Religious Changes During The Middle Ages

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The religious atmosphere that surrounded Europe during the late Middle Ages impacted the lives of people of all different backgrounds. This period was marked specifically by the Protestant Reformation but by religious changes that affected the Catholic Church as well. However, the one group that was arguably most negatively affected by this religious storm was the Jews. As a small population mainly living in Central Europe, the Jews were subjected to the ebbs and flows of popular opinion among the larger religious groups that dominated the individual nations themselves. Although the most severe anti-Semitic actions that had occurred in Europe including the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and the Polish King’s actions in 1454 were brought …show more content…
His seminal work, Ninety-five Theses, was a catalogue of his grievances with the Church and his solutions to the problems he saw, of which a prominent one was the system of indulgences. Indulgences were sold by the Church to people to absolve them of their sins. Luther viewed these absolutions as antithetical to the true way of being a Christian. His theories taught that faith alone was the way to salvation and that external measures like indulgences were not useful to good Christians. While this view formed the basis for his broad activism and acclaim, Luther was also engaging with Jews and trying to convert them to Christianity. The most important factor of this outreach was, however, Luther’s lack of knowledge about actual Jews. Because Jews had largely been expelled from cities, Luther rarely encountered them. As a result of this circumstance, Luther only knew of the common opinion of the religion. There is actually no evidence that Luther made much, if any, effort to meet with and learn from Jews, and it was his policy that he “spoke about the Jews, not however with or to them.” This lack of contact did not however dissuade the Jews from looking optimistically upon the Reformation. A Jew during the early 1500s said, “He [Luther] and his followers said that one should not place a heavy yoke upon the Jews, but should treat them honorably and with love and so bring them nearer [in this way to the Church]. He provided proof for this.” This Jew was reacting to a 1523 pamphlet that Luther wrote titled That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew. This article was Luther’s first work that attempted to draw connections between the Jewish people and the Christian faith in support of his desire to have them convert. Luther appeared to wish that his kindness would be an open door to a people that had been scorned for over a thousand years. He wrote, “it is my advice that we

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