Anton Margaritha is an outstanding figure which is marked by quite negative perception among the Jewish people as he was the most avid opponent to the religious beliefs of the Jews. Anton Margaritha was born about the beginning of the sixteenth century – the exact date is unknown. He was a Jewish Hebraist who had been converted to Christianity. It is believed that his teachings became the valid source for the conception of Judaism by Martin Luther's (Fuerst 1892).
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The father of Margaritha, Jacob Margolioth, was a well-known rabbi in Ratisbon (today’s Regensburg). The son was converted in 1522, after the baptizing ceremony at Wasserburg. With time passing by Anton became a Lutheran. His life was as difficult as of many of the activists who chose the same path towards changing the society to the better state. Margaritha went through the imprisonment and the following expulsion from Augsburg where he lived. This unfortunate outcome was caused by the constant complaints from the Jews of the area and actions undertaken by Charles V (Suler 2008).
Anton Margaritha was teaching Hebrew at various cities: Leipzig, Augsburg, Zell, Meissen, and beginning from 1537 till the last days of his life at the University of Vienna. Margaritha’s popular publications include the Psalms as well as Matthew 1:1 till 3:6 in Hebrew in 1533. This publication was released in Leipzig.
However, not the Psalms made him famous, but the book which he published in 1530. “The Whole Jewish Belief” is an outstanding work which gives scientists a great deal of insight into the beliefs of the people as well as outlining the most important historical events. The author mocks different Jewish ceremonies and allows himself to blame the Jews of hypocrisy and unfair treatment of the people of other religions, looking only for material profit from them.
Margaritha ridiculed the sentiments of the Jews which are hostile to both Christianity as a religion and Christians as people. He energetically argues against the unjustifying Messianic hopes of the Jews. For the author is impossible to understand the Aleinu prayer which he considers to possess an anti-Christian tendency. Margaritha calls upon the magistrates to uproot the evils which he sees in the Jewish nation referring to the laziness and usury of the latter. He asks the magistrates to adopt a law that will force the nation to do manual labor. All Margaritha’s perception of the Jewish beliefs and the people themselves is reflected in this book. It was the fight of his life which was overtaken by many others who despise the Jews and cannot accept their beliefs. Later on, such perception brought a lot of sufferings to the Jews, especially during the World War II (Suler 2008).
Continuing revealing his disguise towards the Jewish people, Anton Margaritha (who is also known under the name of Antonius Margareta) accuses the Jewish physicians of being ignorant and greedy, and therefore, not using their occupation to help people in need, but to become richer on that need.
Margaritha’s accusations went far beyond the limits and he even allowed himself to stress that, nonetheless their diligence in performing their rituals, the Jews are neither charitable nor pious, and that, despite of their noticeable repugnance to proselytism, they are more than willing to obtain followers of their faith. The hypocrisy of the Jews ruins the well-beings of all other people.
“The Whole Jewish Belief” is one of the most libelous books against the Jewish nation till nowadays. Moreover, it had a great impact upon the beliefs of Martin Luther, who used this book while writing his own publication “On the Jews and Their Lies”. Many well-known activists have supported the ideas of Anton Margaritha which he reflected in the book (Rothschild 2008).
In the same year, Anton Margaritha had a public dispute with Josel of Posheim in front of Charles V as well as his whole court at Augsburg. The talk was centered on the libelous book by Anton Margaritha and its offensive and erroneous representation of the Jewish nation. The dispute came to an end with a confidant victory for the advocate, who received Margaritha's exclusion from the empire.
Notwithstanding the legal decision, this book would be reprinted over and over again and frequently cited by anti-semites with the years passing by. The popularity of the work became so big that people who read it and believed it, overtook all the thoughts of the author, treating the Jews correspondingly (Rothschild 2008).
Anton Margaritha was true to his beliefs to the end of his life, never stepping aside from such a hateful perception of the Jewish nation which he developed since being a young man. It is difficult to imagine his popularity among the educated people of the present-day where democracy rules, however, he left a great mark in the history of Europe even despite the fact that there is no much information about his life,
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