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The Price of AssimilationFelix Mendelssohn and the Nineteenth-Century Anti-Semitic Tradition$
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Jeffrey S. Sposato

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195149746

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195149746.001.0001

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(p.163) 6 Christus
The Price of Assimilation

Jeffrey S. Sposato

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Felix Mendelssohn's oratorio fragment Christus, which he began in 1844 and left uncompleted upon his death in 1847. As in Elias, the image of the Jews in Christus is less anti-Semitic than in those works written before the death of Mendelssohn's father, Abraham Mendelssohn, in 1835. Mendelssohn took the story of the birth of Christ almost verbatim from the Bible, but he deleted references to the Jews when they were depicted negatively. The work also adopts the Lutheran concept of universal guilt for Christ's death, rather than casting blame solely on the Jews, which was common at the time.

Keywords:   Elias, birth of Christ, Abraham Mendelssohn, anti-Semitism, universal guilt

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