a personal atonement, validated by both faiths. However, she empowers her
Christian redemption through the anti-thesis of the ‘Other’ who is
mythically abjected by sins.
As the abject Other, the Jews seem to be rejected both by humanity and by
God’s grace. Eventually they become separated from the rest of humanity by
persecution, deportation and death at the hand of ‘humanity’. Here the
cycle closed on Edith Stein. As she was forced to share her people’s
collective ordeal as a persecuted group
her lot became that of a border case. She was perceived as one with and the
one alienated from her ethnic group, who in turn embodied the abject Other
for her and for the alienating group she converted to.
Edith Stein had to join the Jews as one of the victims in order to
attain the transcending state of messianic victimisation, as they were the
prosecuted group. By joining
her persecuted people when the Gestapo came to arrest her, during her moment
of exposure, Edith Stein met her ego ideal Esther. Her vulnerability brought
forth her integrity. The biblical figure Esther became an ego ideal of
‘amatory identification’ with the general suffering of her people at the
very moments of exposure. In both the biblical and contemporary cases of
amatory identification with the other’s suffering, human fear for one’s
own safety was not denied. This can be summarised in Mordecai’s choice of
words to Esther: ‘Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the
king’s house, more than all the Jews’ (Esther 4:13).
In her words to her sister Rosa when the persecutor came to fetch her
from her sanctuary Edith Stein made her last journey of soul: ‘Let us go
for our people’. Whether she actually spoke these words or not, her
spiritual journey has been rounded there. In these words, the character of
her victimisation was determined. By becoming a human agent generating
empathy for her people and fellow-victims, this time without exclusive
reservations and judgement, she evoked her former essays on
‘Empathy’; her work as a nurse of the wounded in W.W.I and
understanding of the poetry of John of the Cross. In this she followed her
female Ego Ideals as well as the message of love in Christ as an ideal
transposition of universal humanity. She found her human continuity in her
belief in empathy as an interpersonal factor, all the more so when it was
missing towards herself and her ethnic group by their persecutors, or even
in her own mind.
Christian Beatification and Jewish Sanctification.
culture has embraced the idea of religious martyrdom. The Jewish term for
this is Kiddush Hashem, a religious martyrdom granted to Jews who died for
their beliefs and ethnic association. In 1952 the State of Israel granted
all Jewish Holocaust victims posthumous citizenship in this world and a
place in heaven as Kedoshim,
who are revered by all Jewish communities ever since as a model of a Kiddush
The Jewish answer to the arbitrary mass victimisation of WWII was that of
veneration en masse. In this all victims were declared holy victims;
innocent babies and grown-ups; rabbis and thieves; mothers, virgins or
prostitutes were all sanctified. In this, Jews rejected singularity as a
requirement for the sanctification of a victim; for the singling out of one
individual would imply the insignificance of the other. The mass
victimisation was brought close to the prophetic text in Isaiah 53 in which
the most insignificant victim of humanity’s cruelty and indifference
becomes closest to God’s grace. Jewish victims of the Holocaust have thus
been collectively venerated regardless of the fact that many were only half
Jewish or converts. Conversion ¾
a contradiction of the essential concept of Kiddush
Hashem reserved for Jews who died for their beliefs
failed to save such Jews in W.W.II. Ironically, in this Kuddush
Hashem has been granted to them. Converted Jews died for a religion they
had renounced whereby they were paradoxically beatified as Jewish martyrs,
Edith Stein may be considered a Holocaust martyr by the Jewish community
alongside other Jewish victims in spite of her life style, not because of
it. In this the Jewish beatification and the Catholic one differ.
Conclusion: The Anatomy of Power in Ego Ideals
collective unconsciousness is conceived as the collective soul shared by
individuals. Messianic figures as ego ideals are equally inter-individual
and collective, both inherent in the field of tension which is the
personality. From this perspective, messianic images are personality models
with great psychological and transformational power. Here one understands
why inter-individual attitudes, social behaviour and religious mentality may
be greatly shaped by the character of messianic images. Perceived as ego
ideals, the character and ideas that messianic protagonists stand for, as
well as their gender and ethnic identity, shape personality models. These
conceived the ideal self. It is thus crucial whether a Messianic figure
serving as an ego ideal, stands for an exclusive society and exclusive
values or co-existence. No less crucial is the origin of the messianic
figure. It is proven essential whether this a personality ideal follows a
model of low or high mimesis, forgiving and compassionate or punitive,
feminine or masculine, paternal or maternal. These characteristics determine
whether a messianic figure as a model of ego ideal promotes love and
tolerance or separation, intolerance, violence and self-destruction.
