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The conflict of the church and 
the synagogue 


f P| 

FS___ 1966.. 




A study in the origins of antisemitism 


Meridian Books 

Cleveland and New York 



James Parkes, a British clergyman and historian, was 
born in 1896. His special interests in the historical back- 
ground and theological determinants of Jewish and 
Christian relations and, more particularly, of antisemi- 
tism, have been expressed in a number of notable works, 
among which are: The Jew in ike Medieval Community, 
An Enemy of the People: Antisemitism, A History of 
Palestine, and The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue. 

To H.E. 


The World Publishing Company, Cleveland and New York 

The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 

First Meridian printing October 1961. 

Second printing June 1964. 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced 

in any form without written permission from the publisher, 

except for brief passages included in a review 

appearing in a newspaper or magazine. 

Reprinted by arrangement with The Soncino Press and James Parkes. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 61-11472 

Printed in the United States of America. 2MWP664 





WORLD Page i 

Origin and dispersion first contacts with 

I Rome, and privileges in the empire 

occupations-Greek and Alexandrian opinion 
of the Jews the Jews in the Greek cities 
Roman opinion of the Jews Jewish mis- 
sionary activity. 


Page 27 

Judaism and the Law the teaching of Jesus 
in Mark the accounts in Luke and 
Matthew the crucifixion-the infant Church 
and the admission of the Gentiles the 
activity of Saint Paul and his teaching 
about the Jews the Jews in the rest of the 
New Testament Jewish relationships with 
the early Church Jewish attitude to Saint 
Paul the issues still confused. 


CUV uwu.) PUBLIC LiBKAHY . Pa z* T 1 

The separation, Jews and Christians in 
Palestine the separation, letters to the 
synagogues the separation, Jews and 
Christians in the diaspora the separation, 
the Romans, Ramsay's view the separa- 
tion, the Romans, Merrill's view the date 
of the separation the Judeo-Christians after 
the separation the creation of an official 

^1 i 


attitude to Judaism the creation of an 
official attitude to Christianity influences 
of Christianity on Judaism relations 
between scholars Jews and Christians. 


View of modern scholars and their 
authority in Patristic literature nature of 
available evidence Jews in the Acta of 
the first century stories showing Jewish 
initiative from Hadrian to Constantine 
cases of Jewish hostility in the crowd per- 
secutions under Julian persecutions under 
Shapur II the mythical Acts cases of 
Jewish kindness to the Martyrs absence of 
any records of Jewish responsibility for the 
persecutions Summary of evidence. 


The problem facing the leaders of Judaism 
and Christianity the Christian view of 
the Jews Eusebius of Caesarea and Hilary 
of Poitiers and Jewish history Chrysostom 
and the Jews of Antioch Ambrose and the 
burning of a synagogue Epiphanius and 
Jewish belief converts, catechumens and 
church services the councils of the fourth 
century legislation affecting the Jews up 
to the death of Theodosius the Great the 
treatment of heretics events in fourth- 
century history Jews and Christians. 

WEST Page 197 

The progress of legislation Honorius and 
Valentinian III Theodoric the Ostrogoth 
the Lombards Gregory the Great 
Honorius, Gregory III, Stephen and 

The reign of Arcadius Theodosius II and 
the Theodosian Code the treatment of 
heretics in the fifth century the Jews of 
Antioch the legislation of Justinian the 
treatment of heretics by Justinian the 
council of Chalcedon the Jews and the 
Persian wars the destruction of synagogues 
and forced baptisms the Legislation of 
Leo and later councils. 

TURE Page 271 
The nature of Byzantine literature physical , 
occupational and mental characteristics of 
eastern Jews early eastern Christian writ- 
ings against the Jews, Ephrem, Aphraates 
and Jacob of Serug eastern disputations, 
Anastasius of Sinai eastern disputations, 
Gregentius and Herbanus, the Teaching of 
Jacob, the Trophies of Damascus, the con- 
version of the Jews of Tomei, the history of 
Theodosius and Philip the Jews in the 
Iconoclastic controversy the miraculous 
conversions of the Jews Jews in apocryphal 
writings Jews in the theologians * Jew ' 
as a term of abuse in the Nestorian-Chalce- 
donian-Monophysite controversy the ritual 
of the conversion of the Jews relations 
between Jews and Christians. 


Page 307 

The barbarian invasions the position of 
the Jews in Roman Gaul the Syrians in 
western Europe the simplification of Ro- 
man Law the Arian period the Jews and 
the Prankish councils the Jews and the 
Prankish kings compulsory baptisms in 
France the Jews in literature the laws of 




Charlemagne economic position of Jews 
relations between Jews and Christians. 


P*8 e 345 

The Visigothic period conditions of the 
Jews in Spain the Breviary of Alaric laws 
and councils of the first half of the seventh 
century laws and councils of Recceswinth 
laws and councils of Erwig laws and 
councils of Egica reasons for the persecu- 
tion of the Jews in Spain. 

SEMITISM Page 371 


A.D. 300 TO 800 Page 379 


Page 392 



Page 394 



TO THE JEWS Page 402 

Page 405 

NOTE. Each chapter is preceded by a short bibliographical 
introduction giving the sources, and the main 
authorities consulted. 


The publication of a study of the causes of antisemitism 
needs neither justification nor explanation at the present 
time. But a word may be said of the material offered in the 
present work. The progress of events from the mediaeval 
ghetto to modern Europe is fairly well known. That the 
roots of the present situation lie in the mediaeval past is 
generally agreed. The present work tries to go a stage 
further, and to answer the question: why was there a 
mediaeval ghetto? In 1096 there were wild popular out- 
breaks against the Jews in all the cities of northern and 
central Europe. What made this possible? The answer 
could only be found by a study of the earlier period, a period 
incidentally which is little known by either Jewish or 
Christian scholars of the subject. It was necessary to begin 
with the Jews in the Roman world, and to trace their passage 
through the Roman pagan and Roman Christian civilisations 
into the beginning of the Middle Ages if the significance 
of this sudden popular fury was to be discovered. 

The material to be surveyed was enormous, and needed 
careful selection if a book already large was not to assume 
impossible proportions. For this reason much has been 
left out. Much more evidence could be produced to support 
the thesis that the hostility of the Roman world to the Jew 
Dffers no explanation of the creation and survival of anti- 
semitism. More illustrations of the attitude of the Jews 
could have been drawn from post-biblical Jewish literature. 
But, as the collection of material progressed, I became more 
and more convinced that it was in the conflict of the Church 
with the Synagogue that the real roots of the problem lay; 
and it seemed wiser to give the maximum material on that 
subject so as to allow the reader to judge for himself the 
accuracy of the theory. 

It was necessary to attempt to present all, not a selection, 
of the known facts of Jewish- Christian relations. To do 
otherwise was to expose myself to the charge of selecting 
only those laws or passages in Chroniclers and Historians 
which supported my argument. And it was necessary to 
give references for my quotations, so that scholars might 

check them for themselves if they disagreed with my 
interpretations. I have at least not concealed my sources 
under such phrases as * a late Arab Chronicler ' or * an early 
and reliable authority ', phrases which again and again 
reduced me to fury in working through the modern material 
used in the preparation of this book. For this is neither a 
book of propaganda, nor an attempt to justify by any means 
available a particular hypothesis. It is an attempt to review 
with as much impartiality as possible the origins of a 
serious contemporary problem. 

This study carries the history of antisemitism down to the 
beginnings of mediaeval Europe. A further volume, bring- 
ing the subject down to the end of the Middle Ages, is now 
in course of preparation, and will, I hope, appear within a 
short time. 

This book was written while I was on the staff of Inter- 
national Student Service, for presentation as a thesis for the 
Doctorate of Philosophy at Oxford. I must express my 
deepest thanks to International Student Service for allowing 
me the necessary time for research, and to Exeter College, 
Oxford, for giving me a post-graduate scholarship during 
the period involved. I must also express my gratitude to the 
Authorities of the University of Geneva for the hospitality 
of their admirable library. 

It would be impossible to express my thanks to all the 
scholars, Christian and Jewish, who have assisted me in this 
study. But I cannot omit the names of my two chief coun- 
sellors, Professor Powicke, of Oxford, and Mr Herbert 
Loewe, whose departure to Cambridge has left Oxford 
without a Rabbinic scholar. To them I owe a debt which 
cannot be measured in Words. For financial assistance in 
publishing this work I have to thank the Committee for 
Advanced Studies at Oxford and Mr I. M. Sieff for their 

Though I fear that there will still be found by the indus- 
trious reader errors and oversights in the text, yet that the 
book was finished at all is due to the continual patient work, 
on manuscripts, sources and proofs, of my two collaborators, 
Helen Ellershaw and Miles Hyatt. If, after all their work, 
there are still inconsistencies or errors, the fault is mine 
and not theirs. 


May 1934. 



The rejection of Christianity by the Jewish people has, 
inevitably, always troubled the Christian conscience, and 
it is natural that an immense literature has grown up around 
the subject. To describe in detail the whole of this literature 
would be an enormous work in itself. The purpose of this 
introduction is more modest. It is designed to supplement 
the detailed bibliographies given to each chapter by a general 
survey of the development of the controversy between Jews 
and Christians from the separation of the two religions up 
to the present time. 

So long as the rejection of Christianity remained in doubt 
it was natural that the main effort of the protagonists of the new 
faith should be to explain and to justify it to their uncon- 
vinced fellow-countrymen. Their task was to prove by 
reference to the Scriptures which both parties accepted, that 
Jesus was really the Messiah. Their attitude to His con- 
demnation by the authorities of Jerusalem was a tentative one. 
They were more anxious to excuse than to condemn. This 
is the situation at the time when the synoptic gospels were 

But the events following the destruction of Jerusalem in 
A.D. 70 made the conversion of the mass of the people less 
likely, and there is, consequently, a change in the tone of the 
literature. It is designed to confute rather than to convince. 
To this period belongs the Gospel of Saint John, with its 
complete lack of distinction between parties, and its con- 
demnation of ' the Jews ' as a whole for actions which the 
synoptists had more specifically ascribed to the Pharisees or 
to some other party. The spread of the Church among 
Gentiles and Hellenistic Jews, who were either totally 
unacquainted with the Scriptures, or at best knew them but 
slightly, forced the Church into the collection of the main 
texts from the Old Testament on which it based its claim that 
Jesus was the Messiah, and many editions of these * Testi- 
monies ' were probably in circulation at the beginning of the 


second century. While the problem of the Jews was of 
capital importance to the Christians, it is easy to see that the 
problem of the Christians was of but very slight importance 
to the Jews. Not only were they engaged in a political and 
religious task which taxed all their energies, but in any case 
the Christians must have seemed a very small and insignificant 
sect to the leaders of Judaism. No literature has survived, 
and it is doubtful if any ever existed, in which the Jews set 
in writing their replies to the challenge of the Christians. 
At most this or that paragraph of the Talmud may have been 
uttered with the Christian doctrine, and the reply to it, in 
the mind of the rabbi concerned. The main Christian 
document of this second period is the dialogue of Justin 
with Trypho, written in the middle of the second century, 
which not only contains the fullest statement of the Christian 
teaching on the authenticity of the claims of Jesus to be the 
Messiah, but also the beginnings of a developed doctrine of 
the rejection of the Jews. There must have been many other 
such dialogues during this period, and one is known to us 
by name, the Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus. Traces of it 
are to be found in two dialogues which reflect fairly early 
conditions, those of Timothy and Aquila and of Athanasius 
and Zacchaeus. 

But in the main the Church of the second and third cen- 
turies was concerned with its relations with paganism more 
than with Judaism, and information about its attitude to the 
Jews has to be looked for here and there scattered throughout 
the writings of the Church fathers. Literature addressed to 
them directly has, however, always existed, and * Altercationes' 
or * Disputationes ' or discourses * contra Judaeos ' are to 
be found in almost every century. The earliest known to 
have been translated into a Teutonic tongue is the Book 
on the Catholic Faith of Isidore of Seville, written in the 
seventh century to confute the Jews of Visigothic Spain. 

A parallel literature from the Jewish side is not to be 
found before the Spanish controversies of the Middle Ages, 
but from that time onwards a number of Jewish authors have 
set themselves to refute the texts used by Christians to assert 
the truth of their religion. The most famous of the latter 
works is the Strengthening of Faith, by the Karaite Rabbi, 
Isaac of Troki, which, written in the sixteenth century and 


based largely on older materials, has enjoyed a considerable 
vogue in eastern Europe up to the present day, and has 
produced a number of Christian rejoinders, the latest being 
the work of Canon Lukyn Williams, Christian Evidences for 
Jewish People. 

A detailed study of the literature of the Middle Ages is 
reserved for a later volume treating of the relations between 
the Church and the Synagogue during that period, and here 
it is sufficient to remark that works of a precisely similar 
character to the earlier ones existed throughout the Middle 
Ages, containing very largely the old texts and methods of 

A popularised form of this literature was the miracle play, 
in which the part of the Jew was, naturally, always an 
unpleasant one. How far back these plays may be traced is 
an uncertain point, but there is a Dialogue between the 
Church and the Synagogue, attached to the writings of 
Augustine but certainly not by him, which almost looks as 
if it were written for dramatic presentation. To this popular 
literature of attack the Jews replied by the production of 
scurrilous biographies of Jesus. The earliest evidence for 
such biographies goes back to the second century, but the 
one which has survived, the Sepher Toldoth Jeshu, is 
probably mediaeval. It was known in whole or in part to 
various Christian scholars of the Middle Ages, and was 
finally published in toto by Wagenseil in his Tela Ignea 
Satani in 1681 . Since then it has provided frequent ammuni- 
tion for antisemitic writers. In its essence it is a parody of 
the Gospel narratives, turning all the good in them into evil. 
It is significant primarily for the use made of it by modern 
antisemitic writers. In itself it cannot be considered a 
serious view of Jewish scholarship, and it is indeed very 
doubtful whether it was as widely known among mediaeval 
Jews as Wagenseil would claim, though it certainly enjoyed 
considerable currency among the folk-lore and unwritten 
legend of the simpler type of Jewish family. 

The first field covered by this literature is, then, the inter- 
pretation of the Scriptures themselves, whether Jewish or 
Christian. A second subject enters into consideration with 
the development of post-Christian Jewish scholarship in 
the Talmud, Many of the early fathers show a more or less 


profound acquaintance with the development of contem- 
porary Judaism and the Jewish method of interpretation of 
the Scriptures. The writer who devoted most attention to the 
matter was Jerome. He produced innumerable commen- 
taries of the Scriptures in which he contrasts the Jewish and 
Christian interpretations, and also a new Latin version of 
the Bible, in order to give Christians, especially those who 
knew no Hebrew, an authoritative version for the purpose 
of confuting the Jews. But there are no lengthy commen- 
taries or attacks upon the Talmud as such until a much later 
period. All that was done was to prohibit Christians and, 
where possible, Jews from reading these ' interpretations '. 
The Middle Ages condemned the Talmud without trying 
to read it. The first attempt to secure a Christian view of its 
contents was undertaken by the Spanish Dominicans in the 
thirteenth century, and by a papal bull all passages offensive 
to Christianity were deleted. Similar action was taken at 
various other points in the Middle Ages, but more serious 
was the renewed attack of the Dominicans in the sixteenth 
century. In 1505 they commissioned a converted Jew, 
Pfefferkorn, to make a collection of all the offensive passages 
in the Talmud. This was published in 1507 as the Juden- 
Spiegel, and led to a great controversy between the clericals 
and humanists, led by the Dominicans and Reuchlin. The 
clericals won, but Reuchlin, though defeated, ushered in 
a new era by his courageous defence of the Jews and the 
Talmud in the AugenspiegeL At the end of the seventeenth 
century a Protestant professor, John Andrew Eisenmenger, 
published a violent attack on the Talmud and on Judaism 
as a whole under the title of Entdecktes Judentum y an 
' Original and True Account of the way in which the 
stubborn Jews frightfully blaspheme and dishonour the 
Holy Trinity, revile the Holy Mother of Christ, mockingly 
criticise the New Testament, the Evangelists, the Apostles 
and the Christian religion, and despise and curse to the 
uttermost extreme the whole of Christianity \ This work was 
so virulent that its first edition was suppressed, and for ten 
years it only circulated in a few copies. But in 171 1 the King 
of Prussia was interested in the matter, and the whole two 
quarto volumes of more than a thousand pages each was 
republished at the royal press at Kanigsberg. 


These two volumes are of capital importance for the future 
development of antisemitism. Not only do all later anti- 
Semites, such as Rohling, plagiarise them, but they link 
together, as no ancient writer did, the contemporary conduct 
of the Jews with their theological and historical failings. In 
this way the hatred of the Jews for the Christians is explained 
as the consequence of Jewish religious teaching, and the 
responsibility of the non-Jewish population for its existence 
is kept well in the background. 

The matter slumbered during the rest of the century, but 
it was again fanned into flame by the emancipation of the 
Jews and by the prominent part which they took in the 
economic developments of the nineteenth century. Econ- 
omic and religious questions became completely intertwined 
with politics, and a new form of polemic was evolved, in 
which contemporary life was the main interest. But the old 
accusations still remained to explain the Jewish position in 
society and to deepen the new hostility of the common people 
to the Jews. 

The literature which this new antisemitic movement 
produced is enormous, and it is only possible to indicate 
a few examples. The earliest writings came from France, 
where in the 'forties Toussenel produced in two volumes 
a work, Les Juifs, rois de Vepogue. This was followed by 
U entree des Israelites dans la Societe franf aise by the Abbe 
Joseph Lemann, himself a converted Jew, and these two 
works served as a basis for the infamous attack on the French 
Jews of Edouard Drumont, La France Juive^ which, in spite 
of being a work of two fat volumes, ran into innumerable 
editions and produced a whole literature of attack and 
defence in the years immediately preceding the Affaire 

In Germany a similar literature came into being with the 
publication by a journalist, Wilhelm Marr, of a sensational 
pamphlet on the Victory of Judaism over Germanism. The 
nineteenth century saw this attack developed along several 
different lines. Treitschke developed political antisemitism: 
Chamberlain embellished all the absurdities of racial anti- 
semitism with immense learning in The Foundations of the 
Nineteenth Century: Canon Rohling in the Talmudjude 
revived ritual murder accusations and all the poison of 


Eisenmenger; and finally Werner Sombart in Die Juden und 
das Wirtschaftsleben combined a serious study of the role 
of the Jews in the building up of modern society with 
a fantastic structure of religious and racial theory, linking 
the development of modern capitalism to the exigencies of 
the Mosaic Law. 

The final stage of antisemitic development accompanied 
the foundation of the Zionist Organisation as a world-wide 
federation of Jews. Out of this fact emerged a literature 
representing the Jews not merely as the enemies of individual 
Christians, or of particular national societies, but as the 
enemies of the whole world, and the secret plotters of a 
world revolution in their own favour. Out of this approach 
grew the famous forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. 

The defence of post- Christian Judaism and the re- 
examination of the Christian attitude to the Jew begin 
much later than the attack. While certain mediaeval Popes 
and ecclesiastical writers were not unsympathetic to them, 
and while the Papacy, for instance, steadily defended the 
Jews against the ritual murder accusation, it is not unnatural 
to find the first defence of the Talmud coming from a 
sixteenth-century humanist, Reuchlin, and the first complete 
examination of the history of the Jews among the Christian 
peoples undertaken by a Pastor of the Reformed Church, 
who thus did not feel personally responsible for what had 
happened before the Reformation, This important publica- 
tion was UHistoire des Juifs, pour servir a continuation de 
VHistoire de Flave Josephe, published by Jacob Christian 
Basnage at Rotterdam in 1701. This work was considerably 
used by other authors in the eighteenth century, and its 
popularity is indicated by its appearance in several editions 
both in French and English, and by the appearance of a 
pirated edition of it in Paris, in which his texts are falsified 
to divert the blame from the mediaeval Church. 

The eighteenth century witnessed the emergence of an 
emancipated literary Jewish group in Berlin under the leader- 
ship of a Jewish philosopher, Moses Mendelssohn. Fre- 
quented by many of the leading Christian intellectuals of his 
day, Mendelssohn inspired a new respect for the Jew, which 
is reflected in the play of Lessing, Nathan the Wise, and in the 
political plea of Christian William Dohm, Upon the Civil 


Amelioration of the Condition of the Jews. In England 
a similar reaction took place, and a dramatist of the second 
half of the century, having become extremely interested in 
the Jewish problem, produced a play, The Jew. Though 
Lessing's work is incomparably greater as literature, the two 
plays have this in common, that the Jew becomes as super- 
humanly virtuous as society had been accustomed to con- 
sider him superhumanly evil. Lessing shows his Jew as the 
great philosopher of toleration, Cumberland as the generous 
moneylender and anonymous philanthropist. This tendency 
in literature produced in the nineteenth century Dickens's 
Mr. Riah (though his Fagin is much better known) and 
George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. 

It would, however, be true to say that the literary tradition 
of the Jew as the evil character is by no means dead, and that 
when to-day a character is referred to as ' a Jew* in a book, 
it is usually meant as a term of dislike or contempt. This is, 
in fact, much the older tradition. Jews as a common subject 
of romances are first found in the time of the iconoclastic 
controversy, and though the story usually though not 
always ends with the conversion of the Jew, it invariably 
begins with his misdeeds. Eastern literature is, on the 
whole, better disposed towards them than western, but the 
human side of Shylock is a witness to the genius of Shake- 
speare only, and has few parallels in anything written be- 
tween the eighth century and the eighteenth. 

A new element in what may be called * the literature of 
defence ' was introduced by the emergence in the nineteenth 
century of higher criticism. The results of the researches 
of German scholars into the authenticity of the New Testa- 
ment were immediately known to Jewish scholars, who now 
had access to the European universities. This produced 
a demand for a re-examination of the part they were supposed 
to have played in the drama of Calvary presuming it even 
to have taken place. In 1838 a French Jewish scholar, 
Joseph Salvador, produced Jesus Christ et sa Doctrine, which 
was an attempt to study critically the history of the first two 
centuries of Christian history. This was followed some 
twenty years later with a more direct attack by J. Cohen, 
Les Detcides, in which the whole responsibility of the Jews 
for consciously killing the Messiah was rejected. Since 


then many Jewish works on the subject have appeared. 
Among them some of the most noticeable are As others saw 
Him, by Joseph Jacobs; The Trial of Jesus, by an American 
Jewish lawyer, Max Radin; and more recently Jesus of 
Nazareth, by Joseph Klausner. 

A second product of the new study of the Scriptures was 
a re-examination of the debt owed by Christianity to 
Judaism. This produced a considerable literature during 
the latter half of the nineteenth century. The first group to 
undertake such study were astonishingly little influenced by 
modern views of Judaism. Harnack and Schurer reproduce 
almost the same conception of the Jews as the theologians of 
the early centuries of the Church. A revision of the Gospel 
account of Pharisaism, and of the accepted conception of the 
Talmud, was made necessary by the appearance of The 
Pharisees, by Travers Herford, and by the literature arising 
out of the Rohling-Bloch trial. Though the actual trial never 
took place, since Rohling withdrew the day before it was to 
open, it gave the opportunity for a complete refutation of the 
usual calumnies on the Talmud. At the same time the re- 
emergence of ritual murder accusations led to the publication 
by Hermann Strack of The Jew in Human Sacrifice. Finally, 
in recent years, have appeared two exhaustive studies by 
Christian scholars on early Judaism, Judaism of the Tannaitic 
Period, by George Foote Moore, and the Kommentar zum 
Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch, by Hermann 
Strack and Paul Billerbeck. On the same subject, from 
the Jewish side, have appeared The Synoptic Gospels and 
Rabbinic Literature and Gospel Teaching, by Claude Monte- 
fiore. To these may be added the study of the different 
strata in the Gospels as they present the teaching of Jesus, 
Jesus and the Law of Moses, by B. H. Branscombe. 

A third development of the nineteenth century was a new 
Jewish interest in secular history. This interest produced 
a great Jewish apologist in H. Graetz, who began his 
Geschichte derjuden about 1850, following up and surpassing 
such limited works as those of Depping and Bedarride on 
the history of the Jews in western Europe. Since the time of 
Graetz many Jewish historians have appeared, including 
Dubnow with a further complete history of the Jews, Juster 
with a specialised study of the Jews in the Roman Empire, 


Aronius with a collection of early sources for Jewish history 
in western Europe, and others. 

This historical work formed the basis for a new apologetic, 
which was made very necessary by the re-emergence of anti- 
semitism in the second half of the nineteenth century. This 
time both Jew and Gentile scholar entered the field on the 
same side. Among Gentiles, Leroy Beaulieu wrote Israel 
parmi les Nations in the 'eighties, and G. F. Abbott Israel in 
Europe some ten years later. On the Jewish side the out- 
standing work was Antisemitisme by Bernard Lazare, and 
more recently the racial aspect has been dealt with by 
M. Mieses in Der Ur sprung des Judenhasses. This apologetic 
literature is now so enormous that it is impossible to quote 
examples of it. It can only be said that little of it rises above 
mediocrity, or tries to trace the problem to its real historical 
roots. It is for this reason that the present study was 

In this brief review of an immense literature, study of the 
Old Testament history of the Jew has been deliberately 
omitted; but in a survey of the numerous ways in which non- 
Jews have been led to a different appreciation of Judaism 
from that offered by the early Church, the work of Hebraists 
like the Buxdorf family in the seventeenth century has 
played no mean part. 

In the whole of this account it is significant that no honour- 
able part has been played by converted Jews, as interpreters 
of their old faith to their new. In the Middle Ages converted 
Jews were either silent or proved the sincerity of their 
conversion by virulent attacks upon Judaism. The sixteenth- 
century Pfefferkorn was an eminent example of this type. 
In recent centuries a number of converted Jews have written 
works to bring their co-religionists to conversion, e.g. 
Wegweiser zum Leben fiir Hebraer, oder Beweggrunde wegen 
welchen ich Thomas Neumann das Judenthum verlies und ein 
Katholischer Christ ward, of 1791, or Erreurs des Juifs en 
Matttre de Religion of Nicolas Leveque, 1828. The first 
converted Jew vigorously to undertake the defence of the 
Jews against unjust accusations was Daniel Abramovitch 
Chwolson, a Russian Jewish Christian scholar. The attempt 
to set Jesus in His Jewish setting was also first attempted 
by a Jewish Christian in the nineteenth century, in the 



work of Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the 

To-day it must still be said that the popular view of the 
Jews has little altered through the influence of modern 
scholarship. But, for those who will take the trouble, it is 
possible at last to understand the true nature of the Judaism 
out of which Christianity grew, and which still exists side 
by side with it. But much still remains to be done, both 
from the religious and from the historical standpoint, if the 
Jewish problem of to-day is to be understood, and, on the 
basis of a true understanding, solved. 


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J.Q Jl. Jewish Quarterly Review, Old Series. 

J.T.S. Journal of Theological Studies. 

L.V. (Leg. Vis.) Leges Visigothorum. Ed. Zeumer, in M.G.H. 

quarto, Leges, I, i. Leipzig, 1902. 
M. (in Ch. VI only) Letters of Gregory the Great, in edition of Migne's 

Patrologia Latina. 

Mansi or M. Cottectio Conciliorum AmpKssima. 

M.GJH. Momimenta Germamae Historica. 

M.G.WJ. Monatschrift fiir Geschichte und Wissemchaft des 

Nov. Novellae of Theodosius or Justinian. See C.T. 

and CJ. 

P.G. Patrologia Graeco-Latina. 

P.L. Patrologia Latina. 

P.O. Patrologia Oriental*. 

P.S. Patrologia Syriaca. 

R-EJ. Revue des Etudes Juives. 

R.O.C. Revue de VOrient chr4tien. 

S A. Synaxaire Armenien de Ter Israel. 

SAJ. Synaxaire Arabe Jacobite. 

S.C. Synaxarium Constantinopolitanum. 

SJE. Synaxaire Ethiopien. 

S.G. Synaxaire Georgien. 



It is not the task of this chapter to survey the whole of 
the Jewish diaspora, nor to give in any detail the legal, 
social, and religious position of the Jews under Roman 
protection. For such a study the reader is referred to the 
works of Radin and Schiirer, and, above all, to the two 
encyclopaedic volumes of Juster, which contain an ex- 
haustive bibliography of the ancient and modern sources 
of Jewish history throughout the Roman period. For the 
documents of the pre-Roman period Willrich may also be 

The source material for all such study is mainly Jewish, 
for the works of Livy and Polybius both present lacunae 
covering the sections in which they might be expected to give 
an impartial Gentile survey of the situation of the Jews. 
We are left therefore primarily to the Maccabees, to Josephus 
and to Philo. 

As, however, our purpose is not so much to study the 
general situation of the Jews in the ancient world, as to 
consider the relations between them and their neighbours 
which existed before the coming of Christianity, it is more 
important for us to know the casual references to them in 
Gentile writers, than to follow their actual history. These 
references have been collected at various times, but the 
most complete is that of Reinach, to which reference will be 
made throughout the chapter. In addition to them we have 
also to consider the evidence coming from Egyptian papyri, 
to supplement the work of Philo for our knowledge of the 
situation of the Jews in Alexandria in the first century A.D. 

The main problem set by these references is that of 
* classical antisemitism '. The interest in them developed 
largely in Germany in the desire to prove that antisemitism 


was something which inevitably accompanied the Jew 
wherever he went, and which was due to his own racial and 
unalterable characteristics. This is a view which underlies 
the work of Willrich, Wilcken and Stahelin, and their work 
should be read with this in mind. The proclamation of the 
fragmentary accounts of law-suits between Egyptian Jews 
and Gentiles before the Roman authorities by Bauer and 
others as * Acts of heathen martyrs 5 reveals this tendency 
sufficiently obviously, and on this subject the criticism of 
an expert Hagiologist like Hippolyte Delehaye should be 

While, therefore, the works of the authors mentioned need 
to be studied for the material they contain, the works of 
Bell, Hild, Dobschiitz, Heinemann and Fuchs provide a 
more objective perspective of Jewish-Gentile relationships. 
The work of Hild is of particular value, because of the care 
with which he considers the date and setting of each com- 
ment upon the Jews in Roman authors. How far racial 
mysticism has penetrated modern German scholarship can 
be seen from the work of Fuchs, who would appear from 
his name to be a Jewish author, and who yet states in his 
introduction that he is unable to find satisfaction in a com- 
pletely historical account of the events to be considered. 

In so far as all these studies wish to generalise on the 
position of the Jews in the ancient world from an examination 
of the hostility to which they were undoubtedly subject in 
certain places and at certain times, they exhibit the weakness 
of not taking into account the implication of contemporary 
Jewish missionary activity and its known success. In general 
they also omit the peculiar character of the Alexandrian 
situation, and the inevitable difficulties of adjustment of a 
monotheistic people in a polytheistic world. The work of 
Fuchs helps for a consideration of the Alexandrian situation, 
and a detailed consideration of the adjustments made neces- 
sary by Jewish monotheism will be found in Juster. For 
a study of the missionary activity of the Jews, the works 
of Schiirer, Krueger and Foakes Jackson may be indicated. 
The best study seems to me, however, that of Friedlander. 
Further references to the missionary activities of ancient 
Judaism will be found in the bibliographies of the two 
succeeding chapters. 



BAUER, A. Heidnische Mdrtyrakten. Archiv fur 

Papyrus Forschung. Leipzig, 1901. 

BELL, H. L. Juden und Griechen im Romischen 

Alexandria. Supplement to ' Alten 
Orient ', 1926. Jews and Christians 
in Egypt. British Museum, 1924. 

DELEHAYE, H. Les Passions des Martyrs et les Genres 

Litter air es. Paris, 1905: especially 
pages 161 ff. 

DOBSCHUTZ, E. VON Jews and Gentiles in Ancient Alexan- 
dria. American Journal of Theology, 

FREY, J.-B. 

Les Communautes juives a Rome aux 
premiers temps de VEglise. Recherches 
des Sciences Religieuses, 1930 and 
193 I- 

FOAKES JACKSON, F. J. Josephus and the Jews. S.P.C.K. 
HILD, J. A. 

Dasjudentum in der vorchristlichen 
griechischen Welt. Wien, 1897. 

Die Juden Aegyptens in Ptolemdischer 
und Romischer Zeit* Vienna, 1924. 

Antisemitismus. Pauly Wissowa R.E. 
supp. 5. 1931. 

Les Juifs a Rome devant V opinion et 
dans la litterature. Revue des Etudes 
Juives, Vols. VIII and XL 








Les Antiquites des Juifs. Ed. T. 
Reinach. Paris, various dates. 
Le ' centre Apian '. Ed. T. Reinach. 
Paris, 1932. 

Les Juifs dans F empire Romain. 
Paris, 1914, 2 vols. 

Philo undjosephus ah Apologeten der 
Juden. Leipzig, 1926. 

Foreign Groups in Rome. Harvard 
University Press, 1927. 

Ecrits Historiques, with an introduc- 
tion by F. Delaunay. Paris, 1870. 

The Jews among the Greeks and 
Romans. Jewish Publication Society 
of America, 1915. 

Textes des Auteurs Grecs et Latins 
relative au Judaisme. Paris, 1895. 

The History of the Jewish People 
in the time of Jesus Christ. English 
translation. Edinburgh, 1901. 

Der Antisemitismus des Altertums. 
Basle, 1905. 

Zum Alexandrischen Antisemitismus. 
Abhandlung der Kgl. Sachs. Gesell- 
schaft der Wissenschaft, 1909. 

Juden und Griechen vor der Mak- 

kabaischen Erhebung. Gottingen, 


Judaica* (A continuation of the 

above.) Gottingen, 1900. 



Although many histories of the Jews give the impression 
that during the period which preceded the exiles they 
were a more or less definable political and racial group, 
this is, in fact, far from being the case. A careful reading 
of the Old Testament itself makes it clear that their unity 
was both politically and racially extremely vague. The 
Israelites who entered Palestine from the east and brought 
the religion of Yahweh with them were certainly distinct 
from the different Hebrew tribes of Palestine whom they 
subjugated, and on whom they imposed with more or less 
success their religion. 

The boundaries of their authority depended on the 
prowess of their chieftains, and on the situation of the 
neighbouring empires. It had nothing to do either with the 
extent of their actual settlements or with their racial 
unity. Their religion, the religion of Yahweh, was not the 
religion of a particular geographical area : it was the religion 
of a military and priestly aristocracy, and was never (during 
the period of independence at least) the only religion to be 
found within the borders of Israelite domination. The Old 
Testament is full of accounts of the struggle waged by the 
Israelites against the local 'Baals'; and temples to various 
gods existed in Jerusalem itself throughout the period of the 
kingdom 1 . 

If the religion of Yahweh was never the sole religion of 
' Palestine ', neither was it ever exclusively confined to 
Palestine. Sinai, the chosen dwelling of Yahweh Himself, was 
outside Palestine, and Sinai did not lose its importance even 
after the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is 
possible that the original home of the religion was at the 
mouth of the Euphrates, and that this continued to be a 
centre of some importance for a considerable period of Old 
Testament history. Deutero-Isaiah, who in all his prophecies 
makes no reference to Palestinian history, and who addresses 
in turn Jerusalem and the coast- lands, may have been a 
Yahwist from this area. But, even if Palestine was the chief 
centre of Yahwism, it was spread abroad long before the 

1 Cf. Godbey, The Lost Tribes a Myth, pp. 105-110. 


Christian era by the trading and military stations scattered 
through western Asia and north-east Africa. Though Pales- 
tine itself was a primarily agricultural country, and though it 
is unlikely that many of its inhabitants were engaged in 
trade in the early days of its settlement by the Israelites, yet 
certain trade relations were cultivated by Solomon and his 
successors 1 , and a certain number of worshippers of Yahweh 
would be likely to be found in the trading companies of the 
neighbouring mercantile states of the coast. In addition to 
these probable trading centres, there were certain military- 
stations held by Israelites both in the Assyrian and in the 
Egyptian empires. In Elephantine and on the edge of 
Cyrenaica there were Israelite soldiers even before the final 
fall of the Jewish Kingdoms, and in the third century the 
Syrian Kings established others in Phrygia. The different 
exiles contributed to create another group of settlements in 
western Asia, some agricultural, some military, some of a 
mixed constituency 2 . 

In accordance with the usual practice in the ancient world, 
as soon as any of these settlements became sufficiently large 
and permanent, a cultus centre would be established 3 , and 
the requisite privileges for worship would be obtained from 
the local authorities, or from the central ruler himself. If, 
as was the case, for example, in the military stations, the 
privileges obtained were considerable, there would be a 
steady demand from the other inhabitants of the settlement 
for admission to the fellowship or family of Yahweh, so that 
every one of these centres became also a nucleus for prosely- 
tising surrounding areas. In addition to the possible privileges 
which adoption into the family of Yahweh entailed, the purity 
of Jewish religion must have exercised a powerful influence 
upon the best elements with which it came into contact, 

1 1 Kings ix, 26 and xxii, 48 refer to sea traffic, and x, 28-29 refers to 
land traffic in horses. These references are more reliable evidence of 
Israelite participation in the Mediterranean trade than the earlier 
allusions in Genesis xlix, 13, and Judges v, 17, which are not only in 
conflict with each other and Deuteronomy xxxiii, 18-20, but credit 
tribes with sea power at a period when it is almost certain that they did 
not possess the coast towns. 

2 For a survey of the Jewish settlements in the Roman Empire see 
Schurer, Div. II, Vol. II, 31, p. 219 ff. 

*Ibid. p. 253. 


Relics of this proselytism are to be found even to-day in 
the existence of Jewish customs among many Asiatic and 
African peoples from China to the Gold Coast, who are 
certainly not Semitic ; and the famous Jewish nose seems to 
be of Hittite rather than Semitic origin 1 . 

Of the actual conditions of these settlements, and the 
conditions of the admission of proselytes in different parts 
very little is known. A detailed picture of Jewish life in 
the diaspora is possible only in the period in which the 
majority of Jews were living under Roman rule. That they 
were already very widely dispersed is shown by the remark 
of Strabo that the Jews * have already settled in every city, 
and it is not easy to find any spot on the earth which this 
tribe has not occupied and where it has not asserted itself 2 ', 
or that of the Jewish Sybil: ' the whole earth, and the sea also, 
is full of them 3 '. 


The Jews first came into contact with the Romans at the 
time of the Maccabees, and in 162 B.C. an embassy was sent 
to Rome to invite their alliance against Demetrius of Syria 4 . 
This the Romans, on the principle of divide et impera, were 
prepared to do, and Rome remained on friendly terms with 
Judaea until in 65 B.C. Pompey, passing through Syria after 
his conquest of Mithridates and Tigranes, reduced it to a 
Roman province and so removed the necessity of a treaty 
relationship with an independent people. In 63 B.C., under 
the pretext of settling a disputed succession, he re-entered 
Judaea and captured Jerusalem. Hyrcanus was made High 
Priest, under Roman protection, but his political power was 
curtailed and Judaea was placed under the general super- 
vision of the governor of Syria. This situation lasted until 

1 See Godbey, op. cit., Chapters ix-xv. 

2 Strabo, quoted in Josephus, Ant., XIV, 7, 2, 115 (beginning of 
ist cent. B.C.). 

3 Orac. Sybil, iii, 271 (2nd cent. B.C.). For a study of the work known 
as the ' Jewish Sybil * see Schurer, op. cit., Div. II, Vol. Ill, p. 271 ff. 

4 I Mac. viii, 22. 


the time of Julius Caesar, when in return for the support of 
the Jews a certain measure of their political power was 
restored to them, only to disappear again with the appoint- 
ment of a Roman governor by Tiberius, an event itself 
followed within less than half a century by the destruction 
of Jerusalem and the obliteration of the political separateness 
of the Jews altogether. 

Long before this final destruction arrived, and while the 
centre of political relationships was still Jerusalem, the Jews 
in the diaspora succeeded, through the influence of the 
Maccabees, in securing important privileges from the Roman 
authorities 1 . Already in 161 B.C. they had obtained for all 
Jews within the Roman dominions the status of peregrini 2 , 
which allowed them to be judged by their own law, and to 
follow their own customs in such matters as marriage or 
inheritance. They then asked for, and about no B.C. suc- 
ceeded in obtaining, the same privileges for Jews resident in 
all kingdoms and states allied with Rome, under pain of 
Roman displeasure 3 . Such privileges were independent of 
the question of citizenship, which was already possessed by 
the Jews in many of the cities of Asia, Syria, and elsewhere. 

All these privileges were confirmed by Julius Caesar in a 
general permission to 'live according to their own laws'. 
This formed the magna carta of the Jews in the Roman 
Empire, being frequently reaffirmed in general terms by 
subsequent emperors 4 . This toleration is generally expressed 
by historians in the phrase that Judaism was * religio licita '. 
The phrase is not a legal one, and is first used by Tertullian 
(Apolog. 21). In Roman law the Jews formed a * collegium ' 
rather than a * religio '; and as such had the right to retain 
their own observances. There was nothing exceptional in the 
actual giving of these privileges, for in so doing the Romans 
were only following their usual custom of granting the great- 
est possible local autonomy to the different parts of their 
empire. The average minority policy of a modern European 
state would have appeared to any Roman statesman an incon- 

1 For the complete collection of these see Juster, Vol. I, Intro., sec. iii; 
also Schurer, op. cit. } Div, II, Vol. Ill, p. 257. 

2 I Mac. viii, 22, 

3 Josephus, Ant., XIII, 9, 2, and XIV, 10, 22. 

4 Juster, op. cit., Chapter I, sec. i. 


ceivable folly. Privileges granted to the Jews, however, very 
soon revealed a one-sided character. To allow them to live 
according to their own law was in essence to allow them the 
undisturbed worship of their own God. A society accus- 
tomed to polytheism granted this permission without great 
difficulty, and even before the followers of Yahweh appeared 
claiming privileges already granted to others, Rome was the 
centre of many eastern cults which, in spite of occasional 
official repression, grew and flourished in mutual toleration. 
Such a policy was general in the ancient world, and the 
Jews in the days of their independence had themselves 
allowed foreign cults to settle in Jerusalem; and every trade 
agreement they made was accompanied by permission to the 
trader to worship his own God in the quarter of the town 
allotted to him 1 . 

But as the principle of monotheism was by this time firmly 
established in Judaism, the granting of toleration to the 
Jews became a granting of unique favours which could not 
be compared to those granted to others. c The principle of 
religious liberty was very widely respected in the ancient 
world. It was not difficult, because the Gods of the nations 
were exceedingly tolerant of each other. It was only the 
God of the Jews who was haughty and aloof. The tolerance 
he readily received he did not extend to others. In his 
supreme jealousy he hindered his followers from the accom- 
plishment of many acts which were obligatory among the 
different nations. To give toleration to Yahweh was to sup- 
press in favour of the Jews the punishment to which the 
omission of these acts exposed them. The laws had to be 
suspended in their favour. Special privileges had to be 
granted them for an exception in favour of a minority is a 
privilege. But to refuse this toleration was to run counter to 
the ancient principle of tolerance, and was to render the 
practice of Judaism impossible. This was the dilemma: per- 
secution or privilege 2 .' 

The Jews had to be permitted not only not to offer 
sacrifices to the Gods, but also to adopt a special form for 
their expression of loyalty to the emperor. They could 
neither burn incense to his numen nor accept his statues in 

1 Cf. I Kings xi, 31-33. 

2 Quoted from Juster, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 213 . 


their synagogues. Moreover, they had to ask for exemption 
from offices which involved them in official worship of the 
Gods or of the emperor. It is a much disputed question 
whether the Jews were ever employed by the Romans in the 
army. They were granted exemption by Caesar, and may 
have always retained it. Jerome says of them that ' it is no 
wonder that they have lost their manly bearing, for they are 
not admitted to the army, or allowed to bear swords or carry 
other arms 1 '. On the other hand, as independent units they 
were highly prized by the western Asiatic empires and by 
the Egyptians. In such a situation it was easier for them to 
observe their religion. It was the individual Jew in a non- 
Jewish legion who presented difficulties 2 . As to the general 
Jewish population in Rome itself, on occasions when bread 
was given out on the Sabbath they were allowed to receive 
theirs on the following day. When oil was distributed which 
was connected with idolatry, they received a money com- 

These special privileges the Jews enjoyed throughout the 
empire, independent of whether they were citizens either of 
a particular city or of Rome itself. A large number of Jews 
probably did not possess the status of citizen until the edict 
of Caracalla extended it to all inhabitants of the empire. 
Wherever the individual Jew might be, these privileges 
depended on relations established between Rome and Judaea. 
Even after the destruction of the Temple, and of any form 
of Jewish political autonomy, the Jews still continued to be 
regarded as a nation by the Romans, and the authority in 
religious matters of the Patriarch of Jerusalem was still 
recognised as covering all Jews within the Roman empire. 
He is always called Patriarch ' of the Jews * and not ' of 
Judaea 3 '. Until the war of A.D. 68 he was allowed to receive 
the c didrachm ' from all Jews within the empire, and even at 
times when the export of gold was forbidden the Jews were 
allowed to send what amounted to considerable sums to 
Jerusalem 4 . 

1 Jerome, On Isaiah, iii, 2, in P.L., Vol. XXIV, p. 59. 

2 For a full discussion see Juster, Vol. II, Ch. XXI, sec. ii. 

3 Juster, op. at., Vol. I, p. 391. 

4 Cf. Cic., pro Flacco, Ixvi-lxix. One of the charges against Flaccus 
was his confiscation of this offering to the Temple. 


After the destruction of Jerusalem this sum was changed 
into a special Jewish tax which, as a crowning insult, was 
paid to the treasury of Jupiter Capitolinus. Thence it filtered 
into a special department of the imperial treasury. It is 
probable that this tax was continued throughout the duration 
of the empire, though we only know of its existence up to the 
third century. In the second century the Jews were allowed 
to take a new voluntary collection for the authorities in Pales- 
tine, the ' aurum coronarium J , which in its turn was confis- 
cated by the Christian emperors. 

In addition, the Patriarch had the right to nominate the 
chief officers of the different Jewish communities, and was 
the supreme judge in all religious matters. He was considered 
by the Roman authorities equivalent in rank to a high Roman 
official, and some Patriarchs were even on intimate terms with 
the emperors themselves. To maintain his contact with the 
widely scattered communities under his control, there was a 
regular system of envoys or f apostles ' who had authority 
to represent him and to collect his taxes. The word ' apostle ' 
first appears after A.D. 70, and is perhaps taken from the 
Christians, but the office certainly existed earlier. This 
regularly established link between Jerusalem and the diaspora 
was of particular importance during the time of organised 
hostility to the early Church. Concerted plans could be made 
and consistent action followed in many parts at once. 

It seems strange that this internal freedom continued after 
the long struggle between Rome and the Jews which, 
beginning with the war in Judaea, lasted with interruptions 
well into the second century. But apart from the confiscation 
of the didrachm, the Romans seem to have left the Jews 
scattered throughout their possessions completely in peace, 
and they in their turn do not seem to have taken any part in 
the struggle. It is not until the time of the Christian emperors 
that their status suffers any alteration. With their social 
position the situation is different. They could not expect to 
retain their popularity, even if the Romans were sufficiently 
generous to allow them their legal rights, and we shall find 
a new and more hostile attitude to things Jewish in the times 
following the war of 68. 



The Jewish religion and the privileges which it necessitated 
naturally brought a certain prominence to the Jewish people. 
But it can be easily exaggerated. Their position in the 
Roman world had very little in common with their life in 
mediaeval ghettos or even in modern cities. In the main they 
were indistinguishable from the other inhabitants of the 
Mediterranean cities. They were not the only * orientals ', 
and they were of the same race and appearance as the Syrians 
and the Phoenicians who had been dwelling in Greece, Italy 
and Spain for centuries. They lived in groups, for the con- 
venience of synagogue worship and of common life, but so 
did the other foreign groups in all the great cities of the empire. 
But whereas the modern Jew is distinguished often by his 
profession, and the mediaeval Jew had not only profession 
but dress to mark him, and both often presented physical 
characteristics strange to all the rest of the population of the 
locality, none of these distinguishing marks separated the 
Jew of the Roman empire from the rest of its inhabitants. 
It is impossible to say of any profession in the empire that 
the bulk of those who followed it were Jews, or conversely 
that the bulk of the Jews followed that profession. They 
followed all professions. The immense majority were in 
relatively humble walks of society, since a large proportion 
of them began their life in the diaspora as slaves. A large 
number were occupied with agriculture, particularly in the 
East, in Asia, the Euphrates valley and Egypt. In Europe 
it was probably only slaves who followed agriculture for the 
simple reason that it was almost exclusively a slave occupa- 
tion. But in the East there were free colonists, planted at 
different periods by different empires. We hear of them in all 
sorts of artisan occupations, especially dyeing, silk weaving 
and glass-making, and in various trades and commercial 
occupations, but the latter was not a predominantly Jewish 
characteristic * Jamais un auteur paien ne les caracterisa 
comme marchands, jamais & 1'epoque paienne ces deux 
notions Juif et marchand ne vont ensemble comme de 
soi-meme 1 *. 

1 Juster, Vol. II, p. 312. The whole of this section on the economic 
position of the Jews in the Roman empire is of great value. 


Still less can we say that the Jews were largely occupied 
with finance. The kind of financial activities which were 
known to the Roman world were primitive and unproductive. 
They were for the purpose of display, and for the purchase of 
political favours, and not for the development of industry. 
The borrowers were cities and the sprigs of the nobility, 
and the lenders who would certainly have welcomed no 
oriental rivals were the Roman knightly aristocracy. There 
is one reference which is triumphantly acclaimed as the 
* klassische Ausdruck ' of the unchangeability of Jewish 
characteristics by Wilcken. An Alexandrian merchant, 
Serapion, writes to a friend in financial difficulties and warns 
him above all to * keep clear of the Jews 1 '. It is evident 
that it is a money-lender who is in question, and we know 
from Philo that such existed at Alexandria, but the letter 
dates from a time of violent political feeling, and in any case 
it is never safe to generalise from an individual case of whose 
setting we are absolutely ignorant. Moreover, if the half- 
humorous cynicism of Hadrian is to be trusted, it would be 
wise to keep clear of all money-lenders in Egypt; for in 
asking a friend why he had imagined he would ever find 
religions to interest him (Hadrian) in Egypt, he summarises 
the Egyptian character thus: * the one God in Egypt is 
money. It is worshipped by the Christians, by the Jews, and 
by everybody else 2 '. 

From the various sources available we have collected a 
considerable amount of information on Jewish occupations, 
but it almost all comes from inscriptions, from chance papyri, 
and hardly ever from polemical literature. The satirists 
Juvenal and Martial make great fun of Jewish beggars, but 
their descriptions of Jews are no more comprehensive than 
their descriptions equally vulgar of Greeks and Romans, 
and apart from the satirists the only occupation which 
interested the classical world seems to have been their 
ardour in making converts. Jewish occupations as such were 
not the basis of Jewish unpopularity, where such existed. 

1 Griechische Urkunden, Berlin, IV, 1097. 
a Reinach, No. 182. 




The Jews were almost the last of the Semitic peoples to 
become known to the Mediterranean world. It is probable 
that it was not until the last days of the independent kingdom 
that they began to take any extensive part in the trade around 
them, and since they neither possessed the sea coast nor lay 
on any of the great trade routes which hugged the coast, it is 
not surprising that they appear to have escaped notice until 
the time of Alexander the Great. From then onwards there 
exist a considerable number of references to them, some 
showing actual knowledge, some none, and some showing 
definite prejudice and dislike. 

The first thing which attracted outside attention was 
naturally their religion. Theophrastus, Clearchus and 
Hermippus, writers of the third century, consider them to be 
a race of philosophers. The first, after an extremely mixed 
and inaccurate description of Jewish sacrifices, says that the 
most interesting thing is that, * being by nature philosophers, 
during the sacrifice, they discuss the divine nature with each 
other'. Clearchus relates that in India philosophers were 
called ' Calani ' (presumably Brahmins), and in Syria, 
* Jews '. Hermippus considers that Pythagoras learned his 
philosophy from the Jews. The story reappears as late as 
Diogenes Laertius in the third century A.D. 1 This picture of 
the Jews as philosophers was also quoted with disapproval. 
For they exhibited two characteristics which easily dis- 
pleased the later Greek philosophers and sophists. They were 
excessively intolerant, and they combined with their philo- 
sophy a number of observances which could only seem the 
grossest superstition to the Greek world. This disapproval 
was natural, for whereas the Greek intellectual stood in sharp 
opposition to the simple-minded Greek who worshipped the 
Gods, the Jewish * philosophers ', in other words the teachers 
in the Jewish synagogues, believed intensely in the Jewish 
religion. Later sophists, therefore, found them hateful to 
Gods and men in their intolerance, and lent a readier ear to 
the tales of a very different kind which also appeared in the 
third century. The entire collection of stories by which the 

1 Reinach, Nos. 5, 7, 14 and 98. 


negative characteristic of intolerance was transformed into 
a positive characteristic of hostility to all humanity can be 
traced to a single source, Alexandria. Thence come all the 
slanders which later writers repeat, and which Tacitus made 
familiar to the whole Roman world and to our day. 

The city of Alexandria was the most permanent monu- 
ment which Alexander the Great bequeathed to posterity. 
After his death Egypt was seized by his brilliant general 
Ptolemy, who shortly afterwards added Palestine also to his 
dominions. At the beginning of his reign Alexandria was 
still almost unpopulated, and as the conquerors mistrusted 
the native Egyptians, the city was largely settled with foreign 
elements, Greek, Syrian and Jewish. It appears, in fact, that 
the Jews were specially encouraged to settle there, and they 
soon filled one of the five divisions of the city, and over- 
flowed into a second. Of these different foreign elements the 
Jews were the best known to the local Egyptians. Not only 
were there Jewish settlements in Egypt itself which had been, 
at intervals at least, unpopular with the Egyptian hierarchy, 
but Palestine was a near neighbour. The Egyptian intelli- 
gentsia must have been familiar with the Jewish story of the 
Exodus, which was celebrated annually in the Feast of the 
Passover. It was not a story calculated to flatter Egyptian 
pride. At what stage they provided themselves with an 
alternative version we do not know, but shortly after the 
settlement of Alexandria it appears in full detail. The first 
time it is recounted, by Hecataeus of Abdera, it is in no way 
insulting to the Jews. Its main purpose is obviously to defend 
the honour of the Egyptians. Egypt was suffering from 
a pestilence. The Gods ordered them to purify the country 
by expelling all foreigners. This was done, and some went 
to Greece under the leadership of Danaos and Cadmus, but 
the bulk went to the nearer country of Palestine. Offended 
at this treatment, Moses, * a man distinguished by his wisdom 
and courage ', who led the migration to Palestine, founded 
a society deliberately hostile to all foreigners 1 . The story 
rapidly became more malevolent. Manetho, an Egyptian 
priest who wrote a short time later, attributes the plague from 
which Egypt suffered exclusively to the foreigners. The 
emigrants were all lepers and criminals. The Egyptians 

1 Reinach, No. 9. 


themselves had not suffered from the disease 1 . In this form, 
as an explanation of Jewish ' misanthropy ', it is repeated by 
Poseidonius of Apamea 2 , by Apollonius Molon 3 , and is 
given full expression by Tacitus 4 . 

Having once begun, the Alexandrian writers soon found 
the means to embroider these stories in which the Jews were 
presented in an unfavourable light. The previous stories may 
have been originally Egyptian legends of the Exodus. The 
later are pure inventions. The Jews worshipped the head of 
an ass; and they ritually indulged in cannibalism. It is 
perhaps natural that Egypt, with its animal-headed deities, 
should have evolved the story of the worship of an ass- 
headed deity by the Jews. The choice of an ass is significantly 
Egyptian. The Greek or Roman would have found it absurd 
to represent a deity with the head of any animal, but nothing 
particularly disagreeable attached itself to the idea of an ass. 
In fact, the beast was held in some honour both in Rome and 
elsewhere. To the Jews it was an animal to be ridden by a 
king. But in Egypt it was considered as unclean. The story 
first appears in an unknown writer whose name was appar- 
ently Mnaseas, a pupil of Eratosthenes, a president of the 
Academy of Alexandria 5 . The story is repeated with 
variations some half a dozen times, and is also quoted by 
Tacitus. The other story is from another unknown writer, 
Damocritus. Once in seven years the Jews catch a Greek, 
fatten him and eat him. Apion makes the story more living 
by introducing the actual Greek victim to Antiochus Epi- 
phanes during his visit to the Temple, and by making him 
himself recount his tragic fate 6 . 

With these stories in the air, it is easy to see how the 
negative exclusiveness of the Jews was attributed to malevo- 
lence and how this malevolence could be translated into 
active hostility, as when Lysimachus (also of Alexandria) 
alleges that they are commanded to overthrow and destroy 
all altars and temples a charge which was true enough of 

1 Reinach, Nos. 10 and n. 

z lbid., No. 25. 

3 Ibid., No. 27. 

4 Tac., Hist., V, i. Reinach, No. 81. 

5 Reinach, No. 19. 

*Ibid., Nos. 60 and 63, D.2. 


the old independent days in Palestine itself, but which hap- 
pened outside Palestine on rare occasions and under special 
provocation. But it is evident that something more than 
literary activity was required to keep these stories alive. This 
was provided by contemporary life in Alexandria. Unhappy 
would be the people whose conduct had to be judged ex- 
clusively by their behaviour in that turbulent city. Neither 
Greek, Christian nor Jew would find his reputation enhanced 
by such a test. Certainly it would be an unhappy ground to 
choose for a defence of the Jewish character. Of the history 
of the city during the Ptolemaic period we have little informa- 
tion, but the sources, both in papyri and elsewhere, are 
considerable for a reconstruction of the situation in early 
Roman times. The Jews occupy a good deal of the fore- 
ground of the picture. The original reason for their unpopu- 
larity has already been suggested. They were a foreign 
element introduced at the beginning, at a time of suspicion 
on the part of the native inhabitants, and an element which 
came armed with an exceedingly unpleasant story of the past 
behaviour of the Egyptians. Further, they were undoubtedly 
prominent in the commercial life of the city. To what 
extent it is impossible to form an exact estimate. Many were 
occupied in the farming of the taxes and royal domains. At 
least later papyri speak of such people with names which 
suggest a Jewish origin. But a word of caution is necessary. 
Not all Semitic names were Jewish in Alexandria, and not 
all Jews bore Semitic names. The statement can only be 
a general one, and left at that. 

The irritation caused by their commercial prominence was 
accentuated by a third factor. They were apparently not 
citizens of Alexandria. This is a point which has been much 
debated, though it is irrelevant to the present issue. But the 
letter of Claudius, following the troubles in A.D. 38, which 
has been recently discovered 1 seems to settle the question 
definitely against the theory that they were citizens. But in 
return they possessed powerful privileges, and even a senate 
of their own, a right denied to the city as a whole. The pres- 
ence of a group, powerful both numerically and commerci- 
ally, but taking no part in the common life of the city, was 
bound to be a source of jealousy and friction. It perpetually 

1 H. I. Bell, Jews and Christians in Egypt. 


marked out the Jew as having interests other than those of 
the rest of the inhabitants, and at the same time it would give 
the Jews themselves a permanent feeling of malaise which 
would not tend to promote peaceful relations. We know that 
the Jews attempted to obtain both citizenship and a share 
of the public life of the city. 

The refusal of this would have embittered the situation in 
any surroundings, but there was yet another reason in both 
Ptolemaic and Roman Alexandria to make the distinction of 
the Jews a source of trouble. The Jews had received many 
privileges from the Ptolemies and were loyal to them. The 
native Egyptians in Alexandria disliked the new Greek 
dynasty. When the Romans appeared, the Jews deserted the 
Ptolemies for the Romans, an action which was not neces- 
sarily dishonourable, for the Romans had always been 
friendly to the Jews elsewhere, and one of the difficulties 
of their situation in Alexandria was that, as they were not 
citizens, they still felt more Jews than Alexandrians. But the 
Romans were hated not only by the Egyptian population of 
the city but by all the rest, for by its conquest Alexandria 
ceased to be a capital city of an independent state, and 
became merely the seat of a governor subordinate to 

For the trouble which arose in the time of Caligula our 
information, though still all reported through the Jewish 
eyes of Philo and Josephus, is extensive, and the situation 
which is revealed was one which the emperor Claudius could 
without exaggeration characterise as being a war between the 
Jews and the rest of the population. 

While it is unquestionable that the blame lay on both sides, 
and that each side provoked the other, the result, even in the 
mouth of the great Jewish philosopher of Alexandria, Philo, 
is to give a thoroughly unpleasant picture of the general 
standard of the Jewish population of the city. The fact that 
the picture is unintentional gives it more significance. After 
describing the rioting and the appalling massacres of Jews 
of every age and sex, he adds: ' but what was worse than the 
looting was that business came to a standstill. Money- 
lenders lost the securities of their loans '. It is true that he 
adds that farmers, sailors, merchants and artisans could also 
not carry on their business, but the prominent place given 


to the first category is distressing, and gives a weight it 
would not otherwise deserve to the remark of Serapion to 
his business friend in trouble which has already been quoted. 
But while admitting that the picture thus given of the 
Alexandrian Jew is all that the most ardent antisemitic 
writer could demand, it must be repeated that no other group 
really comes out with any better reputation. Hadrian's 
summary gives the true perspective. But happily Alexandria 
is not typical of the ancient world. 


Our knowledge of the relations of the Jews with the 
inhabitants of the Greek cities of the eastern Mediterranean 
has mainly come to us through references in the Antiquities 
of Josephus. The Jews had secured that all the privileges 
which they possessed from the Romans they should also 
possess in the Greek cities allied with Rome, and here it was 
specific privileges rather than any general ill-feeling which 
seems to have been responsible for such trouble as there was. 
These cities were great commercial centres, and very 
wealthy. The Jewish immunity from sharing the burdens of 
offices which conflicted with their religious principles might 
escape unnoticed in the Roman empire as a whole. It could 
only arouse animosity in a city state. 

But there was a second grievance, the money which the 
Jews of every city sent to Jerusalem, and which appears to 
have been by no means an * invisible export '. From Josephus 
we learn that the cities of Ephesus and Sardis, the provinces 
of Asia, Libya and Cyrene, and the islands of Delos and 
Paros had prohibited this export, but without success, for on 
appeal the Jews obtained from Rome the cancellation of the 
prohibition 1 . While the edicts quoted by Josephus present 
certain difficulties as to text, there seems no reason for 
doubting the substantial accuracy of the situation they 
describe, and, indeed, it would be surprising if there were 
not resentment at the draining of considerable sums from 
the cities' resources for such a purpose, especially as all the 

1 Jos., Ant., XIV, 213, and XVI, 160. 


cases are quoted from the end of the first century B.C., 
when the long period of civil war must have had a serious 
effect upon their finances. 

Apart from these cases of hostility Josephus mentions 
only one other. There was trouble at Caesarea, a city 
which the Jews considered as a Jewish foundation of 
Herod, but which the Syrians claimed as a much older 
Syrian settlement, in which, therefore, the Jews had no 
right to behave as though they owned it 1 . In general the 
Greek and oriental cities were the greatest field of Jewish 
proselytism, and such implies fairly friendly relations. In the 
second half of the first century A.D. the situation changed, but 
until that time we can presume that the Jews normally lived 
in fairly good relations with both the Greeks and the Syrians. 


It was customary among the philosophers and political 
thinkers of the Roman Empire, as it is among certain 
Hellenists of to-day, to lay the blame for the decline of 
Greek and Roman morality on the invasion of eastern 
religions which continued steadily throughout her history 
from the time when Rome came first into contact with the 
eastern world. There may be a certain element of truth in 
the assertion, but the Greek and Roman worlds collapsed 
morally through their own inherent weaknesses. Lucretius, 
struggling passionately to believe his own theory that nothing 
existed but matter and failing to do so owed his despair 
to no corrupting eastern mystery religion; and Virgil, the 
most spiritual and mystical of the Roman poets, shows in his 
gentle melancholy no trace of eastern influence. Sections of 
the Semitic and oriental world did introduce morally degrad- 
ing religions into the west, but it was not the Jewish section. 
Tacitus, with his statement that the Christians distinguished 
themselves for their * odium generis humani ', prevents us 
from taking seriously his statement that Jewish converts were 
taught to hate their country and their family. Otherwise the 
only specific accusation against the Jews is not that they were 

ijos., Ant., XX, 173. 


corrupting society, but that they were utterly exclusive. As 
Juvenal says : 

* Romanas autem soliti contemnere leges 
Judaicum ediscunt et servant, et metuent jus 
Tradidit arcano quodcumque volumine Moses: 
Non monstrare vias eadem nisi sacra colenti; 
Quaesitum in fontem solum deducere verpos 1 .' 

This accusation is indeed constant throughout the period, 
but it can scarcely be called a method of degrading Roman 

It is easy enough to understand that the Romans did not 
at once distinguish between Judaism and the other oriental 
cults which had penetrated into Roman society. They 
appear at first to have confused Yahweh Sabaoth with 
* Sabazius ', a Syrian epithet of Dionysus, and to have 
believed the Jews to be worshippers of ' Jupiter Sabazius '. 
As such they were expelled from Rome in 139 B.C. by the 
Praetor Peregrinus, Cn. Cornelius Hispalus 2 . It seems 
probable that the Jews so expelled were not dwellers in 
Rome, but an embassy from the Maccabees. This action 
did not, however, change the friendship which already 
existed between the Romans and the Maccabeans. After 
these incidents silence falls for nearly a century. During this 
time the Jews must have established some kind of settlement 
in Rome, for they appear to be already powerful and organ- 
ised by the time of Cicero. By this time events in Judaea had 
changed the whole situation. Pompey took Jerusalem in 
63 B.C., and the independent relations between Rome and 
Judaea came to an end. But the conquerors showed modera- 
tion, and though Pompey was never forgiven by the Jews for 
having violated the Temple, the friendship between the 
Jews and the Romans persisted, and was generously rewarded 
by Julius Caesar. 

The period of the Herods was one in which the Jews 
enjoyed complete security under Roman protection. Repre- 
sentatives of the royal house were for long periods in Rome 
and knew how to adopt all the popular vices of Roman high 

1 Juv., Sat. t xiv, 100. Reinach, No. 172. 

2 Reinach, No. 141. 


society. In Palestine itself, outside Jerusalem, rose magnifi- 
cent Roman buildings of all kinds dedicated to the emperor. 
The Jewish upper classes cultivated Roman friendship and 
the Roman way of life. The future seemed secure. And yet 
within twenty years the whole picture changed, and Rome 
and Judaea were engaged in a war which taxed the resources 
of the empire itself. To understand this change we must pass 
from the life and ambitions of the Romanised Jewish 
aristocracy to the preoccupations and longings of the rank 
and file and the religious leaders of the Jewish people. 
Whatever was the opinion of the politicians and priests, 
neither the Pharisees nor the ordinary people felt anything 
but hatred for the Roman rule. The Pharisees acquiesced 
because under that rule they were allowed the privileges 
essential for the continuation of Judaism, but they only 
acquiesced so long as that condition was observed. A threat 
to their law, and they were ready to take up the national 
cause at once. In fact the peace was a very brittle one. It 
depended on a great deal of tact on both sides, and tact was 
not a conspicuous characteristic either of the Jews or of the 
Roman governors. The New Testament records several 
' incidents ', and it is probable that a multiplication of these 
would in the end have led to war. But it was precipitated by 
the flood of Messiahs who sprang up in the first half of the 
first century A.D. The causes of the emergence of so much 
Messianic unrest have often been missed. It was not merely 
a reaction against the loss of national sovereignty. It was 
brought about by the fact that according to the calendar in 
use among the Jews at that time, the coming of the Messianic 
age was expected about the middle of the first century 1 . 
One essential factor of that age would inevitably be the 
disappearance of the Roman authority in Palestine. Many of 
the followers of Jesus expected Him to lead them against 
Rome, and both before and after His time there were many 
attempted risings which were crushed by the Romans with 
increasing severity. Under such circumstances, it is amazing 
that outside Palestine the Romans showed the moderation 
to leave Jewish privileges untouched, especially as the 
troubles in Palestine were spasmodically accompanied by 

1 See Messianic Speculation in Israel, by Dr A. H. Silver. Macmillan,. 
1927, especially p. 16 ff. 


serious troubles in various other eastern provinces of the 

The change in the situation in Palestine itself was soon 
reflected in Rome. There is an immense difference in tone 
between the references to the Jews in the Augustan age and 
in the second half of the century. While Horace and Ovid 
laughed at them good humouredly, Juvenal and Martial 
found them contemptible and detestable 1 . It is very unfor- 
tunate that the references to Jewish history which existed in 
Livy and Polybius are in the portion of the works of those 
authors which are lost. But it is extremely doubtful if we 
should find the same bitterness in them that we find in 
Seneca and Tacitus 2 . 


The general ferment in the Jewish world which this 
Messianic excitement occasioned both drew especial atten- 
tion to the Jewish religion and accentuated among the Jews 
their activity as missionaries. Both were a menace to their 
security. We have seen that Judaism remained at best some- 
thing incomprehensible to the Roman world. It would have 
been astonishing that philosophers did not appreciate it 
had they not been quite unaccustomed to the combination of 
ethics of which they could approve, with ritual and theo- 
logical presuppositions which they associated only with 
superstition. The universalism of the Jewish conception of 
God seemed in complete contradiction with the intolerance 
of Jewish religious practice. As soon as the situation became 
troubled it was natural that it was the bad and incompre- 
hensible side which dominated the situation. Such being the 
case, it was evident that once the loyalty of the Jews to Rome 
was doubted all the reputation which they had enjoyed in 
Roman estimation tumbled down like a house of cards. The 
glamour removed, all that the Roman saw was a people who 
disbelieved in the Gods, who despised Roman ways, who 
were gloomy and fanatical, exclusive and intolerant. The 
crimes of individual Jews became, as is always the case in 

1 Hild, op. dt. y R.EJ., Vol. XI, p. 38. Reinach,Nos. 131, 134 and 172. 

2 Hild, op. tit., R.EJ., Vol. VIII, p. n, and Vol. XI, p. 39. 


such situations, the crime of the whole people. They were 
a rabble of aliens, fortune-tellers and charlatans, and a 
menace to the morality of the Roman people. 

To complete the picture of the situation it is necessary 
to look at it from the other side, and to consider the attitude 
of the Jews to the Gentiles during this period. The Jews 
were not in an easy position. As long as they lived in an 
independent community it was possible for them to possess 
a conception of life in complete variance with that of their 
contemporaries without it seriously affecting the daily life of 
the individual Jew. It is noticeable that as long as this period 
lasts they are spoken of by pagan writers with admiration 
and respect. But for the Jews living in the diaspora the 
situation was different. Life was impossible without definite 
privileges. The demand for these privileges was the first 
cause of friction in the Greco-Roman world. The genius of 
Julius Caesar, and the continuation of his policy by Augustus, 
seemed at first to have solved the problem. We have already 
seen how brittle the solution was. Even so it might have 
lasted had the exclusiveness of the Jews been really a fact. 
If their attitude to their neighbours had been the haughty 
contempt for Gentiles to be found in parts of the Talmud, 
the Roman might have tolerated it with an amused contempt 
on his side also. But all that we know of the period shows 
that the attitude of the Jews was the exact opposite to this 
aloof indifference. They were enthusiastic missionaries of 
their religion, and this fact was the final and in some \vays the 
most important cause of the destruction of their security. 
For this they were expelled from Rome in 139 B.C. They 
were expelled again by Tiberius, and again by Claudius. 
Even in the middle of the wars at the end of the first century 
the Flavians had to take measures to make the circumcision 
of Gentiles a capital offence. In the whole of Jewish history 
contempt for the non-Jew was never less in evidence than 
in the century which saw the foundation of Christianity. 
That the Apostles themselves, who were Jews, that Paul, who 
claimed to be a Pharisee, could consider as they did the ques- 
tion of Gentile observance of the Law is evidence of this. 
The references to the interest taken by Greeks and Romans 
in Judaism are legion 1 . The foundations of the Gentile 
1 Reinach, Nos. 51, 99, 101 and 145. 


Church were laid almost exclusively among proselytes or 
people already interested in Judaism. The transition by 
which these groups passed from partial membership of Judaism 
to full membership of the Christian Church was an easy 
one. Had the synagogues of the diaspora insisted primarily 
on the ritual and not the moral and ethical implications of 
Judaism, on observance of the letter rather than the spirit 
of the Law, it is doubtful if this transition would ever 
have taken place except in a few individual cases. What 
Christianity offered them was not something completely 
different, but the same thing with, in addition, the power of 
Jesus Christ in place of the disadvantages of circumcision 
and other ritual prescriptions. 

The Romans were always suspicious of the activities of 
eastern missionaries in Rome, and the Jews were not the only 
people concerned. But the Jewish proselyte seemed par- 
ticularly dangerous to the security of the empire because he 
was an * atheist '. This did not so much mean a believer in 
no God, as a disbeliever in the Gods of the state. It had 
nothing to do with the absence of images in Jewish worship. 
It was not an irreligious attitude, but one which escaped 
being seditious only by the granting of special privileges. All 
that was required for conformity to the state religion was to 
scatter a few grains of incense upon an altar, and to obtain 
a certificate, easily granted, that this had been done. To 
refuse so simple an act of fellowship with society, one might 
almost say of common courtesy to one's neighbours, seemed 
to show a strangely malignant character. One was not asked 
to believe anything. One was only asked to conform to a 
political convention. And the Jews, and later the Christians, 
were the only people who refused. Whatever Seneca or 
Tacitus might think of this courage from the standpoint of 
their philosophies, they could only condemn it as men of 
action and Roman officials, and consider that to allow such 
a religion to spread was an act of supreme folly. To chastise 
it with the scorpions of ridicule, to repeat the accusations of 
a Manetho or an Apion was an act of political wisdom, 
whether the accusations were well founded or not. 

It was therefore not the actual principles of the Jewish 
religion, but the effervescence of Messianism and the 
missionary proclivities of the Jews in the diaspora which 


destroyed the peace between Rome and Judaism. The 
numerical and political strength of the Jews embittered and 
prolonged the struggle when it came. It did not cause it. 
The struggle left bad blood on both sides, but essentially 
the advent of Christianity to power removed all the causes of 
the conflict. For the reasons which inspired the Jews inspired 
also the Christians, and the victory of the Christian attitude 
to * atheism J and to missionary activity should have brought 
political peace to the Jews. Instead, the advent of Chris- 
tianity perpetuated their tragedy. The reasons for this have 
nothing to do with the old enmities. They are to be found 
only in the conflict of Christianity with its parent religion. 




The narrative of this chapter turns mainly upon the account 
given in Mark and in the Acts of the Apostles of the ministry 
of Jesus and the development of the early Church. It is 
claimed that these narratives give a logical, reasonable and 
satisfying picture of what occurred, and it cannot be too 
strongly urged that the main sources to be consulted are the 
narratives themselves, approached with an open mind instead 
of with some particular modern theory as to their cor- 
ruption. While modern exegesis has rendered incalculable 
services to the elucidation of the texts, it has become so 
complicated and contradictory that we are in perpetual 
danger of forgetting that a reasonable amount of inaccuracy 
and forgetfulness on the part of their authors may be 
allowed without any need for a logical reason being given for 
this carelessness. The danger of the modern approach is 
nowhere more conspicuous than when it is the general atmo- 
sphere and picture of the original narrative which is under 
consideration, and not the exact implication of this or that 
point of detail. 

This plea is urged, not with the intention of claiming any 
originality for my approach or conclusions, but because it is 
impossible to survey and assess all the different theories 
which might invalidate them. Something, however, needs 
to be said of the two books which have been mainly quoted. 
The essential accuracy of the historical narrative of Mark is 
defended by Burkitt, and I see no reason to forsake his 
conclusions for the new German theory of authentic scraps 
of teaching set in an imaginary framework, which is pre- 
sented by Rawlinson. That so logical a development as Mark 
presents happened fortuitously seems to me impossible. 
And if it is not fortuitous, then,' whether the author received 
it from eye-witnesses or together with the scraps of teaching, 
seems to me an utterly unimportant issue. The same is 


true of the narrative of Acts. In both cases to imagine the 
framework to be a late composition embodying older tradi- 
tions is to ascribe to the authors a prophetic realisation that 
people would one day wish to know exactly how the opposi- 
tion between Judaism and Christianity arose, and a deter- 
mination to answer the question, and this seems an entirely 
gratuitous complication of the problem. Further to consider 
that authors, writing an imaginary skeleton at a time when 
relations between Jews and Christians were at their worst, 
deliberately invented for us the data for exonerating the 
Jews from the charge of malicious blindness which the 
authors themselves make against them, seems to me still 
more absurd. 

A word must be added to explain the omission of the 
fourth gospel from the study of the first period. I have 
removed it to the following chapter, not because I do not 
accept the authenticity of its picture of the esoteric teachings 
of Jesus, but because it seems to me to contain in its attitude 
to the Jews far more elements of the situation around A. D. 100 
than of the situation in the lifetime of Jesus. A brilliant 
defence of a contrary view will be found in the work of 
Canon Raven (especially p. 203). But I do not find it con- 
vincing, for he seems to me to be certainly wrong in speaking 
of a * synoptic attitude ' as though the synoptic gospels were 
consistent in their picture, and he omits the speeches of 
Jesus to the Jews from this defence. It is, however, interest- 
ing that the reasons which he gives for accepting the Johan- 
nine picture in preference to that of the synoptists are exactly 
those which make me choose Mark in preference to John; 
in other words, that it presents a more real picture of human 
relationships. It may be, however, that one should accept 
the Johannine picture of the internal divisions of the authori- 
ties over Jesus as a valuable supplement to the general 
picture as sketched by Mark. 

The attitude of Paul to the Law is mainly developed in his 
earlier epistles, which have been the object of a detailed study 
by Kirsopp Lake. While their dating is not an essential part 
of the argument, I have followed this order: 

Galatians, on the journey to the council at Jerusalem 
mentioned in Acts, c. A.D. 50. 


Thessalonians, during the second missionary journey, 
and probably from Corinth, c. A.D. 52. 

I and II Corinthians, during the third missionary 
journey, c. A.D. 53-57. 

Romans, from Corinth, c. A.D. 57. 

The other books of the New Testament do not seem to need 
any special comment. 

The relation of the teaching of Jesus to the currents of 
thought in the Judaism of His time is still a matter of con- 
troversy. We must, however, exclude those estimates of the 
opposition between Him and contemporary Jewish teachers 
which do not take account of modern researches, and which 
base their conceptions of Judaism exclusively on the gospel 
narratives. Whether they be accepted or rejected, the work 
of Travers Herford, Moore, Billerbeck and Strack, and 
Montefiore cannot be ignored. There are, however, a 
number of modern authors who, while recognising the 
inadequacy of the gospel portrait of Judaism, still hold to the 
traditional view of the complete originality of Jesus and His 
entire independence of and opposition to the Judaism of the 
Pharisees. The work of Bischoif belongs to this category; 
and Raven enunciates the view that while the teaching of 
Jesus is completely Jewish, it is completely * un- Judaic 5 ; 
which seems somewhat of a paradox. To a lesser extent the 
same view is held by Easton. The denial of originality in the 
teaching of Jesus will be mainly found in the Jewish bio- 
graphies referred to in the general biographical introduction. 
An analysis of the differences in attitude revealed in the 
different gospels will be found in Branscombe. 

The study of Saint Paul's attitude to the Law has not been 
undertaken with anything like the same thoroughness. An 
original point of view is presented in Montefiore's work on 
Saint Paul, but scholarship in general retains the position 
that the rejection of the Judeo- Christian compromise was 
essential to the development of Christianity, and conse- 
quently, while Saint Paul's views have been violently chal- 
lenged by Jewish scholars, Christian scholarship seems to 
have felt little need to defend them. The theory that 
Christianity was founded by Paul has now too few advocates 
to be worth consideration. 




Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels. 
Cambridge, 1917 and 1924. 

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES Commentary by R. B. Rackham, 
Westminster Commentaries, 1904. 


Jesus und die Rabbinen, Jesu Bergpre- 
digt und ' Himmelreich ' in ihrer 
Undbhdngigkeit vom Rabbinismus. 
Leipzig, 1905. 

BRANSCOMBE, B. H. Jesus and the Law of Moses. Hodder 
and Stoughton, 1930. 



The Gospel History and its Trans- 
mission. 1907. 

Christ in the Gospels. Scribners, 

Pharisaism. Williams and Norgate, 


The Pharisees. 1924. 

Judaism in the New Testament Period. 


The New Testament in the Twentieth 
Century. Macmillan, 1924. 

Le Judaisme avant Jesus Christ. 
Paris, 1931. 

The Earlier Epistles of Saint Paul. 
Rivington, 1911. 

MARK, GOSPEL OF Commentary by A. E. J. Rawlinson, 
Westminster Commentaries, 1925. 








The Synoptic Gospels. Macmillan, 

2nd ed., 1931. 

Rabbinic Literature and Gospel 

Teachings. Macmillan, 1930. 

Judaism and Saint Paul. Goschen, 


Judaism, 3 vols. Harvard Univer- 
sity Press, 1927. 

Saint Paul the Traveller and the 
Roman Citizen. Hodder and 
Stoughton, 1895. 

Jesus and the Gospel of Love. 
Hodder and Stoughton, 1931. 

Commentary on the Epistle to the 
Romans. International Critical Com- 
mentaries, 1900. 

Kommentar zum Neuen Testament 
aus Talmud und Midrasch. Berlin, 


Jesus and Jewish Teaching. Allen and 
Unwin, 1923. 



It is not part of this study to attempt a theological estimate 
of the relative merits of Judaism and Christianity. We are 
concerned with the clash of two religious organisations, and 
only indirectly with the conflict of theological conceptions 
which was involved. It is not Christian doctrine which has 
been the main external influence in the Jewish life of the 
last fifteen hundred years, but the Christian Church. The 
Jewish problem to-day expresses itself primarily in economic 
and political phraseology. False racial theories have been 
substituted for false readings of the Old Testament. Jewish 
observances are perhaps more coloured by Roman influences 
than by Christianity. Sephardic Judaism owes much to its 
contact with Arab civilisation. But the whole of the Jewish 
world even to-day bears the marks of the environment, 
friendly or hostile, created by the Christian Church. For 
throughout all those centuries a large portion of the Jewish 
people have lived under the domination of a Christian 
majority. The Jews of to-day are the direct inheritors of the 
life of mediaeval Jewry, and the life of mediaeval Jewry was 
built upon foundations laid in the earliest centuries of its 
daughter religion. 

To trace the origin of the conflict we have to pursue two 
lines of enquiry simultaneously, the line of the historical 
development of the events, and the line of the historical 
development of the literature in which those events were 
recorded. An event related in the gospel of Matthew as 
occurring in the first months of our Lord's ministry needs 
to be considered from the standpoint of the date when the 
gospel was written, as much as from that of the time to which 
the event is ascribed. The most obvious example of this 
contradiction is to be seen in the reference to the different 
groups within Judaism. In the synoptic gospels it is now the 
Pharisees, now the scribes, now another party which is 
described. In the fourth gospel all are included together 
under the general term c the Jews *, and all are considered 
equally to be, and always to have been, the enemies of the 
new teaching. 

It is not possible historically to trace this antagonism 
of the Christian to the Jew exclusively to the fact of the 


crucifixion. Nor can the Jewish antagonism to Christianity be 
traced exclusively to the teaching of Paul. The origin of the 
profound difference which exists between Judaism and 
Christianity must ultimately be related to the teaching of 
Jesus, although He Himself lived and died a Jew. Even if we 
recognise, as we are bound to do, that many of the sayings 
attributed to Him in the gospels are either unauthentic or 
coloured by memory and intention, yet we cannot eliminate 
all the conflicts with other Jewish teachers or the denuncia- 
tions contained in them unless we are prepared to deny their 
entire historicity. But it is very important to know exactly 
the nature of the conflict and what Jesus denounced, and to 
distinguish this from the colouring which belongs to the 
period of transcription rather than to the period of occur- 
rence. Hewished to change things in current teaching, but not 
to abandon Judaism itself. He attacked the Pharisees unspar- 
ingly, but His greatest predecessor was the Pharisee Hillel. 

In view of the fact that the Pharisees, and therewith post- 
Christian Judaism, are almost universally judged by Chris- 
tians on the basis of the twenty-third chapter of Matthew 
and Paul's Epistle to the Romans, it is essential to enquire 
further into the scope and causes of this opposition. We have 
no Jewish sources of the time of Jesus, except as they are 
embodied in the Talmud, and we are compelled to build up 
our knowledge of the Judaism of the first century largely 
from a disentangling of the teaching of earlier rabbis from 
the later material contained therein. But thanks to the 
researches of various modern scholars we can assess the 
Judaism of the first century with sufficient accuracy to be 
in a position to deny that there was so profound a difference 
between the Judaism of the first century and that of a hun- 
dred years later that the New Testament picture of the one 
and the Talmudic picture of the other can both be taken as 
equally accurate. It is, however, unwise to swing to the 
opposite extreme and condemn the whole New Testament 
picture without discrimination. The picture of the Jews in 
the fourth gospel may be completely invented. The synop- 
tists and Paul cannot be so easily set aside, and they describe 
a real conflict. 

