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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vom Schem Hamphoras – by Martin Luther (a translation, Part 2)

See Part 1 for an introduction and paragraph 1 of this introduction of Luther.  This Part 2 continues the translation into English from there.  Luther's translation of the Jewish blasphemous fable Toledot Yeshu (Wikipedia article here) is in paragraphs 3 to 17:

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Vom Schem Hamphoras
by Martin Luther

(continued from Part 1 - Introduction)
     2. Because just as we need to teach and write of the devil, hell, death and sin, what they are and do, not that we wanted to make from the devil an angel, from hell a heaven, from death a life, from sin holiness, which is impossible; but the fact that we watch out for them: so I also write on the Jews.  Because a Jew or Jewish heart is so stone hard, hard as iron, devilish hard, it cannot be moved in any way.  If Moses and all the prophets came to do all the miracles in front of their eyes that they should leave their hardened mind, as Christ and the apostles before them did, it would be in vain.  If they were also punished so cruelly, that the streets ran full of blood, that one would expect to count their dead not by a hundred thousand, but by ten hundred thousand and, as has been done to Jerusalem under Vespasian and bitterly with Hadrian, still they must be right if they also after these 1500 years still another 1500 years should be in misery, yet God must still be a liar, and they are truthful.
     In summary, these are the children of the devil, damned to hell; however, if something human is in them, then to such may this writing come to benefit and good:  whoever will, may hope for the whole bunch; I have no hope, neither does the Scripture know of any.  We cannot yet convert the great majority of our Christians, so we must be content with the small handful; how much less is it possible to convert all these children of the devil! Therefore such is a delusion and is nothing that many think that all Jews will be converted at the end of the world coming from the 11th chapter of the Book of Romans for St. Paul means something entirely different.

From the eleventh chapter in the first part of the book of Porchetus,
translated into German by Dr. M. Luther [now English by BackToLuther]

     1. We want to see henceforth, how the Jews are always so hostile to the miracles of Christ, that they ascribe them to Beelzebub, the prince of devils.  Because he performed so many great and wonderful miracles, as no one else has ever done, as he himself says in John 15.  It is also never heard that anyone else in his name would have made the blind ​​see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dumb speak, as Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 35:5-6: "God will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing". [KJV version]
     2. In addition to these many miraculous signs he did many more besides: raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, and healed many others who were sick.  And that such signs, which were possible for no one but God, still have the malice of the Jews, who all the time circumvented them with evil perils.  The Jews surrounded these miracles with lies to blaspheme and dishonor them.  Now the Jews have forged a book against Christians where they write these lies: [below begins Luther's translation of Porchetus' Victoria which recounts the Jewish book]
     3. It happened at the time of Helena, the queen who ruled over the whole land of Israel, Jesus HaNozri [of Nazareth?] came to Jerusalem. He found in the temple of the Lord the stone that in previous times the ark of the LORD was set on; on this stone was written Schem Hamphoras; whoever learned and understood the letters of the same name, he could do what he wanted.
But it worried our sages that if the children of Israel would learn such names, they would want to overturn the world by this power. So they made two dogs of brass, and put them on two pillars before the door of the sanctuary. Now if someone went in and would have learned the letters of the above name and went out, then the brazen dogs barked at him so dreadfully that he forgot in great terror the name and the letters that he had learned before.
     5. So Jesus of Nazareth came and went into the temple, and learned the letters, and wrote them on a parchment. Then he tore the flesh on his leg and laid the slips of paper into it. And because he mentioned the names, nothing harmed him, and the skin united as it was just before; when he went now from the temple, the brass dogs barked at him so that he immediately forgot the name; however when he came home, he tore open the leg with a knife and took out the slips of paper on which the letters stood of Schem Hamphoras, and learned them again.
     6. Then he gathered 310 youths to himself from Israel and said unto them, Behold, the sages say, I was a bastard, so that they would rule over Israel, but you know that all the prophets prophesied of the Messiah, and it is he that I am, this is true. And Isaiah prophesied on me, "Behold, the alma [virgin] shall conceive and give birth to a son, and called his name Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). So also my grandfather, David prophesied of me and said: "The Lord said to me: Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee" (Ps 2:7). So I was born of my mother without any of help from a man, but the power of God. That's why not I, but they themselves are children of whoredoms, as Hosea says, "I will not have mercy upon her children, because they are the children of whoredoms" (Hosea 2.4).
..... (to be continued in Part 3)
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     There is a glaring error in the translation of the Jewish Dr. Gerhard Falk in paragraph 2 of the introduction above (there are many typo errors also).  It is this, that Luther said it was Scripture, the Bible, which does not know of any hope for the Jews as a whole, whereas Dr. Falk translated  "any writing".  It wasn't just "any writing" but the Holy Scripture itself that does not know of any general conversion of the Jews.
     It is readily apparent of the silliness of the Jewish fable (starting at paragraph 3 above) concocted against the Christ by the Jews.  This fable has a name – it is called the Toledot Yeshu, although Dr. Falk makes no attempt to identify it, even though he is quick to offer other historical footnotes on other points in Luther's essay.  Why is this?  Could it be that he suspects it might cause a softening in the sympathy many Christians have for the Jewish religion?  The balance of Luther's translation of this fable is contained in my next Part 3.

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