Kristeva defines the ‘assimilation of other people’s feelings into the
ego’ as amatory identification, Einfullung,
after Freud, which is meant as a pathological definition. In Kristeva’s
terms, amatory identification is a ‘non-objectal identification’
I wish however to adapt the term in theology, and identify it as the
capacity to nurture emphatic love for human beings as a whole. In theological terms, amatory identification follows a state
of universal love. The non-objectal identification allows homologous
metaphors. The Self shows a
capacity to find similarities in its object, which subjectivises the object.
images are as archetypal as the divine ones and are as inherent in the
collective soul as divine ideals are. Amatory
images are analogous to the subject; those that generate the ‘assimilation
of other people’s feelings into the Self’ by recognition of analogy and
similarity. From a theological viewpoint, homologous images rely on the
Judeo-Christian creed of ‘Love thy neighbour as yourself’, Lev. 19:18,
meaning love the other as you love yourself, and love the other because the
other is like yourself.
on the mimetic theory, homologous metaphors connect the subject to the Other
by ‘being-like the other’ through characteristics which are homologous
rather than singular. Amatory imagery thus evokes homologous metaphors
belonging to mid-low mimesis. In this
analysis homologous metaphors form a dialectic opposition to divine and
royal metaphors. If divine images are drawn from the realm of high-mimesis,
homologous metaphors of mid-low mimesis are found in affable and equalising
images emphasising similarity. Non-divine images are located in homologous
imagery, connecting the self to amatory identification. Homologous images
convey a movement away from the exclusive and toward an affinity which
reduces differences and levels down personality barriers.
ego ideals on the other hand posit as parental and maternal archetypes.
These divinised ego ideals are archetypal. In them, one sees transferred
images of parental figures. These images are imbedded in the personality,
which at the same time are inherent in the collective unconsciousness of all
Total assimilation into the Self of a mimetically divine image would take
the form of self-inflation in relation to a non-equalising image. A divine
image always takes a higher mimetic position than the Self. It image may
however also transcend the Self.
divine and homologous images are archetypal. Archetypal images are
transferred from the impersonal and collective unconsciousness, the content
of which, is personal and universal at the same time. The question is what
the relationship would be between the personal ideal ego and its archetypal
ego ideals. How would the ideal ego posit the ‘Other’ in the mind
between the two mimetic axes of high and low mimeses? What would be the
position of the Self in relation to its projected Other when its ego ideal
is a divine image, and what would be the position of the other when its ego
ideal is a non-divine and homologous one? On what mimetic level would that
non-divine ego ideal function on the mid-mimetic level which is the
realistic and the homologous, or on the degraded and mimetically lower level
than humanity? Here one may locate role-patterns, which are interdependently
a saviour or an accuser, the victim or the victimiser, a sacrificing agent
or a holy martyr. It is clear to me that the Self can not relate to the
‘Other’ as an equally human entity unless the extreme mimetic axes are
compromised and balanced. The image of amatory identification connects the
divine image of the divine to low mimetic humanity through universal love.
Low mimetic images connect the Self to homologous humanity, interlining the
Self with the Other. The exclusiveness of divine and royal metaphors must
meet humanly common metaphors or lose itself in a sterile centrifugal
movement that erases humanness in man. World peace thus starts with the
understanding of the anatomy of power. This is born out by the choice of
personality models positing as ego ideal being messianic figures, leaders,
prophets, or saints. I end this
article with a poem I wrote for Edith Stein.
Benedicta of the Cross, I am
atone for humanity’s Evil
for the sins of the unbelieving Jews,
was taken away like the rest.
for all; all for One.
Stein, I am
after mile on the rails,
soul stretches its folds
is many, many are one.
nun I am.
God may ever sacrifice His only son
repeat it each sunset.
for One ?
I am Jesus,
humanity is sacrificed
the believing Jews.
am that I am.
is One. One is all.
I am indebted
to my tutor Dr. Robert Druce who read the first part of the article, and
to Brenda Kaldenbach who proof read the paper. I am grateful to Reverend
Frans Wiersma who helped me to find my way in the New Testament, the
Septuagint and the Vulgate.
Als een brandende
Echt 1967, p. 49 (all translations from Dutch out of this
particular book are mine)
As a general rule, European Jews underwent a similar decree between
1939-1945, regardless of their religion.
Maria Buchmuler, In 25 memorium day, Nurenberg, in
Als een brandende toorts,
Echt 1967, p. 123.
Marcel Poorthuis/Theo Salemink, Op
Zoek naar de Blauw Ruiter: Sophie van Leer, een leven tussen
avant-garde, Jodendom en christendom (1892-1953), Valkhof, Nijmegen
2000, pp . 341-346. Sophie
van Leer was a
Catholic Jew. Converted in 1919, she was arrested on the same fatal 2
August 1942, but released,
being married to a non-Jew.
