Analysis of Shepkaru and Chazan

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In To Die for God: Martyrs’ Heaven in Hebrew and Latin Crusade Chronicles Shmuel Shepkaru argues that Jewish and Christian perceptions of Heaven and martyrdom shifted in response to the Crusades. Shepkaru notes that “[b]oth twelfth-century Christians and Jews considered the martyr's recompense in heaven to be the ultimate boon that the faithful could receive” (312). Despite, or because of, this similarity, it is difficult to prove that either religion borrowed from the other. To find evidence of religious mixing or syncretism, Shepkaru looks for parallels in the religions’ literature. One parallel that Shepkaru noted arose at the end of the 11th century. For Shepkaru, the “new detailed system of celestial reward for the Jewish martyr […] is mainly the result of the direct violent encounter of crusaders and Jews” (312). After Clermont, Heaven became more attainable for the Christian population of Europe. However, the pontiff left Heaven mysterious; which did not sit well with the soon-to-be crusaders. The populace “expected martyrdom to be more than an image of earthly Jerusalem” and used Urban’s initial description as a model that would be expanded upon, (Shepkaru 316). Shepkaru argues that as the Crusaders went further East, their vision of heaven solidified and became grander. Even the exact criteria of how a person might get into Heaven shifted for the Crusaders. Whereas the Pope presented martyrdom and its rewards as contingent upon volition; the crusaders opened martyrdom to all who died for Christ. This shift from the “voluntary aspect of martyrdom” to “all casualties could be depicted as overjoyed martyrs” is quite believable in the uncertainty of the time. The crusaders clearly had to believe that their deaths had purpose and, as such, shifted their very faith to accommodate this. Another example of the shifting nature of Heaven can be found in what the

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