By simply existing as non-Christians opposing Christianity, Jews remained a bane to Christianity’s contention that the Jewish Scriptures composed and sustained by Jews were written for Christians. According to M. S. Taylor (p. 139): “We have here a [Christian] tradition which remains constant over centuries, and forms a coherent body of mutually reinforcing arguments. It functions according to internal logic in which the invalidation of Judaism emerges as a theoretical necessity in the appropriation of the Jewish God and the Jewish Bible for the Church.” Tertullian (ca. 198, Apologies XX): “We point to the majesty of ‘our’ scriptures if not their antiquity” (my emphasis, ANF vol. 3, p. 33).

It was thus extremely unfortunate for Jews that Christianity needed to use Jesus’ ties to Judaism to provide it with the façade of antiquity. Had Jesus, his followers, and his message not been Jewish, Christianity — had it survived (under whatever name) without Jewish connection— would have been forced to seek historic legitimacy elsewhere than from Jewish Scriptures. That is, had a non-Jewish messianic figure like charismatic Jesus arisen from a Gentile non-Jewish environment, such new savior-based religion would have faced finding other means than appropriating Jewish Scriptures to justify a historic divine origin. Its antisemitism would most likely then have been less virulent, scaling no differently from other Roman ethnic/religious/cultural prejudices. Moreover, had such a Gentile movement not been dependent on exploiting the Jewish Scriptures, it would have been obvious to that movement that Jesus the Jew was not a Messiah for either the Jews or the non-Jews (see Note #15).

Meeks (1985, p. 114): “If Marcion’s movement [Christian rejection of any ties to Jews, Judaism, and the Jewish Torah — Note #17] had endured, Christianity would have become a different thing.” Ehrman (2003, p. 111) points out that had Marcion’s movement succeeded, it could “have led simply to benign neglect [of Jews] as Jews and their religion would have been considered to be of no relevance and certainly no competition for Christians. The entire history of anti-Semitism might have been avoided, ironically, by an anti-Jewish religion.”

Again, it is essential to recognize that it was not direct conflict with Jews that accounted for the intense antisemitism in Christianity’s development. For Christian Fathers, such as Tertullian (ca. 198), to write polemical anti-Jewish (Adversus Judaeos) tracts, dialogue with Jews or intimate knowledge of Judaism was not necessary (Ruether 1974, p. 148). Efroymson (1976) notes: “Tertullian’s anti-Judaism is an inheritance from his Christian and Roman and African roots. But if he did not really know any Jews, if there were no personal confrontations and disputations with living Jews to keep this inheritance from wasting away, what kept it alive? Briefly, it can be argued that he grew to need anti-Judaism…. He uses it rhetorically to win arguments against his [Christian] opponents, and he uses it theologically, or symbolically, to construct a Christianity, a Christian social identity which is centrally, crucially, un-Jewish, anti-Jewish, and better-than-Jewish.