To consider that Jesus dismissed the whole of Pharisaic 
Judaism as simply * hypocrisy ' is to attribute to Him an 


impossible superficiality. He denounced what seemed to 
Him to be pessima because it was corruptio optimi. But if it 
had not been for the work of the Pharisees, Jesus would not 
have been born a Jew, because no Judaism would have 
survived until His time 1 . The Pharisees had saved it, but 
in the externally and internally troubled centuries which 
followed Ezra its development had been extremely difficult; 
and since it was intricately involved with contemporary 
political and social questions, the result at the time of Christ 
was a mass of ill-adjustments 2 . Fanaticism, meticulous 
insistence on detail, and narrow-mindedness are not the 
prerogative of the Pharisees, but are to be found in any 
intensely religious group fighting with its back to the wall, 
as was Judaism during these centuries. One would not go 
to the Scottish Covenanters or the Albigenses for a realisation 
of the broad charity of the Gospel. And like the Covenanters 
and the Albigenses, the Pharisees considered that their 
meticulous insistence upon certain acts and beliefs was, in 
the conditions under which they were living, essential 
for the development of the true mission of Israel, the 
worship of God according to Torah. The Pharisees, 
with their teachers everywhere, with their independence 
of the authorities at Jerusalem, the political and priestly 
leaders of the nation, wanted the whole of Israel to know 
Torah, for only in so doing would Israel be fulfilling its 
mission before God. In opposition to the Greek philoso- 
phers, who built their ideal city on slave labour, the Pharisees 
were completely democratic. Many of the most famous 
rabbis, especially of the earlier period, were themselves 
artisans. Jesus, as a village carpenter, would not inspire 
them with any contempt. It would not even arouse comment 
that He followed a trade. 

The word Torah is only very imperfectly translated by 
' Law '. To the Jew it has a far richer meaning, and does not 
in the least imply a slavish following of a written document, 
even if that document has final authority. ' It is near the 
truth to say that what Christ is to the Christian, Torah is to 
the Jew 3 .' It also could be spoken of as an ' Incarnation ' 

1 Pharisaism^ by R. Travers Herford, Chapters I and II. 

2 The Synoptic Gospels, by C. G. Montefiore, Introduction, p. Ixxx ff. 
* Pharisaism, p. 171. 


of the Divine, for it expressed the whole of the Divine will 
for, and thought about, man. It contained far more than 
mere * precept ' or laws, although even the precepts, by being 
Divine ordinances, brought men to God in the performance 
of them. Thus to have many precepts was not a burden ; 
it only gave men so many more opportunities for doing 
expressly His will, and even if some of the precepts seemed 
trivial, it was not for man to judge the importance of what 
God had ordained. The task of the scribes was to study the 
written Law, which of itself was not always easy to under- 
stand in changing conditions, and to know its interpretation 
so that in everything which a man did he might please God. 
The written Law was thus the basis of Torah, but Torah 
itself was the complete revelation of the life of the holy 
community or nation through which the individual in every 
act could fulfil the purpose of God in His creation. Nor 
was this conception merely rational and intellectual, in spite 
of the continual emphasis on ' understanding '. It was in 
Christian language * redemptive '. * Torah ' was a living 
creative force expressing itself through the Holy Community 
to the world as a whole. The scribes were not necessarily 
priests. Many or most were laymen, but laymen set apart 
by competent authorities because of their knowledge of 
Torah and of the guidance which previous interpreters had 
found in it. Torah was divine and final, and therefore it was 
essential for every new precept proposed to find its authority 
either in the work of a previously accepted scribe or inter- 
preter of the written Law, or else in the written Law itself. 
Naturally enough in times of crisis and confusion their 
tendency was to interpret the written and oral Law more and 
more strictly, and to increase the wall of legal severance which 
separated Jew and Gentile, or, for that matter, the righteous 
from the unrighteous Jew. If ' it would be unfair to say that 
the Rabbis deliberately extended the ceremonial at the 
expense of the moral Law ', yet * it is true to say that their 
devotion to the non-moral side of the Law did occasionally 
produce evil results on the moral and spiritual side both in 
themselves and their followers 1 \ Wherever there are 
external forms in a religion there is a danger of formalism, 

1 The Synoptic Gospels, Montefiore, Intro., p. Ixxviii. 


and even a group with no external forms such as the Society 
of Friends is not free from the danger. 

When the spiritual reasons for doing certain acts are no 
longer accepted it is natural for it to seem mere hypocrisy 
to insist upon doing them. To those who see in ' the Law ' 
merely * the letter ', it is natural to call it dead and powerless. 
But if it is necessary to understand something of the inner 
meaning of both religions to understand the tragic conflict 
which exists between them, it is no juster to go to Christian 
sources to understand Judaism than to go to the Jews to 
understand Christianity. Even those Christians who have 
re-examined the attitude of Christianity to Judaism still 
tend to see between the two religions a gulf which is 
unbridgeable. Travers Herford found that 'the conflict was 
one between two fundamentally different conceptions of 
religion, viz. that in which the supreme authority was Torah, 
and that in which the supreme authority was the immediate 
intuition of God in the individual soul and conscience. The 
Pharisee stood for one; Jesus stood for the other 1 '. 

But this opposition is only true upon the assumption of 
certain Protestant interpretations of Christianity. It would 
be truer to say that the Christian through Jesus, the Jew 
through Torah, sought the same thing * the immediate 
intuition of God in the individual soul and conscience ' 
and that to preserve for succeeding generations the possi- 
bilities of that intuition each religion has ' hedged it round ' 
with the discipline of a system and the humility of an 

Jesus attacked the scribes and Pharisees because they 
seemed to Him to obscure that direct relationship between 
man and God by falsifying the nature of Torah. He went 
further than they would ever have allowed in claiming that 
the written word of the Law itself could obscure that 
relationship. This was a fundamental point. But it was not 
a rejection by Jesus of * Torah r . It was His Gentile fol- 
lowers a century later who, seeing in ' Torah ' only a body of 
prescriptions, saw in Judaism only the observance of a dead 
law which Jesus had rejected. 

1 Pharisaism, p. 167. 



The opposition is not to be understood from a consideration 
of the recorded controversies alone. It lay in the manner of 
His teaching. Statements made by Jesus might be wise or 
good in themselves from the Pharisaic point of view, but 
He was neither a scribe nor did He quote the authority of 
accepted scribes for His utterances. To accept them as 
authoritative expressions of Torah was, in the minds of its 
official interpreters, to undermine the whole structure. The 
stages of this feeling are easy to trace in the gospel of Mark. 
When Jesus first preached in Capernaum the people were 
astonished ' for He taught them as having authority, and not 
as the scribes n . When on that, or more likely on a subse- 
quent, occasion He healed a man in the synagogue, they 
were still more amazed at His * authority ' 2 . That this 
* authority ' implied to Jesus no opposition to Torah is 
shown by the healing of the leper which occurred some time 
later. The leper is sent to the priest to have his health 
certified, and to perform all the ritual acts required 3 . Mean- 
while the reputation of Jesus grew, and the scribes were 
troubled at it. When He returned to Capernaum, there 
occurred a fresh incident. Healing a man sick of the palsy, 
He said to him ' Son, thy sins are forgiven '. This caused 
the scribes still further anxiety. * They reasoned in their 
hearts, saying, Why doth this man thus speak? he blas- 
phemeth: who can forgive sins, but one, even God? 4> This 
cannot be called a hostile attitude, and the reply of Jesus is 
not hostile. It is plain and straightforward. He perceives 
they are questioning His action, and He justifies it to them. 
So far it has been a question of authority, and the ques- 
tioners it is absurd to call them * opponents ' at this stage 
are the scribes. The next incident introduces the Pharisees, 
and it is perhaps significant that it introduces a direct ques- 
tion of the strict observance of the Law. Jesus was eating 
with publicans and sinners. The scribes and Pharisees 

1 Mark i, 22. 
*Ibid. 2*]. 

3 Ibid. 44. 

4 Ibid, ii, 6 and 7. 


remarked upon it, and again He gives them a reasonable 
answer, and one which they could have accepted as adequate. 
' They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they 
that are sick 51 . A little later the disciples of Jesus were not 
fasting, when those of John the Baptist and of the Pharisees 
were observing a fast. They ask Him to explain. He does 
so, but the answer contains a new note 2 . 

Naturally we have only the slightest summary in the 
gospels of a process which had been going on for several 
months at least. We cannot know what other conversations 
and discussions took place between Jesus and His disciples, 
and between Him and the Jewish teachers who followed 
with so much uneasiness His growing popularity. But we 
can see that there has been a change between the time when 
they found Him eating with publicans and sinners, and when 
they questioned Him about fasting. * No man putteth new 
wine into old wine-skins * could be taken to imply a complete 
rejection of the old Law and tradition. His previous actions, 
although unusual, contained nothing explicitly illegal. 
Though the forgiveness of sins shocked them, yet, when 
Jesus proved His knowledge of the man by showing them 
that He had cured him, they could have reconciled this with 
their ideas. When they questioned Him about fasting, there 
is nothing in their words to show that they were other than 
anxious for information. But His reply must have greatly 
increased their disquiet. It seemed an admission that He 
looked at the matter from a frankly novel standpoint. They 
soon found their anxiety confirmed. On the Sabbath His 
disciples ate ears of corn as they passed through the fields. 
Here was a straight issue. Why, they asked Him, do your 
disciples do on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful? 
Jesus' answer is half a justification from the Scriptures, but 
He adds the revolutionary words ' The Sabbath was made 
for man, and not man for the Sabbath >3 . 

Such an answer, coming as a climax to a long development, 
decided them to take action. But they determined first to 
make sure of the correctness of their suspicion that He was 

1 Mark ii, 17. Graetz, English trans,, Vol. II, Ch. 6, builds his whole 
conception of the mission of Jesus on this verse. 

2 Mark ii, 19-22. 
-Ibid. 27. 


adopting an unorthodox attitude to Torah. Jesus went into 
the synagogue and found there a man with a withered hand. 
It is quite likely that his presence was deliberate. In any 
case ' they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the 
Sabbath day; that they might accuse Him n . Jesus recog- 
nised the challenge, and accepted it. ' Is it lawful to do good 
on the Sabbath day or to do harm? ' The Pharisees did not 
answer. They were there to observe His action, not to indulge 
in a controversy. And Jesus ' looked round about on them 
with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their hearts ', 
and proceeded to cure the man. * And the Pharisees went 
out, and straightway with the Herodians took counsel against 
Him how they might destroy Him.' Jesus, on His side, 
withdrew from the region. 

Though the question at issue seems a slight one to a 
Gentile, it went directly to the heart of the whole Pharisaic 
conception of Torah. For they did not admit that there could 
be a question of relative gravity in a deliberate and unneces- 
sary breaking of its precepts. 

The scribes admitted that in cases of life and death it was 
lawful to set aside the laws of the Sabbath. But in the first 
case, that of plucking the ears of corn, and in the second, 
that of healing the man with the withered hand, no such 
urgency could be alleged. The question ' Is it lawful to do 
good on the Sabbath day? ' seemed to the Pharisees beside 
the point. The man could just as well be healed on the next 
day. He was in no danger, and therefore there was no 
legitimate ground for breaking the Sabbath. To postpone 
the cure by a day was neither ' to do harm ' nor * to kill '. 
From the point of view of the Pharisees Jesus was under- 
mining the whole structure of Torah by such an action. 
The divergence between them in practice was slight. But 
so long as Jesus defended His action just on its own basis 
and did not interest Himself to explain it as a legitimate 
interpretation of the written Law, so long was He to their 
minds really doing harm and not good by His conduct. 
For however long the process of interpretation, every good 
thing was included in the written Law which was the basis 
of Torah 2 . 

1 Mark iii, 2-6. 

*Cf. Pharisaism, p. 152. 


There follows a period when Jesus was left in peace, and 
He on his side seems deliberately to have avoided disturbing 
the authorities. Those whom He healed ' He charged much 
that they should not make Him known 51 . But it was 
impossible that the situation could continue thus indefinitely, 
and it appears that the local scribes and Pharisees fearing, 
perhaps, to act on their own initiative against anyone who 
enjoyed such popularity, asked the advice of the authorities 
at Jerusalem. Perhaps also they attempted to persuade His 
friends and relations to restrain Him. In any case, at some 
point unmentioned, we find both His friends attempting to 
put Him under restraint as mad, and ' the scribes which 
came down from Jerusalem ' condemning His miracles as 
the work of the devil 2 . This attempt was felt by Jesus to be 
so grossly unjust that it moved Him to His severest con- 
demnation. To cavil at His attitude to the Law was one 
thing. To ascribe His healings to the devil was a very 
different matter. It was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. 
Perhaps His reply abashed them, for they left Him in peace 
for a long while. But it could only be a truce, and when they 
returned, it was again to challenge Him on the direct 
observance of the prescriptions of Torah 3 . This time He 
replied to them in detail, and opposed in formal argument 
their traditions with the Mosaic Law itself. He accepted 
their challenge, and admitted that He did not observe their 
prescriptions. But he did not by a single word suggest that 
He rejected Torah itself. It was the other way round. He 
charged them with nullifying it. 

Into the further details of the conflict it is not necessary 
to enter. The other gospels add many other details, and 
confuse the historic development of the picture. But they 
do not substantially alter it. The Sermon on the Mount in 
the first gospel gives in much greater detail the teaching of 
Jesus and allows us to see His attitude to the Mosaic Law, 
and to its development. After insisting that He came not to 
destroy but to fulfil it, He goes on to interpret it. The method 
which He adopts, that of setting one precept side by side 
with another in order to mitigate the rigour of the first, is 

1 Mark iii, 12. 

2 Ibid. 21-29. 

8 Ibid, vii, 1-23. 


the normal method of rabbinic teaching. But the rabbis did 
it impersonally. If the contrast in the sermon ' Ye have 
heard that it was said to them of old time . . . but / say 
unto you ' is accurately reported, and is not a Greek version 
of a not completely understood Aramaic original, then here 
also He went further than any Pharisaic teacher would 
permit himself to do. 


The gulf which was thus created was never bridged by either 
side. Jesus made no concession which the Pharisees might 
have accepted, and they on their part were not prepared to 
withdraw their opposition to a teacher who would not con- 
form to the accepted rules of interpretation, and who pre- 
sumed on His own authority to discriminate between what 
should be observed and what could be neglected. It is no 
part of our task to judge between them 1 , and it is to-day a 
purely academic question whether either side could have 
bridged the gulf created. But it is important to attempt to 
define as exactly as possible the extent of the conflict, and 
to disentangle from the narrative what belongs to the event, 
and what reflects the period of the writer. This is essential 
from both sides, from the Christian side as it concerns the 
unmeasured denunciations in the later ministry of Jesus, 
and from the Jewish side in relation to the events leading up 
to the condemnation of Jesus by Pilate, and His Crucifixion. 
There is an unmistakable increase in hostility in the tone 
of the three synoptists if they are read in the historical order 
of their appearance. Mark deals with explicit questions, 
shows a reasonable historic development, and allows the 
conflict to be accurately traced. There are certain difficulties, 
but nothing which interrupts the essential realism of the 
picture. Each incident related is connected with an actual 
example of conflicting opinion. There is no general and 
apparently unprovoked attack upon them. With Luke there 
is a frequent colouring of the incidents recorded by Mark. 
Mark relates that the people of Nazareth were offended at 
Him. Luke adds the story of their attempt to cast Him over 

1 Cf. Pharisaism, p. 167. 


a cliff, and places it at the very beginning of His ministry, 
when there was no reason whatever for such hostility 1 . 
Additional emphasis is given to the incident of the healing 
of the palsied man 2 . It cannot be said that this reflects any 
deliberate intention on the part of Luke. He records several 
occasions on which Jesus was invited to a meal by a Pharisee 3 , 
and though these occasions are used to illustrate the conflict, 
they imply a certain spiritual fellowship. Further, Luke 
alone gives the incident of the Pharisees warning Jesus of an 
intention of Herod to seize Him 4 . The most important 
addition which he makes to the Marcan narrative is the 
strong condemnation in the eleventh chapter of formalism 
and its accompanying vices. 

With Matthew there is a much more noticeable bias. The 
gospel was written to convince the Jews that in Jesus ' the 
promises made to Israel ' had passed from the Jews to the 
Christian Church. The change in tone is illustrated at the 
very beginning of the gospel. Luke and Matthew both 
record the preaching of John the Baptist. In Luke it reads: 

He said therefore to the multitudes that went out to be 
baptised of him, Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you 
to flee from the wrath to come? . . . 

In the version of Matthew there is this change: 

Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judaea, and 
all the region round about Jordan; and they were baptised 
of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But 
when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming 
to his baptism , he said unto them, Ye offspring of vipers, 
who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? . . . 5 

In all the incidents which he takes from Mark there is 
some slight change accentuating the opposition between 
Jesus and the Jewish authorities. The incident of the 
centurion's servant, with its condemnation of the lack of 
faith in Israel, is set at the very beginning of the narrative 

1 Mark vi, 4, and Luke iv, 28. 

2 Mark ii, 6, 7, and Luke v, 17 and 21. 

3 Luke vii, 36; xi, 37; and xiv, i. 

4 Ibid, xiii, 31. 

5 Ibid, iil, 7, and Matthew iii, 5-7. 


immediately after the Sermon on the Mount 1 . Even before 
any encounter with the scribes or Pharisees is recorded 
there is a strong condemnation of them in the sermon itself, 
although they are not mentioned by name, but only as ' the 
hypocrites >2 . In the incident of the man with the palsy, the 
question of Jesus: ' Why reason ye in your hearts ', becomes 
* Wherefore think ye evil >3 . In the answer which He gives 
them on fasting, the words are added: * go ye and learn what 
this meaneth, I desire mercy and not sacrifice ' 4 . The 
hostility of the Pharisees is emphasised by the doubling of 
the accusations that Jesus healed by diabolic power 5 . No 
references to hospitality offered by or accepted from the 
Pharisees are recorded. Finally there is nothing in Mark or 
even Luke which corresponds to the violence, bitterness 
and thoroughness of the famous denunciations of chapter 
twenty-three, which even if it opens with the recognition that 
they ' sit in Moses' seat ' sees nothing but corruption and 
hypocrisy in all their works. 

Much depends on the manner and setting of the incidents. 
Neither in Luke nor in Matthew have they the naturalness 
of Mark. There is only one passage in Mark which goes 
beyond a condemnation of formalism, and of the Pharisaic 
attitude to the Law, and that passage presents certain 
difficulties 6 . Jesus accuses them of rejecting the command- 
ments of God that they may keep their traditions. The 
illustration which Mark proceeds to give of this is the law of 
' Corban '. But the attitude which Jesus condemns was also 
condemned by Pharisaic Judaism, and that which He 
approves is the Pharisaic interpretation of the original. It is 
only possible to imagine that the error comes from Mark, 
who was not a Jew, and who confused what he received. 

When the violence of the conflict between Jews and Jewish 
or Gentile Christians, which existed at the time when the 
gospels were being written down, is realised, it ceases to be 
surprising that there is this additional vehemence in the 

1 Matthew viii, 5 ff. 

2 Ibid, vi, 2, 5, 1 6. 
8 Ibid, ix, 4. 

4 Ibid, ix, 13. 

6 Ibid, ix, 34, and xii, 24. 

Mark vii, 9-13. 


denunciations put into the mouth of Jesus. As to His own 
teaching, we can be certain that He did denounce unspar- 
ingly that attitude which did not discriminate between one 
law and another, and which demanded unquestioning 
obedience of the whole. He did not reject the idea of inter- 
preting the Law, for He interpreted it freely Himself, but 
He did reject some of their actual interpretations, and 
refused to give * their traditions * the force of Torah itself. 


Jesus and the Pharisees differed on the question of 
authority in the interpretation of Torah. Because the 
attitude of each side hardened in the half century which 
followed His death, the separation between Judaism and 
Christianity became inevitable. It was the Law and not the 
Crucifixion which was the basis of this separation. It is only 
later that the words (which typically enough are to be found 
only in Matthew) * His blood be on us and on our children ' 
came to assume their terrible importance, and that the 
Christian hostility to the Jews was based upon the Cross. 
It is evident that the Pharisees were decided not to accept 
the authority of Jesus. But it is a long step from the refusal 
to accept the teaching of a new preacher to the plotting of 
His death. It is to be noted that in the account from the 
betrayal to the Cross there is no mention of them. The 
* scribes ' are included by Mark, but omitted by Matthew. 
But neither mentions the Pharisees. It was not the teaching 
of Jesus which led to His death. It was the fear of His 
Messianic claims by the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem, the 
fear that it would lead the Romans to remove what little 
privileges they still enjoyed. 

The actual facts of the arrest and trial are exceedingly 
difficult to establish. Since the disciples are all recorded to 
have forsaken Him and fled, there is no certain basis for the 
narratives which follow the scene in the garden of Geth- 
semane. Moreover none of the evangelists were, so far as we 
know, experts in legal questions, and here they are describing 
a serious trial ending in a capital sentence. Consequently 
some modern writers have attempted to deny all authenticity 


to the gospel narratives 1 . It is true that the process related 
does not conform to the known juridical procedure of the 
time. But this would probably be so with an amateur report 
of any great modern trial especially when the author was 
not himself present and the existence of this confusion does 
not justify a total rejection of the narrative. For the main 
outlines are clear. The initiative was taken by the Jewish 
authorities at Jerusalem, though it is evident that Jesus 
Himself foresaw the danger in coming there, and expected 
His death. But while the authorities were unwilling to risk 
their precarious autonomy for a teacher whose teaching 
they did not accept, it is also clear that they did not wish to 
endanger their own position with the populace who thronged 
Jerusalem for the feast, by themselves executing some 
sentence upon Him. They secured themselves both with the 
Jewish crowd and with the Roman government by their 
action in first condemning Him and then handing Him over 
to Pilate for sentence. 

Such seems to be the actual outline of the events. It 
satisfies the narrative and the known conditions better than 
either of the two alternative hypotheses, which would ascribe 
the whole responsibility either to the Romans or to the Jews. 
It would seem at first to be an argument for total Jewish 
responsibility that the purely Jewish story of the death of 
Jesus, to be found in the Sepher Toldoth Jeshu and in the 
Talmud 2 , ascribes the whole action to the Jews, gives stoning 
(the Jewish punishment) as the cause of His death, and omits 
all reference to the Romans. But it is probable that the 
acceptance of responsibility (which involved no moral 
condemnation to the Talmudic rabbis, for they insist that 
He had a fair trial) is due to the frequent Christian charge 
that this responsibility had, in fact, been theirs. But if the 
whole responsibility had, in fact, been Jewish, it is incredible 
that the Romans were ever introduced into the narratives at 
all, for at the time at which they were written the Church 
was desirous of cultivating the friendship of Rome. If, on 
the other hand, the entire responsibility had lain with Rome, 
then the vehemence of anti-Jewish polemic in the earliest 

1 For a fully documented exposition of this view see Juster, op. cit., 
Vol. II, p. 134, note 2. A full bibliography is there given. 

2 Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, pp. 78-80. 


period becomes incomprehensible, because so unnecessarily 
offensive to the Jews. For, after all, the Church desired to 
win the Jewish acceptance of the Messianic claims of Jesus, 
and it would be the height of folly to repel them by pinning 
to them so terrible an accusation without any cause. 

Each of the narratives presents special characteristics, 
and again it is Mark who gives the most reasonable account. 
Luke, who emphasises throughout the universal appeal of 
Jesus, is clearly anxious to present the Romans in as favour- 
able a light as possible. Pilate twice attempts to free Jesus, 
and even Herod is introduced to support him. Matthew is 
equally interested to present the Jews in an unfavourable 
light, and adds the words already referred to. 


The Law and the Cross, these are the two rocks on which 
Christianity and Judaism divided, but it must not be thought 
that the separation became immediately apparent. It is 
possible to see the gulf widening in the Acts of the Apostles 
and in the Epistles of Saint Paul. In his first speech after the 
Resurrection Peter carefully avoids insisting upon Jewish 
responsibility for the Crucifixion by emphasising first the 
' determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God ', and then 
by ascribing the act itself to the * hands of lawless men n . 
In the second speech he goes a little further, but after 
saying ' whom ye delivered up, ... when Pilate was deter- 
mined to release him ', he adds ' I wot that in ignorance ye 
did it, as did also your rulers >2 . He uses the same guarded 
language in his prayer of thanksgiving after his release from 
his first imprisonment: * against thy holy Servant Jesus, 
whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, 
with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered 
together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel fore- 
ordained to come to pass * 3 . 

1 Acts 11,23. The latter words may be a summary in Lucan language, 
but they appear to reflect accurately the development of ideas. 

2 Ibid. Hi, 13 and 17. 
8 Ibid, iv, 27. 


The Jews also only gradually came to believe in the 
irreconcilable nature of the new religion. When Peter was 
arrested for the first time they were content to forbid him 
to speak in the name of Jesus, and to let him go 1 . The second 
time he was arrested Gamaliel undertook his defence. His 
speech as recorded in Acts exactly reflects what we should 
expect of this first contact with the leaders of the new sect. 
He is clearly uncertain whether their teaching is true or 
not 2 . We learn that at this time ' a great company of the 
priests were obedient to the faith ' 3 . Violent antagonism 
did not manifest itself until Stephen began to preach. Then 
it was not the Palestinian Jews whom he offended, but the 
' Libertines, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians ', Jews of the 
diaspora, who were more sensitive to the possible dangers to 
Judaism than were the Jews of Jerusalem. Stephen was 
accused of stating that Jesus would destroy the Temple and 
would ' change the customs which Moses delivered unto 
us ' 4 . Brought before the High Priest, Stephen abandoned 
all the tact with which the Apostles had so far spoken before 
the authorities, and after a lengthy introduction on Israelite 
history, suddenly burst into a violent denunciation: * ye 
stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always 
resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of 
the prophets did not your fathers persecute? and they killed 
them which showed before of the coming of the Righteous 
One; of whom ye have now become betrayers and murderers; 
ye who received the law as it was ordained by angels, and 
kept it not ' 5 . What Stephen had said about the Law we do 
not know, and what he was leading up to before he broke 
off is also uncertain, except that he was obviously going to 
taunt them with not having kept it themselves 6 ; but in any 
case the priests decided to take energetic measures to sup- 
press the new heresy. The commission to do so was 
entrusted to Saul 7 . 

1 Acts iv, 21 . The idea that the two arrests are a doublet seems to me 
to be false. 

3 Ibid, vi, 7. 

4 Ibid, vi, 14. 

B Ibid, vii, 51. 

a Cf. Ibid, vii, 39. 

7 Ibid, viii, 1-3; cf. xi, 19. 


Events at the same time took place within the Christian 
community which were bound to strain relations still 
further. As a result of a vision, Peter accepted a call to go to 
Joppa to visit a ' God-fearing ' Gentile, Cornelius. There he 
became convinced that God had called the Gentiles also, 
and that ' he should not call any man common or unclean ', 
for ' God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he 
that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to 
him '. With the consent of the Jewish Christians present 
called for the first time * they of the circumcision ' he 
baptised Cornelius directly into the Christian Church. The 
Christians at Jerusalem, when he reported the matter to 
them, after some opposition accepted his action, and 
* glorified God, saying: then to the Gentiles also hath God 
granted repentance unto life n . 

The admission of the Gentiles inevitably brought the 
question of the Law into prominence, but there is as yet no 
question of the Law not being valid for Jewish Christians. 
Nor was Jewish opinion at this period itself unanimous that 
Gentiles ought to observe either circumcision or the whole 
of the Law. ' There were those who held and believed that 
the true circumcision was of the heart rather than of the 
flesh, and who were willing to argue that, for the proselyte 
at least, such spiritual circumcision was all that God required 
or that man should ask. They were anxious to throw the 
moral laws of the Pentateuch into strong relief, so that 
the dangerous multiplication of ritual and ceremonial 
enactments might be counteracted' 2 . The synagogue was 
surrounded by large numbers of ' God-fearing ' Gentiles, 
and so long as the leaders of the Christians remained Jews, 
it is possible that it was not clearly understood by other 
Jews that the Christians had in fact eliminated all distinction 
between Jews and Gentiles within the Church. They may 
have been aware that a conflict of opinion was in progress, 
but it is unlikely that they realised its outcome before the 
Christians themselves, and it was some time before a 
decisive step was taken by the Church. The Christians had 
clearly become a party whom they would need to watch. 
But they were a ' party ', not a separate religion. 

1 Acts x and xi. 

2 Montefiore, op. tit., Ixxix. 



In A.D, 49 or 50, when Paul set out from Antioch on his first 
missionary journey in Asia Minor, he began his preaching 
quite naturally in the synagogue, and though he stated 
openly that Jesus had been crucified by the Jews * that dwell 
in Jerusalem, and their rulers ', he was invited by the 
congregation to return the next Sabbath and continue his 
preaching 1 . During the week they apparently thought 
better of it, and when he began to preach on the following 
Sabbath there was a disturbance, attributed by the author of 
the Acts to the jealousy of the Jews at his influence over the 
Gentiles 2 . Paul replied * seeing ye thrust it [the Word of 
God] from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal 
life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles '. The importance of this 
statement is great. But it was not a final or exclusive decision 
of policy. In the next city, Iconium, He again preached in 
the synagogue on his arrival. Apparently his preaching 
caused a great division of opinion, and he was ultimately 
forced into flight by the opposition to it 3 . 

The question of the Law very soon became an internal 
question of the Church, affecting the relations between 
Jewish and Gentile Christians, and it was decided that 
Gentiles did not need to observe its precepts long before it 
was felt that they were not valid for Jewish Christians either. 
The Apostles took the basis on which the Jews accepted * the 
proselytes of the gate ', the ' Noachian commandments ', and 
made them the basis of Gentile participation in the Church, 
but with this difference, that the observance of these regula- 
tions admitted the Gentiles to full membership and not only 
to partial adherence to the fellowship. But when Peter is 
referred to by Paul 4 as living * as do the Gentiles ', it meant 
no more than that he no longer observed the rigid separation 
of Jew and Gentile at meals, and that he consented, as he had 
already done in the case of Cornelius, to eat with the Gentiles. 
It did not mean that he ceased to observe the Law in so far 

J Acts xiii, 42. 

2 Ibid, xiii, 45. 

3 Ibid, xiv, i ff . 

4 Gal. ii, 14. 


as it affected his own conduct apart from contact with the 
Gentiles, nor did Paul himself at this time think of laying 
aside his own obedience to the Law, though we should 
know more clearly where he stood if we had any idea of the 
meaning of his reference to the circumcision of Titus 1 . That 
he was firmly convinced that observance of the Law wasjn 
general unnecessary for the Gentiles is clear from the Epistle 
to the Galatians which was written at this period. In this 
Epistle he makes the definite statement that ' if righteousness 
is through the Law, then Christ died for nought ' 2 , and 
again * Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and 
one by the free woman. . . . These women are two coven- 
ants: one from mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, 
which is Hagar. Now this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, 
and answereth to the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in 
bondage with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above 
is free, which is our mother. . . . Now we, . . . are 
children of promise >3 . 

Taken by itself the whole argument would suggest that 
Paul himself no longer observed the Law. But we know that 
this was not the case. When he says that he * through the 
law died unto the law that I might live unto God >4 , it 
would, if we had no other evidence, appear unquestionable. 
But, in fact, among Jews he accepted even rigid observance 
of the Law. Such a position could be only transitional, for 
as he himself says, ' every man that receiveth circumcision 
is debtor to the whole Law ', and Jewish Christians could not 
permanently pick and choose what they should obey of its 
ritual and ceremonial observances. It is evident from this 
epistle that many of them had not accepted the compromise 
for which all the Apostles had first stood at Jerusalem, and 
that the party which considered Christianity to be only 

1 Gal. ii, 3 fT. ' But not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, 
was compelled to be circumcised; and that because of the false brethren 
privily brought in, ... to whom we gave place in the way of subjection, 
no, not for an hour/ It is impossible to say either from this passage, or 
from PauPs position at this time, if he did or did not circumcise Titus. 
It would, of course, be known to his hearers, who would have known if 
the emphasis was on * compelled *, meaning he was circumcised, or on 
* not even * (i.e. though he was my companion), meaning he was not. 

*Ibid. ii, 21. 

3 Ibid, iv, 22. 

4 Ibid, ii, 19. 


a Jewish sect was a strong one. We cannot even be sure of 
Paul's own attitude, in its entirety, to these Jewish Christians. 
We have neither sermon nor epistle to this section of the 
Church. Peter and James, in addressing Jews, do not raise 
the issue. The first writing addressed to them in which it 
receives full treatment is the epistle to the Hebrews written 
nearly twenty years later. 

On both his subsequent journeys, though it is evident that 
the tension was growing steadily greater, Paul always began 
his preaching with the Jews in any centre visited, and at one, 
Ephesus, he was so well received that he was asked to stay 
for some months. But there, as at Corinth, he finally ' went 
to the Gentiles ' and left the Jews in open opposition to his 
teaching 1 . During this period he elaborated considerably his 
doctrine of the Law and of the relation of the Church to the 
Jews, which he had foreshadowed in his epistle to the 
Galatians. In contrast to one violent outburst to the Thessa- 
lonians (from whom he had certainly received bad treat- 
ment) 2 , in which he denounces the Jews * who both killed 
the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drave out us, and 
please not God, and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to 
speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their 
sins alway: but the wrath is come upon them to the utter- 
most ' 3 , he usually speaks with great restraint and with 
* great sorrow and unceasing pain '. 

Since the doctrines enunciated by Paul in these epistles, 
particularly in the epistle to the Romans, have provided the 
doctrinal basis for the attitude of the Church to the Jew 
throughout the centuries, it is important to give them in 
some detail. Since Paul and Jesus are in certain schools of 
theology set in stark opposition to each other, it is also 
important to note that in this respect Paul is logically following 

1 Acts xviii, 4-7 (Corinth) and Acts xviii, 19; xix, 8-9 (Ephesus). 

2 Ibid, xvii, 5. 

5 I Thess. ii, 14 fT. It seems to me likely that the last verse is a gloss 
added after the destruction of the Temple. If it is genuine, it is difficult 
to see to what event it could apply about A.D. 52, unless it is a reference 
to their final damnation (cf, II Thess. i, 8: ' them that obey not the 
gospel of our Lord Jesus; who shall suffer punishment, even eternal 
destruction ')>in which case it is an outburst of rage in complete contrast 
to his real view of the future of the Jews set out in his epistle to the 
Romans. See infra. 


to their conclusion the denunciations of the Pharisees in 
the gospels. 

According to Paul, the Law itself is ' holy, and the com- 
mandment holy and righteous and good >:L , and it was a 
privilege to the Jews to have received it ' What advantage 
then hath the Jew? . . . Much every way: first of all that 
they were intrusted with the oracles of God >2 . All this is 
again summed up in the sentence c my kinsmen according 
to the flesh; who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and 
the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and 
the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, 
and of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh ' 3 . The 
Gospel itself was first given to the Jews 4 , and only when 
they refused it was it given to the Gentiles 5 . 

The rejection of the Gospel by the Jews raised several new 
problems. The Jew felt that he had no need for the Gospel 
because he had all that he required in the Law. Paul, with his 
belief in the universal significance of Christ, could not 
possibly admit such a claim. Nor could he admit two 
alternative schemes of salvation. Having decided that 
salvation was according to Jesus, he was forced to conclude 
that the Law was incapable of bringing salvation 6 . Safe- 
guarding as well as he could its holy character, he attempts 
to explain its failure in practice by saying that * the Law is 
spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin '. The Law showed 
him what was good, but because of sin, he was powerless to 
do the good which he saw 7 . 

An alternative explanation, and one which won more 
general acceptance, was that the Law had not saved Israel, 
because Israel had never understood it. ' Israel, following 
after a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 
Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it 
were by works.' 8 The real function of the Law had been 

1 Rom. vii, 12. 

2 Ibid, iii, i, 2. 

3 Ibid, ix, 3, 4. 
*Ibid. i, 16. 

5 Ibid, ix, 19, to end of xi, especially xi, 17 ff. 

6 Ibid, iii, 20. 

7 Ibid, vii, 14-25. 

8 Ibid, ix, 31. 


to be our ' tutor, to bring us unto Christ ?1 ; and instead, the 
Jews had elevated into a final and eternal dispensation what 
was meant as temporary and imperfect 2 . 

Even more difficult to explain were the * promises ', which 
were made both to Abraham and to later generations 
through the prophets. It was inevitable that Paul should 
claim that the promises now belonged exclusively to the 
Church, and that therefore Israel was, at any rate so long as 
it persisted in refusing to accept Christ, excluded from them. 
The promises of God could not lapse. The failure of the 
Jews could not make the word of God ineffective 3 . Nor 
could they claim that the promises depended on the Law, for 
the promise to Abraham preceded the giving of it 4 . The 
Gentiles, accepting Christ, became the true inheritors of 
them. * They are not all Israel, which are of Israel.' 5 Here 
he is attacking directly a Pharisaic argument that the 
promises applied finally and exclusively to Israel, and that 
the worst Israelite was better than the best Gentile 6 . God 
did not cast off Israel, but Israel failed to see in Christ the 
fulfilment of the Law. ' By their fall salvation is come unto 
the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.' 7 As a result 
of this provocation Paul was convinced that ultimately the 
Jews also would be gathered in, and this he looked forward 
to as the culmination of the Gospel. 'For if the casting away 
of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the 
receiving of them be, but life from the dead? And if the first 
fruit is holy, so is the lump: and if the root is holy, so are the 
branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, 
and thou, being a wild olive, wast grafted in among them, 
and didst become partaker with them of the root of the 
fatness of the olive tree; glory not over the branches: but if 
thou gloriest, it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root 
thee. Thou wilt say then, Branches were broken off, that I 
might be grafted in. . . .Be not high minded, but fear: 

1 Gal. iii, 23-24. 

2 II Cor. iii, n and 15. Rom. iii, ai. 

3 Rom, iv and xi. 

4 Ibid, iv, 10-12. 
6 Ibid.ix, 6ff. 

6 See Sanday and Headlam, Epistle to the Romans , p. 246. 

7 Rom. xi, it. 


for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will He 
spare thee. Behold then the goodness and severity of God: 
toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee God's 
goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou 
also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they continue not in 
their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft 
them in again. For if thou wast cut out of that which is by 
nature a wild olive tree, and wast grafted contrary to nature 
into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which are 
the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?' 1 
While, naturally, no Jew would accept his diagnosis of 
their situation, yet they could not accuse him of hasty and 
violent denunciation. He himself was convinced of their 
ultimate salvation, which meant to him their acceptance of 
the Gospel, for salvation under any other terms was unthink- 
able. This he expressed in the Isaianic doctrine of the 
remnant. * God did not cast off His people which He fore- 
knew. Or wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elijah? 
How he pleadeth with God against Israel. Lord, they have 
killed thy prophets, they have digged down thine altars: and 
I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the 
answer of God unto him? I have left for myself seven 
thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even 
so then at this present time also there is a remnant according 
to the election of grace. . . . Now if their fall is the riches 
of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles; how 
much more their fulness?' 2 These two statements are 
important, for they preserved the Jews during the Middle 
Ages from complete extinction. For it was argued that if they 
were completely extinguished there would be none to pro- 
vide the converted remnant which was to be the final crown 
of the Church. 

In so far as his own position was concerned, Paul never 
ceased to regard himself as a Jew. * I also am an Israelite, of 
the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin ' 3 , but he 
observed the Law, not because he any longer felt it to be 
necessary, but in order to win the Jews. * For though I was 
free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, 

1 Rom. xi, 15-24. 

3 Ibid, xi, i. 


that I might gain the more. And to the Jews I became as 
a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to them that are under the 
law, as under the law, not being myself under the law, that 
I might gain them that are under the law.' 1 It was on this 
principle that he acted during his final visit to Jerusalem, 
when he found the Jewish Christians very troubled by the 
reports which they had heard of his activities. * Thou seest, 
brother,' they said to him, ' how many thousands there are 
among the Jews of them which have believed; and they are 
all zealous for the law: and they have been informed concern- 
ing thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the 
Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise 
their children, neither to walk after the customs.' 2 To 
show them his orthodoxy he ' took a vow ', and accepted 
responsibility for four other men who had taken the same 
vow, involving particular attendance at the Temple. But 
there he was recognised by some Jews from Asia, and his 
presence caused a riot from which he was only saved by 
Roman intervention. There followed his arrest, his long 
imprisonment, and his appeal to Caesar. 

If we accept the Jewish Law by its own standards, then 
we cannot be surprised at their refusal to accept the idea of 
' becoming a Jew to save the Jews '. It is rather astonishing 
that the Apostle had been so long able to maintain such an 
attitude 3 . The Jewish Christians at Jerusalem were appar- 
ently contented when he showed his personal obedience to 
the Law. But those who knew him on the mission field 
were not so easily satisfied. In the same way, when he was 
brought before the council for trial, he was able to bring 
some of the Pharisees over to his side by raising the question 
of the resurrection. They protested that * We find no evil in 
this man: and what if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an 
angel? '* But the majority was against him, and he remained 
a prisoner under the charge of the Roman authorities. We 
cannot be certain of the exact nature of the accusations 
against him. According to Acts 5 , he was ' a mover of 

1 1 Cor. ix, 19. 

2 Acts xxi, 20 ff. 

3 Cf. I Cor. vii, 18-20. 

4 Acts xxiii, 9. 

5 Ibid, xxiv, 5 and 6. 


insurrections among all the Jews throughout the world J , 
' a ring-leader of the sect of the Nazarenes J and a profaner 
of the Temple. But the original charge must have been more 

That Paul in his attack upon the Law was doing it less 
than justice can be said without detracting from the greatness 
of the Apostle. * The Christian will probably say in reply: 
Did not Paul himself know all about it? Was he not born 
and bred a Jew? Was he not a " Pharisee of the Pharisees"? 
Had he not been " zealous beyond those of his own age in 
the Jews' religion". Was he not "as touching the law, 
blameless ". Who could be a better and more reliable 
witness upon the question of what the Jews' religion really 
was? Yes. And did not Paul abandon the Jews' religion? 
Did he not write about it long years after he had been 
converted to a different religion? And is it not common 
knowledge that a convert seldom takes the same view of the 
religion he has left as those who remain in it? n The fact 
remains, however, that the Christian Church adopted 
without enquiry the Pauline estimate of the Jewish religion. 
The ultimate redemption of Israel on which Paul pinned his 
deepest faith was rarely referred to by Patristic writers. 
The inadequacy of the Law, and the forfeiture of the pro- 
mises, was their continual accusation against the Jews. By the 
time the Book of Revelation was written at the very end of 
the century, it was already possible to speak of the redeemed 
of the Church in terms of the twelve tribes of Israel without 
it appearing strange 2 . 

1 Herford, op. cit., p. 175. Compare also Judaism and S* Paul, by 
C. G. Montefiore, where it is argued that Paul did not really know full 
rabbinic Judaism, or he could not have so completely misrepresented it, 
particularly by leaving out entirely the Jewish doctrine of forgiveness, 
and by ignoring the intimate and personal relationship with God under 
the Law in Jewish thought. 

a Rev. vii, 4-8. 



The epistles of Paul, even when dealing with Jewish ques- 
tions, were addressed to Gentiles who were in danger of 
being influenced by the prestige of the Jewish Law. But the 
New Testament also contains letters directly addressed to 
Jewish Christians. The epistle of Peter is addressed from 
Rome to ' the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion, in 
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia '. The 
epistle of James is addressed generally to the ' twelve tribes 
which are of the Dispersion ', while the epistle to the 
Hebrews, in view of its contents, is almost certainly addressed 
to Palestinian Jewish Christians familiar with all the daily 
ritual of the Temple services. 

The epistle of Peter, while it makes hardly any reference 
to the Jewish origin of its recipients, condemns the whole 
of the old dispensation almost contemptuously as c your vain 
manner of life handed down from your fathers ' l . The 
right of the Christians to the ' promises ' is also clearly and 
exclusively stated in the emphasis of the words: ' to whom it 
was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did 
they minister these things, which now have been announced 
unto you through them that preached the gospel unto 
you >2 . 

In contrast to the rest of the literature of the Apostolic 
Age, the epistle of James contains no polemic at all. Its calm 
and quiet tone, and its exclusive preoccupation with the 
building up of practical saintliness, impress the reader at 
once. The absence of Christological argument has led some 
scholars to see in it a Jewish epistle adapted for Christian 
purposes 3 . While this view is not generally accepted, it is a 
commentary on the self-contradiction of conventional views 
of Judaism that this, in many ways the most attractive of 
Apostolic writings, should be attributed by anyone to Jewish 
authorship without it being realised that such an attribution 
condemned the view that Judaism was arid and dead. It is 

1 1 Peter i, 18. 

2 Ibid, i, 12. 

3 E.g. F, Spitta in Zur Geschichte u. Liter atur des Urchristentums, 
Vol. II. 


impossible to tell what was the attitude of the author to the 
Law. He accepts perfectly the situation of the people to 
whom he was writing, in so far as it was concerned. As we 
do not know the details of its date nor the occasion of its com- 
position, all that we can safely deduce from it is that the 
question of the Law was not so universally a burning issue 
as we might be tempted to think from the works of Paul. 

The third document addressed to Jewish Christians is 
the epistle to the Hebrews, and here the situation is very 
different. It has been conjectured, with a fair amount of 
probability, that it was addressed to Palestinian Jewish 
Christians during the war with Rome from A.D. 68 to 70. 
It reflects a time of crisis and of difficult decision which best 
fits this period. Its insistence on the priesthood and on 
sacrifice shows the Temple to be still standing. Its recipients 
were familiar with every detail of its ceremonial. The pur- 
pose of the letter is clear. It is written to convince them that 
they are no longer members of the Old Covenant, and that, 
therefore, the defence of the Temple and the Holy City is 
no affair of theirs. Its argument is precise. The Law made 
nothing perfect, and is cancelled because it is weak and 
unprofitable 1 . It was only the copy and shadow of heavenly 
things 2 . Its dignity is only stressed when the author wants 
to contrast the still greater dignity and glory of the New Dis- 
pensation 3 . The sacrifices and priesthood of the Old 
Dispensation are similarly thrown into shadow by the perfect 
sacrifice and priesthood of the New 4 . God's own intention 
to cancel the Law is proved from Jeremiah 5 . Such language 
is even stronger than that of Paul himself, who nowhere 
speaks of God ' finding fault with the Law '. To emphasise 
its weakness still further the author contrasts it with the 
faith of those who had lived before and after it had been 
pronounced 6 . The list goes straight on through the heroes 
of the Old Testament, making no distinction, and thereby 
implying that those who lived after the issue of the Law were 

1 Hebrews vii, 18, 19. 

2 Ibid, viii, 5. 

3 Ibid, ii, z and ix, passim. 

4 Ibid, x and vii. 

5 Ibid, viii, 8-13. 
* Ibid. xi. 


themselves only justified by the same faith as those whose 
lives preceded it. And of all alike he underlines the fact that 
* all died in faith, not having received the promises >1 . To 
make his rejection of the whole outlook of life of the Jew 
still more distinct, he says of these heroes of faith, many of 
whom, such as Gideon, Samson, David and the Maccabees, 
had lived and died in the struggle for national independence 
and for the sacred soil of Palestine, that they ' confessed that 
they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth ', and not 
' mindful of that country from which they went out >2 . 
From this it was easy to deduce that the promises belong to 
the Christians, and refer only to a heavenly Jerusalem. 

In its approach the epistle to the Hebrews belongs to the 
period of the first gospel. It is an argument to people not 
yet convinced. The insistence with which both documents 
build up their proofs that Jesus was the Messiah of prophecy 
and the High Priest of a New Dispensation imply a period 
when proof was still needed. Jews were shown in the gospel 
that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. Jewish Christians are 
shown in the epistle that they are no longer members of the 
Jewish faith. The other book to be considered belongs to a 
later phase. The fourth gospel assumes without argument 
that the separation has already taken place. It is no further 
use arguing with the Jews. They are assumed to be the 
enemies of Christianity: and Christianity itself is a universal 
and not a Jewish religion. A careful reading of the book 
shows an amazing contrast in spiritual tone between the 
discourses addressed to the disciples and those addressed 
to the ' Jews ', and while the former constitute some of the 
most exquisite treasures of Christian literature, the latter 
are unreal, unattractive, and at times almost repulsive. We 
can attribute the one, even if indirectly, t6 a personal 
memory. But the other is a reflection of the bitterness of 
the end of the first century, and will be discussed in the 
following chapter. 

1 Hebrews xi, 13. 
* Ibid, xi, 13, 15. 



We have ample documentation for tracing in detail the 
growth of the hostility of the growing Church to its parent 
Judaism. It is more difficult to trace the estrangement from 
the other side. The Christians were, after all, a very small 
sect, and there is no reason why a contemporary Jewish 
writer should devote much time to them. Talmudic litera- 
ture reflects the existence of early hostilities, but we cannot 
trace in it any exact development. We are compelled to make 
use of the New Testament, and in particular of the Acts of 
the Apostles, and we must use the evidence with caution, not 
because of any intentional mis-statement, but because Jewish 
motives and feelings were, naturally, much less known to 
the author than were the reactions of his Christian brethren. 

It is, however, abundantly clear that it was the question 
of the Law which was the principal cause of conflict. It is 
therefore inherently probable that the first serious trouble 
arose over the preaching of Stephen, in which there appears 
to have been outspoken condemnation of its observance. In 
any case something compelled the Jewish authorities to see 
that the new movement had to be taken seriously, and the 
commission to root out the new sect was entrusted to Saul. 
It is to be noted that Stephen's preaching first aroused 
opposition among the Jews of the diaspora 1 , and that it was 
to a Jew of the diaspora that the commission to exterminate 
the new sect was entrusted. Again, when Saul has become 
Paul and has returned for the last time to Jerusalem, it is the 
diaspora Jews who stir up the riot against him for his non- 
observance of the Law. The reason is probably to be found 
in the fact that the diaspora Jews, living among the Gentiles, 
were quicker to see the menace to the Law in the new 
teaching than were the Jews living in Palestine, where 
observance of the Law, by being universal, aroused less 

To understand the significance of the mission entrusted to 
Saul it is necessary to describe in greater detail the authority 
of the Jewish High Priest in the Roman empire. He was 

1 Acts vi, 9. 


recognised by the Roman authorities as the supreme head 
of all the Jews of the empire, and in all matters of religion or 
custom he had absolute authority so far as the Romans were 
concerned. Even after the destruction of Jerusalem, the 
Patriarch had the same position. 

But while Judaism was a recognised religion or while the 
Jews were a recognised nation, for there was no distinction 
between the one conception and the other it was not 
necessarily possible, without certain risks, for any Roman or 
other non-Jew to declare himself a Jew. The severity with 
which this was regarded differed at different epochs. For 
a short period under Hadrian, and after the time of Con- 
stantine, it became a punishable offence to become a convert 
to Judaism under any circumstances. The privileges given 
by the Romans to the Jews, though in fact given to the Jews 
originally as a ' nation ', were confined to practising Jews 1 , 
so that by excommunication the Jewish authorities could 
deprive a Jew of his legal privileges. After A.D. 70, when all 
Jews were compelled to make a payment to thefiscusjudaicus, 
this payment formed the recognition of the fact that an 
individual was a Jew. 

Until the time of Constantine it was not a crime in itself 
to become a Jew, but to do so exposed the proselyte to a 
charge of atheism. In the case of a man this would not 
necessarily be known, so long as he did not hold any public 
office. As master of his household, his family worship was 
to some extent his own affair. But his conversion would 
necessarily be made known if he occupied an official position 
requiring participation in public sacrifice, though, probably, 
some proselytes took to heart the lesson of Naaman 2 . 
A woman could only become a proselyte with the consent 
or at least the connivance of her husband, since her absence 
from domestic worship could not be concealed from him. 
In the main such proselytism could only be revealed by a 
system of spies, and the first emperor who made use of such 
was Domitian 3 , who extracted large fines from poor persons 
convicted of becoming proselytes, and executed wealthy ones 

1 Edict of Lentulus, Jos., Ant.> XIV, 10, 13 ff. 

2 II Kings v, 18. Among the Egyptian papyri are a number of 
certificates that sacrifice had been offered, f .. by either Jews or Christians. 
8 Suetonius, Domitian, xii, and Dion Cassius, Ixvii, 14. 


in order to confiscate their estates. His successor, Nerva, 
immediately stopped the work of the spies 1 , and the prose- 
lytes were again left undisturbed until the time of Hadrian's 
law against circumcision 2 . This was repealed in favour of 
Jews by birth by Antoninus 3 , but proselytes were to be 
punished with banishment or death, and proselyte slaves 
were to be set free, as having been * mutilated ' against their 

It was always possible for the Roman authorities, without 
undermining the privileges extended to genuine Jews, to 
punish efforts on their part to make proselytes. This they 
seem to have done as early as 139 B.C. 4 , and the expulsions 
from Rome recorded by Tacitus and Suetonius in the reigns 
of Tiberius and Claudius were probably connected with their 
missionary activities 5 . 

While proselytes would, of course, come under Roman 
law, if the Romans wished to punish them, the Jewish 
authorities could punish Jews who offended Jewish law as 
did the Jewish Christians. The narrative in Acts contains 
nothing impossible in the statement that the Jerusalem 
authorities sent Paul with a mission to uproot the new 
heresy in certain synagogues of the diaspora. The only 
uncertain point is that they apparently exercised the right 
of extradition, since Paul was to bring his captives * bound 
to Jerusalem '. Apart from this text, there is no evidence 
that the High Priest possessed this right, which was very 
rarely conceded by the Romans, and had only been granted 
to Herod as a special favour 6 . There is, however, no 
definite evidence that the right did not exist, though in this 
particular case it is difficult to see why the High Priest should 
want the prisoners brought to Jerusalem, a somewhat costly 
procedure, when all that was required was to give instruc- 
tions that they should be punished wherever they were 
found. The Jews had the right of flagellation; and this is the 

1 Dion Cassius, bcviii, i, 2. 

2 Vita Hadriani, xiv, 2. 

3 Digest, 48, 8, ii. 

4 Valerius Maximus, I, 3, 3: * Judaeos qui Sabazi Jovis cultu Romanes 
inficere mores conati erant, repetere domos suas coegit *. 

* Annals^ II, 85. Suetonius in Reinach, 185-186. 
' Juster, Vol. II, p. 145, and note 5. 


punishment which would probably have been applied in this 
case, since it is extremely unlikely that they would have 
thought of putting a large number to death, even if they had 
the power to do so 1 , as they seem to have had. If it had 
seemed sufficiently grave it is more likely that they would 
have been excommunicated and thereby lost the privileges 
they enjoyed as Jews. 

It will be thus seen that at the beginning Judaism had the 
whip hand of Christianity, in that it was the Jews who 
decided what a Jew was, and who had the right to be 
admitted to the privileges they enjoyed. By the simple act 
of excommunication they could expel a Christian from these 
privileges and report against him as an atheist. Moreover, 
so long as the Christians chose to remain officially, at least 
a Jewish sect, they were subject to the discipline of the 
synagogue. How rigidly this discipline was applied we have 
no means of knowing, but that more happened than is 
recounted in the Acts of the Apostles is seen by Paul's 
declaration in the second epistle to the Corinthians (xi, 
16-29) * * n pri 80118 niore abundantly, in stripes above 
measure, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I 
forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once 
was I stoned, ... in perils from my countrymen, in perils 
from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilder- 
ness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren ' 2 . 


Both the information we possess and a consideration of the 
circumstances would lead us to expect hostility at this stage 
to be directed against the leaders of the new sect. The sudden 
dispersion which followed Stephen's murder seems to have 
been an isolated incident. The real danger lay with the ring- 
leaders, and as long as the issue lay in the question of the 
Law, the most dangerous man was Paul. At first the opposi- 
tion manifested itself in sudden violence, which was rather 

1 The question of whether the Jews at this time had the right to 
administer capital punishment depends on the credibility given to the 
narrative of John (xix, 31) that the Jews delivered Jesus because they 
could not execute Him themselves. This is not mentioned by the 
synoptists, or by any other authority. See Juster, op. cit. r Vol. II, p. 133. 

2 See also Ch. IV, section III, and Appendix Five. 


mob action than official condemnation. On the first journey, 
at the Pisidian Antioch, the Jews urged on the devout 
women of honourable estate, and the chief men of the city, 
and stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and 
cast them out of their borders n . At Iconium the * Jews 
that were disobedient ' stirred up the souls of the Gentiles 
and * made an onset both of the Gentiles and of the Jews 
with their rulers to entreat them shamefully and to stone 
them >2 . At Lystra they actually did stir up the mob to 
stone them 3 . The same * mob violence ' stirred up by the 
Jews is reported on the second journey at Thessalonica 4 
and at Corinth 5 . At Philippi they got into trouble, as Jews 
with the Roman colonists, but there is no statement that the 
Jews had any hand in their arrest. But at Corinth the Jews 
bring them before Gallic the proconsul. 

This incident has been almost as much disputed as the 
trial of Jesus Himself. Those who for one reason or another 
doubt the credibility of Acts point out quite logically that, 
as the Jews had their own jurisdiction, they had no reason 
for bringing Paul before the Roman authorities. But Luke 
clearly realises this also, for in his account Gallio refuses to 
hear the charge on exactly this ground. Luke's accuracy 
might have been suspect had Gallio acted differently, but 
as Luke shows himself aware that the Jews were not compelled 
to bring Paul before the Roman court, there seems little 
reason for doubting his narrative when he states that they 
did so. Actually it seems not to have been the first time that 
the Jews brought Christianity to the notice of the Romans, 
though they do not figure in the story of the trial and im- 
prisonment at Philippi. If when in writing to the Corinthians 
Paul says that he has thrice been 4 beaten with rods ', then it 
must be assumed that, apart from Philippi, he had twice 
appeared in a Roman court. In other words, though Acts 
makes no reference to them, it seems that there had been 
other incidents similar to that at Corinth at other periods 
of his missionary journeys. Nor is this inherently unlikely 

1 Acts xiii, 50. 
-Ibid, xiv, 5. 

3 Ibid, xiv, 19. 

4 Ibid, xvii, 5. 

5 Ibid, xviii, 6 and 12 ff. 


if there is any probability in the statement that the Jews of 
Corinth dragged Paul before the Romans. The charge they 
brought was that Paul was trying to persuade them to 
* worship God contrary to the Law '. This is certainly a 
charge with which they could technically have dealt them- 
selves. The situation is the same as it was in the trial of 
Jesus. The New Testament in both cases informs us that 
the Jews preferred to lay the responsibility on the Romans 
for deciding what to do. 

In the first case it has been suggested that they did so in 
order to transfer the odium, which they might incur from 
the crowd, from themselves to Pilate. This can scarcely be 
the reason in this case. There is, however, a possible ex- 
planation. The teaching of Paul had both in Corinth and 
elsewhere been attracting a good deal of attention, and had 
been making * proselytes ' to Christianity. These were not 
proselytes * in the Jewish sense that they thereby became 
circumcised or observed the Law without performing that 
rite. But the Church itself was still a Jewish sect in the minds 
both of Jews and Romans. Though the Jews were tolerated, 
though becoming a proselyte was not in itself a crime, yet 
it is evident that it was not officially looked on with favour 
by the Romans. It was not so many years since the Jews 
had been turned out of Rome because of their proselytising 
activity. The Roman colonists of Philippi, as soon as they 
found that Paul was trying to make proselytes of them, raised 
a disturbance, and though the magistrates could not find it 
to be a crime, they asked him to leave the city. 

It seems legitimate to assume that Paul was felt by the 
Jews to be endangering their position with the Roman 
authorities at Corinth. He was attracting more attention 
than they desired. If this be so, then it was natural that they 
should attempt to dissociate themselves from him, not by 
the privacy of a condemnation in their own courts, but by 
the publicity of denouncing him to the proconsul. There is 
all the more ground for saying this if we realise that already 
on five occasions Jewish communities had without the 
slightest success attempted to silence Paul by condemning 
him in their own courts. Nor can it be said that the fact that 
Paul had already left them and ' turned to the Gentiles ' in 
any way freed them from the embarrassment in which he 


placed them. Paul himself was still a Jew, and, moreover, 
he was elaborating a doctrine that those who believed his 
teaching were the true Israel. He was making the situation 
altogether too complicated, and the best way out was to show 
the Romans that they at all events had nothing to do with 

Their attempt failed, because actually it was difficult for 
them to make a precise accusation against him. Beneath the 
brief words that he taught men to * worship God contrary 
to the Law ', almost any complaint that they could make 
would be included. Their speech might have been some- 
thing like this: 

* This man is causing a great deal of trouble to our loyal 
Jewish community. He calls himself a Jew, and has been 
preaching here for some time, both in the synagogue and 
outside; but his teaching is absolutely unorthodox, and he 
has five times been condemned by different synagogue 
courts for it. Our Law is the basis of the privileges which 
we enjoy under your beneficent rule, and you know well 
that the Law enjoins us to be good and obedient citizens. 
But this man preaches an incomprehensible rigmarole 
against the Law itself, and is perpetually claiming his 
privilege as a Jew to do it. 

* There is another point. We are a peaceable community, 
and if a proselyte does join us from time to time, you have 
always kindly looked the other way, for you know that by 
making him observe the Law we guarantee that he will 
remain a good citizen. But this man spends all his time 
making proselytes out of anyone he meets, and does not 
enjoin upon them the keeping of the Law, in addition to the 
fact that they are not taken from the most reputable elements 
among the population 1 , and some of them lead lives which 
we should never allow. When these people get into trouble , 
as they are sure to do, it is we who will be blamed for it, for 
they will call themselves Jews , and claim our privileges . But 
they know nothing about the Law on which these privileges 
are based and are even taught to despise it. We beg you to 
forbid this Paul to call himself a Jew, and to go on abusing 

1 This is based on the evidence of the character of the early Church 
in Corinth as revealed in the epistles. 


our Law, and also to recognise that neither he nor his 
precious following have anything to do with us. We might 
mention that we understand that there would be some 
precedent for scourging him.' 

Such an accusation, which seems to me to represent the 
attitude of the Synagogue to the Church as it was beginning 
to define itself, might well have been dismissed by Gallio 
as nothing to do with him; for actually they could not accuse 
Paul of any legal Roman crime. Why they took and beat 
Sosthenes at the conclusion of the proceedings we shall never 
know; perhaps because he was a Christian, and is the same 
as the Sosthenes who greets the Corinthians in the opening 
salutation of the first epistle; perhaps because he put their 
case badly. 

In the narratives of the imprisonment and trials of Paul 
before different Roman-Palestinian authorities there is little 
new to be learnt. Evidently, in spite of his declaration that 
if he had committed any crime he was prepared to die for 
it 1 , he preferred to be judged by Rome and not by his own 
courts. The accusations of the priests have somewhat the 
same vagueness, in so far as actual crime is concerned, as 
those at Corinth. The most noteworthy point of the whole 
affair is the passion with which Paul insists that he himself 
had done nothing against the Law 2 . 


It is made evident that the Jewish authorities had not 
worked out a concerted plan for dealing with the new sect 
by the reception which Paul received at Rome. The local 
Jewish leaders were aware that Christianity was * everywhere 
. . . spoken against ' 3 . But they had received no instruc- 
tions about it, and had heard no evil of Paul himself. On the 
contrary, they express a desire to hear Paul's own view of the 
matter. The original mission of Saul was local, and of short 
duration. The enemies of the Church were also local or 

1 Acts xxv, 1 1 . 

2 Ibid, xxii, 3; xxiii, i; xxiv, 14; xxvi, 5, 22; xxviii, 17. 

3 Ibid, xxviii, 22. 


parties within it 1 . The Jewish people might approve when 
Herod killed James, the brother of John, and attempted to 
seize Peter 2 , but here also it was an attack upon the ring- 
leaders, not upon the rank and file that was made. 

It was possible for either side to seize upon single points 
or persons, but neither had yet a general policy towards the 
other. Though a mediaeval Christian, if he were asked what 
was the substance of his hostility to the Jews, would undoubt- 
edly place first the Crucifixion, yet in the conflicts of this 
period it lies outside the field of debate. Even before a 
developed Christology arose it was felt to be part of the 
' fore-ordained purpose of God '. It was always spoken of 
by Jesus Himself as a necessity for the accomplishment of 
His mission. Paul only once accuses * the Jews ' of responsi- 
bility for His death 3 , and that in a moment of anger. In the 
whole of the long argument in Romans there is no single 
verse which ascribes the death of Christ to the Jews. Foakes 
Jackson, in summing up the period, says: * What the apostles 
are said to have preached is that His Resurrection proved His 
Messiahship . This was a cause of offence to the ruling priestly 
aristocracy, on grounds purely political; the people seem to 
have received the message with some approval. The impres- 
sion left by a candid perusal of the Acts is that the Judaism 
of the time was not intolerant of opinions. The real battle 
was the question of observing the Law. The least weakening 
on this point aroused a storm of indignation, as it had done 
during the ministry of Jesus ' 4 . But on the Law also neither 
side occupied a consistent position towards the other. A Jew 
could not easily condemn outright a sect which contained so 
many blameless followers of all its prescriptions, and the 
Judeo-Christians had not yet sunk to the unhappy position 
which they occupied in the second century. Nor did all 
Christians go so far as Paul appeared to do indeed, it was 
difficult for them to do so in view of his inconsistency. The 
time had not yet come when Christians felt so strongly 
about it that they could doubt whether a Christian who 

3 Cf. I Thess. ii, 14. 

2 Acts xii, 1-3. 

3 I Thess. ii, 15. 

* The Rise of Gentile Christianity, p. 83. 


observed the Law had any chance of salvation 1 . So far, 
Gentile and Jewish Christians lived in mutual toleration. 

External events were soon to compel a clearer attitude 
on both sides. The generation of Jews and Christians which 
followed the destruction of Jerusalem, not the generation 
which first heard the preaching of Christianity, is responsible 
for the completion of the separation. That accomplished, it 
still required several centuries for the beliefs of each party 
to crystallise into the forms which they have historically 

1 Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, xlvii. 



The material for this chapter is taken from the patristic 
literature of these centuries. For English readers most of 
these are to be found in convenient form in the collection 
of Ante-Nicene Fathers, though in some cases the editions 
are not complete. This is particularly so for Origen, the 
most copious of the early writers. Together with patristic 
literature has been included the gospel of Saint John, to 
which reference is made in the bibliographical note of the 
previous chapter. There are also various writings of import- 
ance which are not included in the patrologies, in particular 
the early apocryphal gospels and certain heretical works, 
such as the Clementine Recognitions and the Didascalia 

To comment on all the fathers quoted is impossible in 
this note. There are, however, three classes of literature 
and certain special writers who deserve a remark. 

The most important of all early sources is the Dialogue 
of Justin with Trypho the Jew, a work of the middle of the 
second century, by one of the most brilliant of the early 
Christian apologists. This dialogue, though perhaps not the 
first (the lost dialogue of Jason and Papiscus is probably 
earlier) is the model from which all later examples of this 
class of literature spring. 

A second class of literature of particular importance is 
the ' Testimonies ', collections of texts of the Old Testament 
to prove different claims connected with the person of Christ 
and the call of the Gentiles. For this the work of Rendell 
Harris will need to be consulted, though many scholars do 
not wholly agree with the early date to which he traces them 

The third group of writings calling for special considera- 
tion are the sermons or homilies especially directed against 


the Jews. Of these there are a considerable stream. In most 
cases they were not spoken to Jews, and in general it is not 
to be presumed that Jews were present at all at their delivery. 
They were warnings to Christians of the danger of inter- 
course with the Jews. Inevitably they all recall each other, 
for the ground to be covered in such addresses was relatively 
restrained. It is significant that without exception none of 
them are primarily, or in most cases at all, interested in the 
doings of contemporary Jews. 

For our knowledge of actual relations we are therefore 
thrown back upon chance quotations in other writings. 
And for all our knowledge of the development of a theo- 
logical attitude to the Jews we must look to the same sources, 
and not to the homilies expressly devoted to them. For this 
reason no special list of these homilies is included. It 
would be entirely deceptive. 

Five writers deserve special mention, Justin, Tertullian, 
Hippolytus, Cyprian and Origen. The first was a native of 
Shechem in Palestine, and was trained as a philosopher, 
the second was an African and a lawyer, the third apparently 
a Roman, the fourth an African and teacher of rhetoric, and 
the fifth an Egyptian. They thus represent not only geo- 
graphically but also in their trainings an astonishingly varied 
range of interests. Their different writings are of capital 
importance for the development throughout the Church of 
the absolute condemnation of the Jews which is characteristic 
of patristic literature as a whole. 

In the list of books given below a number of local mono- 
graphs are of particular interest for a more detailed survey 
of Jewish Christian relations in the centres with which they 

Finally there is the question of the Judeo- Christians. 
A number of books are quoted dealing with the rise of the 
Gentile Church, but I doubt whether full justice has yet 
been done to this section of the early Church. At least, I 
have not been able to find an adequate study of the subject. 



Ancient Sources 

PATROLOGIA LATINA For convenience all quotations are 
PATROLOGIA GR^CA made from these two collections. 

(The Vienna Corpus of Ecclesiastical writers should be 
consulted on questions of texts, for it embodies more 
modern discoveries and corrections.) 
THE APOCRYPHAL Ed. M. R. James, Oxford, 1924. 


DIDASCALIA In Horce Semitica, No. 2. English 

APOSTOLORUM trans., London, 1903, 

THEANTE-NICENE T. & T. Clark. Edinburgh, n.d. 
FATHERS 2ovols. 

Modern Works 

SYMPOSIUM Judaism and the beginnings of Chris- 

tianity: a course of Lectures delivered 
at Jews* College. Routledge, 1924. 

BONWETSCH, N. Die Schriftbeweise fur die Kirche an 

den Heiden ah das wahre Israel bis 
aufHippolyt. Theologische Studien, 
Leipzig, 1908. 

FOAKES-JACKSON, F. J. The Rise of Gentile Christianity. 
New York, Doran, 1927. 

FREIMAN, M. Die Wortfuhrer desjudentums in den 

Aelteren Kontroversen. M.G.WJ., 
1911 and 1912. 

GINZBERG, L. Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvdtem. 

Erster TeiL Amsterdam, 1899. 2nd, 
Berlin, 1900. 3rd, Poznansky Mem- 
orial, Warsaw, 1927. 4th, Studies, 
New York, 1929. sth, Chajes Me- 
morial, Wien, 1933. 


HORT, F. J. A. 






. Die Kirchenvdter und die Agada. 
M.G.W.J., Vol. XXII. 

Die Makkabder als christliche Heilige. 
M.G.W.J., Vol. XLIV. 

The Early Christian Testimonies. 
Expositor, 1906 and 1910. 

Christianity in Talmud and Midrash. 
Williams and Norgate, 1903. 

Judaistic Christianity. Macmillan, 

The Dialogues with the Jews as 
sources for the early Jewish Argu- 
ments against Christianity. Journal 
of Biblical Literature, Vol. LI, i. 

Paulus im Talmud, in Rabbinica. 
Leipzig, 1920. 

The Jewish Community at Antioch 
up to A.D. 600. Journal of Biblical 
Literature, Vol. LI. 

Jews in the Works of the Church 
Fathers. J.Q.R., Vols. V and VI, 
Old Series. 

Le Messianisme chez les Juifs. Paris, 

Jesus Christus im Thalmud. Berlin, 

Le Controverse des Chretiens et des 
Juifs auxpremtires Sticles de VEglise. 
Memoires delaSocit6Nationale des 
Antiquaires de France, 6me serie, 
No. 7, 1898. 

Essays in Early Christian History. 
Macmillan, 1893. 


MIESES, M. Der Ursprung des Judenhasses. Harz 

Verlag, Wien, 1923. 

MONCEAUX, P. Les Colonies Juives dans VAfrique 

Romaine. R.E.J., Vol. XLIV. 

RAMSAY, SIR W. The Church in the Roman Empire 

before A.D.iyo. Hodder and Stough- 
ton, 1893. 

STRACK, HERMANN L. Jesus, die Hdretiker und die Christen 
nach den dltesten judischen Angaben. 
Schriften des Institutum Judaicum, 
Berlin, No. 37, 1910. 

TURNER, C. The Testimonies in the early Church. 

Journal of Theological Studies, 1905 
and 1908. 

WERNER, KARL Geschichte der Apologetischen und 

Polemischen Ltteratur, Vol. I. Schaff- 
hausen, 1861. 



At the death of Paul, Christianity was still a Jewish sect. 
In the middle of the second century it is a separate religion 
busily engaged in apologetics to the Greek and Roman 
world, and anxious to establish its antiquity, respectability 
and loyalty. To decide on the date at which the separation 
took place is no easy task, for there are so many parties to be 
considered. When the armies of Titus approached Jerusalem, 
the Judeo-Christians retired to Pella. At the same time the 
rabbinical leaders retired to Jabne. The defence of Jerusalem 
was undertaken by the political and not by the religious 
leaders of the people. The fall of the city, however, reacted 
differently upon the two different groups. The rabbinical 
leaders might consider it to be a punishment for the sins of 
the people. But the Judeo-Christians went further, and saw 
in it a final ' departure of the sceptre from Israel '. The loss 
of the Temple meant that Judaism had now only the Law 
as a basis for its continued independence. Had the Judeo- 
Christians been the only members of the new faith, the 
breach between them and the Jews might have been healed, 
for they also desired to observe the Law. But the rabbis at 
Jabne were not unaware of their contact with Gentile Chris- 
tians who did not observe the Law at all. They knew the 
teaching of Paul, and condemned it utterly 1 . It was only a 
step from this condemnation to the refusal to accept as 
orthodox the conformity of the Judeo-Christians. 

This step was taken by the insertion into the daily Bless- 
ings recited in the synagogue of a declaration about heretics 
so worded that the Judeo-Christians could not pronounce it. 
This declaration, the Birkath-ha-Minim, was composed by 
Samuel the Small, who lived in the second half of the first 
century. His exact date we do not know, but he was a 
contemporary of Gamaliel II, who presided at Jabne from 
80 to no, and was also acquainted with two rabbis who 
were killed in the capture of Jerusalem in 70. We may 
therefore conclude that he was somewhat older than Gamaliel, 
and date the malediction which he composed to between 

1 Kittel, op. dt. y Chapter I. 


80 and go 1 . Of the actual wording of the original malediction 
we cannot be certain. Later forms only contain the word 
* minim ' or * heretics ', and it now only refers to l slan- 
derers ', but according to Jerome 2 it contained the express 
condemnation of * Nazarenes ' a word which may well have 
been erased in the many censorings to which Jewish literature 
has been subject at the hands of Christian authorities. The 
purpose of the malediction is to detect the presence of 
Minim, for if they were invited to pronounce the Eighteen 
Benedictions they would inevitably omit that particular 
paragraph from them. The fact that the test was a statement 
made in the synagogue service shows that at the time of 
making it the Judeo- Christians still frequented the syna- 
gogue. There would be no point otherwise in trying to 
prevent them from leading the prayers. In other words, 
at the time when official Judaism, represented by the rabbis 
at Jabne, had decided that the presence of these people could 
not be tolerated, the Judeo-Christians, however much they 
disagreed from other Jews on the question as to whether the 
Messiah had or had not come, still considered themselves to 
be Jews; and it is not too much to suppose from this that 
there were also Jews who considered that a disagreement on 
this point did not make fellowship with them impossible. 
They must have been generally accepted, or it is incredible 
that they should have continued to frequent the synagogue. 
They were evidently there as ordinary members, since it 
needed the introduction of this formula to detect them. 

A breach would, however, from their point of view, occui 
if the rest of the Jews decided definitely on another Messiah, 
and this is what happened in the time of Barcochba. Even 
though all the Jews did not by any means accept his claim, 
yet it was accepted by very influential leaders such as Aqiba, 
and the discussion round it would inevitably bring into 
relief the fact that they were at least agreed in refusing to 
accept Jesus as Messiah, whatever was thought of Barcochba. 
This would give a date well into the second century for the 
break from the side of the Judeo-Christians. So late a date 
would not, however, apply to all of them and, indeed, there 
is no reason to suppose that all simultaneously came to the 

1 Travers Herford, p. 125. 

1 Jer., On Isaiah, v, 18. P.L., XXIV, 87. 


same conclusion. Some had evidently come to it much 
earlier, even as Paul and other Jewish apostles had done. 
We may, however, accept the date of the malediction as that 
affecting the majority of those concerned. This would fit in 
with the addition in the first gospel of the words * His blood 
be on us and on our children \ which implies a final separa- 
tion ; and the date usually given for this gospel is between 
80 and 90. 

It is important to add that even if dates round the end of 
the first and the beginning of the second century are given 
for the official break between the two religions, yet, as long 
as there were any number of conversions from Judaism to 
Christianity, there were many places in which it would be 
difficult to draw the dividing line. The existence of much of 
the anti- Judaic literature of the early Church, and in par- 
ticular such courses of sermons as those of Chrysostom at 
Antioch in 387, show that respect for the synagogue was by 
no means dead among some Christian groups. It was, how- 
ever, regarded by orthodox theologians with absolute 
disapproval, and was also so regarded by the central authori- 
ties of Judaism. But these had moved before the end of 
the second century to Babylon, where their contacts with 
Christians were fewer than in the west. 


It is reasonable also to date the letters and * Apostles ' sent 
out to the Jews of the diaspora to the end of the first century. 
Through his emissaries the Jewish Patriarch of Palestine 
was able to keep in fairly close touch with the Jews in the 
rest of the world because of the annual collection which was 
made by all the synagogues to the central organisation. The 
decision which is marked by the inclusion of the test male- 
diction on the heretics into the Eighteen Benedictions was 
an important one. The matter touched the diaspora even 
more closely than Palestine itself . We may therefore presume 
that before the end of the century all the synagogues of the 
diaspora had been informed of the new malediction and 
warned to have no dealings with the Christians. 


It is important to attempt to define exactly the nature of 
the official instruction issued at this time. The frequent 
references in patristic literature make it certain that some 
such step was taken, but they differ in the contents which 
they ascribe to the letters sent. It is difficult, but necessary, 
to try to distinguish what was sent out officially from 
Palestine from what was spread abroad unofficially by 
individual Jews. 

If we take the substance of what is told us by Justin, 
Eusebius and Jerome, we can make a fair reconstruction of 
the letter. It contained a formal denial of the truth of the 
Christian account of the teaching and resurrection of Jesus. 
Christianity was a denial of God and of the Law 1 . It was 
based on the teaching of Jesus, who was a deceiver, and who 
had been put to death by the Jews. His disciples had stolen 
His body, and then pretended that He had risen again from 
the dead and was the Son of God. It was therefore impos- 
sible for Jews to have anything to do with such teaching, 
and His followers should be formally excommunicated 2 . 
Jews were to avoid all discussions of any kind with the 
Christians 3 . It is probable that the letters also contained a 
copy of the Birkath-ha-Minim, with instructions to include 
it into the Eighteen Benedictions. For the daily cursing of 
Christ in the synagogue is very closely associated with the 
letters 4 . All three writers insist on the official character of 
these letters, and on their wide dispersion. 

Many modern writers would have us also include in the 
official letters the broadcasting of slanders against both the 
person of Christ and the morals of Christians 5 . They accuse 
the Jewish authorities of spreading officially the stories to 
be found in the Sepher Toldoth Jeshu as to the illegitimacy 
of Jesus, and His evil ways. They believe that from this 
source came also the rumour of Thyestean banquets and 
Oedipean intercourse at the meetings of the Christians 6 . 

1 Justin, Dialogue, cviii, and Eusebius ,On Isaiah, xviti, i; P.G.,XXIV, 
p. 213. 

2 Justin, ibid., and Jerome, On Isaiah, xviii, 2; P.L., XXIV, p. 184. 
8 Justin, xxxviii, and Origen, Celsus, VI, 27; P.O., XI, p. 1333. 

4 Justin, xvi, xlvii, xcv, cxxxiii. 

6 E.g. Harnack, see below, Ch. IV, Section I. 

Cf. Origen, Celsus, VI, 27, and Section VIII below. 


This seems exceedingly unlikely. It is natural that the step 
taken was bitterly resented by the Christians, but at the same 
time we cannot be surprised at its being considered necessary. 
The Church still contained many Jewish members who 
considered that belief in the Messiah could be reconciled 
with membership of the Synagogue, and the Gentile Chris- 
tians were still probably largely recruited from the group of 
the ' metuentes Deum '. To make accusations which could 
easily be disproved would have been very bad policy. It 
would have discredited the entire letter, for those who 
received it would inevitably know that Christians might be 
in error, but were not leading immoral lives. If we exclude 
the charges of immorality, the charges against the personal 
character of Jesus fall also, for the two come from the same 
source. We can, in fact, legitimately conclude that it was a 
dignified but firm denunciation of the Christians, accom- 
panied by an order to have no fellowship with them, and a 
copy of the new passage to be included in the service of the 
synagogue. For more than this we cannot hold the authori- 
ties responsible; and for acting thus we can neither blame 
them nor be astonished at them. 


Before considering the effects of the receipt of this letter 
upon the synagogues of the diaspora, we must consider what 
the general situation was in the communities which received 
it. It is natural to assume that the initiative in the develop- 
ment which took place was due to the Christians. When 
they denounced, the Jews reacted. To suppose an initiative 
on the part of a majority, which was very occupied with other 
matters, is to suppose an unnatural order of events. The 
Church has never declared a movement heretical until the 
movement has made a statement which is unacceptable. To 
propose the contrary order in this case is to propose some- 
thing inexplicable and unique. But, in fact, we know that 
the Christians gave continual provocation. The whole 
development of teaching in the sub-apostolic period was 
inevitably infuriating to the Jew. The fact that the Christians 


considered it essential to the explanation of their position 
does not alter this truth. 

Although Judaism rallied with extraordinary speed from 
the blow struck at the Jewish religion by the destruction of 
the Temple and of all the ceremonial of which it was the 
centre, and though the Jews in the diaspora had long been 
accustomed to centre their religion round the synagogue, yet 
it cannot but have left a sense of tragedy and humiliation 
upon the generation which witnessed it. It was a point 
which they would have liked to pass over in silence, until 
time had healed the scars. But the Christians never allowed 
them to forget it. In all the literature of the period there is 
only one reference in which the destruction of the Temple 
is not cast up at them as a gibe, as a proof that their glory 
had departed. This one reference is in the Didascalia 
Apostolorum, a work remarkable throughout for the lack of 
hostility which it shows to the Jews. It calls Christians also 
to fast over the fallen city: * for their sake we ought to fast 
and to mourn, that we may be glad to take our pleasure in 
the world to come, as it is written in Isaiah, " rejoice all ye 
that mourn over Zion " . . . so we ought to take pity on 
them, and to have faith, and to fast and to pray for them >x . 
The more usual attitude to the Jews is that expressed in 
the addresses to them in the fourth gospel, or, fifty years 
later, in the Dialogue of Justin with Trypho. It is possible 
to read the beginning of the gospel of Mark without knowing 
how the discussions with the Pharisees are going to end. 
The fourth gospel opens with a statement of the rejection of 
Jesus by the Jews. ' He came unto His own, and they that 
were His own received Him not.' 2 On His first visit to 
Jerusalem He cleanses the Temple, and thereby puts 
Himself openly in opposition to the authorities 3 . Nicodemus 
the Pharisee is afraid to come to Him by day 4 . Jesus is afraid 
of their possible interruption of His ministry as soon as He 
knows that they have heard that His disciples are baptising 
those who come to Him, and withdraws from Judaea 5 . The 

1 See Horae Semiticae t II, xxi, p. 96. 

2 John i, ii. 
*Ibid. ii, 13 ff. 
4 Ibid, iii, 2. 

5 Ibid, iv, i, 3. 


first Sabbath controversy leads to a persecution, and imme- 
diately after it the Jews seek to kill Him 1 . Then follows one 
of the long and unsympathetic denunciations of the Jews 
which mark the gospel, and which contain words which 
accurately reflect the situation at the time when they were 
written, but which would seem strange in one of the earlier 
gospels: c ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in 
them ye have eternal life, and these are they which bear 
witness of Me and ye will not come to Me ' 2 . The speech 
continues: c think not that I will accuse you to the Father. 
There is one that accuseth you, even Moses, on whom ye 
have set your hope. For if ye believed Moses ye would 
believe Me, for he wrote of Me >3 , 

From this moment onwards every time that Jesus is made 
to speak to the Jews He appears deliberately to mystify and 
to antagonise them. He does not attempt to win them, for 
He knows His own, and treats the rest with hostility and 
unconcealed dislike. The Jews themselves are represented 
as perpetually plotting to kill Him, and afraid to do so, 
because of His moral power 4 . Even when Jesus addresses 
those Jews * which had believed on Him \ He says of them 
that they are of their ' father the devil >5 . In the middle of 
His ministry the Jews decide to expel from the Synagogue 
any who believe in Him 6 , so that people are afraid to speak 
openly of Him 7 . All this is redolent of the atmosphere 
which must have existed at the end of the century, when, 
indeed, confession of Christianity meant expulsion from the 
Synagogue, and exposure to the unknown dangers of Roman 
persecution. The whole content of the addresses to the Jews 
is self-justification to those who have already made up their 
minds, and not pleading with those who are not yet enlight- 
ened. The temper is fundamentally different from that 
shown by the synoptists, or by Paul, but it is very close to 
the gibes of Justin: * circumcision was given you as a sign, 

1 John v, 1 6 and 18. 

2 Ibid, v, 39 and 40. 

3 Ibid, v, 45 and 46. 

4 Ibid, vii, i, 19, 25, 30, 45; x, 31, 39; xi, 53. 

5 Ibid, viii, 44. 

6 Ibid, ix, 22. 

7 Ibid, vii, 13. 


that you may be separated from other nations, and from us, 
and that you alone may suffer that which you now justly 
suffer, and that your land may be desolate, and your cities 
burnt with fire. These things have happened to you in 
fairness and justice n . 

