This article introduces the phenomenon of Jesuit-converso interactions, mostly in the early modern Iberian world. It summarizes the shifting attitudes of the Society of Jesus vis-à-vis New Christians of Jewish origin as actual or potential Jesuits and maps the multifaceted and variegated interplay between Jesuit priests and converso laymen, understood as a “tragic couple” relationship. This brief survey emphasizes the historiographical contribution of the last generations of Jesuit scholars, and of the five articles included in this special issue of the Journal of Jesuit Studies, to disclose a more overt “historical memory” of the Society of Jesus.
This article reassesses António Vieira’s views on New Christians and Jews. Rather than presenting a reductive portrait of Vieira’s philosemitism as merely empathic, positive, and tolerant, I argue that his supportive attitudes included some enduring negative ideas of Jewishness. An analysis of Vieira’s pro-converso and prophetic writings (including his Inquisition trial) show that his more ambivalent and dialectical perceptions were ultimately grounded on a theological-political interpretation of Paul’s Judeo-Gentile universalism.
One must salute the publication of the fourth volume of a collection series edited by Kevin Ingram, dedicated to exploring the role, contribution, and meaning of the converso and morisco phenomenon in late medieval and early modern Iberia. This project represents a substantial contribution to Américo Castro’s pioneering multicultural idea of Spain as the homeland of the three Abrahamic “castes,” where Christians, Muslims, and Jews regularly interacted, even when the hegemonic position of the first group led to the mass conversion of the other two, and their transformation into New Christian moriscos and
Readers of anti-Judaism/anti-Semitism scholarship know that there is no need of Jews to find Jewish hatred: whether in England after the expulsion of its Jewish population in 1290, or in twentieth-century Japan. According to Jeremy Cohen, medieval Christianity developed a prolific adversus Judaeus literature, which rather antagonized with virtual Judaism than with flesh-and-bones Jews. Not to say that in his Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition (Norton, 2014), David Nirenberg claimed that the centrality of this phenomenon in Western cultures stems from a negative idea of Jewishness associated with debased forms