Anand K wrote:
The Early Church had a hand in stoking hatred against the Jews..... it's something like the Pakis being uncomfortable with their Indian past. The ethnic identity of Jesus, his status as a Jewish Messiah (till the Paulines extended the whole idea of Jesus), the fact (disputed though) that the first church was in Jerusalem and of quite a different character than the Church of Rome all have contributed to the fear of Judaism.
I will post this again because this post will be used again and again regarding the history of Pauline Christianity.
Another fundamental phenomenon of major geopolitical consequence was not merely Christianity's growing out of the confines of Judaism, but of it actually developing serious and fundamental anti-Jewish moorings. The exact causes and reasons for this are the subject of much research today, we shall see that the anti-Jewish theme developing right from Jesus Christ himself.
The Jews refusal to recognize Jesus' claim to being the messiah or prophet resulted in an open conflict between "the Jews" and Jesus. For specific example, we refer our reader to John 8:31-8:59, a dialogue between Jesus and "the Jews". The Jews challenge Jesus claim to prophethood, accuse him of being possessed by a demon, and in turn Jesus defends himself as "son of God", and calls the Jews liars and children of the devil. This would certainly be a recurring theme...we shall see the same with Mohammed, and again with Luther etc....where the Jews refuse to recognize the claim of the prophet to prophethood and the religion of the prophet turns against the Jews. The development of the dogma of the divinity of Christ made a breach between the church and the synagogue. Judaism could not admit of the deification of a man; to recognize any one as the son of God was blasphemy; and as the Jewish Christians had not severed their connections with the Jewish community, they were disciplined. This accounts for the flagellation of the Apostles and the new converts, the execution of Stephen and of the Apostle James. [In this and only in this context, we have put inverted commas around "the Jews", because this is not quite "the Jews", but "the Jews in power of Judea", claiming to represent conventional Jewry.]
Further, the claim by subsequent Christians: "They killed our Lord" is to a good extent true. Although, it was the Roman governor Pontius Pilate who finally sentenced Jesus to crucifixion, it should be kept in mind that he had at least tried (if not his very best), to prevent this. He had passed the sentence under pressure from what was certainly a Jewish crowd, yelling for Jesus' death. These were probably hirelings of the Sanhedrin, paid to do the shouting. It is also true that the grounds for the death sentence were unjustified. The Jews did everything they could to convince Pilate that Jesus was advocating a revolt against Caesar (Luke 23.2). We should also keep in mind the fact that the Sanhedrin had clearly "played politics", for when Jesus was initially produced before this Jewish body, they charged him with blasphemy for calling himself the son of God, warranting a death sentence in those days. However, when they produced him before the Roman authorities, they used a different charge: advocating a revolt against Caesar and instigating the Jews to stop paying taxes to the Rome. Pilate was clearly unconvinced of the validity of even this latter charge. Perhaps a case could be made that Pilate could have taken Jesus to Rome for further trial, but it must be kept in mind, that Jesus was at the time a nobody in the eyes of the Romans. At any rate, not just ordinary Christians, but the Gospels would explicitly state this. For examples where the Gospels blame the Jews for the death of their messiah, we refer the reader to Matthew 27:25, Paul 1, John 8:44, Mark 2:6, 15:10,16; 3:6, Luke 23:4, 14, 20, 22, 25 and Thessalonians 2:15.
We next examine the case of anti-Judaism with apostle Paul. The easiest starting point for our reader would be to recognize that Paul was fundamentally a double-speak. In his own words he was all things to all men, to Jews a Jew, to Gentiles a Gentile. Paul, who spent most of his time with the Gentiles, told the Gentiles that Judaism was dead. Of course, he could not say the same when he was with Jews. Again, when Paul went to Rome, he explicitly blamed the Jews for murdering the messiah, being careful not to apportion any blame on the Romans. This was of course with an obvious political motive -- the Romans were not getting along too well with the Jews. Paul (and his disciple Luke) made every attempt to belittle the others involved in the early rise of Christianity. In particular, Paul attempts to paint himself as being initially "equal to" and then "superior to" the elders of Jerusalem. However, this was not quite the case. The fact of the matter is that the Elders of Jerusalem were not the timid stupids of Paul's fiction, but scholarly men who were reverred greatly by the populace in Jerusalem, as well as by the Sanhedrin and by the Sadduccees. On an initiative from James, who as we have mentioned earlier, started the Jerusalem Church (which essentially preached Jewish nationalism), along with Peter and John summoned Paul to Jereusalem for cross-questioning. Here, he pretended to be a devout Jew and claimed he had taught his converts nothing contrary to Jewish law. Of course, it is not easy to tell a lie forever, and a break with the mainstream Judaism was inevitable. He was accused of apostasy from Judaism and of preaching against the law. This was in fact exactly what he was doing. He had thus made many enemies, including from amongst his former friends who now realized that he was deceiving them. Thus, the fundamental role played by Paul in taking Jesus' message to the Gentiles had inherent in it the seeds of dispute. And when he declared that in order to come to Jesus one need not pass through the Synagogue, nor accept circumcision, the ties which bound Christianity to Judaism were torn. While Judaism would remain an ideology centered around the promised land, Christianity had broken these chains and would become a world movement.