It is not surprising that such an attitude caused acute resent- 
ment, and it is equally to be expected that resentment, would 
quickly develop into violence. But these attacks were merely 
the surface expression of a more deep-seated contradiction. 
With the destruction of the Temple the Christians were 
convinced that all that there was of promise and encourage- 
ment in the Old Testament had passed to them 2 . They 
disinherited the Jew from his own sacred books at the very 
moment when these provided his only comfort. All the Law 
and the promises led on to Christ the Messiah, Rejecting 
Him, the Jew lost also all share in them. * Judaism ', says 
Ignatius, * is nothing but funeral monuments and tomb- 
stones of the dead/ 3 The Christian did not even allow 
him any further merit in the actual observance of the Law. 
It was only a mass of frivolities and absurdities, except as 
a preliminary to the Gospel 4 . By some mysterious process 
all that was good in Judaism had become evil. To Ignatius 
it was merely human ideas, for on its ' funeral monuments * 
were human names alone 5 . The whole of the epistle of 
Barnabas is an exposition of the Church as the true Israel. 
It is heresy even to try and share the good things of promise 
with the Jews. In tones of unusual gravity, and with a special 
appeal, the author warns his hearers against such mistaken 
generosity: ' This also I further beg of you, as being one of 
you, and loving you both individually and collectively more 
than my own soul, to take heed to yourselves, and not be 
like some, adding largely to your sins, and saying: " the 
covenant is both theirs and ours " * 6 . 

1 Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter xvi. 

2 See further, Section IX. 

8 Ignatius, To the Philadelphians, vi, I. 

4 Epistle to Diognetus, Ch. iv; P.G., II, p. 1172. 

6 Ignatius, Epistle to Philadelphia^, Ch. vi, I. The shorter version 
calls them * monuments '. 

9 Ch. iv. 


If such was the attitude of the Christians, we cannot be 
surprised if Tertullian is right in saying that the Jews 
attached infamy to the name ' during the interval from 
Tiberius to Vespasian n . The evidence of violent hostility 
on the part of the Jews of the diaspora belongs almost 
exclusively to this period. The actual content of the perse- 
cution of the Christians by the Jews will be considered later 2 , 
but it is evident that the temper on both sides was such that 
in the diaspora also we may date the separation to the genera- 
tion following the destruction of Jerusalem. From this time 
onwards Christianity would have to make its own peace with 
Rome, and would be little likely to be protected by the 
Synagogue in case of trouble with the Roman authorities. 


In the consideration of the date of the separation between 
the Church and the Synagogue, we have to consider not 
only the parties already discussed, the Palestinian Jews and 
Judeo-Christians, and the diaspora Jews and Gentile 
Christians, but also the Romans. As long as Christianity was 
a Jewish sect it enjoyed the protection extended to Judaism, 
and the attitude of Gallio was the only one possible. When 
they were recognised as separate, the Christians were exposed 
to the possibility of suppression. The whole question of the 
beginning of the persecution of Christianity by the Romans 
is involved in violent controversy. It turns on two points: 
when did the Romans first become conscious of the organised 
existence of Christian Churches, and, when they did, for 
what precise crime did they persecute them? It is impossible 
to state all the different opinions which have been expressed. 
It will be of more value to the present purpose to summarise 
somewhat fully two contrasting points of view, that of Dr 
Ramsay, which is exposed in The Church in the Roman 
Empire before A.D. iyo 3 , and that of E. T. Merrill in Essays 
in Early Christian History*. 

1 Answers to thejew$> Ch. xiii; P.L., II, p. 637. 

2 See Ch. IV. 

3 Hodder and Stoughton, 1893. 
4 Macmillan, 1924. 


Dr Ramsay, basing his main argument on the efficiency 
of the Roman provincial organisation, decides for a very 
early recognition of the existence of the Christian Church. 
Starting from the fixed point of the correspondence between 
Pliny and Trajan, of which the date is 112, he states that 
* Trajan clearly regarded the prescription of the Christians 
as a fundamental principle of imperial policy which he did 
not choose, or shrank from altering n . The question to 
decide is the date from which this policy became ' funda- 
mental '. Some say from the time of Domitian, but this is to 
ignore the full account of the persecution under Nero, which 
is given by Tacitus and confirmed by Suetonius. The theory 
that Tacitus is only describing a single isolated event is 
contradicted by the form of mention in Suetonius, who 
refers to the persecution of the Christians among other acts, 
not of a temporary character, but * of the nature of permanent 
police regulations for maintaining order and good conduct * 2 . 
The fair and natural interpretation is that Suetonius con- 
sidered Nero to have maintained * a steady prosecution of 
a mischievous class of persons ', which ' implies a permanent 
and settled policy '. Properly considered, the account in 
Tacitus also shows more than casual action. The first charge 
was incendiarism, but when the public got disgusted at the 
cruelty inflicted on the prisoners they were charged with 
odium humani generis, which was not an abstract charge, but 
meant an attempt to destroy Roman society. This is sup- 
ported by the first epistle of Peter 3 . Moreover, Tacitus 
speaks of an ingem multitude, which must mean more than 
a short attack on a few incendiaries. ' On these grounds we 
conclude that if Tacitus has correctly represented the 
authorities, the persecution of Nero, begun for the sake of 
diverting popular attention, was continued as a permanent 
police measure under the form of a general prosecution of 
Christians as a sect dangerous to public safety.' 4 

The charge was not yet * the Name ' as it was in Pliny's 
time, but flagitia cohaerentia nomini, the accusations of 
disgraceful immorality and cannibalism, to which the 

1 Op. cit. 3 p. 226. 

z Ibid. p. 230. 

3 I Peter ii, 12: * they speak against you as evil doers '. 

* Ramsay, p. 241. 


apologists constantly refer. When Nero had once established 
the principle in Rome it would be naturally followed in all 
the provinces. ' There is no need to suppose a general edict, 
or a formal law. The precedent would be quoted in every 
case where a Christian was accused. 5 But ' between 68 and 
96, the attitude of the state towards the Christians was more 
clearly defined, and the process was changed, so that proof 
of definite crimes committed by the Christians was no longer 
required, and acknowledgement of the name alone sufficed 
for condemnation. Nero treats a great many Christians as 
criminals, and punishes them for their crimes. Pliny and 
Trajan treat them as outlaws and brigands, and punish 
them without reference to their crimes n . 

The Flavians continued the policy laid down by Nero, 
and Ramsay accepts the authenticity of a council held by 
Titus before the capture of Jerusalem 2 . * In Titus' speech 
the difference between Judaism and Christianity is fully 
recognised, but the fact was not grasped that the latter was 
quite independent of the Temple, and of Jerusalem as a 
centre.' 3 When this latter fact was recognised, ' the enmity 
which underlies the speech of Titus would be carried into 
vigorous action * action based on the extensive reports 
on the Christians which Ramsay assumes would exist in 
the imperial archives. 

The policy of Titus was naturally followed by Domitian, 
and it is only because of his anti- Christian bias that Dio 
Cassius says that Clemens and Domitilla, whom Domitian 
exiled, were Jews, whereas really they were Christians. It is 
quite impossible that the government could still be confusing 
the two, and the treatment of Jews was quite different. 

The silence of Christian writers about this steady and 
continual persecution is to be referred to their lack of interest 
in history at this early period. There has also been mis- 
representation of the references which are to be found. The 
author of the first epistle of Peter says to his readers: * Let 
none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, 

1 Ramsay, p. 245. Ramsay argues that the persecution in Bithynia had 
nothing to do with the law against sodalitates, as the Christians, by 
giving up their common meal, had conformed. Ibid. p. 213. 

1 Sulpicius Severm, Chron.j II, xxx. 
3 Ramsay, p. 254. 


or as a meddler in other men's matters: but if a man suffer 
as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify 
God in this name ' l . This implies official action, since only 
the governor could execute capital sentence. The Apocalypse 
of John refers to Rome as * drunk with the blood of the 
saints ', and is full of references to persecution 2 . Clement 
refers to ' the examples ?vhich belong to our generation * 
as * a vast multitude of die elect >3 , and Ignatius speaks of 
Ephesus as the highway of the martyrs to Rome ' 4 . 

It is evident that persecution could not have preceded the 
separation of the Church and the Synagogue, so that, on 
Ramsay's view, we should have to date this separation back 
to the time of the Apostles themselves, and presume that 
the attitude taken by Paul was both understood and followed 
by the immense majority of his converts. 


E. T. Merrill, writing as a classical scholar and not as a 
Church historian, finds that there has been a perpetual 
tendency to exaggerate the persecutions altogether, and to 
accept as evidence statements which would not be accepted 
in any other branch of research. He considers that the Church 
historians have come to believe in persecution ' for the Name ' 
because of its ' persistent affirmation '; and in spite of the 
fact that, firstly, such a condition would be inexplicable in 
Roman law, and that, secondly, other explanations are 
possible. ' In the presence of a considerable number of 
isolated but evidently cognate phenomena there is a natural 
tendency in the trained human intellect to relate them to- 
gether into a system, and to find a single rule to explain all 
the allied cases, a single cause to account for all results.' 5 
As we know of no Roman legislation condemning * the 
Name ', modern scholars invent the theory that Christians 

1 1 Peter iv, 15 and 16. 

2 See e.g. vi, 9; vii, 14; xii, n; xiii, is;xvi, 6; xvii, 6; xviii, 24; xx,4; etc. 

* ist Epistle of Clement, vi; P.O., I, p. 220. 

4 Epistle to the Ephesians, xii. 

5 Op. cit. t p. 132. 


were treated as wild beasts, enemies of humanity, outlaws 
and so on. Further confusion has been created by the 
statement that Christianity was illicita, and this has been 
taken to correspond to the modern idea of illegal, whereas 
it only means unincorporated. It is quite absurd to think 
that all members of such groups, of which many existed, 
were treated as outlaws. 

It is equally incredible to suppose that the high officials 
of the empire were aware of the existence of Christianity 
until the middle or end of the second century 1 , at which 
time a concerted policy began to appear. But even then 
persecution was not for * the Name ', but for the crimes 
which these particular collegia were alleged to practise. 

As to the persecution under Nero, there is no evidence in 
pagan or Christian writers that it extended outside Rome, 
or that an ingens multitudo perished in it. Tacitus was fond 
of such rhetorical exaggeration, and in another passage he 
has an even stronger phrase to describe an event in which we 
know from Suetonius that there were twenty victims 2 . 
The persecution in Rome arose from the need of finding 
a culprit for a particular event, and Christians were selected 
because it was known that they were unpopular with the 
masses. Jews might have equally well been taken had they 
not had influence at court, in the person of Poppaea. The 
account in Tacitus makes it quite clear that arson was the 
legal charge, and the odium kumani generis only added to give 
it plausibility. The crisis once over, Nero had no further 
interest in the sect. Turning then to examine the accounts 
said to exist in Christian documents, Merrill notes that no 
details would be known to us at all of this persecution, if it 
were not for the pagan writer Tacitus. Evidently, therefore, 
it did not make so profound an impression upon the Church 
as is supposed. The evidence of I Peter and the Apocalypse 
he considers to be * misinterpreted and sometimes mis- 
dated' 3 . 

Sporadic action in different provinces was all that took 
place for many years. Pliny's action in Bithynia was obvi- 

1 Op. dt. y p. 56 ff. 

2 Ibid. p. 1 01 . The twenty victims are described as ' immensa strages, 
omnis sexus, omnis aetas, iilustres, ignobiles, dispersi aut aggerati*. 

8 Ibid. pp. 113-124 for a discussion of the texts. 


ously such, for Mellito, Bishop of Sardis in the vicinity, 
writing more than fifty years after it had happened, had 
never heard of it. ' When all possible concessions have been 
made regarding the influence of precedent in Roman legal 
procedure, there is to be found in all the history of Roman 
law and administration no precedent that would justify the 
assumption of a pronouncement or other action that could 
possibly be regarded as putting any class of Roman citizens 
or subjects once for all outside the pale of the law. The 
whole spirit and tendency of Roman law and administration 
was in precisely the opposite direction.' 1 As a matter of 
fact, even the rhetorician and lawyer Tertullian makes no 
such absolute charge as modern writers have attempted 
to do 2 . 

The persecution under Domitian he discredits entirely. 
The opening of Clement's letter to the Corinthians, on which 
so much is built, is absurdly exaggerated in its interpretations. 
Clement says that he has been delayed in writing * through 
unexpected and repeated troubles and hindrances '. ' The 
language sounds curiously like an apologetic introduction 
to a modern letter "I really meant to write you long ago, 
but all sorts of bothering things have interfered ".' The 
allegation that Clemens and Domitilla were Christians, and 
that Dio Cassius concealed the fact through prejudice, is 
absurd, and Dio's prejudice a myth. There is no reason why 
he should have had much information about an obscure 
sect, and still less why he should conceal it. Dio's supposed 
statement apart, the first evidence of persecution is seventy- 
five years later, and unconvincing. As to the Apocalypse, it 
can only be said that historical data cannot be studied in such 
poetical and apocalyptic dreams 3 . In dealing with the 
Bithynian persecution, he replies point by point to the 
argument of Ramsay 4 , and finds that it was, and was 
considered by Pliny and Trajan to be, simply a question 
of the existence of a sodalitas, when such had been forbidden. 
It was so far from being a crime to be a Christian apart from 

1 Op. cit., p. 143. 
*Ibid. p. 134. 

3 Ibid. pp. 158-159. 

4 Ibid. p. 199 ff. 


other evidence, that Trajan, hearing of the nature of this 
particular sodalitas, gave it special favours. 

Merrill is not concerned with the date of the separation 
between the two bodies. His interest is the persecution of 
Christianity by the Romans, and his conclusion would be 
that we cannot get any useful evidence from Roman action 
for settling the date of the separation, whatever we may 
deduce from the internal relations of the two groups. 


In the light of the previous discussion it is possible to con- 
clude that the definite separation into two religions took 
place towards the end of the first century. Some of the 
leaders on either side had decided upon its inevitability, or 
necessity, much earlier. In some cases the link was kept 
much later, but in general we can say that at the end of the 
first century Christianity began to stand upon its own feet 
theologically and socially. Such a conclusion is supported 
by the appearance of the Birkath-ha-Minim, and by the 
development of the attitude of the Gentile Christians to 
Judaism. The only arguments against this date are those of 
Ramsay. For it is clear that however excellent the Roman 
State Archives, and however much time the emperors spent 
in studying them, it is somewhat extravagant to assume that 
the Romans were aware of the emergence of a new cult 
before its own sectaries, and before its parent body had 
realised it. A number of Christians were certainly executed 
by Nero. But it was not a persecution of the Church or of 
Christianity. It was an isolated event, even if Suetonius 
thought that it was a declaration of routine policy. If we 
recognise this, then we can also recognise that Titus, if he 
really held a council before Jerusalem in which he declared 
that the destruction of the city would lead to the destruction 
of Judaism and Christianity, did not recognise that two 
different faiths were involved, and that he still considered 
Christianity merely to be a Jewish sect. In the same way all 
argument for the bias of Dio Cassius disappears, and we 
can accept at its face value his statement that Clemens 
and Domitilla were Jews. Whether Domitilla became a 


Christian later in life does not concern us. Robbed 
of all the supports which ultimately rest on a persecution 
under Nero of Christianity as such, the arguments of Ramsay 
collapse, for the references in epistles and in the Apocalypse 
are not enough by themselves to prove a persecution of 
Christianity in the first century. 

But we need not go as far as Merrill and suppose that the 
high officials were unaware of the existence of Christianity 
before the middle or end of the second century. The refer- 
ences in the epistles and Apocalypse do mean something. 
Christians were looked on with disfavour, from whatever 
source that disfavour came. The second century apologists 
clearly felt the need for a defence of Christianity to the pagan 
world. Disturbances within the Jewish community took 
place as far west as Rome as early as the days of Claudius. 
They were aroused by the missionary journeys of Paul, and 
doubtless of other Apostles. These would demand no more 
than police action to preserve order. But if we imagine them 
to have continued, as they probably did, throughout the 
half-century in which the separation was taking place, then 
we can safely say that the evidence of the epistles and 
Apocalypse is adequately accounted for, and that so far as 
the Roman evidence is concerned, the end of the first 
century is the time of the definite emergence of Christianity 
as a new religion. 


There is one group to whom it has been already implied that 
the preceding argument does not wholly apply the Judeo- 
Christians. There is no more tragic group in Christian 
history than these unhappy people. They, who might have 
been the bridge between the Jewish and the Gentile world, 
must have suffered intensely at the developments on both 
sides which they were powerless to arrest. Rejected, first 
by the Church, in spite of their genuine belief in Jesus as the 
Messiah, and then by the Jews in spite of their loyalty to the 
Law, they ceased to be a factor of any importance in the 
development of either Christianity or Judaism. It is con- 
ventional to state that they would have permanently confined 


Christianity to the Jewish world, that they wished to impose 
conditions which were impossible for the Gentiles, but we 
only possess the evidence against them. And they on their 
side might well say paradoxical as it may appear to us now 
that the Gentile Church by its attitude made the accept- 
ance of the Messianic claims of Jesus impossible to the Jew; 
and that the perpetual statement of the Gentile leaders that 
the Jews continued to reject Christ was fundamentally 
untrue, because they were being offered Him only upon 
conditions which were false and impossible for a loyal Jew 
to accept in other words, an attitude to the whole of 
Jewish history and to the Law which was based upon 
Gentile ignorance and misunderstanding, and was quite 
unsupported by the conduct of Jesus Himself. 

Though thus isolated, they lingered on in Palestine for 
centuries. For them, the critical years were not so much 
from A.D. 70 to 100, as from 70 to 135, and the final destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem under Trajan. Until the Jews had in large 
numbers decided for another Messiah, they might continue 
to hope that they would accept Jesus. But when, led by 
the famous Aqiba, the bulk of the population followed 
Barcochba, then the position became hopeless. Though the 
Birkath-ha-Minim dates from thirty or forty years before 
these events, yet we know of no actual persecution of them 
by the Jews between the death of James and the outbreak 
of the revolt in the time of Trajan. Then indeed they 
suffered severely for their refusal to accept Barcochba, and 
to share in the defence of the city, and many were put to 
death 1 . After the defeat of the revolt, when the Jews were 
formally prohibited from entering Jerusalem, for the first 
time a Gentile bishop was established in the city. As the 
choice of Barcochba confirmed the refusal of the Jews to 
accept Jesus, so the presence of a Gentile bishop emphasised 
the break from Judaism of the new religion. 

Just as it is conventional for Christian historians to con- 
sider that the history of the Jews up to the Incarnation is to 
be considered as a preparation for the Gospel, and that 
Jewish history in some way stops when Christian history 
begins, so also the Judeo-Christians are regarded as ceasing 
to be of importance when their defeat by the Gentile 

1 Justin, First Apology, Chapter xxxi; P. G., VI, p. 375. 


Christians was assured. But the Church of the second 
century was no more the Church of the fourth than was the 
Judaism of the second century the complete Judaism of the 
Talmud. Neither had yet absorbed or rejected various 
intermediate groups which existed at the earlier period. 

The interesting fact about this period is that from the 
two poles of Catholic and Rabbinic orthodoxy stretch an 
unbroken stream of intermediate sects. For there were some 
groups which had both Christian and Jewish representatives, 
such as the Gnostics and the Ebionites, and among the 
Jewish believers in Christ there appear to have been a number 
of different groups varying in their conception of the amount 
of the Law which should still be obeyed. We shall see when 
we come to consider the action of the councils, and the 
denunciations of the fourth century, that there is every reason 
to believe that the common people were much more friendly 
with each other than the leaders approved of, and this is 
reflected in some of the popular literature which has survived, 
and which lacks the bitterness of the more intellectual 

The disputation between Peter and the Apostles on the 
one side and representatives of the different Jewish parties 
on the other, which is related in the Clementine Recognitions, 
shows no special bitterness towards the Jews, and the dis- 
cussions themselves are said to have taken place at the request 
of the High Priest 1 . Even more striking are the Acts of 
Philip 2 , a production of the third century. Philip goes to 
a town called Nicetera in Greece, and when the Jews hear 
of his presence there ' they say hard things of him as of 
a corrupter of the Law '. They agree, however, readily to 
the proposal of the chief among them, Hiereus, that he should 
undertake to argue with Philip. Hiereus does so with much 
courtesy, and is converted by Philip, and after some resist- 
ance on the part of his wife, from whom Philip demands that 
he shall live separated, she is converted also, and Philip makes 
his home with them. This situation lasts for some time, and 
then when Philip preaches again, the Jews and pagans get 
very angry, and summon him to the court. Philip appears, 
and the mob wish to stone him. But again a Jew intervenes 

1 Clementine Recognitions, I, liii; P.G., I, p. 1236. 
*An. BolL, Vol. IX, 1890. 


and undertakes to argue with him. He questions Philip on 
the interpretation of the Prophets, and on the virgin birth, 
and professes himself satisfied with Philip's replies. He then 
takes the credit to himself for Philip not being stoned by the 
mob, and for this presumption Philip afflicts him with a 
number of ailments, of which Hiereus subsequently heals 
him in the name of Jesus. This double miracle instils fear, 
if not affection, into the Jews, and they make no objection 
when Philip proceeds to convert and baptise all the inhabi- 
tants, themselves apparently included. 

The hostility of the Jerusalem authorities was always pre- 
supposed, but the apocryphal Acts, which began to appear in 
the second and third centuries, saw nothing strange in the 
general conversion of the Jewish people. In another version 
of the Acts of Philip 1 , he goes to Athens, and is pursued 
thither by Ananias and an army of five hundred men. 
These are converted by Philip's miracles, while Ananias 
himself, for his refusal to be so, is swallowed up in the 
ground by stages bravely protesting his refusal at each 
stage. In the Acts of Peter 2 , of the second century, there is 
the strange contrast of the fourth gospel repeated. ' The 
Jews ' believe, but are afraid to confess it for fear of * the 
Jews '. In the later apocryphal works the hostility is much 
more marked, and no Jewish conversions are expected. 

While, therefore, we may correctly date the actual 
separation from the end of the first and the beginning of the 
second century, we should be wrong to assume that the 
distinction which we can now observe between Christians 
and Jews represents the situation as it appeared to those 
living at the time. 


If there be any justification to be found for the picture of 
the Jews and of their history drawn in the writings of the 
Fathers, it would be that they believed the influence of the 
Jews to be a perpetual and present danger to their flock, 

1 The Apocryphal New Testament, p. 439. 

2 Ibid. p. 90. 


that they saw in the Jews the opponents of orthodoxy, and 
the deceivers of the simple. It must be admitted that very 
little evidence of the truth of this supposition is to be found 
in the literature remaining to us. We hear of heretical 
Christian sects influencing the orthodox, but we hear nothing 
about such influence being exercised by Jews. It is not a 
charge made by Justin, or in any writing deliberately 
addressed to them. The usual charge is inveterate hostility, 
which is something essentially different. But in view of the 
fact that such a situation did apparently occasionally exist 
in the fourth and fifth centuries 1 , it is, perhaps, reasonable 
to believe that it existed in the second and third centuries 

By the second century the controversy over the Law had 
ceased to play the role which it had played at the earlier 
period. The Church had become predominantly Gentile in 
membership and almost exclusively so in leadership. Justin 
refers pityingly to some few Gentile Christians who, from 
weakness, still observed the Law, and as a magnanimous 
concession on his part admitted that they might be saved 2 , 
but he adds that other Christians would not venture to have 
any intercourse whatever with such persons. The com- 
promise arranged in Acts, and the concessions made by 
Peter and Paul, had absolutely no further validity 3 , and the 
actions of the Apostles, approved in the first century, would, 
as Jerome and Augustine later agree, have been the rankest 
heresy once the Church was properly established. The 
field of controversy has shifted from the Law to the 
' promises ', in other words, to the whole question of the 
fulfilment of all prophecy in the person of Jesus Christ. 

We may at first wonder why the attempt to prove the 
reality of the Divinity of Christ made it necessary to falsify 
the whole of Jewish history, as the Gentile Church undoubt- 
edly did, but if we study their approach to the problem we 
see that they were led on inescapably by the method of their 
own argumentation from the first legitimate assumption to 

1 See Ch. V, Section VII, on the influence of Jews on catechumens. 

2 Justin, Trypho, Ch. xlvii. 

3 Cf. the correspondence between Jerome and Augustine on this 
point. Letters 28, 40, 75, 82 in the Edition of Augustine's letters by 
Marcus Dodds, or P.L., XXXIII, same numbers. 


the last and most extravagant fabrications. Unhappily, 
historical criticism did not exist for either party in the 
struggle, and the system which the Church used to support 
her claims was in manner, though naturally not in matter, 
the same as that used by the Jew to refute them. His- 
torically, Jesus during His earthly life was linked to Jewish 
history and to the Jewish scriptures. The Church, in spite 
of all its philosophising, never lost sight of the actual 
historical reality of the Incarnation, and unhesitatingly 
rejected all those views which tended to reduce to a plane of 
secondary importance the events of the earthly life of Jesus. 
The Fathers insisted on His relation to Jewish prophecy 
and the divine history of His people. But in safeguarding 
themselves against an identification of Jesus with a Greek 
demigod, or with the mythical saviour of a mystery 
religion, they were compelled to interpret the whole of the 
Jewish scriptures in such a way as to support their own 
view 1 . We have already seen how the writer of the epistle 
to Barnabas feared that his readers would be tempted to 
share the scriptures with the Jews. The only alternative was 
to claim the whole of it for themselves and to antedate the 
rejection of the Jews and the emergence of the Church to 
the beginning of revealed history, by emphasising the 
position of Abraham as the father of many nations, of whom 
only one, and that themselves, was chosen. 

It is therefore not surprising to find Justin saying of the 
Bible to Trypho: * your scriptures, or rather not yours but 
ours, for you, though you read them, do not catch the spirit 
that is in them ' 2 . The writer of the epistle to Diognetus, 
in speaking of the spirit of the Church, says, in the most 
natural way possible, ' the fear of the Lord is chanted, the 
grace of the prophets is recognised, the faith of the gospel is 
established, the tradition of the apostles is guarded, and the 
joy of the Church rejoices >3 , without any feeling of break 
between the first two clauses and the rest. Lactantius, the 
most Greek of the early fathers, speaks casually of * our 

1 This action apparently attracted the comment even of certain 
pagans. Cf. Eusebius, Prep. Evan., I, ii-v; P.G., XXI, p. 28 S. 

2 Trypho, xxix. 

3 Ch. xi; P.G., IV, p. 1184. Actually this chapter seems not to be by 
the author of the rest, but it is contemporary. 


ancestors who were the leaders of the Hebrews J1 , and every 
martyr refused to dishonour his obedience to the God of 
Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. Tatian, who lived about 
the middle of the second century, in his Address to the 
Greeks, claims Moses as proof of the antiquity and respecta- 
bility of Christianity 2 . That he should wish to claim such 
antiquity is perhaps natural when we remember that 
Josephus wrote the whole of his Antiquities of the Jews to 
disprove the pagan gibe that Judaism was an upstart faith. 
Antiquity appeared to have been highly valued in the 
ancient world. Theophilus, bishop of Antioch from 168 to 
181 (or 188), in his letters to Autolycus, after relating the 
story of creation, and of the flood, and after pointing out 
pagan ignorance of these events, adds * and therefore it is 
proved that all others have been in error, and that we Chris- 
tians alone have possessed the truth >3 . He also is distressed 
by the accusation that Christianity * has but recently come 
to the light ' 4 , 

But it was not enough to make a general claim to the whole 
of the Scriptures. It was necessary to claim each particular 
advantage offered in it, both in relation to Christ and, as 
a deduction therefrom, in relation to themselves. Once the 
Messianic question became a point of controversy, the 
Christians had to deal with a primary Jewish objection that 
a man crucified could not be the Messiah, for the Law said 
explicitly ' he that is hanged on a tree is accursed of God >5 . 
So far as we know, the manner of the Crucifixion excited no 
controversy in apostolic times. There is only one reference 
to it in the Pauline correspondence 6 , and then it does not 
appear as a subject needing defence. But in the second 
century Christians had to think out an answer to the reproach 
that a man cursed by the Law could not possibly be the 
Messiah. Trypho puts the question directly to Justin, and 
Justin's answer is at first evasive 7 . But later Trypho returns 

1 Divine Institutions, Bk. IV, x; P.L., VI, p. 470. 

2 Chs. xxxi and xxxvi-xl; P.G., VI, p. 868. 

3 Bk. II, xxxiii; P.O., VI, p. 1105. 

4 Ibid. Ill, iv, p. 1125. 

6 Deut. xxi, 23, in the translation of the Septuagint. 

6 Gal. iii, 13. 

7 Trypho, Ixxxix. 


to the charge, and then Justin replies by the parallel of the 
brazen serpent 1 . This was the answer generally accepted 
in the Church, and it is still conventional to represent as 
symbols of the Old and New Dispensations the brazen 
serpent and the Cross. It is to be seen in innumerable 
stained-glass windows. Tertullian and Hippolytus both 
admit that the question as to whether the Messiah has come 
is the only issue between them and the Jews 2 . The question 
was vital for the obvious reason that it was not commonly 
held possible that there should be two Messiahs. If, there- 
fore, Jesus was the Messiah, the only person for whom the 
Jews could be waiting would be, by their own method of 
arguing also, the Antichrist 3 . Moreover, a prophecy could 
not be fulfilled twice, and Jacob of Serug, a writer of the 
fifth century, rubs in the implication of this by stating, after 
he has proved that Christ fulfilled all prophecies, that even 
if the Jews did obtain a Messiah, he could not claim any of 
the Old Testament prophecies on his behalf, for * Our Lord, 
when He came, fulfilled the totality of prophecy. And He 
gave no opportunity for another to come ' 4 . 

As a result of this necessity to prove the reality of the 
Messianic claims of Jesus from prophecy, the Church turned 
the whole of the Old Testament into a vast quarry with no 
other function than to provide, by any exegesis however 
far-fetched, arguments for His claims. A large portion of 
the Dialogue with Trypho turns on this point. Trypho and 
Justin pit text against text, and differ only in the interpreta- 
tion which they give to them. It is probable that by this 
time various collections of texts were already in existence 
in order to give Christians a handy compendium of arguments 
for possible controversies. One such collection has survived, 
compiled by Cyprian 5 , but many others were probably in 
existence 6 . In Cyprian's collection over seven hundred 

1 Trypho, xcii and xciv. 

2 Tertullian, Apohget., xxi; P.L., I, p. 391; and Hippolytus, Refutation 
of all Heresies, Bk. IV, xiii-xxv; P.G., VII, p. 1006 ff. 

3 Cf.Pseudo Hippolytus, Discourse on Last Things, xxviii;P.G.,X, p. 932. 

4 First Homily against the Jews, line 283. Cf. Ch. VIII, Section III. 

5 The Testimonies against the Jews, P.L., IV. 

6 On the use of such collections see Rendell Harris in The Expositor for 
Nov. 1906 and June 1910. He considers that they were already in use 
by the time the present gospels were written (Expositor, Sept. 1905). 
See also Glover, The Conflict of Religions in the Roman Empire, Ch. VI. 


texts are collected, dealing with every possible subject of 

The Messianic question once settled, there was an 
inevitable deduction to be made by the Christian writers. 
If Jesus was the Messiah promised to Israel, then they were 
the true Israel 1 . It is here that we see how inevitable 
was the defamation of the actual history of the Jews, for 
if the Gentiles were the true Israel, then the Jews had 
all the time been sailing under false colours. That they 
were the true Israel they proved by innumerable passages 
from the prophets, in which God speaks of His rejection 
of His own people and His acceptance of the Gentiles 2 . 
Little by little the Church was read back into the whole of 
Old Testament history, and Christian history was shown 
to be older than Jewish history in that it dated from the 
creation 3 , and not from Sinai, or even Abraham. Continual 
references to Christ were found in the Old Testament, and 
it was ' the Christ of God ' who c appeared to Abraham, 
gave divine instructions to Isaac, and held converse with 
Moses and the later prophets ' 4 . 

In order to justify this reading of history, they were 
compelled to challenge the Jewish conception of the Law. 
The Pauline doctrine that it was good in itself, and divine, 
was not universally respected. The Old Testament as the 
embodiment of a complete conception of a community, and 
of the place of religion in common life, which is to the 
modern scholar the fascination of the Law and the prophets, 
had no meaning for the writers of the early Church, Gentiles 
themselves, they missed entirely the moral and corporate 
significance of the Mosaic legislation. Unconscious that they 
themselves were creating a ritual and a rule almost as com- 
plicated as the priestly code, they saw in the observances of 
Judaism something comic and contemptible. Their descrip- 
tions of Judaism, though probably perfectly sincere, read to 
us like a deliberate parody. Justin puts into the mouth of 
Trypho the following summary of his religion: ' first be 
circumcised, and then observe what ordinances have been 

1 Bonwetsch, op. cit,, passim. 

2 Trypho, cxxiii. 

Eusebius, Ecc. Hist., I, iv; P.G., XX, p. 76. 



enacted for the Sabbath and the feasts, and the new moons 
of God, and in a word do all the things which have been 
written in the Law, and then, perhaps, you may obtain 
mercy from God J1 . A little later Justin draws attention to 
the collapse of all the sacrificial ritual with the destruction 
of the Temple, and asks Trypho what he considers now to be 
valid of the Law. Trypho replies that it remains c to keep 
the Sabbath, to be circumcised, to observe months, to be 
washed if you touch anything prohibited by Moses, and 
after sexual intercourse' 2 . The writer of the epistle to 
Diognetus, while admitting that * in so far as they are 
monotheists, they are better than the heathen ', adds that 
' their sacrifices are absurd . . . their scruples about the 
Sabbath ridiculous, their vaunting of circumcision nonsense, 
and their festivals folly ' 3 . Such attacks might be legitimate 
criticisms of one side of Judaism in those who showed also 
a knowledge of its positive moral content. As an inclusive 
summary it was an inexcusable absurdity. Those who 
had such a strange ignorance of Judaism had no difficulty 
in considering the Law to be an unimportant portion of the 
Scriptures, a temporary addition to a book otherwise universal 
and eternal, added because of the special wickedness of the 
Jews 4 . 

Those who still clung to the Pauline conception of its 
dignity had two other courses open to them. They could 
claim that the Jews never observed it, or they could claim 
to interpret it allegorically. The latter method is that 
adopted by the epistle of Barnabas in a detailed review of 
many of its enactments. It was also followed by Hippolytus 5 , 
and comes to its full flower in later centuries in works such 
as the amazing commentary of Gregory the Great on the 
book of Job. Those who wished to claim that the Jews had 
never observed the Law had only to refer to the Golden Calf, 

1 Trypho, Ch. vfii. 
*Ibid. xlvi. 

3 Chs. iii and iv (abridged); P.O., II, p. 1174- 

4 Trypho, xix-xxii. Jerome (Ep. CXXI) in the fourth century goes so 
far as to say that it was a deliberate deception of them by God to lead 
them to their destruction. 

5 See especially his interpretation of the Blessings of Jacob inGen.xlix, 
in Fragmenta Rxegetica in Genesim, P.G., X, p. 588 ff., and Adversus 
Judaeos, ibid. p. 788. 


to the murmuring in the wilderness, and to the many other 
passages in the historical and prophetic books in which the 
difference between the real and the ideal is expressed. In 
later writers it is generally this line which is followed, for it 
made it easier to map out a consistent history of the Church 
in the Old Testament by contrasting it with every lapse from 
the ideal, while the sum of these lapses made up the whole of 
the history of the Jews. This method of rewriting history 
led later to the conclusion that the Jews were heretics, or 
apostates. ' For it is clear that they have deserted the Law, 
who have not believed in Him whom the Law proclaims to 
be alone sufficient for salvation. They should be considered 
apostates, for denial of Christ is essentially a violation of the 
Law.' 1 All the writers who wrote catalogues of heresies 
included under that heading many Jewish sects. While in 
pre-Christian Judaism they only include divagations from 
orthodox Judaism, for contemporary times they include all 
Jews. This is but another instance of their claim to possess 
whatever is honourable in Old Testament history 2 . In fact, 
it is occasionally denied that the Jews had ever known God 
at all, ' for they who suppose that they know God, do not 
know Him, serving angels and archangels, the month and 
the moon >3 . 

The tendency to treat Jews as heretics, who knew the 
truth and refused it, is very evident in the apocryphal 
gospels which began to appear about the middle of the 
second century. Naturally, the critical period which needed 
to be rewritten was that immediately following the miracle 
of the Resurrection, though a later group also attach great 
importance to the incidents which are alleged to have accom- 
panied the burial and assumption of the Virgin. In its 
earliest form the story is found in the Gospel of Peter. After 
the Crucifixion the Jews are filled with terror and remorse, 
beating their breasts and saying ' if these very great signs 
have come to pass at His death, behold how righteous He 
was '. They therefore ask Pilate to put a guard on His tomb. 
In spite of the guard many are witnesses of the Resurrection, 

1 Pseudo-Ambrose, On Romans, ix, 27; P.L., XVII, p. 139. 

2 Cf. Epiphanius and Philastrius. 

3 Fragments of the Preaching of Peter , collected in Apocryphal New 
Testament y p. 17. 


and would believe it if they were not afraid of being stoned 
by * the Jews J1 . 

The next development is that the High Priest, also 
impressed by the events of the Crucifixion, calls a meeting 
to examine carefully whether the prophecies really prove that 
Jesus was the Messiah. The meeting finds that He was; 
and their decision comes to the ears of Pilate, who sends to 
them to adjure them to tell him the truth. They admit that 
He was the Messiah, but say that they have decided to con- 
ceal the fact, * lest there should be a schism in our syna- 
gogues '. They implore Pilate to keep silence. Pilate, how- 
ever, writes to the emperor Tiberius that * the Jews through 
envy have punished themselves and their posterity with 
fearful judgments of their own fault; for their fathers had 
promises that God would send them His Holy One, and 
when He came, and performed marvellous works, the 
priests through envy delivered Him to me, and I, believing 
them, crucified Him >2 . In the Acts of Philip the scene of 
the conversion of the Jews is laid at Athens, and all are 
convinced except the High Priest himself, who is swallowed 
up by the earth for his unbelief. The various Assumptions 
of the Virgin carry on the tradition for several more centuries. 
In one of the many versions of it 3 , the * Prince of the 
Priests ', struck blind on trying to overthrow the bier, 
exclaims: ' Do we not believe in Christ, but what shall we 
do? The enemy of mankind hath blinded our hearts and 
shame has covered our faces that we should not confess the 
mighty works of God, especially when we did curse our- 
selves, crying out against Christ "His blood be on us and 
on our children " '. The same suggestion that the Jews 
secretly believe is to be found in the Arabic History of the 
Patriarchs 4 . 

1 Gospel of Peter y vii, 25, and viii. 

2 Acts of Pilate, Latin version. It is a short step from this to make 
Tiberius, and ultimately Pilate himself, believe in Jesus, and the emperor 
propose His acceptance by the Senate as a God. All these stages seem 
to have been gone through before the time of Constantine. Cf. also 
Gospel of Nicodemus. 

3 Apocryphal New Testament, pp. 196, 201, 214. Cf. also P.O., II, 
the Coptic Gospel of Twelve Apostles, in which Pilate wishes Jesus to be 
made King, and on the death of the Virgin the High Priest is openly 

* P.O., Vol. I, p. 122; see Ch. VIII. 


The bitterness which infects these attacks can be seen 
from the remark of Justin on circumcision, quoted above, 
or from the even bitterer sarcasm of Tertullian on the same 
subject 1 , in which he identifies it with the Roman prohibi- 
tion against Jews entering Jerusalem, and suggests that God 
ordained it to the end that they might be more easily identi- 
fied. It would be a mistake to imply that such unworthy 
bitterness is to be found continually in patristic literature, 
but it is to be found unhappily frequently, and it is not 
confined to one or two authors. The attack upon the Jews 
which is included in the works of Hippolytus begins with 
the exhortation: 

' Hear my words, and give heed thou Jew. Many a time 
dost thou boast thyself that thou didst condemn Jesus of 
Nazareth to death, and thou didst give him vinegar and 
gall to drink, and thou dost boast thyself because of this. 
Come therefore and let us consider together whether 
perchance thou dost not boast unrighteously, O Israel, 
whether that small portion of vinegar and gall has not 
brought down this fearful threatening upon thee, and 
whether this is not the cause of thy present condition, 
involving thee in these myriad troubles. . . . Listen with 
understanding, Jew, to what Christ says: " they gave 
me gall to eat, and in my thirst vinegar to drink ". And 
these things he did endure from you. Hear the Holy 
Spirit tell you also what return he made to you for that 
little portion of vinegar. For the prophet says as in the 
person of God: " Let their table become a snare and a 
retribution ". Of what retribution does he speak? Mani- 
festly of the misery which has now got hold of thee.' 2 

One would never gather from this passage that the giving 
of vinegar and gall was a service organised by the charitable 
women of Jerusalem to dull the pain of the punishment! 

The final seal was set upon the Church's adoption of the 
Scriptures of the Jews by the assimilation into Christian 
hagiology of all the heroes and religious leaders of the Old 
Testament. The mother and her seven sons who braved the 

1 Tertullian, Answers to the Jews, Ch. iii; P.L., II, p. 642. 
* A dversus Judaeos, Chs. i and v; P.G., X, p. 789. 


wrath of Antiochus 1 were already celebrated by a feast in 
the fourth century 2 . The story formed the basis of Origen's 
great Exhortation to Martyrdom. Later on at different 
periods the others were added, until the memory of every 
reputable character in the Old Testament was associated 
with the past of the Church rather than with the ancestors 
of contemporary Jews. Abraham, Lot, Moses, Miriam, 
Aaron, Job, Shemaiah, Elijah, Elisha, Tobit, and all the 
prophets were included. The intention of the Church in 
thus adopting these figures is well expressed in the commen- 
tary which accompanied the account of the Maccabean 
martyrs, and was read on their feast day in the Jacobite 

' It is right that thou shouldst know, O listener, that 
our Christian fathers have established the rule to hold a 
feast in memory of the just of the Law of Torah, that we 
may know that we have not abandoned the work of the 
Law of Torah by rejecting it, but by passing to a better 
Law. We admit the just of the old Law in their rank: we 
do not honour them more than the fathers of the New 
who have done much more than they.' 3 

The great characters of the Old Testament having been 
thus removed, this is the final resume of Jewish history as 
the Church presented it to her congregations: 

' Moses they cursed because he proclaimed Christ, 

Dathan they loved because he did not proclaim Him; 

Aaron they rejected because he offered the image of Christ, 

Abiron they set up because he opposed Him; 

David they hated, because he sang of Christ, 

Saul they magnified, because he did not speak of Him; 

Samuel they cast out because he spoke of Christ, 

Cham (?Egypt) they served, because he said nothing of 

Jeremiah they stoned while he was hymning Christ, 

1 II Mace. vii. 

2 Both Chrysostom and Gregory of Nazianzen preached sermons in 
their honour, and the latter refers to their feast as not yet very widely 
observed, so that we may presume it to be a fourth century innovation. 

8 SAJ. in P.O., Vol. XVII, p. 712. 


Ananias they loved while he was opposing Him; 
Isaiah they sawed asunder shouting His glories, 
Manasseh they glorified persecuting Him; 
John they slew revealing Christ, 
Zechariah they slaughtered loving Christ, 
Judas they loved betraying Him.' 1 

No people has ever paid so high a price for the greatness 
of its own religious leaders, and for the outspoken courage 
with which they held up an ideal and denounced whatever 
seemed to them to come short of it. If they had known the 
use that was to be made of their writings, then, indeed, many 
of the prophets might have obeyed literally the sarcasm of 
Irenaeus when he says that * the Jews, had they been 
cognisant of our future existence, and that we should use 
these proofs from the Scriptures which declare that all 
other nations will inherit eternal life, but that they who 
boast themselves as being the house of Jacob are disinherited 
from the grace of God, would never have hesitated them- 
selves to burn their own Scriptures ' 2 . 


It might be thought, and it is claimed by certain writers, 
that the fact that Christianity now stood out as a Gentile 
religion would have led to a change in the Jewish attitude 3 , 
and apparently it did lead to a certain softening of their 
attitude to the Jewish Christians 4 . The strongest argument 
for this ignoring of Gentile Christianity is the paucity of 
reference to it in the Talmud 5 during the second and third 
centuries, the centuries during which the Church com- 

1 Pseudo-Cyprian, Adversus jfudaeos, C.S.E.L., III, iii, p. 135. 

2 Irenaeus, Contra Haereses, III, xxi; P.G., VII, p. 946. 

3 E.g. Israel Abrahams in Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels > 
Vol. II, p. 57: ' The synagogue had far less quarrel with Gentile Chris- 
tianity, . . . and Christianity as such was not the object of much atten- 
tion, still less of attack*. 

*Travers Herford, op. cit., Div. 2, Chu II. 

6 The only reference found by Travers Herford is the one which 
refers to the time of the triumph of the Church in the fourth century > 
op. cit. t p. 210. 


plained bitterly of the attitude of the Synagogue to Chris- 
tianity. But in spite of this silence it is impossible to believe 
that the Jewish authorities, at least in the diaspora, were 
uninterested in the progress of Gentile Christianity. No 
organised group could be expected to pass over in silence 
such perpetual libels on their history as were being produced 
by Gentile theologians. But there was a still more serious 
reason. The Synagogue had by no means ceased from its 
missionary activity. Even in turning to the Gentiles, the 
Church was competing for influence over the same personali- 
ties. In the second century it is possible that a much smaller 
proportion of its converts came from the ranks of the 
' metuentes Deum % for the Christian no longer had easy 
access to the synagogue; but the type of pagan likely to be 
attracted by either religion was the same. Though the terms 
upon which they offered it were different, both offered a life of 
discipline and of hope, and the promise of future happiness. 
Both emphasised morality, and fought against the corruption 
of the surrounding world. 

The extent to which proselytism was encouraged by the 
authorities of the Talmudic period has been much discussed, 
and the remark of Rabbi Helbo, a Babylonian who taught in 
Palestine in the third century, has frequently been quoted as 
though it were final * a proselyte is as harmful to Israel as 
a scab to the skin '. A detailed study of the evidence, how- 
ever, suggests that the quotation of this remark four times 
in the Talmud, and the stories of Shammai's hostility to 
prospective converts, are inserted because general opinion 
was against them, and that throughout the period in which 
the Babylonian Talmud was being composed, the main 
Jewish opinion was in favour of proselytism. In a detailed 
survey, M. Israel Levi, the chief Rabbi of France, comes to 
this conclusion. * There is no doubt that in its attitude 
towards proselytes there are two tendencies in Judaism. 
Nor is it questionable that those in favour of proselytism 
were more powerful outside Palestine, in- the diaspora. It is 
also probable that the missionary volunteers in the diaspora 
were not recruited from among the rabbis. It is therefore 
not surprising that in rabbinic literature there are unques- 
tionable traces of the tendency hostile to these conversions. 
What is surprising is to find so much evidence of the opposite 


view. Was the favourable tendency the stronger of the two? 
Yes; unquestionably. But in a particular milieu, that of the 
Hagadists, or preachers. Among them the note is almost 
always consistent. In preaching, the tendencies are not 
opposed to each other as they are in the legislation. One 
note alone dominates the Palestinian Midrashim, that 
shapeless collection of popular sermons spread over several 
centuries. It is the attitude of those who proclaim the 
example of Abraham, the father of proselytes. Now, where 
does one find the ideal of a religious body, in its corpus juris 
or in its preaching, in its canon law or in its literature? Is 
the spirit of Christianity to be found in the gospels or in 
the Leges Visigothorum?' 1 There were throughout the 
first centuries many half-way houses from Christianity to 
Judaism, and it is fair to suppose that something in them was 
due to the activity of contemporary Jews, and not only to the 
written word of the Bible. 

If the Jews were still interested in making converts in the 
Roman world, it is obvious that they must have been ready 
with detailed answers to the Christian approach to the same 
individuals. These answers would be of two kinds, a state- 
ment of the Jewish interpretation of passages in the Old 
Testament used by the Christians, and comments upon the 
New Testament from a Jewish standpoint. There is evidence 
in the Talmud for both of these answers, and traces of them 
can also be found in Christian literature. The Messianic 
belief having passed into a definition of the doctrine of the 
Trinity, most of the Talmudic texts deal rather with the 
assertion of the unity of God, than explicitly with the claims 
of the Christians about Jesus. For in this way the denial of 
the claim to divinity of Jesus was involved without direct 
reference to it 2 . In the Church of the fourth and later 
centuries the Hebraic interpretations of disputed passages 
of prophecy were well known, and the commentaries of 
Jerome are full of them. The interpretation of a passage 
accepted as genuine by both sides was not the only issue. 
Jews and Christians disputed as to what the actual text con- 
tained. The Jews did not accept the Christian translations, 

*R.E.y., Vols. L and LI. 

2 Travers Herfbrd, op. cit., pp.239 and 291 ff.,and the homilies against 
the Jews of Jacob of Serug, passim. 


and few Christians could read Hebrew. The interpretation 
of the passage of Isaiah referring to the Virgin Birth 
was, naturally, the most hotly disputed of these passages, but 
even as early as Justin others existed 1 . 

Just as Christians show a knowledge of post- Christian 
Judaism, so also the rabbis show a knowledge of the New 
Testament and of the details of the life of Jesus. The gospels 
are known as ' Aven-gillayon ' by Rabbis Meir of Jabne and 
Jochanan. The word is an offensive pun meaning ' revela- 
tion of sin ' or ' falsehood of blank paper ' 2 . There is a 
discussion reported as to what shall be done with * external 
books ', which would doubtless include primarily Christian 
books. Rabbi Meir says that they are not to be saved from 
the fire, but to be burned at once, even with the names of 
God in them. Rabbi Jose says that on a week-day the name 
of God ought to be cut out and hidden away. Rabbi Tarphon 
invoked a curse on himself if he did not burn the books, 
names of God and all 3 . 

While the references to the life of Christ are few in the 
Talmud, they are inevitably insulting. Jesus was the 
illegitimate child of a soldier called Panthera. He performed 
His miracles by magic, which He had learnt in Egypt. 
After His death, which was a legal condemnation in which 
He was given every chance to prove His innocence, His body 
was stolen by His disciples in order to invent the story of 
the Resurrection 4 . He was a ' deceiver of Israel ' and His 
teaching was evil. The Talmud and Midrash have little more 
than this, but it is evident that common Jewish stories went 
far further, and that all the main elements of the * Sepher 
Toldoth Jeshu ' were in existence from a very early date. 
There are explicit references in Origen to some of the stories. 
Jesus collected a band of malefactors around Himself, and 
with these He lived the life of a bandit up and down Pales- 
tine 5 . More references are to be found in Tertullian, who 
speaks of the libels on Jesus as the * son of a carpenter or 

1 Trypho, xliii and Ixxi-bndii. Cf. H. A. Hart in the Expositor, 
Nov. 1905. 

*T.B.Sabb., 116, a, foot. 

3 W. M. Christie in J.TJS., Vol. XXVI, p. 361. 

4 Travers Herfbrd, pp. 35 and 51. Strack, pp. 18-46. 

8 Origen, contra Celsum, I, xxxii, xxxviii, and Ixii; P.G., XI. 


furniture maker, the destroyer of the Sabbath, the Samaritan 
possessed of a devil n . Eusebius expresses his disgust that 

* when a writer belonging to the, Hebrews themselves 
[Josephus] has transmitted from primitive times in a work 
of his own, this record concerning John the Baptist and our 
Saviour, the Jews should proceed to forge such memoirs 
against them ?2 . The passage he is referring to is that 
alluding to Christianity which many now think to be original 
and not an interpolation. In any case, it existed in the 
copies of Josephus in the fourth century. 

There are also many references in the Talmud to the 
Judeo- Christians under the name of * Minim >3 . As the 
word ' Minim ' is often found associated with the word 
1 Mosarim ', which means traitors or betrayers, it is probable 
that most of the bitterness against them is to be associated 
with the war under Hadrian, when the Jews were forbidden 
to study the Law and the Judeo- Christians were accused of 
betraying those who did to the Romans. In the Gentile 
Christian the Talmud shows practically no interest. It is, 
however, one of the most serious charges made by Tertullian 
and Origen that the Jews stirred up the pagans against the 
Christians . The former makes the general statement that the 
synagogues were ' the seed-plot of all the calumny against 
us >4 . Origen is much more explicit and says that Celsus has 
acted ' like the Jews, who when Christianity first began to be 
preached, scattered abroad false reports of the Gospel, such 
as that Christians offered up an infant in sacrifice, and 
partook of its flesh, and again that the professors of Chris- 
tianity wishing to do the works of darkness used to extinguish 
the lights, and each one to have sexual intercourse with any 
woman he chanced to meet '. These calumnies, says Origen, 

* have long exercised, although unreasonably, an influence 
over the minds of many, leading those who are alien to the 
Gospel to believe that Christians are men of such character, 
and even at the present time they mislead some, and prevent 
them from entering into the simple intercourse of conversation 

1 Tertullian, de Spectaculis, xxx; P.L., I, p. 662. 
*Ecc. Hist., I, ix, 9; P.G., XX, p. 105. 

3 Travers Herford, op. cit., and Strack, pp. 47-80. 

4 To the Nations, I, xiv; P.L., I, p. 579. 


with those who are Christians J1 . It is, of course, im- 
possible to deny that individual Jews may have taken a 
share in spreading such calumnies against Christians. But 
before accepting this picture given by Origen and Tertullian 
as generally reliable, it is necessary to consider the evidence 
on the other side. Although this is negative it is extensive. 
We possess no less than eight complete * Apologies ' 
addressed to the pagan world during the second century 2 ; 
in other words, the century of the greatest Jewish unpopu- 
larity, and in which it would have been a telling argument to 
say: ' Why do you believe the Jews of all people? ' Two of 
the authors who wrote Apologies also wrote against the Jews. 
All of them mention the unpleasant accusations made against 
the Christians. But none of them ascribe the accusation to 
Jewish sources. Yet these apologists come from all parts of 
the Christian world Asia, Rome and Africa and all wrote 
in the second century. 

But in addition there is positive evidence that the libel did 
not come from Jewish sources. Justin speaks of it to Trypho, 
and asks him if he has believed it; and Trypho replies: 
' These things about which the multitude speak are not 
worthy of belief. Moreover, I am aware that your precepts 
are so wonderful and great that I suspect that no one can 
keep them' 3 . Athenagoras, in his Plea for the Christians , is 
still more definite. When he says that * it is not wonderful 
that they should get up tales about us such as they tell about 
their own gods ', he is clearly implying a heathen source of 
the statement 4 . It is also significant that these statements 
have almost always to be searched for in odd corners in 
writings which have nothing to do with the Jews. They are 
not to be found in the many writings addressed to them. 
While, then, no man can prove that no Jew ever repeated 
them, it is clear that the evidence is against the accuracy of 
the statement of Origen that the main source of the more 
unpleasant accusations against the Christians was Jewish. 
On the other hand, it is not to be expected that when a Jew 

1 Contra Celsum, VI, xrvii; P.O., XI, p. 1334. 

2 By Aristides, Justin (2), Minucius Felix, Theophilus of Antioch, 
Athenagoras, Tatian and Tertullian. 

3 Trypho, Ch. x. 

* Op. *., Ch. xxxii. Cf. Ch. ii ff.; P.G., VI, pp. 894 and 964. 


was asked his opinion on the Christian Church he should 
load it with praises; and if we possessed copies of addresses 
given by local Jewish preachers, it is probable that we should 
find in them plenty of uncomplimentary references to 

The written c Altercations ' yield astonishingly little 
precise information upon the discussions which must have 
frequently taken place. They are arranged to give the 
victory to the Christian or to the Jew, and the arguments of 
the other side are given little weight. Only in one Christian 
Altercation does the Jew make a really good stand, and that 
is the seventh century Altercation of Gregentius and Her- 
banus 1 . But that the Jew was not without ammunition is 
shown en passant in two stories in the Acts of the Martyrs. 
From these it appears that one Jewish defence was to claim 
a superiority of their miracles over those of the Christians. 
After Donatus, bishop of Istria, who was martyred in 
Egypt, had made a great apologetic speech which had led to 
the conversion of seven philosophers, eleven lawyers, and 
two hundred and eighty-two others, the Jews began to make 
trouble. When Donatus spoke of the miracle of the raising 
of Lazarus, they admitted it was a miracle, but claimed it 
was inferior to one reported in the Old Testament. Christ 
had been alive when He raised Lazarus, but the very bones 
of Elisha had performed a similar miracle 2 . In the same 
strain, when the martyr Romanus at Antioch is about to be 
burnt, the Lord sends a miraculous storm to quench the 
fire in case there are any Jews standing about who might 
compare the event contemptuously with the safety in the 
flames of the Three Holy Children 3 . 

It would appear that the latter event was a strong point 
in Jewish apologetic, for there are many other references 
to rival miracles as evidently designed to put it in the shade. 
Saint Maris, who converted Persia, where the original 
miracle took place, had a special furnace constructed, 
through which he walked twice, and then began to extinguish 
the fire*. 

1 See Ch. VIII, Section V. 

2 II Kings xiii, 21. 
*A.S., May, Vol. V, p. 145. 
'An. Boll., Vol. IV, p. 99. 


It is a disputed question whether there are relics of long 
discussions between Jews and Christians in the Talmud. 
Naturally, when a discussion is referred to, the Jew wins, 
but according to Dr. Marmorstein, a full discussion is to be 
found in Sifre, which bears out the evidence of Christian 
writers as to the method followed. ' One day the community 
of Israel will say: Master of the universe, my witnesses are 
still living (and can testify in my favour), as it is said: This 
day I take the heaven and earth to witness. (Deut. xxx, 19.) 
To which he (the Christian) replies : I will create a new 
heaven and a new earth. (Is. Ixv, 17.) Master of the universe, 
I look with repentance on the places where I have sinned, 
and I am ashamed, as it is said: Consider thy conduct in 
the valley, and recognise what thou hast done. (Jer. ii, 20.) 
But he replies: every valley shall be exalted, and every hill 
shall be brought low. (Is. xl, 4.) Master of the universe, my 
name still survives. But he: I will change it, as it is said: 
They shall call thee by another name. Master of the universe, 
Thy name is spoken of with those of idols. But he: I will 
make to disappear the names of Baals from their mouth. 
(Hos. ii, 19.) Master of the universe, hast thou not written: 
If a man repudiates his wife and she leaves him to marry 
another. And hereplies: I have written " if aman ",but of me 
it is said: I am God and not man. (Hos. xi, 9.) Are you 
separated from me, Israelites ? Is it not written: Where is 
your mother's bill of divorcement, by which I have sent her 
away? Where is the creditor to whom I have sold you? ' 
By the last sentence of this somewhat confused battle of texts, 
the victory of Israel in the encounter is evident 1 . 

There is also evidence of discussions with Christians held 
by Rabbi Hoshaye of Caesarea, a contemporary of Origen 2 , 
and by Rabbis Simlai and Tanhouma at Antioch. But more 
complete than any references in the Talmud is a Genizah 
fragment 3 , which gives the anti-Christian polemic with 
a directness which no censor of the Talmud itself would 

1 Stfre, ed. Friedmann, fol. i3ob> quoted from A. Marmorstein in 
R.E.J., Vol. LX. It should be added that other Jewish scholars see in this 
passage only a discussion between a saddened Israelite and his God. 
Even so it may have been the memory of Christian propaganda which 
saddened him and framed his questioning. 

2 J.Q.R., Vol. Ill, p. 357- 

Article by Dr. Krauss in R.E.J., Vol. LXIII, p. 63. 


have allowed to survive. The actual fragment is late, for it 
includes a reference to the dishonour of riding on an ass 
which must belong to either the Mahomedan or Byzantine 
periods, when Jews were not allowed to ride on horses. But 
the material it contains is likely to go back to the beginning. 
Various items in the life of Jesus are discussed. His attitude 
to His parents and their disbelief in Him are contrasted 
with the commandment to love father and mother. Moreover, 
it is absurd to say that God could have a mother. Jesus Him- 
self says that He was a man, and He was known in Nazareth 
as an ordinary individual. His pure humanity is proved by 
His sufferings upon the Cross, by the fact that He fasted, and 
that He was tempted by the devil. Somewhat irrelevantly it 
is then pointed out that a young ass would not be strong 
enough to bear a man Christian tradition insisted that the 
ass had never been ridden before apart from the dishonour 
of riding an ass at all. As to His divinity, the author insists 
passionately on the unity of God, and asks how it is possible 
that if the heavens could not contain His glory, He could be 
contained in the womb of a woman? 

The two lines of argument, that the miracles of the 
Old Testament are superior to those of the New, and that 
the personality of Jesus was inferior to that of the prophets, 
are joined together in a speech of the Jewish High Priest in 
one of the apocryphal gospels 1 . There it is pointed out that 
whereas the prophets worked more wonderful miracles than 
Jesus, they did not preach a new law, they did not speak in 
their own name, and they did not call themselves God. 
Jesus, on the other hand, did everything for ostentation, 
abused everyone else indiscriminately, and showed through- 
out a character inferior to the best of the prophets. 

If we compare the situation of the Jews and the Christians, 
we can see that it is probable that the Jewish attack on 
Christianity would be less violent than that of the Christians 
on Judaism. The Christians were claiming the promises 
in a book which was composed of promises and denuncia- 
tions. The denunciations, therefore, must belong to the 
Jews. But they, on their part, were only compelled to adopt 
a negative attitude, the refusal to accept the Christian claim 
as to the person of Jesus, and though this naturally involved 
1 Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, A.S., Feb. 24. 


disputing His perfection and the two miraculous events 
concerned with His life, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrec- 
tion, there is not much evidence in these first centuries that 
their attack went further. The stories contained in the 
Sepher were in existence, but apparently not widely known. 
For one reference to it (in Origen) we have a dozen or more 
to the purely negative approach, that Jesus was not what the 
Christians claimed Him to be. 


It may well be that there was a subdued note in Jewish 
apologetic during the second century, the century of the 
triumphant Christian apologists, and that even if we had as 
much material from the Jewish as we have from the Christian 
side, we should still find fewer violent insults to the opposing 
faith. For Judaism had been more severely shaken by the 
tragic events from 70 onwards than is generally realised. 
Though in the end rabbinical teaching not only survived, 
but succeeded in doing more than salving a wreck, yet 
inevitably the terrible failures of those years tried severely 
the faith of the simple and unlearned. Doubtless, too, the 
growing arrogance of the Christian Church and its obvious 
successes would not only nerve the Jew to greater efforts on 
his own behalf, but would also cause him to cast wistful 
eyes at those doctrines which seemed to enshrine the rival 
power of Christianity. The doctrine of forgiveness and the 
mediatorial power of Christ, so potently preached by the 
Church, must have caused anxious searchings in many 
Jewish hearts. Origen tells us that in his day Jews told him 
that * as they had no altar, no temple, no priest, and therefore 
no offerings of sacrifices, they felt that their sins remained 
with them, and that they had no means of obtaining pardon' 1 . 
Dr. Marmorstein, in a close examination of numerous 
rabbinic texts of the third century 2 , has found ample 
evidence of this preoccupation with the question of how to 
achieve forgiveness apart from sacrifices. Innumerable 
solutions of varying spiritual value were proposed. Some 

1 Ham. on Num., x, 2; P.G., XII, p. 638. 
R.E.J., LXXI, p. 190. 


said that the blood of circumcision was itself a sacrifice, 
others that Elijah offered continual sacrifices in heaven; yet 
others offered more deeply spiritual explanations to comfort 
the faithful, and stressed the redemptive value of suffering 
a natural development in a century so full of suffering for 
the Jews. Others took the line that prayer and repentance 
were in themselves creative of forgiveness, which is the 
teaching which Judaism has retained. 

Still more interesting was the attempt to provide an 
alternative mediator to Christ. Rabbis of the second and 
third centuries found a parallel to the Cross in the sacrifice 
of Isaac. In the book of Jubilees, which is pre-Christian, the 
sacrifice of Isaac is said to take place on the fourteenth day 
of Nissan, the day of the Passover, and to be a type of the 
paschal lamb 1 . Post- Christian Jewish writers associate 
his sacrifice with the ceremonies of forgiveness of Rosh 
Hashanah; and the horn that is blown is symbolically con- 
nected with the horns of the ram caught in the bush. In one 
of the prayers of that day Israel demands that the merits of 
the sacrifice of Isaac cover it and save it from the consequence 
of its faults. As Abraham suppressed his feelings as a father, 
so they appeal to God to forgo His righteous anger. Rabbi 
Jochanan (Palestine, third century) makes Abraham say 
* when the descendants of Isaac are guilty of transgressions 
and evil actions, remember the sacrifice of Isaac and have 
pity >2 . In another version Abraham says, * when the 
descendants of Isaac are in danger, and there is none to 
intercede for them, be Thou their defender, remember the 
sacrifice of Isaac and have pity J3 . Isaac is called the ' expi- 
ator of the sins of Israel ' 4 , and emphasis is laid on his 
willingness to be offered up a detail which is not explicit 
in the Biblical narrative 5 . Rabbi Isaac says that at the 
moment all the angels marvelled at his acquiescence and 
interceded with God that he might be spared 6 . 

1 Chs. xvii and xviii. 

2 Ber. Rabba, 56. Ps. Rabb. t XXIX, i. 

3 Taanit, 6sd. 

4 Cant. Rabba, I, 14. 
6 Ber. Rabba, 56. 

6 I. Levi, in R.EJ.,Vol. LXIV. The Talmudic quotations are all taken 
from the same source. 


Although no doctrine of the vicarious sacrifice of Isaac 
has ever been an official part of Judaism, it appears that it is 
still a favourite subject for sermons in the synagogue. The 
parallel between Isaac and Jesus is, on the other hand, one 
which is rarely used by the Fathers. It is used by Origen, 
and his use of it suggests that he knew it was quoted in the 
synagogue 1 . Irenaeus, Clement and Tertullian, who belong 
to the second century, also make use of the parallel 2 . But, 
considering how apposite the parallel is, it is surprising that 
it is not used more frequently. It may be that this silence is 
due to the fact that they were aware that it was used by the 
Jews, and that therefore they were unwilling to emphasise the 


Inevitably the borrowings of Christianity from Judaism were 
of a different kind. The main transference took place in 
the first century. What Christianity required from its parent 
religion it had taken at that time. Its spirit in the second 
century was scarcely such that it would be prepared to admit 
that contemporary Judaism had anything to teach it. Yet it 
had to go to Hebrew masters for help in interpreting the 
Scriptures, and there is much evidence in fathers such as 
Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Aphraates, Ephraim 
the Syrian, and above all Jerome, of knowledge which must 
have been the result of hours of patient discussion. It is 
impossible to believe that these were never carried on in the 
tranquil spirit of the student. Many of the writings which are 
left to us show extensive knowledge of Jewish legend and 
story which are not included in the Old Testament. Many 
interpretations given in the endless homilies on the Scrip- 
tures of the period show considerable acquaintance with the 
work going on, side by side with that of Christian scholars, 

1 Horn, on Gen., viii; P.O., Vol. XII, p. 203. 

2 Irenaeus, Contra Haereses, IV, 5; P.G., VII, p. 893. Clement, 
Stromata, II, 5; P.O., VIII, p. 952. Paedagogi, I, 5; P.G.,VIII, p.277. 
Tertullian adv. Judaeos, x; P.L., II, 626. Cf. also Paulinus of Nola, 
Ep. XXIX, 9; P.L., LXI, p. 317. Some of these passages are discussed 
in the article of Levi. 


in the rabbinical schools 1 . The accusation made that the 
Jews falsified texts, and the contrary determination to get 
accurate texts from the Jews, inevitably imply contacts and 
discussions of the passages concerned. 

Christians also needed Jewish teachers for learning 
Hebrew and Jerome complains that they charged a great 
deal for their lessons. But if all relations were such as a first 
reading of the literature which remains would suggest, it is 
doubtful if any Jew would have consented to teach a Chris- 
tian at all. Eusebius 2 refers to the Jewish teachers of his 
time as ' people gifted with an uncommon strength of 
intellect, and whose faculties have been trained to penetrate 
to the very heart of scripture '. Doubtless in many of the 
discussions which took place the Jew gave as good as he 
received, and even won the victory. There is an air of reality 
about the remark of ' Zacchaeus ' in discussion with 
* Athanasius ', who has taunted him with the loss of Jeru- 
salem, that ' insults are not a serious form of argument >3 , 
It is reasonable to assume that, since human nature is 
generally better than it appears to be, this was a protest 
which did not need constant repetition from either side. 


So far it has been mainly polemic and apologetic literature 
which has been discussed, but it is obvious that there must 
have been many day to day contacts between Jews and both 
Jewish and Gentile Christians when they did other things 
than hurl abusive texts at each other's heads. In daily 
practice their common attitude to the surrounding paganism 
must often have drawn them together, and their common 
interests must often have been more important to ordinary 
folk than the disputes of the theologians. Even in those 
days every man did not live with a book of proof texts in his 

1 See articles of S. Krauss in J.Q.R. for Oct. 1892, Oct. 1893, and 
Jan. 1894. 

*Prep. Evan., XII, i; P.O., XXI, p. 952. 

8 Dispute of Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, and Zacchaeus, a 
teacher of the Jews, edited by F. Connybeare, Oxford, 1898. The dialogue 
is probably a re-edition of the second- century dialogue of Papiscus 
and Jason. 


Though there is no evidence of Christianity adopting any 
practices of post- Christian Judaism, yet relations with 
contemporary Jews were continual, and are shown by the 
number of centuries which it took to separate the Jewish 
Passover from the Christian Easter. It was not until the 
time of Constantine that a formal decision was taken, and 
even in later centuries councils had frequently to prohibit 
Gentile Christians from celebrating Easter on the same day 
as the Jews celebrated the Passover. In other matters also 
it is evident that many, apart from Christians of Jewish birth, 
were powerfully influenced by the teaching and practice of 
the Synagogue. Though this provoked the furious denuncia- 
tion of such bishops as Chrysostom 1 , it is significant that 
he has no definite moral charges to bring against the Chris- 
tians who were involved, and it seems to have been fear of 
Jewish influence which caused his violence more than any- 
thing else. Jerome refers to Christian women using phylac- 
teries for covering religious objects as a mark of special 
reverence 2 . The importance attached by many Christians 
to observing Jewish dates 3 is a frequent cause of abuse 
and of differences between heretics such as Novatian and 
the Catholics. 

Of Jewish life at this period comparatively little is known, 
and what is known suggests that there was nothing special 
to distinguish it 4 . It was in no way specialised as it was in 
the mediaeval ghetto. Various professions are referred to 
casually, but there is no suggestion of special importance 
attaching to the reference. Jerome refers to the wealth of the 
Jews of Palestine, but as he also says that it is legitimate to 
relieve the wants of poor Jews from Christian alms if there 
is anything over, they were obviously not all rich. Chris- 
tianity and Judaism,viewed from outside,probablyappeared 
very much alike: they were distinguished in their doctrines, 
but neither in their social status nor in their attitude to the 

1 Adversus Judaeos, eight sermons preached at Antioch in 387. 

2 In Matt, xxiii, 6; P.G., XXVI, p. 174. 

3 There is frequent conciliar legislation at much later dates than this 
to prevent Jews and Christians from celebrating their religious feasts 

4 Cf . Justin, Trypho, xvi : * You are not recognised among the rest 
of men by any other mark than your fleshly circumcision*. 


heathen world. There is no evidence of any emperor or 
governor being favourable to one and hostile to the other. 
He might persecute the Christians for the crime of atheism, 
which was not a crime allowing of persecution for the Jews. 
But that implied no special affection for the Jews. Even 
Julian, though to begin with he liked the Jews because they 
offered sacrifices, ended by disliking them as heartily as he 
did the Christians. 

To each other they were still rivals for the conversion of 
the pagan world around them, but there the scales were 
heavily weighted for ritual and later for political reasons in 
favour of the Christians. Judaism was still making proselytes 
in the second and third centuries, but there were difficulties 
which more than compensated for its doctrinal simplicity. 
The confused and quarrelsome theology of the early Church 
must have been a great moral hindrance, but the link between 
Judaism and the nation of the Jews was a greater one. 
Christianity at least made no distinction between clean and 
unclean, and had not yet rites which were an unlearnable com- 
plication to those who were not born in them. There was 
probably also a real difference in their attitude to their 
missionary task. Judaism proclaimed, indeed, that God 
forgave sin, but Christianity proclaimed that God redeemed 

Yet even so the Church never really ceased to fear 
the rival influence of Judaism, and the contact of Christians 
with Jews. As late as the thirteenth century in Poland 
the Charter of Boleslav of Kalish provoked violent 
protestations from the clergy because of the danger of 
settling Jews among the newly converted Poles. It is sig- 
nificant that the first law which the Church imposed upon the 
newly Christian empire was the prohibition to the Jews to 
make converts, and from this time onwards Judaism became 
more and more a closed faith until proselytes came to be 
considered more a danger than a blessing. 




The material for a study of the part played by the Jews in 
the various persecutions which Christians endured during 
the early centuries is to be found in the lives of the martyrs. 
* Acta ', ' Vitae ' and * Passiones ' of her heroes were early 
collected by the Church, and from the fourth century to the 
Middle Ages they formed one of the most popular elements of 
Christian literature. Every church possessed its collection, 
and many national and local churches had their own special 
group of saints, and wrote and rewrote their lives 'with 
advantages'. The collection of these different lives was 
undertaken by many writers from the eighth and ninth 
century onwards, and their scientific study began in the 
seventeenth century with the work of two savants, Ruinart, 
who published a collection of Acta which he considered 
worthy to be counted historical, and Bollandus, who under- 
took the much greater task of collating all the material which 
existed in the different collections and individual narratives, 
and of producing a critical study of the lives of all those who 
were commemorated in the calendars of the Roman and 
Greek Churches. This work has been going on ever since, 
and the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists is the main 
repository for the study of the lives of the martyrs. It has 
now reached the saints commemorated in the middle of 

The Acta Sanctorum may be taken to contain the tradi- 
tions of the western churches and of the Greek Orthodox 
Church. In the eighteenth century the study of the collec- 
tions in Syrian and other western Asiatic languages was 
undertaken, and the Syriac Acts of the Persian martyrs and 
Syriac versions of the lives of western martyrs were published 


by Assemani. Since then much has been published in those 
languages, but there will only be quoted in this chapter those 
oriental Acta which are accessible in European languages 
and in Latin, through the publications of the Bollandists 
and of the Patrologia Orientalis. The former have published 
a number of separate documents and the latter have pub- 
lished the complete Synaxaria of the Armenian Church and 
the Jacobite Church, and are in process of completing the 
Synaxaria also of the Ethiopian and Georgian Churches, 

In addition to this collection of sources, certain modern 
studies are of great assistance. Hagiology is a special science 
of its own, and in order to know what to expect and how to 
understand the different Acta, whose historical value differ 
considerably, the two books of Hippolyte Delehaye are 
indispensable. The five volumes of P. Allard on the 
persecutions in the Roman empire give the general frame- 
work for the study of the individual Acta, and the works of 
Labourt, Uhlmann and Funk do the same for the persecu- 
tions in Persia. 

In addition there are certain works professing to deal 
with the Jewish responsibility for the persecutions, which are 
cited rather as a warning than for any objective value they 
possess. There are generalisations on Jewish malignancy in 
the introductions to the Acta of most of the saints referred 
to in this chapter (e.g. A.S., Nov., I, p. 33, para. 63, 
Austremonius), and a long introduction on the same lines 
in the volume quoted of Leclercq. In addition there is 
a very one-sided and at times inaccurate study by Rosel. 
Otherwise the references are to be found scattered through 
the general works on Church history. 



Ancient Sources 





Vol. I, Antwerp, 1643 continuing. 

Ada Marty rum Orientalium et Occi- 
dentalium. Rome, 1748. 

A periodical publication of the 

The Martyrs of Palestine. P.O., XX. 

Greek Acts of the Persian Martyrs 
under Shapur II. In P.O., Vol. II. 

LE SYNAXAIRE ARABE Ed. Rene Bassett, in P.O. 


Aug. 29 Oct. 27 
Oct. 28 Dec. 26 
Dec. 27 Feb. 24 
Feb. 25 May 25 
May 26 Aug. 28 

In Vol. I. 
In Vol. III. 
In Vol. XI. 
In Vol. XVI. 
In Vol. XVII. 
In Vol. XX. 

LE SYNAXAIRE ARME- Ed. G. Bayan and Prince Max of 

Aug. ii Sept. 9 In Vol. V. 

Sept. 10 Oct. 9 In Vol. VI. 

Oct. 10 Nov. 8 In Vol. XV. 

Nov. 8 Dec. 8 In Vol. XVI. 

Dec. 9 Jan. 7 In Vol. XVIII. 

Jan. 8 Feb. 6 In Vol. XIX. 

Feb. 7 Aug. 10 In Vol. XXL 

SYNAXARIUM ECCLESIAE In Ada Sanctorum. November, 




Ed. I. Guidi, in P.O. 


Modern Studies 





May 26 June 24 
July 8 Aug. 6 
Aug. 7 Sept. 12 
Nov. 27 Dec. 1 1 

In Vol. I. 
In Vol. VII. 
In Vol. IX. 
In Vol. XV. 

Ed. N. Marr, in P.O., Vol. XIX. 

Histoire des Persecutions des premiers 
Stales. 5.vols. Paris, various dates. 

Les Passions des Martyrs et les Genres 
Litteraires. Brussels, 1921. 
Les Legendes Hagiographiques. Brus- 
sels, 1903. 

Die Juden in Babylon 200-500. 
Berlin, 1902 and 1908. 

Le Christianisme dans F empire Perse 
sous la Dynastie Sassanide. Paris, 

Les Martyrs. Tom. IV. Paris, 1905. 

Juden undChristenverfolgungen in den 
erstenjahrhunderten. Munster-i-W., 

Die Christenverfolgungen in Persien 
unter der Herrschaft der Sassaniden. 
Zeitschrift fur die Historische The- 
ologie, 1 86 1. 



The statement that the Jews were directly or indirectly 
responsible for the persecutions which the Church endured 
in the early centuries is a commonplace among nearly all 
modern historians. Even where no such specific accusation 
is made they are described as perpetually inspired by the 
most violent hatred for the Church and the individual 
Christian, waiting only for an opportunity to do them some 
harm. Harnack boldly asserts that the hostility of the Jews 
appears on every page of Acts from chapter thirteen onwards. 
They tried to hamper every step of the Apostle's work among 
the Gentiles; they stirred up the masses and authorities in 
every country against him; systematically and officially they 
scattered broadcast horrible charges against the Christians 
which played an important part in the persecutions as early 
as the reign of Trajan; they started calumnies against Jesus; 
they provided heathen opponents of Christianity with 
literary ammunition; unless the evidence is misleading they 
instigated the Neronic outburst against the Christians, and 
as a rule wherever bloody persecutions are afoot in later days, 
the Jews are either in the background or the foreground ?1 . 
The Bollandist Joseph Corluy, in an introduction to the Me 
of Abdul Masih a saint whom another Bollandist, Paul 
Peeters, explains as of very doubtful authenticity writes in 
his polished Latin: * Judaeis ad Christianos persequendos 
nullum imperatorum decretum necesse est; sed debacchante 
persecutionis procella ipsi saepe maiore quam ethnici 
furore in Christianos ferebantur. Cuius furoris in Perside, 
tempore Saporis regis, plurima exempla fuerunt >2 . Dom H. 
Leclercq, in his voluminous history of Martyrs, devotes the 
entire introduction to one volume to a description of the 
implacable violence of Jewish hostility 3 . M. AJlard, in his 
five- volume history of the persecutions, whenever he has the 

1 The Mission and Expansion of Christianity, English Ed., Vol. I, p. 58 ff. 
For a Jewish criticism of Harnack, see R.E.J., Vols. LI and LII, 
UEsprit du Christianisme et du Judaisme. 

2 An. Boll., Vol. V and Vol. XLIV. On the persecution under Shapur, 
see below, Section VII. 

*Les Martyrs, Vol. IV. 


possibility, attributes the active role to the Jews and the 
passive to the pagans 1 . 

If the accuracy of this estimate of the role played by the 
Jews in the first three centuries of the life of Christianity were 
challenged, its defence would be found in the allusions to 
Jewish hostility which are scattered throughout patristic 
literature. Justin, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius and others 
all imply that such was indeed the situation. ' You have not 
now the power to lay hands upon us on account of those who 
have the mastery ', says Justin to Trypho, ' but as often as 
you could, you did so.' And again in his Apology to 
Antoninus Pius, he says that 'the Jews count us foes and 
enemies, and like yourselves they kill and punish us when- 
ever they have the power, as you may well believe. For in 
the Jewish war which lately raged Barcochebas, the leader of 
the revolt, gave orders that Christians alone should be led 
to cruel punishments >2 . Tertullian's famous remark: * the 
synagogues, the sources of the persecutions ', is equally 
clear**. A reference which is even more impressive, because 
it is an aside, lies in the attack of an anonymous author 
upon the Montanists. When he disallows their right to be 
called Christians, because they and their women prophets 
have neither been scourged in the synagogues of the Jews 
nor stoned by them, he is clearly implying that such treat- 
ment was, to some extent at least, the lot of the orthodox 
Christians 4 . Finally, Origen, in commenting upon the 
thirty-seventh psalm, remarks that * the Jews do not vent 
their wrath on the Gentiles who worship idols and blaspheme 
God, and they neither hate them nor rage against them. But 
against the Christians they rage with an insatiable fury ' 5 . 
It would be possible to collect further references, but these 
are sufficient to express the point of view of the writers of 
the third and fourth centuries. 

*Histoire des Persecutions, Vol. I, p. 308; Vol. II, p. 374 and p. 353; 
Vol. IV, p. 256. 

* Trypho, xvi; and First Apology, xxxi; P.G., VI, p. 375. 
8 On the Scorpion's Bite, x; P.L., II, p. 143. 

* Quoted by Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., V, xvi, 2; P.G., XX, p. 469. 
5 Origen, On Ps. xxxvi; P.G., XII, p. 1322. 



If we knew of the persecutions of the Church only from such 
literary sources we should certainly be justified in accepting 
such quotations as proof of a steady and malicious hatred on 
the part of the Jews, even though they are all, as it were, 
statements of the prosecution, and we are ignorant as to the 
other side. But, in fact, we possess thousands of documents 
of varying value dealing with the sufferings of individual 
martyrs and several histories of particular persecutions. 
These have on the whole been neglected by modern his- 
torians, with the exception of the contemporary story of the 
martyrdom of Polycarp, and the three martyrdoms of 
Pionius, Pontius and Philip 1 . It is therefore essential, 
before examining the basis of the charge made by Justin, 
Tertullian and the others, to see what evidence these 
documents offer us on the subject. 

It was a very early custom for Churches to keep a record of 
their local heroes, and to commemorate them upon a par- 
ticular day of the year. At first such commemorations were 
local, but soon Churches began to acquire names from their 
neighbours, and to communicate to them their own lists. 
In some cases letters relating the storms through which they 
had passed were sent out by the Churches themselves to a 
considerable number of others. A famous example of this is 
the letter describing the persecution at Lyons and Vienne 
recorded by Eusebius 2 . The next stage was for the great 
metropolitan churches to make general collections, and to 
introduce some uniformity into the different local celebra- 
tions 3 . At first such lists contained little more than names. 
But monastic writers began to embroider them with all kinds 
of wonders and miracles, so that it is possible for many 
different versions to exist of the fate of the same martyr. 

1 There must be some common source from which Juster, Frey and 
others quote these three cases. It is evident that it is not the coincidence 
of original study of the Acta, for two of them are of doubtful authenticity, 
and none of them prove any Jewish initiative in the martyrdom of the 
saints concerned I 

* Eccl. Hist., V, i; P.O., XX, p. 409 ff. 

8 On the history of martyrologies see the two books of Delehaye in 
the bibliography to this chapter. 


When this rested upon a basis of a contemporary written 
document, the main traits can be followed through all the 
embroideries, but where no such document existed, all was 
left to the fancy of the scribe, and to popular imagination. 
Even these, however, are not entirely without value for our 
purpose, for in inventing what he imagined to have happened, 
the scribe was bound to some extent by popular memory of 
what was likely to have occurred. 

To-day we have any number of such collections. The 
main local and general western collections and the Greek 
menologies have been collected together in the huge 
volumes of the Bollandists, the Acta Sanctorum , a work 
which was begun in the seventeenth century and, working 
by months, has now reached the middle of November. But 
it is not the first of its kind. It is itself based upon collections 
made in the early and late Middle Ages as well as upon small 
local collections and individual acts. More recently this 
collection has been supplemented by the discovery and gra- 
dual publication of the lists and stories of eastern Churches 
which in many cases enshrine quite an independent tradition. 


Embodied in these collections as they now exist are many 
stories which to-day are recognised to be entirely fabulous, 
to be nothing more than novelettes produced in some 
monastic centre, based upon a local legend possibly of 
pagan origin, or due simply to the ingenuity of the writer. A 
group of persons around whom such legends were especially 
likely to cluster are those characters mentioned in the New 
Testament about whom the earliest Church, with its lack 
of interest in history, preserved no authentic details. It is 
this last class which contains by far the largest number of 
references to Jewish malice and to Jewish initiative 1 . 

The Acts of the Apostles provides the starting point for 
these legends. They recall a time of frequent and, at times, 
violent hostility to the preaching of the Gospel. They 
record, in the person of Stephen, one act of summary 
execution, and in that of James, the brother of John, an 

1 See Appendix Five. 


official, if capricious, death sentence. It was not an unreason- 
able presumption that other persons of the period suffered 
the same fate as these two. But the stories are not entirely 
confined to the compass of the experience of the Acts of the 
Apostles. It was a tradition that the Apostles themselves and 
their earliest followers had evangelised the whole of the 
ancient world, and had visited regions in which Jews and 
Greeks were not the natural actors. These two traditions 
can occasionally be seen in the stories of the same person. 
In most of the western accounts the apostle Andrew was 
killed by Herod at Bethlehem 1 . But according to the 
Ethiopian Church he was murdered by a heathen priest at 
Patras 2 . Aristobulus, the brother of Barnabas, was supposed 
to have preached to Jews and Greeks, to have been perse- 
cuted by them, and finally to have met his death by stoning 
at their hands 3 . The Armenian Church, while agreeing as 
to his career, states that he died in peace 4 . But western 
traditions make him the first bishop of Britain, where he died 
peacefully 5 . 

