- The Monograph
- Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: St. Paul's Letters and Jewish Christians
- Chapter 2: What and when was "Parting of the Ways"?
- Chapter 3: Jews, Christians, and Roman Legitimacy
- Chapter 4: Jesus the Jew
- Chapter 5: Recruiting Gentiles and Effect of the name "Christian"
- Chapter 6: Christian Anti-Jewish Rhetoric
- Chapter 7: Christian Reinterpretation of the Jewish Bible
- Chapter 8: Labeling Jews as "Christ Killers"
- Chapter 9: Jewish Rebellion and Roman Destruction
- Chapter 10: Myths Used to Justify Christian Anti-Jewishness
- Chapter 11: Why did Jews find Christianity unacceptable
- Chapter 12: Gospel History
- Chapter 13: Christian Jew Hatred and Antisemitism
- Chapter 14: St. Paul and "Parting of the Ways"
- Chapter 15: The Jewish Messiah and the Role of Jesus
- Chapter 16: Religious Differences Among Jews
- Chapter 17: Christian Rants against Jews and Judaizers
- Chapter 18: Christian Opposition to Biblical "Law" Denouncing Jews who Observe It
- Chapter 19: The "Holy", "Unholy", and "True Israelites"
- Chapter 20: Do Christians Need to Demean Jews? What if Jesus had not been a Jew?
- Chapter 21: Currying Favor with the Romans; Roman Oppression and Jesus' Crucifixion
- Chapter 22: Christian Missionary Success and Accommodation to Roman Society
- Chapter 23: Christian Anti-Jewishness Before and After Gaining Power
- Chapter 24: The Psychology of Antisemitism
- Chapter 25: Christian Literature and Perpetuation of Anti-Semitism
- Chapter 26: Can New Testament Antisemitism be Deleted?
St. Paul, Philippians 3.2: “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh [Judaistic Jews or “Judaizers” proselytizing for Jewish-Christian sects].” St. Paul, Galatians 1.6–9: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another gospel, but there are some [Jews and Judaizers] who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!” St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 11.3: “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray [by Jews and Judaizers] from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
St. Paul’s letters thus furnished a foundation for Gentile Christians to view Jews as heretics engaged in heretical acts (Jewishness), a posture that easily led to open antisemitism. St. John 8.44: “You [Jews] are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires.” Letter to the Hebrews 6.4–6: “it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they [Jews and Judaizers] are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt.”
St. Ignatius (ca. 100) Letter to the Magnesians X: “It is absurd to speak of Jesus Christ with the tongue, and to cherish in the mind a Judaism which has now come to an end. For where there is Christianity there cannot be Judaism” (ANF vol. 1, p. 63). St. Gregory of Nyssa (ca. 380) Homilies on the Resurrection: “Jews are slayers of the Lord, murderers of the prophets, enemies of God, haters of God, adversaries of grace, enemies of their fathers’ faith, advocates of the devil, a nest of vipers, purveyors of slander, scoffers, men of darkened minds, leaven of the Pharisees, a gang of devils. They are sinners, wicked men, stoners, and haters of righteousness” (Flannery, p. 50; also Simon, p. 216). St. John Chrysostom (ca. 386), Against the Jews, Oration 1: “The Jews gather bands of effeminate men and a great mob of female prostitutes; they drag the whole theatre and the actors into the synagogue: there’s no difference between theatre and synagogue. … Where a prostitute has established herself, that place is a brothel. I should say that the synagogue isn’t only a brothel and a theatre, but also a cave of robbers and a resting place for wild beasts. When God abandons a place, that place becomes the dwelling of demons” (Mayer and Allen, pp. 153–154).
Such virulent anti-Jewish rhetoric added little value to the Christian creed, except to use prejudice to reinforce a religious border against Jews; a border which might otherwise appear porous to Christians presented with Jewish Scriptures as the only support for Christian antiquity. These maledictions indicate how unimaginable it was to allow Christians to believe that Jews reject Christianity for reasons other than sinful willfulness and intransigence.
