Two groups were persecuted over four hundred years in what is now the south-western United States, each dissimulating and disguising who they truly were. Both now declare their true identities, yet raise hostility. The Penitentes are a lay Catholic brotherhood that practised bloody rites of self-flagellation and crucifixion, but claim this is a misrepresentation and that they are a community and charitable organisation. Marranos, an ambiguous and complicated population of Sephardic descendants, claim to be anousim. Both people have a complex, shared history. This book disentangles the web, redefines the terms, and creates new contexts in which these groups are viewed with respect and sympathy without idealising or slandering them. It uses rabbinics, literary analyses, psychohistory, and cultural anthropology to consolidate a history of mentalities.
Publisher: Academic Studies Press
Number of pages: 520
Weight: 885 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 20 mm
"This lengthy and ambitious study defies easy categorization; it is part detective story, part psychohistory, part Jewish studies, part investigation of secrecy and esoteric currents, and part many other things. Yet its purpose is always clear: to explicate the complex, confused, and confusing inner spiritual life of those whom Simms terms "fuzzy Jews"--the New Christians, Crypto-Jews, and Marranos originally from the Iberian Peninsula but transplanted to Mexico and southwest America...the book is extremely valuable, in that it exhibits very clearly the extreme difficulty of studying the history of mentalities and the need for attention to a multitude of disparate academic fields that generally discourages such academic endeavors. This book is recommended to all interested in Jewish history, Jewish-Christian relations, and religious fraternities and secret societies."--Carole M. Cusack, University of Sydney in the Journal of Religious History: Volume 35, Number 2, June 2011
"An increasing number of Hispanics living in the US Southwest claim to be of crypto-Jewish heritage, i.e., of Marranos, a derogatory term for Sephardic Jews who converted to Christianity in Inquisition-era Spain but continued to practice Judaism secretly. Some descendants of these New Christians in this region formed Catholic brotherhoods or Penitentes, who still engage in out- dated rituals including self-flagellation. Moradas are their chapels. Drawing on rabbinic sources (Midrash) and psychohistory, Simms (humanities/English, U. of Waikato, New Zealand) sheds light on the ambiguous identity of these misunderstood groups of former Jews and the broader issue of the myriad ways Jews respond to living in a non-Jewish world."--Annotation (c)2010 Book News Inc. Portland, OR