While thus the two tendencies, the tendency to copy 
actual events of the Acts of the Apostles and the tendency 
to illustrate the breadth of the missionary work of the first 
generation of Christians, are at times found concentrated in 
the same person, there are others of whom the tradition is 
consistent throughout, and can even be traced back to fairly 
early sources. The death of James the Just, the first bishop of 
Jerusalem, is mentioned by Eusebius 6 , and the story is 
substantially the same in the records of all the Churches. 
In view of the important position which he occupied, the 
accuracy of the story may be accepted. The same is possibly 
true of the death of Barnabas, whom all agree to have been 
killed in Cyprus by, or at the instigation of, the Jews 7 . But 
unanimity does not necessarily mean historicity, any more 

1 A.S., Feb. 10. 
2 P.O., Vol. XV, p. 583. 
3 SA.J., March 15. 
4 SA., March 15. 
5 A.S., March 15. 

6 Ecd. Hist., II, xxiii; P.O., XX, p. 196 ff. 

7 A.S., June n; SAJ., Dec. 17; SA., June n. 


than diversity denies it. One would expect all the martyr- 
ologies to agree with the straightforward account in the Acts 
of the Apostles of the death of James, the brother of John. 
But they do not do so. In one account he was accused to the 
Roman governor of preaching * another king ', and was 
stoned at his order 1 . The name of the scribe who accused 
him and was afterwards converted by him and shared his 
death is given in another martyrology 2 . A third ascribes his 
death entirely to the Jews 3 . But none of these stories cast 
any real doubt on the original narrative of the Acts of the 
Apostles. That unanimity is also not necessarily convincing 
is illustrated by the stories clustering round Longinus, the 
centurion who pierced the side of Christ, and was impressed 
by His death. The gospels do not identify these two soldiers, 
and in any case give neither a name. The name Longinus 
cannot be traced to within centuries of the occurrence, and 
if the soldier had actually been a prominent convert it is 
surprising that he does not figure in any of the second 
century apologies to the Roman authorities as an objective 
and Roman proof of the story which they had to tell. But he 
is a familiar figure to the hagiologist, and his story with a 
wealth of detail is given in almost every collection 4 with 
surprisingly little variation, if we accept the fact that the 
accounts derive from two versions of the same original, in 
one of which the malice of the Jews is shown in their bribing 
him to make sure of the death of Jesus, and in the other in 
their bribing Pilate to ensure the death of Longinus 5 . Yet 
all these accounts do not end by creating a conviction that 
such a Longinus ever existed. 

With all this confusion it would seem at first sight a hope- 
less task to seek for a historical basis for any of these stories, 
and a dangerous assumption to claim them as an adequate 
foundation for any conclusion. But if we pass from the 
consideration of individual cases to an examination of them 
as a group of stories we find certain traits which are 

1 S A J., Feb. 4 . 
* S A., April 30. 
9 S.C., Oct. 9. 

4 A.S., March 15; SA., Oct. 16; SAJ., July 18 and Nov. i; S.E., 
July 30. 

6 Cf. SAJ., July 18, with SA., Oct. 16. 


inherently probable, and which may well portray an accurate 
historical tradition as to the period which followed the 
original preaching of Paul to the Gentiles. If they were 
based on the Acts of the Apostles only we might expect the 
preaching of the next generation to have been exclusively 
directed to the Gentiles. But all the Acts which record 
preaching to Greeks record also preaching to Jews. We have 
seen that it is historically probable that the Church con- 
tinued to exist within the Synagogue for some thirty years 
after the death of Paul, but this is not a natural deduction 
from the Acts of the Apostles. There is also more variety 
in the stories than there is in the mythical acts of 
later martyrdoms. In the latter case the routine of torture 
and miracle follows through with a monotony of accumulated 
horror. The same replies, the same events, succeed each 
other again and again. It would be simple if we could explain 
this variety by attributing to all the stories a single author 
who sought variety for artistic effect. But this solution is 
ruled out by the contradictions of the stories which have been 
already discussed. What we have is a number of stories alike 
in general line and differing in detail. One man was killed 
by the Jews; another was killed by the pagans; one suffered 
much persecution but finally died in peace; and another 
encountered little opposition during his ministry. One 
travelled from place to place. Another worked all his life 
in a single spot. Here it was at the hands of the mob that he 
met his death, there it was at the hands of the officials. If 
we leave out the names the stories are inherently probable. 
It is a well known tendency of popular tradition to become 
more and more precise, to give the exact spot where each 
event occurred, and to give a name to every actor. This is 
what seems to have happened in this case. There was an 
authentic tradition that the first preacher of Christianity 
was stoned by the Jews. Who was he? It was natural to seek 
a name among the unallotted personalities of the New 
Testament. Two local Churches selected the same name. 
Hence the different lives attributed to the same man. If such 
an explanation be accepted, then it can be said that the first 
period of the expansion of Christianity was marked by many 
and violent conflicts between the new preachers and the 
Jews in whose synagogues and under whose auspices they 


preached. The remarks of the patristic authors find confirma- 
tion in numberless local traditions. To say more is difficult 
until a scientific study of the earlier Acta of the different 
Churches has been undertaken. But one detail may be 
pointed out. Even a superficial reading of the hagiologies 
reveals the superiority of the historical sense of the western 
and Greek Churches over the imagination of the eastern 
groups. Even where they invented they gave a sufficiently 
probable account for it to be possible to debate whether an 
event did or did not take place. The eastern Acta pay no 
attention to historical or even moral probability. In the 
cases under consideration it is to be noticed that nearly all 
the descriptions of official action by governors and prefects 
are in the eastern narratives. The western speak of mob 
action, and it is just what we should expect at this stage. 

So far it has been suggested that these stories as attached 
to the names of particular persons have no historical value, 
but that as a group they embody an authentic, if anonymous, 
tradition. This view finds strong confirmation if we consider 
them as a particular group within the wider frame of the 
Acta as a whole. We are then faced at once with a most 
illuminating fact. These stories cease entirely at the begin- 
ning of the second century. Acta attributed to the first 
century number at most a few hundred among the thousands 
of individual records. In them we find a very high proportion 
of stories ascribing definite hostility to the Jews, culminating 
sometimes in the death of the saint. From the beginning of 
the second century onwards there is almost complete silence 
as to any Jewish responsibility for, or even interest in, the 
fate of the heroes of the Church. Apart from a genuine 
historical tradition, it is difficult to explain so precise a fact. 
Its accuracy is, however, confirmed by the form in which 
Justin speaks of the persecution which the Church endured 
at Jewish hands. * You cannot harm us now, but as often as 
you could you did ', describes exactly the situation presented 
by the Acta 1 . Before considering the reliability of the later 
statements, of Tertullian and Origen, it will be well to 
consider other references to Jewish action in the persecution 
of Christians as recorded in the lives of the martyrs. 

1 Cf. Gaudentius, Sermo,IV; P.L.,XX, p. 868; and Jerome, On Amos, i, 
22;P.L.,XXV,p. 1001. 



By far the greater mass of Acta refer to the period between 
that already considered and the peace of the Church under 
Constantine, the period covered by the great general Roman 
persecutions culminating in the ten years* reign of terror 
under Diocletian. Responsibility passes completely from the 
Jews to the Romans. Such stories as there are of Jewish 
action belong, in character, to the earlier and unsystematic 
violence of the individual and the mob. This is well illus- 
trated by the fate of the first missionary bishop of the 
Chersonese, Basil. He was consecrated at the beginning of 
the fourth century by Hermon, patriarch of Jerusalem, 
together with some others, to preach among the heathen of 
that region. The success of his preaching earned him the 
hostility of the adherents of the older worship, and of the 
Jews who were numerous in the region. Stirred up by the 
latter, a mob of pagans seized the bishop and dragged him 
through the streets until he expired 1 . His successor, 
Antherius, is said to have applied to Constantine to obtain 
soldiers to drive out his murderers 2 . On the death of 
Antherius, the inhabitants sent for a new bishop. When he 
arrived the unbelievers demanded a miracle to prove his 
claims. The bishop walked through fire in full canonicals, 
and the Jews and unbelievers were thereupon converted, 
* the soldiers with the other Christians receiving them at 
the font '. This last detail suggests that the narrative covers 
a forced conversion, exacted as the penalty for the murder 
of Basil. 

A story of a somewhat similar character comes from 
Clermont in Auvergne. Bishop Austremonius, who is said 
to have been of the first century, but was more probably of 
the beginning of the fourth, was particularly successful in 
preaching to the Jews of Clermont, and among his converts 
was Lucius, the son of one of the Jewish elders. The father, 
enraged at the disloyalty of his son, seized a knife, and killed 
both the bishop and his own child 3 . Ubricius, the successor 

1 A.S., March 7; S.C. Sel., March 6; S.A.J., March 6; SJV., March7. 

* S.A., April 20. 

* A.S., April 3. 


of Austremonius, convened the authorities, and secured 
a decree that all the Jews should either accept baptism or, if 
they remained in Clermont, be sentenced to death 1 . The 
actual narrative contains various miracles which are clearly 
embroideries. The most serious difficulty is, however, the 
action of the Roman authorities. Ubricius is said to have so 
acted in 312, when Judaism was a lawful religion, and 
Christianity was not only unrecognised but actually being 
persecuted. Either the incident occurred after the peace of 
the Church, or it is a memory of the similar action of Avitus 
in Clermont in the sixth century 2 . Even if this be the case, 
the original story remains probable enough. The action of 
Ubricius may be only what a scribe thought ought to have 
happened for so great a crime. But a family tragedy of such 
a character is not an unknown occurrence in the history of 
religious differences. 

Two other cases are of particular interest in view of the 
continual legislation of the Church against the possession of 
Christian slaves by Jews. Matrona, the slave of a Jewish 
mistress at Salonica, was found by her to be a Christian, who 
refused to enter the synagogue. In a rage she beat her, and 
locked her up in a room without food or water. Finding her 
still recalcitrant, she beat her so severely that she died. The 
story was an exceedingly popular one, and the versions of it 
are manifold 3 . A similar case, though less well attested, is 
reported from Portugal. No time is given, and it may belong 
to the fifth or sixth century. But in its essence the story is 
the same as that of Matrona. A slave, Mancius, is found by 
his Jewish master to be a Christian. He is severely beaten, 
but refuses to alter his religion. Finally, he dies under the 
punishment 4 . 

Indignation at the conversion of a Jewish family to 
Christianity is said to have been responsible for the death 
of a group of Jews at Leontini in Sicily. A Christian, 
Alphius, was being with some companions led to prison by 
the Roman soldiers, when he was observed by a Jew ' who 

1 A.S., Nov. i. 

* See Chap. IX, Section VIII. 

3 A.S., March 15; S.C., March 27; S.A.J., Sept. 7; S.A., March 21. 
(A.S. gives more than one version.) 
4 A.S., May 21. 


was possessed of a devil '. The Jew implored Alphius to 
cure him. Alphius did so, whereon all his family became 
converted, and were stoned by the other Jews for their 
apostasy 1 . Here again there is nothing improbable in the 
story. The action of the epileptic or otherwise spiritually 
diseased Jew in throwing himself at the feet of Alphius is 
not incredible. The glamour which must have attached 
itself to a Christian going to his fate is exactly the kind of 
power to exercise an influence over any one in such a condi- 
tion. The conversion of his family in gratitude, and the 
indignation of the other members of the Jewish community 
are equally within the bounds of probability. 

The final case which can be quoted rests upon much less 
certain evidence. Paul, Valentina, and Thea were Egyptian 
Christians who were taken for sentence to Diocaesarea, a pre- 
dominantly Jewish town. There they were tried by Fermilian 
and sentenced to death. In his last prayer, Paul prayed for 
the Jews and pagans. This is the account given by Eusebius 
in the Martyrs of Palestine*. There are two other accounts 
of the incident. What we may call the * Constantinople 
tradition ' adds that when they were brought before Fer- 
milian, a mob of Jews stirred him up against them, and 
secured their conviction. The * Armenian tradition ' goes 
further. The accused lived in Diocaesarea, and did not come 
to the notice of Fermilian until the Jews denounced them 3 . 
It is reasonable to take these three versions as an admirable 
example of the growth of legend. If we take the account of 
Eusebius as the authentic narrative, which we are justified 
in doing, we can explain the reference to the Jews in the 
prayer of Paul by the fact that their presence must have been 
apparent to him. But the Constantinopolitan scribe felt that 
there must have been some special nobility in this prayer. 
It became, therefore, the reply of Paul to the Jewish clamour 
at the judgment seat for his death. The Armenian goes one 
further. It was still nobler, for it was by the Jews that he was 
originally denounced as a Christian. 

1 SJL, April 9- 

2 Ch. viii. P.G., XX, p. 1489. 

3 S.C. Sel., July 16, and SA., Aug. 5. 



In addition to these cases showing definite Jewish initiative 
in securing the death of the martyr, there are also a few cases 
in which the special hostility of the Jewish members of the 
crowd which watched the different stages of the trial and 
execution are commented upon by the narrator. It is 
important to distinguish them from the cases already quoted. 
It is indeed reprehensible to gloat over the condemnation of 
a fellow man for his religious convictions. But it is much 
more revolting to be the actual betrayer of him to the 
authorities, or the direct cause of his death. 

The most familiar, and the earliest of these cases, is the 
martyrdom of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna 1 , in 155. In this 
story there is no Jewish responsibility for any of the events. 
Polycarp is betrayed by a Christian, a member of his own 
household, who confesses his whereabouts under torture. 
The Roman authorities make every effort to persuade him 
to sacrifice, but when Polycarp refuses, he is taken to the 
stadium to be examined by the pro-consul. The latter again 
urges every argument upon him, without success, and finally 
Polycarp is condemned to be burnt. When the proclamation 
is made, * the whole multitude, both of the heathen and 
Jews who live in Smyrna, cried out with uncontrollable 
fury: " This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, 
and the overthrower of our gods, he who has been teaching 
many not to sacrifice, or to worship the gods " '. The Jews 
can hardly be considered to have taken the active part in 
that cry, but the decision having been taken, it appears that 
there are no materials prepared, and the crowd begin to 
collect wood from the neighbouring shops and baths, * the 
Jews especially, according to custom, eagerly assisting them 
in it '. Polycarp is then placed among the faggots, and bound, 
but the fire refuses to touch him. (Some writers think that 
this miraculous element is a later interpolation.) As he is not 
burned, a soldier kills him by stabbing him. The Christians 
wish to take his body, but the Jews persuade the father of 

1 A.S., Jan. 26. The letter of the Church of Smyrna describing the 
death of Polycarp is to be found among the writings of the Apostolic 


the Roman official in charge to refuse to give it up. The 
centurion, * seeing the strife created by the Jews ', places 
the body on the pyre and it is consumed. 

The whole event is said to have taken place upon * the 
great Sabbath ', whatever the author may mean by the phrase, 
and this is used as an argument by Dr. Abrahams to discredit 
the whole story, for, he argues, if it were such a day, Jews 
would neither be found frequenting the theatre nor carrying 
wood 1 . If it could be presumed that all the Jews of Smyrna 
were orthodox, the objection would be valid. But it has this 
value, to show that it was in no way an official Jewish mani- 
festation against Polycarp. It was the action of Jewish 
* lewd fellows of the baser sort ', such as once persecuted 
Paul. Such as it was, the Jewish action was not responsible 
for any of the events of the actual martyrdom. The betrayer 
was a Christian. The condemner was a Roman, the actual 
executioner a soldier. At most, Jewish initiative appears in 
the disposal of his dead body. Everything would have 
happened, had no Jews been there. Their presence accentu- 
ated but did not cause the tragedy. 

A hundred years later Smyrna was again the scene of a 
martyrdom in which the Jews were said to have taken part. 
In the persecution in 251, under Decius, one of the victims 
is Pionius. He has been warned of his approaching 
martyrdom in a dream, and is performing a last act of 
worship with his fellow Christians when Polemon, who is 
the official charged with seeing that every citizen offers 
sacrifice, comes and arrests him and his companions. They 
are marched to the forum, where, as it is again the Sabbath, 
there is an immense crowd and many Jewesses. Polemon 
invites Pionius to sacrifice, and he refuses. It is to be 
imagined that the crowd make a hostile manifestation at this 
refusal, for Pionius turns and addresses them in these words: 

' You who rejoice in the beauty of the buildings of 
Smyrna, and delight in its adornment, you who are proud 
of your poet Homer, and you Jews also, if any of you are 
present, listen to these few words. For I hear that you 
laugh at those who have sacrificed, whether they have done 
it voluntarily, or yielded to compulsion, and in both cases 

1 Studies in Pharisaism t Vol. II, p. 67. 


you condemn what is weakness as deliberate infidelity. 
You should obey rather the words of your teacher and 
master Homer, who says that it is a sin to insult the dead, 
and that none should war against the blind or the dead. 
And you who are Jews should obey the precepts of Moses, 
who tells you that if the animal of your enemy fall, you 
should help it and not pass by. And Solomon likewise 
says that you should not rejoice over the fall of your 
enemy or the misfortune of others. Wherefore I would 
rather die and suffer any torment, however awful, than 
renounce either what I have learnt or what I have taught. 
I say this to you Jews who dissolve in laughter and mockery 
at those who voluntarily or involuntarily sacrifice, and who 
laugh at us also and shout insultingly that we have been 
given too much licence, I say to you that if we are enemies, 
we are also men. Have any suffered loss through us ? 
Have we caused any to be tortured? Whom have we 
unjustly persecuted? Whom have we harmed in speech? 
Whom have we cruelly dragged to torture? Such crimes 
are very different from those of men who have acted in 
fear of the lions. There is an immense difference between 
voluntary and involuntary sin. There is this difference 
between him who is forced, and him who of his own free 
will does wrong. There it is the will, here it is the occasion 
which is responsible. And who compelled the Jews to foul 
themselves with the worship of Belphegor, with heathen 
rites and sacrifices? Who forced them into fornication 
with strange women, or into sensual pleasures? At whose 
compulsion did they make burnt offerings of their own 
sons, murmur against God, and secretly speak ill of 
Moses? At whose behest did they forget so many benefits? 
Who made them ungrateful? Who compelled them to 
return in heart to Egypt, or, when Moses had ascended 
the Mount to receive the Law, to say to Aaron: " Make 
us Gods, and a calf to go before us " ; and to commit all 
their other sins? You pagans, perhaps, they may deceive, 
but they will never impose upon us.' 

In the whole collection of hagiological literature there are 
few utterances more moving than this defence of the weaker 
brethren by one who, though he confessed that he loved life, 


was yet prepared to die for his faith; and it is one of the most 
amazing abortions of the religious mentality that with 
models before them of such exquisite and poignant beauty as 
the story of Pionius, they produced the thousands of morally 
repulsive Grand Guignol travesties of heroism which deface 
the whole of this literature. 

After his speech, Pionius is examined by the pro-consul, 
who does all he can to save him. But Pionius will not 
compromise, and is led away to be burnt 1 . There is a later, 
and much inferior, version by Simeon Metaphrastes, who 
composed martyrologies at the beginning of the tenth 
century. It contains one detail which is interesting, if it can 
be considered authentic. The Jews are said to have offered 
the Christians the shelter of Judaism during the persecution. 
Naturally, such a solution was unacceptable to Pionius, but 
one would like to believe that it was some attempt at repara- 
tion for the conduct for which Pionius reproached them in 
words which must have touched the hearts of many, Jews 
and pagans, who stood in the forum that day. 

There are in the Acta a few other and briefer references to 
Jewish hostility among the crowd of bystanders. At the 
martyrdom of Leo at Patara in Lycia, in the third century, 
when Leo begins a defence of Christianity, * a crowd of 
irreverent Jews and pagans began to clamour that he should 
not be allowed to speak ' 2 . On the appearance of Philip, 
bishop of Heraclea, in the forum of that town, there is a 
hostile demonstration on the part of the Jews, * for, as is 
usual, some when they see the martyrs pity them, but others 
grow more furious at the actual sight of them, especially the 
Jews, according to the scripture. For the Holy Spirit says 
through the prophet, " they have sacrificed to demons and 
not to God" ' 3 . There is one more story, dealing with an 
incident of the Diocletian persecution. At Caesarea a 
martyr, Carterius, is sentenced to be burnt, and is thrown 
into the fire. But he remains unharmed in the midst of it. 
A Jew in the crowd, in a frenzy, seizes a spear and kills him 
with it. This story is on the border-line of history and myth. 

1 A.S., Feb. i. Cf. Les Passions des Martyrs, p. 28 ff. 
a A.S., Feb. 18. The Acta are a late compilation. 
9 Ibid., Oct. 22. The Acta are late and their reliability is questioned by 
some. But they are defended by Delehaye, A.B., Vol. XXXI, p. 243. 


It is only recorded in one martyrology, and the main defence 
for it is the originality of the action and the poverty of 
invention of the monastic novelists 1 . 


Such is the record of the Jews in the persecutions which 
preceded the peace of the Church. There are two other 
periods during which their active malevolence is most 
frequently alleged. During the reign of Julian there was a 
brief moment of violent attack upon the Christians. The 
Acta offer three stories of Jewish participation. There was 
at Toul in northern France a preacher, Eliphius, who was 
always attacking the Jews in his sermons. For this they hated 
him, and when the opportunity offered, under Julian, they 
seized him and his companions, and threw them into prison 
to please the emperor. They then, apparently, forgot them, 
for they came out of prison again and were arrested by the 
Romans and put to death. At Lyons there was a Christian 
woman, Benedicta, who was brought before a judge, who 
was also a Jew, who condemned her with gusto because of 
his hatred of Christ 2 . Both these stories are of exceedingly 
doubtful authenticity, and only merit mention because of 
the coincidence that both come from France, and might, 
perhaps, be considered to gather mutual support thereby. 
More probable is the story of the soldiers Bonosus and 
Maximilianus who refused to remove the cross from their 
standards at Antioch. All that is alleged of the Jews in their 
story is that when they resisted the effects of torture in the 
arena, ' Jews and Gentiles who had come to mock at their 
deaths cried out " Sorcerers, criminals " ' 3 . 


The second case in which generalisations on Jewish malignity 
are frequent is that of the persecutions under Shapur II in 
the fourth century in Persia. The situation of Jews and 
Christians in Persia changed radically at the beginning of the 

1 A.S., Jan. 8, from the Synaxarium Constantinopolitanum. 
*Ibid., Oct. 16, and Oct. 8. 
3 Ibid.. Aug. 2,1. 


fourth century. Before the peace of the Church the Jews 
were on the whole unmolested within the Roman empire, 
and the Christians were similarly unmolested in Persia. 
But the peace of the Church, and the consequent legislation 
against the Jews, caused a considerable influx of Jews into 
Persia, and at the same time caused the Persian Christians 
to look with more friendship towards Rome, no longer a 
persecutor but a great Christian state. Two events in Persia 
itself helped to bring about the attacks upon the Church. 
The Sassanid dynasty was more fanatically Zoroastrian than 
its predecessor, and abandoned complete religious toleration 
for a policy of active proselytisation. The Jews were able 
to make a modus vivendi with the Magi which allowed them 
to retain their religious freedom by minor concessions which 
did not involve principles. The Christians were not disposed 
to be so tolerant. More serious was the resumption in 338 of 
the traditional war with Rome. This increased the friendli- 
ness between the Persians and the Jews who were naturally 
hostile to Rome, and similarly increased the hostility towards 
the Christians who were with equal reason friendly towards 
Christian Rome. 

Religious intolerance and political bitterness led to a 
persecution which lasted intermittently for several decades. 
But authentic references to Jewish participation are limited 
to a particular moment, and a particular person, Simeon Bar 
Sabbae, the Archbishop of Ctesiphon, who was executed in 
339. The incidents connected with his arrest are frequently 
and fully recounted. The Archbishop, who was supposed 
to be a personal friend of the king, Shapur, was ordered to 
provide double taxation from his community for the purpose 
of the war. The Jews had also been compelled to pay this 
tax, and had accepted it. But Simeon refused in a haughty 
letter to the king. The Jews are said to have prejudiced the 
king against him by telling him that the Roman emperor 
would despise any gifts which the king might send him, how- 
ever costly, and would venerate with exaggerated humility the 
tiniest scrap of paper which came from Simeon. There is 
much obscurity and some contradiction in the exact part 
allotted to the Jews in this incident, and the natural deduction 
is that in fact Simeon was engaged in a treasonable corre- 
spondence with Rome, and the Jews, or Jews and Magi, 


betrayed this fact to the king 1 . The death of the Archbishop 
and the general persecution which followed was as much a 
political measure as a religious oppression. When Tarbula, 
the sister of Simeon, was also arrested, the Jews were again 
accused of responsibility. Sozomen gives the reason that 
she was trying to poison the queen, who had Jewish sym- 
pathies 2 . But other accounts make the queen a Christian 3 . 
In any case, there appears to be a widespread tradition that 
the Jews were concerned in the deaths of these two victims, 
and in view of their loyalty to Persia, and the probability 
that Simeon was overtly friendly with Rome, it is not 
unlikely that the tradition is correct. But apart from these 
two, the only mention of the Jews is casual. They were 
present at the stoning of Mar Kadagh 4 , and they provided 
a prison for Sira, a victim of the hostility of the Magi, and 
used her cruelly while she was under their charge 5 . Neither 
of the stories are particularly trustworthy. No other par- 
ticipation in the persecution which lasted, with intermis- 
sions, throughout the long reign of Shapur is mentioned. 

Two documents which might be expected to contain a 
reference to general Jewish responsibility, if such existed, 
are silent on the point. Aphraates, who wrote his Twenty 
First Demonstration in reply to the Jewish taunt that the 
Christians ought to be able to work a miracle to prevent their 
being persecuted, might legitimately be expected to attack the 
Jews for their responsibility if he was aware of it. But he 
says nothing about it 6 . The other document is the ' treatise 
on the martyrs celebrated on the Friday after the Crucifixion ' 
of Isai the Doctor, which contains the words/ we pass from 
the passion of our Redeemer whom the wicked Jews killed, 
because of the truth of His teaching, to the commemoration 
of the confessors whom the pagans killed for preaching the 

1 For references to Simeon, see Sozomen, Hist. Ecd. t II, ix; P.G., 
LXVII, p. 956; Martyrium Stmeonis in P.S., II, p. 737; Nestorian History 
in P.O., IV, p. 297; and Assemani, p. 20. Jewish responsibility is not 
mentioned in the Armenian story (April 13) or the Jacobite (April 14). 

* Sozomen, Hist. EccL, II, xii; P.O., LXVII, p. 964. Cf.P.O.,II, p. 439. 
3 A,S., Nov. 2. 

4 AJB.,VoI. IX, p. 101. 
'A.S., May 18. 

* P.S., Vol. I. It was written before the arrest of Simeon, so that his 
silence on that point is natural. 


hope of the Resurrection. The Jews crucified Christ because 
they could not receive His teaching: the pagans tortured the 
martyrs because they could not bear the outrage done to 
their idols ?1 . It would be difficult to find a case where 
negative evidence is more illuminating, for the feast was 
established not for the general commemoration of the 
martyrs, but to commemorate the Persian martyrs in 


It is also interesting to consider the role allotted to the Jews 
in the frankly mythical acts. Mention of them is very rare. 
In some cases there is clearly a reminiscence of biblical 
events. In the Ada Pontii, which abound in the form of 
miracle which has no moral value, first the crowd are moved 
to demand the release of the martyr on observing his 
immunity from torture, and cry that the God of the Chris- 
tians is the only God; then the judge himself quails before 
such supernatural insensitiveness to pain, and finally the 
execution only proceeds because the Jews cry * Kill him, 
kill the malefactor '. Pontius thanks the Lord for allowing 
his passion to be like that of his Master, in that the Jews have 
shouted the same condemnation at him as they once did to 
Pilate, and gracefully expires 2 . At the martyrdom of 
Isbozetas by Chosroes, the saint is impaled on a cross with 
a Magus on his right side and a Jew on his left. The Magus 
desires to become a Christian, and, being accepted, expires. 
The Jew expresses his willingness to do anything to save his 
life, but is ignored and expires with the others 3 . At Nico- 
media, during the persecution under Aurelian, the Christians 
retire from the city. The governor offers the command of his 
guard to anyone who will reveal where they are concealed. 
A Jew, Simeon, exposes the place and goes by night with 
a band of soldiers to arrest them 4 . 

1 Isai the Doctor, P.O., Vol. VII, p. 27. 

2 A.S., May 3. And this is one of the cases always quoted. 
* Ibid., Nov. 9. 

4 A.B., Vol. XXXI. The story is told with the comment, * on n'oserait 
s'appuyer sur un pareil document pour ajouter a la liste des martyrs de 
Byzance J . 


Myth, bordering on farce, accompanies the mention of the 
Jews in the stories of Marciana at Caesarea in Mauretania, 
and Demetrius at Thessalonica. In the first case the whole 
house of the Jew who mocked at her in the arena falls upon 
his head; and in the second, Gentiles came from Athens, 
Jews from Jerusalem, Manicheans from Mesopotamia, and 
Arians from Alexandria to slaughter the unhappy victim. 
But their voyage was fruitless, for a rascally Greek caught 
him with a spear on the way to his bath, before their arrival 1 . 
Myth without the burlesque marks the charming and pathetic 
story of the little Jewish martyr Abdul Masih. He was a 
shepherd boy in Persia, who fed his flocks in the company of 
little Christians and little Magi. But he was the only Jew, 
and at his meals he was lonely, for neither of the other 
groups would allow him to feed with them. He begs the 
Christian boys to let him share their meal, but they will only 
do so if he is baptised. This he is ready to accept, and after 
a discussion marked by the earnestness of childhood, the 
little Christians themselves baptise him, and give him a gold 
earring as a symbol, for a free Jew will never pierce his ear. 
On his return his mother and ultimately his father observe 
the symbol of his apostasy, and in spite of the pleadings of the 
other Jews who are present, the father pursues the boy and 
kills him by the very pool where he was baptised 2 . 


To form a true estimate of the place of the Jew in the minds 
of those who composed the different histories and myths of 
the Marty rologies, it is essential to consider also references 
which do not show hostility. For the Jews are not always 
monsters in these stories. It has already been mentioned 
that in one account of the martyrdom of Pionius the Jews 
offer the shelter of the Synagogue to those who wish to avoid 
martyrdom. It is usually assumed that this was an invitation 
to complete apostasy. But if a Christian wished to aposta- 
sise, he had only to offer sacrifice. If it be genuine, it can only 
be a real offer of protection, for the Romans had no authority 

1 A.S., Jan. 9 and Oct. 8. 
*A.B., Vols. V and XLIV. 


to ask a member of the Jewish community about his religious 
opinions, and the Jews could cover with their name any one 
they liked. We know from other sources that there were 
Christians who adopted this expedient, both in Rome and 
Persia 1 . If it is sometimes related that Jews were among the 
most hostile elements of the crowd, it is also sometimes 
mentioned that they showed pity. The tortures to which 
Theodore of Cyrene was subjected were such that 4 all the 
people, Jews and infidels as well as Christians, wept at the 
sight ' 2 . After the martyrdom of Habib at Edessa, ' even 
some Jews and pagans took part with the Christian brethren 
in shrouding and burying his body ' 3 . The life of Venantius 
of Aries was ' so beautiful that he was loved alike by Hebrews, 
Greeks and Latins '*. Such was the memory of Agatha of 
Catania that * Jews and Gentiles as much as Christians 
venerated her grave ' 5 . There are also three cases in which 
Christian martyrs are said to have been buried in Jewish 
cemeteries 6 , either with or without the knowledge of the 
Christians. At the least this does not suggest the hostility 
of the Jewish community concerned. In the mythical acts, 
while there is almost complete silence as to Jewish hostility, 
there are constant references to their miraculous conversions 
by the Saint concerned. 


Finally, we have to consider not only the evidence of their 
presence, but also that of their absence, the evidence from 
silence. Naturally it is not possible to claim that there are 
no other cases in which the Jews are mentioned in the 
accounts of martyrdoms. Many texts are not yet published 
or are inaccessible. But it can legitimately be claimed that 

1 Cf. Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., VI, xii; P.G., XX, p. 545; Vogelstein, 
Geschichte der Juden in Rom, Vol. I, p. 35; Funk, Juden in Babylon, 
Vol. II, pp. 52, 53. 

2 S A., July 6. 

3 Martyrs of Edessa in Euphemia the Goth, by F. C. Burkitt. 
4 A.S., May 30. 

5 Ibid., Feb. i. 

6 Agricola and Vitalis at Milan, Nov. 4; Hermes, Aggaeus, and Caius 
in Dacia, Jan. 4; Vincent and Orantius in Spain, Jan. 22. 


it is improbable that even if they add to the amount of evi- 
dence we possess, they would substantially alter its character. 
It is also evident that we cannot expect that every time Jews 
were present the writer thought of mentioning it. But again, 
we have sufficient positive evidence to make it improbable 
that any such general hostility as modern writers assume 
would have been passed over, not only by those who were 
accurately recording a single incident, but also by those whose 
imagination allowed them to embody in their fiction the 
main elements of popular ecclesiastical tradition. 

In view of the number of documents preserved the 
argument from silence is, in fact, a very strong one, and it is 
strongest at the starting point, the persecutions of the first 
century. Here we have seen that there are a large number of 
statements involving Jewish hostility and even initiative. 
But there is complete silence as to Jewish participation in 
any part of the persecution which is supposed to have 
occurred in the reign of Nero. It is usually worthless to quote 
examples to prove a negative, but in this case, as the number 
of documents concerned is slight, it may be permitted to 
refer to the martyrdoms of Hermagoras, Paulinus, Severus, 
Justus, Orontius, Priscus, the Martyrs of Aquileia, and 
Hedistus 1 . They are at least sufficient to prove that no 
general Jewish responsibility for this persecution was believed 
to exist. In view of this silence, the argument that the Jews 
were responsible for the arrest of Christians for burning 
Rome loses much of its force. It is not an accusation made 
by any early writer, and it rests upon the assumption that 
the choice of a victim must have lain between the Jews and 
the Christians, and that the Jews would have inevitably been 
selected if they had not had powerful protection at court in 
the person of Poppaea and others. But so far as we know 
it is a gratuitous assumption that the Jews or Christians were 
the only possible alternatives. Nero might equally well have 
chosen the worshippers of Isis or Astarte for all that Sueto- 
nius or Tacitus tell us to the contrary. 

When we come to the great persecutions of the second 
and third centuries, we are confronted with the same silence. 
The cases which reveal Jewish initiative do not enter into 

1 A.S. J July 12 and 28, Aug. 26, Sept. i and 3, and Oct. 12 (in the 


the category of general persecution. Nor is it that the narra- 
tives only begin with the trial of the victim. The method by 
which he is discovered is usually given. Sometimes he 
declares himself; sometimes his refusal to sacrifice reveals 
him; sometimes he is betrayed by heathen priests. But he 
is not betrayed by the Jews. The same holds good for perse- 
cutions outside these centuries. The Jews are supposed to 
have been particularly friendly with the Arians. They are 
not recorded as taking any part in the Arian persecutions 
under the Vandals in Africa, or in any of the Arian persecu- 
tions in Europe. They are supposed to have been very 
friendly with the Arab conquerors of Spain. But they are 
not mentioned in the stories of the martyrdoms of the eighth 
and ninth centuries in Mahomedan Spain. They are repre- 
sented as being permanently and violently hostile to the 
orthodox Christians in Alexandria, and their participation 
in the Arian riots in the time of Athanasius and his successor 
is quoted as evidence of this. But in two long narratives in 
which it is specifically mentioned that all the inhabitants of 
Alexandria took part, they are passed over in silence 1 . 
Finally, it is clear that in the narratives in which they are 
mentioned their presence is not considered to be an essential 
or even important part of the narrative. The martyrdoms of 
Poly carp and Pionius are found in many collections. That 
of the Armenian Church is a lengthy account which has 
clearly used the letter of the Church of Smyrna. But while 
it states that Polycarp disputed much with Jews, and brought 
many to the faith, it is completely silent as to the presence 
of Jews at his death, and actually ascribes to the influence of 
' idolaters ' the destruction of his body 2 . The same Church 
gives a long account of the martyrdom of Pionius, without 
referring to the Jews. 

x The Martyrdom of Theodorus, A.S., Sept. 12, and Philip, A.S., 
Sept. 13. 

* S A., Feb. 23. Cf. S A.J., same date. 



On the basis of this examination of the martyrs we can 
turn back to the generalisations of the theologians which 
appear to contradict it. Justin has already been discussed, 
and the evidence which justifies his statement can to a con- 
siderable extent also be used as an explanation of the state- 
ments of Tertullian and Origen. But the key to the explana- 
tion lies in the quotation from the latter. The statement of 
Jewish hostility in general terms is based on theological 
exegesis and not on historical memory. It has already been 
shown how the Christian use of the Old Testament made of 
the Jews an historical impossibility. The accusation now 
under consideration is a specific example of this general 
rule. Origen remarks that the ' Jews do not vent their wrath 
on the Gentiles who worship idols and blaspheme God, and 
they neither hate them nor rage against them. But against 
the Christians they rage with an insatiable fury '. He is 
commenting upon a passage of Deuteronomy 1 . * They have 
moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; and they 
have provoked me to anger with their vanities (idols)/ As 
the Jews were no longer themselves idolaters, Origen inter- 
prets this by making them exceedingly friendly with idolaters 
a statement allegorically necessary, but historically 
inaccurate. The passage then goes on to say: * I will move 
them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will 
provoke them to anger with a foolish nation '. The * not a 
people * are Christians, for they are not a separate people. 
The interpretation requires, therefore, that the Jews shall 
be very hostile to the Christians. The events of the first 
century give ample historical justification for the statement. 
To claim that Origen must be implying immediate hostility 
at the moment is unnecessary 2 . Such an interpretation is 
confirmed by the speech of Pionius, who without any feeling 
of irrelevance justifies his charges against the Jews by relating 
events which had happened in a previous millennium, and 
which bore no relation to Jewish conduct in his time. 
One would expect him to mention their action towards 

1 I.e., On Deut. t xxxii, 21. 

2 Compare his superb Exhortation to Martyrdom, in which no mention 
of Jews occurs; P.G., XI, p. 564 ff. 


Polycarp, only a century earlier in the same city, but neither 
he nor the author of his Acta think of the parallel. A refer- 
ence to the index of almost any volume of the Patrologia 
will give numbers of accusations of Jewish hostility based 
upon quotations from their pre-Christian history and their 
prophets. It was the natural result of their belief in the 
verbal inspiration and eternal validity of the scriptures, 
coupled with their own method of allegorical interpretation. 
To take these texts out of their context, and use them to 
justify generalisations in the modern sense, is to ignore the 
actual evidence provided by the lives of the martyrs and to 
produce a distorted picture. 

The material which these offer allows us to reconstruct 
with considerable accuracy the sequence of events. The 
period which immediately followed the Apostolic age and 
the fall of Jerusalem was marked on the Jewish side by the 
official determination to oust the Christians from the shelter 
of the Synagogue. On the Christian side it was a period in 
which a doctrine of the position of the Jews in the scheme of 
salvation was being evolved which was so offensive to Jewish 
feelings that violent hostility inevitably marked its proclama- 
tion. The offence was the greater for the bitter and unsym- 
pathetic attitude adopted towards the national tragedies in 
Palestine, and because of the determination of the Christians 
to rob the Jews of the one hope left to them, the promises 
made to them in the Old Testament. In this period we find 
in the documents considerable evidence of the bloodshed 
which such a situation provoked. A true picture of the 
situation is a humiliating one for both religions. The 
charity they showed to others they did not show to each 
other. It is obvious that the blame lies on both sides. But 
while the attitude of each side is regrettable, the attitude of 
neither side is abnormal. The history of religion offers many 
unhappy parallels, and the internal divisions of Christians 
themselves in later centuries have produced far more 
victims than their first conflict with Judaism. 

In the second century the situation changed. The Jews 
were themselves involved in an exhausting struggle with 
Rome which ended disastrously for them, and the Church 
was a definitely Gentile institution. It is a period in which 
* incidents ' took place occasionally. But if there is anything 


abnormal in them, it is their rarity and not their frequency. 
Of a steady, deliberate, and unsleeping hostility there is no 
trace. The time has not yet come when it is a reasonable 
presumption that Jews will only be motivated by hatred in 
their attitude towards Christians. Sometimes there was 
intense local hostility of the kind of which Tertullian speaks 
when he tells the story of the Jew who paraded through the 
streets of Carthage with a placard bearing an offensive 
caricature 1 . At other times relations were friendly. Much, 
doubtless, depended on the behaviour of the local clergy 
and rabbis. The theologians of both sides were either 
hostile or contemptuous towards each other, and in later 
centuries their persistence prevailed. But in these centuries, 
for the rank and file, special provocation was necessary for 
any overt or secret act of hostility. 

The universal, tenacious, and malicious hatred referred 
to by Harnack, Corluy, Allard and others, has no existence 
in historical fact. The generalisations of patristic writers 
quoted in support of the accusation have been wrongly 
interpreted. The evidence that the Jews took no part in 
the great persecutions of the second, third and fourth 
centuries comes not from Jewish sources, nor from infer- 
ence, nor from later generalisations, but from the masses of 
contemporary lives of those very martyrs themselves whose 
deaths are in question. 

1 Tertullian, To the Nations, I, xiv; P.L., I, p. 579. 



There is extremely little to say by way of bibliographical 
introduction to this chapter. Its material is almost exclusively 
taken from the great patristic writers of the century, and 
from the Theodosian Code. Special studies on this period 
are few. The books of Lenz and Murawski form a striking 
contrast, the former with his rabid antisemitism, collecting 
only the most virulent passages of patristic literature to 
serve as a guide for his unfortunate contemporaries, the 
latter, a Roman Catholic Bishop, writing an objective and 
scholarly study of his subject. The work of Lucas contains 
much valuable material, including special studies of Basil, 
Athanasius, Jerome, Ambrose and Augustine. He perhaps 
emphasises unduly the ascetic side of Christianity, but his 
insistence on the importance of Jewish propaganda during 
this century is certainly justified, and the material thereon 
is excellently presented. 



LENZ, H. K. 




S. Augustin et les Juifs. 

S. Augustin et le Judaisme. L'Uni- 
versite Catholique, Lyon, 1894. 

Der Kirchenvdter Ansichten und Leh- 
ren fiber die Juden, den Christen in 
Erinnerung gebracht. Miinster-i-W., 

Zur Geschichte der Juden im IV. 
Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1910. 

Die Juden bet den Kirchenvdtern und 
Skolastikern. Berlin, 1925. 

Die Hebraischer Tradttionen in den 
Werken des Hieronymus. M.G.W.J., 
Vols. XIV, XVI and XVII. 



The fourth century marks a decisive moment in the history 
of both Judaism and Christianity. Though neither were 
born in this century, yet both owe more to its outstanding 
leaders than to any other similar group of contemporaries, 
and both are to this day, in many ways, fourth century 
religions. The councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, the 
schools of Pumbeditha and Sura have left an indelible mark 
on their respective faiths. Augustine, Chrysostom, Jerome 
and Ambrose were contemporaries, and they are not the 
only names of note in a period which counted also Athana- 
sius, Cyril and Basil. It was also a century of great Talmudic 
teachers. Kabbah bar Nachmani, who died in 330; Joseph 
bar Hama, who died in 333; and Abaye, the pupil of both, 
taught at Pumbeditha. Raba (bar Joseph bar Hama), who 
died in 352, founded the school at Mahuza on the Tigris. 
In the next generation Nahmani bar Isaac, who died in 356, 
taught at Pumbeditha, and Papa, who died in 375, founded 
the school of Neres near Sura. After their deaths Sura 
again became prominent through the presence of Ashi, who 
died in 427. The sayings and controversies of Joseph and 
Rabbah, and those of Abaye and Raba occupy a considerable 
portion of the Babylonian Talmud. Though less distin- 
guished, the Palestinian scholars were also busy. The 
patriarchate of Jerusalem was not suppressed until about 
425, and during this period the Jerusalem Talmud was also 
receiving its main contributions. 

In spite of this intense contemporary activity there was 
practically no interchange of theological discussion between 
Jew and Christian, though most of their work was based 
upon the same books. As far as we know Jerome was the 
only Christian father who both knew Hebrew and was 
acquainted with the Talmudic^ -schools and the rabbinical 
method of argument. He lived in Palestine in close contact 
with Jews, but it would be difficult to detect in his writings 
any trace of an attitude to the Jews other than that held by 
his contemporaries. Sharing the conventional view, he 
saw only material for ridicule or disgust in their behaviour 


and beliefs. ' The Jews ', he sneers, ' run to the synagogue 
every day to study the Law, in their desire to know what 
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the rest of the holy men did, 
and to learn by heart the books of Moses and the prophets' 1 . 
* I could not tell you how many Pharisaic traditions there are 
to-day, told by the Talmudists, and I do not know their 
old wives' tales. Many of them are so disgusting that I blush 
to mention them ' 2 . His idea in learning Hebrew was not to 
acquire Jewish wisdom, but to be able to confute them 
with an authority which most Christian scholars, by 
their ignorance of the language, lacked 3 . Though he shows 
much knowledge of Hebrew exegesis, and often quotes Jew- 
ish interpretations, yet he shows very little sign of having 
ever discussed theological points with his expensive Jewish 
teachers. While, on the other hand, some Talmudists 
doubtless knew Greek, and some even Latin, it is not to be 
expected that they would follow with any detail the inter- 
minable controversies as to the relation between the divine 
and the human in One whom they did not consider to be 
divine at all. Nor could they follow these controversies 
except at a distance, for neither in Persia nor in Palestine 
existed great intellectual centres of Christian thought. The 
orthodoxy of Aphraates would, as we shall see, have horrified 
Arians and Athanasians alike. 

It has already been said that the Judeo- Christians, though 
they still existed, had lost all influence. Jerome has as much 
contempt for them as the Jews themselves 4 . Hellenistic 
Jews of the type of Philo had disappeared even more com- 
pletely. Proselytes who chose Judaism in the third and 
fourth centuries did soon the ground of a conscious rejection 
of the alternative, Christianity, and would not form a bridge 
between the two. Even in the second century Justin refers 
to their hostility to Christianity, and later it would certainly 
have been still greater. So far as the future was concerned 
Christianity was a Gentile religion, and Judaism was 
rabbinic Judaism. 

1 On Isaiah, Iviii; P.L., XXIV, p. 582. 

2 Ep. CXXI; P.L., XXII, p. 1006. 

3 Contra Rufinum, III, xxv; P.L., XXII, p. 497. 

* On Ezekiel xxxviii; P.L., XXV, p. 370; Isaiah xi, 6; P.L., XXIV, 
p. 150, and Ep. to Augustine, 112; and the reply of Augustine, Ep. 116 
in P.L., XXII. 


The problems facing the leaders of the two religions were 
also entirely different. Christianity was faced with the 
immense task of imposing moral and intellectual standards 
on the happy-go-lucky pagan Roman world. Judaism was 
attempting to find a new basis for survival for its own com- 
munity' without either land, central authority or Temple. 
The solutions found or attempted thrust them still further 
apart. The Christian authorities, presented by Constantine 
with the empire as their playground, were in no easy 
position. The laws whose passage they secured may seem 
to us unduly harsh. Their attitude towards virtuous heretics 
for Origen had explained that a virtuous heretic is worse 
than any other 1 may appear to-day to be very remote from 
the Christian ideal. The extravagances of the ascetic, 
the interminable lucubrations on the advantages of virginity, 
may seem to us repulsive. But before condemning the men 
who proposed these actions we need to understand what 
they were attempting to do. Had Judaism had to fight the 
same battle, she would almost inevitably have used the same 
weapons. Judaism no less than Christianity insisted on a 
definite theological belief in God, even if she expressed it 
for her own purposes in much less theological terms. The 
early, and primarily Jewish, Christian Church was content 
with a simple expression of her belief. The Christological 
discussions of the fourth century were forced upon her not 
by the inherent complications of her own faith, but by the 
acuteness and confusion of philosophic speculation among 
the Greek and Roman intellectuals with whom she came into 
contact. Yahweh,in such surroundings, would have fared no 
better than the Trinity. For in spite of much mediaeval 
Jewish accusation, the cause of all the trouble was the 
insistence of the Christians that the Church should retain 
uncontaminated her belief in the unity of God. 

The same transformation would also have taken place 
had Judaism, with its quiet and dignified personal morality, 
attempted to clear out the Augean stables of Roman sexual 
and stomachic standards. Already the slight contact with 
Greek and Roman civilisation in Judaea and Syria had 
produced ascetic movements. The healthiest-minded 

1 Jerome's translation of Origen On Ezek., Homily VII; P.L.,XXV, 
p. 742 ff. 


Pharisee would have found it hard not to approve of the 
teaching of Jerome before circumcising an average batch 
of infants in Rome or Antioch. The extraordinary prohibi- 
tions as to episcopal conduct to be found in the decrees of 
Church councils have no counterpart in Talmudic discus- 
sions with all their splitting of hairs. But neither did 
Judaism ever see a man elevated to the rank of Gaon a month 
after his circumcision. The Jewish community passed with 
little change from generation to generation. With its insist- 
ence on the importance of the family, it had little difficulty 
in handing on its healthy traditional sex morality and its 
high principles of conduct. The Christian Church had a 
mass of nominal adherents, often in high official or ecclesi- 
astical positions, who were entirely unacquainted either by 
environment or tradition with her standards. The effort 
made by the Fathers compares very favourably with the 
compromise attempted by the Herodians, and, after all, the 
morality which the Church was attempting to teach was 
Jewish morality, as often supported by Old Testament 
quotation as by quotations from the Gospels 1 . 

A period of extravagant denunciation of what was not 
in itself immoral may have been necessary as a counterblast 
to contemporary laxity. Like enforced Prohibition in 
America, it may have done as much harm as good. But it 
was a state of affairs created by circumstances, and not the 
expression of something inevitably inherent in Christianity. 
Its persistence has less justification than its original emerg- 
ence. But its emergence not unnaturally profoundly alien- 
ated Jewish opinion, which, having never faced the same 
dangers since its earliest days, saw no justification for its 
adoption. Fortunately or unfortunately the Christian 
Fathers of the fourth century could not attempt to apply 
the solution of Samuel or Elijah and settle the question by 
wholesale massacre, a method which was entirely forgotten 
by the Jews themselves at the time of the rabbinical schools 
of Babylon. 

The problems confronting these schools, if different, were 
no less grave. To find a foundation for survival, with the 

1 This comes out in the battle which the Church waged against 
* usury ' among Christian laity and clergy, and which was based entirely 
on the Mosaic Law. Cf. p. 192, n. 4. 


loss of any national centre, was not easy. The bitterness of the 
Jew against the Christian was based on his adoption of the 
promises of the Scriptures, which were all that the Jew had 
left for his own comfort. To centre a people's life around 
a book was a tremendous task. The method adopted by the 
rabbis, to incorporate it into every act of daily life, even at 
the cost of far-fetched interpretation, was a reasonable and 
natural one. But the result was unhappily as repulsive to 
the Christian as was Christian theological quibbling and 
ascetic exaggeration to the Jew. The followers of the 
councils, and the followers of the Talmud were inevitably 
poles apart. 


The battle between the two had so far been a battle of 
words, varied with the occasional violence of exasperation. 
But the victory of the Church brought a new element into 
the struggle. One party to the dispute now became possessed 
not only of official recognition which the other enjoyed 
already but, increasingly, of power over the whole execu- 
tive machinery of the empire. The claim for equal toleration 
with others which was advanced by the apologists in the 
days of their suffering 1 , the Church did not grant to others 
in the days of her triumph. Though argument ceased to be 
her only weapon, yet the words of Justin or Tertullian are 
moderate in tone compared with the denunciations from 
the pulpit of Chrystosom or Cyril of Jerusalem. 

A second change was the widespread adoption of a super- 
ficial Christianity by the upper classes of Roman society. 
This brought into the Church a large membership which was 
probably already hostile towards the Jews. The wars of 
the period from Vespasian to Hadrian had destroyed the 
popularity which they had previously possessed, and they 
had, at most, regained a silent toleration, accompanied by 
a certain watchfulness on both sides. For the Jews had not 
lost their turbulence, and were still ready to break into open 
rebellion at a threat to their privileges. Even the presence of 
their rival, Christianity, at the court of the emperor did not 

1 E.g. Athenagoras, Plea for the Christians, Ch. i; P.G., VI, p. 889. 


overawe them, and in the fourth and succeeding centuries 
there were revolts which needed considerable military force 
to suppress. This was soil on which the hostility of the 
Church Fathers found it easy to sow seed. 

The Jew as he is encountered in the pages of fourth- 
century writers is not a human being at all. He is a * mon- 
ster *, a theological abstraction, of superhuman cunning and 
malice, and more than superhuman blindness. He is rarely 
charged with human crime, and little evidence against him is 
drawn from contemporary behaviour, or his action in con- 
temporary events. He is as unreal as the * Boche ' created 
by the Allied press during the war from 1914^0 1918, and 
far more abstract. The colourful imaginations of later 
antisemites, such as Drumont or Chamberlain, at least tried 
to show the Jew as a menace to contemporary society as 
they saw it. The Fathers of the fourth century saw no such 
necessity. In view of the close relations which obviously 
existed between local Jewish and Christian communities, it 
is amazing how this myth of Jewish character could so long 
have passed muster. But certain considerations help to 
explain, if they do nothing to excuse, its survival. The most 
important factor was the universal attitude of the time, 
shared alike by Jew and Christian, to the written word of 
the Bible. To the modern critic the fact that the Jews 
reached so high a standard in their conception of the mutual 
obligations of the community as is shown in the Mosaic Law, 
and so lofty an idea of God and His relation to the world as 
is shown in the prophets, would argue for considerable moral 
progress on the part of the nation producing these phenom- 
ena. But to the student of that time the whole of the Bible 
was written by God, and human hands had little and human 
hearts and brains nothing to do with it. This idea did little 
harm to the Jew, for he still preserved the unity of the Scrip- 
tures, with its combination of denunciation and encourage- 
ment, of threat and promise. But the moment these were 
separated and all the promises applied to one group, and 
all the curses to an entirely separate one, an appalling 
falsification took place. 

The Fathers obtained the perspective of a distorting 
mirror and drew faithfully what they saw. The monstrosity 
of Israel was evident to them. There was not one single 


virtuous action in her history. She had been a perpetual 
disappointment to God, in spite of all the wonderful things 
He had done for her. For it was impossible to separate 
these from the main strain of the history of the people. The 
Church might claim all the virtuous actions in the Old 
Testament for a kind of pre-existent Church, but she could 
not deny that all the people had been led out of Egypt, 
guided by day and night across the desert, and into the 
Promised Land. But their record was one of nothing but 
disobedience, and their ultimate rejection was almost 
inevitable from the very beginning. The one mystery which 
the Fathers never attempted to solve was why, if they were 
really like that, God had either chosen them, or having done 
so, had expected them, after a career of unchanging and 
unrepentant malice and vice, to accept His final revelation 
in Christ. 

This picture of the Jew was still further coloured and 
confirmed by their eschatological conceptions. For, if they 
looked for any change of heart in the Jews as a whole, they 
expected it only at the second coming of Christ. Even of 
this they were not quite sure, and Jerome, who gives more 
attention to Jewish matters than any of his contemporaries, 
hesitates between three opinions. At times he proclaims 
with gusto their final and absolute rejection 1 . At other times 
he holds that a remnant of them will be saved 2 . Sometimes 
he holds a third view, that all will ultimately be saved, and 
that after the gathering of the Gentiles ' all Israel shall be 
gathered in ' 3 . Even if this latter was the more commonly 
accepted version, it inevitably created an artificial relation- 
ship, for it expected no immediate response from the Jews 
to any appeal that might be made to them 4 . 

1 E.g.> On Isaiah, vi, 9, 14; xxvi, n; and Ixv, 13; P.L.,XXIV, pp. 100, 
307 and 665 ff. 

2 On Isaiah, xlviii, 22; xlix, i; and lix, 19; P.L.,XXJV, pp. 480, 482, 

3 On Jeremiah, xviii; P.L., XXIV, p. 829. 

4 It is not surprising that in this uncertainty Jerome at one place 
pathetically remarks: * Haec pie quidem dicuntur, sed quomodo cum 
ceteris cpngruant, et consummationis mundi temporibus coaptentur, 
difficilis interpretatio est '. For a collection of passages from different 
authors dealing with the ultimate destination of the Jews, see P.L., 
CCXX, p. 1004. 



The endless repetition of the same epithets, the same charges, 
and the same crimes can only be explained by this theological 
and exegetical necessity. The phrase * a Jew ', or ' some 
Jews ', is almost unknown in patristic literature. On the 
rare occasions when an action of contemporary Jews is 
mentioned it is always * the Jews ', and more often than not, 
when a specific accusation seems to be made, it is proved 
only by a reference to past history. If error be an excuse, 
then this must be the excuse for those who first framed 
Christian legislation against the Jews, and for those who by 
their continual preaching and writing ultimately persuaded 
the ordinary people that their picture of the Jew was per- 
manently true, and that any contact with him was a defile- 
ment. It is related of Hilary of Poitiers that his orthodoxy 
was such that he would not even answer the salutation of 
a Jew in the street 1 , a fact which amazed his biographer. 
But we can understand it if we realise that he really believed 
that * before the Law was given the Jews were possessed 
of an unclean devil, which the Law for a time drove out, but 
which returned immediately after their rejection of Christ >2 . 
In another passage commenting on Psalm 52, he says that 
the strong man who scoffs at the righteous is to be applied 
to * that people which has always persisted in iniquity, and 
out of its abundance of evil has gloried in wickedness. For 
it was mighty when it was, as a slave, visited by God; when 
on its account Egypt was struck by so many plagues; when in 
the three days' darkness it did not feel the dark, for the light 
was with it; when it left Egypt to its fate despoiled of its 
silver and ornaments; when it was accompanied day and 
night by a column of smoke and fire; when it crossed the 
Red Sea on foot; when it lived on the bread of angels; when 
it saw the majesty of God descending on the mountain; when 
it heard His voice speaking from the fire; when it over- 
turned many kingdoms in terrible wars; when it saw Jordan 
flow back for its own passage; when it possessed prophets, 

1 Life of Hilary, P.L., IX, p. 187. 

2 Hilary, Commentary on Matthew, xiii, 22; P.L., IX, p. 993 ff. 


when it enjoyed priests for cleansing it from sin and for 
redeeming its soul; when it deserved to obtain its kingdom. 
In all these things it was mighty. But ever it was mighty in 
wickedness; when it longed for the flesh-pots of Egypt; 
when through its addiction to wickedness it preferred an 
unholy slavery to a holy liberty; when it worshipped the 
calf; when it cursed Moses; when it hated God; when it 
vowed its sons as offerings to demons; when it killed the 
prophets, and finally when it betrayed to the Praetor and 
crucified our God Himself and Lord, who for its sake 
became man. And so glorying throughout all its existence in 
iniquity, when it was mighty, it was persistently in iniquity 
that it showed its might 9I . It is upon this background of 
Jewish history, which was prepared by the previous cen- 
turies, that the Church was to act for many centuries to come. 

While a more or less violent form of this attitude is to be 
found in most of the commentaries and writings of the 
period, scattered here and there in the exegesis of suitable 
verses from the Old Testament, its classic expression is to be 
found in two immense volumes of Eusebius, the Preparatio 
Evangelica and the Demonstratia Evangelica 2 . These two 
works, the first in fifteen books which have been com- 
pletely preserved, and the second in twenty, of which only 
the first ten remain, were written just before the peace of the 
Church, and completed in 3 1 1 . They are of great importance 
to us, because they constitute the most complete example 
of the instruction given at this critical epoch in Church 
history to the pagan world. In the first book Eusebius 
proves the superiority and greater antiquity of Christianity 
in comparison with all other religions; in the second he 
proves the superiority of Christianity over Judaism and the 
uniqueness of the person of Christ. 

In so far as the relations between Jews and Christians are 
concerned, the fundamental hypothesis from which he starts 
in both books is a sharp distinction between c Hebrews ' and 
* Jews ' 3 . The Hebrews are the most ancient people in the 
world, and their religion is the basis of Greek philosophy 4 . 

1 Commentary on Psalm #, 6; P.L., DC, p. 312. 
*P.G,, Vols. XXI and XXII. 
E.g. y Prep. Evan., VII and X; Dem. Evan., I. 
4 Prep. Evan., X and XL 


But they themselves, though not * Jews ', were not ' Gen- 
tiles ' either. Rather they were from the beginning ' Chris- 
tians, and led a Christian way of life '. The Patriarchs 
pleased God by their lives, and Abraham, 'in that he lived 
by virtue ', lived as a Christian and not as a Jew 1 . Into this 
primitive and * Christian ' life of the Patriarchs, for reasons 
which Eusebius leaves obscure, came Moses, with his 
special law for the Jews. This law which he introduced was 
never meant to have any meaning for the Gentiles 2 , and he 
himself bears witness to the independent righteousness of 
the * Hebrews ' 3 . Even for the Jews who lived outside 
Palestine the law was impossible, since its provisions could 
not be carried out without a temple 4 . In his insistence on 
these points it is possible that Eusebius is implicitly opposing 
himself to the efforts among the pagans of Jewish missionaries. 

While Eusebius is thus careful to insist on the partial 
character of the law, he is equally careful to insist that it was 
only a temporary expedient even for the Jews. Throughout 
the period of * Jewish * history, that is from Moses to the 
Incarnation, * Hebrew * prophets 5 were continually pointing 
to the period of its supersession by a new and superior law. 
Eusebius realises that this attitude might well cause pagans 
to ask why Christians should bother themselves at all with 
Jewish literature. He replies by copious quotations from 
the prophets, which command the abandonment of the 
Jewish law, and foretell the utter reprobation of the Jews 
themselves. It is for these prophecies alone and for the 
historical conceptions based on them that they are valuable 6 . 

Eusebius thus gives a picture of the Jew as negligible 
rather than contemptible, as a relatively unimportant 
companion to the older * Hebrew * who foretold and 
anticipated Christianity 7 . But, equally with Hilary, he was 
presenting the pagan world with a complete caricature of 
the history of the Jews. 

1 Dem. Evan., I, vi. 

* Prep. Evan., VIII; Dem. Evan., II. 

* Dem. Evan., I, ii. 
*Ibid., I, iii. 

* The prophets are never called Jews. Only the law is Jewish. Cf. 
Dem. Evan., II, III and IV passim. 

* Dem. Evan., I, i. 

7 Cf. e^. Prep. Evan., VII, vi, viii and xi. 



While in their writings Hilary and Eusebius introduced the 
pagan world to this strange version of Jewish history, 
Chrysostom expressed similar theories with much greater 
violence from his pulpit at Antioch. In eight sermons which 
he delivered in 387 he speaks with a bitterness and lack of 
restraint unusual even in that place and century 1 . If it were 
not for the exegetical background which has already been 
shown, it would be impossible to explain, let alone excuse, 
his tone. Christianity was no longer in any danger. He 
himself had not, like Athanasius, ever known any persecution 
from the Jews, and the period of trial under Julian had been 
very short. Even had they been a menace in old times, the 
rich and powerful Jewish community of Antioch was now 
hemmed in, like every other, by numerous imperial edicts 
issued under Christian inspiration. Moreover, Chrysostom 
was a man whose character excited the admiration of his 
contemporaries. If he was hated by politicians for his 
unswerving firmness, he was loved by the multitudes, and 
his commentaries on the gospels are still read and studied 
in the Orthodox Church because of their deep spiritual 

Such was the man who in eight sermons covering more 
than a hundred pages of closely printed text, has left us the 
most complete monument of the public expression of the 
Christian attitude to the Jews in the century of the victory 
of the Church. In these discourses there is no sneer too 
mean, no gibe too bitter for him to fling at the Jewish 
people. No text is too remote to be able to be twisted to their 
confusion, no argument is too casuistical, no blasphemy too 
startling for him to employ; and, most astonishing of all, at 
the end he turns to the Christians, and in words full of 
sympathy and toleration he urges them not to be too hard 
on those who have erred in following Jewish practices or in 
visiting Jewish synagogues. Dealing with die Christians, 
no text which urges forgiveness is forgotten: dealing with 
the Jews only one verse of the New Testament is omitted: 
* Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do '. 

1 P.O., Vol. XLVIII. 


The only explanation of his bitterness contained in the 
sermons themselves is the too close fellowship between 
Jews and Christians in Antioch. There is no single sugges- 
tion that the Jews were immoral or vicious; no suggestion 
that Christians were actually corrupted by the contact, either 
in their morals or their orthodoxy. Only one contemporary 
event is referred to at all, apart from general denunciations 
of the visiting of the synagogue at times of Jewish feast or 
fast. This was the case of a Christian woman who was taken 
into a Jewish house to take an oath in a business affair, 
because the Christian with whom she had to deal believed 
that an oath taken in the Jewish manner was more binding 
than any other. What the actual affair was we are not told. 
To Chrysostom's eyes the crime was that a Christian 
woman had been taken into a Jewish house, not that she 
had been seduced or taught heretical doctrine or anything else. 
It was enough that she had been made to enter the house 1 . 

There is no material in these sermons for a study of 
contemporary Jewish life. Events and beliefs of centuries 
earlier are quoted as though still accepted. On the strength 
of Psalm xcvi, 37, he states that they ' sacrificed their sons 
and daughters to devils: they outraged nature; and over- 
threw from their foundations the laws of relationship. They 
are become worse than the wild beasts, and for no reason at 
all, with their own hands they murder their own offspring, 
to worship the avenging devils who are the foes of our life ' 2 . 
It seems almost as if his hearers in Antioch objected to so 
monstrous a statement, for in his sixth sermon he returns to 
the charge, and says that even if they no longer murder 
their own children, they have murdered the Christ, which is 
worse 3 . The synagogues of the Jews are the homes of 
idolatry and devils, even though they have no images in 
them 4 . They are worse even than heathen circuses 5 . The 
very idea of going from a church to a synagogue is blas- 
phemous 6 ; and to attend the Jewish Passover is to insult 

1 Sermon, I, 3. 

2 I, 6. 

8 VI, 2 and 3. 

4 I, 3; II, 3; based on Jer. vii, u, etc. 

5 I, 3- 


Christ. To be with the Jews on the very day they murdered 
Jesus is to ensure that on the Day of Judgment He will say 
* Depart from Me: for you have had intercourse with my 
murderers '*. Some say that the synagogue is hallowed by 
the fact that the Holy Books of the Law are to be found in 
it. One might just as well say that the temple of Dagon was 
hallowed by the Ark being in it, even though the Ark 
destroyed the idol to prove the opposite 2 . It is truer to say 
that the fact that these Books are to be found in the syna- 
gogues makes them more detestable, for the Jews have 
simply introduced these Books, ' not to honour them, but 
to insult them, and to dishonour them >3 . The Jews do not 
worship God but devils 4 , so that all their feasts are unclean 5 . 
God hates them, and indeed has always hated them. But 
since their murder of Jesus He allows them no time for 
repentance 6 . It was of set purpose that He concentrated all 
their worship in Jerusalem that He might more easily 
destroy it 7 . The Jewish pretence that their misfortunes are 
due to Rome are not worthy of attention. * It was not by 
their own power that the Caesars did what they did to you: 
it was done by the wrath of God, and His absolute rejection 
of you.' 8 It is childish in the face of this absolute rejection 
to imagine that God will ever allow the Jews to rebuild their 
Temple or to return to Jerusalem. Their experience under 
Julian should convince them of that 9 . When it is clear that 
God hates them, it is the duty of Christians to hate them 
too; and he begins his sixth sermon with a revolting analogy 
of a beast in the arena, who has tasted blood, and longs for 
it again. So he, Chrysostom, having once begun to denounce 
the Jews, cannot leave off 10 , for he who has no limits in his 

1 III, 5, and VI, 8. 

2 I, 5, referring to I Sam. v. 

3 I, 5, and VI, 6. 

4 I, 3, based on John via, 19. 
*I, 6. 

VI, i. 

7 IV, 6. 

8 VI, 3. 

* V, passim. The whole sermon is an insulting sneer at their misfortunes 
and exile, and a gloating over the certainty of their damnation. Cf. the 
sermon * That Christ is God: addressed to Jews and Pagans * in the 
same volume. 

10 VI, i. 


love of Christ must have no limits in his battle with those 
who hate Him 1 . * I hate the Jews ' he exclaims roundly, 

* for they have the Law and they insult it '. 

But when in the last sermon he comes to address those 
miserable sinners who had been frequenting Jewish cele- 
brations his tone is unrecognisable. He insists that they 
must be dealt with gently, for the true attitude to a sinner is 

* whenever we hear any good of him, to tell it to all; but 
when we hear any evil or wicked thing, to keep it to ourselves, 
and do all in our power to change it >2 . It is evident that 
Chrysostom's Jew was a theological necessity rather than 
a living person. If he looked different from the actual 
Jews living in Antioch it was part of the malice of the Jew, 
one of the snares of the devil, set to catch the unwary- 
Christian. The comment of a Catholic theologian on these 
sermons is worth quoting 3 : * Das Gebot der Nachstensliebe 
wird man in diesen Reden nicht wiederfinden, und eben- 
sowenig werden solche Reden f ahig gewesen sein die Juden 
mit Sympathie fur das Christentum zu erfiillen '. 


Midway between the theologian of Gaul and the preacher 
of Antioch, stands Ambrose, the Christian statesman and 
bishop of Milan. His attitude to the Jews is also known in 
full detail from his two letters on the subject of the burning 
of the synagogue of Callinicum in Asia by a Christian rabble 
led by the bishop in person 4 . The details of the incident, 
and possible provocation by the Jews, are not known. The 
offenders were punished by the Roman governor, and the 
bishop was ordered to rebuild the synagogue out of his own 
resources. This decision was confirmed by the Emperor 
Theodosius, and came to the ears of Ambrose. The latter 
at once wrote a long letter to the emperor, in which he 
denounced this condemnation. After claiming that the 
accusation is false, or at least unproved, he changes his 

'VIII, 3. 

3 Murawski, op. dt. t Chrysostom. 

4 Ambrose, Epistles, Bk. I, Nos. 40 and 41; P.L., XVI, p. 1101 ff. 
The event took place in 388. 


ground. The emperor is forcing the bishop either to become 
an apostate, if he accepts the sentence, or a martyr if he has 
the courage to refuse to obey. He then roundly denies that 
it was a crime at all, and asks the emperor to punish him 
instead, for though it is true that he has not burnt down the 
synagogue of Milan, it is only by laziness on his part, and 
the fact that God had already destroyed it Himself. But it 
would be a glorious act to do so, ' that there might be no 
place where Christ is denied '. It may be that someone 
will come forward and pay for the rebuilding of the 
synagogue in place of the bishop. If the governor allows 
this, then he, the governor, becomes an apostate. In any 
case, police obedience must give way to religion, and the 
synagogue was probably a miserable hovel, and it is ridicu- 
lous to make a fuss about c a place of unbelief, a home of 
insanity, which God Himself has condemned '. The Jews 
paid no compensation for the many churches they destroyed 
under Julian, and now Christians are going to give them a 
new festival to gloat over, a festival of triumph over Christ, 
and they will inscribe over their synagogue the words: 



Maximius lost the empire through ordering the people of 
Rome to rebuild the synagogue they had burnt, and it is 
monstrous that Jews who despise Roman law should look to 
it to avenge themselves. * Why should we fear their ven- 
geance in any case? Who will avenge them? God whom they 
have insulted, or Christ whom they Crucified? ' 

Such is the tone in which Ambrose addresses the emperor, 
and the following Sunday, in his cathedral, in the presence 
of the emperor, he preaches on the Church and the Syna- 
gogue, picturing the richness of the one and the poverty of 
the other. The emperor asks him if the sermon is preached 
against him, and Ambrose replies that it is to save him. The 
emperor states that the action was perhaps severe. The bishop 
refuses to continue the service until the sentence is annulled. 
The emperor says that he will do so. The bishop replies 
that he relies on the emperor's promise. * Age fide mea ' 
responds the emperor, and at last the service is allowed to 


continue. The extraordinary arguments of Ambrose are 
thrown into higher relief by his own pre-episcopal career. 
He had himself been a governor. How in those unregenerate 
days he would have received such arguments as those which 
he advanced to the emperor, it is difficult to imagine. 


A fourth writer who is entitled to separate consideration is 
Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis in Cyprus from 357 to 403. 

He was of Palestinian Jewish origin, and is supposed to 
have been converted about the age of sixteen 1 . Though his 
reputation has not survived the test of time, as have those 
of his three great contemporaries already considered, and 
though, indeed, he has left no reason why posterity should 
honour him, in his own day he enjoyed a reputation for 
holiness and learning second to none of his contemporaries. 
He was a friend of Jerome and a great patron of the monastic 
movement, and an enemy of Chrysostom, on the somewhat 
inadequate grounds that Chrysostom had not condemned 
certain holders of Origenistic beliefs prior to the meeting of 
the synod called to hear their defence. To posterity he 
appears narrow-minded and quarrelsome. His type of piety 
explains something of the bitterness of fourth-century 
controversies and the need for the continual disciplinary 
measures passed by the councils. For him anathema and 
excommunications were expressions of faint disagreement 
or even of the fear that there would be disagreement if he 
knew what the opinions were of the man he anathematised. 
He never hesitated to meddle in the dioceses of other bishops, 
and even ordained presbyters in their dioceses to contradict 
their teaching 2 . For our present purpose his main interest 
is that he was a Jew until adolescence, and that he wrote 
about Jewish beliefs. 

Epiphanius was regarded as the great authority on heresy, 
including therein all false belief, even Greek philosophy. 
And he wrote a work in which he contentedly confutes no 

1 It is typical that later ages considered his conversion to have been 
due to a miracle. On the many versions of the fate of his donkey, see the 
Acta Sanctorum and Eastern Acta. 

* See his life by Lipsius in the Dictionary of Christian Biography. 


less than eighty varieties. While he used earlier writers, 
especially Irenaeus and Hippolytus, much of it is his own 
observation. In his work he includes four Samaritan and 
seven Jewish heresies, in addition to three Judeo-Christian 
sects. The seven Jewish sects are the Sadducees, the Scribes, 
the Pharisees, the Hemerobaptists, the Nazareans, the 
Ossenes, and the Herodians; and the three Judeo-Christian 
sects are the Nazarenes, the Ebionites, and the Sampseans 1 . 
The heresy of Paul of Samosata can really be considered 
also as coming under this heading. * His communications 
regarding the Jewish sects are for the most part worthless, 
and what he says of the Nazareans and Ossenes is derived 
purely from misunderstood narratives concerning the 
Ebionites and Elkasites. The accounts he gives of the Judeo- 
Christian and Gnostic sects of the second and third cen- 
turies exhibit a marvellous mixture of valuable tradition with 
misunderstandings and fancies of his own.' 2 In spite of this 
lack of permanent value they are of importance in that they 
show the complete ignorance of Judaism of fourth-century 
Christians even of Jewish origin. Though we have no 
evidence that Epiphanius was as profound a Hebrew 
scholar as Jerome, yet he clearly knew some Hebrew, and if 
he was born of Palestinian Jewish parents, he had some 
opportunities of knowing something at first hand about 
Jewish opinion. But this fact is deduced more clearly from 
his biographer's statement than from anything in his own 

To the New Testament account of the Sadducees he 
adds nothing. The scribes, whom he explains next, are said 
to add in their interpretation of the Law c a certain gram- 
matical knowledge ' a deduction one imagines from the 
name scribe. They are completely legalistic, and admit four 
interpreters, Moses, Akiba, Annanus or Judas, and the four 
sons of Assamoneus 3 . The Pharisees agree with the scribes, 
but are much more severe in their discipline, of which he 

1 Epiphanius Adversos Haereses. P.G., XLL The Samaritan Heresies 
are Nos. IX-XIII, the Jewish Nos. XIV-XX, the Nazarenes No. XXIX, 
the Ebionites No. XXX, and the Sampseans No. LIII. 

* Lipsius in D.C.B. 

8 A mixture of the Mishnah of Judah and the earlier one ascribed to 
Akiba. No Mishnah is ascribed to Hananyia. The ' four sons * is unin- 


writes with monastic approval. They are ascetics, and believe 
in the resurrection, and in angels, but not in the Son. Their 
failing is that they are astrologers, and too interested in 
reading the stars 1 . This Epiphanius considers acutely to be 
in contradiction to their belief in a judgment following the 
resurrection, since if all is determined by fate, there is no 
such thing as free will and therefore no sin to form the basis 
for judgment. The fourth sect are the Hemerobaptists, who 
apparently have no doctrine of their own, but agree with 
the Sadducees, scribes and Pharisees. In addition, they 
insist on a daily bath of purification. The fifth are the 
Nazareans, who come from the north of the country, and 
Trans-Jordania. They keep the Law, but do not believe in 
fate or in astrology. They do not believe in animal sacri- 
fices and they eat no living thing. They do not accept as 
genuine the parts of the Bible referring to such practices. 
The sixth sect are the Ossenes, who are ' spiritually disin- 
genuous and intellectually ingenious '. They come from 
Nabatea and Perea, and are gnostics, ' detesting virginity, 
damning continence, and insisting on marriage '. They 
teach that apostasy is allowable in times of persecution, for 
it is possible to agree with the tongue and disagree in the 
heart. They accept Christ and call Him c the great king ', 
recognising Him as a power. The Holy Spirit is also a power, 
but female. They pray, not towards the east, but towards 
Jerusalem, and they accept neither sacrifices, meat, nor the 
use of fire. Their only points of contact with other Jews 
are circumcision and the Sabbath. In a word, * their wicked- 
ness is blindness, and their aberrations are senseless '. The 
last sect are the Herodians, who are * real Jews, being lazy 
and dishonest '. They believe that Herod was the Christ. 
Epiphanius concludes by saying that in his time there were 
still some traces of Essenes, but otherwise only * Jews *, by 
which he presumably means Pharisees and Nazareans. The 
Ossenes have adopted the Sampsean heresy and are neither 
Jews nor Christians. 

1 This is a confusion with the Essenes described in Josephus, Ant., 
XIII, v, 9. 



From the rest of the literature of the fourth century there is 
nothing new to learn. Indeed there was little which could 
be added to the body of belief built up by previous centuries. 
The main interest was Christological in the philosophical 
and not in the historico-prophetic sense. There was no 
change in the attitude to the Jews, but there was no addition 
to it. Neither Athanasius nor Augustine showed any special 
interest in them; Augustine's remarks on them are quite 
conventional, and those of Athanasius can even be considered 
to be moderate in tone when contrasted with the epithets he 
applies to Arians. The Talmud has as little to say about 
Gentile Christians 1 . It is generally believed that the Syna- 
gogue was making few proselytes in countries under the 
domination of Christianity, though Lucas considers that the 
attacks upon synagogue buildings, which were as much 
schools as places of worship, indicate that this was not so 2 . 
It is certain that the Church was still making a certain 
number of converts among the Jews themselves, for one of 
the first laws passed under her inspiration forbade Jews 
to insult or molest such persons. It is fairly frequently 
mentioned of illustrious ecclesiastics that they had converted 
many Jews. It is said of Philastrius, bishop of Brescia, that 
among his other good works, 

Barbaras gentes idolis recurvis 
Atque Judaeos, homines iniquos 
Perfidos contra monitis supernis 

Restitit ipse 
Regis aeterni amabilis minister 3 . 

That the Jews should use every argument possible to prevent 
such apostasy is natural, and it is also true that, if they wished 
either to annoy the Church or to divert pagans from her to 

1 Dr. Marmorstein sees a reference to Gentile Christians in some of 
the passages dealing with the * nations of the world \ Cf. Religions* 
geschichtliche Studienj p. u ff. 

2 Op. dt^ passim, but especially in the latter half of the book. On the 
other side is the fact that to circumcise a non-Jew was now a crime. 

3 In laudem Filastrii, by Gaudentius; P.L., XX, p. 1003. 


the Synagogue, the newly converted were admirable material 
for attack. During the period of the catechumenate a pagan 
was being for the first time introduced to the doctrines of the 
Church, and perhaps also was making his first acquaintance 
with the Scriptures common to both Jews and Christians. 
It was an obvious opportunity for Jews to put forward rival 
interpretations, and in actual fact we find considerable 
evidence that they did so in the frequent warnings against 
Jewish interpretations contained in the catechetical ad- 
dresses of different preachers. There is nothing particularly 
original in the subjects at issue 1 . They are inherent in the 

The Jew of the time probably regarded the Trinitarian 
doctrine of the Church as an aberration rather than as 
deliberate tritheism. He could, however, easily challenge 
the Church interpretation of various passages in the Old 
Testament in which the Fathers affected to find allusions 
to the division of personality within the Godhead. A 
second subject for challenge was, naturally, the foretelling 
of Christ in the prophets. A third was the possibility of the 
ultimate restoration of the Jewish people to Palestine. A 
fourth was the observation of Circumcision and the Jewish 
ritual Law, which was commanded by God to Moses in 
passages which the Christians accepted as inspired. The Jews 
might well reproach the average Christian interpreter with 
getting exactly what he wanted out of these passages 
dvatSo)s /cat avawrxvvrw? 2 . Even after their acceptance of 
Christianity converts were still troubled by Jewish objec- 
tions. This is revealed not only by the passages already 
quoted, but even more by various letters in which new 
Christians are warned of the danger of conversation with 
Jews, or are given the answers to objections raised by the 
Jews to which they had been unable to reply 3 . Jews were 
naturally acute critics and quick to catch the Christians out 

1 See, for example, Augustine, De Catechizandis, Chs. vii, xx, xxv, 
xxvii; P.L., Vol. XL; Gregory of Nyssa, Catechetical Address, P.G., 
XLV, p. 9; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Addresses , IV, 2, and X, 2; 
P.G., XXXIII, pp. 456 and 661; Nicetas of Aquileia, Explanatia Symboli, 
V, ix; P.L., LII, p. 869. 

* Eusebius, Dem. Evan., I, ii; P.G., XXII. 

3 E.g. Nilus, Ep., 57; P.G., LXIX, p. 108; and Isidore of Pelusium, I, 
141; III, 94; IV, 17; P.G., LXXVIII, pp. 276, 797 and 1064. 


if they had a chance. And the fact that most Christians had 
to use a not too perfect Greek or Latin translation of the 
Bible gave them endless opportunities for detecting errors 
of translation or interpretation 1 . In fact, it was to 
arm the Christian against such attacks that Jerome learnt 
Hebrew and undertook to translate the Scriptures into 
Latin 2 . 

It must also be remembered that Jews and pagans were 
permitted to be present at the services of the Church up to 
the moment of the c missa catechumenorum ' 3 , and availed 
themselves of this permission. In fact, their presence so 
seriously annoyed the Church of Jerusalem that the synod 
complained bitterly of * Jewish serpents and Samaritan im- 
beciles listening to sermons in Church like wolves sur- 
rounding the flock of Christ ' 4 . 

In the early liturgical uses themselves there is little anti- 
Jewish material. That was left for the sermon. The liturgical 
explanation of the Creed which was always given to the 
catechumens contains no reference to the Jews under the 
clause ' was crucified under Pontius Pilate ' 5 , and Christian 
worship itself retained many Jewish forms. * Our early 
second-century information justifies us in believing that the 
influence of the Palestinian Jewish community on Gentile 
Christianity had been sufficiently strong to induce the latter 
not only to adopt from the former the main elements of the 
Synagogal worship, but also, after the final severance of the 
Jewish and Christian Churches, and the consequent cessation 
of attendance at the synagogue, to transfer much of the 
Sabbath Synagogue worship to the specific Eucharistic 
service on the first day of the week.' 6 Apart from the special 
Jewish form of abjuration, and a special form for the dedica- 
tion of synagogues, which is to be found in the Gelasian 

1 Jer., On Ezek., xxxvii, i; P.L., XXV, p. 363. 

2 Jer., contra Rufinum, III, 25; P.L., XXIII, p. 497. 
s Council of Carthage, IV, can. 89. 

4 Letter of the synod of Jerusalem in P.L., XXII, p. 769. 

6 See Assemani, Codex Liturgicus, Vol. I passim. On references to the 
Jews in patristic writings for catechumens, see Juster, op. cit., I, 297 rT. 

6 The Jewish Background of the Christian Liturgy, Oesterley, Oxford, 
1925. See also The Jewish Antecedents of the Christian Sacraments , Gavin, 
S.P.C.K., 1928, and Juster, op. at., I, 304. 


and other early Sacramentaries 1 ,!! is only in the services of 
Holy Week, and especially Good Friday, that there are any 
references to Jews at all. At that season there were always 
special prayers for their conversion. 


The significant contribution of the fourth century to Jewish 
Christian relationships is not, however, to be found in the 
theologians, but in the enactments of the ecclesiastical and 
secular authorities. The earliest Council whose canons 
survive was actually held before the time of Constantine, 
but the multiplication of councils was possible only when 
Christians were able openly to travel and meet on ecclesi- 
astical business. Their main task was to introduce uniformity 
and discipline into the different Christian communities. 
They were only incidentally interested in the Jews. There 
is at first no attempt to use conciliar action for actual 
restrictions upon the internal life of the Jewish communities. 
The interest of the councils is only in Jewish Christian 
relationships, and they thereby reveal how close those 
relationships were. 

