Parkes, James William°

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PARKES, JAMES WILLIAM ° (1896–1981), English theologian and historian. Educated in Guernsey and at Oxford, Parkes, a member of the Church of England, was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1926 and from 1928 to 1934 was study secretary of the International Student Service in Geneva. Actively aware of the antisemitism prevalent in the Central and Eastern European universities, he wrote his earliest book, The Jew and His Neighbour (1930, 19382). He then embarked on what was planned as a comprehensive history of antisemitism, the chief responsibility for which he saw in the policy of the Christian Church (The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, 1934; The Jew in the Medieval Community, 1938). He wrote a long series of other works on antisemitism, the origins of Christianity, the history of Palestine, etc., in all of which he demonstrated a strong sympathy with the Jewish people and appreciation of Judaism as a religious system. Parkes collaborated with many Jewish organizations and was president of the Jewish Historical Society of England (1949–51). His important private library on Jewish history and Jewish-Gentile relations, which he collected at his home in Barley (near Cambridge) and was incorporated in 1956 as a center for the study of relations between the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds, was given by Parkes to the University of Southampton, where the university established a research fellowship for the study of the relations of Jewish and non-Jewish communities. In 1967 Parkes published Arabsand Jews in the Middle EastA Tragedy of Errors. Parkes' autobiography, Voyage of Discoveries, appeared in 1969. James Parkes was one of the most sincere, outspoken, and influential Christian philo-semites of 20th century Britain.

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[Cecil Roth]