That essential elements of Christianity are unacceptable to Jews on valid Scriptural and rational grounds, as discussed in Note #11 and elsewhere in this monograph, had no merit to Christian leaders. Nor was the knowledge that Jesus and his disciples followed Jewish religious practices (Notes #4, #16) allowed to diminish anti-Jewish hostility. Interestingly, fears that “Judaizers” would join the Gentile Christian Church and resurrect Jesus’ and his followers’ Jewish roots were revivified in 18th century writings of Schleiermacher, a Protestant theologian (Batnitzky, p. 26). Important as anti-Jewish calumnies were in preserving Gentile Christian religious identity, their impact extended far beyond religion. Presented to Christian parishioners by leaders and theologians with high social standing offering salvation, some or even many listening Christians would have extended such attitudes into their social lives.
Note that although Christian leaders used “Judaizer” as an anti-Jewish epithet (Note #10.5), not all Jewish Christians were “Judaizers.” Namely, some of these Jewish “non-Judaizers” apparently joined Jesus-believing assemblies without intending to “Judaize” their Gentile associates. That St. Paul had to defend such Jewish Christians against Gentile prejudice (Romans 14.1–15.6) shows how decidedly anti-Jewish Gentile Christianity had become within a single generation after Jesus’ death. N. Elliot (p. 188–189): “Indeed, the whole of [St. Paul’s] letter is directed against the danger of a smug self-satisfaction on the part of the Gentiles, rooted in the latent toxic anti-Judaic propaganda current in Rome.”
Nevertheless, no matter how conciliatory St. Paul’s occasional expressions of tolerance may sound, they were not to preserve Jewish ethnicity or distinctiveness, but to eventually enroll Jews into the Pauline fold of “anti-Law” Gentile Christianity (Note #18). At their most tolerant best, like St. Paul’s Romans, Christian Fathers regarded Jews as defiant delinquents destined to be converted upon Jesus’ Parousia (“Second Coming”). Already apparent in St. Paul’s first century Gentile Christian churches — that one cannot be both a Gentile Christian of “faith” and a practicing Jew of “works” —Gentile Christianity’s estrangement and hostility towards Jews did not await Christianity’s fourth century adoption by Rome.
The violent rhetoric which St. Paul began against “Judaizers” effectively turned those who practiced Jewish rituals and observances — “Jews” — into “others,” cursed and anathematized for their “Jewishness.” “One of the most striking kinds of Christian writing, although the least attractive to modern sensibilities, is the very large body of polemical works, or even casual asides, addressed in Late Antiquity towards heterodox Christians, or towards Jews, with whom the former are often conflated” (Cameron, p. 110). Anti-Jewish monomania thus became a sanctioned feature easily induced in Christian leaders claiming “orthodoxy,” even in arguments against other Christian leaders.
For example, Christian Fathers in the second century accused their anti- Jewish Gentile Christian adversary, Marcion, of “championing the cause of the Jews” for interpreting the Jewish Bible literally rather than allegorically by showing that it prophecies Messiahs other than Jesus. To Tertullian (ca. 198) Marcion was a heretic guided by the Jews: “[Marcion] must now cease to borrow poison from the Jew — “the asp,” as the adage runs, “from the viper” — and henceforth vomit forth the virulence of his own disposition, as when he alleges Christ to be a phantom” (ANF vol. 3. p. 327). Conversely, Marcion then accuses his “orthodox” Christian opponents of fostering “Jewish” ties and nurturing “Jewish” roots because they insist on using the Jewish Bible to prophecy Jesus as Messiah, whereas the God of the Jewish Bible was really evil and defective, having been replaced by a superior Christian non-Jewish deity, Jesus, who was sent to Earth, not as a Jew, but as a Gentile.
Note that although the Christian Fathers considered Marcion’s abandonment of Jewish Scriptures as “heresy,” he overcame the “orthodox” Gentile Christian inconsistency of employing Jewish Scriptures to justify a non-Jewish religion. Failure of Marcionites to supplant “orthodox” Gentile Christianity shows how essential it was for Christianity to use its unique “exegesis” of Jewish Scriptures to pretend it possessed an antique origin.