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Echt 1967, p. 50-51
een brandende toorts,
Echt 1967, p. 188
ibid p. 190.
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conference in Leuven Belgium, January 17-18, 2000, pp 263-278,
Encyclopedia of World Mythology, ed. Rex Warner, Book Club Associates
Claude Levi-Strauss, ‘the Sturctural Study of Myth’, Structural
Claire Jacobson and Broke Grundfest Schoepf, Basic Books, New York
London, p. 209
Max I. Dimaont, Jews,
God and History, Signet
Book, The New American Library, New York.
1962, pp 130-144.
Rene Girard, Violence and the Sacred, trans. Patrick Gregory, the John
Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London,
1977, pp 1-118
een brandende toorts,
Echt 1967, p. 81
Freda Mary Oben, ‘Holiness in the 20th Century’, in The
Unnecessary Problem of Edith Stein, ed.
Harry James Cargas, University Press of America, Boston, 1994, pp
NC News Service, May 4, 1987, p.23
Judaica, pp 720-721.
Marion, A. Kaplan, M.A., ‘Bertha Pappenheim: Founder of German-Jewish
Feminism’, in Elisabeth
Koltun, ed, The Jewish Woman: New Perspective, New York: 1976 pp 149-163
 Patai, Raphael, ‘Jewish Self-Hate’, The Jewish Mind, 1977, pp 456-479.
Lewin, Kurt, Resolving Social
conflicts, 1948 pp 193, 169-200.
Patai, Raphael, Journey into the
Jewish Mind 1977, p. 463
een brandende Toorts,
Scholem, 1974, Tikkun
349-350, 355-357; the breaking of the vessels,
pp. 94, 107-108, 110, 341, 349,351; Raphael Patai., The Messiah Texts, ‘Introduction’ , Detroit 1979).
Raphael Patai, the Messiah
Texts, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1979, pp
Mary Oben, , ‘Holiness in the 20th Century’, in The
Unnecessary Problem of Edith Stein, 1994, p. 6.
finds prophecies of messianic peace and apocalyptic wars side by side
already in the Bible. Early texts like Testament of Juhda
(1 st - 2nd) relying on the Bible prophesies
the coming of the Messiah in peace: ’And a star shall rise for
you from Jacob in peace’.
Arguments by R. Yose the Galilean promotes the following: ‘The name of
the Messiah is Peace for it is said ‘Everlasting Father, Prince Peace
(Isa. 9:5); Great is peace for in the hour in which king Messiah is
revealed to Israel, he begins with peace, for it is said:’ How
beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of the messenger of good tiding
who announceth peace (Isa. 52:7)’.
Unnecessary Problem of Edith Stein,
1994, p. 9 .
Erich, In und Gegen, Nuremberg
1955, p. 118.
Erich, In und Gegen 1955,
J. H. The Unnecessary
Problem of Edith Stein, Studies in Shoah , University of California,
1994, p. 72.
J. H. The Unnecessary
Problem of Edith Stein, 1994, .p. 72,
een brandende toorts,
Echt 1967 p. 96.
Marius de Geus, a Dutch philoso\pher of politics, compares Utopian ideas
to a global compass serving humanity as an orientation force pushing for
a better and more humane future. However he mentions anti-Utopian
literature in which the dangers of Utopia are emphasised. Utopia in
devaluating the individual, leads through its uncompromising ideas,
violence, oppression, and hides an inherent and uncompromising desire
for power. These genres can be seen in books like We
by the Russian Zemiatin who seems to have initiated the anti-utopian
idea already in 1921, and more famous books like Ernest Callenbach’s The
Open Society and its Enemies, and 1945; Aldus Huxly’s 1984, Brave New World; and George Orwel’s Animal Farm.
I. Dimont Jews,
God and History, 1962,
een brandende toorts,
Moshe Idel, Kabbalah, New
Perspective, Schoken, Tel Aviv 1993, pp 80-91
Erich, In und Gegen Nuremberg
May 4, 1987,p. 23.
The Hebrew Goddess, Ktav
publishing house, New York, 1967, pp 137-156
een brandende toorts,
Echt 1967 p. 100
Abba Gorion, 12th
century, literally defines Esther as a redeemer
4 May 1987, p. 23.
Julia Kristeva, The Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection,
Press, 1982, p. 9
Zev Garber ‘Jewish Perspective on Edith Stein’s Martyrdom’, in
Harry James Cargas, 1994, p. 70.
J. ‘Women, Psychoanalysis, Politics: Freud and Love, Treatment and
Discontent’, The Powers of Horrors, 1982, p. 243
Jung, C.G. Uber die Psychologie
des Unbewussten, and Die
Beziehungen Zwischen dem Ich und dem Unbewussten ,
Dvir, Israel (Hebrew Translation), 1975