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The Mixed Multitude: Jacob Frank and the Frankist Movement, 1755-1816 [Format Kindle]

Pawel Maciejko

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Présentation de l'éditeur

In 1756, Jacob Frank, an Ottoman Jew who had returned to the Poland of his birth, was discovered leading a group of fellow travelers in a suspect religious service. At the request of the local rabbis, Polish authorities arrested the participants. Jewish authorities contacted the bishop in whose diocese the service had taken place and argued that since the rites of Frank's followers involved the practice of magic and immoral conduct, both Jews and Christians should condemn them and burn them at the stake. The scheme backfired, as the Frankists took the opportunity to ally themselves with the Church, presenting themselves as Contra-Talmudists who believed in a triune God. As a Turkish subject, Frank was released and temporarily expelled to the Ottoman territories, but the others were found guilty of breaking numerous halakhic prohibitions and were subject to a Jewish ban of excommunication. While they professed their adherence to everything that was commanded by God in the Old Testament, they asserted as well that the Rabbis of old had introduced innumerable lies and misconstructions in their interpretations of that holy book.

Who were Jacob Frank and his followers? To most Christians, they seemed to be members of a Jewish sect; to Jewish reformers, they formed a group making a valiant if misguided attempt to bring an end to the power of the rabbis; and to more traditional Jews, they were heretics to be suppressed by the rabbinate. What is undeniable is that by the late eighteenth century, the Frankists numbered in the tens of thousands and had a significant political and ideological influence on non-Jewish communities throughout eastern and central Europe.

Based on extensive archival research in Poland, the Czech Republic, Israel, Germany, the United States, and the Vatican, The Mixed Multitude is the first comprehensive study of Frank and Frankism in more than a century and offers an important new perspective on Jewish-Christian relations in the Age of Enlightenment.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 877 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 352 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0812243153
  • Editeur : University of Pennsylvania Press (8 mars 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00C3K6F2M
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.0 étoiles sur 5  7 commentaires
13 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Thorough Research but Selective Analysis 13 mai 2011
Par Academic - Publié sur
I've been following some of these discussions with interest, having read the book myself. I agree that there are many great sources uncovered here, much new detail, and persuasive reasoning at points. But I'm also detecting an apologetic bent. In omitting teachings (Words of the Lord, etc.) that demonstrate his self-indulgent, materialistic, and destructive motivations, the author seems to seek a more palatable Frank. Historians have a tendency to try to remake Frank as a modernist: as a secularist (Feiner), a feminist (Rapoport-Albert), and in the current case, a Jewish-Christian synthesizer. In my reading of Frank's teachings and biographical details, he was too tactical and megalomaniacal too afford such idealistic interpretations. But the author has mastered an impressive range of languages and filled in the story.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Jacob Frank - Messiah or Scoundrel 26 novembre 2013
Par Dr. Jerrold Katz - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
The book provided a long needed discussion of the history of Jacob Frank and his multitude of followers. The book describes Frank's use of Sabtai Zvi as a means of developing his own following. Frank used his Jewish followers when it suited him; he tried to pass himself off as the Messiah to attract Jewish followers and when necessary Frank became a believing Catholic. The book provides a fairly complete discussion of the life of Jacob Frank. It is unfortunate that there are no other good books on this subject.
10 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Very Good Book 21 avril 2011
Par Jewish History Buff - Publié sur
Having studied the subject of the Sabbateans in both English and Hebrew, I can agree completely with the first comment and also add that the price, though a bit high, should not be an issue given the quality of the book and its undertaking. The sources and footnotes are extremely interesting and useful as well. A serious reader will not be disappointed by this book at all, and if anything will want to study more of the many topics it covers! In my opinion, the book is understandable for both those familiar with the subject matter and the novice.

However, the topic of the Eybschutzes is incomplete because it relies almost entirely on sources suggesting that Rabbi Eybschutz and his son Wolf were Sabbatians. One important source that should be examined is the book Gedulat Yonatan [The Greatness of Jonathan] which gives the other view of the subject, and challenges assumptions that are derived from the historian Graetz and from the writings of the most important opponent of Rabbi Eybschutz, Rabbi Yaakov Emden. Furthermore, the book would have benefited from references from extensive Frankist and Sabbatean writings.