Sadly for Jews, opposition to Marcion by Christian Fathers such as St. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, St. Irenaeus, led to declarations that it was not Marcion’s Jewish Scriptural God who was “inferior,” but it was the Jews, replaced in God’s favor by the worthier Gentile Christians. “Thus, the God of the Hebrew Bible was salvaged for Christians precisely by means of the anti-Judaic myth” (Efroymson 1979, p. 101).
It is ironic that Marcion, the Christian leader furthest from any Jewish influence (see also Note #14), was condemned for emulating Jews. It is also ironic that had the Christian Fathers adopted Marcion’s form of Christianity with its opposition to Jews and Jewish Scriptures, Christian antisemitism (had Christianity survived) would most probably have been much less virulent, since Jews would not have been considered Scriptural competitors; and Gentile Christianity’s impelling need to supplant Jews as the “True Israelites” would not have arisen. (See also Note #20.)
Accusations of “Jewishness” were also raised by “orthodox” theologians against Arius and other Gentile Christian “heretics” who subordinated the Son (Jesus) below the Father (God) rather than endow Jesus and God the same divine status. “Direct contemporaries [St.] Athanasius and [St.] Ephraem, in the process of defining and actively reifying ‘Arian’ as a cohesive (and heretical) group, both used sharp anti-Jewish and anti-Judaizing language in order more clearly to define and more easily to denigrate their subordinationist Christian opponents” (Shepardson, p. 701). St. John Chrysostom condemns any such “Arian,” whether Christian or Pagan, as suffering from the “Jewish” disease: “The Anomoean’s [Arian] impiety is akin to that of the Jews …because the Jews and the Anomoeans make the same accusation. … He [Jesus] called God His own Father and so made Himself equal to God” (Discourses Against Judaizing Christians 1.6, Harkins, p. 4).
In the Gospel of Philip, a fourth or fifth century Gospel believed written to support the orthodox Nicene creed, “anti-Judaism does not seem to be directed only, or even primarily against Jews, but is rather used as a weapon or branding device against other Christians whose theology and ritual practice it implicitly associates with Judaism. In this respect the Gospel of Philip is representative of its time, as associative anti-Judaism of this kind was indeed a popular device used by a broad selection of church fathers, not least in the fourth and fifth centuries” (Lundhaug, p. 245).
St. Jerome (ca. 400) used the “Jewish” accusation against Christian rivals indiscriminately: “Sabellians, Arians, Photinians, Nestorians, and others could all become Jewish with a few strokes of the pen” (Newman 2001, p. 422). On the other hand, St. Jerome’s anti-Jewish credentials were no protection against accusations of himself being pro-Jewish. Rufinus castigates St. Jerome for having been sympathetic to Jews in enlisting Jewish teachers to help translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Latin. St. Jerome then defends himself: “There is nothing to blame in my getting the help of a Jew in translating from the Hebrew” (Jerome’s Apology for Himself Against the Books of Rufinus Book 1, 13), and reaffirms his anti-Jewish credentials. “I have a strange dislike to those of the circumcision. For up to the present day they persecute our Lord Jesus Christ in the synagogues of Satan” (Letter LXXXIV, NPNF Series 2, vol. 6, p. 176).
Marshall (pp. 12–13): “In the history of Christianity the accusation that a person is too Jewish has been damning indictment. From Ignatius of Antioch’s condemnation of those who ‘talk of Jesus and practice Judaism,’ through the twentieth century in which to be a Judenchristen was to be less than fully Christian, the accusation of association with Judaism that did not properly subordinate Judaism to Christianity was a peculiarly Christian form of slander.” Even John Calvin (ca. 1530), as firm a Christian as one could expect, was accused of “Judaizing” because he failed to interpret “Christologically” some Jewish Scriptural Psalms (Pak).