The pre-Constantinian council is a Spanish meeting at 
Elvira, and its decisions were of only local importance. 
Four of its canons deal with the Jews. Intermarriage between 
Jews and Christian girls is prohibited, unless the Jew is 
willing to be converted 2 . The reason given is that girls should 
not be given to Jews or heretics * because there can be no 
fellowship between a believer and an unbeliever '. The 
penalty for disobedience is five years' abstinence from 
communion. A second canon prohibits adultery with pagan 
or Jewish women, and is probably a reference to concubinage. 
The penalty for disobedience is the same 3 . The other two 
canons emphasise still further the intimacy between the 
Jewish and Christian communities. Neither cleric nor 
layman is to accept Jewish hospitality 4 . Both are to be 
excluded from communion as long as they persist in doing 

1 Assemani, Vol. IV, pt. ii, p. 90. See Appendix Four. 

2 Elvira, Canon 16. 

3 Ibid. Canon 78. 
*Ibid. Canon 50. 


so. Finally, Christians are forbidden to have their fields 
blessed by Jews. Excommunication is the penalty for dis- 
obedience. The strange reason given is that such profanation 
would be likely to render fruitless the subsequent benediction 
of the fields by a priest 1 . This canon is of special interest 
in that it reveals that agriculture must have been largely 
practised by the Spanish Jews. It is difficult to see what 
would lead Christians to ask the Jews to perform this 
action unless they had seen some ceremony which impressed 
them in Jewish fields. What they saw was probably a sort of 
invigilation connected with the preservation of a vineyard 
from possible pollution. A Jewish vineyard would become 
unclean if drops of wine taken from it were used for pagan 

From the western churches of the fourth century there is 
no further conciliar legislation on the Jews, but the situation 
is substantially the same in Africa and the east. The eastern 
councils suggest even closer relations than the canons of 
Elvira, and presuppose very definite * judaising ' tendencies 
among those who, because they were amenable to orthodox 
conciliar jurisdiction, cannot have been definitely heretics. 
The council of Antioch excommunicates any cleric who 
celebrates Easter with the Jews 2 , and in view of the canons of 
Laodicea some twenty years later, and the practices referred 
to by Chrysostom, it is possible that this refers not merely 
to the adoption of the same date for Easter as for the Passover, 
but to actual participation in the latter. Such a practice is 
certainly implied by Chrysostom, and the council of Laodicea 
dealt with kindred questions. It is laid down that the gospels 
are to be read on the Sabbath as well as the rest of the 
Scriptures 3 . Christians are not to * Judaise * but work on the 
Sabbath, and rest upon the Lord's day 4 . They are not to 
receive gifts from the festivals of Jews and heretics 5 . And 
finally they are not to accept unleavened bread from them 
nor take part in their * impieties >6 . These regulations taken 

1 Elvira, Canon 49. 
1 Antioch, Canon i. 
8 Laodicea, Canon 16. 
* Ibid. Canon zg. 

5 Ibid. Canon 37. 

6 Ibid. Canon 38. 


together certainly leave a strong impression that even in the 
fourth century there were not only Judaic practices in the 
Church in Asia, but that there was actual religious fellowship 
with the Jewish inhabitants. The Apostolic Canons, which 
are a Syrian compilation of the fourth century, strengthen 
this interpretation. They deal in still further detail with 
religious fellowship between the clergy and the Jews. ' No 
bishop, presbyter or deacon, or any other member of the 
clergy is to share in Jewish fast or feast, or to receive from 
them unleavened bread or other material for a feast.' 1 No 
cleric or layman is to go into the synagogue of Jews or here- 
tics to pray 2 . No Christian is to tend the lamps of heathen 
temples or of Jewish synagogues on the feast days 3 . This is 
clearly a reference to Christian servants, who performed 
acts on the Sabbath which were prohibited to orthodox 
Jews. A final canon seems to date part of the collection at 
least to the time of Julian. ' If any cleric through fear of 
Jews, pagans or heretics denies the name of Christ he is to 
be expelled: if it be his own rank which he denies and he 
repents, he is to be received back as a layman 4 . 

Of the African canons it is more difficult to speak, since 
their dates are by no means clear, and the collection was 
made in Gaul some centuries later. The adoption of Jewish 
superstitions and festivals is prohibited in general terms 5 . 
Two other canons are peculiar to Africa, and somewhat 
contradictory in tone. One reminds bishops that they are 
by no means to prohibit Jews from attending the services of 
the Church up to the * missa catechumenorum >6 ; and the 
other, which is twice repeated, reminds judicial authorities 
that Jews, being in the category of * infamous ' persons, are 
not to be allowed to give evidence in court, except against 
each other 7 . The inclusion of this reminder in an ecclesi- 
astical collection is curious, but it is probably the copy of an 

1 Can. Apost., 69. 

2 Ibid. Canon 63. 

3 Ibid. Canon 70. 

4 Ibid. Canon 61. 

5 Carthage, IV, Canon 84. 

6 Ibid. Canon 84. Cf. the invitation at the beginning of the second 
part of the Mass, ' si quis catechumen procedat, si quis Judaeus procedat ' 

7 Ibid. Canon 196; and VI, Canon 2. 


imperial edict which has become accidentally included in 
the collection. Actually, no such edict is known at so early 
a period 1 , but its existence is not improbable. 


With the exception of the last canon, the councils dealt only 
with religious and social contact between Jews and Chris- 
tians, but the influence of ecclesiastical authority was equally 
visible in the imperial legislation of the century, which dealt 
with the actual rights and privileges of the Jewish community 
itself. The Codex Theodosianus, which was put together in 
the middle of the fifth century, does not contain all the 
legislation previously passed. But it contains all that was 
in force, or not explicitly withdrawn, at the time of its 
composition. As it gives the date of each law, the place at 
which it was issued (an important consideration when the 
unity of the empire was only nominal, and the legislation of 
east and west reflect very different conditions), and the name 
of the recipient, it allows us to reconstruct with a fair degree 
of certainty the progressive decline in the privileges and 
ultimately in the security of the Jewish communities of 
the empire. 

The fourth century witnessed the gradual breakdown of 
the immense machine of imperial central government. This 
was due to a number of causes, social, economic and political, 
into which it is not necessary to enter 2 . It was a period in 
which the rich became richer, or at least more powerful, and 
the poor became poorer. The middle class was crushed by 
the burden of imperial taxation which the great proprietors 
avoided, and this burden, added to the barbarian invasions, 
ruined commerce. The frequent suggestion that the Jews 
were extremely wealthy because they numbered both mer- 
chants and slave-owners rests on no foundation of fact. 

1 See C.J., 1.5.21, which implies the existence of previous but confused 

2 See S. Dill, Roman Society in the last century of the Western Empire, 
Macmillan, 1905, and F. Lot, La Fin du Monde Antique, Part I, Chs. 4 
and 7. Dill underestimates the moral collapse by ignoring the evidence 
of the many councils of the period, with their monotonous prohibition 
of ecclesiastical immorality. 


Doubtless there were wealthy individuals, but there is no 
direct evidence for wealth in these two facts themselves. 

The legislation of Constantine affects the Jews at three 
points, their treatment of proselytes from Judaism, their 
treatment of their non- Jewish slaves, and their share of the 
burdens of the decurionate. That Jews should share in the 
burdens of the decurionate was just. Their ancient immunity 
had rested on their inability in pagan days to hold an office 
which involved offering sacrifice. This was no longer the 
case in the Christian empire. At the same time the c curiales ' 
were the unhappiest class in the empire. They were respon- 
sible for the collection of taxation, and compelled to make 
good the deficit from their own fortunes. The evasions of 
the wealthy, and the increasing poverty of the time, made the 
burden an increasingly impossible one to bear, and huge 
penalties had to be imposed on any attempt to evade the 
responsibility. No member of the class was allowed to leave 
his town or sell his property, without the most stringent 
safeguards for the imperial treasury. The class was heredit- 
ary, and as the caste system of the empire became more 
rigid, to be born into the ' curiales ' became an ever greater 
misfortune. Many were prepared to become serfs or monks 
rather than retain its imaginary honour 1 . 

While it was not unjust that the Jews should be compelled 
to enter with Christians of equal wealth into this unfortunate 
class, it is not surprising that they made continual efforts 
to evade it, and throughout the whole period of Roman 
legislation there is continual repetition of this obligation. 
It was customary to exempt from this burden those who 
occupied religious positions. The Catholic clergy possessed 
this exemption, and the same was accorded first to ' two or 
three ' in each Jewish community 2 , and then, more explicitly, 
to all who were entirely occupied with such functions 3 . There 
was thus no intention to be more severe towards Jews than 
to the rest of the population, and this is borne out by the 
terms of the law which grants Jewish curials the immunities 
from other official duties which the rest of their class enjoyed, 

1 Cf. Dill, op. dt., p. 250 ff. 
*C.T., 16.8.3. 
3 Ibid., 16.8.2. 


and forbids in perpetuity the imposition of curial responsi- 
bility on those who are not of the class. It would seem that 
in the first flush of victory Christian officials were disposed 
to stretch a point against the Jews, for not only did the 
freedom of religious functionaries need to be twice repeated, 
but it was reaffirmed in a special charter addressed to those 
persons themselves 1 . 

If the Christians were behaving insolently in the hour of 
victory, the Jews were evidently not yet cowed. The 
dramatic change in the status of Christianity seems to have 
led many Jews to desert the Synagogue for their now trium- 
phant rival. Within two years of the transformation it was 
necessary to attach the severest penalties to those who 
molested converts from the * baleful ' religion of the Syna- 
gogue to the light of the Church. Addressing the Jewish 
authorities themselves, Constantine informs them that he is 
well aware that it is ' their present habit to pursue with 
stones and other violence * such persons, and he sentences 
all such offenders to death at the stake. This was more 
justifiable than the second part of the same law which makes 
it a crime to become a Jew 2 . The first part of the law had 
to be repeated towards the end of his reign 3 . The same law 
marks the beginning of the long struggle to prevent the Jews 
acquiring other than Jewish slaves. Any Jew who circumcised 
a slave who was either a Christian or a member of any other 
non-Jewish religion, forfeited the slave. The latter acquired 
his freedom. No extra penalty was suffered by the Jew, 
and he was apparently not prohibited from owning such 
slaves provided he did not circumcise them 4 . 

It is sometimes stated that Constantius, because he was an 
Arian, was more favourable to the Jews than was Constantine. 
If this was so, he did not show it in his legislation, which 
goes considerably further than that of his father. In the 
year following his accession he considerably strengthened 
the restrictions upon the Jewish possession of slaves. If a 
Jew bought a pagan slave he forfeited him. If he bought a 

1 C.T., 16.84. 
*Ibid. t 16.8.1. 

* Ibid.y 16.8.5, and Const. Sirm., 4. In both the penalty is reduced to 
a sentence commensurate with the particular offence. 
4 Const. Sirm., 4, and C.T., 16.9.1. 


Christian slave he forfeited also all his property. If, in 
either case, he circumcised the slave, he was sentenced to 
death. The slave, however, did not become free, but the 
property of the flsc 1 . This insistence on the rights of 
Christian slaves at the very beginning of the law-making 
power of the Church is probably due to two causes. For a 
Jew to circumcise his slave was a natural action, and one 
intended for the slave's benefit, since in that way he became 
in some sort a member of the owner's family, and shared 
in its religious observances. It would, however, be easily 
interpreted by the Church, if the slave had previously been 
a Christian, as a hostile action, and doubtless the average 
Jew, with the attitude to official Christianity which he was 
likely to have at the time, would get a not entirely religious 
satisfaction out of the action. The second reason was the 
extent to which Christianity had penetrated into the lower 
strata of society. If the Jews were, as is supposed, an 
important section of the slave traders of the time, it would 
give them a considerable power of harming the Church if 
they were allowed to convert their slaves to Judaism. The 
law was also the natural sequel to the law already quoted 
which makes it a criminal act to join the Jewish faith. The 
slave could only be included in the intentions of this law 
by an attack upon his master. The two other laws of Con- 
stantius exhibit the same tendency. Any Christian who 
became a Jew was to forfeit the whole of his property to the 
fisc 2 . Any Jew who married a Christian woman employed 
in the imperial factories (gynaeced) was to be put to death, 
and the woman returned to the factory 3 . 

No laws of Julian are extant, but his letter to the Jews 
implies that he had in some way lightened their lot 4 , and a 
law of Gratian reimposing the burdens of curial office 
suggests that he had actually again released them from it 5 . 

1 C.T., 16.9,2. In the Justinian edition of this law (C.J., 1.9.2) other 
methods of acquisition are included. 
'C.T., 16.8.7. 
9 Ibid., 16.8.6. 

4 Julian, Ep. 51. 

5 It is usually held that Julian abolished only the * fiscus Judaicus % 
but the terms of the law of Gratian, * lussio quae sibi Judaeae legis 
homines blandiuntur per quern eis curialium munerum datur immunitas 
rescindatur ', imply that he abolished the law of Constantine also. 


The reign of Julian, short though it was, was long enough to 
remind each side of the past, persecution on the one side and 
real toleration on the other* It was well that his successor 
was not a fanatic, for had he been disposed to yield to it, 
the temper of the Church would have sanctioned any measure 
of revenge which he might have proposed. Though Jovian 
only reigned for some months, he gave time for spirits to 
cool, and his successors, Valentinian and Valens, continued 
a policy of toleration, though the former was an adherent of 
Nicaea, and the latter an Arian who from time to time 
showed his dislike of the Nicaeans by repressive measures. 
But the toleration he extended to Jews was complete, and 
the only incident of his rule which was remembered by later 
chroniclers was that ' he gave gardens to the pagans for their 
sacrifices, and the same to the Jews at Antioch for their 
worship n . The immunities which the Jews secured from 
Julian they seem to have kept undisturbed for twenty years. 
It is not until 383, under Gratian, the successor in the west 
of Valentinian, that they were again compelled to shoulder 
the burden of the decurionate. But the new law was more 
severe than the old had been. The clergy also were included 
in it, and either had to postpone their religious duties until 
their public functions had been performed, or pay for a 
substitute out of their own pocket 2 . This is the first real 
infringement of the rights of Judaism as a lawful religion, 
for it placed it on a definitely inferior plane to orthodox 
Christianity. Having thus returned to the policy of Con- 
stantine, with additional severity, in the matter of public 
duty, Gratian followed up with the re-enactment, also with 
additional stringency, of the prohibition of conversion from 
Christianity to Judaism. The convert and the missionary 
responsible were both to be punished, the former with 
intestacy, the latter at the discretion of the court. A charge 
might even be preferred under certain limitations against 
one who was dead, and his descendants robbed of their 
inheritance 3 . In this return to previous conditions it was 
natural that the slaves of Jews should also be considered, 
and in a spirit similar to that animating his other legislation 

1 Michael the Syrian, Bk. VII, Ch. vii. 
*C.T., 12.1.99. 
3 Ibid. 16.7.3. 


Gratian enacts that no Jew is to buy a Christian slave, or 
convert him, when bought, to Judaism. Circumcision is not 
explicitly mentioned. The masters are to be punished in 
addition to forfeiting their slaves. But a new clause is 
added. Christian slaves, or slaves who had been converted 
from Christianity to Judaism, already in the possession of 
Jewish masters, are to be compulsorily sold at a fixed price 
to Christian masters 1 . This second phase of Jewish legisla- 
tion was completed by Theodosius I, who enacted, first that 
any marriage between Jew and Christian (man or woman) 
was to be considered adultery, and that anyone might make 
the accusation 2 , secondly that Jews might only marry among 
themselves according to Christian practices. They had to 
observe the Christian tables of affinity, and might not con- 
tract two marriages at the same time 3 . 

It is possible, and indeed probable, that we should add yet 
another restriction to those in force at the death, in 395, of 
Theodosius the Great. One of the crimes of the patriarch 
Gamaliel, referred to in a law of 415, is that he had built new 
synagogues 4 , whereas the first surviving law prohibiting such 
building is of 423 s . It is evident, therefore, that an earlier 
law has been lost, and a reference in a work of Zeno, bishop 
of Verona, who died in 380, makes it probable that this law 
was anterior to this date 6 . On the other hand, the reference 
of Zeno (* if Jews or pagans were allowed, or if they wished, 
they might build more beautifully their synagogues and 
temples . . .') may only refer to a prohibition to alter the 
existing buildings. The Church was always jealous of 
especial beauty in a synagogue, and this may have been the 
first step in the attack. But some legislation was clearly in 
existence by the time at which Zeno wrote, and has now been 
lost, having been replaced by the later laws. 

* Ibid. 3.7.2 and 9.7.5. 

* C.J., 1.9.7; th e copy of the law in C.T. is lost. 
*C.T., 16.8.22. 

*Ibid. 16.8.25. 

6 Zeno, Tract^xiv; P.L.,XI, p. 354. For a discussion of the passage 
see Jusier, Vol. I, p. 469, n. 2. 



We should have a very false picture of the place of this 
legislation in the life of the times if we imagined it to be the 
attack of an otherwise homogeneous population upon an 
alien minority. That became the situation in the Middle 
Ages, but the fourth century was otherwise constituted. If 
the Jews were one thorn in the flesh of the Christian emperors , 
heretics (that is, Christians from whom they disagreed) were 
another. During two reigns, that of Constantius and Valens, 
the * Catholics ' were themselves * heretics ', though neither 
emperor seriously attacked them. It was a period of many 
different groupings, whose rival powers might change almost 
overnight, each occupied in using what secular power it 
possessed to oppress the other, and each indulging in 
anathema and excommunication when legislation failed. 

While this was but cold comfort to the Jew, and is but 
a poor justification for the Christian apologist, it enables 
us, looking at the century from a distance, to avoid seeing 
more definitely anti-Jewish tendencies in the legislation 
than actually existed. So far as abuse was concerned, Jews 
and heretics may be said to have fared equally badly. So 
far as the underlying implications of the abuse were concerned 
the heretic had the advantage. For it was more likely that 
he would bow to ecclesiastical anathema than that the Jew 
would accept baptism. In the matter of conciliar legislation, 
which was designed to preserve the purity of the Catholic 
fold, they were on an equal footing, for contact with a heretic 
was as polluting as contact with a Jew, and was punished 
with the same penalties. But in the secular legislation of the 
empire, the Jew had an advantage. For if the law took 
cognisance of the existence of a heresy, it could imperially 
forbid it to continue. But the Jewish community, so long 
as it avoided contact with Christians, was a lawful commun- 
ity, and had even to be protected. 

Certainly, so far as the fourth century is concerned, it was 
better to be a Jew than a heretic. Constantine passed a 
general law reserving the privileges extended to Christianity 
to Catholics, that is, adherents of Nicaea. Heretics were 
* diversis muneribus constringi et subici n , an instruction 

* C.T., 16.5.1. 


which allowed an infinity of torments to be applied by local 
spite or enthusiasm. Otherwise little was done to them until 
the time of Gratian, who simply forbade them to exist 1 . 
Theodosius, more practically, forbade them to hold any 
meetings, confiscated all their property, ordered their expul- 
sion from any city in which they tried to teach, forbade them 
to enter any church of the orthodox, and insisted on their 
restoring to the latter any sees which they held. Further, 
they were not to call themselves Christians, or to pretend 
that their views were true 2 . There are fourteen other laws 
affecting heretics which were issued by Theodosius the 
Great, varying in severity from the comparative mildness 
with which he treated, for example, the Eunomians, to his 
application of the death sentence to certain groups of Mani- 
chees 3 . At times the method of wholesale expulsion was 
applied to them, either from the capital cities of Constanti- 
nople or Rome, or from all the cities of the empire 4 . At other 
times a complete system of graduated fines was substituted 5 . 
The repetition of these laws proves their almost complete 
futility, but at any rate they show the anti- Jewish laws in 
their true perspective. They were dictated as much by 
general conceptions as by specific hatred of the Jews, and 
even showed the Jew to be less hated than the heretic. For 
the heretic was forbidden to hold meetings or to possess 
property. The Jew enjoyed the right to both. The heretic 
was frequently exiled. He was forbidden to make a will or 
to receive a legacy. These were penalties which could only 
affect the apostate to Judaism. The heretic could be put to 
death for being a heretic. The Jew could only be executed 
for some crime in relation to the non- Jewish community. 
The books of the heretics were burnt. The Torah of the Jew 
was a sacred book of the Church. In a word, the heretic 
could be forbidden to exist. The Jew could not. 

1 C.T., 16.54 and 5. 

2 Ibid. 16.5.6. 

3 Ibid. 16.5.8. 

*Ibid. 16.5.13 and 14. 
5 Ibid. 16.5.21. 



But if the Jew could not be forbidden to exist, and if the 
main purpose of both conciliar and secular legislation was to 
shut the Jews within the limits of their own community so 
far as religious matters were affected, and to remove their 
privileged position in so far as their civic rights and responsi- 
bilities were concerned, it was difficult to stop at this point. 
Inferiority and equality cannot be permanently combined. 
The equilibrium is bound to change in one direction or the 
other. Either it returns to equality, or it becomes increasingly 
inferior. Already the descriptions of the Jewish community 
in the laws betray the desire to punish and humiliate them. 
They are a ' feralis secta '; the law speaks of c turpitudo 
sua ', and * sua fiagitia '; their meetings are ' sacrilegi 
coetus *; to be converted is * Judaicis semet polluere con- 
tagiis '. To marry a Jew is equivalent to adultery, and to 
serve them an ' indigna servitude '. Moreover, the very 
inefficacity of the laws compelled the emperors to ever 
stricter rules and more violent threats. For the Jews did not 
easily accept this separation and confine themselves within 
their own community. Nor did the local Christian churches 
readily break off either social relations with Jews, or theo- 
logical connections with Judaism. 

And, on the other hand, the authorities found that it was 
not easy to persuade minor officials and enthusiastic bishops 
that these laws did not cover a tacit permission to go a good 
deal further. At the time of the death of Theodosius it is 
doubtful if the emperors intended to do more than had 
already been done. Ambrose might bully Theodosius into 
an illegal action. For it was an illegal action to deny to the 
Jews, a recognised religion of the empire, compensation for 
the attack made upon them. But in his legislation the 
emperor correctly protected them. Had the Jews shown any 
sign of accepting Christianity legislation might well have 
stopped at this point. But this was not even expected by the 
ecclesiastical leaders, who, in their continual denunciation 
of Jewish blindness, clearly expected the Jews to continue 
their flagitious path to destruction. It was, indeed, a theo- 
logical necessity that they should do so. While, therefore, 


it is convenient to make a break at the death of Theodosius, 
in 395, because the unity of the empire comes to an effective 
end at that point, and from then onwards legislation in east 
and west needs separate consideration, actually the path 
from Constantine to Justinian is a continuous one, and one 
marked by ever-increasing severity. 

This was inevitable, because the combination of pulpit 
rhetoric with official disapproval was bound gradually to 
produce an open hostility which could only be repressed by 
further legislation, now trying ineffectively to protect the 
Jews from the violence of the local clergy and officials, now 
designed to protect the local Christians from the resentment 
of the Jews. 

It is not possible to say of the fourth century that hostility 
was general. Rather the reverse is the case. But an added 
political or religious opposition might quickly bring it into 
existence. Later legend describes incidents in the reign of 
Constantine himself. A council is supposed to have been 
held before Constantine and Helena between Christian 
bishops and Jewish scribes and Pharisees from Palestine, 
which resulted in the discomfiture and condemnation of the 
latter by Pope Sylvester 1 . Constantine himself is said to have 
expelled all the Jews from the empire as a preliminary to 
the building of Constantinople 2 . Actually the first incidents 
date from the middle of the century, if we exclude the 
Jewish participation in the riots at Alexandria of the Arians 
against Athanasius 3 , which was really a political conflict 
where religion only played an incidental role. Athanasius, 
as Patriarch, was almost a sovereign prince, and was in 
addition an Egyptian Nationalist. The Egyptian party in 
Alexandria was always in opposition to the Jews and Greeks. 
Hence the sympathy of the latter with the Arians. Political 
also was the Jewish share in the persecution under Shapur II 
which led to the death of Simeon, Archbishop of Ctesiphon, 
and the trouble in Edessa in the time of Julian 4 . These two 

1 Ep, of Pope Hadrian to Charlemagne, see Mansi, Vol. II, p. 551. 

*Nestarian History, Ch. xix in P.O., IV, p. 281. 

8 See the vivid account in Athanasius, Ep. Encyc., para. 3 in P.G., 
XXV, p. 228. Similar events accompanied the installation of his suc- 
cessor, Theodoret, EccL Hist., IV, xviii, xix; P.G., LXXXII, pp. 1163 
and 1175. 

* Ckron. of Michael the Syrian, Bk. VII, Ch. v. 


are the first of many incidents which were the natural 
consequence of the repressive legislation of the Roman 
empire. The Jews lived at peace under the Sassanids, and 
the Jews living on the eastern frontiers of the empire were 
naturally and inevitably pro-Persian. At Edessa, trusting 
in the favour of Julian, they planned to rise and kill the 
Christians. But the latter, being informed of the plan, rose 
first and massacred the Jews. There was also a serious rising 
of the Jews of Diocaesarea in Palestine in 355. It came at a 
period following the repressive legislation of Constantine 
and Constantius, and may have been intensified by it, but 
its maui cause was a series of local incidents due to the 
oppressive rule of the Roman governor 1 . It ended as unfor- 
tunately for the Jews as did the events at Edessa. Diocaesarea 
was destroyed, and according to the Chronicle of Eusebttis 
other cities also 2 . 

Of more sinister import for the future were the attacks 
made upon the synagogues. The first recorded was made by 
Innocentius, bishop of Dertona in northern Italy, who died 
in 355. Under his rule * the Christians together with their 
bishop destroyed the synagogue, and erected a church on the 
site >3 . They seem also to have confiscated all the property 
of the Jews in the town. At a somewhat similar period the 
Christians also seized the Jewish synagogue at Tipasa in 
North Africa, and consecrated it as a church 4 . Thirty years 
later they did the same at Rome, and Ambrose considers it 
to have been the cause of the downfall of the usurper 
Maximius that he compelled the Christians to rebuild it, 
and thereby forfeited all the sympathy of the Christian 
inhabitants 5 . His own action when a synagogue at CalUnicum 
on the eastern frontier was destroyed has already been 
discussed. There is, thus, evidence from Italy, Africa and 
Asia of these destructions. In addition, Innocentius, who 
seems to have been exceptionally thorough, after destroying 

1 Graetz, Geschichte, Vol. II, p. 575. 

2 Socrates, Hist. EccL,II, xxxiii, in P.G.,LXVII; and Jerome, Chron. 
Euseb., AJ>. 356; P.L., XXVII, p. 501. 

3 Vita, edited from fragments of the life written by his deacon Celsus, 
in A.S., April, Vol. II, 483. 

4 Passio S. Salsae, in R.E.J., Vol. XLIV, p. 8. 

* Ambrose, Ep. t Bk. I, ad, para. 23; PX., XVI, p. 1 109. 


their synagogue, offered the Jews living in Dertona baptism 
or expulsion 1 . 

The Jews had a short period in which to take their revenge 
under Julian. It is difficult to say to what extent they availed 
themselves of it. That they play little part in the martyrdoms 
which took place during this time has been already shown. 
But Ambrose accuses them of having burnt down churches 
innumerable, two at Damascus, and others at Gaza, Ascalon, 
Beirut, and elsewhere; and also to have aided the pagans to 
burn the great church at Alexandria. But other writers do 
not confirm this accusation. Gregory of Nazianzen, who 
wrote two lengthy Orations over the heinous offences of the 
deceased emperor, mentions the church at Gaza, but not the 
Jewish share in its destruction. He only mentions the taunt 
flung at the Christians by Julian's encouragement of the re- 
building of the Temple 2 . He ascribes to the Jews 'inveterate 
hostility ' but does not specify its expression other than in 
this effort at rebuilding 3 . Theodoret of Cyr is also silent 
upon the point as are Socrates and Sozomen 4 . If Ambrose 
was not so obviously arguing an extremely bad, and indeed 
patently illegal cause, his affirmation would outweigh the 
silence of the others, but it is quite inadequate to stand alone, 
and while it is probable, indeed certain, that the Jews would 
share in the attacks of the pagans upon the Christians, it is 
difficult to assert that they took the initiative in such attacks. 

That the violence of the century was mostly on the 
Christian side is rendered more probable by the contrast 
between the protective legislation issued by Valentinian and 
Theodosius, and that issued by their successors in the fifth 
century. The earlier legislation is direct, and contains no 
counter charges of Jewish unrighteousness. In fact, none 
of the laws of the century can be said to refer to actual Jewish 
misdoings. The law prohibits that which was, up to the time 
of its passing, legal. It does not repress existing criminal 
behaviour. Until the end of the reign of Theodosius it 
would seem all to be directed towards the protection of the 

1 See note 3, page 187. 

* Oratio, iv and v; P.O., XXXV. See especially Chs. Ixxxvi ff., p. 616. 

3 Ibid. p. 668. 

4 Theodoret, EccL Hist., Bk. Ill; P.O., LXXXII. Socrates, Bk. Ill; 
P.O., LXVII; and Sozomen, Bk. V; P.G., LXVIL 


Jews from the officiousness of particular officials, rather than 
from the general violence of the Christian population. 
Valentinian forbids the billeting of troops in the synagogue 1 . 
Theodosius forbids the Prefect of Egypt to impose special 
burdens upon the Jews and Samaritans in connection with 
the duties of * navicularii \ who fulfilled the onerous and not 
very remunerative function of supplying the capitals with 
grain 2 . On another occasion he has to insist upon the internal 
liberty of the Jewish community against officials who were 
cancelling its excommunications 3 . His final law, addressed 
to the governor of the eastern provinces, implies a more 
general malaise, and is a presage of the continual trouble 
in the following century which arose especially from the 
turbulent Syrian monks. * It is sufficiently evident *, writes 
the emperor, c that the Jewish sect is not prohibited by any 
law. We are therefore seriously disquieted to learn that in 
certain places Jewish meetings have been prohibited. Your 
Excellency will, on the receipt of this order, restrain with 
suitable severity the excesses of those who under the name of 
the Christian religion are committing illegal actions, or 
attempting to destroy or ruin synagogues ' 4 . 


Though His Excellency and His Excellency's successors 
were to find this particular task an impossible one, and though 
so far this chapter has dealt almost exclusively with official 
or unofficial manifestations of hostility, it would be a mistake 
to assume that during this period all Christians and Jews 
hated each other. The canons of the councils and the 
violence of such as Chrysostom both have their origin in the 
friendly relations between local Jewish and Christian com- 
munities. Trouble, when it comes, comes clearly from the 
ecclesiastical or imperial authorities, and not from the 

1 C.T., 7.8.2. 

2 Ibid. 13.5.18. The whole of this section deals with the difficulties 
encountered in the maintenance of this essential service. 

3 Ibid. 1 6.8 .8. 
*Ibid. 16.8.9. 


populace. Jewish attacks are due to the particular and 
general political situation and not to any immediate hatred 
of their Christian neighbours. 

Happily, all Christians were not theologians, and in daily 
life Christianity was a different affair from a theological 
controversy. From this point of view the short reign of 
Julian has an interest beyond the number of churches which 
were burnt by Jews during the period. Though he was 
violently prejudiced against the Christians, and in the end 
disliked the Jews almost as much, yet he pays an involuntary 
tribute to both religions by his attitude towards paganism. 
The picture of fourth century Christianity given us in the 
polemic writings of the fathers and in their sermons, in the 
ecclesiastical historians, and in the canons of the councils is 
a singularly unattractive one. The posts of the empire 
continually disturbed by travelling bishops, the peace of the 
cities disturbed by perpetual wars between their rival 
partisans, mutual intolerance and extreme vindictiveness 
against individuals, such are the impressions gained by 
reading the lives of Athanasius, John Chrysostom and others. 
That Christianity did not so strike an outsider is shown by 
the form taken by Julian's effort to revive paganism. He is 
naturally sarcastic about these excesses, and he has no use for 
Christian theology, but he was obviously impressed by the 
moral force of Christianity in the life of the empire, by the 
charity of the Christians, by their religious devotion, by their 
orderly services, and by the faithful lives of their priests 1 . 
For it was just these virtues which he tried vainly to introduce 
into the dead bones of temple worship in order to make it 
more attractive than Christianity to the man in the street. 
As a theological force he could ignore it, as a moral and social 
force he found it invincible. Some aspects of Jewish 
theology also raised his anger, and he disliked their exclusive- 
ness. But the straightforward morality of the Jewish idea of 
God caused him to ask the Jews to pray for his reign, and in 
Judaism as much as in Christianity he admired their care 
for the poor 2 . 

Julian, unintentionally, allows us to see what the ordinary 
Christianity of the time was like, and we cannot be too 

1 See his letters to the different high priests whom he created. 
* Letters. Ed. Loeb Classics, Vol. I, p. 391, and Ep. 22. 


grateful to him for the picture. Unfortunately we have little 
detail for filling in a similar picture of Judaism in the Roman 
empire. The Talmud reflects such different conditions that 
it is difficult to quote. And the Talmudists themselves were 
more like the Christian theologians than the Christian laity. 
Their field of action might be different, but their method 
within the field was very similar to that of the Christians. 
To draw out of a text a meaning its author never meant to 
put into it, to allegorise, to split hairs and to hang intermin- 
able arguments from the slenderest thread was as common to 
the one as to the other 1 . But the problems facing the leaders 
were different from those facing the * man in the street ', 
Jew or Christian, and in daily life the two monotheists must 
still have found much in common in the face of a not-yet- 
dead pagan world. At this period it is doubtful if the stories 
of the Sepher Toldoth Jeshu were more believed than the 
fantasies of the Christian pulpit. 

Naturally the pictures we get in Christian writings of 
contemporary Jewish life are not complimentary. Jerome 
denounces them several times for their love of money 2 and 
for their immoderate love of food 3 . Chromatius, bishop of 
Aquileia 4 , and others denounce them for their c pessima 
licentia '. But as with the sermons of Chrysostom, so here 
it is dangerous to take these accusations at their face value. 
There is too often an apposite quotation from the prophets 
to prove it. Jerome's denunciations rest indeed on consider- 
able knowledge of living Jews, but we need to know what he, 
with his extreme views of asceticism, would consider 
immoderate eating. He couples together the Jews and 
Romans as the two most avaricious peoples in the world, 
whereas the accusation against the Romans is more often 
lavish spending than avarice. In any case, none of his 
accusations against either equal his attack on the Syrians 5 . 

Ambrose warns his people that they must * avoid contacts 
with Gentiles and also with Jews, conversation with whom is 

1 Cf, the description of the principles of eastern monasticism, Ch. 
VIII, Section II, tnfra. 

Jerome, On Isaiah y ii, 8. Preface to Hosea, P.L., XXIV, p. 49; 
XXV, p. 855. 

Ibid. y also Ep. CXXI; P.L., XXII, p. 1006. 

* Chromatius, In Evan. S. Matt., Tract X; P.L., XX, 351 - 

* Jerome, On Ezekid, XXVII, 16; PX., XXV, p. 266 ff. 


an extreme pollution. For they insinuate themselves among 
people, penetrate houses, get into the courts, disturb the 
ears of judges and others, and get on all the better for their 
impudence. Nor is this a recent failing of theirs, but an 
inveterate and original evil. For of old they persecuted the 
Lord and Saviour in the Roman Court n . 

As to Jewish occupations, we hear casually that Hilarion 
in his wanderings was recognised by a Jewish hawker of old 
clothes 2 . We hear of Jewish sorcery 3 . There is in Pusey 
House, Oxford, the tombstone of a Jewish sausage-seller. 
References such as these, and the occasional expressions of 
dislike, would be impressive if they were all we heard of the 
Jews at this time. They would at least be straws showing the 
direction of the current, and we might be justified in describ- 
ing the Jews as a people of hawkers, wandering magicians, 
and sausage sellers, with the unpleasant personal habits of 
gluttony, avarice and pushfulness. 

But they are not the only references. There is no single 
writer of the century who did not devote much of his time to 
the Jews and their misdeeds, and in this mass of literature 
references to living examples are so few, and often so con- 
tradictory, as to suggest that there was nothing abnormal in 
the people referred to. The apt illustration from daily life 
is too frequently missing. Jerome refers to their avarice, 
but there is complete silence about the Jews in the many 
sermons on usury 4 . A striking example is a sermon of 
Gaudentius on avarice and the neglect of the poor 5 . He 
takes as his text Judas Iscariot: the Jews are frequently 
compared to Judas Iscariot. It is a commonplace 6 , to be made 
still more common in the era of popular religious drama. 
But in the whole sermon he never connects Judas in this 
capacity with contemporary Jews. Arguments could be 
multiplied in this sense to show that it is only by special 

1 Ambrose, Sermo VII; P.L., XVII, p. 618. The allusion would be 
more impressive without the additional text. 

2 Jerome, Vita Hilarionis, xxxviii; P.L., XXIII, p. 48. 

3 Cf. the article in R.E.J., Vol. XLIV, on the Jews in Africa. 

4 E.g. Basil, Homily on Ps. xiw> Ambrose, De Tobia-, Gregory of Nyssa, 
Contra Usurarios; Salvianus of Marseilles, De Avaritia, Libri IV; etc. 

6 Sermo xiii, P.L., XX, 933. 

6 E.g. Jerome On Ps. cvui; P.L., XXVI, p. 1224. 


pleading that a case can be made out for any abnormal 
characteristics in the Jews of the fourth century. 

Accusations frequently made in generalisations are singu- 
larly lacking when precise conditions are being described, 
and, on the other hand, the Jews would be an abnormal 
people if they showed no sign of contemporary vices what- 
ever. They burned down churches during the reign of Julian, 
according to Ambrose, and were not punished for it. Chris- 
tians burned down synagogues and went equally unpunished. 
They were riotous in Alexandria. The Christians, led by 
Cyril, in the next century paid them back in their own coin 
with usurious rates of interest. They were exclusive, and did 
not mix with people outside their own group. This was 
abnormal in pagan Rome, but in Christian Rome everyone 
did the same. Contacts with Jews are not more violently 
forbidden than contacts with heretics, and it may be added 
that the crimes alleged against Jews are no greater than those 
alleged against heretics. So far as the common people are 
concerned, it is indeed questionable whether any of these pro- 
hibitions succeeded in securing their objects. Their frequent 
repetition in the next century suggests their ineffectiveness. 

In fact, it may well be suggested that in this century alone 
the Jew lived in natural contact with his surroundings, 
neither the abnormal monotheist of pagan days, nor yet the 
outcast of later generations. A picture of continuous local 
hostility, such as the historians or Church Fathers might sug- 
gest, is not borne out by any facts that we know of the lives 
of ordinary men. Alexander the sausage seller, the unknown 
rag merchant, Theodosius the local rabbi 1 , probably lived 
on excellent terms throughout their uneventful lives with 
Philip the orthodox silversmith, Callistus the Arian, and 
the rest of their different communities in just the same way 
as Augustine, Ambrose, and the leaders of Christian ortho- 
doxy seem to have maintained friendly relations with the 
leaders of pagan Rome, in spite of their religious conviction 
that the latter would ultimately be damned 2 . 

It is easier to realise that such must have been the situation 
when we remember that the victories of Rabbinism and 

1 Arabic History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, P.O., I, 122. 

2 See Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire, Dill, 
Bk. II, Ch. iv. 


Catholicism were not at that time assured. In the light of 
subsequent history we can accurately state that the events 
of the fourth century made these victories inevitable. But, 
if these two stood over against each other in sharp contrast, 
they were not the only respectable faiths of their time. Prac- 
tising believers were to be found along the whole of the line 
from the one to the other, fading into each other by such 
subtleties of metaphysic or similarities of practice that it 
would really have been difficult to tell with assurance the 
dividing lines. There were observing Jews who believed 
that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. 
There were Gentiles who called themselves not merely 
* Israelites ', but who adopted the title * Jew '. There were 
Christians who observed the Law, even circumcision, and 
others whose interpretation of the person of Christ was 
consistent with the current Gentile interpretation of what 
the Jew meant by the unity of God. When Theodosius 
imperially forbade heresy to exist, he had to address 
the * Arians, Macedonians, Pneumatomachi, Apollinarians, 
Novatians, Sabbatians, Eunomians, Tetradites or Tessares- 
caedecatites, Valentinians, Papianists, Montanists, Pris- 
cillianists, Phrygians, Pepuzites, Marcianists, Borborians, 
Messalians, Eutychites, Enthusiasts, Donatists, Audians, 
Hydroparastates, Batrachites, Tascodrogites, Hermeiecians, 
Photinians, Paulians, Marcellians, Ophites, Encratites, 
Apotactites, Saccophorians, and the perfectly appalling 
Manichees '*. And even so he left out the Sampseans, the 
Ebionites, and the Nazarenes. Conformity did not come 
about in a single century, and the heretics of the fourth 
century were probably as respectable as those of the twen- 
tieth. In spite of the collapse of the empire, which every 
decade made more evident, human life must have gone on 
for most people in its daily relations. And it is to be ques- 
tioned whether the excommunications of individuals or 
councils really always affected the local respect in which the 
excommunicated person was held. It was a quick-tempered 
period, but not necessarily a period in which personal worth, 
whether in Jew, Christian or heretic, counted for nothing. 

Literature leaves us only the lives and works of those who 
were proclaimed right, or those whom it took centuries to 

i Cod. Jto., I, 5, 5- 


discover wrong such as Origen. It gives us a picture of 
disputing rabbis, travelling bishops, and rabid monks. But 
not every man, in the words of Basil, * folded up his stomach 
for want of use ', and in the provinces at least the empire 
could not afford to forgo the public service of Jews and 
heretics, and make orthodoxy the condition of tax-paying. 
When that period did come, it is to be presumed that the 
number of heretics was much fewer, and the standard of 
statesmanship equally lower. Until then, in all the normal 
contacts of life, all kinds of opinion lived, ate, paid taxes, and 
worked together. 




Most of the source material for this chapter is adequately 
given in the footnotes. This is not the place for a general 
bibliography of the conditions which attended the collapse 
of the western empire. A very extensive bibliography will 
be found in the work of Lot. Special studies of this period 
are few. The early chapters of Vogelstein and Rieger natur- 
ally contain detailed studies of the letters of Gregory and 
the attitude of the papacy. For the somewhat lengthy letters 
of Cassiodorus the work of Hodgkin, half translation and 
half resume, is valuable. For the letters of Gregory the 
edition of Ewald and Hartmann in M.G.H. is much better 
than that of Migne, but the numbering of both are given in 
the notes. 



DOPSCH, ALFONSO Wirtschaftliche und Soziale Grund- 
lagen der Europaischen Kulturent- 
wicklung aus der Zeit von Caser bis 
auf Karl den Grossen. Wien, 1920- 

EWALD, P., and The Letters of Gregory the Great. 

HARTMANN, L. M. M.G.H. 4. Ep. I, i, 1891. 

HODGKIN, T. The Letters of Cassiodorus. Frowde, 


HOMES-DUDDEN, F. Gregory the Great. Longmans, 1905. 

LOT, FERDINAND La Fin du Monde Antique et les 

Debuts du Moyen Age. Paris, 1927. 

VOGELSTEIN, H., and Geschichte der Juden in Rom. Berlin, 
RIEGER, P. 1896. 



With the death of Theodosius the Great the division of the 
empire became permanent, although there are cases in which 
laws passed at Constantinople are applied in the west. As 
time went on the situation in the west clearly differentiated 
itself from that in the east. The condition of the Jews was 
sometimes better in the one, and sometimes in the other. 
But, strangely enough, the great event of the fifth century 
left them almost entirely untouched. The invasion of Italy, 
and the overrunning of western Europe by various barbarian 
peoples did not affect their legal status. They continued to 
be Roman citizens, and the edicts of the emperors, as 
embodied in the Theodosian Code, were carried out by the 
barbarian kings and the episcopal and ecclesiastical authori- 
ties. Such was the case when Italy was ruled by the Ostro- 
goth Theodoric, and it had not altered later in the days of 
Gregory the Great. For both, the Jews were Roman citizens. 
In the last shreds of the Theodosian Code, contained in the 
Lex Romana Raetica Curiensis, they are still included. 

The period is marked throughout by one consistent 
characteristic. In so far as popular feelings were concerned 
there might be ups and downs. In so far as legislation was 
concerned, a right once lost was never permanently regained. 
The restrictions were continually reinforced. The path 
towards their mediaeval position and the mediaeval ghetto 
was followed relentlessly and without deviation. The Theo- 
dosian Code embodied the maximum of their rights. Law- 
lessness and ecclesiastical enthusiasm from time to time 
encroached thereon, but it never cancelled any provision in 
a manner favourable to them. In the end all the different 
systems under which they lived ( finished under the influence 
of the Church by considering the Jews ethnically as strangers, 
and religiously as unbelievers, and in this capacity persons 
deprived of civil rights, and subject to special restrictions * 1 . 

The same situation existed in the kingdoms of the Franks 
and Visigoths. Beginning with the Theodosian Code in a 
shortened adaptation, they added further restrictions of their 
own. And side by side with the law-makers of Church and 

J Juster, op. cit. t II, 27. 


State, the theologians continued their conventional utterances 
on Jewish obliquity, supported still by references to Moses 
and the prophets rather than to any actual malignity of 
contemporary Jews. 


The successors of Theodosius were his two sons. Arcadms 
ruled the eastern portion of the empire from Constantinople, 
and Honorius the western from different centres of northern 
Italy. At first the main problem of the former was the 
preservation of the Jews against over-zealous officials, and 
of the latter the securing of curial service from the Jews. 
It is clear that Honorius was in need of money, for he com- 
plains bitterly that * Jewish citizens of various ranks are 
wandering about in southern Italy ', and are ' under the 
delusion that by some law or other of the eastern provinces 
they are freed from the obligation of their public charges '. 
So far as the western provinces were concerned this law did 
not exist, for, says Honorius, if it did exist it would be 
ruinous to public finances 1 . This class was not allowed free- 
dom of movement, and the Jews were consequently ordered 
to return forthwith to their own cities and to resume their 
duties. Not content with this, in the following year, 399, he 
boldly appropriated the whole of the money which was 
normally sent by the Jews to Jerusalem, and addressed the 
Patriarch in opprobrious terms as the * ravager of the Jews '. 
This action, coming from the west, marks clearly the division 
of the empire. Honorius felt that such sums were being paid 
to a foreign province, and he expected the Jews of Italy to 
feel the same, for he announced that he had ' preserved 
them from this exaction' 2 . In this latter feeling he was dis- 
illusioned, for we find him, five years later, in 404, again 
allowing the sums to be sent 3 . 

In this same year appears for the first time a prohibition 
which extends down to the nineteenth century, and has 
reappeared in National Socialist Germany in 1933. Anatural 

1 C.T., 12.1.157 and 158. 
2 Ibid. 16.8.14. 
*Ibid. 16.8.17. 


consequence of the abolition of sacrifice on the part of public 
officials was the entry of Jews into public functions. During 
the fourth century no objection had been made to this, but 
the more rigid orthodoxy of the fifth saw in such action on 
the part of either Jews or heretics an insult to the majesty 
of the empire. Honorius began with a simple prohibition: 
' Jews and Samaritans who are deluding themselves with 
the privileges of imperial executive officers are to be de- 
prived of all military and court rank n . This prohibition 
proving both inadequate and unjust, a more comprehensive 
edict was issued some years later. Those who were already 
occupied with official functions were to be allowed to com- 
plete their term of service and to retire with the usual 
pension this concession to be considered a special privilege, 
and not to be repeated. Nor was it to be applicable to 
military service. Any Jew in the army was to be immediately 
degraded. On the other hand, they might practise as lawyers 
and enjoy the doubtful privilege of the * honour * of curial 
responsibility. In words reminiscent of the utterances of 
modern antisemitic polemists, he added * these things ought 
to be enough for them, and they ought not to take their 
exclusion from government service as a slur * 2 . 

Though, then as now, it is difficult to see in what other 
way such an exclusion can be taken, it appears from the 
general tenor of the legislation of Honorius that, for his 
time, he can only be considered friendly towards the Jews. 
One of his motives may well have been his desire to leave 
his hands free to deal with the barbarians whose invasions of 
Italy culminated during his reign in the capture of Rome. 
Another may have been the economic collapse of Italy which 
was proceeding apace, and his unwillingness to forego any 
possible advantages from Jewish industry. But, whatever 
the causes, there is considerably less virulence in his attitude 
to the Jews than in that of his eastern contemporary Arcadius, 
and in view of the fact that the western empire was at this 
time suffering even more than the eastern, it should be 
counted to him for righteousness. 

The attitude which he took is made particularly clear by 
the legislation on the question of sanctuary, which was 

iC.T., 16.8.16. 
*Ibid. 16.8.24. 


passed in both sections of the empire in the beginning of the 
fifth century. In normal conditions the violation of sanctuary 
was considered as the crime of lese majeste 1 -. But the reigns 
of Honorius and Arcadius were not normal. The economic 
distress of the empire forced Arcadius to permit the violation 
of sanctuary in the case of Jews who fled thither for the 
purpose of avoiding their debts or charges 2 . For a short 
period even Christians taking sanctuary from the same 
motives might meet similar treatment 3 . Honorius, while 
recognising the influence of economic distress on the flight 
of Jews to sanctuary and to Christianity, allowed them, even 
when converted, to return without any penalty to Judaism 4 , 
an attitude in extraordinary contrast to the prevailing views 
of the period, as seen in conciliar and secular legislation. 

The flight of the Jews to sanctuary and to Christianity 
is not the only evidence of the difficult economic situation 
at this period 5 . Honorius also took the unique step of 
revoking the consistent policy of Christian imperial legisla- 
tion in the matter of slaves. He allowed them Christian 
slaves provided that the master did not interfere with the 
slave's religion. This the master was simply forbidden to 
do, no penalty being attached. Any interference in their 
possession of such slaves, however, was to be severely 
punished 6 . 

Of more interest for this study are the three laws which 
were promulgated in Africa in the years 408 and 409. At 
this period Augustine was engaged in his long battle with 
the Donatists, a group which, for violence, rivalled the 
eastern monks. The Jews are only incidental to the imperial 
attempt to suppress them, but it appears that Jews had taken 
part in their attacks upon Catholic churches and their ser- 
vices. That this was not a large part is probable. For 
Augustine devotes a considerable number of his works to his 
defence against the Donatists, and remains silent on a Jewish 

1 Cf. C.J., I.I2.2. 

2 C.T., 945.2. 
*Ibid. 9-45-4- 
4 /&w?, 16.8.23. 

5 An interesting study of the economic collapse of Rome is to be 
found in Genseric t Roi des Vandales t by E.-F. Gautier, Paris, 1932. 

C.T., 16.9.3. 


share in their outrages. But this silence, while it may 
temper, cannot contradict the positive evidence of a twice 
repeated law 1 . Together with the Donatists there appeared 
at this time in Africa other heretics who involved the 
Jews, the ' Caelicoli '. Beyond the references to them in the 
law of Honorius, we are entirely ignorant of the nature and 
beliefs of this group. They were clearly a * Judaising ' group, 
for they * tried to force certain Christians to adopt the foul 
and degrading name of Jew ' 2 . Possibly they should be 
connected with two other references. A council of Carthage, 
possibly the fourth, expelled from the Church ' those using 
auguries and incantations, and those clinging to Jewish 
superstitions and festivals '. The law mentions the second of 
these crimes, and the name of the sect, * Caelicoli ', suggests 
the first 3 . The other reference is to be found in a letter of 
Augustine 4 , where he refers to Christians who call them- 
selves * Jews ', and says that though Christians are the * true 
Israel ', they should not use this name. Whatever their 
tenets, the sect is given one year to cease to exist and 
apparently it took the unique course of doing so, for it is never 
heard of again, except as part of the title of the chapter of the 
Theodosian Code dealing with ' Jews, Samaritans and 
Caelicoli ' 5 . 

There is thus certain evidence that the Jews were a social 
and religious danger to the Christians in Africa. There is 
even clearer evidence that the Christians were a danger to 
the Jews. Though the lawlessness of the eastern provinces 
was not equalled, so far as we know, by anything happening 
in the west, Honorius issued edicts to protect both the 
sanctity of the Sabbath 6 and the security of the synagogues 7 ; 
a clear sign that both had been violated. 

We possess a lengthy narrative from Severus, bishop of 
Majorca, describing just such events in the island of Minorca 

1 C.T., 16.544 and 46. 
*Ibid. 16.8.19. 

8 Carthage IV, Can. 89, in Mansi, III, p. 958. 
4 Augustine, Ep., 196; P.L., XXXIII, iii, p. 894. 
a For an ingenious theory as to their beliefs see the discussion of 
Gothofredus on this law in his edition of the Code. 

C.T., 8.8,8 and 2.8.26. 
7 Ibid. 16.8.20. 


in 4I8 1 . The narrative is contained in a letter addressed to 
* their most holy and blessed lordships the bishops, pres- 
byters and deacons of the whole world '. The narrative 
has always been taken as a genuine but coloured account of 
the actual events by the bishop himself, but it would seem 
possible that the c colouring * is more extensive than is 
usually admitted. The chief convert among the Jews was 
Theodoras, who occupied the position of ' defensor ' or 
mayor of Magona in Minorca. The event is supposed to take 
place in 418, but in 409 an edict was issued in Ravenna 
ordering that * defensores ' should be chosen by the clergy, 
and only from the orthodox 2 . It is, of course, possible that 
the law had not reached so obscure a city in nine years, but 
it is also a feature of apocryphal documents to give lofty 
titles to their actors. The narrative also contains a con- 
siderable amount of that kind of miracle which has neither 
a psychological nor a moral probability. The other town of 
the island, for example, had a miraculous divine privilege, 
by which it was immune from the presence of snakes, 
wolves, foxes and Jews, and though it had scorpions, these 
were of a heavenly variety which did not sting. If any Jews 
entered the town and were removed neither by mysterious 
sickness nor by the inhabitants, their elimination was under- 
taken by divine thunderbolts. 

The first cause of the events which the bishop narrates 
was the arrival in the island of a deacon from Jerusalem who 
came with the relics of Saint Stephen which were to be 
transported to Spain. But his voyage was interrupted by 
the invasion of the Vandals into that country. According 
to the usual accounts, the first translation of Saint Stephen 
took place in the fourth century, to Byzantium, and there is 
no record other than this letter of a subsequent translation 
to Spain, an event in itself exceedingly unlikely in view of 
the political situation. 

The presence, however, of these relics stirs up the popula- 
tion to a solution of the Jewish question. The Jews, alarmed, 
recall Theodore from Majorca, whither affairs had called 
him. He tries in vain to quiet matters down. The Christians 
insist on a disputation, but when the time comes only accuse 

1 Epistola dejfadaeis, P.L., XX, p. 731. 
*C.J., 1.55.8. 


the Jews of piling up weapons in the synagogue. This the 
Jews deny, and Severus demands ocular proof. Leading his 
followers to the synagogue, he is the object of a hostile 
demonstration from some Jewish women. Introducing, 
perhaps unnecessarily, the miraculous, he explains that no 
one was hit. The Christians retaliated with similar results, 
for the Jewish women had, presumably, retired. Arriving 
at the synagogue, and forgetting the motive which had led 
him there, he sets fire to it and destroys everything in it 
except the silver, which he returns to the Jews, and the 
books which he keeps to ' preserve from Jewish defilement *. 

The despair and confusion of the Jewish population are 
painted with considerable power, but consisting as it does 
largely of dreams and visions, internal feelings and private 
conversations, it is clearly of the romantic rather than of the 
eye-witness school of writing. In the end all the Jews are 
baptised, and the letter is written to appraise the world of 
this example of grace. The victory is due to a combination 
of miracle with the tactics of the Ephesians, continuous 
shouting, and is not apparently due to the power of either the 
oratory or the lives of the Christians. While thus the 
narrative is clearly unreliable, it is probable that the two 
main facts, the burning of the synagogue and the forced(?) 
baptism of the Jews, really took place. For both of these 
events are in the spirit of the times as also is the inaccurate 
reporting of them. 

Valentinian III repeated the law by which Jews could 
not hold office, and added the reason that he did not wish 
Christians to serve such persons, * lest by their office they 
found occasion to corrupt the venerable Christian faith >x . 
In addition he enacted one further law which is of con- 
siderable importance 2 : 

If the son or daughter or grandchild, singly or together, 
of a Jew or Samaritan, shall on better thoughts leave the 
shadows of his own superstition for the light of the 
Christian religion, it shall not be lawful for his parents or 
grandparents to disinherit him or to pass him over in their 
will or to leave him less than he would have received if 

: Const. Sirm.y vi fin. 

2 C.T., 16.8.28. Cf. Juster, Vol. II, pp. 90-91. 


they had died intestate. If they do so, we order that he 
shall succeed to the inheritance as though it was a case 
of intestacy, and the will shall be null, except for the 
manumissions (up to the legal maximum) which it may 
contain, and which shall retain their validity. 

If it shall be proved that such children or grandchildren 
have committed serious offences against their parents or 
grandparents, while the latter have legal means of taking 
revenge if the accusation shall have in the meantime been 
brought to trial, yet they shall in their will both attach 
credible and clear documentary evidence (of these crimes) 
and shall leave them only the Falcidian quarter of the 
succession which should have been theirs. This seems to 
be due to the children or grandchildren in honour of the 
religion which they have chosen though, as we have said, 
they will also be punished if any charge against them be 

Such a law is evidence that even when a purely political or 
social right is in question the influence affecting it is religious. 
Neither in this case nor in the case of Jewish officials do we 
possess any evidence which would otherwise justify such 
extraordinary action. 


The fact that by the time of the passage of these laws the 
effective rule in Italy had passed to the barbarians did not 
affect the situation, and in 438 the whole of the Theodosian 
Code became valid for the west, and introduced into these 
provinces the laws of Arcadius and Theodosius II, both of 
whom had passed more anti-Jewish legislation than their 
western colleagues 1 . The barbarians themselves, and the 
shadow emperors still ruling at Ravenna, had little time to 
introduce new laws; no councils dealt with them; and we 
know little of how the Jews fared during the rest of the fifth 
century. But in 493 Theodoric the Ostrogoth, an Arian, 
conquered Italy and extended his dominion over the 
Visigoths of Provence and Northern Spain. 

1 For this legislation see Ch. VII. 


Theodoric has left a consistent record behind him of 
justice in his treatment of all his Roman subjects. Though 
he was himself an Arian, he would not allow the Jews to 
encroach on the Catholics. If he never ceased to remind 
them (though the inspiration may come rather from his 
minister Cassiodorus than himself) that they had erred from 
the true religion, yet his real attitude is summed up in his 
determination to preserve the ancient usages: ' As to the 
Jews, let the privileges they enjoy be preserved and let them 
preserve their own judges J1 . That this was no theoretical 
or unnecessary statement is shown by the actual cases with 
which he had to deal, which were all connected with violence 
of some kind between Jews and Christians. Both in Ravenna 
and Rome synagogues had been burnt, and complaints made 
to the king, who ordered justice to be done. In Ravenna the 
trouble had apparently started from some forced baptisms, 
which had led the Jews into ridiculing Christianity 2 . The 
Christians then rose and burnt the synagogue, and the Jews 
rapidly complained to the king at Verona. Theodoric ordered 

1 Edictum, Cap. 143. 

* Anonymus Valesianus, XVI, 80; M.G Jft., 4to, Vol. IX, i; Ckron. Min, t 
p. 326. The possibilities of the growth of legend even in modern scholar- 
ship are well illustrated by this story. Dr Homes Dudden in Gregory the 
Great, Vol. II, p. 152, by a happy transposition says that the Jews of 
Ravenna were in the habit of throwing baptised persons into the river, 
and making a mockery of the Eucharist. M. DemouJin in the Cambridge 
Modern History , says that it was the Jews who were flung in the river by 
the Christians (Vol. I, 453). The next stage of the legend should be 
a complaint from the Congested Rivers Board. The sentence in question 
runs: * quare Judaei baptizatos nolentes dumludunt frequenter oblatam in 
acquam fluminisjactaverunt *. The phrase ' baptizatos nolentes 'for ' bapti- 
zatos esse nolentes ' or ' baptizati (os) contra suam voluntatem ' is almost 
impossible even in late Latin. Moreover, t oblatam J did not then mean 
the Eucharist, but the bread which has been blessed but not used for the 
Eucharist. It would seem necessary to suppose a corruption, either of 
' baptizari nolentes ' or ' baptizati violenter '. The latter is more prob- 
able* for it provides the only explanation of how the Jews obtained access 
to the * oblata '. It is impossible to consider this a * profanation of the 
Host ', an accusation which does not occur until centuries later, and if 
this is excluded, there seems no reason for making a special point of 
stealing so unimportant a piece of Christian ritual as the * oblata '. The 
most probable sequence would then be this. The Jews had been baptised 
against their will. After the ceremony they had received pieces of blessed 
bread. To show their contempt for the whole proceeding, they marched 
together (* frequenter *) to the river and threw it in. As against the transla- 
tion of Dr Dudden, it may be added that not only does * oblata ' not mean 
Eucharist, but * baptizatos * is never used for ordinary Christians, but 
only for people like the Jews, who were normally not baptised. 


the Roman population of Ravenna to rebuild the synagogue, 
and those who were too poor to be flogged instead. The 
affair at Rome, which also led to the burning of a synagogue, 
was more complicated. Cassiodorus is not easy to interpret, 
but slaves had murdered their master, and somehow a riot 
followed their condemnation. Presumably, in defiance of the 
law, the slaves were Christian ; otherwise it is difficult to see 
how the crowd came into the matter. Something, however, 
roused them, and the mob burnt the synagogue. Theodoric 
reproved the Senate that in Rome of all places such ' levitas * 
should take place, and ordered them to make a careful enquiry 
into both the burning and the alleged malpractices of the 
Jews, and to do justice 1 . Theodoric also wrote to Rome on 
a question affecting a Samaritan synagogue. It was alleged 
that Pope Simplicius had bought a property on which a 
synagogue had stood, and had thereby deprived them of it. 
Theodoric again ordered an impartial enquiry to be made, 
with a view, presumably, to its restoration to the Samaritans, 
if it had contained one of their religious buildings 2 . Here 
Theodoric was showing himself milder than the Theodosian 
Code, which neither made reciprocal allowance for the 
return of buildings of other religions bought by Catholics, 
nor allowed any toleration to the Samaritans in particular. 

The Jews of Genoa and Milan also turned to him for 
protection against the violation of their rights, and again his 
attitude reveals his veneration for the Romans whose rule 
he had replaced. To the Jews of Milan he writes that for the 
preservation of * Civilitas * the benefits of justice are not to 
be denied even to those * who are erring from the right way 
in matters of faith '. He forbids any ecclesiastic to meddle 
with their rights and, at the same time, forbids them to do 
anything * incivile ' against the Church. Then, lest the spirit 
of Ambrose should rise and haunt him, this Arian monarch 
adds: * But why, O Jew, do you seek in your petition for 
earthly quiet, when you are not able to find eternal quiet? ' 3 

To the Jews of Genoa he writes: * we gladly accede to your 
request that all the privileges which the foresight of antiquity 
conferred upon the Jewish customs shall be renewed to you; 

1 Cassiodorus Varia, IV, 43; P.L., LXIX, p. 636. 
*Ibid. Ill, 46; p. 600. 


for in truth it is our great desire that the laws of the ancients 
shall be kept in force, to secure the reverence due to 
ourselves n . But that he did not wish to go beyond 
the law is shown by the fact that he would not allow this 
same community to do more than roof in the ruins of their 
old synagogue, and that he expressly forbade them to enlarge 
it 2 . It is in this letter that, after protesting against their 
errors of faith, he adds the famous sentence that he grants 
the permission because * we are not able to command 
religion, for no one is compelled unwillingly to believe ' a 
sentiment not always shared by his Catholic contemporaries. 
Though this reflects truly enough the attitude of the Gothic 
sovereigns, yet it is possible, even probable, that this mildness 
is due to the influence of his Catholic secretary Cassiodorus, 
for it is very similar to that shown in the commentaries of 
which he was the author 3 . Not unnaturally the Jews were 
loyal to the Ostrogoths, and when Belisarius besieged 
Naples in 536 the Jews were amongst the firmest opponents 
to the idea of surrender, and, when the city was taken, the 
last to resist 4 . 


Of the Jews under the Lombards, who invaded Italy in the 
second half of the sixth century, little is known. It is prob- 
ably a case of * happy the people that has no history \ though 
once the Lombards became Catholics, matters may have 
changed, for there is one record of forced conversion or 
execution at the end of the seventh century 5 . In general they 
still lived under a rough version of the Theodosian Code, for 
another edition of that Code was produced at the end of the 
eighth century, and contains in barbaric Latin a summary of 
their status. * Those who were accustomed to consider them- 
selves Romans * were to keep their internal autonomy, 

1 Cass. Var. t IV, 33; PL.. LXIX., p. 630. 

* Ibid. II, 27; ibid. p. 561. 

3 See Cass., Expositio in Psalteriitm, Pss. 49 and 81, in each case the 
conclusio. P.L., LXX, pp. 357 and 595. 

* Procopius, History of the Wars, V, 8, 9, 10. 

* Carmen de Synodo Ticmensi, M.G.H., 4to, Scrip. Rerum Langobard., 


liough they were to use Christian judges in mixed cases 1 . 
The old prohibitions with regard to intermarriage and the 
owning or purchase of Christian slaves were naturally 
retained 2 . 


The Lombards formed no united kingdom in Italy, and left 
the * patrimony of Saint Peter ', the nucleus of the papal 
States, independent. The Popes thus became important 
Italian princes. During the earlier centuries it is not 
possible to ascribe to them any particular attitude to the 
Jews. If a Pope was a writer, nothing in particular dis- 
tinguished his views from those of others. In conciliar and 
imperial legislation it is not possible to attribute to them any 
special role. But a different situation arises once the Popes 
become secular potentates ruling in Rome over a more or 
less defined territory. They also stand in a very different 
position of authority towards the new kingdoms of the 
west from that which they were able to occupy towards 
the old empire. As long as the empire lasted they were 
occupied with purely religious questions, and, when legisla- 
tion was necessary, it was the emperor who legislated. But 
when ecclesiastical councils began to assume the function 
of legislator, when bishops, by their education and under- 
standing, or by their influence over princelings, came to 
exercise authority in their dioceses, it was natural that the 
papacy also should play a part in the political life of the 
west where it touched the interests of the Church. 

In the period in which most of the barbarians were still 
Arians, it is often said that the Catholics were always 
intolerant, but just as mediaeval history shows us many 
examples of Popes far in advance of their clergy in toleration 
and humanity, so the first Pope of whose attitude to the Jews 
we have full information, Gregory the Great, shows an 
attitude of firmness and, at the same time, justice which, in 
view of the age in which he lived, is far removed from 
intolerance. More than eight hundred letters of this Pope 
still exist, and over twenty deal with matters affecting the 

1 Lex Romano. Raetica Curiensis, 2.1.8. M.G.H., folio, Leg. V, 313. 
*Ibid. 3.1.5 and 3.7.2. 


Jews. At that time (the end of the sixth century) his 
authority over all the churches of western Christendom was 
but vaguely established, but his patriarchal authority over 
the region which corresponded to the jurisdiction of the 
former Vicarius Urbis was quite definite. Outside this 
territory, which included large portions of central and south- 
ern Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia, it 
depended largely on the moral influence of the individual 
Pope. With Gregory it was naturally considerable. Within 
his patrimony we find him dealing with every kind of ques- 
tion, not merely ecclesiastical, but economic and military. 
He lived at a time when Italy was going through a period of 
acute distress. The Lombards were in possession of large 
sections of the country, and Gregory will break off another 
subject in a letter to advise a bishop to look well to the 
fortifications and provisioning of his town in case there is 
an attack from these enemies. He negotiates himself for 
peace with the Lombard kings, and advises the Exarch of 
Ravenna on the policy to adopt towards them. 

Gregory was ever ready to listen to just complaints brought 
to him, and many of his letters on Jewish questions begin 
by telling the recipient that Roman Jews or Jews coming to 
Rome have brought him a complaint of their treatment in 
the recipient's city. His main interest on the Papal patrimony 
was their conversion, and he sends several letters of instruc- 
tion to his Sicilian representative laying down his views on 
the subject. Of forced conversion he expresses his strongest 
disapproval, and he writes to the bishops of Marseilles and 
Aries, telling them of the complaints he has received from 
Jewish merchants coming from Marseilles to Rome, that 
Jews in these cities are being brought to the font more by 
force than by persuasion. While Gregory approves of the 
motive of love for the Lord which had led the bishops to this 
action, he disapproves of the action itself, and fears that its 
result is likely to bring more evil than good, for such con- 
verts cannot be sincere. It is only by preaching that a sincere 
conversion can be effected 1 . He writes in a somewhat 
similar strain to the bishop of Terracina, approving of the 
bishop *s effort to preach to the Jews, but disapproving of his 
use of threats. The terror of the future judgment should be 

1 Ep. I, 47, Migne; I, 45, Ewald and Hartmann. 


enough, and they are more likely to be won by kindness 1 . 
The bishop may well have offered them conversion or 
expulsion, as had several of his contemporaries under 
Prankish rule. 

His own attitude is shown by his letters to the rectors 
of his patrimony in Sicily. When he hears that there are 
many Jews on the estates of the Church, he begs them to use 
every effort to win them to Christ. They are to be offered 
a reduction of their rent if they will accept baptism, an 
offer which is in interesting contrast to his instructions to 
increase the rent for pagans who refuse to be converted. 
By this means Gregory hopes that others may be led to 
follow their example 2 . Gregory shows an equal solicitude 
for the welfare of those who have already accepted conver- 
sion. His rector is instructed to make an annual grant out 
of the Papal funds to a converted widow and her three 
children 3 . On another occasion he directs that converts too 
poor to provide their own baptismal robe shall be given one 
from the Papal funds 4 . In spite of the advantages he offers, 
a few years later Gregory finds that many on his estates are 
still refusing conversion. He therefore offers them explicitly 
a reduction in rent of one-third, unless the rector decides 
upon another figure. He was under no illusion as to the 
effect of his offer, but he balances the loss on Church revenue, 
and the possible insincerity of the actual converts, by the 
fact that their children will be baptised and receive Christian 
teaching. Thus the Church will win either one generation 
or the other 5 . Gregory was also disposed to give privileges 
of a more spiritual kind to possible converts. Hearing from 
the Abbess of Saint Stephen's in Agrigentum that there are 
many Jews on her estates who wish to be baptised, he 
writes at once to Fantinus, the guardian of the Papal 
estates in Sicily, to make a visit to Agrigentum himself and 
to give instruction to those Jews seeking baptism. If they 
wish to be baptised at once, they are to be given forty days' 
abstinence, and then baptised at the nearest convenient 

*Ep. 1,35, M.; 1,34, E. and H. 
9 Ep. II, 32, M.; II, 38, E. and H. 
3 Ep. IV, 33, M.; IV, 31, E. and H. 
* Ep. V, 8, M.; V, 7, E. and H. 
6 Ep. V, 8, M.; V, 7, E. and H. 


feast. If they wish to wait for the usual time, which in that 
century was Easter, they are to be made catechumens at 
once (the letter was written in May), and the bishop is to 
pay special attention to them in the intervening period. As 
has been already said, the poor are to have their robes 
provided for them 1 . Some of Gregory's converts turned out 
unsatisfactory, for in one case he had to write to his rector 
to protect the bearer of his letter, a certain Paula, from the 
evil intentions of a converted Jew Theodorus 2 ; and in 
another he speaks of a certain Peter who, the day after his 
conversion, proceeded to desecrate his old synagogue 3 . That 
the enmity of the Jews was aroused by this policy is possibly 
hinted at in a letter of commendation of a convert and his 
wife, who are to be guarded from all molestation. This would 
presumably be from unconverted Jews 4 . 

While thus anxious for their conversion, and prepared to 
accept possible insincerity in the parents for the sake of the 
children, Gregory was firm in allowing them exactly the 
privileges which they enjoyed under Theodosian Law. In 
four different places he is told of oppression, Terracina 
and Palermo in Sicily, Caglieri in Sardinia, and Naples. 
In Terracina the Jews possess a synagogue in such close 
proximity to the church that the singing is said to disturb 
Christians at worship. If on a careful inspection this 
disturbance is found to exist, they are to be given another 
site, where c they can live under the protection of Roman 
Law, and enjoy their observances without hindrance ' 6 . The 
complaint was apparently found justified, for a few months 
later there is a protest from the Jews that they have been 
given another site and then turned out of it. Gregory orders 
the bishop to abstain from giving them cause of complaint 
of this kind 6 . 

In Palermo the trouble comes from an enthusiastic bishop, 
Victor, to whom Gregory writes that the Jews in Rome com- 
plain that he has without any cause confiscated some of their 

1 Ep. VIII, 23, M.; and E. and H. 

* Ep. VII, 44, M.; VII, 41, E. and H. 

* Ep. IX, 6, M.; DC, 195, E. and H. 
4 Ep. I, 71, M.; I, 69, E. and H. 

1 Ep. I, 10, M.; II, 6, E. and H. 


synagogues with their attached guest chambers. Gregory 
is anxious to do no injustice to the bishop, and expresses 
his unwillingness to believe that his action was unprovoked 1 . 
But finding there is no excuse for it, he writes to his repre- 
sentative to see that the bishop is made to pay for the 
buildings, which cannot be returned as they have been 
consecrated, at a price fixed by reputable persons. He must 
return any ornaments which he has taken. * If the Jew may 
not exceed the law, he ought to be allowed peaceably to 
enjoy what the law permits/ 2 

The aged bishop of Caglieri was a perpetual thorn in the 
side of the Pope. He was violent and incompetent, and, as 
a result, there was always some trouble in Sardinia. This 
time a converted Jew, with rash enthusiasm, had immedi- 
ately after his baptism collected disorderly persons and 
seized the synagogue, putting there a cross, an image of the 
Virgin, and his own baptismal robe. This fact had been 
confirmed by letters from the secular authorities and 
Gregory tempers the implied rebuke by adding that they 
stated that the bishop had attempted to restrain him. 
Gregory, therefore, orders the bishop to restore their syna- 
gogue to the Jews, since they may not build a new one, and 
to attempt also to restore peace in the city 3 . In Naples the 
bishop had been interfering with internal Jewish affairs and 
prohibiting certain lawful practices. Gregory forbids this 
on the grounds that he cannot see that such conduct is in 
the least likely to lead to their conversion, and that, on the 
other hand, the prohibited practices were in themselves 
legal. He recommends the bishop to try kindness 4 . 

Even in secular matters he is prepared to intervene to 
protect Jewish rights. A Jamnian Jew complained to him 
that the Papal Guardian had wrongfully, with other creditors, 
seized his ship and property. Gregory orders an immediate 
full enquiry into the matter, that justice may be done 5 . 

While he was determined that justice should be done to 
them, and every effort be made to win them to Christianity, 

1 Had they, for example, been new buildings, this would have justified 
their confiscation. 

* Eps. VIII, 25, and IX, 55 M.; VIII, 25, and IX, 38, E. and H. 
3 Ep. IX, 6, M.; IX, 195, E. and H. 

* Ep. XIII, 12, M.; XIII, 15, E. and H. 
6 Ep. IX, 56, M,; IX, 40, E. and H. 


the Pope was quite firm on the question of the limits of their 
rights. Just as he had refused to allow them to build new 
synagogues, so also he would not allow them to exceed the 
Theodosian Code in the matter of Christian slaves. No less 
than ten letters deal with this question, and he is concerned 
with the matter outside his own direct jurisdiction as much 
as within it. His letters cover the possession, the circum- 
cision, and the buying and selling of slaves. He writes to the 
Prankish sovereigns, Theodoric, Theodobert, and Bruni- 
child, expressing his astonishment that they tolerate this 
insult to Christ, the Head of the Church,that they allow His 
members to be * trampled on by His enemies J1 . At the 
beginning of his reign he even finds this abuse on his own 
estates in Sicily 2 . Other cases are a little more complicated. 
In Syracuse a Christian boy had served a Samaritan master 
for eighteen years, and then become free. His master had 
followed him to the font 5 and then reclaimed him. This 
Gregory correctly refuses to allow 3 . In another case he 
hears that a Samaritan owner has actually circumcised a 
pagan slave. Gregory orders the slave to be set free without 
compensation to his owner, and adds that the latter ought 
legally to be punished into the bargain 4 . The old bishop of 
Caglieri causes Gregory trouble also in the matter of slaves. 
Acting on an obsolete statute of Valentinian, he allowed 
purchase money to be paid to Jews for slaves who had fled 
to the Church, and announced their desire to become 
Christians. In some cases he had even returned them to 
their Jewish masters 5 . In a letter to the bishop of Luna in 
Etruria, Gregory makes the distinction made by Honorius 6 
allowing Jews to retain Christian slaves engaged in agricul- 
ture, provided they permit them undisturbed possession of 
their religion. All others are to be liberated at once 7 . 

1 Ep. IX, 109 and no, M.; IX, 213 and 215, E. and H. 

* Ep. I, 10, M.; II, 6, E. and H. 

3 Ep. VIII, 21, M.; and E. and H. Gregory was acting on Cod. Just.* 

4 Ep. VI, 33, M.; VI, 30, E. and H. The legal position is given in 
C.T., 16.94. 

* Ep. IV, 9, M.; and E. and H. 
' C.T., 16.9.3- 

7 Ep. IV, 21, M.; and E. and H. 


More complicated were questions of the slave trade, in 
which, it is obvious, the Jews took a considerable part. 
Gregory had at first desired to make the hard-and-fast rule 
that Jews were not to buy Christian slaves, and that any 
found in their possession were to be removed without com- 
pensation. He shows his essential reasonableness of spirit 
by listening to a Jewish delegation on the subject. In a letter 
to the bishop of Naples, which was apparently the great 
port at which slaves arrived from Gaul, he explains the 
argument of the Jews, and propounds his solution, which he 
considers fair alike to the Jewish merchants and the Christian 
captives. The Jewish traffic in slaves received official recog- 
nition in Gaul, and it was at the request of the Gallic 
authorities that the Jews were buying them. In making 
such purchases they could not distinguish which were 
pagans and which Christians. Gregory therefore lays down 
that once they have discovered any to be Christians, they are 
either to be handed over at once to those who ordered the 
purchase (it is not quite clear who these are) or sold to 
Christian masters within forty days. If the slave is sick a 
delay is allowed. He is then to be sold as soon as he is well. 
If the Jew retains a Christian slave more than forty days, 
this is to be considered evidence that he intends to keep him 
for his own use. In this case he should be set free and no 
compensation paid. They are to be given a fair time to dis- 
pose of slaves at present in their possession, since it is not 
fair to penalise them for actions committed in ignorance 1 . 
In a postscript he raises the question of the slaves of a par- 
ticular Jew, Basilius, who had come with the delegation to 
Rome. Basilius had sons who were Christians. He wished 
permission to give some of his slaves to his sons and retain 
the use of them himself. Gregory provides an ingenious 
solution. They may not remain in his house, but his sons 
may offer them to him for the services which it is fitting for 
sons to render to a father. This postscript is interesting from 
other points of view than that of the question of the slaves. 
It is a pity we do not know the motives with which the sons 
became Christians. At first sight it suggests a business deal 
and a clever way of keeping the slaves in the family, parallel 
to that by which in later centuries Jews possessed property 

1 Ep. IX, 36, M.; IX, 104, E. and H. 


under the name of Christians. But it is doubtful if Gregory, 
with all his practical acuteness, would have tolerated such 
a collusion between the works of light and darkness. It is 
more likely that he accepted the conversion of the sons as 
sincere, and that the incident shows that perfectly good 
relations could exist between a converted son and an 
unconverted father. 

There is a puzzling letter to * Candidus our Presbyter in 
Gaul * about four Christian captives in the possession of a 
Jew in Narbonne. Gregory orders them to be redeemed, 
and to be provided with adequate funds from the papal chest 
if they have not enough money to pay for their own redemp- 
tion. As this letter is dated May 597 1 , and the letter just 
discussed is of February 599, it seems as if there was no 
excuse for his not ordering them to be immediately set free 
without compensation paid to their owner. We have not 
adequate data for deciding the actual circumstances of the 
case. That they were not as simple as they sound is shown 
by the fact that the Presbyter is ordered to make a careful 
enquiry. The consistency of Gregory's action throughout 
makes it difficult to accept the story simply on the evidence 
given 2 . 

Finally, there was the question of slaves who were pagans 
when they were bought, and who declared their desire to 
become Christians while in the possession of the Jewish 
slaver. The Jews tried to pretend that the law allowing the 
pagan slave of a Jew to become free on expressing his 
desire to become a Christian did not apply to slaves acquired 
for the purpose of sale. Gregory will not accept this. Any 
slave has at any time the right to freedom on expressing this 
desire. But he recognises that this would be unfair to the 
slaver, if stated without qualification. He therefore gives 
him the opportunity of selling him within forty days to a 
Christian. If he is still in the Jew's possession after three 
months, he is to receive his freedom 3 . This decision, 
addressed to Naples two years before the general issue had 

1 Ep. VII, 24, M.; VII, 21, E. and H. 

* Neither the kings nor the councils in France had accepted the idea 
that a Jew might not own a Christian slave, but Gregory's letter to the 
sovereigns clearly shows that he did not accept this situation. On the 
councils see below, Ch. DC, Section VI. 

* Ep. VI, 32, M.; VI, 29, E. and H. 


to be decided, probably provided the basis from which the 
Pope evolved his later solution. 

There are three other letters dealing* with Jewish ques- 
tions which throw some light both on Gregory and on 
contemporary conditions. Two priests at Venafro had sold 
church plate to the Jews. Gregory orders it to be immedi- 
ately restored 1 . More interesting is the case of an enterpris- 
ing but c most wicked ' Jew who had set up an altar to Elijah, 
and had persuaded many Christians to worship at it. It is 
a pity we do not know more of this case, for it is impossible 
to tell whether this was a new Judaistic heresy the Jew 
being sincere but in error or whether he was an ingenious 
charlatan producing a miracle-working shrine for the decep- 
tion of the faithful. The odds are in favour of the former, 
for if he had been a humbug he was unwise in neglecting 
the preliminary of a miraculous conversion. Accepting his 
action as sincere, the most probable explanation seems to be 
that the Jew saw the reconciliation of Judaism and Christi- 
anity in the second coming of the Messiah, and had therefore 
erected an altar to Elijah who was due to precede Him, 
and that he had found Christians to share his belief. The 
fact that he had Christian slaves supports his sincerity, 
for again, if he were a humbug, he was behaving so foolishly 
that it is unlikely that his activities would have survived 
long enough to come to the ears of the Pope. In any 
case Gregory did not sympathise with his efforts, and he 
ordered die Prefect of Sicily to confiscate his slaves and 
destroy his altar 2 . The last letter is one which it is probable 
Gregory would never have written had he seen what was 
to follow the conversion of the Arian Visigothic kings 
of Spain to Catholicism. It is a letter congratulating 
Reccared on his conversion, and particularly on refusing 
the offer of a large sum of money from the Jews offered 
him on condition that he did not put into force the new 
laws against them 3 . 

As can easily be seen, the letters of Gregory give us a 
unique picture of Jewish life at the end of the sixth century, 
and of the relations between Christians and Jews. While 

1 Ep. I, 68, M.; I, 66, E. and H. 

2 Ep. Ill, 38, M.; Ill, 37, E. and H. 

3 Ep. IX, 122, M.; IX, 228, E. and H. 


it is evident that the slave trade formed an important 
Jewish activity, the number of letters devoted to that 
question is due as much to the complicated issues involved, 
and the difficulty of ensuring that Jews did not possess 
Christian slaves, as it is to the number of Jews possessing 
slaves or indulging in the traffic. We see also Jewish 
peasants on the papal estates and Jewish slaves engaged 
in agriculture in North Italy. We see poor Jews who 
cannot afford their baptismal robe. We see Jews and 
Jewish converts to Christianity apparently living in amity, 
and we see also the reverse, Jewish converts in danger of 
molestation by Jews. There is the riotousness and op- 
pression of a lawless age, and there is life going on quietly 
through it all with its manifold practical and missionary 

Before turning from the picture to the painter it is worth 
looking at the attitude to the Jews of Gregory as theologian, 
to see if in it is reflected the practical and sympathetic 
administrator whom we know from the letters. His 
writings are voluminous, and as they are mainly biblical 
commentaries, they offer good ground for the study of his 
attitude to this question. If we had not his letters we 
would have absolutely no idea that he had ever had any 
contacts with Jews, or that he regarded them with anything 
but the deepest horror and loathing. There is no word 
of either sympathy or understanding, nor any desire to 
convert them. As his commentaries present an extreme 
case of the allegorical method, condemnatory references 
to the Jews are inevitable. When the Scriptures are divided 
into black and white in this way, the Jew must perforce 
be black. It will suffice to give one instance. Job's 
camels are stolen from him by Chaldeans descending 
in three hordes from the desert. Who are the three hordes? 
They are the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Scribes. 
Who are the camels? They are the Jews, whom these three 
hordes led away. How do we know that they are the Jews? 
Because the camel chews the cud, but has an undivided 
hoof. To chew the cud is clean, and the Law of God on 
which the Jews ruminate is clean. But the camel has an 
undivided hoof, and this shows that the Jews do not know 
how to discriminate what they read. It is a method by 


which the Jews become in turn wild asses, unicorns, basilisks 
and serpents. Even Saint Paul is found foreshadowed in a 
rhinoceros. At the same time he holds firmly that the 
Jews will ultimately be saved 1 . 