Nevertheless, The Mixed Multitude is a very interesting book about the subject matter.
16 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 An Attempt to Rehabilitate a Scoundrel 10 mai 2011
Par A Reader - Publié sur
Well-researched, but egregious misuse of scholarly tools and archival sources to rehabilitate a scoundrel. Jacob Frank, who manipulated his followers for his own gratification and repeatedly changed religions to save his hide, is depicted here as a utopian religious syncretist with "highly original teachings" (179). Or as a victim. The mass conversion to Catholicism in 1759 occurred because "the unprecedented alliance of the Catholic clergy and the rabbinate drove Frank and his Polish followers into a corner and left them no other option than to convert to Chrstianity" (161)! Their use of the blood libel against the Jewish community in the process is harder to explain away, so Maciejko simply omits any mention of Jacob Frank himself during the affair, not even asking whether Frank endorsed or, more likely, instigated the terrible accusation (ch. 4). He admits that Frank was a "charlatan," but redefines charlatanism as the cultivation of "mystery," omitting any mention of opportunism (220). Frank's exploitation of his own daughter Eve is misread as proto-feminism (178). In the end, Frank was nothing more than an opportunist who sought adulation, fortune, and aristocratic title, and succeeded. He was a shape-shifter, not the idealist victim this book makes him out to be.
1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Implications of the Frankist Movement, Including Jewish Assimilation, the Inquisition, Blood Libel in Poland 26 novembre 2013
Par Jan Peczkis - Publié sur
This work goes deep into theology, and focuses on the interface of Christianity and Judaism in the 18th century. Owing to the breadth of the topics presented, I focus only on a few issues, notably those I consider to be of broader significance.

Consistent with other works on Frank, this one portrays him as one driven by messianic antinomianism (p. 14), and one who was a consummate opportunist. Frank switched religions according to convenience. Thus, when converting to Christianity, Frank hid his earlier sympathy towards Islam. (p. 107). Later, when Poland was about to be Partitioned, he attempted to convert to the Russian Orthodox Church. (p. 183).

For further study of Jacob Frank and the Frankist movement, please click on Militant Messiah: Or, the Flight from the Ghetto: The Story of Jacob Frank the Frankist Movement, and read the detailed Peczkis review.


Nowadays, the millennia-long Jewish resistance to assimilation is commonly framed in terms of Jews having nothing to which they could assimilate. According to this thinking, widespread Jewish assimilation had to await the Enlightenment concepts of citizenship, equality, and the secular state. However, significant emulation of Gentile dress and behavior, among Jews, existed at least since the Middle Ages. (p. 205). In addition, the author makes it obvious that the degree and extent of Jewish assimilation largely derived from evolving Jewish interpretations of what Jewish self-identity entailed. Moreover, this change in Jewish self-concept did not necessarily proceed linearly in the direction of greater Jewish willingness to adopt the ways of the GOYIM.

Thus, Maciejko writes, (quote) The wording of these accounts is significant in its making explicit use of the concept of HUKKOT HA-GOY (literally, the laws or customs of the Gentiles). The concept is of biblical provenance (Leviticus 20:23: "you shall not walk in the manners of the nation [HUKKOT HA-GOY], which I cast out before you"), and its original meaning referred to specific types of sexual immorality practiced by the Egyptians and the Canaanites. In rabbinic literature, however, the notion was extended to copying or emulating non-Jewish customs and practices in general. Of course, as such, the concept of HUKKOT HA-GOY became open to countless interpretations. Early halakhists tended to adopt a lenient view, applying the notion to the RELIGIOUS conduct of the Gentiles and often emphasizing the absurdity of banning certain practices simply because they were also carried out by non-Jews. However, a stricter interpretation gradually emerged... (unquote). (emphasis his). (p. 206).


The Catholic Church in general and the Inquisition in particular, is usually framed as a raw tool of oppression directed against those who deviated from Catholicism. The reader may therefore be stunned to learn that the Church claimed jurisdiction in non-Christian religions. Thus, Maciejko comments, (quote) The canon law principle of the Catholic Church has supreme authority in the internal affairs of not only Christians but all peoples and all confessions has a long history. The popes claimed power to punish the Jews for deviations from Mosaic Law, exactly as they were empowered to punish pagans for transgressing natural law. (unquote). (p. 29).

It did not stop there. Even more amazing is the fact that Jewish authorities not only accepted, but also invited, the direct intervention of the Catholic authorities in the suppression and punishment of heretics within Judaism. (p. 31, 35, 40, 49-50, 54).


It is commonly thought that the traditional Polish tolerance for religious minorities gave way to intolerance, of non-Catholics, in the century or so before the Partitions. This intolerance is clearly exaggerated.

The author points out that, whereas witchcraft trials during this time were relatively common, those involving the blood libel were NOT. He writes, (quote) The total number of ritual murder trials in the entire Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the entire early modern period has been estimated at seventy to eighty cases, and Dubnow's "frenzy of blood accusations" refers to some twelve cases between the first trial in Sandomierz (1698) and the trial in Wojslawice (1761). (unquote). (p. 96).

Finally, religious prejudices between Christians and Jews always went both ways. The Sabbatians identified the Land of Edom with the Roman Catholic Church in Poland. (p. 4, 185). However, this was true of Judaism in general. Maciejko quips, "In Jewish tradition, 'Edom', the land of Esau, is a common general term for Christianity." (p. 185).
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