Apostasy in Judaism refers to the rejection of Judaism by a Jew and defection to another religion[1] The term apostasy is derived from Greek ἀποστάτης, meaning "political rebel", as applied to rebellion against God and Judaism[2] (Hebrew מרד[3]). Expressions for apostate that are used by rabbinical scholars include mumar (מומר, literally "the one that changes"), poshea Yisrael (פושע ישראל, literally, "transgressor of Israel"), and kofer (כופר, literally "denier").[3] Similar terms are meshumad (משומד), one who has abandoned his faith, and min (מין) or apikorus (אפיקורוס), which denote the negation of God and Judaism, implying atheism.[3]


In the Bible

The first recorded reference to apostasy from Judaism is in the words of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 32:23-24), thought to be prophetic of the High Priests Jason and Menelaus, who deserted their religion and their nation to the horror and hatred of their contemporaries.

In the Talmud

In the Talmud, Elisha ben Abuyah (referred to as Acher, the "Other One") is singled out as an apostate by the rabbis.

Medieval Spain

In Medieval Spain, a systematic conversion of Jews to Christianity took place, largely under threats and force[4]. The apostasy of these conversos provoked the indignation of some Jews in Spain and it was made illegal to call a converso a by the epithet, tornadizo (renegade).[5]

Several inquisitors of the Spanish Inquisition, such as Tomás de Torquemada, and Francis Quiñones the Bishop of Coria, are thought to be descendants of apostate Jews. Known apostates who made their mark in history by attempting to convert other Jews in the 1300s and 1400s include Juan de Valladolid and Astruc Remoch.

Some Spanish Jews, however, remained crypto-Jews despite being compelled to convert to Christianity (see Anusim). They are also called Marranos.[6]

Sabbatai Zevi and Jacob Frank

In 1648 Sabbatai Zevi presented himself as the Jewish Messiah, and his Jewish followers were known as Sabbateans. Under the threat of death by the Ottoman Sultan, he and many of his followers converted to Islam in 1666.[7]

In the 1750s Jacob Frank presented himself as the successor of Zevi and attracted many followers in Poland, known as Frankists[8]. In 1759, with Frank's encouragement, more than 500 Frankists were baptized as Catholics. Frank himself was also baptized, with the King of Poland as his godfather.[8]

Notes and references

  1. Apostasy is defined as "renunciation of a religious faith", in this case, Judaism. See apostasy for further clarification.
  2. Merriam Webster: Apostasy
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Kaufmann Kohler and Richard Gottheil. "Apostasy and Apostates from Judaism." Jewish Encyclopedia.
  4. Figures of Conversion: The Jewish Question and English National Identity - By Michael Ragussis - Duke University Press, 1995, Page 128, Quote: "The persecutions of the Jews that dominated fifteenth-century Spain, including the forced conversion of masses of Spanish Jews"
  5. A Social and Religious History of the Jews - By Salo Wittmayer Baron - Columbia University Press
  6. Joseph Jacobs and Meyer Kayserling. "Marano." Jewish Encyclopedia.
  7. God-Optional Judaism: Alternatives for Cultural Jews Who Love Their History By Judith Seid, Published 2001, Citadel Press: Quote: "Sabbatai Zevi converted to Islam under threat of death"
  8. 8.0 8.1 Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions - By Wendy Doniger - Page 358 - Published by Merriam-Webster

See also

External links

This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the publicВыкресты uk:Вихрести

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