On Moses’ ‘horns’

On Moses’ ‘horns’

In her Touch of Torah column on Ki Tisa, Rabbi Joyce Newmark discussed the translation of the word “keren” into Latin as cornuta/horned (“How a biblical mistranslation led to anti-Semitism,” March 12.) She draws attention to Michelangelo’s statue of Moses and links it to anti-Jewish bigotry so tragically evident in our day.

I draw attention to the work of historian Ruth Mellinkoff, “The Horned Moses in Medieval Art and Thought” (University of California Press, 1970). She distinguishes between the ram’s horn as a symbolic authority (found on statues and coins) and the goat’s horn which in the Middle Ages and later was a symbol of the devil and applied to the Jewish people by those who misinterpreted the New Testament, especially John 8:44. Michelangelo had great esteem for Moses as mediator of the Sinai covenant.

Rev. Lawrence Frizzell
Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies
Seton Hall University
South Orange

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