Anti-Judaism in early Christianity

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Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity is a description of anti-Judaic sentiment in the first three centuries of Christianity; the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries. Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325 when the First Council of Nicaea was convoked by Constantine the Great.

Jewish Christians were excluded from the synagogue, according to one theory of the Council of Jamnia, and as they refused to pay the Fiscus Judaicus.[1]

William Nicholls wrote in his book Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate:

...the very presence of the Jewish people in the world, continuing to believe in the faithfulness of God to the original covenant ... puts a great question against Christian belief in a new covenant made through Christ. The presence of this question, often buried deep in the Christian mind, could not fail to cause profound and gnawing anxiety. Anxiety usually leads to hostility.[2]

Rabbi Michael J. Cook believes that both contemporary Jews and contemporary Christians need to reexamine the history of early Christianity, and the transformation of Christianity from a Jewish sect consisting of followers of a Jewish Jesus, to a separate religion often dependent on the tolerance of Rome while proselytizing among Gentiles loyal to the Roman empire, to understand how the story of Jesus came to be recast in an anti-Jewish form as the Gospels took their final form.[3]

The Greek word Ioudaioi could also be translated "Judaeans", meaning in some cases specifically the Jews from Judaea, as opposed to people from Galilee or Samaria for instance.[4]

New Testament[edit]

It has been argued that the New Testament contributed toward subsequent antisemitism in the Christian community.[5] A. Roy Eckardt has asserted that the foundation of antisemitism and responsibility for the Holocaust lies ultimately in the New Testament.[6]

Eckardt insisted that Christian repentance must include a reexamination of basic theological attitudes toward Jews and the New Testament in order to deal effectively with antisemitism.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Historians debate whether or not the Roman government distinguished between Christians and Jews prior to Nerva's modification of the Fiscus Judaicus in 96. From then on, practising Jews paid the tax, Christians did not. Wylen, Stephen M., The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction, Paulist Press (1995), ISBN 0-8091-3610-4, Pp 190-192.; Dunn, James D.G., Jews and Christians: The Parting of the Ways, AD 70 to 135, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (1999), ISBN 0-8028-4498-7, Pp 33-34.; Boatwright, Mary Taliaferro & Gargola, Daniel J & Talbert, Richard John Alexander, The Romans: From Village to Empire, Oxford University Press (2004), ISBN 0-19-511875-8, p. 426.;
  2. ^ William Nicholls: Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate (Jason Aronson, 1993) ISBN 1-56821-519-3. p.90
  3. ^ Michael Cook 2008 Modern Jews Engage the New Testament
  4. ^ The Complete Gospels, Robert J. Miller editor, pages 193–194, cameo essay on "The Judeans", for example the translation of John 1:7: "After this, Jesus moved around in Galilee, he decided not to go into Judea, because the Judeans were looking for a chance to kill him."
  5. ^ The Question of Anti-Semitism in the New Testament Writings of the Period. Jews and Christians: the parting of the ways, CE 70 to 135. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999. Page 179. 'The challenge thus posed to Christian NT scholars in particular cannot therefore be ducked... The question we must face, then, is whether such attitudes are already inseparable from the scriptures on which they were based. ... in terms of the present inquiry, Does the attitude to Jews in the post-70 NT documents indicate that the final breach, the decisive parting of the ways between Christianity and (rabbinic) Judaism, has already happened?'
  6. ^ Eckardt, A. Roy. Elder and Younger Brothers.
  7. ^ Eckardt, A. Roy. Your People, My People.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate" by William Nicholls, 1993. Published by Jason Aronson Inc., 1995.
  • "Mature Christianity: The Recognition and Repudiation of the Anti-Jewish Polemic in the New Testament" Norman A. Beck, Susquehanna Univ. Press, 1985
  • "The Satanizing of the Jews: Origin and development of mystical anti-Semitism" Joel Carmichael, Fromm, 1993
  • "The Origins of Anti-Semitism: Attitudes Toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity" John G. Gager, Oxford Univ. Press, 1983
  • "What Did They Think of the Jews?" Edited by Allan Gould, Jason Aronson Inc., 1991
  • "The New Testament's Anti-Jewish Slander and Conventions of Ancient Polemic", Luke Johnson, Journal of Biblical Literature, Volume 3, 1989
  • "Three Popes and the Jews" Pinchas E. Lapide, Hawthorne Books, 1967
  • "National Socialism and the Roman Catholic Church" Nathaniel Micklem, Oxford Univ. Press, 1939
  • Theological Anti-Semitism in the New Testament", Rosemary Radford Ruether, Christian Century, Feb. 1968, Vol. 85
  • "John Chrysostom and the Jews" Robert L. Wilken, Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1983
  • "Anti-Semitism in the Church?" by Julio Dam

External links[edit]