It is extremely difficult for the modern mind, accustomed 
to an entirely different method in the treatment of historical 
documents, to understand the way in which patristic writers 
remained entirely uninfluenced by contemporary relation- 
ships in their treatment of the Jews in biblical literature. 
The burning of a synagogue by a mob is a direct outcome 
of the intellectual gymnastics of the learned, who themselves 
would rarely have dreamed of committing such violence. 
The case of Gregory, the wise, sympathetic and practical 
administrator, is perhaps the most striking example of the 
situation, and accepting as we are bound to do the deep 
sincerity of his piety and charity, we cannot but ask ourselves 
how he could have tolerated anything so diametrically 
opposed to the rest of his personality, both as a Christian 
and as a practical statesman. While we cannot hope 
really to understand a man of the sixth century as one of 
his contemporaries might have understood him, we have 
already seen some of the reasons. The acceptance of the 
verbal inspiration of the Scriptures was undoubtedly a 
reason of extreme importance. The allegorical method 
of interpreting them, the belief that every verse had by 
divine action a secret meaning, was a second. But in this 
particular instance, we can probably add a third. The 
career of the Jews in its main lines was laid down by Paul. 
They were to remain unfaithful until the Gentiles were 
gathered in. Then all Israel was to be saved. This 
latter fact, as it were, took the edge off the violence of the 
denunciation of their past and present existence. A writer 
could let himself go to the full in his denunciation, because 
it only added to the miracle of their ultimate salvation. 
But even so it is a curious picture to think of Gregory turning 
from the dictation of one of his more flowery denunciations 
of their diabolical perversity and detestable characteristics 
to deal with his correspondence, and writing to a bishop 
who has only been carrying these denunciations into logical 

1 On Job> Hi, i; P.L., LXXV,p. 636; cf. xlii, ix; P.L.,LXXV,p. 756. 
On Ezekid, Bk. I, Homily 12; P.L., LXXV, p. 921, etc. 


action, to remind him that it is by love and charity alone 
that we can hope to win them, and that even when they 
do not wish to be converted they must be treated with 
justice and allowed the undisturbed use of the rights which 
the Law allows them. 


The next Pope of whom we have information is Honorius, 
who occupied the papal chair in 637. The sixth council 
of Toledo was informed that he had allowed baptised 
Jews to return to Judaism, and it expresses its horror at 
this permission 1 . In fact, the Pope was only carrying 
out the Roman law on the subject 2 . Whether the infor- 
mation received by the Visigothic bishops was true or not 
we do not know, nor have we the answer they received 
from the Pope, but the incident illustrates both the inde- 
pendence of the Pope and the independence of the local 
churches. For it is evident that Honorius no more suc- 
ceeded in making the authorities of Spain conform to 
this wise toleration than Gregory himself was able to 
impose his will on the Prankish sovereigns. 

Among the judgments of Gregory III (731) are two 
referring to Jews. In one, dealing with the adultery of a 
Christian with a Jewess, Gregory refers to the decision of 
the council of Elvira 3 . The other case is concerned with 
the date of Easter, and its celebration *cum Judaeis*. Here 
also Gregory simply conforms to the usual canonical 

A letter from Stephen VI (768-772) to Aribert, Arch- 
bishop of Narbonne 4 , shows that the Jews in that region 
still possessed far more rights over Christians than was 
permitted by either code or council. Both within and 
without the city they had Christians, both men and women, 
to cultivate their fields, and these slaves and servants were 

* R.E.J., Vol. II, 137. 
C.T., 16.8.23. 

8 Mansiy XII, 294, referring to Elvira, Canon 78. 
4 P.L., CXXIX, 857, Aronius 67. 


compelled to live with them and to share 'all their 
abominations'. According to Stephen the Jews based their 
position on * some decree or other of the kings of France'. 
Septimania had only just returned to French rule. Under 
the Visigoths, a hundred years earlier, such a situation 
would certainly have been legally impossible. But appar- 
ently the rules against which Gregory had protested were 
still in force in France, and we have no information as to 
whether they were abolished on the protest of Stephen. 
Alternatively it is possible that the Franks were merely 
continuing in the newly acquired territory the favourable 
treatment which the Jews had received from the Arabs, and 
that by this time in the rest of the kingdom their privileges 
were reduced, 

Hadrian, the successor of Stephen, was requested by 
Charlemagne to send him an abstract of conciliar law, and 
in this epitome the laws against the Jews are naturally 
represented. In particular Hadrian includes the law 
forbidding the celebration of Easter on the same date as the 
Jewish Passover, the acceptance of any gift from the Jews 
from their feasts, the giving of evidence by Jews against 
the clergy, and Judaising by resting on the Sabbath 1 . Of 
these laws Charlemagne only included two in the collection 
which he issued in the beginning of his reign. He for- 
bade Jews to give evidence against Christians, and 
Christians to rest on the Sabbath 2 . Later he superseded 
the first law by composing a special Jewish oath. 

Hadrian also corresponded with the Catholic bishops 
in Spain, where, after the Arab conquest, all sorts of heresies 
broke out, and where there was apparently some fraternising 
between Jews and Christians. This was natural, for both 
were minorities. His letters to them show the attitude 
typical of the Papacy: * surely you are not ignorant of the 
canons'. He rebukes them for eating, drinking and living 
with Jews and unbaptised persons. And he reminds 
them that it is forbidden to do so. He supports his different 
arguments with patristic quotations, and throughout 
adopts an air of calmness and authority. His tone is one 
of surprise rather than abuse. He cannot understand 

1 Mansi, XII, pp. 867, 909 and 914. 

2 M.G.H., folio, Leg. I, 57 and 61 


how they do that which is forbidden by the canons and 
by all the Fathers of the Church 1 . 

That this was their attitude is also supported by the 
fact that the only conciliar legislation emanating from 
Rome during this period is a canon amplifying the ancient 
imperial prohibition either of intermarriage between Jews 
and Christians, or of selling Christian slaves to Jews 2 . 

Apart from Gregory the Great we have no information 
as to the conduct of the Popes within the papal patrimony, 
but from the fact that such information as we have shows 
the Popes carrying out the measures of the Theodosian 
Code and the earlier councils, we can assume that such was 
their general policy, and that they did not indulge either 
in the spasmodic cruelties of sudden expulsions, or in the 
determined severity of the Visigothic councils. Their 
power was not adequate to control their national clergy, 
but they themselves continued the equable tenor of their 
ways, showing no special favour to the Jews, but allowing 
them the rights which were theirs by law. 

1 Mansi, XII, 807 ff. 
Cone. Romanian, Can. 10; Manx, XII, 384. 




Apart from the inevitable treatment of this period in general 
terms in Jewish histories, the only special study of the 
subject is the valuable work by Dr. Krauss, which includes 
a section on the period covered by this chapter. 

The main material for the study of the legal status of 
the Jews is naturally provided by the Codices of Theodosius 
and Justinian, together with, for the later centuries, the 
two editions of the Eclogues of Leo. The other Byzantine 
law books, in particular the Basilica, fall outside the period 

For historical material it is necessary to turn to the 
host of more or less inaccurate chroniclers. A list of 
the main works is given below; others are quoted in the 
relevant footnotes. Further material is from time to 
time being edited, especially in the Revue de fOrient 
ckretien, and in the different journals of Byzantine history. 
In addition special material is occasionally to be found in 
the Analecta Bollandiana. To these sources must also be 
added the Syriac and Oriental Patrologies, and the Corpus 
Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, collections which 
are still in process of completion. 

Apart from Michael the Syrian the later chroniclers 
are rarely quoted. Works such as those of Cedrenus 
add little to the information afforded by their predecessors, 
and the little needs to be viewed with suspicion. References 
to the later Byzantine chroniclers need always to be verified 
by comparison with earlier works: various modern histories 
quote such sources with unfortunate results. John of 
Nikious, Joshua the Stylite, or Sebeos, who are almost 
or quite contemporary with the events which they describe, 


are themselves often inaccurate, but they are preferable 
to chroniclers such as Cedrenus. 

Though the actual subject with which he deals is different, 
yet for a study of the mind and purpose of chroniclers, 
the introduction to Molinier's Sources de rHistoire de 
France (Vol. V) is of considerable interest. A discussion 
of most of the writers will also be found in the relevant 
sections of Vasilief s Histoire de f empire Byzantin. 





Studien zur Byzantinisch-Judischen 
Geschichte. Wien, 1914. 


CODEX THEODOSIANUS Ed. Mommsen and Meyer. Berlin, 


Corpus Juris Civilis. Ed. Krueger 
and Mommsen. Berlin, 1886. 

SYRISCH-ROMISCHES Ed. Bruns und Sachau. Leipzig, 









Ed. A. Monferratus. Athens, i 

Collectio Librorum luris Graeco- 
Romani.Ed. Zachariae a Lingenthal. 
Leipzig, 1852. 

Rendered into English with an 
introduction by E. H. Freshfield. 
Cambridge, 1926. 

A revised Manual of Roman Law, 
Ed. Freshfield. Cambridge, 1926. 


Universal History. P.O., Vols. V, 
VII and VIII. 

Ecclesiastical History. P.O., IV and 

Chronography. Ed. Abbeloos et 
Lanuy. Louvain, 1872. 







Chronography. A. W. Budge, Ox- 
ford, 1932. 

Chronograpky. C.S.C.O. Scrp. Syr., 
Series 3, Tom. IV, xiii-xv. 

C.S.C.O. Scrp. Syr., Series 3, Tom. 
IV, ii. 

C.S.C.O. Scrp. Syr., Series 3, Tom. 
IV, i. 

P.O., Vol. XCII. 

Chronicle, R.O.C., Vol. II, and Ed. 
J. B. Chabot. Paris, 1895. 

Annals. Palestine Pilgrims Text 
Society, tr. A. Stewart, 1893, and 
P.O., CXI. 

Ecclesiastical History. P.G., 




JOHN OF Nncious 


History. Ed. R. Payne Smith. 
Oxford, 1860. 

Lives of the Eastern Saints. P.O. 
XVII, i; XVIII, iv; and XIX, ii. 

Chronicle. Ed. Zotenberg in Notices 
et Extraits, Vol. XXIV. 

Chronicle. Ed. R. H. Charles, Text 
and Translation Society, 1916. 

Chronicle. Ed. W. Wright, Cam- 
bridge, 1882. 


MALALAS Chronograpky. P.G., Vol. XCVIL 

MICHAEL THE SYRIAN Chronicle. Ed. J. B. Chabot. Paris, 
Leroux, 1899. 

SEBE6s History ofHeraclius. Ed. Fr. Macler. 

Paris, 1904. 

SEVERUS OF ANTIOCH Letters. Ed. E. W. Brooks, Text 
and Translation Society, 1904. 

SOCRATES Ecclesiastical History. P.G., Vol. 

LXVIL Tr. in Post Nicene Fathers, 

SOZOMEN Ecclesiastical History. P.G., Vol. 

LXVIIL Tr. in Post Nicene Fathers. 

THEOPHANES Chronicle, P.O., Vol. CVIII. 

ZACHARIAH OF Chronicle. Ed. Hamilton and Brooks. 

MITYLENE Methuen, 1899. 



While there are few incidents to relate of Jewish history 
in the west during the fifth century, and while the legislation 
affecting them is not conspicuous for violence, the situation 
in the eastern provinces was very different. Arcadius, 
who succeeded to the eastern portion of the dominions 
of Theodosius the Great, was an inexperienced boy of 
seventeen. Power lay with a succession of favourites. 
Such a situation was unfortunate at a time when the empire 
was passing through a period of grave internal conflict 
and external invasion. It is on a troubled background 
that the legislation affecting the Jews was passed, and the 
disorders of the time had their natural repercussions on 
their situation. 

Apart from the evidence provided by the laws themselves 
we know little of the relations between Jews and Christians 
during the reign of Arcadius. But that is enough to revea! 
that the fiery teaching of such men as Chrysostom at 
Antioch and Cyril at Jerusalem was bearing its inevitable 
fruit. The Jews had to suffer the attacks of both officials 
and ecclesiastics. A petty vexation which was forbidden 
by a law of 396 was the interference with the Jewish slave 
markets 1 . This cannot be a question of the sale of Christian 
slaves, for the emperor gives complete protection to the 
Jews. It was, apparently, mere officiousness. A more 
direct consequence of the attitude of the preachers is to be 
seen in the attacks upon the character and dignity of the 
Patriarch, despite his very high rank in the official nobility 2 . 
He was not only insulted, but his rights were questioned 
and his officials challenged. Nor was this all, for Chris- 
tians were not confining themselves merely to petty vexations 
and verbal insults. As in the west, they were attacking and 
destroying synagogues and assaulting their Jewish occu- 
pants 3 . The edict which refers to these outrages is addressed 
specifically to the governor of Illyricum and may imply 
that the idea came from the west, but it is more probable 

1 C.T., 16.8.10. 

2 Ibid. 16.8.11 and 15. 

8 Ibid. 16.8.12; cf. 16.8.21 addressed to the same governor. 


that it was due to the disorder in the province which accom- 
panied the raids of Alaric and the Visigoths into that region. 
This province was still in disorder fifteen years later. 

The economic situation of the Jews, which led them 
in the west to seek sanctuary and conversion to avoid their 
debts, declared itself twenty years earlier in the east, 
and such conversions were viewed with the same suspicion. 
But instead of allowing them to return to Judaism Arcadius 
permitted the violation of sanctuary, and ordered their 
expulsion therefrom until their debts were paid 1 . His 
policy with regard to curial responsibilities vacillated. 
At first he gave them a very broad immunity 2 . It was 
probably this law which so troubled Honorius, and which 
he prophesied would lead to the economic ruin of his 
provinces. Arcadius soon made the same discovery, for 
this liberal policy only lasted two and a half years, at the 
end of which time Jews, in the east as in the west, were 
all compelled to take their share in this office 3 . 

The extent to which Arcadius actually increased the 
restrictions from which they suffered is uncertain, for the 
laws of his reign, or of the years immediately following it, 
are not complete. He reduced their judicial autonomy 4 : 
so much is certain; but he also, apparently, took away from 
them the right of giving evidence in a Christian court. A 
law to this effect and of this date is to be found included in 
the Canons of the African Church 5 , and it would hardly be 
incorporated into an ecclesiastical collection unless it were 
supported by imperial approval, and therefore by the 
existence of a parallel imperial prohibition. It would 
also appear that either he or Theodosius II prohibited the 
building of further synagogues, for such a law was in force 
in 415 at the time of the degradation of the Patriarch 6 . 
The sermons of Chrysostom at Antioch would lead one 
to suspect that these two laws were passed during the 
period (398-404) of his Patriarchate. 

1 C.T., 945.2; cf. 16.8.23. 

*Ibid. 16.8.13. 

9 Ibid. 12.1 .165. Cf . Ch. VI, Section II. 

4 C.T., 

8 Canon 196, in P.L., LXVII, p. 959. 

Cf. 16.8.22. 


The only evidence which we possess of Jewish retaliation 
for this increasing oppression is to be found in a life of 
the brigand monk Barsauma, who, when a young man, 
visited Palestine (about 400), and was much persecuted by 
Jews and Samaritans during his visit, ' for there were few 
Christians in Palestine, and the Jews and Samaritans who 
dominated the country persecuted them ' a . Jerome, who was 
living at Bethlehem at that time, and who was certainly 
no friend of the Jews, relates nothing which could be called 
persecution. In view of the character and subsequent 
life of Barsauma it would be unwise to state that dislike 
of that individual was evidence of any general condition 
of affairs. 

The reaction of the Jews to the century through which 
they had passed was more likely bewilderment and fear. 
We hear nothing as yet of revenge apart from the single 
rising in Samaria in the time of Constantius. But this was 
the rebellion of a compact population, an easier action than 
reprisals on the part of isolated communities. Their 
increasing subjection seems to have inclined them rather 
to a revival of Messianic speculation, for at this period a 
Messiah, calling himself Moses, appeared in Crete, and 
persuaded thousands that he would lead them across the 
sea to Palestine. In this belief they leapt from the cliffs, 
and would all have been drowned had not a considerable 
number been rescued by Christians whose curiosity or 
charity had led them to watch the affair from boats. Not 
unnaturally the reaction from the failure led to a number 
of conversions 2 . 


The reign of Theodosius II introduces a new note 
into legislation, a note of petulance and undisguised dislike, 
showing itself in blustering and insulting language, and 
betraying the weakness and incompetence of parts at 
least of the imperial administration. The causes for this 
intensification of the hostility to the Jews are manifold. 

1 Life of Barsauma y by F, Nau in R.O.C., 1913. 

a Socrates, Hist. Eccl.> VII, mcvfii, in P.G., LXVII, p. 825- 


The breakdown of society through the presence of the 
barbarians and the economic collapse were general causes. 
A more specific cause was the emergence of a lawless 
monasticism, especially in Syria. As the Jewish communities 
of the eastern half of the Mediterranean were larger and 
more aggressive than in the west the results are unhappily 
easy to foresee. 

The legislation of Theodosius opens with a complaint 
about the Jewish method of celebrating Purim, the feast 
which commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from 
Hainan, and at which riotous behaviour was common. 
The Jews were forbidden to burn the image of Haman 
or to use the feast for the purpose of mocking the cross. 
If they continued to commit such unlawful acts they would 
* lose what had so far been lawful privileges 51 . This was 
no vague complaint, for ten years later an actual case is 
recorded from Inmestar. There the Jews took a Christian 
boy and, in drunken revelry, proceeded to hang him on 
a cross and so used him that he died. There was naturally 
an outcry at such an action, and the authorities heavily 
punished the guilty parties 2 . The authenticity of the 
narrative is vouched for by the fact that no miracles were 
worked through the body of the boy victim. A similar 
example of drunken riotousness in Alexandria is reported 
only by a late chronicler. There some Jews who had been 
forcibly baptised took a statue of Christ and crucified it, 
mocking the Christians and crying 'that is your Messiah'. 
A riot naturally followed, and many Jews and Christians 
were killed 3 . 

Alexandria is the scene of much more serious trouble 
a few years later. As a result of real or fancied provocation 

^.T., 16.8.18. 

* Socrates, Hist. Eccl. y VII, xvi; P.O., LXVII, p. 769. It is a mistake 
to call this a case of ' ritual murder * though there is no reason to suspect 
the authenticity of the narrative, as does Juster (Vol. II, p. 204). 

3 Agapius, in the section covering the third to sixth year of Theodosius j 
P.O., VIII, p. 408. 

Zotenburg, in Notices et Extracts, Vol. XXIV, p. 467, n. i, refers to 
another Arab chronicler (whom I have not been able to trace) 
who recounts an event similar to that at Inmestar as having happened at 
Alexandria. It is probably the incident referred to by Agapius, and 
both may be a confused memory of the miraculous image of Beirut 
referred to below, Chap. VIII, Section VI. 


in the theatre, the Jews entice the Christians into the 
streets at night on a false alarm that the great church is 
burning, and proceed to massacre many of them. The 
following day, led by Cyril himself, the Christians fall on 
the Jews, completely pillage the Jewish quarter and expel 
the Jews from the city, killing many of them in the process 1 . 
It is a waste of time to attempt to allot blame to one side 
or the other for events occurring in that city, but it is 
probable that the events of Inmestar and Alexandria were 
responsible for the most serious blow the Jews had yet 
suffered from Roman legislation, the degradation of the 
Patriarch Gamaliel. It would appear that he himself 
was also to blame for this step, for he had been assuming 
powers which the law did not allow him. He had been 
building new synagogues. He had been arrogating to 
himself the right to judge cases in which Christians were 
involved. He had been circumcising slaves and possessing 
Christian slaves 2 . His degradation was equivalent to the 
abolition of his office, but the funds which the Patriarch had 
received were still paid by the Jews to their leaders in 
Palestine, until this also was abolished by Theodosius some 
years later, and the sums were ordered to be paid to the 
charities section of the privy purse 3 . 

Gamaliel was not the only offender against the law 
relative to slaves, for it was necessary to re-enact it with 
fresh severity and precision. A Jew was not to buy, or 
acquire as a gift, a Christian slave. If he acquired him 
as trustee or by inheritance, or if he was a heretical Christian, 
he might keep him on condition that he did not convert 
him to Judaism. For the infringement of the law the 
excessive penalty of capital punishment and complete 
confiscation was enacted 4 . 

Official hostility was more than equalled by mob violence. 
In 418 (or 412) the emperor has to refer to * the widespread 
burning of synagogues and houses, and the assaults on 
individuals ' and to remind the populace that there are 
law courts in which Jews who commit crimes will be 

1 Socrates, Hist. EccL, VII, xiii; P.G., LXVII, p. 760. 
C.T., 16.8.22. 
3 Ibid. 16.8.29. 
*Ibid. 16.9.4. 


punished. He adds that c just as we wish to make provision 
for the benefit of the Jews, so we consider also that a warning 
should be addressed to them that they must not presume 
upon their security to commit outrages against the Christian 
faith n . There is no reason to doubt that this double 
rebuke was necessary. How much effect it had on either 
side we cannot judge. We do not hear much of further 
Jewish rowdiness, and no law refers to it. In view of their 
tone and of the venomous language which is used towards 
the Jews, it is reasonable to assume that fear or prudence 
secured the "respect of this law on the Jewish side. It had 
not the same effect on the Christians. The very year 
following its promulgation the sinister figure of Barsauma 
again appears in Palestine, accompanied by forty monks. 
For three years he destroys temples and synagogues in 
Palestine, unchecked 2 . The activity of Barsauma was 
purely destructive, but in other cases the synagogue buildings 
were seized and consecrated as churches. This happened 
at Edessa under Rabbulas, who became bishop in 41 1 3 . 

In 423 there was a change in policy, which is attributed 
by Dr. Nau to the marriage of the emperor, in the January 
of that year, to Eudoxia, who had been a pagan and whose 
uncle was Prefect of the Eastern Provinces 4 . The result 
is a law which lacks all the offensive language and attempts 
to deal firmly with the evil. The emperor orders that 
in future no synagogue in any district is to be pulled down 
or burnt. If any synagogue has been confiscated it is 
to be returned. If it has been consecrated as a church, 
a site of equivalent value is to be given in exchange. If 
furniture has been taken the same is to happen. The Jews, 
on the other hand, are not to build new synagogues (except 
presumably where the old one has been destroyed?) or to 
enlarge the existing buildings 5 . 

The law had no effect. Within two months the Jews 
are complaining to the emperor and demanding more 

1 C.T., 16.8.21. 

F. Nau in R.E.J., Vol. LXXXIII, p. 184. 

8 Chron. Edess. in C.S.C.O.,S.S. Ill, iv,pt. i; and Michael the Syrian, 
Bk. VI, x. 

* C.T., 16.8,25. 


effective protection. This the emperor grants, but with 
a full return to the old offensive language and only the 
mildest reprobation of the offenders. * Jews must know 
that to their wretched pleading we grant only this much, 
that those who are constantly acting illegally under the 
cloak of Christianity should abstain from outrages and 
assaults against them. Both now, and for the future, 
no one is to seize or burn down their synagogues/ It is 
noticeable that no penalty is attached if they do so, whereas 
at the tail end of the law Jews are threatened with perpetual 
exile and confiscation if they circumcise Christian slaves 1 
a matter entirely beside the point in a law dealing with the 
lawlessness of Christians, however serious it might be as a 
Jewish crime. It was in fact the most difficult of all the 
enactments against the Jews to enforce, and there was 
some reason for his indignation, for, a week later, the 
matter requires a separate law against the * disgrace of 
servants of strong religious convictions being subjected 
to infidel owners ' 2 . 

Laws which indulge in futile abuse of those whom 
they are meant to protect are not likely to be successful. 
The obvious reluctance with which they are granted is 
evidence to the lawless that their infringement will not be 
taken seriously. Yet it was the only protection which the 
Jews could obtain. The same method is again repeated 
two months later. * Jews are not to build new synagogues, 
but they need not fear the confiscation of their old ones.' 
On the same day, in an edict which begins by denouncing 
with all kinds of threats Manichees, Pepyzites, and Quatuor- 
decimans matters irrelevant to the protection of Jewish 
property he * earnestly requests * Christians, c whether 
real or pretended *, not to defy religious authority and 
attack Jews or pagans who are living quietly and not offending 
against the laws. If they seize the goods of such people, 
they are to pay compensation to the extent of three or four 
times the value of the stolen article 3 . 

All these laws belonged to the same year, 423, and there- 
after he gave up the attempt to protect the Jews. As a result 

^.T., 16.8.26. 

* Ibid. 16.9.5. 

* Ibid. 16.8.27, and 16.10.24. 


the violation of synagogues continued, and when the 
emperor made an attempt to restore to the Jewish com- 
munity at Antioch the synagogues which the Christians 
had stolen from them, the intervention of Simeon Stylites 
was enough to make him humbly apologise to the orthodox 
for his action and leave them their stolen property 1 . He 
himself authorised the confiscation of the Jewish synagogue 
in the Copper Market in Constantinople in 442 2 . At the 
same period Barsauma made a final appearance on the stage 
of Palestine. Infuriated by the permission which the 
empress had granted to the Jews to lament at the Wailing 
Wall, he instituted a general massacre of them in Jerusalem. 
In the publication of his third novella Theodosius reverts 
to the more familiar method of denunciation and contempt. 
In a long theological exordium he makes a happy confusion 
between orthodoxy and monotheism, and expresses his 
wonder that heretics, Jews and Samaritans who contemplate 
the works of nature ' have wits so ensnared and souls so 
damned by the monstrosities of their beastliness * that they 
fail to seek an Author for mysteries so great. But, since 
they are in this condition, * if we take the law as doctor 
to recall them to sanity, they themselves are answerable 
for our harshness, for their obstinacy leaves no room for 
forgiveness '. Therefore, * whoever builds a synagogue 
shall know that he has laboured for the Catholic Church; 
whoever has wormed himself into office shall be degraded 
even if he has received decorations; whoever repairs a 
synagogue shall be fined fifty pounds; whoever corrupts 
the faith of a Christian shall be put to death '. However, 
imperial permission may be obtained for the repair of 
synagogues in imminent danger of collapse, but they must 
not be decorated; Jewish courts may deal with private 
cases between Jews; Jews may bear all the burdensome 
offices of the public administration 3 . Here the exclusion 
of Jews from all the privileges of public office is made 
much more definite than it is in any previous legislation 

1 Evagrius, Hist. EccL, I, xiii; P.O., LXXXVI, pt. 2, p. 2456; Meta- 
phrastes, Life of Simeon Stylites} P.G., CXIV, p. 381 . 

2 Theophanes, anno 442; P.G., CVIII, p. 265. Cf. Juster, Vol. I, 
p. 470, n. 2. 

3 Novella 3. 


that we possess. But it is probable that previous legis- 
lation existed, and has been lost. In the anonymous 
Altercation between the Church and the Synagogue, 
which is to be found incorrectly included in the works 
of Augustine, we find this taunt addressed to the Synagogue: 
* you pay me tribute and cannot obtain authority; 
you may not possess the Prefecture; a Jew may not be a 
Count; you may not enter the public services; you may 
not attain to the tables of the rich; you have lost the right 
to the title of Clarissimus n . The dates of these restrictions, 
and their application to the eastern or western provinces, 
are unknown, but they apparently precede the publication 
of the third novella. 

In all this novella any pretence that these laws are made 
necessary by Jewish rowdiness or lawlessness is abandoned; 
and, indeed, we know of only one case of such violence in 
the last thirty years of Theodosius. It is said that the Jews 
of Laodicea took the saintly archdeacon and ' punished ' 
him in the theatre 2 . This incident is related in one of a 
collection of letters dealing with the Nestorian controversy, 
and it is possible that it has nothing at all to do with real 
Jews, but with Nestorians, who are frequently referred to 
by their adversaries simply as * Jews *. This would make 
the narrative more comprehensible, for while it does not 
conform to any known Jewish outrages, it has a dozen 
parallels in the theological controversies of the fifth 


In this century it is even more necessary than in the 
fourth to study the treatment of heretics and the battles 
between groups of different theological opinion, if a true 
perspective of the Jewish situation is to be obtained. In 
the fourth century the two groups had to bear the burden 

1 Altercatio Synagogae et Ecclesiae\ P.L., XLII, p. 1133. This dialogue 
is considered to be a prototype of the mediaeval mystery play. Cf.Juster, 
Vol. II, p. 245, n. 4. 

* Ep. of John of Antioch to Proclus of Constantinople in Variorum 
Episcoparum Ep. t ed. Chr. Lupus, Louvain, 1682. 


of legal restrictions upon their civic and religious liberty. 
In this century riots and massacres must be added to the 
picture. The legislation against heretics shows the same 
petulance and narrowness as the legislation against the Jews, 
but even more weakness and instability. In 395 Arcadius 
deprived the Eunomians of all testamentary rights and 
expelled them from Constantinople. A few months later 
these disabilities were removed and they were allowed 
all their civil rights. But they were still refused permission 
to hold meetings. This mildness lasted a few months, 
and then they were again expelled 1 , this time for three 
years, after which the order was again cancelled. In 395 
all heretics were dismissed from the public services, an 
expulsion from which the Jews did not suffer until ten years 
later 2 . In 396 all their buildings, public and private, were 
confiscated to the Catholic Church 3 . At different periods 
either all heretics or particular groups, such as the Euno- 
mians, Montanists or Manichees, were expelled either 
from Constantinople or from all the cities of the empire 4 . 
Individual heretics, such as the unhappy Jovianus who was 
to be sent into exile * contusum plumbo, 5 ' were also pursued 
by the secular as well as the ecclesiastical arm. Such a 
policy was extremely unprofitable both to the imperial 
finances and to the public services, and it is not surprising 
that such laws alternated with others in which they were 
either restored to their rights or at least driven to their 
duties 6 . 

These laws were less effective than those against the Jews, 
for they were continued after the Jewish community was 
apparently left in peace. Marcian in 455 issued a law in 
thirteen paragraphs against the Eutychians and Apollin- 
arians in Constantinople and Alexandria which is worth 
quoting for its completeness 7 : 

1 C.T., 16.5.25, 27, 33 and 36. 

2 Ibid. 16.5.29. 

3 Ibid. 16.5.30. 

4 Ibid. 1 6. 5 .34 and 66. 

5 Ibid. 16.5.53. 

6 E.g. Nov. Th., 3, 6. 
7 C.J.,i. 5 .8. 


All existing penalties for heresy are to be enforced 
against them. 

They are to have no clergy, and any man found acting 

as a cleric is to be exiled and his property confiscated. 

They are to have no right of meeting by day or night. 

The property of any individual who has allowed them 

to meet on his estate is to be confiscated to the Catholics. 

If the owner was not responsible for the invitation 

his agent is to be fined and beaten. 

They are to be expelled entirely from the army and 
all public office. 

They are to be allowed no opportunity for explaining 
their doctrines. 

They are not to write or publish anything against the 
Council of Chalcedon. 

They are to possess no books. 
Any one who listens to them is to be fined. 
The books of the Apollinarians are to be publicly 

Any official who fails to carry out these rules is to be 

Such was the success of the famous utterance of Theodo- 
sius the Great: ' omnibus vetitae legibus et divinis ^ et 
imperialibus haereses perpetuo quiescant **. But Marcian 
was not the first to discover that the great emperor's pro- 
hibition had exceeded his power. Theodosius II had 
pathetically forbidden the Nestorians to call themselves 
Christians, in the same spirit as his grandfather had forbidden 
all heretics to believe that their views were true 2 . Marcian 
was more prosaic, but more practical. 

His law allows of an interesting comparison with the 
Jewish legislation up to the same period. The heretics were 
to have no clergy: this could not be done to the Jew, 
but the Jewish clergy had been deprived of their immunities 
from curial service. They were to have no meeting place: 
as we have seen, anti-Jewish legislation went as near 
this as possible in forbidding new synagogues to be built 
or old ones to be repaired. Any property on which they 
were allowed to meet was to be confiscated to the Catholic 

* C.T., 16.5.5- 

* Ibid. 16.5.37. 


Church: any new synagogues which the Jews built were 
confiscated to the same body. If any agent allowed their 
meeting without the knowledge of the owner, he was to 
be beaten or fined: here the owner fared better than the 
Jew who allowed his slaves to be circumcised, for he 
shared the same punishment as if he had circumcised 
them himself. They were to be expelled from the army 
and public life: so was the Jew. They were to have no 
opportunity of explaining their doctrines: the efforts 
of the Church were continually directed to preventing the 
Jews from explaining their doctrines to Christians, but 
the Codes only recognised the crime of actual secession to 
Judaism. Heretics were not to write, speak or publish 
anything against the Chalcedon formula: it was centuries 
before so direct a prohibition was addressed to Jews, 
but the thin end of the wedge is the prohibition to the 
Jews to celebrate Purim in a manner offensive to Christians; 
and Gregory the Great acts on a lost law by which they could 
be prohibited from disturbing a church with the noise 
of their singing. They were to possess no books: Justinian 
will forbid the Jews to use their interpretations (deuterosis) 
in the synagogue. Any who listened to them were to be 
punished: an apostate to Judaism was always liable to 
severe punishment. 

Another set of laws offer a contrast rather than a com- 
parison. It has already been said that the violence of 
the monks was one of the most unhappy features of the 
time. Arcadius was compelled on several occasions to 
forbid them to enter any city, or to leave their deserts 1 . 
Twice also he had to forbid them to interfere with the course 
of justice 2 , and to complain that ' their insolence is such 
that they behave as if it were a battle in question and not 
a lawsuit '. These laws were no more effective than those 
against heretics. Theodosius in 445 was compelled to 
take steps to keep them out of Constantinople 3 . Leo in 
459 found them occupying public buildings, and, by intro- 
ducing into them some sacred object, claiming that they 
could no longer be used for their original purpose, whether 

1 C.T., 16.3.1 and 2. 

2 Ibid. 940.1 6 and 11.30.57 of July 398. 
'C.J., 1.3.32. 


pleasure or business 1 . During the period laws had also 
to be passed to prevent the ' tumultuosa conventicula ' 
of religious discussion 2 . It particularly distressed Marcian 
that these disorderly meetings allowed an opportunity for 
Jews to mock at Christianity 3 . The reality of the disgraceful 
violence against which the emperors legislated in vain 
is to be seen not merely in the accounts of the writers of 
the time but in official documents. In the attempt to 
make peace between the warring theologians the emperor 
Zeno issued his ill-fated * Henoticon ', in which he speaks 
of the 'thousands who have perished in massacres, so that 
not only the earth but even the air is contaminated with 
blood >4 . The histories and chronicles are full of bloody 
battles and murderous riots between Orthodox, Monophysite 
and Nestorian; and often it was not even a theological 
difference but personal jealousy that resulted in such 
horrors. Michael the Syrian says that ( when the Chalce- 
donians stopped persecuting the " orthodox ", they began 
to attack each other with a violence such as a savage would 
not use to a pagan, a Jew, or a heretic >5 . Against such 
a background the Jews seem an absolutely peaceful and 
favoured people, and if we may legitimately say that this 
is only one side of the life of the fifth-century Christians, 
and that there was a more attractive side, then we must 
in justice say the same of such incidents of Jewish violence 
as are reported. 


In actual fact we only know of one anti-Christian outbreak 
during the fifth century, apart from the more individual 
incidents already mentioned. This was a Samaritan rising 
which took place during the reign of Zeno, and led to con- 

^J., 1.3.26. 

2 C.T., 16.4.4, 5 and 6. 

3 CJ., 1.14. 

*Evagrius, Hist. EccL, III T xiv. P.G., LXXXVI, pt. 2, p. 2621. 
Michael the Syrian, IX, vi. Cf. Zachariah of Mitylene, III, vi, and Acts 
of Council of Constantinople in P.O., II, pp. 341 and 353. 

5 Op. cit. t X, xiii. 


siderable bloodshed on both sides before it was suppressed 1 . 
On the other hand the Jews of Antioch, who had already 
lost their synagogues in the time of Theodosius, lost the 
synagogue of Daphne also, in a riot of the circus faction 
of the * Greens ' in 489 or 490. This is the first occasion 
on which the faction of the ' Greens ' appears in Jewish 
history 2 . On hearing that they had also burnt the bones 
of many Jews, the emperor is said to have remarked that it 
was a waste of time to burn dead Jews when many were still 
alive whom they could have better burned. The Jews 
appear to have been allowed to rebuild the synagogue, for 
it was again destroyed twenty years later in another riot. 
This time they lost it permanently, for the Christians 
immediately built and consecrated a church upon the ruins, 
dedicated to the Martyr Leontius 3 . Antioch at this time 
seems to have possessed much of the turbulence which 
was a permanent feature of Alexandria, for order was only 
restored with great difficulty and a considerable force of 

We should be better informed of the situation if we 
possessed a larger number of the letters of the monophysite 
Patriarch Severus. He is said to have published nearly 
four thousand letters of which only a few hundred have 
survived. Had we the whole collection we should probably 
have as good a picture of Antioch in the beginning of the 
sixth century as we have of Italy at the end of it in the letters 
of Gregory. For in the little that is left we see several 
references to Jews. Writing to Theodosius of Alexandria, 
he ends by saying that the letter has been written * under 
the domination of the fear of the Jews >4 . Two letters 
to the bishop of Berrhoea, a city fifty miles east of Antioch, 
also refer to Jewish outrages of some kind, which Severus 
wishes the bishop to repress with severity. The Patriarch 
has discussed the matter with the governor, who will support 
the bishop's action 5 . In another letter he refers to some 

1 Malalas, XV; P.G., XCVII, p. 568; Michael the Syrian, IX, vi; 
Chron. Pascale^ sub anno 484. 

* Dionysius of Tel Mahre in R.O.C., II, p. 462; Malalas, XVI; P.O., 
XCVII, p. 585. 

3 John of Nikious, Ch. Ixxxix. 

* Zachariah of Mitylene, IX, xxiv. 

5 Letters, ed. Brooks, Bk. I, Nos. 15 and 16. 


question affecting slaves 1 . Unhappily all the references 
are incomplete, and refer to incidents of which we have 
no other information; but they show that Antioch was a 
centre of tension liable at any moment to break into violent 
hostility. A century later it is again the scene of trouble. 
In reaction against the order for their compulsory baptism 
in the reign of Phocas, the Jews broke into a riot, and 
seizing the Patriarch Anastasius murdered him with every 
brutality and dragged his body through the streets. Many 
other prominent Christians were murdered, and troops 
had again to be called in to quell the disturbance 2 . 

It is not entirely fanciful to connect the long story of 
disturbance at Antioch with the inflammatory addresses 
of Chrysostom given half a century before. It may well be 
that the Jews of Antioch were both powerful and aggressive. 
If they were so, they shared these characteristics with the 
Christians of that city. In such a situation it would have 
better become a priest to have tried to calm tempers rather 
than to inflame them with as complete an absence of interest 
in veracity as is shown by Chrysostom. In view of the 
affection of the people of Antioch for the later Patriarch 
of Constantinople, and the halo of persecution which 
surrounds his death in exile, it is to be expected that the 
Antiochians guarded jealously the copies of the sermons 
which he had delivered from their pulpits, and among 
them his long series directed against the Jews. 


These disturbances at Antioch, and the still graver 
disturbances of the following centuries, are also largely 
the consequence of repressive legislation. Though the unity 
which Justinian restored to the empire proved but transitory, 
and though his ceaseless wars only resulted in permanently 
weakening the eastern provinces, on which the power of 
Byzantium relied, yet in his legislation he left an enduring 
mark upon the history of the Jews. The eighth century 

1 Letters, Bk. I, No. 52. 

2 Theophanes, sub anno 601; P.G., CVIII, p. 624. Ephraem Mon, 
Lib. Imp. et Pat. in Cor. Scrip. Byz. XI, p. 62; Michael the Syrian, 


Eclogues of Leo, and the Basilica of Basil a century later, 
are both entirely based upon his work. In western Europe 
the Theodosian Code and its barbarian recensions were 
to hold the field for many centuries to come, but in the 
Middle Ages the influence of Justinian was to be felt in 
the west also. 

Justinian found in the Codex of Theodosius over fifty 
laws dealing with the Jews. Of these he retained a little 
less than half, discarding the others as superfluous or as 
no longer applicable. In some cases these omissions, 
however, meant the abolition of real Jewish privileges. 
Not only were the laws issued at the beginning of the fifth 
century for the protection of Jews and Judaism omitted 1 , 
but the formal statement of the legality of Judaism itself, 
issued by Theodosius the Great 2 , found no place in the 
new statute book. All statements of immunities to be 
granted to synagogue officials were also dropped, especially 
the law of Arcadius putting them on the same basis as the 
clergy of the Christian Church 3 , Neither the Patriarchate 
nor the Aurum Coronarium were revived, but this was not 
to be expected. But there seems no reason why he should 
have dropped the laws allowing them their right of ex- 
communication 4 , or their right to try with their own judges 
cases affecting their own law 5 . 

In retaining laws of earlier emperors the legal experts 
of Justinian used a perfect freedom in altering the texts, 
and in adding, or more usually omitting, paragraphs. 
The versions in the two texts are very rarely word for word 
parallel. In some cases these omissions concerned simply 
the hysterical verbiage with which emperors such as Theo- 
dosius II had emphasised their orthodoxy. In other cases 
parts of a law contradicted other legislation on the same 
subject. In yet others penalties were made more or less 

The laws exercising the most important influence on the 
economic status of the Jews were those which gave or refused 

1 C.T., 16.8.2 and 20. 

2 Ibid. 16.8.9. 

3 Ibid. 16.8.13. 
* Ibid. 16.8.8. 

5 Ibid. 2. 1. 10, which Justinian repeats with the omission of the one 
word which excepts these cases from Roman jurisdiction. Cf. C.J., 1.9.15. 


permission for the unrestricted ownership of slaves. Jus- 
tinian showed himself more severe than his predecessors 
in this matter. Christian, that is Catholic, slaves were 
to be released according to previous legislation 1 , but in 
addition if an heretical slave wished to become Catholic 
he was also to be released and his master could not regain 
possession of him by following him to the font 2 . For some 
reason this law was addressed in the first instance to Africa, 
where the problem was found to be acute, but its main inter- 
est is that for the first time it entrusts the ecclesiastical 
authorities as well as the civil magistrates with its enforce- 
ment. What penalty Justinian attached to the possession of a 
Christian slave is not clear. According to the law just 
quoted the offender was sentenced to death; but a further 
law, which may or may not precede it in date, fixes the penalty 
at a fine of thirty pounds 3 . Justinian also restricted their 
right to acquire property, by forbidding them to lease land 
either from a church or religious order, or from any other 
owner, if a religious building happened to stand upon 
some part of it 4 . Not only the Jew but also the owner 
suffered severely if he offended against the law. The only 
cases in which these laws were not valid were those arising 
out of trusteeship. A Jew was compelled to accept trustee- 
ship for a Christian minor, for trusteeship gave him posses- 
sion of the property only and not the person of the ward 5 . 
In the Theodosian Code there are two laws affecting 
Jews who, to avoid their debts, take refuge in the churches. 
An earlier law of Arcadius ordered them to be refused 
admission. A later law of Honorius allowed them to 
return to Judaism unmolested if they had fled to the church 
for economic and not spiritual reasons. Justinian retained 
the former, but omitted the latter 6 . What testamentary 
rights the Jew retained is not quite clear. Converts to 
Judaism were deprived of these rights byalawofTheodosius 
the Great, and though Justinian omits the greater part of 

1 C.T., 16.9.1, 2 and 4. 

2 C.J., 1.3.54. paras, viii to xi. 

3 Ibid. i. 10.2. 

* Nov. 131. 

5 Digest, 27.1.15. vi. Buckland, Text Bock of Roman Lena, p. 154. 

* C.T., 9-45.2CJ., 1.12.1. The kw omitted is C.T., 16.8.23. 


this law, such cases are probably covered by the general 
denial of such rights to all non- Catholics in Novella 118. 
If the alleged convert was dead his will could be set aside 
on his conversion being proved 1 . If the heirs of a Jew 
became Catholics, then they were still to be entitled to 
special privileges in inheritance 2 . Otherwise it would 
seem that the Jews retained normal testamentary rights 
and were not affected by the general prohibition of the 
Novella 3 . The main economic privilege which they 
retained unchanged was the right to fix their own market 
prices 4 . 

The hostile influences visible in the regulation of their 
economic status are also evident in the attitude taken 
towards their civic rights. Not only were all the laws 
granting certain officials immunity from curial service 
omitted, but the exclusion from the honours of office was 
strengthened. If any Jew was found in a position of 
authority over Christians he was not merely to be degraded, 
as previously, but also to be fined 5 . Moreover, the most 
elementary privileges of rank were to be denied him: 
immunity from arrest, immunity from transference to 
other provinces, and all similar immunities. Equally 
serious was the inclusion of the legal profession among 
the prohibited honours. As in the laws controlling the 
possession of slaves, here also the ecclesiastical authorities 
were given permission to watch over and enforce obedience. 
The curtailment of their jurisdiction has already been 
mentioned. But Justinian also curtailed their right to 
give evidence. So far a Jew, not otherwise disqualified 
as a criminal, was entitled to give evidence on any question 
and in any suit. But now, in two separate laws, this right 
was restricted 6 . In the first place no Jew could give 
evidence in a suit in which either party was a Catholic 
Christian. He could give evidence only where it was a 
matter exclusively affecting Jews or heretics. Even so 

^CJ., 1.7.2. 

2 Ibid. 1.5.13. 

3 Juster, Vol. II, p. 92. 

4 CJ., 1.9.9. 

5 Ibid. 1.9.18. and 1.5.12. 

* Ibid. 1.5.21 and Nov. 45. 


he was better off than Samaritans and members of certain 
heretical sects who were not allowed to give evidence in 
any case whatever. But this rigidity soon proved to be 
unworkable, and in a Novella certain exceptions are made. 
A Jew is entitled to act as witness to a will or contract 
by the earlier law. By the Novella he is also allowed to 
give evidence for the Catholic in a suit between a Catholic 
and a heretic, and, if one party to the suit be the State, 
he is allowed to give evidence for the State against a Catholic. 
This was especially to be allowed when the State was 
proceeding against a defaulter from curial duties. There 
is vague evidence that the Jews also suffered another dis- 
ability, exclusion from the protection afforded by the law 
limiting the right to bring an action to within thirty years 
of the event. In certain editions of the Syrian Roman Law 
book of the fifth century the phrase is used * if a man who 
is a Christian . . .', thereby apparently excluding Jews 1 . 
In the Code of Justinian the law, which was issued by Theo- 
dosius II, makes no mention of * Christian >2 . It is possible, 
therefore, that either he abolished the restriction, or that 
it only existed in Syria. For the Jews to recover a privilege 
which they had lost would have been an unusual, almost 
an unprecedented, event, and the latter alternative is the 
more probable one. The different versions of the Eclogues 
of Leo show that there were often variants in practice 
within the empire. 

It was not to be expected that an emperor who dealt 
thus hardly with their economic and civic status would 
leave their religious position unchallenged. The dropping 
of the Law which expressly states the right of Judaism to 
exist left the Jews at the mercy of the sovereign. He could 
either tolerate or control them as he willed. In theory 
they were, with all other heretics including pagans, 
without any rights whatever. This is laid down in one 
of the earliest laws of Justinian extant, passed while he was 
still co-emperor with his father 3 . He was therefore within 

1 Syrisch-RSnasches Rechtsbuch, ed. Bruns und Sacher, paragraph 
45 in the Arabic and 53 in the Armenian text. Some texts, however, 
read only * if a man . . . *. 

2 C.T., 4.14.1; C.J., 7.39.3. 
*CJ., 1.5.13. 


his legal rights when he confiscated all their synagogues 
in Africa, and handed them over to the Catholic Church 1 . 
Nor could the Jews of Borion make any legal protest when 
he forced them, according to Procopius, to accept baptism 2 . 
But these excesses were exceptional. Normally, so long 
as they remained inoffensive, they were left undisturbed, 
and he retained on the statute book laws ordering their 
synagogues to be respected, and protecting them against 
vexations on the Sabbath 3 . But the penalty for stealing 
their goods was reduced from a triple or quadruple to a 
double restitution. 

In the main Justinian left in force the restrictions imposed 
by previous emperors. The death penalty was imposed 
on those who attacked Jewish converts to Christianity 4 . 
But the convert to Judaism was only punished by exile 
and the confiscation of his goods 5 . The accusation could 
be made after the death of the apostate. Jewish polygamy 
and intermarriage with Christians remained prohibited 6 . 
But a Jew could marry a Christian on accepting Christianity. 
The prohibition of uproarious behaviour at the feast of 
Purim naturally remained in force, but the privilege of 
attending Christian services up to the * missa Catechumen- 
orum ' was withdrawn, at least for Africa 7 . This reverses 
a previous ecclesiastical canon of the African Church 8 . 
The prohibition against building synagogues and the 
restrictions on repairs remained unchanged 9 . In fact, 
it is evident that they were strictly enforced, for the chroni- 
clers have several references to the collapse of synagogues 
in succeeding centuries. Already before the time of 
Justinian there is record of the collapse of the synagogue 
of Beirut in an earthquake 10 . During his reign all the 

1 Nov. 37. See Juster, Vol. I, p. 251, on the text of this law. 

* Procopius, De Aedif., VI, ii. 

'C.J., 1.9.4 (C.T., 7.8.2.); C.J., 14.13 (C.T., 2.8.26); C.J., ^9.14 
(C.T., 16.8.21); CJ., 1. 1 1. 6 (C.T., 16.10.24); see also C.J., 1.9.2. 

4 C.J., i.o. 3 =C.T., 16.8.1. 

5 C.J., 1.7.1 and 2=C.T., 16.8.7 and 16.7.3. 
C.J., i. 9.6 and 7. 

7 Nov. 37. 

* Carthage, IV, Can. 84; Mansi, III, p. 958. 

10 Joshua Stylites, Ch. xlvii. 


synagogues of Laodicea collapsed under similar circum- 
stances, but the earthquake did not touch a single church 1 . 
In another earthquake of the eighth century thirty syna- 
gogues of Tiberias collapsed 2 . It is also possible that by 
local legislation which has perished, or by the chicanery 
of local officials, the Jews of Borion were not the only 
community to lose their synagogue altogether, for when 
during the Monophysite controversy Justinian confiscated 
all the Monophysite churches of Alexandria, c they took 
counsel together to build themselves another church, 
lest they should be like the Jews >3 . The last phrase 
certainly suggests that there were Jewish communities 
with no place of worship. 

But the most surprising innovation of Justinian is the 
attempt in Novella 146 to regulate Jewish beliefs and 
services. All such questions as synagogue procedure 
and Jewish belief had been considered to be matters 
entirely within Jewish jurisdiction. The Jews were wrong 
in what they held, but, that admitted, how they held it was 
a matter of little account. Even the writers who included 
Jewish beliefs in their heresies, such as Epiphanius and 
Philastrius, showed extremely little accurate knowledge 
of the positive content of those beliefs. Mostly like later 
antisemites they seized on a single point to ridicule, 
as does Epiphanius when he describes the main doctrine 
of the Pharisees as astrology. To their minds the denunci- 
ations of the prophets provided adequate material for a 
complete knowledge of what the Jews of the third or fourth 
century AJD. actually believed. But in these regulations 
Justinian or his advisers show that much more accurate 
knowledge was available, and when needed could be put 
to use to the only use conceivable to the Church 
authorities, which was to bring the Jews out of their darkness 
to a true belief in the Incarnation. 

The occasion of the law was a conflict within the syna- 
gogue as to the language in which the Scriptures should 
be read. An appeal was made to the emperor by the party 
which did not understand Hebrew, demanding that the 

1 Malalas, XVIII; P.O., XCVII, p. 652. 

2 Michael the Syrian, XI, xxii. 

3 History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, P.O., I, p. 467. 


Law should be officially read in a language which they could 
understand. The reply of Justinian goes far beyond the 
request made to him. Not only does he side with the party 
making the petition, but he demands the excommunication 
of certain Jewish sects and forbids certain usual portions 
of the synagogue service. 

As to the reading of the Scriptures, he orders that they 
shall be read in Greek, Latin, or any other language which 
is understood by the congregation. He then goes on to 
forbid the explanation which was always given after the 
reading the technical question as to what is actually 
implied in this prohibition is of great importance from the 
point of view of synagogue worship, but is a side issue 
for the present study 1 . Finally he orders the excommuni- 
cation of those who deny that angels are part of the creation, 
or who disbelieve in the resurrection and the judgment. 
Such persons are to be expelled from the synagogue and 
handed over to execution. Those who contravene the 
other portions of the law are to be beaten, exiled and their 
property confiscated. 

To introduce punishable heretical categories into the 
already heretical beliefs of Judaism was an extraordinary 
innovation. For the study of Jewish sects the information 
which this law affords is of special interest, since it shows 
the survival of Sadducaic doctrine into the sixth century. 
But Judaism itself has always been extraordinarily tolerant 
of differences of belief, and it is difficult to believe that 
the inspiration of this section of the law was Jewish in 
origin. Its purpose must be sought not in an attempt of 
one Jewish party to move the imperial power against the 
other, but in the Christian intention obvious behind the 
whole law, and clearly visible in the comments with which 
it is interspersed. 

For the law is obviously intended to undermine from 
within the powers of resistance of Talmudic Judaism to 
Christian missionary activity. Whatever may be exactly 
implied in the interpretations which he prohibits, he clearly 
has in mind the Talmudic method of biblical comment. 
He is referring to what later develops into * pilpul ', but 

1 For a discussion of this question see Krauss, op. cit., p. 57ff-> and Juster, 
Vol. I, p. 369 ff- 


which was not a specifically Jewish characteristic at this 
time. Had he demanded that the Christian theologians 
also abandon interpretations which stray a long way from 
their text, the body of patristic literature would find itself 
reduced to a far more manageable size. It is, however, 
the content of the teaching which he has in mind. 
He is embodying in legislation the complaint frequently 
made by Jerome and others that the Jewish teachers con- 
sciously and deliberately gave teaching which falsified the 
meaning of the original text, and therefore prevented the 
congregation, which could not itself understand Hebrew, 
from seeing the continual allusions to the coming of the 
Messiah in Jesus, and to the passing of the Promises to the 
Christian Church. From the standpoint of sixth-century 
orthodoxy his action is logical and right. To them the 
conventional Christian interpretation of the Scriptures 
was the only possible and sensible one. It leapt to the 
eye from every text. Therefore the Jew must be allowed 
an unrestricted view of the text. 

To make assurance doubly sure, he not only forbids 
the giving of rival interpretations, but he lays down which 
translations are to be used. They must choose between 
the Septuagint and the version of Aquila, for these two 
were felt to give the translations which most clearly vindi- 
cated the claims of Christian exegesis. 

These two prohibitions are a logical result of his whole 
attitude. For the entire law is not only unwarrantable, 
but also inexplicable, except upon the basis that the Church 
accepted as absolutely true the Scriptures which were 
read by the Synagogue. Preachers might and did affirm 
that the Jews neither understood nor appreciated them, 
but the fact remained that they still possessed them, and 
could not legally be deprived of their use. Justinian 
decided to go to the root of the matter. His law is not 
* antisemitic '. It is * grandmotherly '. It is far removed 
from the violent but conventional strictures of the pulpit, 
or even from other laws contained in the Code of Justinian 
himself, where the Jews are described in far from flattering 
terms. It is a serious attempt to make the Jews convert 
themselves. The method is that adopted by the Protestants 
at the Reformation, in their belief that the corrupt power 


of the mediaeval Church would be best destroyed by putting 
into people's hands the actual words of the Bible in the 
language which they could best understand. So Justinian, 
instead of the * handiwork of man speaking only of earthly 
things, and having nothing of the divine in it ', offers 
them the chance ' to start afresh to learn the better way, 
and to cease to stray vainly in error upon the fundamental 
point of hope in God *. 

Though the effort was a failure, and mistaken in its 
hopes, it remains the most interesting attempt of the time 
to solve the Jewish question. There is a more truly Chris- 
tian spirit behind it than there is behind most of the con- 
temporary legislation. Toleration could not in that age 
be expected to go further. As a precedent it was unfortun- 
ate, for it opened the door to obvious abuses. That such an 
effort, made by an outsider in a moment of tension and 
repression, could succeed was impossible. But in a con- 
glomerate of restrictions, denunciations and sneers, it 
stands out as the only measure dictated by a sincere 
attempt to understand why Jew and Christian had drifted 
so far apart. Its diagnosis of the cause was a mistaken 
one. But it is surprising that in that age so serious an 
attempt at diagnosis should have been made. 

The work of Justinian is the last Roman attempt at 
unified Christian legislation affecting the Jews. From tune 
to time in future centuries the papacy will attempt to re- 
create this unity, but without success. Already in the west 
the Jews are suffering in one quarter while they are at peace 
in another. Their treatment depends on the power of 
clergy or of kings, on the religious ideas of the age in ques- 
tion, or on the economic importance of the particular 
Jewish community. 

At the same time the seeds of all later legislation are 
contained in that of Justinian and his predecessors. No 
fundamentally new step will be taken until France has the 
courage to proclaim and put into practice their total equality 
with other citizens. The right to interfere with their 
political, their economic, their juridical status is already 
conceded. The novella just discussed is the precedent 
for the burning of the Talmuds by the Sorbonne in the 
thirteenth century. The temporary actions of Justinian 


in Africa are precedents for the forced baptisms operated 
again and again in Spain and elsewhere. The destruction 
of synagogues finds its first legal authority in him. Finally, 
he first invites the ecclesiastical arm to carry out laws 
affecting the civil rights and civil status of the Jews. The 
extension of these restrictions ultimately produces the 
complete exclusion of the Jew from normal life, concen- 
trates him into a few professions in which he may become, 
or be thought to become, a menace to the community, and 
creates the Jewish type, in so far as such a type exists, 
which is the basis and problem of modern antisemitism. 
And it is clear from all that has been described that the 
motive which set going this chain of events was a religious 
motive, that the Jewish problem to the Christian Roman 
world was a religious problem, and that so far the Jews 
were in no way distinguished from their neighbours by any 
economic or other characteristic, but only by a religious 


As before, the essentially religious character of the treat- 
ment of the Jews is confirmed by the similarities which 
it shows with the treatment of heretics. 

Justinian retains the generalisations of earlier legislation, 
the principle that privileges are for Catholics only, and that 
heretics should rather be given burdens 1 ; he repeats 
the optimistic gesture of Theodosius the Great by which 
they were ordered in all places and at all times to cease to 
exist 2 ; and the prohibition of all their services and the 
confiscation of all their buildings ordered by Arcadius 3 . 
In addition he retains some of the legislation affecting 
individual heresies, especially those of the Manichees, 
Donatists 4 , Eutychians and Apollinarians 6 . 

Justinian also retained the law of Leo by which heretics 
were forbidden under any pretext to acquire Catholic 

^CJ., 1.5.1. 
*Ibid. 1.5.2. 
Ibid. 1.5.3. 
4 Ibid. 1.5-4 ^d 5- 
*Ibid. i. 5 .6 and 8. 


property. He himself enacted the same against the Jews 1 . 
In many of his laws that on the holding of office is an 
example he classed heretics and Jews together under the 
same disabilities 2 . By two laws heretics were punished with 
complete intestability 3 . Their exclusion from office was 
enforced in great detail, and they were also forbidden to 
seek employment in any capacity as teachers, or to receive 
their share in the distribution of grain 4 . From these 
latter privileges the Jews were not excluded. The parallel 
to Novella 146 is the complete prohibition of all heretical 
services whatever 5 . 

In general it may still be stated that the Jew fared some- 
what better than the heretic, though his disabilities were 
of the same kind. There is no striking privilege allowed 
the one and denied the other; and as it would be difficult 
to distinguish the economic significance of the rejection 
of the Apollinarian heresy, so with the Jews, other evidence 
failing, we must accept the legislation affecting them as 
coming from religious motives. 


The activity of imperial legislation made it unnecessary 
for the councils to take action on Jewish questions, and the 
only canon of an eastern council which mentions them 
between the beginning of the fifth and the end of the 
seventh century is the fourteenth canon of Chalcedon. This 
prohibits intermarriage between those degrees of the clergy 
who were still permitted to marry, and heretics, pagans or 
Jews. They were only to be allowed to contract such 
marriages if the non-Catholic in question accepted the 
Catholic faith. 

1 C.J., 1.5.10, and Nov. 131. 

2 Ibid. 1.5.12; cf. ibid. 21. 

3 Ibid. 1.5.18 and 22. 

4 Ibid. 1.5.18. Juster gives convincing reasons for believing that 
this law, though professedly dealing with all who are not Catholics, 
does not apply to Jews. See Vol. I, p. 177, n. 3; and Vol. II, pp. 236 
and 255. 




It has already been said that the violence in Antioch 
and the still more serious troubles which followed in the 
eastern provinces should be closely linked with the re- 
pressive legislation of Justinian. As long as Rome op- 
pressed the Jews under her sway, and the Persians allowed 
their Jewish population full liberty, both religious and 
political, so long were Jewish eyes in the eastern provinces 
of the empire likely to be turned with longing towards the 
frontier. We have already had evidence of this in the 
events of the fourth century, during the reign of Julian 
and the persecution under Shapur II. Succeeding centuries 
which saw Jewish disabilities multiplied by the emperors 
saw the Jewish sympathy with Persia breaking out into 
rebellion against Rome and violent attacks upon the Roman 
population whenever opportunity offered. In the time 
from Anastasius to Leo the Isaurian, whenever there was 
war with Persia there was a danger of a Jewish rising. 
The same was to some extent true, mutatis mutandis, the 
other side of the frontier. Christians, when persecuted 
in Persia, looked with longing eyes westward. But the 
provocation was less, for in general the Persian authorities 
tolerated Christianity on the same terms as they tolerated 
Judaism, and there was consequently less temptation for the 
Christians to betray Persia to Rome when opportunities 

The Persian war lasted from the beginning of the fifth 
century with occasional intermissions until well into the 
seventh. It was largely a war of small campaigns, guerilla 
operations and frontier engagements. It was fought 
over the area in which the Jews were settled in the largest 
numbers, and in which, consequently, their actions had 
the most importance. In the early years of the fifth century 
the Persians attacked the frontier town of Telia, or Constan- 
tia, near Edessa. The Jews were naturally made by the 
Romans to take part in the defence of the town, and were 
allotted the section of the wall on which their synagogue 
was built. They plot to surrender the town by digging 
under the wall, in the synagogue, and communicate this 


plan to the Persians. It is accidentally overheard by a 
prisoner, who manages to communicate it to the defenders. 
They search and find the tunnel. In spite of the appeals 
of the governor and bishop, a terrible massacre of the Jewish 
population follows 1 . Similar betrayals will be discussed 
at later periods also. 

The next report of trouble comes from the other end 
of the frontier. In the south of Arabia there had been 
for some centuries a Himyarite kingdom whose rulers were 
either Jews or under Jewish influence. They retaliated 
for the persecutions which the Jews had to endure under the 
Byzantines by massacring the Byzantine merchants who 
passed through on their way to India 2 . In addition to 
this, there was a period of violent persecution of the 
resident Christians of the area. Either on their appeal, 
or through the influence of Justinian, the Ethiopians, who 
were Christians, undertook to avenge them, and the 
Jewish sovereign was defeated and either was killed or com- 
mitted suicide 3 . While there is no doubt that some incident 
of this kind occurred, the details and extent of the massacre 
of the Christians are extremely obscure, and the narratives 
we possess are not very reliable. 

More serious was the renewed Samaritan outbreak 
which took place early in the reign of Justinian. It is 
one of the few incidents of Byzantine Jewish history to 
which reference is made in western chroniclers, and seems 
to have rivalled in savagery the earlier rebellions of Jews 
and Samaritans. They attempted to set up their own 
state, and crowned their own king. Christians were 
murdered and churches were destroyed throughout the 
country. The rebels hoped to obtain the aid of Persia, 
and were prepared to offer her a considerable body of 
troops. The rising was suppressed with considerable 
difficulty, and the Samaritans thereafter treated with 
ruthless severity by Justinian. Their synagogues were 
destroyed and they were forbidden to build others. They 

1 Joshua Stylites, Ch. Iviii. 

2 John of Nikious, Ch. xc. 

3 A full discussion of this incident and of the letters of Simeon and 
Jacob of Serug will be found in R.E.J., Vols. XVIII and XX, and in the 
Zeitschrift der d. Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft,VoLXXXI,p.36o t and in 
Atti della Acad. delle Lincei, 3rd Series, Vol. VII. 


could only leave their property to orthodox Christians. 
And in addition they were subject to all the disabilities 
from which the worst kind of heretic suffered; their direct 
punishment was also considerable 1 . The enduring hatred 
of the Samaritans for the Byzantines is reflected in the 
travel book of Antoninus Placentius. He relates that as 
they approached Samaria the inhabitants followed them 
and wiped out their foot-prints; and when they tried to 
buy anything, they had to throw the purchase money into 
water to prevent the sellers from feeling themselves 
polluted 2 . 

There were two further risings in the sixth century, 
one at Caesarea, in which the leaders were Jews, and one 
later, during the reign of Justin II, in which Jews and 
Samaritans took part. In both cases there were massacres 
of the Christian population, and churches were destroyed 3 . 
Even if these two risings are in reality a confusion of the 
same incident, yet it is evident that in Palestine, where the 
Jews felt themselves at times at any rate strong enough 
to resist the oppressive legislation and hostile government 
of Constantinople, they were prepared to do so. 

The situation was no different in the seventh century, 
and the consequences of their policy were even more 
fatal to the Byzantines. In the reign of Phocas the Jews 
are said to have meditated a general massacre of the Chris- 
tians of Mesopotamia and a destruction of the churches. 
The plot was betrayed, and the Christians fell upon the 
Jews instead and killed many of them 4 . For this they were 
punished by Phocas with a fine. The incident is only 
reported by a single chronicler, and it would be unjustifiable 
to take it at its face value. Even if the massacre happened, 
it would still not be proved that the Christian belief in a 
general plot against them on the part of the Jews was 
founded on fact. But, on the other hand, it cannot be 
ruled out in this century as impossible. For the Jews 

1 Agapius, in P.O., Vol. VIII, p. 427; Zachariah of Mitylene, IX, viii; 
Malalas, XVIII, p. 656; Ckron.Pasc., P.G., XCII, p. 871; Landolfus, 
Bk. XVIII, xvi, in M.G.H. 4, Auct. n; C.J., 1.5.17. 

*Itineranum, ch. v; P.L., LXXII, p. 897. 

'Theophanes, AJX 548; P.G., CVIII, p. 504? Michael the Syrian, 
IX, xxxi; and John of Ephesus, III, xxvii. 

4 Agapius, P.O., Vol. VIII, p. 449- 


possessed both the provocation and the power for such 
a reprisal, A similar unconfirmed incident at this period is 
the surrender by the Jews to the Persians of the town of 
Neocaesarea in Cappadocia during a Persian raid on the 
province 1 . 

These incidents appear more natural if we realise that 
the eastern Jews were accustomed to arms, and looked to 
Babylon as their spiritual centre. In the Persian forces they 
were sufficiently numerous for a Persian commander on one 
occasion to ask the Byzantine general Belisarius to postpone 
a battle because it would have taken place during the days 
of unleavened bread, when the * Jews and Nazarenes ' 
would not willingly fight 2 . 

While there is much confusion and contradiction in the 
accounts of the Persian invasion of Palestine and the 
capture of Jerusalem in 614, it is certain that the Jews 
of Galilee in some numbers joined the Persian army on its 
passage through the country and assisted in the attack and 
capture of the Holy City 3 . Of the scenes which followed 
the capture of the city many accounts exist. The popular 
story, which is repeated in most of the chroniclers, is that 
the Jews purchased 90,000 Christian prisoners from the 
Persians for the pleasure of putting them to death 4 . Theo- 
phanes, in reporting the incident, takes the precaution of 
adding the words c some say ' to this extravagant narrative 5 . 
That Jews took part in the attack upon Jerusalem and in 
the massacres and destruction of churches which followed, 
it would be difficult to disbelieve. They had every reason 
to hate the Christians and to exult in the destruction 
of the Christian buildings of the city. Whether they 
really expected to be allowed to set up an independent 
Jewish state under the protection of Persia, and were 

1 Sebeos, xxiii, p. 63. 

2 Zachariah of Mitylene, IX, vi. 

3 Eutychius, P.G., CXI, p. 1083, supported by the Ode of Sophronius 
in R.O.C., Vol. II, and Sebeos, xxiv, p. 68. 

4 Theophanes, sub anno 606, P.G.,CVIII, p. 632; George Hamartolus, 
IV, ccxxvii, P.G., CX, p. 829; Michael the Syrian, XI, i (where ithasthe 
appearance of an interpolation). 

5 The English translation of Theophanes carelessly applies ' as some 
say * to the total of those slain. The Greek quite clearly relates the 
phrase to the Jews, and it is so understood in the translation in Migne. 


therefore expelled from the city, is less certain 1 . As to 
the story of the purchase of the 90,000 captives, it would 
seem that its origin was an incident of a very different 
kind. A monk of the monastery of Mar Sabas, who claims 
to have been an eyewitness of the siege and capture, 
relates that when the more valuable prisoners had been 
set aside, the rest, including himself, were imprisoned in 
a dry cistern. Some Jews approached them while they were 
in the cistern and offered to pay the ransom of any who 
would accept Judaism. The Christians refused, and the 
Jews then bought them to massacre them 2 . While the 
narrative of the monk contains that amount of miracle 
and bias to which one is accustomed in documents of this 
period, it would appear to contain a central element of 
truth, and the story that the Jews offered to ransom those 
who would accept Judaism is not the kind of thing that 
would be invented. While it would have been, doubtless, 
more generous to have offered the ransom without the 
condition, some Jews at least can be given the credit for 
an action which was rare on either side at such a time. That 
they purchased 90,000, or any other number, for the purpose 
of slaughtering them, can be dismissed as myth. Had they 
desired, they could have massacred as many as they wished 
to a few days earlier in the attack and sack of the city, and 
could have done it without payment. 

When, fifteen years later, Heraclius entered Palestine 
and recaptured Jerusalem, the Jews met him at Tiberias 
and begged from him a written guarantee of security, 
which he gave them. But when he entered the Holy City, 
and was told by the monks of the destruction which the 
Jews had wrought, he withdrew the promise and executed 
many of them 3 . 

Two other incidents are mentioned from the campaigns 
of Heraclius. While he was in Persia the Jews of Edessa 
either helped the Persians against him, or refused to admit 
him after the departure of the Persian army 4 . On another 

1 Michael the Syrian, XI, i. Cf. Chron. Anon, in C.S t C.O., S.S., 
Ser. Ill, T. iv, p. 23, and Sebeos, rxiv, p. 69. 

2 See R.O.C., Vol. II. 

8 Theophanes, sub anno 620, P.G., CVIH, p. 675, and Eutychms, 
P.O., CXI, p. 1089. 

4 Agapius, P.O., VIII, p. 4^6, and Sebe6s, xxx, p. 94- 


occasion, when all the Roman troops were withdrawn 
from Syria for the defence of Constantinople, the Jews of 
Tyre tried to secure the co-operation of the Jews of the 
surrounding region for an attack upon the Christians of the 
city. But again they were betrayed, and when their con- 
federates arrived they found the gates barred against them. 
They began to devastate the surrounding region, but for 
every church they destroyed the Tyrians executed a number 
of Jews, until, discouraged, they retired 1 . This incident, 
like the projected massacre of the Christians of Mesopotamia, 
may not be historical. Eutychius is not a conspicuously 
accurate historian, and the narrative has somewhat the air 
of invention. 

The Byzantines had but a short while in which to enjoy 
their possession of Palestine. When, within a few years, it 
fell before the Moslem invaders, the Jews took their revenge 
for the executions of Heraclius by taking the part of the 
Moslems against them 2 . At a later date various versions of 
an imaginary treaty of alliance between the Moslems and 
Christians against the Jews were invented by Christians 
living under Moslem rule, but they have no historical 
basis 3 . The Jews, however, seem to have had friendly 
relations with the Moslems both in Palestine and Alexan- 
dria 4 , and are said to have surrendered Caesarea to them. 
But this may be a confusion with the earlier Persian raid 
upon Neocaesarea in Cappadocia 5 . At the surrender of 
Alexandria special provision was made for them 6 . Finally, 
they were employed to buy church plate by Abdelas, the 
Mahometan governor of Syria 7 . 

But the most mysterious Jew of the time is to be found in 
the simple statement of John of Nikious that ' a Jew accom- 
panied the army of the Moslems to Egypt '. On this slender 
foundation a modern historian makes of him a spy, a guide, 

1 Eutychius, P.O., CXI, p. 1084. 

2 Michael the Syrian, XI, ix; Sebeos, xxxi. 

3 Cf. the Nestorian History, cii, P.O., XIII, p. 602 ff. 

4 Maximus Confessor, Ep. xiv; P.G., XCI, p. 540. 

5 Dionysius of Tel Mahre, IV, xxiv. 

6 John of Nikious, cxx; the Arab chronicler Tabari, however, does 
not refer to any provision for the Jews. 

7 Theophanes, anno 749, P.G., CVIII, p. 863. 


a general dealer in prisoners and booty, responsible for the 
fall of Alexandria, and a companion of those who betrayed 
Caesarea 1 . 

This long list of betrayals and treason, of hostility 
and massacre, is attributed by the ancient chroniclers, and 
at times by modern historians, to the innate malice and 
inveterate hostility of the Jew to all things Christian. A 
more scientific reason is to be found in the legislation 
of Justinian, the violence of the Christians themselves 
towards the Jews, and the general lawlessness of the times. 


All the tales of violence recounted in the previous section 
can be definitely related to the political conditions of the 
time. Apart from the massacre of the Himyarite Christians, 
which was said to be retaliation for the actions of Justinian, 
they were all connected with the friendship felt for Persia. 
But on the Christian side there is also evidence of purely 
religious hostility and violence. John of Ephesus recounts 
proudly that on his own mission through Asia he had turned 
no less than seven synagogues into churches an action 
which was definitely illegal, and could only be carried 
out with violence 2 . He also relates the pious actions of 
the monk Sergius at Amida. He had built himself a hut 
in a village where there were many Jews, in order to dispute 
with them. He used to * gnash his teeth at them daily ', 
exclaiming that * these crucifiers of the Son of God ought 
not to be allowed to live at all ', and he was particularly 
severe with Christians who had any business dealings 
with them. As these actions produced no effect, he gathered 
his disciples and burnt down the synagogue. This caused 
great annoyance to the Christians, who lost a considerable 
sum thereby 3 . The Jews went to the nearest town to 

1 J. Pargoire, rEglise Byzantine de 527 a &#, p. 172 ff., based on 
John of Nikious, cxviii. 

2 Lives of Eastern Saints, P.O., XVIII, p. 681. There is a service 
for the consecration of a synagogue in the Gelasian Sacramentary 
Assemani, Vol. IV, pt. 2, p. 90. See Appendix 4. 

* This sum may have been a kind of blackmail paid by the Jews to be 
left in peace. 


complain, and in their absence Sergius and his disciples 
extinguished the fire and rapidly built and consecrated a 
chapel on the site. This was completed in a week, and 
the Jews on their return did not know what to do, as Sergius 
was still urging his disciples against them. So they burm 
down the huts of Sergius and his followers. But Sergius 
easily rebuilt them. Then the Jews built a new synagogue 
and Sergius pulled it down. Undismayed, they built a third 
and his disciples burnt it. So the Jews gave up the struggL 
and, victory obtained, Sergius * continued his habitua 
practice of love towards God and towards strangers for fort? 
years J1 . 

That it was the monks and not the local Christiai 
clergy and population which manifested such hostilit 
is clear from an incident at Nisibis, where the Jew 
had the support of the Christians of the town in 
complaint to the bishop about the conduct of the monk 
and of the head of the monastery, Mar Abraham 2 . 

On the other hand we occasionally hear of Jew 
taking part in mob action against one political or ecclesi 
astical party or another, especially in Constantinople 1 
But we hear nothing of purely Jewish rioting, except for th 
story of a seventh-century Forerunner of the Messiah wh 
appeared on the Euphrates and, after collecting som 
four hundred followers, sacked several churches and kille 
the local governor. He was taken prisoner and crucified 
Times of persecution have, as we have already seen, 
produced Messianic effervescence, but the Jews 
rarely suffered from so complete a scoundrel as the successc 
to the gentleman from the Euphrates. This was a Christia 
in Syria who, having seduced a Jewish girl and incurre 
the anger of the Jewish community thereby, took to fligl 
and having studied magic returned and gave himself o' 
as Moses. Having convinced many of his claims he to< 
all their money and led them into the wilderness, whe 

1 John of Ephesus, Life of S. Sergius, P.O., XVII, p. 90. 

2 Barhadbesabba 'Arbaia, Ecc. Hist., II, xxxii, in P.O., IX, p. 626. 

3 John of Ephesus, History, III, xxxi, ed. Payne Smith, p. 21 
Nicephorus of Constantinople, De rebus p. Maur. gestis' t P.G., C, p. 9: 
Doctrina Jacdbi, bcii. 

4 Ckron. Anon, in C.S.C.O., Script. Syr., Ill, pt. iv, p. 27. 


they died of starvation. But enough of them came to their 
senses in time to seize him and surrender him to the Emir, 
who allowed them to execute him themselves 1 . 

A graver attack upon their situation than from such a 
Messiah came from some of the emperors themselves. 
It is recorded of Maurice and of his two successors, Phocas 
and Heraclius, and of Leo the Isaurian, that they ordered 
the Jews of their dominions to be baptised. In addition 
to these precise references, Michael the Syrian records 
at about the date of A.D. 660 that * at that time many 
Jews became converts to Christianity ', without saying why 2 . 
Each of these forced baptisms is related by a different 
chronicler, and it is possible that they may be duplicates 
of each other. Of Maurice it is related that to show his 
orthodoxy at the beginning of his reign he instructed his 
cousin Domitian to cause all Jews and Samaritans to be 
compulsorily baptised. This was done, and though they 
turned out very bad Christians, Domitian compelled 
the clergy to admit them to ecclesiastical functions 3 . The 
story of Phocas is somewhat similar. The action takes place 
in Palestine, and the mention of Samaritans in the previous 
story also suggests Palestine. The Jews try to evade the 
issue by saying that the time for baptism is past, but the 
Prefect, infuriated by this ingenuity, orders and accom- 
plishes their immediate immersion 4 . 

More frequently repeated is the story of Heraclius. 
This is to be found in western chroniclers also, since he 
persuaded Dagobert to follow his example in France. 
Warned in a dream that his power would be destroyed by 
4 the circumcised 3 , he ordered the baptism of all the Jews 
in his dominions, and though many fled to Persia, many 
were constrained ' to cease to be circumcised by the waters 
of baptism ' 5 . Actually, the warning applied to the Arabs. 

1 Dionysius of Tel Mahre, ed. Chabot, p. 25; Barhebraeus, ed. Budge, 
p. 109; Agapius, in P.O., VIII, p. 504; Michael the Syrian, XI, xix; 
Theophanes, anno 715, P.G., CVIII, p. 812. 

2 Michael the Syrian, XI, xii. 

3 John of Nikious, xcix. 

4 Dionysius of Tel Mahre, for the (Seleucid) year 928. 

5 Michael the Syrian, XI, iv; cf. Gesta Dagoberti, xxv, in P.L., XCVI, 
p. 1405. 


The forced baptism ordered by Leo was no more effective; 
for while disagreeing in detail the chroniclers who relate 
the event agree that the Jews * unbaptised themselves *, 
and then profaned the sacraments by partaking of them 1 . 

While it is possible that in reality there were only three 
or four instead of five cases of compulsory baptism in the 
period from Maurice to Leo, yet even these show the 
gravity of the dropping by Justinian of the fundamental 
law of Theodosius: ' Judaeorum sectam nulla lege pro- 
hibitam satis constat ' 2 a law which was itself, by a tragic 
coincidence, addressed to the eastern provinces of the 


Though the followers of Justinian and the ecclesiastics 
of the sixth century thus marked their attitude to the 
Jews by arbitrary acts rather than fresh law-making, neither 
were completely silent in legislation. It is not always 
easy to be quite sure when Jews are definitely envisaged, 
for the laws occasionally refer simply to * Christians ', 
whereby it is uncertain whether they affect Jews or not. 
Thus in a local law book of Syria, which actually precedes 
the reign of Justinian, the statute of limitations is said in 
certain manuscripts to apply to * Christians '. In some 
cases the copyists themselves were clearly uncertain. The 
law referred to contains the three versions: ' when a man . . .', 
* when a Christian . . .', and finally * when a man who is 
a Christian . . .'. In the last case it is fairly evident 
that the copyist meant to exclude Jews. In the second 
case he is possibly referring to a Byzantine subject, as 
opposed to his Islamic neighbours. The first text may 
be the original, for neither in Theodosius nor in Justinian 
is there any mention of religious distinction in the statute 3 , 

1 Theophanes, Chron., year 714; P.G., CVIII, p. 809; Ekkehard, 
Chron. Univ., year 723, in M.G.H. folio, VI, p. 157; George Hamartolus, 
Chron., IV, ccl; P.G., CX, p. 928. 

*C.T., 16.8.9. 

3 Syrisch-Rdmlsches Rechtsbuch, para. 45 in the Arabic text, and 53 
in the Armenian. Two other texts do not mention religion (pp. 107 and 
76). See also p. 249, n. i. 


and Theodoric, writing to the Jews of Milan, mentions 
specifically that the statute of limitations does apply to 
them 1 . Thus, without new law-making, but by simple 
copying, the Jews may have lost this right at some period 
subsequent to Justinian. 

A full revision of the Code of Justinian was not attempted 
until the reign of the emperor Basil at the end of the ninth 
century, but in the meantime certain simplified handbooks 
known as the * Eclogues ' were issued by Leo the Isaurian. 
We possess various versions of different dates of these laws, 
and on the whole they contain nothing fresh. But they 
illustrate again how one law led to another, and always in 
the sense of fresh restrictions. Thus a law of Leo allows 
either Jewish parent to decide that a child shall be brought 
up as a Christian 2 . An edition of the end of the eighth 
century only allows orthodox children to inherit property 3 . 
In this way ancient laws affecting inheritance on the one 
hand, and mixed marriages on the other, are interpreted in 
such a way as to go far beyond their original intention. 
Justinian ordered the children of mixed marriages to be 
brought up as Christian: Leo encouraged Jewish parents to 
have their children baptised. Justinian insisted that Chris- 
tian children of Jews should share in an inheritance: Leo 
allowed no others any part in it. 

Similarly the Ectega Privata Aucta ordains that all 
witnesses shall swear on the gospel before giving evidence 4 , 
and from this it is a natural step explicitly to refuse Jewish 
evidence altogether 5 , or to invent strange and humiliating 
forms in which alone it could be allowed 8 . 

One problem still remains permanent with the legislators 
throughout, the problem of preventing Jews from owning 
Christian slaves, and from converting them to Judaism 7 . 
It was still necessary to maintain the death penalty for those 

1 Cassiodorus, Varia > V, 37. 

2 Ecloga, app. iv, 7. 

3 Ecloga Privata Aucta, vii, 18. 

* Ibid, xv, 7. 

5 Basilica, 21.145. 

* Ecloga ad Procheiron Mutata (i2th cent.), rxviii (xxvi), 14. 

7 Ecloga, app. vi, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30; Epanagoge, xl, 33 and 34, etc. 


who effected the conversion, and the complete loss of his 
property for the converted 1 . 

The identification of the secular and religious power 
is shown in a curious form in the original Ecloga, in that 
it contains as a supplement Mosaic laws on forty-seven 
different subjects, simply extracted from the Pentateuch 
without any effort to cast them into Byzantine shape, or to 
adapt them to Byzantine penalties 2 . 

The councils of this period have little to say about the 
Jews, but they reflect the general state of affairs created both 
by the forced baptisms of various emperors, and by the 
legislation of the period from Justinian onwards. What 
is surprising is that they also reveal the existence of 
Judaising tendencies within the Church, and offer evidence 
that relations between Jews and Christians were just as 
close as they had been formerly, in spite of all the laws and 
canons which had been passed. The forced baptisms 
created a class of c Marranos ', and the various disabilities 
under which the Jews suffered must have tempted others 
to effect a superficial transference of their allegiance. With 
this class the second council of Nicaea in 787 tried to cope 
by prohibiting the admission to Christian rites of Hebrews 
who hypocritically pretended to be Christian. In particular, 
baptism was to be refused to their children in which 
prohibition the fathers at Nicaea showed much less acumen 
than Gregory the Great 3 . 

The council ' in Trullo ' refers both to the existence 
of Jewish superstitions in Armenia 4 , and in general to 
close friendship between even the clergy and the Jews. In 
particular it is specified that they are not to eat unleavened 
bread with the Jews, accept their hospitality in any form, 
visit them in sickness, receive medicine from them, or 
visit the baths with them 5 . 

Some reflection of the position suggested by this canon 
is to be found in a pastoral letter of Gregory of Nyssa 

1 Ecloga, app. vi, 16 and 24. 

* Ecloga> ed. Freshfield, pp. 142-144. 

s Nicaea, II, Can. 8; different texts of this canon will be found in 
Harduin, IV, p. 491, and Mansi, XIII, p. 751. 

* In Trullo, Canons 33 and 99; in Mansi, XI, p. 958. 

* In Trullo, Canon n; Mansi, XI, p. 946. 


of the fifth century. He refers to Christians who have 
become Jews and on their death-bed repented, and instructs 
that they are to be received back into the Church 1 . If 
Gregory confirms the fact that there were Christians passing 
to Judaism, Severus of Antioch reveals in his Catechetical 
Addresses that there were Jews listening to Christian 
teaching. In a most interesting passage he explains that 
the Trinitarian doctrine contains nothing to offend Jews 
and Samaritans who may be listening to him 2 . 

While it will be necessary to postpone a discussion of 
the general relationships between Jews and Christians 
in the early Byzantine empire until other aspects of the 
situation have been considered, it can be suggested already 
that the laws and events related in this chapter have not yet 
had the effect of creating an absolute gulf between Jews 
and Christians, and that the evidence of passage from the 
one faith to the other is also evidence of the existence of 
some mutual respect and genuine friendship among ordinary 
folk. In fact, even the clergy were not unaffected by this 
feeling, for we find a canon of uncertain date not only 
forbidding worldly minded clerics to indulge in money- 
lending and similar occupations, but especially insisting 
that they shall not take Jews into partnership in such 
activities 3 . 