The early Christians also saw themselves as separate from the Jews, and became increasingly unpatriotic. They no longer had the same passion for Judea that the Jews had, although many continued to abhor Rome. For good example, the Christians had refused to join the Zealots and the uprising at Galilee, in attempting to liberate Jerusalem from the Romans. They fled both when the Jewish resistance initially won and again subsequently when Jerusalem and Israel was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, no Christian met his death amidst the destruction.
With the Jews now in the diaspora called the "Roman Exile", the relations between the Jews and Jewish-Christians worsened. Being driven out of Israel, the Jews reconvened the Sanhedrin in Jabne and now attached themselves more strongly to their Law. Deprived of their home, the Jews took the Law as their cherished heritage and those who attacked it would be far worse enemies than the Romans. Thus, it was that the Jews found themselves fighting against the Christian doctrine that was making more and more converts from amongst the Jews. For example, we quote Rabbi Tarphonor: "The Gospels must be burned; paganism is not as dangerous to the Jewish faith as the Jewish Christian sects. I should rather seek refuge in a pagan temple than in an assembly of Jewish Christians". Nor was he the only one who thought so, for several Rabbis had recognized the threat from rising Christianity.
The Jews thus saw the loss of their influence and saw their beliefs and faith, attacked by the neophytes. The Christians felt equally bitter when Jewish elders obstructed their efforts at proselytization and furious hatred was mutual. The road to violence was now short. The Jews did not behave passively in the face of attacks from the Christians. They had not, as yet, acquired the stubborn and touching resignation which was to become characteristic of some of them later. They challenged the argumentation of priests and retaliated violently where they were physically attacked. They fought Christian proselytism with their own. Violent sermons were preached in synagogues, and Jewish preachers thundered against Rome, the Rome of the Caesars which had now become the Rome of Jesus. While Rome of Caesars had ravaged the land of the Jews, they found Rome of Christ threatening to destroy their faith. They did not content themselves with rhetoric and excited their brethren to revolt. The Jews took up arms during the rule of Gallus, Constantius' nephew, but they were severely repressed by Gallus and his general, Ursicinus. A mass butchery followed, Tiberias and Lydda were half destroyed, Sepphoris was razed to the ground and the catacombs of Tiberias were filled with Jews evading capture and death.
After Constantine's Edict of Milan, legalizing Christianity, and the militarization of the church in Rome, anti-Judaism became harsher, more severe and aggressive. The Christians argued with the Jews that it was they, the Christians, that were the only faithful to tradition, for they fulfilled the prophecies and the details of their dogmas were foretold by the scriptures. They no longer tried to win over the Jews to the fold of Christianity; the Jew was regarded less as a potential Christian than as unrepenting vermin. Pains were taken to forget that Jesus and the Apostles were Jewish in origin and to forget that Christianity was born in the shelter of the Judaism. This oblivion perpetuated itself, and today who in all Christendom would acknowledge that he bows to a poor Jew and perhaps a humble Jewess of Galilee?
Matters worsened in 323 AD when Constantine defeated Lucinius of the Eastern Empire and then started blatantly showing favors to the Christian church and gave the church what was to be the equivlaent of imperial power. He banned Jewish proselytism and revived an ancient Roman law which prohibited the Jews from circumcising their slaves; they were stripped of their former privileges and barred from Jerusalem, (except on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple, and that upon payment of a special tax in silver), and were denied Roman citizenship in the other provinces of the empire. Jewish teachers were threatened with death if they taught about Judaism. Taxation of the Jews increased and they were forced to slave for the Roman officialdom. In 337 AD, Constantius made the marriage of a Jewish man to a Christian punishable by death and by 339 AD converting to Judaism was a criminal offense.The Christian preachers took advantage of this situation to pressure Jews into baptizing.
In the cities, monks and bishops denounced pagans and Jews, inciting against them the Christian populace and leading fanatical mobs in assaults upon temples and synagogues. Under Theodosius I, and under Arcadius, synagogues were burned at Rome and at Callinicus, in Mesopotamia. Under Theodosius II, at Alexandria, St. Cyril stirred up the mob and Christian hermits invaded the city and massacred all the Jews and Pagans they met. They assassinated the famous female mathematician Hypathia, plundered synagogues, set the libraries on fire, defying the efforts of the prefect Orestes whom the Emperor later disavowed. Similar attacks were led by Simon the ascetic at Imnestar, near Antioch and by Zeno at Antioch itself.
The bishops and priests attacked the Jews in vile language at their sermons. Several example can be cited: (Hosius in Spain; Pope Sylvester; Paul, bishop of Constantine; Eusebius of Caesarea, St. Cyril, Gregory of Nyssa, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St Ambrose; the last four were the Great Doctors of the Western or Latin church ), St. Fulgentius, and there is the well known sermons (homilies "Adversus Judaeos" ) by the very popular preacher of Antioch, St. John of Antioch ( known later as Chrysostom= "Golden Mouth" around 400 AD; one of the Four Great Eastern Doctors of the Ancient church):
Over and over again the Christian bishops would refer to the Jews as "shameless, obstinate and deceitful", "Judaic serpents with Judas as the model", "impious ignoramuses, dogs, herd of brutes, beasts and brigands, wolves etc", "thieves, impure, debauchees, rapacious, misers, crafty, oppressors of the poor, plunderers and cheats", "deserving of all kinds of suffering", "seek nothing but to have children, possess riches and be healthy". "Their synagogues are playhouses, abodes of Satan", "the Jewish disease must be guarded against", "if one thought Judaism was true, he could leave the church, if not leave Judaism", "Stay away from the Jews who call the cross an abomination and whose religion is null and useless", "their suffering was due to them: they got what they deserved for killing the Son of God", "they knew God the Father, but chose to kill his son", "Satan dwells among them", " heretics, departing from the life of the Catholic church, deserving of the eternal fire prepared for the devil" etc etc.
The church would remain anti-Judaic till this very day, and the Jews would suffer greatly at the hands of the church through the millenia. The Doctrine of Manifest Destiny was used to justify punishment for the Jews as being divinely ordained for not having come over to the Christian belief. Once the church gained control of most of Italy, confinement and ghettoization of Jews started and conditions in the ghettoes depended on economic and political need of church. The Jews had to pay a ransom in order to survive in the ghettoes. With the spread of Christianity to other kingdoms and over Europe, the persecution of Jews assumed global proportions. In the century following Gregoryâ€™s papacy, the Jews were already being hounded out of several countries of Europe. King Dagobert, in 626 AD, expelled them from France, although they did subsequently have a brief respite during the reign of the Carolingian dynasty. In 694 AD the Spanish monarchy, with open collusion from the church, forced the Jews to choose between conversion and slavery. The same was repeated in Portugal, where the persecution was particularly severe between 600-1000 AD. It was marked by massacres and economic loot of the Jews and their properties.
The Jews were thus forced to migrate eastwards, moving into Southern France and Pirennes Mountains in North Spain (related to today's Basque separatism), then onto Poland, Hungary, Russia, Mongolia and finally China. However, as Christianity spread to each of these countries, the persecution of Jews would accquire a worldwide proportion. They would start adopting Christian disguises to avoid detection and death or expulsion. Secret Jews (Conversos in Spain or Moranos in Portugal) were usually prominant wealthy Jews who officially converted to Christianity but practically remained Jewish. They were able to gain the confidence of the Spanish and Portuguese kings giving rise to a group called "Hoffjudens" or "court Jews". This group would help Jewish resistance over Europe and Asia.
The church was alarmed at the rise and penetration of these Secret Jews and decided to react. But they waited for the next four centuries till the last crusades were finally won in 1491 in Granada. Although during the crusades the intensity of the persecution of Jews decreased, they were still targetted in an indirect manner. The crusades were primarily aimed at liberating Palestine from islamic rule, but the crusading armies often used to pillage and kill Jews on their way to the holy land.
The decicive victory by Spain left Europe with Spain and Portugal (both Catholic) as the major naval powers. Once islam was controlled, the Church turned back to Europe to cleanse the continent from what it perceived to be the eternal menance -- Jews. In the period after the crusades, the Jews of Germany were routinely humiliated and sometimes massacred after accusations of treachery, poisoning of wells etc. Many German Jews fled eastward. Several Polish noblemen of the middle ages showed special favor to Jews who immigrated because of persecution in Germany, coupled with a Polish desire for Jewish expertise in commerce.
The Jews did well in Poland, until recently. Although Catherine the Great was the first to give the Jews political rights, resulting in an influx of a million Jews into Russia, the Orthodox church was not too happy. It urged them to accept Christianity, leading to riots and slaughter later in the century. In Germany, Martin Luther King had initially fantasized that the Jews, whom he was attracted to, would flock to his version of the church. However, as was the case with Jesus, the Jews refused to recognize his claims to being a messiah and he then turned against them. He had earlier, in 1523, written the pro-Jewish book "That Christ Was Born a Jew" . But now he turned against this "damned and rejected race," and wrote "Against the Sabbatarians" (in 1538 AD) followed by "On the Jews and Their Lies".
Unlike the church which broke all links to any "motherland" (it had never accepted one in the first place), the Jews did have a historic home or promised land where they had once lived and fought for. But the hated Romans had devastated their political kingdom, and soon after they were completely driven out by the muslims. What was worse, they were beginning to realize that they were insecure in every country they fled to, as it seemed the church (and subsequently islam) followed them there. (This would happen even in India, where they thought they had found safe haven amongst the Pagan Indians. They were soon disabused of this notion, for the Catholic Portuguese Albuquerque instituted the Goan Inquisition, specifically aimed at hounding the Jews out of Goa.)