1 Gregory of Nyssa, Ep. to the bishop of Melitene,P.G.,XLV, p. 225. 

2 Severus of Antioch, Catechetical Address 70, in P.O., XII, pp. 19 
and 28. 

3 Forged Canons of Nicaea, No. 52; Mansi, II, p. 969. 



The source material for this chapter is mainly taken 
from two collections, the Patrologia Orientalis and the 
Revue de 1 'Orient Chretien. Other sources are indicated 
in the footnotes. While the Greek literature of the period 
has been known for a long time, and some of the works 
here quoted are to be found in western editions of the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the general atmosphere 
of the period can best be gauged from such collections as 
the eastern synaxaries, the lives of the eastern saints by 
John of Ephesus, or the history of the patriarchs of Alex- 
andria. And all these are works which have only recently 
become available to scholars ignorant of the languages 
of the near east. It is from these sources that the new 
element in Byzantine literature is best appreciated. 

Certain aspects of the subject have been treated in 
special detail, especially the stories of images; and a good 
study of the later disputations is to be found in the intro- 
duction of Bardy to the Trophies of Damascus. 




BUDGE, E. A. W. 



Les Trophees de Damas, in P. O., 
Vol. XV. 

Doctrina Jacobi nuper Baptizati y 
Abhandlung der Kglch. Ges. Got- 
tingen, Band XII, 1909-1912. 

History of a Likeness of Christ 
which the accursed Jews in the 
city of Tiberias made a mock of, 
Luzac, Semitic Texts and Trans- 
lations, Vol. V, 1899. 

A Sermon on Penitence ascribed to 
Cyril of Alexandria; in Melanges 
de la Faculte Orientale. Beyrouth, 
Vol. VI. 

Christus-Bilder ; Texte und Unter- 
suchungen, XVIII, p. 281**. 

Byzantinische Literaturgeschichte. 
Munich, 1897. 

UEglise Byzantine de 527 a 847. 
Paris, Lecoffre, 1905. 

Aphraate, P.S., Vol. I. (The Post 
Nicene Fathers, Vol. XII I, translates 
Demonstrations i, v, vi, viii, x, 
xvii, xxi, xxii. 


The passage from the Graeco-Roman to the Byzantine- 
Oriental world was doubtless a gradual one. The intellec- 
tual activity of classical ecclesiastical scholarship did not 
disappear all at once, and it was preceded by the collapse of 
the economic and political stability of society. But when it 
disappeared it disappeared for centuries. 

Byzantine literature presents a sorry spectacle to the 
modern Christian historian. The violence of ecclesiastical 
passions, the bloodshed of their controversies, found their 
counterpart in a literature marked by an almost complete 
indifference to ethical and moral values. 

The fathers of the early centuries may have held many 
beliefs we would reject to-day. But within their concep- 
tions they were intellectually honest. They were prepared 
to use the law against their opponents, but rarely the 
bludgeon and the sword. The writings and actions of 
their eastern successors would have shocked them pro- 
foundly. This change maybe partlydueto thegeneral decline 
of society, but is still more the result of the increasing 
influence of an oriental civilisation which had never been 
deeply affected by the intellectual history of Greece or the 
political history of Rome. 

The Greek literature of Byzantium is for some centuries 
merely a pale shadow of the past. The new developments 
are shown in the writings of Syrian, Coptic, Armenian, 
and Ethiopian ecclesiastics. In a few centuries these 
different groups split into different Churches at war with 
each other, but in their general conceptions and in the 
general quality of their literature they remained members 
of one family, owing, spiritually at least, allegiance to the 
most powerful of the eastern Christian communities, the 
empire of Byzantium. 

The scholarship of recent years has enormously enriched 
our knowledge of the early literature of these different 
Churches. To-day we can study the lives of these com- 
munities not in a few chroniclers and theologians, but in a 
mass of hagiological literature, apocryphal gospels and 
acts, novels, historical romances, controversies, biographies 
and letters. 


The creation of a theological picture of the Jews has 
already been traced in the literature of the first four cen- 
turies. Now we can see the second stage of the development, 
the creation of a popular religious picture of them, a picture 
such as the lower clergy, monks and laity would be likely 
to obtain in the literature which was meant for their con- 


There were many reasons why the Jews should present 
a special interest to the inhabitants of the eastern provinces. 
They were naturally more numerous and more widely 
scattered in the east than in the west. But also they were 
much less easily distinguishable from the rest of the popula- 
tion. If events caused them in the west to be concentrated 
geographically and occupationally, no such causes were 
operative in the east. 

As an example of the ease with which they could be 
confounded with the rest of the population, both in appear- 
ance and in occupation, there is the story of S. Simeon 
the Mountaineer as related by John of Ephesus 1 . Simeon 
comes upon a large population living isolated in a moun- 
tainous region east of the Euphrates, where he expected 
to find no one. He asks them who they are, and how they 
are able in their isolation to maintain orthodox religious 
services. They profess complete ignorance as to what 
he is talking about, whereupon Simeon bursts into tears 
and begs them to tell him the truth: * Tell me, my sons, are 
you Christians or Jews? * But the question made them 
indignant, and they replied: ' We are Christians; do not 
call us Jews '. Another example of the completeness with 
which they shared the lives of those surrounding them is 
the story of Abdul Masih told in chapter Four. The 
Jewish lad fed his flocks with Christian and Magian children. 

Moreover, it must be recognised that the ways of thinking 
of Jew and Christian were very similar. Modern scholars 
are apt to hold up their hands in horror at the hair-splitting 

1 John of Ephesus, Lives of the Eastern Saints, xvi; P.O., XVII, p. 234. 


discussions of the Talmud, but the eastern theologians, 
especially the defenders of monasticism, acted in very 
similar ways. The referring of all kinds of precepts back 
to the revelation given to Moses finds its counterpart 
in the tracing of the monastic rule back to Elijah, Elisha 
and the sons of the prophets. Their methods are thus 
described by Dom J. Besse: * The whole of Holy Scripture 
became the real rule of the monks. They were accustomed 
to look for an allegorical meaning in all the passages of the 
Bible, and thus it was easy for them to find anywhere, 
even in most insignificant details, precepts or examples 
which revealed to them the nature and extent of their 
obligations '*. But such was exactly the task and method 
of the Jewish scholar of Babylon, and if the Jew went 
further than the Christian in the field of the invention of 
miracles and incidents in the lives of the respective founders 
of their faiths, the Christian went a long way beyond the 
Jew in the exhibition of a complete contempt for the 
morality and ethical significance of their inventions. Jewish 
stories were often puerile. Christian stories were still 
more often perverted and diseased. The revolting tortures 
of the martyrs, their senseless and repulsive miracles, as 
related in all the eastern Acta, surpass anything related in 
the Talmud. 

This is not a study of the relative merits of Judaism and 
Christianity, and it is not necessary to examine in details 
these vagaries of the human mind, but it is at least important 
to realise that the eastern Jew had to do with the eastern 
Christian, and that the Talmud, if its strength and weak- 
ness are to be properly understood, has to be judged in 
its proper setting and not contrasted with western thought 
of the modern period. 

But the Jews were not only physically indistinguishable 
from, and occupationally mingled with, the general popula- 
tion. They not only thought in ways similar to the rest 
of the population. There was another reason for the 
Christians to take a special interest in them. The Jews of 
the east were in a much more powerful position than their 
western brethren for influencing their neighbours. Europe 
at this period contained no great intellectual Jewish centres. 

1 Les Regies Monastiques Orientates in R.O.C., Vol. IV, p. 466. 


Jewish scholars were largely concentrated in Palestine and 
Babylon. Hence ' disputations ' were more frequent and 
more lively. Though the Spain of the Visigoths contained 
a considerable Jewish population, neither Julian of Toledo 
nor Isidore of Seville, both of whom wrote against the 
Jews, showed the slightest signs of ever having met a Jew. 
Throughout, Byzantine literature of the same class shows 
close acquaintance with actual Jewish arguments in defence 
of Judaism and against Christianity. The Greek and 
Latin * Altercations ' differ in nothing from the many 
discourses c Contra Judaeos ', except in that they are cast 
in dialogue form. The Jew has never a leg to stand on. 
But in the east even those writings which are not in dialogue 
form reproduce definite and plausible Jewish arguments, 
and are at times hard put to answer them. The steady 
increase of the miraculous element in the conversions 
recounted may well be the psychological compensation 
for actual defeats. 


The earliest writing of this class which we possess is 
the Rhythm against the Jews of Ephrem the Syrian 1 . 
This is a poetical sermon delivered on Palm Sunday, and 
its subject is naturally the triumphant entry of Christ into 
Jerusalem and His subsequent rejection by the Jews. In 
itself the sermon is not very different from other works 
of the kind. By making the idea of the synagogue as a harlot 
the theme for his verse, he is able to indulge in many 
unpleasant allusions suitable to his text, but that is all. 

His successor, Aphraates, * the Persian Sage', shows much 
more familiarity with the points at issue. Though his 
theology would have appalled the Nicene fathers, he gives 
the impression of an honest shepherd doing his best to 
defend his flock against the dangers presented by the 
presence of many Jews among them; and on the whole 

1 In the ' Select Works * of Ephrem, translated by J. B. Morris. 
Oxford, 1847. 


he speaks without bitterness 1 . Though he belongs to the 
fourth century, the century of Christological controversy, 
he is content to explain the nature of Christ by pointing 
out to f the Jews that Moses is also called * God ', and that 
Israel is called * Son ' and * Firstborn ' 2 . To this a Jew 
might well reply, c Have you ever heard of a homoousian 
controversy among the rabbis as to the nature of Moses? * 

Aphraates is by no means ignorant of rabbinical Judaism, 
He can quote to the Jews their own interpretations, and 
is even ready to adopt them himself when he finds them 
useful 3 . He constantly refers to his * learned Jewish 
opponent ' 4 , and it is quite evident that this man was a 
real figure, not a rhetorical creation. He frequently asks 
him to explain points which he evidently considers un- 
answerable, and though in his * Demonstrations ' these are 
naturally rhetorical questions, it is likely that they represent 
real questions in some battle of texts which he had had 
with actual Jews. Thus he challenges him to show that 
Deuteronomy xxxii, 21, is not a reference to the Christians 5 . 
He quotes Jeremiah ii, 8, with its condemnation of the 
leaders of the Jews, and tells them that being blind them- 
selves they are inviting him to be blind also 6 . He asks 
them to reconcile their distinctions of meats with Samson's 
eating honey from a lion 7 . 

He relates that, on their side, the Jews mocked at the 
monkish system with its abstinence from marriage. To 
this Aphraates retorts by a list of the unfortunate marriages 
of the Old Testament Adam, whose sons were so wicked 
that the Flood was needed to cleanse the world of them, 

1 The article * Aphraates * in the Jewish Encyclopaedia is worth 

1 Aphraates, Demonstration xvii. 

3 See introduction to Aphraates by Fr. Parisot, p. xlix ff. 

* Dem. x, i; xii, 7; xv, 8, etc. 

6 ' They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they 
have provoked me to anger with their vanities; and I will move them to 
jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger 
with a foolish nation * (see Dem. xii, 3). 

* * The priests said not, " Where is the Lord? " and they that handle 
the law knew me not: the rulers also transgressed against me, and the 
prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit * 
(see Dem. xiv, 26). 

7 Dem. xv, 2. 


Eli and his sons, Solomon and his wives and complains 
that the Jews by their clever casuistry destroy the minds 
of the simple Christians 1 . They mocked at Christian 
poverty 2 . They mocked at the Christian refusal to fight, 
and their inability to stop persecution 3 . And they contrasted 
the miserable condition of the Christians under Shapur 
with their own glorious future 4 . To these last questions 
the reply of Aphraates is interesting. He shows how even 
in the Old Testament suffering was a cause of blessing, 
and he points them to Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, 
Jephthah, David, Elijah, Elisha, and other heroes of their 
own. One whole Demonstration is devoted to proving 
that the Christian belief in the divinity of Christ does not 
infringe the unity of God 5 . 

Aphraates has evidently to deal not only with the attacks 
of Jews upon Christian doctrine, but also with the attractive 
power of Judaism over his own flock. The Jews claimed 
to have something in the rite of circumcision that the 
Christians had not got. He replies with unusual calm and 
weight, and with an absence of invective. Abraham was 
not circumcised when he received the promises, and the 
sons of Ishmael, though circumcised, are outside the 
promises. It is therefore evident that circumcision cannot 
of itself be an essential 6 . In equally measured argument 
he deals with the case for the Sabbath, showing that the 
purpose of the Sabbath is not to impose a rule of life and 
death for its observance, or non-observance, but to secure 
mankind quiet and recreation 7 . In another Demonstration 
he explains the superiority of the Easter of the Christians 
over the Passover of the Jews 8 . 

In all these Demonstrations he gives the impression of 
dealing with an opponent whom he respects, and who 
demands all his wits and sincerity. But his calm breaks 

1 Dem. xviii. 

* Ibid, vi, 20. 

* Ibid, v and xxi. 

4 Ibid. xxi. 

5 Ibid. xvii. 
*lbid. xi. 

7 Ibid. xiii. 
*Ibid. xii. 


down in dealing with the question of the restoration of the 
Jews, obviously a point which troubled his congregation. 
In one Demonstration, by the familiar method of text 
arrangement, he reaches the conclusion that there are two 
congregations, Israel and Judah, which are of fornication 
and adultery respectively, and one true congregation which 
is the Gentile Church 1 . All the prophecies which refer 
to the return of the Jews have been fulfilled in the return 
from Babylon. There is no further return possible, and 
he adds, * I will now write and prove to you that 
neither God, nor Moses, nor the prophets were ever well 
disposed towards the Jews >2 . 

In view of the fact that Aphraates was evidently facing 
real dangers, his tone with few exceptions is amazingly 
reasonable. He was not a great theologian, but he had a 
clear mind, and was a good reasoner. He is one of the 
best examples in antiquity, not of the great intellectual, 
but of the first-class parish priest, dealing steadily and to 
the best of his ability with the problems which confronted 
his flock, themselves probably relatively simple folk, in the 
presence of the Jewish intellects of the Talmudic schools. 

A century later we have a third Christian apologist in 
the same region, Jacob of Serug. From his pen we possess 
three ' Homilies against the Jews *, in which he also appears 
to be dealing with real difficulties raised in the minds of 
his congregation by their Jewish neighbours 3 . He avoids 
the conventional abuse directed against the crucifiers of 
Christ, and reproaches them rather for not subsequently 
recognising the fulfilment of prophecy in Him. His strong 
point is that a prophecy cannot be fulfilled twice, and that 
therefore there is nothing left for which the Jews can wait. 
' Our Lord when He came grasped the totality of prophecy *, 
and therefore gave no opportunity for another to come 4 . 

1 Dem. xvi. 

* Ibid. xix. Hillel had already stated that prophecy could not be 
fulfilled twice and that all the Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in the 
days of Hezekiah (T. B. Sanhedrin, 980) but it is unlikely that Aphraates 
was aware of this. 

3 I am indebted to the Rev. Dr. I. K. Cosgrove for the texts of these 
homilies, and I hope that his commentary on them will have already 
appeared by the time this is in print. 

4 Horn, i, 283, 


In very different tone is the Taunt Song of Jacob against 
the Himyarite Jews for the persecution of the Christians 
in southern Arabia 1 . This poem is merely a violent diatribe 
against the Jews as the permanent enemies of the Christians, 
and the lines of the attack are purely conventional. He 
adduces no special evidence from Persian or oriental 
history to support his statements. 


In many ways these eastern homilies tell us more of 
the arguments of Jews against Christianity than the dialogues 
which were composed in large numbers from the earliest 
times. The most famous of these, Justin's Dialogue with 
Trypho, has already been extensively quoted. To the same 
century probably belonged the lost Dialogue of Jason and 
Papiscus, which formed the foundation of two fourth- 
century dialogues, that of Zacchaeus and Athanasius, and that 
of Timothy and Aquila. In both, and presumably in the 
original form from which they are drawn, the Jew is 
little more than a dummy figure, unable to reply to the 
arguments on the Person of Christ and the reality of the 
Incarnation which the Christian advances, and in both he 
ultimately accepts conversion. The same description would 
also apply to the fifth-century Dialogue of Theophilus 
and Simon ascribed to a monk Evagrius. Thus though 
they are of considerable interest from other points of view 
they add little to the present study. It is significant that 
in the Disputation of the sixth-century abbot, Anastasius 
of Sinai, the Jew never appears at all, but is only the passive 
recipient of the dialectic of the Christian apologist 2 . 

1 *Totschreiten Jacobs v. Serug an die himyaritische Christen', by 
R.SchSter, in the Zeitschrift der d.Morgenl&ndischen GeseIlschaft,XXXX, 
p. 3&>. 

* The authorship of this work is not certain. Though found among 
the writings of Anastasius it is ascribed by some to a later epoch because 
of certain affiliations with other controversial works of the same character. 
But the detailed study and publication of Jewish-Christian controversies 
is not yet far enough advanced to take definite decisions, and for our 
present purpose the question of authorship and even of date is not of 
great importance. 


The arguments of Anastasius show a considerable amount 
of originality. While the questions of the Incarnation and 
the nature of Christ as proved by prophecy inevitably 
occupy a large part of the work, other portions are distinctly 
original. The author makes considerable use of the New 
Testament, especially of the epistles to the Romans and 
to the Hebrews 1 , reproducing the Pauline arguments 
against the law, and the arguments of the author of the 
epistle to the Hebrews that it was necessary for Christ to 
share our nature. 

There is a long section dealing with the history of Chris- 
tianity, though the arguments which he there uses in 
favour of Christianity might with greater justice be repeated 
to-day in favour of Judaism. For he argues that no faith 
unless it were true and protected of God could possibly 
have survived so many centuries, have escaped so many 
persecutions, and have won so many followers 2 . Against 
the fidelity of the Christians he sets the historic infidelity 
of the Jews, mingling, as was the custom of the time, 
incidents from any century together, as though all equally 
applied to the Jews of the sixth century A.D., who certainly 
needed more courage to retain their Judaism than did 
Anastasius to retain his Christianity 3 . 

The earnestness of the eastern discussions as to whether 
the Messiah had truly come in the person of Jesus is shown 
by the arguments of which both Jacob of Serug and Anas- 
tasius make use in order to point out to the Jews the impli- 
cations of their rejection of Him. Jacob had pointed out 
that a prophecy could not be fulfilled twice, so that a Jewish 
Messiah could not lay claim to any prophecy which Jesus 
had fulfilled. Anastasius takes another line. He says to 
the Jews: you will not believe in Jesus because you say 
He was accursed and a deceiver, who therefore could not be 
the Messiah. But prophecy clearly says that these state- 
ments will be made about the Messiah. Moses says that 
you will see your life hanging before your eyes, and will 
not believe 4 . Zechariah says that you will look upon Him 

1 Disputatio contra Judaeas, iii; P.G., LXXXIX, p. 1253 ff. 
*Ibid. i, p. 1224 ff. 

3 Ibid, ii, p. 1236. 

4 Version of Eteut. xxviii, 66. 


whom you have pierced 1 , and many other prophecies are 
clearly fulfilled in Jesus. If therefore you refuse to accept 
Him, you will be in exactly the same dilemma when your 
Messiah comes. He will be a man accursed, and you will 
not believe in Him 2 . 

Though, therefore, the Jew in the ' Disputation ' never 
appears or produces any arguments in his defence, the 
author gives every appearance of having real Jews in mind 
in writing. This impression is borne out by a short supple- 
mentary dialogue which follows the main work, and which 
would justify the author in claiming a reputation for wit. 
It turns on the single question : why do the Christians eat 
pork and the Jews refuse? After an ingenious explanation 
that pork was eaten by the Egyptians while beef and other 
meats were sacred, and that therefore Moses forbade pork 
to make them turn away from the temptations of Egypt, 
he adds that the real reason is laziness! It has nothing 
to do with cleanliness, for the Jews will eat chicken, and 
chickens are disgusting feeders. But they prefer animals 
from which they get several benefits, such as eggs from the 
chicken, wool, milk or cheese from other animals, and 
they even keep dogs to guard their houses. But the pig, 
which eats exactly the same food as the sheep or goat, they 
will not eat, for they would have all the trouble of providing 
it with food during its lifetime without any compensating 
benefit 3 . 

All the material so far considered has this feature in 
common. It is composed of serious intellectual argument, 
devoted either to converting the Jew, or at least to confirming 
the faith of the Christian. Where the actual form of 
disputation is used, it is as a discussion between an individual 
Jew and Christian, even if there is a certain audience. And 
if the Jew is converted it is by argument. 

That they represent a genuine tradition is certain. In 
many of the lives of the saints, and in many remarks made 
by ecclesiastical writers themselves, we hear of their dis- 
cussions with Jews. Isidore of Pelusium frequently refers 

1 Zech. xii, 10. 

1 Anastasius, Disput., iii, p. 1241. Cf. Trophies of Damascus % P.O., 
XV, p. 257. 

3 Anastasius, Parvus Dialogus, P.G., LXXXIX, p. 1271. 


to such discussions in his letters 1 , and Theodoret of Cyr, 
in the middle of the fifth century, exclaims * He who sees 
all things knows how many conflicts I have had in most of 
the cities of the east with pagans and Jews and every 
heresy '. Similar quotations could be taken from many 
other writers. But unfortunately we lack entirely the Jewish 
side of these discussions, except in so far as they are often 
implied, in the rejection of certain interpretations of texts, 
in the course of midrashic discussion. In Aphraates 
especially we may see the attacks which Jews made on 
Christianity, but nowhere can we find the real Jewish 
defences against Christian apologetic. Later writers, as we 
shall see, allowed the Jews to score points with astonishing 
freedom, and even went so far as to include in their com- 
positions Jewish arguments which they found themselves 
unable to answer, or Jewish counter-interpretations of the 
essential texts of the Old Testament. 


A new period opens with the more completely oriental 
disputations of which some have only recently been made 
available to western readers. They are written much more 
picturesquely: they have become religious * novels * with 
a mass of stage setting, often quite artistically and real- 
istically arranged: they deal with mass movements; and 
they make extensive use of miracle. 

The earliest of the disputations of the new type is that 
between Herbanus a Jew, and Gregentius, Archbishop of 
Tephren in Ethiopia. Although the Jews have a single 
spokesman, all the Jews of the kingdom are summoned to be 
present at the disputation, and the fate of all of them is 
made to hang upon its issue. The discussion is lengthy 
and ranges over all the ground usually treated in such works. 
The proofs of the doctrine of the Trinity from the Old 

1 Ch. V, Section VII. 


Testament are succeeded by a similar study of the Incarna- 
tion and the Cross. The debate then turns to the rejection 
of Israel, and Herbanus has a good deal to say on the subject, 
forcing the archbishop to stranger and stranger interpre- 
tations of the prophets, coupled with feeble terms of abuse. 
These subjects occupy the first two days of the Altercation, 
and at the end each side retires congratulating itself on its 

The third day opens with a statement by the archbishop 
that God detests all Jewish observances, and demands of 
the Jews only baptism, to which Herbanus replies ' What 
can I do to you, archbishop, for there is not a word whose 
meaning you do not pervert, or a prophecy which you do 
not twist n . A little later, in a discussion on whether 
the Christ has really come, he remarks: 'I see that you have 
one understanding (gnosis), and we have another. Would 
it not be better therefore for each to obey his own under- 
standing and to be silent?' 2 The archbishop becomes 
abusive again, and the day closes. The Jews gather round 
Herbanus and congratulate him on the way in which he 
has put their case, but Herbanus is depressed, and is certain 
that he will be unable to overcome the archbishop. But 
the reason is not the argument! ve powers of the prelate, 
but in the night I saw a vision of Moses the Prophet, 
and the crucified Jesus . . . and Moses was adoring Jesus 
and lifting his hands to Him as to the Lord God, and 
doing Him reverence. And I, as a spectator, suddenly said 
frankly and openly, " My lord Moses, is this good what you 
are doing? 1 * and he turned on me with great severity and 
said " Be silent, you impudent fellow, for this is no mistake. 
I do not belong to your party, but I know my maker and 
God. What have you got to do with this just archbishop 
whom you are rashly troubling? Wait until the morrow, 
and you will be overcome and will also worship Whom 
I worship"'. 3 In spite of this Herbanus fights bravely 
during the day's discussion, which turns largely on the 
sufferings of Christ, which he cannot accept. When it 
passes to the Resurrection, and the archbishop claims that 

1 Disputatio, P.G., LXXXVI, i, p. 728. 
*Ibid. p. 740. 
3 Ibid* p. 749. 


Jesus is still living, Herbanus and all the Jews with him 
clamour to be shown Him, and promise to believe if they 
see Him. The archbishop prays for a revelation. There 
is a clap of thunder, and the heavens are opened and the 
wish of the Jews is gratified. Confusion reigns in the Jewish 
camp, and they are all struck blind. But the head of 
Herbanus is * bloody but unbowed '. Led in his blindness 
to the archbishop, he exclaims 'When a man beholds his 
God, he receives a blessing therefrom. But we, when we 
behold your God, receive evil. If such are the gifts He 
bestows on those who come to Him, certainly He does 
not share the goodness of His Father '. ' It is your blas- 
phemies which have blinded you *, replies the archbishop. 

* If He renders evil for evil ', replies the undaunted spokes- 
man of the Jews, 4 to whom are you committing us?* 1 

* At the font you will receive your sight.' * And if we 
are baptised and remain blind? * * I will baptise one 
and he will see; if not, do not believe.' Herbanus accepts. 
The archbishop succeeds. Herbanus is baptised. The 
king acts as godfather to him, and presses upon him eccle- 
siastical and secular titles. All the Jews of the kingdom 
follow his example. The Church rejoices, and the devil 
repines. The reputation of Gregentius rises higher than 
ever. General festivities and good works fill the whole 

*The teaching of Jacob the new convert ' 2 is also cast 
in novel form. The basis of the story is the forced baptism 
of the Jews by Heraclius. There was a Jew named Jacob, 
who, ' faithful to Jewish traditions ', spent all his youth 
doing harm to the Christians by one subterfuge after 
another 3 . Subsequently he became a merchant, and to 
avoid being compelled to be baptised he pretended to be 
a Christian. But falling down a staircase, he gave himself 
away by his exclamation, and was then taken and baptised. 
Having become a Christian he set out to examine his new 
faith, and found it true. He therefore assembled other 

1 Disputatio, P.G., LXXXVI, i, p. 780. 

2 Doctrina JacM nuper baptizati, or Sargis of Aberga, which is an 
Ethiopian version thereof. 

5 Doctrina, para. 53. The Ethiopian version contains fewer details, 
doubtless as the terms were incomprehensible to the Ethiopian translator. 


Jews in like situation to himself, and expounded to them 
their common faith, and cleared up their difficulties. 

The meetings are held in secret, and only copied down 
by a hidden scribe unknown to those present. The reason 
for this precaution is that the Christians are themselves 
so learned in their faith, and so severe with those who hold 
erroneous views, that it would not be safe for simple and 
ignorant Jews, only just learning it, to commit their views 
to writing 1 . 

During the first two assemblies Jacob exposes Christian 
doctrine, emphasising naturally the faults and condemnation 
of the Jews 2 . The Jews are much encouraged by these 
teachings, but their joy changes to grief when a Jew from 
the east arrives (this is supposed to pass in Africa) and 
tells them that they are in error for two reasons whose 
combination sound strange in the mouth of an orthodox 
Jew: the Messiah has not yet come, and they have let 
themselves be baptised at the wrong season 3 . Moreover, 
he knows Jacob of old as a notorious scoundrel and maker 
of trouble. The Jews beg him to meet Jacob, and after 
much persuasion he consents. 

The first meeting is stormy and ends in his trying 
to strangle Jacob, after which he demands eight days for 
preparation to achieve the same end by more intellectual 
means 4 . The second meeting, a week later, ends in uproar. 
Thereafter he is not allowed to speak, and Jacob continues 
his exposition, proving that Christ has come and fulfilled 
all prophecy, that the heroes of the Old Testament are 
but prototypes of Him 5 . The eastern Jew is convinced, 
and admits that there are many among the Jews themselves 
who, holding that the Christ has come, believe the Jews 
have made a great mistake in not accepting Him 6 . He 
quotes three cases of learned rabbis who have confessed 

1 Para. 59. 

2 For the punishment of the Jews see paras. 21, 24, 31, 40, 41; for the 
uselessness of the Sabbath, 35, 36; for the abolition of Jewish sacrifices, 
57; for their unbelief in Christ, 60-62. 

3 Para. 63. 

4 Paras. 66-69. 

5 Isaac, Joseph, Jeremiah and Daniel (paras. 111-114). 

6 Paras. 82, 91 and 117. 


openly or secretly this belief 1 , and tells, on the other hand, 
of an unhappy Christian deacon who, under torture, became 
a Jew and then committed suicide 2 . He asks Jacob 
for baptism, receives it, is instructed, and sets forth to 
win other Jews to Christianity. Jacob retires to a desert 
and dies in sanctity. 

The date of the story is the middle of the seventh century, 
and it was probably written in Syria or Egypt, even though 
the scene is laid in Africa under the governor Sergius 
(hence the Ethiopian name Sargis of Aberga= Sergius 
Eparchus) and refers to some twentv years earlier. 

Half a century later appears another work of similar 
character, the Trophies of Damascus, also an anonymous 
work, probably written towards the end of the seventh 
century in Syria. In this case the Jewish parties to the 
dispute are not already baptised, as in the last work, but 
neither are they definite opponents of Christianity, as is 
the case in all earlier controversies. A group of Jews are 
much troubled by words of Saint Paul 3 it is already 
something unexpected that they are familiar with his works 
and go to a Christian child secretly, asking him to find 
them someone capable of explaining the verse to them. 
The child leads them to a monk, who is the Christian 
spokesman throughout the work. The dialogue opens 
in an admirable atmosphere of intellectual honesty. The 
monk asks: * On what points are your doubts ? Speak 
without fear, but also without exaggeration or blasphemy. 
For those who express themselves with the fear of God 
before their eyes should use neither exaggeration nor 
blasphemy against opposing views, until the truth is 
revealed * 4 . 

The first discussion, which takes place in private, turns 
on the familiar theme of the nature and Incarnation of 
Christ. The Jews find themselves unable to answer the 
stream of texts quoted by the monk, and propose to bring 

1 Cf. Arabic History of Patriarchs of Alexandria in P.O., Vol. I, p. 122. 
* Para. 90. 

3 Gal. iii, 13: * Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having 
become a curse for us: for it is written, u Cursed is every one that hangeth 
on a tree " *. 

4 Trophies, P.O., XV, p. 22: the pages are those marked in square 


their intellectual chiefs to continue the argument. The 
monk expresses his joy, and the rest of the discussion takes 
place in public * before a large crowd of persons, Jews, 
Greeks, Samaritans, heretics and Christians '. 

The new Jewish protagonists succeed in completely 
flooring the monk with their first question: * Scripture tells 
us that Isaac engendered two nations and two peoples; to 
which do you belong? n The monk takes refuge in a long 
declaration * setting aside all vain subtilties ' and appealing 
for honest and humble search. He then draws a sad 
picture of the failure of all Jewish hopes, as a proof of their 
rejection. But the Jew has no difficulty in applying the 
tu quoque argument by painting the misery of the Byzantine 
empire, which itself also has been expelled from the Holy 
Places 2 . He cannot accept the fact that the Messiah has 
come. For the peace which should accompany His reign 
is evidently absent. The monk's reply is triple: (a) it may 
refer to inner peace; (ft) the Byzantine empire enjoyed 
peace until fifty years ago; (c) God often says one thing 
and does another 3 . 

The discussion then returns to the Incarnation, and 
the monk, after asking various questions in the Socratic 
manner, succeeds in turning the tables on his adversaries 
by a skilful exposition of the suffering servant in Isaiah. 
He succeeds again with the brazen serpent, and the Jews 
admit defeat. The crowd which now includes Moslems 
also is delighted, and the Jews ask how they may be 
converted. The Christian gives a strange reply: * I do not 
wish to, or rather I cannot, make you all Christians. But 
I do make you bad Jews. For in pursuing your own 
defeat, you are no longer pure Jews nor fully Christians, 
but hybrids, even if you do not admit it ?4 . It is difficult to 
understand what is meant by this reply, or why the monk does 
not wish, in the spirit of earlier controversialists, to reap the 

1 Trophies, P.O., XV, p. 46. 


3 Bardy translates * appears to say *, and thereby somewhat softens 
this astonishing statement. But the Greek is <cuvrcu cwroli/ which 
is a strong positive expression, and not <atvT<u ctTreiv, which would 
remove the contradiction and give the translation of Bardy. 

* Trophies, P.O., XV, p. 63. 


fruit of his victory. In any case his original seekers do not 
accept this as the end, and ask him to discuss also with 
some Cappadocian Jews who are present, and who have 
a very high reputation. The monk agrees, and a fourth 
interview takes place. 

They begin again on the point of the origin of the Chris- 
tians, and this time a reply is found. God says in Isaiah 
that ' He shall call His servants by another name n . This 
is clearly a reference to the Christians, and renders super- 
fluous the question of their origin. The most interesting 
parts of this section are, however, those dealing with the 
question of images, and the lack of harmony in the Gospels 2 . 
The fourth assembly deals primarily with the prophecies 
of Daniel, at the end of which the Jews admit complete 
defeat. * They blushed with shame, were silent and still, 
were troubled, were agitated, grew sombre and embarrassed, 
blushed, were astray, ran off without stopping, got up, 
fled as if a fire pursued them, fell about like drunkards; 
all their wisdom was consumed, and they all departed, 
some in silence, some grumbling, some groaning, some 
exclaiming "Adonai, the monk has won", some shaking 
their heads and saying to each other, " By the Law, I believe 
we are wrong "; and some of the elder ones made ridiculous 
remarks such as " Dear! Dear! How much bacon have we 
been robbed of?" Some instead of enemies became 
friends of the Christians. Others waited for an opportunity 
to be baptised, and the dearest of them came to the 
church in all sincerity and truth and received the seal of 
baptism/ 3 

A fourth seventh-century discussion between Jews and 
Christians which is worthy of mention is the History of 
the conversion of the Jews of Tomei in Egypt 4 . Un- 
fortunately it is not yet possible to follow in detail the 
controversy itself, for the Arabic manuscripts of the Biblio- 
theque Nationale have not yet been published, and it is 
only possible to learn the main lines of the discussion from 

1 Isaiah, Ixv, 15. 

* Trophies, p. 75 ff. and 87 ff. 

* Ibid.* p. 105. 

4 Edited by P. Griveau in R.O.C., Vol. XIII, p. 198. 


the summary of M. Griveau. It is therefore impossible 
to judge the extent to which the intellectual victory really 
lay with the Christian protagonists. 

The town of Tomei was primarily populated by Jews, 
the descendants of a settlement of Vespasian. Near to it 
was a monastery, and the monks used to send two of their 
number regularly to buy provisions in the town. Arriving 
one day they find a Jewish festival in progress, and the leader 
of the Jews, Amran the Levite, is reading and expounding 
the Law to his companions. The monks want to know 
what he is reading, to discover * whether the worship the 
Jews offer on this day to the Lord will find favour in His 
sight '. From this they easily involve the Jews in a dis- 
cussion, and begin with the Trinity. The discussion has 
the interest that Amran is convinced step by step, and not, 
as usual, at the end. Convinced of the existence of the 
Word, he requires conviction as to His humanity. And 
by this method the discussion passes through the usual 
range with variations. Amran leads the town to follow 
his example, and finally the whole Jewish population, 
over three hundred souls, is baptised by the bishop, and 
the record of the discussion is committed to paper to be 
read three times a year in all the churches. 

A story which, though it does not contain any formal 
disputation, is yet worthy to be classed with these narratives, 
is the history of Theodosius the priest of the Jews in Alex- 
andria. He had a Christian friend, Philip, with whom 
he held long discussions. In the course of these he told 
him that he believed in his heart that Jesus was the Messiah, 
but felt too sinful to be baptised. Moreover, there were 
other reasons against baptism, for he would lose his honour 
and dignity among the Jews without being accepted by the 
Christians, who had a proverb * when a Jew is baptised, 
it is as if one baptised an ass '. He goes on to ^say that 
most of the Jews believe, but are repelled by the sinfulness 
of the lives of the Christians, and finally he asserts that in 
His lifetime Jesus was accepted as one of the twenty-two 
elders of the Jews. In the end he, and many Jews with him, 
are baptised 1 . 

The advent of Islam introduced a new kind of controversy, 

1 Arabic History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, P.O., Vol. I, p. 122. 


in which the three religions took part, and the Christian 
scored equally off his Jewish and Mohammedan opponents 1 , 
but such fall outside the scope of the present study. 


Very comparable to these stories of Jewish conversions 
as a result of discussion are the collection of romances 
which accompanied the Iconoclastic controversy in the 
time of the Isaurian emperors. The reaction against 
images on the part of the eastern provinces owed something 
certainly to the abuses of Byzantine monasticism, but it also 
owed a good deal to the neighbouring influences of Judaism 
and Islam, both of which religions refuse absolutely all 
such aids to devotion. 

Nearly all the chroniclers recount in different forms 
how the controversy originated in the deep-rooted hatred 
of the Jews for Christ and the Virgin Mary, and ascribe 
the Mohammedan prohibition of images to the same in- 
fluence 2 . We have already seen that the question of 
images figures in some of the disputations between Jews 
and Christians. A particularly interesting case of this 
is the record of such a discussion at the fifth actio of the 
second council of Nicaea, where a Jew is quoted who believed 
in Christ but who could not accept the images in the Chris- 
tian churches. The full discussion is read out to the council, 
together with the way in which he is convinced by the 
reference to similar worship in Judaism 3 . 

It being an accepted view for propaganda purposes 
at any rate of the ' iconodules y that the Jews were respon- 
sible for the attacks of the Isaurian emperors upon images, 
it was an ingenious thought to evolve a series of stories 
in which Jews were represented as having been converted 
by the power of those images which the iconoclasts claimed 

1 E.g. La vie de S. Michel le Sabaite in A.B., Vol. XLVHI. 

* E.g. Nicephorus, P. of Constantinople, Antirrheticus, III; P.G., 
C, p. 528, A.S. for July 8 (July, Vol. II, p. 637) and Aug. 9 (Aug., Vol. 
II, p. 435); George Hamartolus, IV, ccxlviii; P.G., CX; and in western 
chroniclers also <?*., Sigbert, Ckron, for 724 in M.G JHL folio, VI, p. 330. 

s SeeMansi,XIH,p. 166. 


to be merely idols 1 . No better way of convincing the faithful 
could indeed be imagined, for as Theodoret of Cyr remarks 
on another occasion: * When Jews bear witness to Christian 
miracles, who can remain sceptical?' 2 

The general line of these stories is usually the same 3 . 
To insult Christianity a Jew who has by some means or 
other become possessed of a Christian image or precious 
object decides to profane it. The object proves its sanctity 
and power, and the Jew is usually converted. In one case 
the Jew steals an image of Christ which he has often seen 
in a church (one wonders how) in order to destroy the 
picture * of the deceiver who has humiliated our people '. 
He pulls it down from the wall but, unobserved, it bleeds, 
and when he reaches home he is covered with blood. His 
bloody footsteps next day guide Christians to his house: 
the picture is found, and he is stoned. With their love of 
picturesque and apparently convincing detail, the Byzantines 
embroider the story in various ways. In one story a poor 
Christian is indignant at being poor while a neighbour, 
who is a Jew, is rich. He tries to become a member of the 
Jew's household in order to rob him, but the Jew will 
only accept him if he is converted. To this he agrees, 
and, as part of the ritual, is made to stab a crucifix 4 . In 
another version Jews rent a house near the synagogue, 
and the previous Christian tenants have left an image of 

1 It is possible that such stories did not actually originate at this time. 
For in the Glory of the Martyrs of Gregory of Tours, written two cen- 
turies earlier, appears a somewhat similar narrative. See note 3, below, 

2 Theodoret, Religiosa Historia, vi ; P.G., LXXXII, p. 1358. 

3 De Gloria Martyrorum, I, xxii. I have not been able to discover 
whether there are any grounds for considering this story to be a later 
addition. If it were a detached incident, it would certainly be natural 
to ascribe it to the 8th rather than the 6th century. It is noticeable 
that in the stories which can be traced to the eighth century, the incidents 
are often alleged to have taken place some centuries earlier. Thus 
the famous story of the crucifix of Tiberias is said to have taken place 
in the time of Zeno (475-491), i.e. before the time of Gregory, so that 
a later copyist would not think he was committing any anachronism in 
inserting it into a work of Gregory. 

4 Version of the Syn. Ethiop. in P.O., IX, p. 318 ff. The incident 
takes place in the time of Theophilus, uncle of Cyril of Alexandria, 
and in a Coptic version the incident is related in a Sermon on Penitence 
ascribed to Cyril himself. See Melanges de la Faculti Orientate de 
Beyruth } Vol. VI, where an introduction discusses all the stories. 


Christ there on vacating it 1 . In another version the image 
itself is one of particular beauty, which has been specially 
carved by the Christian who had lived in the house 2 . In 
yet a fourth variant, which places the scene at Tiberias, 
it is the Jews who have had the image made, pretending 
that they wished to worship it, when their only purpose 
was to insult it 3 . 

The image having once been stabbed, again various 
effects ensue. Blood or blood and water flow out, and the 
Jews are filled with horror at their action. They are struck 
with foul diseases (or they bring in those who are possessed 
of foul diseases), and are only cleansed by the water and 
blood, or by the water of baptism. They are all converted, 
and in one case, where the incident takes place in a syna- 
gogue, the building is converted into a church. 

A distinct version is the story of the image in S. Sophia. 
A Jew who frequently passed through the church had 
always especially hated one particular image, and waiting 
for an occasion to be alone he stabbed it, but such quantities 
of blood and water flowed out that the whole pavement 
of the church was flooded, and the crime instantly discovered. 
The Jew and his family were converted 4 . 

A further variant is told by Agapius, a chronicler of the 
tenth century. This time the scene is laid at Antioch 
in the reign of Maurice, the image is one of the Virgin, 
which the Jews insult in repulsive fashion, and the result 
is not the conversion but the expulsion of the Jews from 
that city 5 . 

Such is one family of stories dealing with the miraculous 
conversion of Jews by images. A quite different narrative, 
leading to the same conclusion, is the eighth-century ancestor 
of the Merchant of Venice^ the history of Theodore the 
Christian merchant, and Abraham the Jew of Constan- 

r john Cassian in S.A., P.O. XXI, p. 104; cf. also Sigbert, Chron. 
year 765 in M.G.H. folio, VI, p. 333. 

2 The sermon of the pseudo-Athanasius in P.G., XXVIII, p. 797. 
which was read in the 4th Actio of Nicaea II, M., XIII, pp. 24 and 580. 
See Dobschutz, op. cit., p. 281**. 

3 History of the Likeness of Christ, Budge. 

4 Combefis, De maximo miraculo, in Historia Haeresis MonoikeMtarum, 
Paris, 1648. 

5 Agapius in P.O., VIII, p. 439. 


tinople. Details of the story are strangely reminiscent of 
Shakespeare though the Jew has a different role to play. 

Theodore, like Antonio, loses his fortune with the wreck 
of his fleet. He goes to his Christian friends to raise 
money. They refuse to lend it, and he remembers Abraham, 
a Jewish merchant who had frequently desired to share 
his ventures, and to whom he had consistently refused this 
participation. Abraham reminds him of this in much the 
same way as Shylock addresses Antonio and reproaches 
him for his past insolence, but consents to the loan if surety 
can be found. Theodore returns to his Christian friends, 
who reply: 'Away from me, man, I am so far from consenting 
to go and see that infamous and unbelieving Jew, that I 
would not even speak or say " good morning " to him '. 
Theodore, depressed, goes and weeps in a church the 
ancient synagogue which Theodosius II had taken from the 
Jews in the Copper Market. There an image tells him 
that it will be guarantor. Abraham, amazed by his faith, 
accepts the guarantee of the image, and after initial failure 
his loan leads to the re-establishment of the fortunes of 
Theodore. Impressed thereby he is converted, and 
identified with a subsequent abbot 1 . 

Another story, tending to the same end, is related by 
John of Nikious. A Jew of Alexandria possesses a coffer 
which cannot be opened. One day, while making a special 
effort to open it, he hears heavenly voices praising Christ, 
and lightning plays around the box. Alarmed, he goes to 
the bishop, who opens it without difficulty. Inside are 
found the very towels which Christ used in washing the 
disciples' feet. The box is taken to the church, and the 
Jew is converted 2 . 

Further research will very likely lead to the discovery 
of more stories of the same kind, but these are sufficient 
to show that such inventions were not casual, but were 
definitely part of the armoury of the iconoclastic controversy, 
and that the varied periods to which they are assigned are 
merely versions of the opening c once upon a time '. 

1 Combefis, op. cit.> De Salvatoris Imagine dicta Antiphonetes; see 
also A.S., Oct., Vol. XII, Auctarium, p. 760. 
* John of Nikious, xci. 



It was all the easier to gain credence for these stories, 
in that the lives of the saints and the histories of the time 
were full of the accounts of the miraculous conversions of 
Jews. These fall into several classes. At times there is 
merely a short reference that such a saint converted many 
Jews. At other times a full and circumstantial story is given. 

The first kind need not detain us, for they present no 
particular interest, though they are sometimes amusing, 
as when it is accurately related that on the miraculous 
conversion of Entawos the Amorean, 10,798 Jews and pagans 
followed him to the font 1 . The others are worthy of 
some attention. 

First there are the stories and miracles of those who 
were themselves converted Jews, such as Epiphanius 2 . It 
may be assumed that such stories were a bait to attract 
Jews to the fold by recording the eminence after conversion 
of their fellows, just as the leader of the Jews, converted 
at Tomei, succeeds ultimately the bishop who baptised 

Then come the stories where Christian miracles are 
brought into play to prove the superiority of Christianity 
over Judaism. Such stories we have already encountered 
in studying the lives of the martyrs 3 . An example of the 
readiness with which the Byzantines allowed the Jews to 
score points off their Christian antagonists is the story of 
Donatus, bishop of Istria in Egypt, which has been already 
quoted. He was a great apologist, and after his defence 
of the Virgin Birth the Jews professed contempt for the 
claims of Christ, and when asked the reason pointed out 
that Christ had been living when He performed His miracles, 
whereas the dead bones of Elisha sufficed to bring a corpse 
back to life 4 . But their triumph was short lived, for they 
were ultimately confounded by the Resurrection 5 , An 

1 S.E., Aug. 23, in P.O., IX, p. 343- 

* E.g. in S.AJ- P.O., XVI, p. 1031. 

3 Ch. IV, Section IX. 

4 II Kings xiii, 21. 

* Greek Acta in A.S., May 22, Vol. V, p. 145. 


extremely popular story of this kind is based on the incident 
of the three Holy Children in the fire. A Jewish boy in 
Constantinople partakes of Communion without anyone 
knowing that he is a Jew. He tells his father, who is a glass 
blower, and is thrown into the furnace. His mother 
finds him there later unharmed, and she and the boy are 
baptised 1 . 

A third variety is devoted to proving the efficacity of par- 
ticular Christian symbols or sacraments. Thus, in the life 
of Basil of Caesarea,a Jew who comes secretly to Communion 
sees a child in the wafer and blood in the chalice and is 
converted 2 . Saint Constantine, who became a monk in 
Bithynia, was converted by observing the marvellous effect 
upon himself of signing himself with a cross 3 . Many are 
the stories in which Jews are cured of diseases by baptism 4 . 
Sometimes the miracle consists in an appeal to a Christian 
saint and precedes the baptism 5 , and in one case a Jew, 
smearing his eyes with the blood of some monks murdered 
in the Monophysite controversy, immediately receives his 
sight 6 . 

Other stories reflect merely the love of story telling, 
and have no moral lesson at all. In fact, some of them 
exhibit rather the opposite characteristics. The many 
stories of Epiphanius and his donkey belong to this class. 
Another, told of at least two saints, is that of the two Jewish 
beggars, one of whom shammed dead that the other might 
ask the saint to bring him to life. The saint spreads his 
mantle over him and he is dead 7 . A lengthy narrative 

1 The story is told of the time of S. Menas, P. of Constantinople 
(536-552), A.S., Aug. 25; and may for that reason have been inserted 
into the Miracula of Gregory of Tours (I, x), who was a contemporary. 
It is also related by Evagrius, IV, xxxvi; P.G., LXXXVI, 2, p. 2769; 
and by George Hamartolus, Chron., IV, ccxxii; and Nicephorus 
Callistus, EC. Hist., XVII, xxv. 

*De Vitis Patrum, Basil, ii, P.L., LXXIII, p. 301, repeated in S.A. 
for Jan. i, P.O., XVIII, p. 153- 

8 A.S., Nov., Vol. IV, p. 627. 

4 E.g. S. Martyrianus in A.S., Nov., Vol. IV, p. 442; S. Atticus in 
A.S., Jan., p. 477; Aaron of Serug in P.O., Vol. V, p. 710 etc. 

5 E.g. A.S., April, Vol. Ill, p. 479, and July, Vol. II, p. 226. 

6 Zachariah of Mitylene, III, vi. 

7 Told of James of Nisibis in P.O., XVIII, p. 47; and of Gregory of 
Neocaesarea in the works of Barhadbesabba 'Arbaia, P.O., XXIII, 
p. 260. 


relates how a Jew named Sakt^r desires to dispute with 
S. Severianus, bishop of Philadelphia, but the saint has a 
better argument than words. He strikes his opponent 
dumb, and the dumbness is only removed by baptism 1 . 
But the palm of all such stories must be given to the Jew 
of Theodore of Mopsuestia. This patient soul listened 
for long to a daily sermon of the saint, but one day, being 
prevented from attendance, he fell dead. It was some 
time before the saint realised his absence, and when he 
did he was dismayed, for he had made sure of a conversion. 
He asked an attendant what had happened, and was told 
of his death. Without a moment's delay he made for the 
cemetery, dug up the now decaying gentleman, brought 
him back to life again and baptised him. He then asked 
him whether he would prefer to remain alive or return 
to the tomb, and when the Jew chose the latter alternative, 
he pushed him back into his coffin and reburied him 
safely baptised 2 . 


So far we have been dealing primarily with stories termin- 
ating in the conversion of the Jews. There is, however, 
yet another series of Byzantine romances in which Jews 
figure prominently, but almost exclusively in an unfavourable 
light. If for conversional purposes the Byzantines invented 
stories such as that of Theodosius the Jewish priest of 
Alexandria, on the other hand, in their apocryphal gospels 
and in their lives of the saints of the apostolic and sub- 
apostolic ages, they generally represented the Jews as 
monsters of iniquity. 

Apocryphal gospels in themselves are a very early in- 
vention, but the purpose of the early attempts of this kind 
was usually to give a particular turn to the teaching of 
Jesus, and they contained little in themselves that was 
remarkable. Later ages specialised in the lives of the 
saints, which offered freer scope for invention than the 
life of Christ Himself. Yet even here strange details were 
added to the gospel narrative. A Coptic text of the * Gospel 

^SAJ. in P.O., I, p. 241. 
*Nestorian History, P.O., V, p. 287. 


of the Twelve Apostles ' recounts that after the raising 
of Lazarus the Jews tried to kill Him, but * Caius ', the 
Roman governor, wished to make Him king in the place 
of the Tetrarch Philip. The Jews offered him large bribes 
not to do so, and produced evidence, which was denied 
by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, against His whole 
life. Caius accepted the bribes and did not make the 
suggestion to Tiberius. When Pilate appeared on the 
scene at the time of the trial, he also wanted to make Him 
king. The whole responsibility for His condemnation is 
made to lie with the jealousy of Herod 1 . In the Apocryphal 
Acts of Pilate, another Coptic version, Pilate throughout 
the trial treats Jesus as a king 2 . 

In inventing new miracles they naturally had a free 
hand and used it. The first thing that strikes a modern 
reader in such collections as the Ethiopian Book of the 
Miracles of Jesus, is the entire moral worthlessness of most 
of the miracles recounted 3 . Even the good fairies of 
Grimm's Fairy Tales do not act with such a complete 
contempt for everything except their own power. 

Parallel to the theological conception of the Jews as 
heretics, conscious of the truth and rejecting it, are the 
stories accompanying the Resurrection, or the death of 
the Virgin, already discussed 4 . A further set of stories 
deal with the trial of Peter and Paul at Rome. Pagans and 
Jews meet together romantically in a temple to discuss 
how to stop the mouths of the intrepid Apostles in the 
interests of polytheism! 5 

Having once begun to compose historical scenes, they 
did not stop at the Apostolic period. Agapius recounts 
at immense length a confession of the Jews to Constantine. 
They admit having falsified the dates in the Torah in order 
to make it appear that the Messiah had not come, knowing 
quite well that He had really come in the person of Jesus 
at the dates foretold 6 . Other narratives clustered round 

1 See P.O., II, pp. 140 and 152. 
1 See P.O., IX, p. 59. 

3 P.O., XII, XIV, XVII. 

4 See Ch. Ill, Section VIII. 

5 Cf. Syrian Acts, published in R.O.C., Vol. III. 
P.O., V, p. 645. 


the reign of Julian. Four hundred Jews, all rabbis of 
Tiberias, are said to have gone to meet him at Constantinople 
at his accession, and to have offered him a crown of gold, 
which was fashioned with seven idols as decoration. Julian 
demanded of them that they should worship the idols and 
partake of a meal of pork. The Jews hastened to obey 
both commandments of the emperor, and to prove their 
delight repeated their obedience several times 1 . This 
unusual conception of the Jews Is parallel to the astonishing 
statement in the Arabic History of the Patriarchs concerning 
the rebuilding of the Temple during the same reign. When 
the building collapses, some Jews of Jerusalem tell the 
builders that they will never succeed as long as the bones 
of * the Christians * still rest on the site. The Jews therefore 
dig up and throw out the bones of Elijah and John the 
Baptist! z 


Of the theological views of the period there is little 
to add to what has already been developed. The theo- 
logical picture of the Jew as fashioned in the first three 
centuries remains. Some of the great writers of the period, 
such as Theodoret of Cyr and Severus of Antioch, speak 
with great moderation of the Jews in their sermons 3 . 

Others, and especially the later ones, blend into their 
sermons the ideas of the Jews created by apocryphal writings. 
Eusebius of Emesa is fond of coupling together the devil 
and the Jews, and this trait is even more characteristic 
of his namesake of Alexandria. The devil refers casually 
from time to time to * his old friends, the Jews '** Eusebius 
of Alexandria, at least, had no doubt as to their ultimate 
destination. In his sermon on the Resurrection every 
paragraph of the first hah begins with the words: * Woe to 

1 Nestorian History, P.O., V, p. 238. 

* Arabic History of the Patriarchs, P.O., I, p. 419. 

3 Cf. Severus of Antioch, Catechetical Address, No. 70, P.O., XII, 
pp. 19 and 28; and Theodoret Quaestio in Genesim, xlix, No. no; 
P.G., UCXX, p. 216. 

* See the works of these fathers in P.G., LXXXVI, passim, but especi- 
ally Eusebius of Alexandria, sermo. xv. 


you, wretches, for you follow evil counsels, for you were 
called sons and became dogs. Woe to you, stiff-necked 
and uncircumcised, for being the Elect of God you became 
wolves, and sharpened your teeth upon the Lamb of God. 
You are estranged from His Glory; woe to you, ungrateful 
wretches, who have loved Hell and its eternal fires. For 
when Hell yields up those entrusted to it, it shall receive 
you in their place. And Hell shall revenge itself upon you 
for the defeat it received from the Lord, and it shall im- 
prison you with your father the devil n . 

The theologians hi their denunciations of the Jews go 
back again and again to the accusations contained in the 
Old Testament. Reflections of the tension in the eastern 
provinces are not to be found in their works, and if, on 
the one hand, this silence about facts which we know to 
have taken place warns us to be cautious in the use of 
the argumentum e silentio, on the other it shows that the 
incidents must be taken at their own value only, and not 
used as an argument of permanent and universal conflict 
between Jews and Christians. 


Loose thinking is more likely to lead to exaggeration 
than to mitigation, especially on such a subject, and what 
we have seen in the weaving of romances we find to be 
confirmed from a different field, that of heresy. Legislation 
had for some centuries been approximating the lot of the 
Jew and the heretic, and certain passages have been quoted 
to show that the Jew could himself be regarded as a 
Christian ' heretic '. But it is only in the Nestorian con- 
troversy that a heretic is for the first time simply called a 
' Jew '. 

The possible influence of the Jews in the formation 
of heretical doctrine has already been referred to at various 
times. There are few problems of the period more difficult 
to solve than that of the extent of Jewish influence over 

1 Sermon on the Resurrection ascribed to Eusebius of Alexandria, 
and included in the works of Chrysostom; P.G., LXI, p. 733. 


their Christian contemporaries. But nowhere is the accusa- 
tion more continuously and consistently flung from side to 
side than in the great Christological controversies of the fifth 
and sixth centuries, between the Nestorians, the Mono- 
physites and the Chalcedonians. The Nestorians saw in 
Christ two natures mechanically joined together rather than 
an essential and personal union. This was condemned at 
the Council of Ephesus in 431 and again at Chalcedon in 
451. This latter council established the still orthodox 
doctrine of the two natures * unconfused and unchanged, 
indivisible and inseparable * united in the Person of Christ, 

* the distinction of the natures being by no means taken 
away by the union, but rather the property of each nature 
being preserved '. This is the doctrine embodied in the 

* Athanasian ' Creed. This did not satisfy a large portion 
of the Church, the Monophysites, who professed to believe 
in one nature in composite form, so that the humanity 
becomes a mere accident of the divinity. This controversy 
raged for over a century, accompanied by appalling blood- 
shed, and ended in a schism still unhealed within the 
eastern Church. 

It is evident that there is nothing * Jewish ' about the 
Monophysites, with their belief in one nature and their 
small emphasis on the humanity of Christ, but both of the 
other two were called ' Jewish ' by their opponents. Thus 
in the controversy between Nestorians and Chalcedonians, 
the Nestorians are constantly called * Jews '. The synod 
of Ephesus writes to Nestorius, and heads its letter: * The 
Holy Synod to Nestorius the new Jew n . The emperor 
Anastasius, in opening a council to discuss the theology 
of Macedonius the Nestorian Patriarch of Constantinople 
some seventy years later, begins his address with the words: 
' Have you not seen what this Jew who is amongst us did? * E , 
Two hundred years later, at the Council in Tru$o y a reference 
is made to those who follow the doctrine of Nestorius, 
separating the natures of Christ and * reviving Jewish 
impiety ' 3 . There is thus a consistent tradition that 

1 Ckron. IV, in C.S.C.O. Scrip. Syr., Ill, iv, p. 161. 
* Letters of Simeon the Presbyter in the Chronicle of Zachariah of 
Mitylene, VII, viii. 

3 Trullanum, Can, i, M., XI, p. 938. 


Nestorianism owed something to Jewish influence, and 
we can trace the working of this tradition in the belief 
which grew up that Nestorius had actually denied the 
existence of a divine nature in Christ, an erroneous idea, 
for Nestorianism was an attempt to interpret the decision 
of Nicaea. Nestorius never attempted to question the 
fact that in His divinity Christ was * equal to the Father '. 
But Gregory the Great in a letter to the emperor Maurice 
simply accuses Nestorius of * Judaica perfidia >:L , and other 
references speak of the Nestorian Christ as * merus homo ', 
and speak of His fear of death 2 . 

That a belief which denied the divinity of Christ might 
owe something to contemporary Jewish influence is possible, 
and indeed probable, but it is a different thing to ascribe 
Jewish influence to a theological idea which its opponents 
chose to characterise as ' Jewish J . We can judge of the 
justice of the accusation only by estimating whether it is 
probable that Jewish controversialists would in reality 
be likely to influence Christians with whom they came into 
contact in the sense of the idea under discussion. And 
here we have to admit that there is nothing in Nestorian 
doctrine in the least likely to be due to Jewish influence. 
Its very point of departure, the Nicaean formula, was the 
exact antithesis of any possible Jewish conception of the 
Messiah, and the different interpretations which devolved 
from that idea were therefore without interest for the 

This belief, that Nestorianism owed nothing to con- 
temporary Jewish influence, and that the use of the word 
Jew is merely abusive, is borne out by the fact that the 
Monophysites, with equal fervour, called the Chalcedonians 
4 Jews *. We have already seen that at times it is impossible 
to tell whether incidents referred to Jews are really caused 
by them 3 , but when it comes to calling the Chalcedonian 
formula of the nature of Christ * Jewish ', we can be in 
no doubt. 

A pleasant story circulated by the Monophysites was 

1 Gregory, Ep. V, xx; cf. XI, Ixvii. 

* Michael the Syrian, XI, xx; and M. Mercator, Diss. I de Haeresi et 
libris Nestorii; PJL., XLVIII, p. 1124. 
8 See Ch. VII, Section II. 


that after the council of Chalcedon the Jews petitioned 
the emperor Marcian in these terms: 

* For a long time we were regarded as descendants 
of those who crucified a God and not a man, but since 
the Synod of Chalcedon has decided that we crucified a 
man and not a God, we beg to be forgiven for this offence, 
and to have our synagogues restored to us.* 1 

To Severus of Antioch Nestorians, Chalcedonians and the 
Henoticon of Leo, are alike * Jewish ' 2 . The successors 
of Severus, who were Chalcedonians, are likewise called 
Jews by the Chroniclers 3 . 

The Jacobites in Egypt also used the term ' Jew * to 
cover all sects with whom they disagreed. Thus at the 
end of the seventh century the Emir of Egypt asked the 
Bishops of the Melkites (Chalcedonians), Gaianites (extreme 
Monophysites holding the body of Christ to be incorrupt- 
ible), Barsanuphians (sect of Eutychians) and Jacobites which 
of the others they found nearest to their own teaching. 
The first three all replied that the nearest to themselves 
was Simon the bishop of the Jacobites, but he being asked 
as to his view of them, excommunicated them all and 
condemned them as Jews 4 . 

Whatever may have been the situation in earlier centuries, 
in these controversies we can conclude that the word 
* Jew * is simply a term of abuse, and that to look for any 
real basis for it is futile. That there were many contacts 
and discussions with Jews we know, but that they exercised 
any influence over Christian doctrine, except in their 
disapproval of images, we cannot assert. 

1 Michael the Syrian, VIII, xii; and the Ecclesiastical History of John 
of Asia in R.O.C., Vol. II, p. 458. 

* The Conflict of Severus in P.O., IV, pp. 629, 655, 680; Homily 56 
in P.O., IV, p. 80; and Letters, No. 46 in P.O., XII, p. 321. 

3 Michael the Syrian, IX, xiv and xxix; and Zachariah of Mitylene, 
VIII, ii. 

4 History of the Patriarchs, I, xvi, Simon I, P.O., V, p. 35. 




It is equally difficult to assess with any accuracy the 
extent to which success attended the efforts of Christian 
preachers to convert actual Jews. For this purpose the 
existing disputations prove nothing. We know that from 
very early times collections of texts existed whose object 
was to prove to the Jew from his own scriptures the truth 
of the Christian gospel. But we do not know with what 
success they were used. We know that it was lawful for 
Jews to attend portions of the Christian services, but we 
do not know how many did so. We have in one or two 
of the catechetical addresses of Severus of Antioch 
the suggestion that he is speaking to Jews. But all 
this is extremely vague and leaves the main question 

Our collection of early liturgical uses is too scanty 
for us to know at what period special ritual was introduced 
for the conversion of the Jews. In the very beginning 
it was easier for a Jew to enter the Church than for a pagan. 
He already accepted much of the faith, and the only real 
question at issue was his acceptance of the claims of Jesus 
as interpreted by the Church. No special problem seems 
to have arisen until the beginning of anti- Jewish legislation 
introduced a class whose conversions were due to economic 
and social and not to religious motives. With this class 
we have already become familiar in the later Roman 
legislation 1 . 

With the emergence of such a class it is natural that 
the Church proceeded to make it harder, instead of easier, 
for a Jew to enter her fold, and both in the west and in 
the east immense and complicated forms of abjuration were 
devised in the attempt to secure the sincerity of the con- 
version 2 . The forms themselves exhibit an exquisite 
ignorance of things Jewish. To assert that the Jew solemnly 
and with hope awaited the coming of Antichrist was to be 
expected of Byzantine theologians. But to class together 

1 Cf. C.T., 9.45.2 and 16.8.3, laws of Honorius and Arcadius. 

2 Oriental and Visigothic forms of abjuration are given in Appendix 3. 


fc Sabbaths, superstitions, hymns, chants, observances and 
synagogues ' indicates a somewhat muddled conception 
of Judaism 1 . 

These early centuries of Byzantine history are of ex- 
traordinary interest for the information which they give 
us of all things Jewish. The picture is full of variety, 
and at times astonishingly vivid. It reflects many different 
situations, and shows the Jews in varying lights. The 
general trend of the whole is certainly to show a progressively 
increasing hostility between the Jews and their Christian 
neighbours. But it is also possible to trace with a certain 
amount of precision the causes of this change. In the 
first place must come the increasing severity of Byzantine 
legislation, for, as we have seen again and again, it is not 
possible to create an inferior class and then to expect that 
individual enthusiasm will not overstep the bounds of legal 
permission. The general validity of this consequence is 
being abundantly proved in present day Germany. The 
second cause is the religious fanaticism of the oriental 
monastic orders, fanaticism from which the Jews were not 
the only sufferers. The third cause is the political situation 
caused by the Persian wars, and the difference of treatment 
accorded to Jews on the two sides of the eastern frontier 
of the Byzantine empire. 

It is also evident that the political cause is secondary 
and the result of the first two causes, both of which are in 
their nature religious. And again it is impossible to get 
behind the religious cause to a secret economic hostility. 

References to the economic activities of the Jews are 
practically non-existent, and the fact that a few Jews pos- 
sessed immense fortunes is not enough to prove that all 
Jews lived by commerce 2 , or that the considerable numbers 
who did so earned the hostility of their Christian neighbours 
thereby. It is noticeable that the description which Jacob 

1 On the whole subject of Jewish conversions see Juster, op. cit. t 
Vol. I, pp. 102-119. 

1 Cf. Theophanes, anno 620, for the story of a wealthy Jew of Caesarea, 
who was filled with hatred for the Christians; and Dionysius of Tel 
Mahre, ed. Chabot, p. 41, for a Jew of Emesa from whom the Moslems 
took 400,000 pieces of gold. 


gives of his activities as a Jew before his conversion are 
entirely political, whereas if the Jews were notorious for 
exhibiting their hostility in business he would more likely 
have described his methods of overreaching Christians or 
harassing them in his commercial activities. But as a 
merchant he seems to have been above reproach 1 ; in fact, 
they took him for a Christian until his unlucky fall down 
the stairs. The monks of Tomei have no complaint to 
make of the treatment which they received from the Jews 
from whom they bought their food. The friends of Theo- 
dore objected to the religion and not to the business of 
Abraham, and as a financier he showed himself far more 
generous than any of Theodore's Christian friends. Not 
only are there such passages where silence is legitimately 
used as an argument, but our information in general is too 
full and varied for the omission of all references to Jewish 
commercial activity to be an oversight. 

To these facts must be added the evidence that, where 
there was no direct reason for the contrary, relations between 
Jews and Christians were not unfriendly. Local Christians 
did not necessarily approve of the doings of the monks, and 
the councils in the east as well as in the west had to cope 
with close social relationships between Jews and Christians. 
All references to Jews are not hostile. Anecdotes are 
retailed by various chroniclers showing their compassion 
for Christian suffering 2 , their admiration for Christian 
piety 3 , and their desire to assist Christians in distress 4 . 

If, therefore, there was a class which plagued the Church 
by fraudulently demanding baptism, and against which it 
was necessary to adopt severe measures, it does not seem 
that the ordinary Jew earned the hostility of the ordinary 
Christian by his behaviour. Left to themselves, they still 
got on well together. In the face of the legal hostility, 
the violence of the monks, and severe political tension 
lasting over a century, this could only have been the case 
if their daily relations, social and commercial, passed without 
any specific mark of hostility. 

1 Sargis d'Aberga in P.O., III. 
* E.g. History of S. Ahoudemmeh in P.O., Ill, p. 43. 
3 E.g. Barhadbesabba 'Arbaia, History of Basil of Caesarea, P.O., 
XXIII, p. 287; or ibid., Life of Mar Abraham in P.O., IX, p. 621. 
*See Ch. VII, Section VIII. 



Although the histories of the Jews in western Europe 
mostly begin with the eleventh or twelth centuries, yet 
there are a certain number of studies of considerable 
value for the earlier period. The relevant references are 
collected, with a few exceptions, in the extracts of Aronius, 
accompanied in most cases by bibliographical notes. The 
sources themselves are primarily the History of the Franks 
by Gregory of Tours, the letters of Sidonius, the poems 
of Venantius, and certain lives of contemporary ecclesiastics 
to be found either in the Patrologia Latino? the Acta Sanc- 
torum or the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. The last 
named also contains all the laws of the period, and the 
early chroniclers. The canons of the different councils 
are naturally to be found in the Collection of Mansi. In 
treating of the Arian period of southern French history, 
the Breviary of Alaric has been omitted, as it can more 
easily be considered in the next chapter in relation to the 
development of Visigothic law. 

For the general history of the period it is not necessary 
to quote a long list of books. The history of Lot gives 
a general picture of conditions and also contains a full 

The study of specifically Jewish history in this period 
begins in the early nineteenth century with the inauguration 
by the Institut de France in 1821 of a competition for a 
work on the mediaeval history of the Jews in France, Spain 
and Italy. This formed the foundation for the books of 
Depping and Bedarride the latter a work remarkable for 
the extent of its references and for the fact that the numbers 
in the text rarely correspond with the numbers in the notes. 
These two works were followed by two German contributions 
to the subject, which concentrated specially on the early 


laws affecting the Jews, the works of Scherer and Stobbe. 
A more general study is that of Abbott. 

The economic conditions of the Jews at this period 
have also been the subject of special studies, especially the 
dissertation of Hahn, and the early chapters of the monu- 
mental work of Caro. But together with these works 
should be read the article of Brehier on the Syrians if a 
correct proportion is to be preserved. 

Finally the religious relations between Jews and Christians 
are traced by Newman, but he has little to say of the period 
preceding the Carolingian Renaissance, the study of which 
belongs properly to a work on the Middle Ages. 








Israel in Europe. Macmillan, 1907. 

Regesten zur Geschichte der Juden im 
Frdnkischen und Deutschen Reiche bis 
zum Jahre 1 273 . B erlin , 1 902 . 

Les Juifs en France, en Italie et 
Espagne. Paris, 1859. 

Les Colonies des Orientaux en Occi- 
dent in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 

Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 
der Juden im Mittelalter und der 
Neuzeit. Leipzig, 1908. 

Lajuiverie Orleans du Vie an XV e 
siecle. Orleans, 1895. 

Les Juifs dans le Moyen Age. Paris, 


Roman Society in the Last Century 
of the Western Empire. London, 

GREGORY OF TOURS History of the Franks. Ed. O. M. 
Dalton. Oxford, 1927. 


Gallia Judaica. Paris, 1897. 

Die Wirtschaftliche Tdtigkeit der 
Juden im Frdnkischen und Deutschen 
Reich bis zum 2, Kreuzzug. Freiburg, 



LOT, F. 



Histoire des Juifs de France au Xe 
siecle in ; Rapport sur la Seminaire 
Israelite. Paris, 1903. 

La Fin du Monde Antique et le 
Debut du Moyen Age. Paris, 1927. 

Collectio Conciliorum Amplissima, 
Vols. VIII, IX and X. 

MONUMENTA GERMAN- Various volumes. 


MGN, J. 





Jewish Influence on Christian Reform 
Movements. Columbia University 
Press, 1925. 

Etude sur la Condition des Juifs de 
Narbonne, du Verne au XlVeme sttcle. 
Narbonne, 1912. 

Les Juifs de Languedoc anterieurment 
au XlVe siecle. Paris, 1881. 

Die Rechtsverhdltnisse der Juden in 
den deutschosterreichischen Landern. 
Leipzig, 1901. 

Letters. Ed. Baret, Paris, 1879, 
0. M. Dalton, Oxford, 1915. 

Die Juden in Deutschland wdhrend 
des MittelalterSj in politischer, sozi- 
aler und rechtlicher Beziehung. Ber- 
lin, 1923. 

Carmina. Ed. M.G.H. Scriptores, 
quarto, Vol. IV. 



In dealing with the Theodosian Code in the west it 
has already been necessary to refer to the passage of power 
from the Roman emperors to their barbarian successors in 
Italy. In that country this passage left Roman law modified 
but not superseded. The same thing happened elsewhere. 
It is fortunately not necessary to trace the waves of invasion 
which swept over western Europe from the beginning of 
the fifth century onwards. Many of them passed too 
fast to have any effect upon the social structure of the society 
which they ravaged. Those alone which led to permanent 
settlement had any effect upon the position of the Jewish 
population. The taking of Rome by Alaric, the invasion 
of Attila, the whirlwind march of the Vandals across Europe 
into Africathese events, catastrophic as they may have 
been, did not affect the Jew as Jew. They affected him 
as a member of a society in ruins, but they did not alter 
his position relative to other members of that society. 

Four groups alone affected Jewish conditions, the Ostro- 
goths, the Visigoths, the Franks and the Burgundians. 
Of the Jews under the Vandals in Africa and under the 
Lombards in Italy we know nothing. The situation of the 
Jews under Theodoric the Ostrogoth has already been 
described, and the Visigoths are also treated in a separate 
chapter. But it is not entirely possible to make definite 
geographical divisions in treating the subject, for in some 
cases a situation was common to all western Europe, and 
in others different groups successively ruled the same 
territory. Thus the south of France was successively held 
by Ostrogoths, Visigoths and Franks. On the other hand, 
what is said in this chapter of the Syrians in Gaul would 
apply also to Italy, and possibly to Spain. Thus while 
primarily treating of the Jews under the Franks and Bur- 
gundians, this chapter also includes incidents occurring 
in the south of France during the Ostrogothic and early 
Visigothic period. 



Of the Jews in Roman Gaul we know very little. They 
were sufficiently important in Cologne in the fourth century 
for Constantine to pass a special edict enforcing their 
participation in curial responsibilities 1 . They must also 
have been numerous farther south, and especially along 
the Mediterranean coast and in the cities of the Rhone 
valley. But all we know of their history is contained in a 
few anecdotes. The murder of a bishop of Clermont by 
an infuriated father whose son had become a convert has 
been recounted 2 . In addition we are told that in a rising 
against Stephen, Bishop of Avignon, at the end of the fourth 
century Jews took part 3 . This is the extent of our precise 
knowledge of them for the first few centuries of their 

It is the fashion of many writers to proclaim that in the 
barbarian invasions the Jew alone made a profit. That 
he did not suffer exceptionally is perhaps true, though a class 
with many representatives in the towns and in commercial 
life is apt to be more affected than country dwellers by 
such incursions. But neither did he profit exceptionally. 
The picture of the Jew as a being apart, untouched by the 
burning of one town, since it meant nothing to him to 
move to the next ; the conception of him as growing perpetu- 
ally richer among the impoverished natives on a ceaseless 
flow through his hands of slaves and church plate, is a 
mythical one 4 . The essential factor about his position was 
that he was a Roman citizen. The main if not the only 
distinguishing mark which he possessed was his religion. 
To go further is to pass into the region of speculation 
unsupported by evidence. 

1 C.T., 16.8.3. 

1 Ch. IV, Section IV. 

Related from Aimales Avenion. Episcoportan by Leon Bardinet in 
R.E.J., Vol. I, p. 266. But though he calls them a * multitude consider- 
able ', the text as he quotes it says * non parva seditiosorum et Judaeorum 
multitude \ i.e. the whole crowd was considerable, not necessarily the 
Jewish section of it. 

4 Cf., for example, Milman, History of the Jews, Vol. II, Bk. xxi, and 
Dill, Roman Society in Gcnd. 



Even when the exaggerated picture of the Jew growing 
fat out of the profits of the collapse of Rome is avoided, 
it is often assumed that the Jew stood out as the only trader 
and banker of his time. His uniqueness is attributed to his 
economic situation, and not to his religion. But this is 
radically false. All Jews were not traders and the Jews 
were not the only traders. They were, perhaps, not even 
the chief traders of the period. Trade itself, naturally, 
declined enormously during such a period of chaos and 
poverty. But it still existed, and the aristocracy still 
demanded in Spain and Gaul their luxuries from Syria 
and the east. Bankers were still needed, and slaves were 
still bought. In all this the Jew had an extremely powerful 
rival, who both enjoyed the privilege of being a Christian, 
and also, if patristic writers are to be trusted, was infinitely 
more unscrupulous than the Jew is ever accused of being. 
This rival was the * Syrian '. The Syrians have passed almost 
unnoticed by most historians. Georg Caro,in his Economic 
History of the Jews, scarcely mentions them 1 . Their 
significance was first fully revealed by a French scholar, 
Louis Brehier, whose work is copiously supported by 
references in patristic literature and the evidence of 
inscriptions 2 . 

The evidence of patristic literature is of especial im- 
portance, for it enables us to weigh together the views of 
contemporary writers on the Jews and the Syrians, and 
thereby to correct the perspective of modern authors, who 
have assumed that what the Jew was in the fifteenth century 
he must also have been in the fifth. That Jerome was no 
friend of the Jews we know already. He draws occasional 
attention not only to their theological errors, but to their 
unpleasant habits. But his views of them are mild compared 
with his opinion of the Syrians. Of the latter he remarks 
that up to the present day they are passionately attached 
to commerce. They overrun the whole world in their 
passion for lucre; and such is their mania for business 

1 Caro, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 97. 

1 Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 1903, Les Colonies des Orientaux en 


that now, while the whole Roman world is the theatre of 
battle and massacre, their one interest is wealth, and the 
one thing they flee is poverty >:L . The implications of the 
sarcastic remarks of Sidonius Apollinarius on Ravenna 
imply the same situation when he speaks of * the priests 
practising usury and the Syrians singing hymns, the business 
men fighting, and the soldiers running business * 2 . At the 
same period Salvianus, writing from Marseilles on the 
appalling corruption of society, takes as his type of Christian 
the Syrian, for ' leaving the rest apart, let us look at the 
whole crowd of traders and Syrians who occupy the larger 
part of every city, and we shall see that their life is nothing 
but the plotting of fraud and the fabrication of lies, and 
that they think that words are utterly wasted which bring 
no profit to him who uses them ' 3 . Compared with su~h 
utterances the occasional references to Jewish wealth are 

There existed corporations of Syrian merchants in the 
principal towns of Italy, Gaul, Spain and Africa, and 
in addition to introducing certain agricultural products they 
specialised in the products of Syria glass, silk and dyes. 
In the third century there was a corporation of merchants 
of Gaza at Ostia 4 , and of Tyrian merchants at Puzzoli, and 
the merchants of Damascus possessed a factory at Misenum; 
in 440 Valentinian expelled the graeci negotiatores ' from 
Rome, because of their competition with Roman merchants, 
but was compelled to allow them to return very shortly 
afterwards. The Syrians possessed a special quarter at 
Ravenna and another at Naples, and in both were important 
bankers. In Africa, at the time of the invasion of Belisarius, 
Gelimar the Vandal threw a large number of them into 
prison, suspecting their friendship with the Byzantines. In 
Spain there were two Syrian corporations at Malaga. In 
Gaul they existed in all parts, passing up the Rhone to 
Vienne and Lyons; spreading thence into the country 
regions east of it, they are found down the Seine and Loire, 
especially at Paris, Orleans and Tours. They penetrated 

1 Jerome, On Ezeteel, xxvii, 16; P.L., XXV, p. 266. 
* Sidonius, Ep. i, 8. 

3 Salvianus, De Gubemat. Dei, IV, xiv; P.L., LIII, p. 87. 

4 For references to inscriptions see Bre*hier, op. cit. 


the Garonne to Bordeaux. Traces are even found on the 
Rhine. They were in regular communication from the 
French ports with Antioch and the east. 

Moreover, they had one immense advantage over the 
Jews. They were Christians, and their religious penetration, 
especially in areas influenced from Byzantium, was as great 
as their commercial. There were various monasteries 
following the Syrian rule in Gaul, and numbers in Italy, 
especially at Rome and Ravenna, and they provided a 
number of Popes. Brehier sums up their situation in the 
following words: ' the occupation of the west by orientals 
went on without interruption until the eighth century. . . . 
For more than eight hundred years Syrians, Armenians, 
Egyptians, Persians and Greeks, all soon included under the 
designation of " Syrians ", established themselves in the 
main cities of the western empire. Their aim was to 
acquire wealth by industry and commerce: they never 
came to the west simply to propagate their ideas. . , . (In 
the first period) they contented themselves with practising 
the special industries of Phoenicia, and had to submit 
to the competition of western industries which possessed 
a very strong organisation. After the fifth century, in the 
midst of the barbarians camped in the empire, they preserved 
the advantage of their ethnic separateness. . . . Instead of 
mixing with the rest of the population, they formed in 
each town a distinct group, preserving their Syrian language, 
and appearing as a corporation in public ceremonies. 
Their isolation led them to mutual co-operation. Different 
groups began to act in concert. Meanwhile, the western 
corporations, so powerful before the third century, had 
been crushed by state control, and in the fifth century 
disappeared. The Syrians quite naturally took their place. 
They and the Jews possessed the monopoly of industry 
and commerce. They profited by this situation to enrich 
themselves, and in the middle of barbarian society their 
wealth soon brought them social advancement. If in this 
society they could not occupy posts of political importance, 
they tried instead to gain a foothold in the Church. In 
Gaul and Italy they sometimes became bishops, and at 
Rome in the sixth and seventh century, they had almost 
exclusively the privilege of providing Popes '. 


Forgetting the Jews altogether, Br6hier concludes^ by 
saying 'after the disappearance of the industrial corporations 
of the west, it was the Syrians who controlled the whole 
of economic life. In particular they monopolised the 
traffic in rare products, and in all the luxuries which the 
aristocracy of the barbarian period considered indispensable 
to their material comfort. From the fifth to the eighth 
century the Syrians were almost the only navigators of the 
Mediterranean sea, and the only industrialists of the bar- 
barian world '- 1 . 

Even if the last paragraph is an exaggeration, yet the 
Syrians were of at least equal importance with the Jews 
both as merchants and bankers. It has already been 
pointed out that in the mass of references to usury there is 
no place where * Jew ' and ' usurer * are connected, even 
when to make the connection, if it existed, would have 
seemed obvious; and the only explicit reference to a Jewish 
money-lender in the west is to Armentarius, who came to 
Tours to collect a debt owed him by two officials, and was 
murdered instead 2 . On the other hand there are, naturally, 
more references to Jewish traders than to Jewish slaves, 
peasants or landholders, though all these classes were 
represented among the Jews of these times and countries. 
Little is known of Syrian peasants in the west, and this 
is natural, for they had never had the wholesale expulsions 
or captivities to which the Jew had been subject; and 
Syria was far more fertile than Palestine. 

It is probable that the Mahometan conquest of Syria 
contributed to the decline of the Syrians as a separate 
entity in western Europe, and the fact that they were not 
separated by religion from those around them would mean 
that, cut off from their base, they would tend to intermarry 
and so disappear. In any case before the eighth century 
we not only cannot speak of the Jew as the only trader of 
western Europe, but we have no evidence for assuming 
his importance to be equal to that of the Syrian. Religious 
distinction, not commercial aptitude, caused his survival 
when the Syrian disappeared. 

1 Br^Hier, C&Iomes, pp. 18 and 37. 

1 Gregory of Tours, Hist . Ecc. Franc. > vii, 23 . 



Had the economic situation of the Jew been as exceptional 
as modern authors claim, there is no reason why restrictive 
legislation should not have made an early appearance. 
There were two forces which remained fairly constant 
and consistent among the warring kings and princelings 
of the period, the Church and, at its side as the chief 
secular force, the great landholders. Both had means of 
legislation, the Church through its council, and the land- 
holders through the survival of Roman law for Roman 
citizens. But from neither source do we obtain any evidence 
of definite economic hostility towards the Jew in the centuries 
immediately following the barbarian invasions. 

Ultimately it was from these two forces that mediaeval 
European society evolved. The system which they slowly 
perfected and the structure of rights and duties which grew 
around them, were very different from Roman society. 
The Catholic Christian religion came to be the exclusive 
basis of membership. As this happened, as Roman law 
was slowly replaced by feudal and ecclesiastical law, the 
last of the Roman citizens, the Jew, came to find himself 
without any rights whatever, and was forced to depend 
on the precarious favour of the different powers around 
him. As long as Roman law survived, so long only was 
the Jew a normal member of society, except for the re- 
strictions in force in the Roman legislation of the Theodosian 
Code. The extra laws of Justinian were not valid in the 
west, and were not introduced until centuries later than 
our present period. But various modified and simplified 
recensions of the Code of Theodosius were circulated in 
western Europe, and formed the basis of legal authority 
for the indigenous populations. 

The Ostrogoths in Italy, and the Papacy succeeding 
them, administered simply the Code itself. This is apparent 
again and again in the letters of Gregory the Great and in 
the edicts and judgments of Theodoric. An Arian 
Visigothic king, Alaric II, issued the most complete revision 
of the Code which has survived, and it is noticeable that, 
so far from having to accentuate the legislation affecting 


the Jews, he omitted most of the more violent outbursts 
of the beginning of the fifth century. The Franks and 
Burgundians contented themselves with a general edict 
that Roman citizens were to continue to live according to 
Roman law. The general decline in education makes it 
probable that it was not the full code, together with the 
great text books of Law, that was used in France and 
Burgundy. Here also simplified editions were probably 
in use, and there is nothing to warrant the supposition 
that the editions which have perished were more concerned 
with the Jews than those which have survived. 

But as society reformed itself into more coherent and 
definable areas, general Roman law began to give way to 
different national codes, and the unity of the treatment of 
the Jew ceased. He might flourish in one country and be 
legally oppressed in another. During the time that the 
Visigoths of Spain were passing their most repressive laws, 
the Jews of France were living in comparative tranquillity. 
But it was also true that treatment might vary in a single 
country according to the enthusiasm or toleration of local 
authorities. In the old empire difference of treatment 
was usually due to violent and illegal action in particular 
places. Now a show of legality could be given to treatment 
in one place which differed radically from that in a neigh- 
bouring community or city. Thus when Avitus used his 
authority as bishop legally to expel them from Clermont, 
the neighbouring bishops left them in peace. 


The distinction between Goth, Frank or Burgundian and 
Roman was slow to disappear, and the process was made 
still slower by the fact that the conquerors were all Arians, 
while the Roman population was Catholic. The first of 
the barbarian conquerors to accept Catholicism was Clovis 
the Frank in 496. The Burgundians followed after their 
conquest by the Franks some thirty years later. The 
Visigoths of Spain remained Arian until the conversion 
of their king Reccared in 586. The last to surrender were 
the Lombards, living as neighbours to the Papacy itself. 


This religious division meant that from the point of 
view of the central authority, the distinction between Gaul 
or Goth and Roman was more fundamental than the division 
between Christian and Jew. In the south of France not 
only were the Roman titles preserved, but the power was 
mainly left in the hands of the great Gallo-Roman families, 
who could wield it either as ecclesiastical or as secular 
authorities. In fact one could pass from one field to the 
other. Sidonius Apollinaris, the bishop of Clermont, was 
son-in-law of that emperor Avitus of whom Gregory of 
Tours charmingly says that the senate * finding him some- 
what wanton in his habits deposed him from the purple 
and had him consecrated bishop of Placentia '. Bishopric 
and Prefecture were parallel roads to the same destination 
the authority necessary to the maintenance of order. 
What was happening at the same time in the empire of 
Justinian happened also in the west. The ecclesiastical 
power was being given secular responsibility, and this 
situation survived the unification of the different kingdoms 
under the Catholic Church. Not only did it survive but 
subsequent centuries saw it considerably increased. The 
power to protect brought the responsibility to govern, 
and the bishoprics followed the papacy in assuming terri- 
torial jurisdiction. As a natural result we shall find church 
councils passing legislation affecting the civil status as well 
as the religion of their flocks, and prescribing secular as 
well as ecclesiastical punishments. 

Of the events of the Arian period little has survived, 
for it was only as times began to be more settled that litera- 
ture in any form was likely to flourish, or that church 
councils were likely to be able to meet. 

There are several incidents which reveal how much the 
Arian kings feared to annoy their Catholic subjects. Neither 
Theodoric nor Alaric thought of altering in favour of their 
own Church the law by which a new synagogue passed 
into the hands of the Catholics 1 . Alaric also was compelled 
to allow his Catholic subjects to meet in council at Agde, 
moved, it is suggested, by fear that if he refused they would 
desert to the Franks, whose king, Clovis, had just accepted 
the Catholic faith. The council of Agde passed two canons 

1 Cf. Ch. VI, Section III, and Breviary of Alaric, Nov. 3. 


affecting the Jews. In the first, after expressing alarm 
at the number of Jews whose conversion had proved in- 
sincere, it laid down an eight months' catechumenate to 
test their sincerity before their admission to baptism 1 . 
In the other it repeated a canon of the council of Vannes 
in Brittany. This prohibited the clergy from eating with 
the Jews on the ground that it was acknowledging an in- 
ferior status to accept food from people who considered 
that the food eaten by Christians was impure, and who 
therefore would not return the compliment and eat with 
Christians 2 . The council of Agde adds one phrase to the 
canon of Vannes, and extends the prohibition to the laity 3 . 

It would be interesting to know the influence of con- 
temporary Jews on Christians who treated Saturday with 
especial respect. They may simply have acted out of 
reverence for the Ten Commandments, but references 
to this * Judaising ' habit are extremely frequent for several 
centuries to come. The twelfth canon of Agde prohibits 
the omission of fasting on the Saturdays of Lent, and 
may be a reflection of Jewish influence 4 . The giving and 
receiving of invitations to meals show that close relations 
did exist between Jews and Christians in the country, 
though the increase of false conversions suggests the be- 
ginning of a period in which there were advantages in not 
being a Jew. 

There is only one other canon of the Arian Visigothic 
period which may refer indirectly to Jews, the sixth canon 
of Orange 5 . This was designed to prevent infuriated 
owners from claiming the slaves of the clergy when their 
own had taken refuge in a church and been confiscated. 
Any slave of a Jew might take refuge in a church and ex- 
press his desire to become a Christian, on which his Jewish 
master, even if he followed him to baptism, lost all rights 
over him. But there was no special ground on which a 
Christian master lost his slaves if they took refuge in a 
church. Though it is much later, there is legislation of the 

1 Agde, Canon 34; M., VIII, p. 330. 

* Vannes, Canon 12; M., VII, p. 954. 

3 Agde, Canon 40; M., VIII, p. 331. 

* Cf. Orleans III, Canon 28, quoted below, p. 324. 
8 Orange, Canon 6; M., VI, p. 437. 


time of Charlemagne forbidding persons to tempt slaves 
away from their Christian masters, and stating that it 
is the duty of the Christian to impress on the slave his 
duty to remain loyal to his master. Gregory the Great 
was also troubled by the idea that Christian slaves might 
be led away from their masters and induced to enter a 
monastic life, and with much hesitation expressed his 
disapproval of it, unless the slave had a very clear call. 
It seems then likely that the only classes who would be 
regularly affected by this canon would be pagan or Jewish 
owners, and the former were probably very few. 

One interesting event is recorded of the Arian Visigothic 
period, the part played by the Jews at the siege of Aries 
by Clovis in 508. According to the Life of Saint Caesarius 1 
they attempted to betray the city to the Prankish invaders. 
The story is, however, extremely suspicious. One day 
the Arlesians discovered a letter, tied to a stone and thrown 
from the Jewish section of the wall, which promised to 
deliver the town in return for the immunity of the Jews 
and their goods. But on the previous day serious sus- 
picion had been thrown upon the bishop that he intended 
to do the same thing. An ecclesiastic, who was a near relation 
of his, deserted to the Franks, and Caesarius, who was 
already under a cloud because of some previous action, was 
suspected of being behind this desertion of his relative. 
An angry crowd confronted the bishop and imprisoned him. 
On the next day the fortunate discovery of the perfidy 
of the Jews caused a revulsion of popular opinion in his 
favour, and he was released. But while it is understandable 
that a Catholic bishop should have motives for belonging 
to the realm of the Catholic Clovis, rather than to that of 
the Arian Alaric, it is extremely difficult to see why a Jew 
should desire to make this change, since the Arians usually 
treated them better than the Catholics. The story throws 
a sidelight on another historical fact, whatever be the truth 
of the alleged treachery. It is evident that in spite of the 
law which did not allow the Jews to serve in the army, 
in case of siege they had their own quarter of the wall 
allotted them to defend. 

A special Code was given by Gondebaud of Burgundy, 
1 Cyprianus, Vita S. Caesarii y I, iii, 21, 22 ; P.L., LXVII, p. ion. 


as by the other Arian kings, to his Roman subjects. Only 
one law refers explicitly to the Jews. It prohibits marriages 
between Jews and Christians 1 . But Gondebaud also added 
in his own law a paragraph dealing with them. In this 
paragraph Jews were forbidden to attack Christians with 
fist or foot or cudgel, or to pull their hair. The penalty 
was the loss of a hand, unless it was redeemed by a payment 
of 12 and a compensation of 75 solidi 2 . The council of 
Epaone, which was summoned after the conversion of the 
Burgundians to Catholicism, dealt only with Christians 
who accepted invitations to Jewish banquets 3 . 

A survey of the Arian barbarian period shows that the 
age was marked by increasing lawlessness. But even if 
they were a minority it does not seem that the Jews quietly 
accepted the attacks of their Christian neighbours. In fact, 
the law of Gondebaud, and the canon of Orange (if it refers 
to the Jews), suggest that they were prepared to give back 
violence for violence. Of their activities in other directions 
we know nothing, though it is certain that Marseilles was 
a great centre of Jewish commerce in the fifth and sixth 
centuries, as was also probably Narbonne. The council 
of Epaone shows that their relations with , Christians in 
Burgundy were not entirely those of fisticuffs, and the great 
outburst of anti- Jewish legislation in Catholic Spain shows 
that in Arian Spain relations were friendly. 


Our information on their situation after the conversion of 
Clovis to Catholicism is much fuller. Councils met with 
much greater regularity and reviewed the life of the people 
in considerable detail. Their canons were many, and were 
probably as effective as any legislation at that time. Different 
dioceses still had different usages; the era in which an 
attempt was made to introduce uniformity had not yet 
begun ; collections of canon law were still non-existent, and 
as a result the treatment of the Jews is not everywhere the 
same, and laws enacted at one diocesan or provincial council 

1 Leges Romanae Burgundionum, M.GJH. folio, Leges, III, p. 609, 

* M.G.H. folio, Leges, III, p. 573, Law cii. 

3 Epaone, Canon 15, M., VIII, p. 561. 


are not necessarily in force throughout the country 1 . In 
addition to the councils we possess an invaluable source 
for the general conditions of the time in the History of the 
Franks of Gregory of Tours, and that author has a number 
of explicit references also to Jewish life. These two sources, 
together with occasional references in chroniclers, enable 
us to recreate a picture of Jewish life under the Franks 
more completely than we can for any other western kingdom. 
For in Visigothic Spain our immense collection of legal 
material is unaccompanied by any information on the actual 
life and conditions of the Spanish Jews of the epoch. 

Yet with all our material on the subject the picture is still 
inevitably indistinct, and the very wealth and variety of the 
references make generalisations an easy temptation, and 
one to which most writers have succumbed. Unfortunately 
they have used as the basis for their generalisations not 
the decisions of courts and councils, but the picturesque 
anecdotes of Gregory and the chroniclers. From the 
former we can indeed make general deductions, but the 
latter we can only use legitimately as individual incidents. 
To generalise from them is merely to exhibit our prejudices. 
It is easy to say that because Armentarius of Tours was 
a money-lender this was a common or even universal 
trade among Jews. It would be just as scientific to say that 
there were no Jewish money-lenders in France after the 
sixth century, for since Armentarius was murdered on the 
only occasion on which (so far as we know) he collected 
a debt, therefore all money-lenders were murdered as soon 
as they tried to collect their debts 2 . 

The conversion of Clovis to Catholicism in 496 did not 
produce any anti-Jewish movement comparable to that 
introduced into Spain by the conversion a century later of 
Reccared. The French councils of Orleans, Clermont and 
Macon have none of the virulence of the councils of Toledo. 
The situation with which they deal is one which is well 
illustrated by two anecdotes of an earlier period, dealing 
with the two Hilaries. Of Hilary of Poitiers (d. 367) it is 
related that he was so ' cautious ' that he never accepted 

1 On the growth of canon law and uniformity in France see P.Fournier, 
Histoire des collections canomques en Occident, Paris, 1931-2. 

2 On Armentarius, see below, p. 341 . 


food from a heretic or from a Jew. * Indeed, this most holy 
man so detested the enemies of the Catholic faith that it is 
not enough to say that he refused to eat with them, for he 
refused even to reply to their salutations in the streets.' 1 
The author adds of this abstinence from Jewish hospitality 
that it is something c quod inter mortales adhuc valde 
videtur difficile '. Of Hilary of Aries (d. c. 450) it is said 
that he was so much beloved by the people of that city 
that at his funeral * the Hebrew waitings of the Jews ' were 
heard side by side with those of other citizens 2 . 

The comment of the biographer of Hilary of Poitiers and 
the situation described by the chronicler of the life of Hilary 
of Aries are shown to reflect a normal state of affairs by the 
fact that the first French canon which deals with the Jews 
is a canon of Vannes prohibiting the acceptance of Jewish 
hospitality by Christian clerics 3 . This prohibition was 
repeated no less than three times within the century, and it is 
noticeable that the repetitions come from very different areas, 
Vannes in Brittany, then Agde on the Mediterranean coast, 
and finally Orleans in the centre of the country. 

Nor is this the only evidence of the intimacy of relation- 
ships between Jews and Christians at this period. Inter- 
marriage also occupied the attention of the councils, and 
under grave ecclesiastical penalties three separate canons 
forbade such an offence to Christian feeling as marriage with 
Jews or Jewesses 4 . It is evident also that these close relation- 
ships went further than social intercourse or even marriage. 
Two canons deal with Jewish religious influence. The third 
council of Orleans refers to people who have been persuading 
the Christians that they ought to observe the Lord's day 
in the Jewish fashion, and abstain from all work upon it 5 . 
This is one of the many border-line cases which we find all 

1 Life of Hilary of Poitiers by * Venantius * (probably Venantius 
Fortunatus), in P.L., IX, p. 187. 

2 Life of Hilary of Aries in P.L., L, p. 1243. 

3 Vannes (465), Canon 12; this canon is repeated in Agde, Canon 34, 
and Orleans III, Canon 13; M., IX, p. 15. 

4 Orleans II (533), Canon 19; M., VIII, p. 838; Clermont (535), 
Canon 6; M., VIII, p. 861; and Orleans III (538), Canon 13; M., IX, 
P- 15. 

5 Orleans III, Canon 28; M., DC, p. 19. 


through the history of Jewish-Christian relationships, where 
we cannot say how far it is the influence of living Jews upon 
their Christian contemporaries, and how far that of the 
written word of the Torah upon some enthusiastic reader 
or hearer. In this case it is perhaps more probable that the 
action was due to the influence of living Jews, for we know 
of no Judeo-Christian sect in Gaul at this epoch. This is 
all the more likely in that we know that the Jews were 
making proselytes among various classes of slaves and 
servants. This question was handled by the following 
council of Orleans, which decreed that such a convert 
became free if he was either a foreigner (advena), or a man 
who had been converted to Christianity (Christianus foetus), 
or a Christian concubine. But if he was himself a Christian, 
and had accepted Judaism on condition that he received his 
freedom if he remained steadfast in his Judaism, then the 
reverse was to happen. He was to be condemned to 
perpetual slavery for his desertion of Christianity, pre- 
sumably in the service of a Christian master, for his Jewish 
master lost him for the crime of having converted him 1 . 

In the political situation of the Jews the councils took 
little interest. The matter did not lie outside their juris- 
diction, but either they found Jewish officials tolerable or 
there were not enough of them to create a serious problem. 
References to Jewish officials are extremely rare. In fact, 
apart from the Jewish mayor in the letter of Severus of 
Majorca, there is only the Jewish judge in the mythical acts 
of Benedicta of Lyons 2 . But that such persons did exist is 
shown by the canon of Clermont, which repeats the law of 
Valentinian III issued a century earlier to the Prefects of 
the Two Gauls 3 ., As a council would not be likely to deal 
with a non-existent situation, and as, on the other hand, our 
information is so scanty, and the conciliar prohibition was 
never repeated, we may perhaps conclude that Jewish 
officials were relatively rare, and that they were not dis- 
tinguished by any unpleasant characteristics which brought 
them into notice, a situation which would agree with the 
general conditions of the times. 

1 Orleans IV (541), Canon 31; M., IX, p. 118. 

2 A.S., Oct. 8. The Bollandists themselves class the Acta as ' fabulosa '. 

3 Clermont (535), Canon 9; M., VIII, p. 861. Cf. Const. Sirm., vi t fin. 


Of more importance was the Jewish possession of Chris- 
tian slaves. The problem was universal and continuous in 
the ancient world. But it is interesting to note that nowhere 
was the situation treated more mildly than in Gaul. No 
early councils attempted to put into force the full rigour 
of the Roman Code a refusal which, as we have seen, caused 
great indignation to Gregory the Great 1 . Legally, they 
might have demanded the surrender of all Christian slaves 
in Jewish possession, but they never attempted to do so. 
The third council of Orleans only considered Christian 
slaves who received particular ill-treatment from Jewish 
masters. If they were ordered to perform an action which 
offended religious principles, if they were punished for an 
action for whose commission the Church had already 
imposed penance and given absolution, and if in either case 
they took sanctuary in a church, then the priest should only 
return them to their master if the value of each slave was 
deposited as a guarantee for his subsequent treatment 2 . The 
next council of Orleans, three years later, decided that under 
similar conditions the Jew should be forced to sell the slave 
if a Christian purchaser could be found, and this act of 
piety was specially commended to Christians 3 . The fifth 
council of Orleans took the matter up for the third time, 
and extended the scope of the legislation to deal with 
Christian masters also who ill-treated their slaves. If the 
slave of such a master took sanctuary in a church, then he 
was returned by the priest to the master, who had to swear 
not to ill-treat him. This was considered a sufficient guar- 
antee, as the Church could impose ecclesiastical penalties in 
case of a renewal of the offence. But if the offender was 
not a Christian, then he had to produce Catholic guarantors 
who would undertake that the slave should be made to do 
nothing contrary to his religion 4 . 

It is evident that apart from the purely religious question 
involved in the conversion of Christian slaves to Judaism, 
the councils showed no desire to exhibit an unfriendly 
attitude towards Jewish ownership. This last canon classes 

Ch. VI, p. 215. 

2 Orleans III (538), Canon 13; M., IX, p. 15. 

3 Orleans IV, Canon 30; M., IX, p. 118. 

4 Orleans V, Canon 22; M., IX, p. 134. 


together Christian and non-Christian owners, and in 
its recognition that a Jew might persuade practising Chris- 
tians to act as his sureties, it is an immense advance on 
Roman legislation with its interminable abuse of everything 

Another canon, which introduces a new restriction, is a 
final confirmation of the good relations existing between 
Jews and Christians at this time. The third council of 
Orleans forbade Jews to appear in the streets between 
Maundy Thursday and Easter Monday 1 . It may seem at 
first sight strange to quote this canon as evidence of good 
relations, but, in fact, it can legitimately be so used. We 
know from a Precept of Childebert that these days were 
days of particular licence, of drunkenness, and dance and 
song 2 . The bishops of the time were in some sense living 
in missionary dioceses, weaning the population slowly from 
heathen practices. Such festivities were probably connected 
with ancient festivals of spring, and were very likely 
obscene in their character. That at such a time the bishops 
should feel that it was well to keep Jewish influence out of 
the way was natural, but that Jews should participate at all 
in such popular festivities would at a later date have been 

From the middle of the sixth century onwards a less 
friendly attitude prevails in the canons of the councils, and 
this corresponds to a certain increase of action against the 
Jews on the part of the secular and individual episcopal 
authorities. But the kings and even bishops went consider- 
ably farther than even the most hostile council would have 
allowed, and the forced baptisms which began to take place 
under royal or episcopal authority found no approval in 
canonical sanction. The subjects of legislation were still 
the same, with one exception. It was apparently unnecessary 
to return to the question of mixed marriages, and this may 
be in itself some sign that the Jewish and Christian popula- 
tion were drawing apart. But legislation was still needed 
against accepting Jewish hospitality 3 . 

1 Orleans III, Canon 30; M., IX, p. 19. 

2 See below, Section VIL 

8 Macon (581), Canon 15; M. t IX, p. 934; and Reims (624), Canon n; 
M., IX, p. 596. 


The legislation already recorded did not succeed in 
eliminating Jewish officials, and later councils become both 
more explicit in their definition of the offenders and more 
severe in their prescription of the penalties. The council 
of Macon forbade the appointment of Jews as judges or as 
collectors of those indirect taxes which constituted the main 
financial burden of the general population 1 , on the grounds 
that these two positions gave undue authority to Jews over 
Christians. The addition to this explanation of the words 
* quod Deus avertat ' constitutes the first abusive phrase 
found in Gallic conciliar legislation 2 . Finding this unavailing, 
the council of Paris devised a punishment to fit the crime 
which is almost worthy of Gilbertian opera. Since only a 
Christian should exercise authority over Christians, if any 
Jew were found to have assumed, or even to have applied 
for, an official position, he was to be taken by the bishop of 
the town where the offence was committed and immediately 
baptised, together with his whole household. But whether 
thus safely set on the path of salvation he was to be allowed 
to keep his office the council neglected to decide 3 . Even 
this solution did not remove the difficulty, and the council 
of Reims ten years later returned to the attack, but lacking 
the humour of their Parisian colleagues they were content 
merely to repeat the prohibition and to insist upon its 
application to all ' actiones publicae ' 4 . 

Later councils had again to deal with the question of 
the Jewish holding of Christian slaves. The council of 
Macon finally passed a law definitely prohibiting such 
ownership. That the canon was not effective is clearly 
shown by the letters of protest on this precise subject 
addressed by Gregory the Great to the Prankish sovereigns 
less than twenty years later. The bishops at Macon took 
their stand on previous legislation by which Jews were 
compelled to sell Christian slaves whom they had ill- 
treated, if a Christian purchaser could be found. After 
ascribing the possession of Christian slaves either to the 

1 * Impots indirects ou tonlieux (telonea) comprenant les douanes, les 
plages et les taxes sur les objets vendus aux foires et marches/ Lot, 
op. dt. t p. 405. 

2 Macon, Canon 13; 3VL, IX., p. 934. 

3 Paris (614), Canon 15; M., X, p. 542. 

4 Reims (624), Canon u; M., X, p. 596. 


fortunes of war or to * Jewish fraud ', they expressed their 
astonishment at hearing that in some cities the insolence of 
the Jews was such that they refused to sell their slaves even 
when Christian purchasers offered the price. Legally, 
however, the Jew was in his rights in refusing such a sale 
unless ill-treatment could be proved ; since it is a fair pre- 
sumption that later conciliar enactments overrode those of 
the original Theodosian Code when they dealt with the 
same subject, and the councils of Orleans only dealt with 
cases of ill-treatment. But the council of Macon extended 
this compulsory sale to all cases of Jewish ownership of 
Christian slaves, fixed a general price of twelve solidi for 
such a sale, and in case of Jewish refusal to accept the price, 
allowed the slave to leave his master and to settle where he 
willed among Christians 1 . It added a further canon to 
prevent the Jews from evading the laws by converting their 
Christian slaves to Judaism 2 . 

The council of Reims attempted to get nearer the root 
of the trouble by preventing Christian slaves from ever 
falling into Jewish hands. Christians were to be sold to 
neither Jews nor pagans, and if a Christian master was 
forced to sell his Christian slaves, he could only do it to 
another Christian. If he sold them to a Jew or a pagan he 
was to be himself excommunicated, and the sale was to be 
considered invalid 3 . This was as far as it was possible for 
the legislation to go at the time, and if it could have been 
carried out completely it would have solved the whole 
problem. The difficulty of carrying it out is revealed in the 
letter of Gregory the Great 4 on the slave trade in Naples. 
When a batch of slaves was offered for sale, it was impossible 
to know if among them there were Christians. Finally, the 
council of Chalons sur Saone forbade all sales of captives 
outside the kingdom of Clovis, and thereby prevented the 
sale of slaves to pagan and Jewish masters abroad 5 . After 
these two canons we hear no more from the councils, and 
we hear little of Jewish possession of Christian slaves, so 

1 Macon, Canon 16; M., DC, p. 935. 

2 Macon, Canon 17; M., IX, p. 935. 

3 Reims, Canon n; M., X, p. 596. 

4 See Ch. VI, p. 216. 

* Chalons (c. 650), Canon 9; M., X, p. 1191. 


that it may be considered that by thus attacking the root 
of the matter, the sale of the slaves, the Gallic bishops had 
solved the problem which had always beaten Roman 

Other legislation of the later councils is of less importance. 
The council of Macon, in renewing the law affecting Jewish 
appearance in the streets over Easter, added a clause for- 
bidding them to sit in the presence of the clergy, and 
ordered the civil judges to assess their punishment according 
to the rank of the cleric in whose presence the offender had 
seated himself 1 . A local council of Auxerre passed legislation 
affecting the observance of Sunday which may have been of 
great importance for the Jews of the diocese, though we have 
no means of judging. All work, agricultural or other, was 
completely forbidden, but the law does not specify whether 
it is to be applied to Jews 2 . The almost contemporary canon 
of Narbonne in Visigothic Spain mentions them expressly, 
but whether the absence of this explicit reference in the 
council of Auxerre means that they were not included, or 
that it was taken for granted that they were included, and 
therefore not mentioned, is a matter of taste. For the sake 
of completeness in this picture of conciliar enactments, it 
may be added that Jews visiting nunneries on business were 
forbidden to linger there, to have any private conversations, 
or to show any familiarity to the inmates 3 . But this matter 
concerns rather the morality of nuns than the disabilities of 


Fortunately for the Jews it was more customary for the 
kings of the sixth century to ratify the canons of the councils 
than for the councils to ratify the edicts of the kings. In fact, 
it is only on the Easter question that the councils refer to the 
kings at all, and in this matter they might equally well have 
referred to the council of Orleans. It must be admitted 
that there is not the air of impartiality and * gravity ' in 

1 Macon, Canon 14; M., IX, p. 934, 

* Auxerre (578 or 582), Canon 16; M., DC, p. 913. 

3 Macon, Canon 2 ; M., IX, p. 934. 


royal and episcopal action that there is in the most unfavour- 
able decisions of the councils. That the disabilities under 
which the Jews suffered should increase rather than diminish 
was unfortunately to be expected, for such is always the case 
when discrimination against a group begins and nothing 
occurs definitely to swing the pendulum in the opposite 
direction. But the councils can fairly be said to have been 
behind and not ahead of others in imposing them, and when 
they did act they may have acted with severity, but they 
certainly cannot be said to have acted with either violence 
or spite, and they were no harder on Jews than on the 
sinners of their own flocks. 

We do not hear anything in France of the Jews being 
forbidden to build new synagogues until the council of 
Meaux in the ninth century when Agobard, bishop of 
Lyons, had already inflamed opinion against them. And 
on only two occasions do we know of synagogues being 
destroyed by popular violence. We are told that the 
synagogue of Tours was destroyed a short time before the 
visit of King Guntram in 58s 1 . The Jews obviously 
intended to petition him for its reconstruction out of 
public funds, but this the king * admirabili prudentia ' 
absolutely refused to allow. But there is no statement that 
they were not to be allowed to rebuild it themselves. It 
may or may not be significant that the same passage 
of Gregory speaks of the welcome given to the king 
by the population, * including Syrians, Romans, and even 
Jews '. Syria was the home of synagogue destruction in this 
century, and the penetration of the Syrians into France was 
a penetration of monks as well as of traders. This excep- 
tional incident may, therefore, owe its origin to external 
persuasion rather than to local hostility. Such a suggestion 
is not entirely without support, for we know of no popular 
molestation of the Jews at this period except under the 
inspiration of some particular provocation. For the other 
case was at Clermont in the time of Avitus. 

With an active episcopacy and an effective system of 
councils, it is natural that there was little direct royal 
action concerning the Jews. Such precepts and instruc- 
tions as there are cover the same ground as that covered 

*Hist. Franc., Bk. VIII, i. 


by the councils and are generally issued in confirma- 
tion of them. Childebert I repeated the conciliar canon 
forbidding the Jews to appear in the streets at Easter, and 
added a clause that they only did so to mock at the 
Christians. The necessity for this action is revealed in a 
general precept of his about the disgraceful conduct of 
Christians at these seasons: * We have received a complaint 
that many sacrilegious actions take place among the people, 
whence God is injured, and the people commit mortal sin: 
we hear of nights spent in drunkenness, scurrility and 
singing, and even on the sacred days of Easter, Christmas 
and the other feasts of the Church and on Sundays 
dancers (?) circulate in the " villas ".' It can well be 
imagined that such occasions gave opportunities for Jews 
to poke fun at the ceremonies involved 1 . 

Both Guntram and Childebert II issued orders forbidding 
all work on Sunday, but again there is no direct mention 
of the Jews 2 . There is no trace of any royal enactment 
following the letters of Gregory the Great to Theodoric, 
Theodobert and Brunhild, expressing his horror at theii 
allowing Jews to possess Christian slaves. The sovereigns 
seem to have been content to follow Gallic tradition, and tc 
prohibit only conversion. Clothaire II in 614 renewed the 
exclusion of the Jews from all public services. He added 2 
further clause forbidding them to associate themselves witr 
someone for some purpose, but unfortunately the manu- 
script has a tear at this point, and exists in only one copy 3 
Two royal edicts for compulsory baptism will be considerec 
later. No Prankish Breviary of the Theodosian Code 
survives, though the councils frequently refer to th< 
paragraphs of the Code, and Clothaire II about 560 issuec 
a general order that Romans were to live according t< 
Roman Law 4 . This general statement would have includec 

1 Epistola data per ecclesias vel omrd populo. The passage, however 
is a restoration from the canon. M.G.H., Leges, I, i, and Preceptun 
Ckttdeberti in M.G.H. quarto, Leg. II, Vol. i. 

^Guntram, M.GJH. quarto, Leg. II, Vol. i, n. Childebert, ibid, 
p. 17. 

3 Clothaire II, Oct. 18, 614, M.G.H. quarto, Leg, II, Vol. i, p. 22 
The defective passage runs: * Quicumque se . . . tuos . . . dine sociar 
presumpserit, severissimam legem ex canonica sententia incurrat '. 

* M.GJH. quarto, Leg. II, Vol. i, p. 19. 


the Jews, except in so far as their position had been modified 
by royal or conciliar enactment not a very serious addition, 
for it amounted only to their exclusion from the streets at 
Easter and the warning not to dally in nunneries. 


If the kings spent little time on the Jews in their legislation, 
yet from the middle of the sixth century onwards there are 
a number of cases of extra-legal action towards them for 
which sometimes the sovereigns, and sometimes the bishops, 
were responsible. These actions generally took the form of 
baptisms or expulsions. From the point of view of Code and 
council such actions were clearly illegal; but the increasing 
frequency with which they occurred shows that the law was 
becoming an ever slenderer reed for the support of Jewish 
rights. For it is needless to say that it would have been useless 
for the Jews to have appealed either to Roman or to ecclesi- 
astical law for protection against the personal action of king 
or bishop. Their only possible protector would be the 
Pope himself, and we do not know of any papal intervention 
in their favour except from Gregory the Great. Most 
ecclesiastical authorities would follow the line taken by the 
chronicler of the forced baptisms of Sisebut, that it was * not 
according to knowledge, . . . but, as it was written, by 
opportunity or by truth, Christ is preached n , and would 
certainly not carry their disagreement to the length of open 
protection of the Jews. 

The first recorded example of compulsory baptism took 
place at the instance of Childebert I in the diocese of Ferreol 
of Uzes in 558. His biographer relates that he was solicitous 
for the conversion of the numerous Jews in Uzes, and often 
invited them to his table and made them presents. He tried 
to urge them to baptism in friendly conversation. Unfor- 
tunately this was misrepresented at Paris, and the bishop was 
accused of holding this close intercourse with them for 
treasonable purposes. (Uzes lying in the hills above Nimes 
was not far from the Visigothic frontier.) He was summoned 
to Paris and kept there until after three years his innocency 

1 Isidore, Hist. Goth. Anno DCL.,M.G.H. quarto, Chron. Min., II, 291. 


was admitted. On his return he changed his tactics, and, 
after holding a council of his diocese to secure approval for 
his action, he forced them to accept either baptism or 
expulsion. Large numbers were baptised 1 . The rest mi- 
grated elsewhere. Twenty years later, in 576, Bishop 
Avitus of Clermont succeeded (after lengthy preaching) in 
converting one Jew, but as his convert was passing through 
the gate in a procession of catechumens, an unconverted 
Jew poured rancid oil all over him. The people, infuriated, 
tried to stone the offender, but the bishop intervened. On 
Ascension Day the mob rushed and burnt the synagogue. 
After some hesitation the bishop offered baptism or exile, 
and, after deliberation, Jews to the numbe rof five hundred 
were baptised. The rest went to Marseilles 2 . The event 
inspired one of the poems of Venantius Fortunatus. 
He describes it In graphic detail, and with no sympathy 
for the Jews. His poem is notable as containing the earliest 
known reference to a familiar mediaeval legend, that of the 
smell of the Jew and its immediate change on baptism. 
Venantius may have meant it to be taken metaphorically, 
though the wealth of detail suggests easily its direct applica- 
tion. He begins by explaining: 

' Christicolis Judaeus odor resilibat amarus, 
Obstabatque piis impia turba sacris.' 

But after baptism 

' abluitur Judaeus odor baptismate divo, 
Aspersusque sacro fit gregis alter odor.' 

An ambrosian aroma filled the air. . . . One may doubt if 
it was entirely metaphorical in the mind of Venantius 3 . 

In 582 Chilperic ordered the baptism of a large number 
of Jews, probably in or around Paris, and himself acted as 
godfather to many of them 4 . Here the events of Clermont 
were reversed. Instead of the Jew insulting the convert, 
Priscus, the king's jeweller, who was on intimate terms 
with him, evaded the baptism and was murdered by one of 

1 Gallia Christiana, 1739, Vol. VI, p. 613. 

2 Gregory of Tours, Hist . Franc., Bk. V, vi (xi). 

3 Carmina, V, 5. 

4 Gregory of Tours, Hist . Franc., Bk. VI, x (xvii). 


the newly baptised 1 . Gregory of Tours remarks that many of 
the * converts ' continued to observe Jewish customs. In 591 
Gregory the Great writes to the bishops of Aries and Mar- 
seilles, reasoning with them gently for having followed the 
same policy of forced baptisms in their dioceses. In 624(?) 
Dagobert, at the request of the Emperor Heraclius, who had 
received a warning that he would be overthrown by the 
circumcised, is said to have baptised or expelled all the Jews 
of his kingdom ' summo studio >2 . 

The last recorded victims of compulsory baptism in this 
period were the Jews of Bourges, at the hands of the bishop 
Sulpicius, some time between 620 and 644?. 

It is possible, and perhaps even probable, that other cases 
occurred, and that they were either not recorded, or else 
the records have perished. The history of the Jews in 
France in the seventh and eighth centuries is completely 
obscure. But by these seven cases we can see that we are 
entering already into the transition from a situation in which 
Jewish rights were firmly based on the common law of the 
Roman Codes, governing all the citizens alike, to the mediaeval 
position where the Jews existed only by toleration, and were 
outside the normal operation of the law. So far they were 
still technically * cives Romani *, and on the whole this 
position seems to have given them adequate protection; but 
it can only have been because there was no general ill-feeling 
between them and the rest of the population, for we can see 
already how slight is their security when anything occurs to 
challenge it. The Codes protected them only so long as it 
was not necessary to appeal to them. If an appeal had to be 
made, then the appeal of bribery or flattery was more 
powerful, and from the entry of Guntram into Tours on- 
wards for many centuries bribery and flattery were frequently 
their only protection. 

1 Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc., Bk. VI, v. 

2 Fredegarius Chron. 65, Gesta Dagoberti, xxv; P.L., XCVI, p. 1405. 
It is possible that the absence of all data on Jewish life in France for one 
hundred and fifty years after this event is due to this expulsion. But our 
general information for this period is also slight, and it is likely that 
considerable numbers of Jews fled from Spain to France during this 
century. A lengthy and relatively complete absence of Jews from France 
during the period of silence seems to me, therefore, improbable. 

3 Vita Sulpicn, i, 14; P.L., LXXX, p. 573- 



In the west as in the east it became the fashion of religious 
romancers to embroider their legends with stories of the 
superiority of Christianity over Judaism. Belief in improb- 
able miracles increased as the intellectual level of the 
population decreased. In the early days there was often 
colouring and exaggeration, but there is less evidence of 
pure imagination. The stories follow in the main the line 
of eastern literature, but they exhibit less literary power and 

Two stories are told of the power of Germanus, bishop 
of Paris, over the Jews. On one occasion he met a young 
slave, presumably a Christian, being led along the road in 
chains by some Jews. The boy states that he is thus chained 
because he has refused to accept Judaism. The bishop 
makes the sign of the cross over the chains, and they fall 
off 1 . On another occasion he miraculously heals the wife of 
a Jew who accepts baptism with her husband. As a result 
a large number of other Jews accept baptism 2 . 

Gregory of Tours relates a story of a certain archdeacon 
of Bourges, Leunast, which has a clear didactic purpose. 
The archdeacon lost his sight, and had it restored by touching 
the relics of S. Martin of Tours. But, not completely satisfied 
with the cure, he went to a Jewish doctor on his return, and, 
very properly to the mind of Gregory, immediately became 
completely blind again 3 . Such a story would serve as an 
admirable warning against the use of Jewish doctors. A story 
with a doctrinal purpose is related in the Chronicle of 
Bernold. A blind Jew of Rome disputed the doctrine of the 
Virginity of the Virgin Mary. As a proof of her power he 
received his sight but, oddly enough, neither he nor the 
Jews with him were converted 4 . 

Gradually it became the fashion to attribute some miracu- 
lous contact with Jews to every well-known saint, and to 
make use in the west as in the east of Jewish anecdotes, or 

1 Vita S. Germam, Ixv; P.L., LXXII, p. 74. 

* Venantius Fortunatus, Vita S. Germani, Ixii, in M.G.H. Script, II, 
p. 24. 

3 Hist. Franc., Bk. V, iv (vi). 

* Bernoldi Chron. anno 609, M.G.H. Script, Vol. V, p. 414. 


supposed Jewish actions, to confirm disputed doctrines, and 
to enforce rules of conduct. 

To look to the literature of the period for any fresh views 
of the Jews and Judaism is useless. Literature and theology 
were at a very low ebb, and remained so until the renascence 
under Charlemagne. But the writers of his epoch belong 
not to the old Roman world, but to the beginnings of 
mediaeval Europe. It is necessary to consider the Carolingian 
legislation in this chapter, but to treat of its literature would 
be to trespass on the second period of Jewish relationships 
with Christianity, a subject outside the scope of the present 


From the time of Sulpicius of Bourges (644) to the time of 
Charlemagne there is complete silence as to the history of the 
Jews in France, but with the latter our information, though 
still scanty, is enough to give us some picture of their 
situation. The great emperor was no enemy of the Jews, 
and even employed a Jew on a diplomatic mission to Haroun 
al Rashid 1 , and is said to have requested Haroun to send him 
a learned Jew in order to establish a Jewish seminary in 
Narbonne. This only rests on later information, and is less 
likely to be true. It would probably have stirred up so much 
feeling among the clergy that we should have some informa- 
tion from a contemporary on the subject 2 . 

There are five genuine laws of Charlemagne affecting the 
Jews, and two whose authenticity is suspect. In 806 he issued 
a stern order to the ecclesiastical authorities that they were 
not on any account to sell any of their church treasures to 
merchants, Jews or others, and he added that both Jews and 
other merchants were boasting that they had no difficulty 
in buying anything that they wanted from the churches 3 . 
Eight years later he issued four ordinances together 4 . The 

1 Einhardi Artnales 801; M.G.H. Chron., Vol. I, 190. Aronius, 68 
and 71. 

2 See Aronius, 70. On the various stories of Charlemagne and the Jews 
of Narbonne see Re*gne", p. 13 ff. 

3 Capitulare Duplex ad Niumagen; M.G JL folio, Leg. I, 144. Aronius, 

4 Capitula dejudaeis; M.G Ji. folio, Leg. I, 194. Aronius, 76, 77. 


first repeated the previous prohibition and extended it to 
receiving church property in pawn. But, whereas the previous 
law had only punished the clergy who sold, this punished 
severely the Jew who bought. He suffered the loss of his 
possessions and the amputation of his right hand. By the 
second, no Jew was allowed to take the person of a Christian 
in pledge either from another Jew or from a Christian, lest 
his honour should be insulted. If he did so he lost the 
pledge and the debt of which the Christian was the pledge. 
By the third the Jews were forbidden * to have money in 
their houses ', and to sell wine and corn or other things. 
The meaning of this prohibition is obscure. Among the 
Jews were certainly merchants in considerable numbers. 
It is possible, and in fact probable, that the emphasis is on 
c in their houses ', and that the meaning is that the Jews may 
only carry on their businesses in the recognised markets, to 
whose organisation Charlemagne paid considerable attention. 
The fourth ordinance deals with the form of oath to be 
taken by Jews in a suit with a Christian. Having crowned and 
surrounded himself with sorrel, and having taken in his right 
hand the Pentateuch in Hebrew, or in Latin if the Hebrew 
were not available, he swore as follows: 'As God is my help, 
God who gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai, and as the 
leprosy of Naaman the Syrian may not come upon me as 
it came upon him, and as the earth may not swallow me as it 
swallowed Dathan and Abiron, have I in this case planned 
no evil against you.' A further law is much more explicit, 
but its authenticity is doubtful 1 . According to it a Jew in 
a case with another Jew used his own law, but against 
a Christian he had to submit to the trial by ordeal, either by 
swearing upon a reliquary, or by holding red-hot iron or by 
other specified methods. A Jew convicted of an offence 
against a Christian was tied in a sack and drowned like a 
parricide. It is unlikely that such a law dates from the time 
of Charlemagne. 

Finally, if a Jew wished to give evidence against a Christian 
he had to produce either three Christian witnesses, or four, 
seven or nine Jewish witnesses according to circumstances. 
If the Jew were summoned by the Christian, then three 
witnesses on either side sufficed. This was an advance on 

1 Aronius, 78. 


the previous law by which they were not allowed to give 
evidence against a Christian at all. In this form it had been 
published by Charlemagne himself in the beginning of his 
reign in the collection of canons which he received from the 
pope Hadrian 1 . The new law may therefore not be of 
Charlemagne, but of Louis the Pious. The legislation of the 
latter was much fuller, and indeed constituted the basis 
of the mediaeval status of the Jews. Charlemagne himself 
left their basic status unchanged, and only legislated on 
particular issues that needed settlement. Thus he marks the 
end of the old period, and the transition to the new. Tech- 
nically, perhaps, the Jews were still * cives Romani ', in that 
they enjoyed the position they had held in Roman times with 
modifications. But the modifications had become so 
extensive that it was necessary to make a fresh start in the 
time of his successor. 


We have seen that on the whole it was a period in which 
there was no evidence of extensive hostility between Jews 
and Christians. Incidents there were, and outbreaks at 
times, but grounds for believing in anything approaching the 
mediaeval situation there are none. The councils show 
some decrease in friendliness as they follow each other in 
the sixth century. But in the ninth century we shall still 
find plenty of evidence that the general population lived 
peaceably together, or that, at least, Christians showed no 
special hostility to the Jews. 

So many modern theories of antisemitism attempt to 
explain the phenomenon in purely economic terms, that 
it is wise to review the evidence already given, and to study 
such references to the economic life of the Jews as survive, 
to see if they support the supposition that such hostility as 
there was at that time had its root in their economic 
position. Was the Jew of Milman a real person? 

The main charge of the modern writer is always the slave 
trade, and it was also one of the main preoccupations of 
ancient Christian legislators. It is often assumed that the 

1 Cap. Aquisgran., 45; M.GJH. folio, Leg. I, 61. 


Jews possessed a monopoly of this unpleasant traffic. All our 
references to slave traders are to Jews. But it is also true that 
all our references to Jewish slavers are to the religious ques- 
tion involved in the possession of a Christian by a Jew. 
Only one canon deals with slaves in general, and it does not 
mention Jews except as one of the alternative fates of a 
captive sold out of the country. And its objection to such 
a sale is religious. We can do more than hint at the prob- 
ability of slave traders who, being Christians, raised no issue 
which needed legislation. For, as the century absolutely 
accepted slavery, it could not have prohibited Jews engaging 
in the traffic without recognising that, the Jews excluded, 
there were other sources from which slaves could be 
obtained 1 . That they were the main slavers at the end of the 
period under discussion is probable, and their preponderance 
in the traffic is likely to have increased with the Mahometan 
conquests, for it was easier for them to penetrate into 
Mahometan countries. But though we may reprobate them 
altogether for indulging in a trade against which we revolt, 
we must realise that the sixth century saw only a religious 
issue, the exclusive possession of one whom Christ had 
redeemed by one of those who had slain Him 2 . 

They certainly also dealt in the trade in precious objects. 
Priscus,the friend of Chilperic, has already been mentioned. 
It is even possible that he had the right of coining gold 
coins 3 . Cautinus, the wicked bishop of Clermont, was 
a familiar friend of Jewish merchants, whom he invited to 
dinner; and when they had adroitly flattered him, they sold 
him objects for more than their worth the only accusation 
of dishonesty in the records of the period, and a slender peg 
on which to hang the conventional ' as usual ' 4 . Eufrasius 
tried to obtain the same see by buying costly objects from 
the Jews to bribe the king 5 . Outside France there was their 
attempt, recorded by Gregory the Great 6 , to buy the church 

1 Reims, Canon 1 1 . 

2 Macon, Canon 16. 

3 Description Raisonie des Monnaies Merovingiennes by the Vicomte P. 
d'Ame'court, quoted in R.E.J., Vol. X, p. 237. 

4 Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc ., Bk. IV, viii (xiii). 

5 Ibid., Bk. IV, xxxv. 

6 See p. 218. 


plate of Venafro, and in one of the edicts of Charlemagne 
* Jews and others also ' were accused of doing the same 
thing 1 . Apart from these references, we have notices of 
Jewish merchants and shipowners, but no statement about 
their particular traffic. Evidence of hostility to the Jews 
on this score there is none, and a rascally bishop overreached 
after a good dinner is small evidence on which to * indict 
a nation '. We have frequent references to business dis- 
honesty, but among the Syrians, not among the Jews. 

The third charge is money-lending. We know of one 
money-lender. But the only time that we know that he 
tried to collect a debt, he and his companions were all 
murdered by the debtors 2 . Armentarius came to Tours to 
collect a debt owed by the ex-vicarius Injuriosus and the ex- 
comes Eunomius; and he was accompanied ' cum uno sectae 
suae satellite et duobus Christianis '. It is generally assumed, 
as the narrative is mostly in the singular, that the Christians 
were in a subordinate position, and that the only money- 
lender was Armentarius. But after their murder, ' parentes 
eorum ' attempted to bring the murderers, that is the ex- 
vicarius and ex-comes, to trial, but failed for lack of wit- 
nesses. It does not seem likely that if the Christians were 
only servants, and not living in Tours, their relations would 
have been able to attempt to bring two such powerful 
persons to trial. It is more fitting to the facts as we have 
them to assume the Christians to have been business 
associates of Armentarius. This is all the more likely in 
that we know that the main money-lenders of the time were 
Syrians, and that almost every council had to prohibit 
money-lending on the part of clerics 3 . The forged canons 
of Nicaea, which are an oriental collection of about this 
period, specifically forbid Christians to go into partnership 
with Jews for business purposes 4 : the obliterated charter 
of Childebert refers to some kind of Jewish association with 
others: there is thus no reason to assume it to be impossible 
that a Jew should be in association with two Christians in 
such a business. Our evidence for Jewish money-lenders is 

1 Capitulare Duplex ad Nmmagen; M.G.H., Leg. I, 144. 

2 Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc., Bk. VII, xxiii. 
9 E.g. Aries II, 14; Tours, 13; Orleans III, 27. 

4 Canon 52, to be found with the Canons of Nicaea in Harduin, Vol. I. 


thus extremely slight, and is made still more so by the fact 
that Charlemagne two centuries later, when the Syrians 
had become less important in western Europe, legislated on 
lending without any mention of Jews at all 1 . 

Two interesting indirect allusions confirm this impression 
that the Jew was not noticeable economically in the com- 
munity. Julian of Toledo expressed his violent dislike of 
France in an account of the unsuccessful rebellion of Paul, 
governor of Narbonne, against Wamba, the Visigothic king 
of Spain. He described France as ' a country of lack of faith 
(or perfidy), of obscene works, of fraudulent business, of 
venal judges, and, what is worst of all, a brothel of Jews 
blaspheming our Saviour and Lord >2 . In a ' Defiance against 
the Tyrant of Gaul * appended to the work by his own or 
another's hand, there is a somewhat similar picture of the 
friendship existing in France with Jews 3 . But in neither case 
are the Jews considered anything but a religious menace. 
It is the Franks, not the Jews, who are dishonest, a charac- 
teristic which is repeated in an amusing ninth-century 
collection of national attributes, which gives to the Franks 
* commercia Gallorum ' or 4 gula Gallorum ', while to the 
Jews it ascribes * invidia ' 4 . 

The only real crime of the Jews was * perfidia ', and 
perfidia means * want of faith ', and not moral worthlessness. 


It is clear from the variety of the references to Jews that 
they were widely scattered throughout the country. They 
were to be found not only in the Rhone valley and the 
south-west, but also on the Loire and Seine. The Visigothic 
persecutions caused an immigration into France, and it is 
possible that throughout the period there was also an 
immigration from other Mediterranean countries. Early 
mediaeval records show them to be living in almost every 

1 Capitula, M.G.H., Leg. 1, 144. 

2 Hist. reb. adv. Warn bam, v; P.L., XCVI, p. 766. 

3 Insullatio, i and ii; P.L., XCVI, p. 797. 

4 De Proprietatibus Gentium in M.G.H. quarto, Chron. Min., Vol. II, 
p. 389. 


important centre in the north as well as in the south of the 
country, and it is probable that many of these settlements 
existed long before the time of our present records. 
We can safely say that the Jew was not a rare and 
abnormal feature in the life of the towns of the Merovingian 
period, and that relations between Jews and Christians must 
have been frequent and have touched many aspects of life. 

This being so, we can clearly assume that throughout 
the country as a whole the relations between the two 
peoples were not bad. Since all our records are written by 
churchmen, and since what hostility there was came on every 
occasion from the clergy, it is not surprising that we do not 
actually find complimentary reference to Jewish life and 
qualities. And yet even these are not completely lacking. 
The letters of Sidonius Apollinarius, written in the second 
half of the fifth century, contain several kindly references to 
Jews. On two occasions he sends a letter by a Jew ' who 
would be dear to my heart if it were not for his abominable 
religion ?1 . In one of his letters he recommends a Jew to the 
good offices of Bishop Eleutherius. After expressing his 
regret for the error which is causing his involuntary 
destruction, he adds that * it is wrong to condemn any man 
alive, since as long as he lives he has a chance of conversion *. 
But in any case, whatever his theology, in matters of earthly 
affairs and business he considers them * honestas habere 
causas *, and therefore to be worthy of episcopal support 2 . 

If it is difficult to give direct evidence of the attitude of 
individual Christians to the Jews, it is still more difficult to 
give direct evidence of the attitude of individual Jews to 
Christians. We can only say that since the general evidence 
is that the Christians were friendly to the Jews, the reverse 
must hold good, and that the individual Jews must have 
enjoyed friendly contacts with their Christian neighbours. 
It is no bad record of Jewish conduct throughout these 
centuries which is presented to us. Two murders, a pail of 
slops, the outwitting of a rascally bishop, this is the tale of 
Jewish misdeeds over several centuries. It is not impressive 
when compared with the number of references to them. 
Nor does it gain additional weight from a number of general 

1 Ep. Ill, iv; IV, v. 

1 Ep. to Bp. Eleutherius. Ep. VI, xi. 


attacks upon their character as a people, for such are entirely 

The period was not Elysian. Security was by no means 
perfect. Violent outbreaks occurred. Even the right of 
religious freedom as guaranteed by the law was occasionally 
violated. But robbery and violence were in the spirit of 
the times, and it was not to be expected that the Jew alone 
should escape. Even the particular disabilities from which 
he suffered as a Jew were not extensive. And other classes 
also had their particular disabilities. The cumulative effect 
through the centuries of actions which at this time were 
spasmodic, and of attitudes which were still but half 
expressed and rarely practised, created in the end sinister 
results which it is easy but inaccurate to anticipate. 

While he lived with the substantial background of the 
Roman Codes, and while he was distinguished by few 
characteristics from the rest of the population so far as daily 
life was concerned, his situation was easily tolerable, and his 
life, considering the period, can legitimately be called normal 
and agreeable. To shed tears over his sufferings or to grind 
one's teeth over his iniquities is to ignore all the evidence 
and it is considerable which we possess. 




It is an extraordinary fact that in spite of the immense 
collection of legislation, Arian and Catholic, secular and 
conciliar, which the Visigothic period has bequeathed to 
us, we are almost entirely without knowledge of the condi- 
tions of the Jews of the time. The anecdotal side of history 
is entirely untreated, and of the three apologists who wrote 
against the Jews not one shows the slightest sign of any 
knowledge of contemporary Jewish conditions. Chroniclers 
and historians alike are lacking, and all that we possess is 
a certain knowledge of the behaviour of the Jews during the 
rebellion against Wamba, and an ex parte statement of their 
responsibility for the final downfall of the kingdom. 

In these conditions the different modern studies of the 
subject are inevitably merely a rechauffee of the same meagre 
source material dressed according to the views of the author. 
It is best, therefore, to go to the most modern, the works of 
Dubnow and Juster, since Bedarride or Graetz had no 
different material on which to work, and Dubnow and Juster 
add only a more modern approach, and no new material. 
The question which has been much interesting modern 
scholars, the relationship between custom and law in the 
evolving Teutonic societies brought into contact with the 
formal nature of Roman law, does not touch the situation of 
the Jews, since no Teutonic * customs * governed Jewish 
behaviour. In consequence the whole of the legislative 
activity of the Visigoths on Jewish questions owes its 
inspiration to the traditions of the Roman Church and State 
and not to the fastnesses of Teutonic barbarism. Non- 
Roman influence can at most be traced in their affection for 
pulling out the hair of offenders. 


The relative weight of responsibility to be laid on the 
Church and the Monarchy forms the main point around 
which controversy can turn. All that can be said for the 
Church will be found in the work of Ziegler, a book which 
impresses the more in that it does not attempt to disprove 
too much. 




Breviary of Alaric) 








Ed. G. Haenel. Leipzig, 1849. 

Ed. K. Zeumer, in M.G.H. quarto, 
Leges, Sect, i, i. Hanover and 
Leipzig, 1902. 

Ed. Mansi, Vols. IX to XII. 

La Condition legate des Juifs sous les 
Rois Visigoths. Paris, 

The Jews and Christian Apologists in 
Early Spain, in the Church Quar- 
terly Review, 1925. 

Der Kampf zwischen Gesetzes- und 
Gewohnheitsrecht im Westgotenreich. 
Weimar, 1930. 

Church and State in Visigothic Spain. 
Catholic University of America, 
Washington, D.C., 1930. 



After their various wanderings across Europe the Visigoths 
finally settled in Spain, and succeeded in conquering the 
greater part of the country by the second half of the fifth 
century. Their territory extended across the Pyrenees 
to the rich province of Narbonne, whose possession involved 
them in constant wars with the Franks. But for more than 
a century their history is relatively unimportant for two 
reasons. They were Arians, and living as a small military 
minority in the midst of a large and apparently fanatically 
Catholic population. Real unity and development were 
therefore impossible. Secondly, the royal line of the Baits 
was extinguished in the person of Alaric II in 507, and there- 
after the throne was held by a succession of usurping nobles 
who enjoyed none of the prestige of the old and semi-divine 
ruling house. The few incidents of this period have already 
been related in the previous chapter. The only other event 
of importance to record is the publication by Alaric II, a year 
before his death, of the shortened edition of the Code of 
Theodosius known as the Breviary of Alaric. 

The succession of royal nonentities came to an end in 570, 
when a king arose capable of consolidating the royal power; 
but the real change came when his son Reccared accepted 
Catholicism. Acting from motives of statesmanship rather 
than religious fervour, he succeeded in doing it in such a way 
that the majority of the Visigothic nobility followed in his 
footsteps. Those who resisted were easily crushed. The 
conversion of the king and aristocracy completely changed 
the balance of the different parties of the kingdom. The king 
could now choose his allies. He could appeal to the nobles 
against the bishops, or to the bishops against the nobles, or 
he could side with the people against both bishop and noble. 
As the kingship was still in itself weak (for it was still elective, 
and only eight of the twenty-three Visigothic monarchs were 
sons of their predecessors), it was nearly always necessary 
for the king to rely on one or other of these groups. The 
other group naturally went into opposition, so that in the 
hundred and twenty years which preceded the Moorish 
conquest history was largely made up of an unedifying series 
of internal intrigues and murders. 


As the succession mostly went by usurpation, and as the 
usurper had to collect forces to support his pretensions, it 
is natural that there was a fairly regular pendulum movement 
of alliances between the bishops, the nobles and the people. 
For a usurper would look to the opposition to secure his 
election. It is perhaps significant that almost all the legis- 
lation affecting the Jews comes from those kings who were in 
close alliance with, or the tools of, the clerical party Reccared, 
Sisebut, Chintila, Recceswinth, Erwig and Egica. 

This unhappy situation inevitably ruined the country, and 
the last quarter of the seventh century presents a miserable 
picture. The class of small free proprietors had almost 
completely disappeared before the encroachments of those 
who needed to be rewarded for their support of royal 
claimants, whether bishops or nobles; the trade of the 
country was in ruins, and the Church in a state of collapse; 
and it is not surprising that a single battle, and an army of 
less than twenty thousand Arabs, sufficed for the complete 
overthrow of the Visigothic power. 


Although no other country provides us with anything like 
so complete a legislative array as does Visigothic Spain 
through both the royal and the ecclesiastical laws, we remain 
extremely ignorant of the state of life and the general condi- 
tions of the country. We have nothing to compare with the 
fulness of the chronicles of Gregory of Tours, and we have 
practically no correspondence or other contemporary litera- 
ture. The only names to be recalled are Isidore of Seville 
and Julian of Toledo, but the information which they give 
us is extremely scanty. Particularly is this so with regard 
to Jewish affairs, for though anecdotes in themselves are 
dangerous as a basis for generalisations, a code which by 
its excess and its repetition reflects rather the enthusiasm of 
the legislators than any particular qualities in its objects, 
presents practically no concrete picture of conditions what- 
soever. And this is the situation with regard to the Jews in 
Spain. They were numerous, they were powerful, they were 
wealthy. They indulged in all pursuits, agriculture as well 


as trade. They were to be found in all classes. So much 
we can deduce, and we can safely add that they bewildered 
the simple Visigoth by the wiliness with which they evaded 
his ponderous legislative efforts. From the success with 
which they secured the help for these evasions from bishops, 
clergy and nobility we can deduce at will either that their 
power of bribery was incredibly vast or that they were not 
generally unpopular. If we incline to the first view, we must 
regretfully accept a very low standard of morality among the 
clergy, for bishops themselves were suspected by pious kings 
of favouring the Jews; but the very extent of the royal 
suspicion would, perhaps, justify a Jew in parodying the 
words of Burke, and professing his inability to bribe a whole 
people. The improbability that the Jews could have been 
wealthy enough to indulge in all the bribery with which 
they are credited, together with the fact that there is abso- 
lutely no record of any popular movement against them, 
make the second alternative more probable, that the Jews 
were not necessarily unpopular with the rank and file of the 
population, or with the ordinary provincial and ecclesiastical 
authorities. This view finds some support in the fact that 
it was those who were popular with the common people who 
passed no measures against the Jews, or allowed them to 
evade the restrictions of their predecessors; whereas it was 
those who were allied to the ecclesiastical and noble parties 
who most violently oppressed them. To attack the Jews was 
not, therefore, an accepted method of securing popular 

Our ignorance of life in Visigothic Spain is nowhere more 
unfortunate than in the realm of commerce. The immense 
mass of Visigothic Law pays practically no attention to 
commercial life. Apart from a small section, entirely com- 
posed of reproductions of ancient laws 1 , and dealing with 
foreign trade, neither the word c negotiator y nor the word 
' mercator ' occurs in the Code. On the other hand Roman 
Spain was a wealthy province, and the Visigoths must have 
found an ancient and well-established commercial life in 
operation. It is unlikely that this entirely disappeared under 
their rule, though the descriptions of Egica suggest that at 
the end of the seventh century the country was in a desolate 

1 Bk. XI, tit. 3. 


condition. As we are ignorant of the general economic 
conditions, so are we still more ignorant of the role of the 
Jews in economic life. The section dealing with international 
trade makes no special mention of them. In the Book 
devoted to them economic affairs come in only occasionally 
and indirectly, and always in the form of the restriction of 
the trading privileges of Jews who refused baptism, or, 
being baptised, lapsed. 

It has already been suggested 1 that in Gaul a large part 
of the trade was in the hands of the Syrians. We have 
references to Syrians in Septimania, and it is a reasonable 
presumption that there were also many of them in Spain. 
It would be very surprising if it were not so, since we know 
them to be scattered in every other commercial centre of 
western Europe. But of the division of trade between them, 
the Jews, and the rest of the population we know absolutely 
nothing, and we have no real data for forming a valid judg- 
ment. We cannot go beyond the statement already made 
that the Jews were clearly both wealthy and powerful. The 
absence of reference to the Syrians or other traders, since they 
were Christians, does not prove that other groups were not 
equally wealthy and powerful. 

We are on safer ground in presuming that the Jews were 
numerous. It is improbable that a small group would either 
have attracted so much legislative attention or have been so 
competent to evade its results. Their settlement in Spain 
was also an ancient one, and many Jews are said to have gone 
there after the destruction of the Temple. The fact that 
Paul proposed to visit it suggests the existence of large 
Jewish communities. Moreover, they were very numer- 
ous in Arab Spain after the conquest of the country. Allow- 
ing for some considerable reduction of their population 
through voluntary or compulsory exile during the Visigothic 
Catholic period, we can assume that they formed a con- 
siderable proportion of the total population in the fifth and 
sixth and probably also the seventh centuries. 

Any study of their relations with the rest of the population 
is confused by the fact that so many Jews were nominally 
Christians, that prohibition of intercourse, or of Judaising, 
has not the same significance as it would have elsewhere. 

1 Ch. IX, Section III. 


We cannot say if the frequent denunciation of people who 
corrupt the faith has any reference to Gentile Christians, for 
it has such an obvious significance if applied to Jews who 
had accepted baptism, and whom their still unconverted 
relations tried to draw back to the Jewish fold. There is one 
law of Chindaswinth on Judaising Christians, prohibiting 
the sons of Christian parents from being circumcised. But 
here again it is far more likely that the Christian parents 
were of Jewish stock than that they were pure Gentiles. 
Forced baptisms had begun at least thirty years earlier, so 
that this interpretation is the natural one. 

We are thus left entirely to the laws for our picture of the 
life of a people, and no situation could be more unsatis- 
factory. The deduction that the normal relations between 
Jews and Christians were not unfriendly is the one which 
corresponds most to the facts we possess. It is certainly 
true for the earlier period. That relations deteriorated in the 
second hah of the century is probable, and if we believe that 
the Jews were responsible for the Arab invasion which put 
an end to Visigothic power, it is certain. But it is equally 
certain that the violence of the laws did not reflect any 
universal reprobation of the Jews by the general public. 


Being Romans the Jews of the Visigothic dominions lived 
under the Code of Theodosius, supplemented by conciliar 
enactments, until the time of Alaric II. Owing to the decline 
in the intellectual level of even the Roman section of the 
population, Alaric found it necessary to issue a simplified 
version of the Roman Code, eliminating laws which were 
redundant, inconsistent, or made unnecessary by the change 
of circumstances. The laws affecting the Jews were reduced 
from over fifty to ten, to which must be added the third 
Novella of Theodosius and two Sentences of Paul. 

In the main these left the Jewish position unchanged. 
Intermarriage between Jews and Christians was still identi- 
fied with adultery, and information could be laid by anyone 1 . 
Lawsuits which did not affect religious questions were to be 

1 Breviary, 3.7*2 and 


dealt with in the Roman courts, unless both parties agreed 
to submit to a Jewish judge as arbitrator. On the other 
hand, no actions were to be brought against Jews on their 
religious holidays 1 . While all the abusive and petulant 
phraseology of Theodosius II on relations between Jews and 
Christians was omitted, the actual content of his laws 
remained. Jews were not to build new synagogues, and if 
they did, they were, strangely enough, to be handed over to 
the Catholic authorities 2 . That it was not the Arians who 
received them suggests that Alaric employed Roman, and 
therefore Catholic, lawyers to compose the Breviary, and 
that they saw no reason to change the terms of the Theodo- 
sian edition. If Jews tried to convert others to their own 
faith the penalty was intestability 3 . The apostate forfeited 
his property 4 . But if a Jew became a Christian, then the 
Jews were not to molest him 5 . The exclusion from office 
remained in force. Jews could still only fulfil the burden- 
some portions of the decurionate, and the duties of guard. 
They were excluded from all honours 6 . They were particu- 
larly excluded from prison governorship 7 . They were not 
allowed to buy or acquire a Christian slave as a gift, but 
might inherit him or possess him as trustee 8 . If they 
circumcised him, they were put to death 9 . The slave was 
to be set free 10 . It is not possible to say whether in all 
circumstances the slave was set free without compensation 
to the owner, for the Breviary contains two contradictory 
laws on this subject 11 . 

It will be seen from this summary that there are only a 
few important modifications of their position under Theo- 
dosian law. No privileges were given to Jewish clergy. The 
privilege of fixing their own market prices was withdrawn. 

1 Breviary, 2.1.10 and 2.8.3. 

2 Novella 3, paras. 3 and 5. 

3 Breviary, 16.2.1. 
*Ibid., 16.3.2. 
*lbid.y 16.3.1. 

c Novella 3,2. 

7 Ibid.y para. 7. 

8 Breviary, 3.1.5. 

9 Ibid.y 1 6.4.2 and Nov. 3, 4. 

10 Breviary, 16.4.1. 

11 Ibid n 16.4.2 and 3.1.5. 


Jews forcibly baptised were not allowed to return to Judaism. 
But, on the other hand, the diversion of the aurum coro- 
narium to the treasury ceased, and though the Patriarchate 
no longer existed, Jews could presumably, if they wished, 
remit money to Palestine. The restrictions on their move- 
ments during Easter also disappeared, and there were no 
expressed limitations to the right of sanctuary 1 . The best 
tribute to the efficiency of the government of Alaric is that 
all the laws forbidding violence against the Jews were omitted. 
The little we know of the period is sufficient for us to say 
that this was not due to an anti- Jewish bias on the part of the 
Visigoths, but to the fact that under a strong government 
such violence did not need special legislation. Had there 
been any special oppression during this time we should 
certainly have had a hint of it from some document. 

The only other events of the Arian period of Visigothic 
history which are of importance have already been referred 
to in the previous chapter 2 . Of events in Spain itself at this 
time we have no knowledge. 


It has already been indicated how the advent of Reccared 
changed the whole situation, and it is natural that this new 
alliance between king and people was the signal for a great 
increase in the legislation affecting the Jews. Their main 
privileges continued to be those granted by the Breviary of 
Alaric, but royal decree and ecclesiastical council alike 
co-operated to circumscribe and finally nullify such status 
as they possessed, until, when finally the Breviary was 
revoked by Recceswinth, they had little to trust in except the 
fact that they had been * cives Romani '. 

Of the legislation of Reccared himself we have no complete 
record. One law only is preserved, in which the ancient 
prohibition against the ownership of Christian slaves is 
repeated 3 . This was confirmed by the third Council of 

1 Cf. Leges Visigoth., 9.3.1, which is called * Antiqua ', i.e. dating from 
the period before the composition of the Code of Recceswinth. 
* Ch. IX, Section V. 
3 Leg. Vis., 12.2.12. 


Toledo 1 . The two editions do not completely correspond. 
If a Jew buys or receives a Christian servant as a gift, he 
loses him without compensation. If he circumcises him, he 
forfeits also his property. Thus far the law. The council 
is milder and only prescribes liberation in cases of circum- 
cision or perversion to Judaism. Each has also a special 
clause. The council deals with all relations between Jews and 
Christian women, and prohibits such, ordering the children 
of such unions to be baptised. It also forbids Jews (or the 
children above mentioned) to hold any public office over 
Christians. The law, on the other hand, allows all servants 
of Jews, who declare they are not Jews, to obtain their free- 
dom. We have here, probably, only the relics of a more 
complete legislation, for there is a letter to Reccared from 
Gregory the Great 2 , in which he congratulates him ' Constitu- 
tionem quandam contra Judeorum perfidiam dedisse', and 
the existing laws are neither very new nor sufficiently excep- 
tional to explain why the Jews, to avoid them, offered the king 
a large bribe, which Gregory congratulates him on refusing. 
The decision of a combined ecclesiastical and secular council 
under Sisebut 3 also refers to the Constitutio of Reccared, 
though the precise reference is to this law. 

In the same year as that of the third council of Toledo, 
there was a council at Narbonne, which also dealt with 
various Jewish matters, but on questions of detail rather 
than principle. The Jews were strictly forbidden to work on 
Sunday. They were prohibited from singing psalms at their 
funerals, and they were punished if they harboured or 
consulted any kind of sorcerer or fortune teller 4 . It is evident 
that there is still a distinction between Septimania and the 
part of the kingdom beyond the Pyrenees. Legislation upon 
such trifling details is very different from the sweeping 
attacks upon vital points which began to emanate from 
Toledo. In the seventh century, however, it is probable 
that the status of the Jews was similar on both sides of the 
mountains, for Visigothic councils are held almost exclusively 
at Toledo, and bishops from Septimania occasionally attend. 

1 Toledo III, Canon 14. 

2 Ed. Hartmann, ix, 228. 
3 L<. Vis., 12.2.13. 

4 Narbonne, Canons 4, 9, 14. 


Selva, Metropolitan of Narbonne, appears to have been 
Vice-President of the important fourth council of Toledo, 
and he presided over the sixth. 

The next king to take action affecting his Jewish subjects 
was Sisebut (612-620), who in the first year of his reign 
passed still stricter measures against the Jewish possession 
of Christian slaves and servants. Apparently the law of 
Reccared had, as one might expect, been evaded, and some 
Jews claimed written authority for their continued possession 
of Christian slaves. This is the first sign of the conflict 
between royal and episcopal authority on the one hand, and 
an intelligent group, aided by the open or purchaseable 
sympathy of local authorities, on the other. Sisebut ordered 
the cancellation of all the written authorisations to which the 
Jews laid claim, and laid down that all Christian slaves so 
held, together with all those since acquired, should be set at 
liberty with suitable gratuities, or sold within six months. 
The sales themselves were strictly controlled. The purchaser 
had to be a Christian, and the slave could not be sold away 
from the district in which he lived. Irregular sales were 
heavily punished, in order to prevent the Jew going through 
a formal transaction with a dummy Christian, which left 
him the effective ownership of the servant. Various other 
crimes and penalties were added, and the death sentence was 
enforced against proselytising either a man or a woman 1 . We 
learn from a law of Recceswinth that Sisebut was compelled 
to issue a decree against those Christians who in any way 
defended the Jews from the operation of the laws or assisted 
them in their evasion 2 . 

As these measures failed to suppress them, the king cut 
the Gordian knot by ordering all Jews within his kingdom to 
accept baptism or to depart. Many, as a result, fled to 
France, and waited for a turn of the tide in Spain 3 . Isidore 
of Seville, while condemning this action, yet considered that 
those who had become Christian should remain so, and 
applied to the situation the remark of Paul to the Philippians 
that * whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed ', 
and rejoiced thereat. It is, however, certain from the 

1 Leg. Vis., 12.2.13 and 14. 

* Ibid., 12.2.15. 

8 Isidore, Hist. Goth, anno DCL. in M.GJH., Chron. Min., ii, p. 291. 


difficulties which future law-makers encountered with lapsed 
Christians that a very large number accepted nominal 
conversion and remained Jews at heart. The period of 
oppression did not on this occasion last for long. In 621 a 
king of a very different character mounted the throne in the 
person of Swinthila, and proceeded to recall the Jews from 
exile, and to allow those who had relapsed to do so openly 1 . 

Such a permission was inevitably disagreeable to the 
Church party, and under his successor, Sisinand (631-636), 
the fourth council of Toledo devoted considerable attention, 
and no less than ten canons, to the Jews. Meeting under the 
presidency of Isidore of Seville, it began by affirming its 
disapproval of forced baptism. But it insisted that those who 
had received the Christian sacraments must not be allowed 
to dishonour them by reverting to unbelief. Those who had 
remained Jews were to be led to the Christian faith of their own 
free will. It then concentrated most of its attention on the 
punishments to be meted out to those who had been baptised 
and lapsed. Any Christian, from the bishop downwards, 
who had connived at these lapses was to be severely pun- 
ished. The punishment of the lapsed themselves was 
entrusted to the bishops and not to the magistrates. The 
children of the lapsed, if they had been circumcised, were to 
be taken away from their parents and handed over to genuine 
Christian families for education. If they had remained 
Christian they were not to be disinherited. If lapsed Chris- 
tians had circumcised their slaves, the latter were to be set 
free. They were not to frequent unconverted Jewish friends. 
If they did they were to be reduced to slavery, and the 
unconverted friend was to be publicly flogged. In a mixed 
marriage the non- Christian partner must accept Christianity 
or be separated. The children were to be brought up as 
Christians. The lapsed might not give evidence. They 
might not hold office. 

In comparison with this the lot of those who had managed 
to evade the formality of baptism was comparatively light. 
They also might not hold office, and they might neither 
buy nor possess Christian servants. But the really severe 
attack upon them (and, indeed, if it was carried out it was 
a mortal one), was that they were to be deprived of their 

1 Joseph Hacohen, quoted in Juster, op. cit.> p. 6, n. 2. 


children 1 . These were to be brought up in a monastery or 
a Christian home, as Christians 2 . While thus avoiding the 
shameful guilt of forcing conversion, the council provided 
a happy lesson of what might be done, which Recceswinth, 
a generation later, was to show that he had aptly 

The Christian theologians, accustomed as they were to 
a particular method of biblical exegesis, were in a certain 
dilemma in regard to the Jews, a dilemma which we have 
already noted, but which comes out very clearly in the book 
which Isidore of Seville wrote for the benefit of his sister, an 
Abbess 3 . It was perhaps meant to aid her in the bringing up 
of Jewish children. The dilemma was a simple one. It was 
clearly stated in Scripture that the Jews would not be con- 
verted until the end of the world, and it was pleasantly easy 
to infer that even then but few of them would be benefited 
by the occasion offered 4 . There was, therefore, no hope that 
success would really crown their efforts to keep those Jews 
who had accepted baptism in the narrow paths of Christian 
orthodoxy (and, indeed, scripture made it quite clear that 
they were exceptionally hard-hearted and would always 
backslide). Unless, therefore, the end of the world was at 
hand, there was little scriptural reason for expecting success 
to crown their efforts to baptise those who had so far eluded 
them. Moreover, it is evident from Isidore that the Jews 
were efficient defenders of their position, and knew how to 
parry many of the quotations produced for their discomfiture. 
He mentions specifically that they parried the blessing of 
Judah in Genesis xlix with the statement that they still had 
a king of the tribe of Judah reigning in Babylon, and that 
they insisted on translating the passage of Isaiah in support 
of the Virgin Birth with the word ' young woman *. After 
extensive proofs from the Old Testament that Jesus was the 
Messiah, Isidore devoted most of his time to proving that 
all the Jewish ceremonies were superseded, and that the 

1 The Canon (60) refers to Judaei, but it is just possible that it refers 
to baptised Jews. 

2 Toledo IV, Canons 57-66. 

3 De Fido Catholica ex vetere et novo Testamento, contra Judaeos, 
Migne, P.L., LXXXIII, p. 419. 

4 Op. dt.y Bk. II, v and vii. 


Christian sacraments were alone efficacious for salvation. 
The book is of some importance, for it not only probably 
influenced Recceswinth, but it was also early translated into 
various Germanic languages and seems to have had a wide 
circulation in western Europe, taking the place of the collec- 
tions of proof texts in use in the earlier Church 1 . 

Chintila, the successor of Sisinand, reverted to the 
solution of Sisebut, and c would allow no one to remain in 
his kingdom who was not a Catholic *. This was confirmed 
by the sixth council of Toledo in 63 8 2 . There exists in the 
archives of Leon a ' Placitum ' or c declaration of faith ' 
which he exacted from the Jews of Toledo, in which they 
undertake to be sincere in their Christian faith, to forswear 
all Jewish rites and observances, to eat everything which is 
eaten by Christians, except when a physical and not a 
religious repugnance prevents them, to have no relations 
with and not to marry unbaptised Jews, to hand over all 
Jewish books in their possession, including the Talmud and 
Apocrypha, to denounce to the king, Church or magistrates 
any of their own number who transgresses his declaration, 
and to stone him themselves if he is guilty. The council 
passed a canon that every king on ascending the throne 
should first swear to enforce all the laws in operation against 
the Jews, and itself confirmed all those passed by previous 
councils 3 . At the conclusion of the council the bishops 
assembled wrote to the Pope Honorius, and expressed their 
grave concern at hearing that he was allowing lapsed Jewish 
Christians to remain in their Jewish ways, and protested 
that they would not do so in Spain 4 . 

Such is the shortness of human permanence that the very 
successor of Chintila, the aged and competent general 
Chindaswinth (641-649) apparently allowed the Jewish 
Christians to revert, and the unbaptised to return from 
exile. In the one council held in his reign, Toledo VII, 
there is no mention of the Jews. All that he insisted on was 
that those who were born Christians should, if they practised 

1 See the edition of Weinhold, Paderborn, 1874. 

2 Canon 3. 

*The letter is quoted in the R.E.J., Vol. II, 137. It is not in the 
collection of Mansi. 


circumcision, be put to death, c conspiratione et zelo catholi- 
corum novis et atrocioribus poenis adflicti' 1 . It is not likely 
that this is a law against the Judaising of Gentile Christians, 
as Juster takes it, for by 640 it is perfectly natural that a 
generation should be growing up who were technically, at 
least born the Christian children of Christian parents, 
parents who had been forcibly baptised by Sisebut or who 
had accepted Christianity even earlier. 


If Chindaswinth was independent of the Church, his son, 
Recceswinth, was the exact opposite. Moved by the legal 
disorder which existed, he issued a completely new and 
comprehensive Code for all his subjects, whereby the Jews, 
if they had not already ceased to be Roman citizens in the 
lost constitution of Reccared, forfeited all privileges which 
were not allowed in the new Code. This new law consider- 
ably increased the powers given to the clergy. It dealt 
exhaustively with the Jewish question, and eleven of its laws 

The main problem confronting Recceswinth was the 
situation of those Jews who had so far evaded baptism, for 
theoretically all the Jews in his dominions were baptised 
Christians, unless they had gone into exile in the time of 
Chintila and only returned with the permission of Chindas- 
winth. It is certain that he did not in so many words order 
their violent baptism. Graetz has held that he allowed Jews 
who professed to be Jews to practise their religion openly, 
and he secures this result by always taking the word 
* Judaeus y in his laws to apply exclusively to baptised Jews. 
Juster, on the other hand, states that he allowed Jews to 
remain Jews provided they did not follow the practices of 
Judaism 2 . In fact, it appears as if the dilemma of Isidore of 
Seville is reproduced in the laws of Recceswinth. The 
purpose of his legislation was: * ut fideles in religionis pace 
possederim, atque infideles ad concordiam religiosae pacis 

1 Leg. Vts.y 12.2.16. 

2 The arguments of Juster and a summary of those of Graetz wiil 
be found in the former, op. dt. y pp. 10 if. 


adduxerim 1 . To this the eighth council of Toledo, to which 
he had appealed for severity against the Jews, added that it 
was wrong for an orthodox prince to rule over blasphemers 
and to pollute his faithful subjects with the society of 
unbelievers 2 . It is clear then that the intention of king and 
council was to get rid of the Jews in one way or another. The 
council actually did not do more than confirm the canons of 
the fourth council of Toledo, but the king was much more 
explicit. The argument that he only allowed Jews to remain 
Jews at the cost of exile rests upon the following points from 
the actual laws: 

12.2.2. No one is even in his heart to have the slightest 
doubts about the Catholic faith. If he has, he is to go 
into exile until he thinks differently. 

12.2.3 All the laws in force against the Jews are to be 
observed. (Does this not include that of Chintila that no 
one was to remain in the country who was not a Catholic?) 

12.2.15. No unbaptised Jew may remain * in suae 
observationis detestanda fide et consuetudine\ 

To these explicit points may be added the query: What is 
a Jew who is uncircumcised, who does not observe the 
Sabbath, who eats pork, who celebrates marriage in Christian 
fashion, who observes no Jewish feasts and who believes 
explicitly in the Christian gospel in his heart? It is evident 
that such a Jew does not exist, and that in the last phrase 
Recceswinth had evolved an early form of the ' psychological 
tests ' beloved of American colleges for limiting the numbers 
of their Jewish students. Without saying so in so many 
words, Recceswinth forced all Jews who remained in Spain 
to accept conversion. In his laws, however, there is one 
explicit reference to rights of unbaptised Jews. Jews, 
whether baptised or unbaptised, are not allowed to give 
evidence 3 against Christians, but are allowed to go to law 
among themselves 4 . If it be thought necessary to defend the 
absolute consistency of a Visigothic prince, then the only 
solution is that such persons were foreign Jews with whom 

1 Leg. Vis., 12.2.1. 

1 Toledo VIII, Canon 12. 

8 12.2. 10. 
* 12.2.9. 


Spanish Jews were in contact, and this explanation is not in 
itself extravagant. In any case, the right to go to law with 
another Jew is not one of the essentials of Judaism, so that it 
still remained true that it was impossible fora Jew, as such, 
to remain in the country. 

The purpose of Recceswinth was, then, to force baptised 
Jews to remain faithful to their Christian profession, and 
unbaptised ones to leave the country. This purpose is 
carried out in very great detail. No baptised Jew may openly 
or secretly impugn the Christian faith. He shall not try by 
flight to evade his Christian duties. He shall not conceal 
any other transgressor 1 . Similarly, no Christian, of whatever 
rank, ecclesiastical or official, shall attempt to get any special 
indulgence for any Jew, or protect him in any way. This 
applies to bishops and the highest dignitaries 2 . That such 
a law was necessary is again an indication of the actual 
situation. Moreover, the law is ordained for all time, and 
future monarchs are forbidden to weaken it. Every Jew was 
required to sign &placitum of enormous length, swearing to 
forsake all Jewish observances 3 . This itself is reinforced by 
explicit laws forbidding every kind of Jewish observance 4 . 

Finally, if any Jewish Christian did revert to Jewish 
observances, the other Jewish Christians pledged themselves 
to stone the offender. 

It is evident that such a law could only be very imperfectly 
carried out, and it is not surprising to find that a year later, 
in 655, the ninth council of Toledo was irresistibly 
impelled to go into still more extravagant detail in the 
attempt to make it workable. All baptised Jews were 
ordered to spend in the actual presence of the bishops all 
Jewish and Christian feast days. The bishop could thus see 
for himself that they did not observe the one and did 
observe the other 5 . When the last opportunity for evasion 
seemed finally removed, the council of the following year 
was not unnaturally horrified to find that on such important 
points as the ownership of slaves, and marriage with 

1 12.24. 

2 12.2.15. 

3 12.2.17. See Appendix Three. 

* 12.2.5-8. 

5 Toledo IX, Canon 17. 


Christians, the Jews were not only evading the law, but 
actually finding priests and ecclesiastics who were willing 
to sell them Christian slaves with complete indifference as 
to whether such slaves subsequently were converted to 
Judaism 1 . Such an admission on the part of the council 
throws doubt on the success of the whole of the scheme of 
the king and bishops, and makes one wonder whether, 
except in the immediate surroundings of some enthusiast, 
the law was ever anything more than a dead letter. 

Even so its very existence was enough to inconvenience 
the Jews to a serious extent, for so long as it existed, and so 
long as the king who promulgated it was reigning, there was 
always the danger that it would be applied to catch this or 
that individual. Further, it gave every unscrupulous official 
the opportunity to extract blackmail from a Jew under 
threat of carrying out the law against him. It is not, then, 
surprising to find that when under Wamba, the successor 
of Recceswinth, there was a rebellion in Septimania, the 
Jews were easily won over to the side of the rebels by the 
promise of freedom to follow their own observances. How 
large a part the Jews played in the rebellion we have no means 
of knowing, but when it was crushed by Wamba, who was an 
energetic ruler, they were expelled from Narbonne 2 . 


Wamba was succeeded by Erwig, who issued a new revision 
of the Code of Laws left by Recceswinth. This involved, 
naturally, a rewriting of the laws affecting the Jews. Having 
completed his task, he submitted the Code to the bishops in 
council at Toledo, and secured their approval of the work 3 . 
Erwig was less scrupulous than his predecessors on the 
subject of compulsory baptism. Having studied the text 
that * the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the 
violent take it by force ', he came to the conclusion that if 
they refused to do so they might legitimately be forced to 
take it by violence. He refused even to allow them the 

1 Toledo X, Canon 7. 

* Julian of Toledo, History of the Rebellion against Wamba, Chs. v and 
xxviii; M.GJH. quarto, SS. Mer., v. 
a Toledo XII, Canon 9. 


straight alternative of exile. Those who refused baptism 
for themselves or for their households were to be publicly 
flogged and to have their hair pulled out, before they were 
even permitted to tread the stony path of exile. The utmost 
concession he would allow was a year's grace to make up 
their minds as to the alternative to choose 1 . 

He made two important modifications in the laws in force 
at his accession. He refused to allow Jews who were forced 
to give up their Christian slaves to do so by setting them free. 
For he considered it an insult to a Christian to receive even 
his liberty at the hands of a Jew. Such slaves were to be 
sold, and sold under the eye of clergy who would watch 
to see there was neither evasion nor injustice. Sixty days 
from the proclamation of the edict were allowed for this sale, 
and during that time the Jew could, if he wished, make a 
claim to the retention of his slaves, on the ground that his 
conversion to Christianity had been a sincere conversion. 
If he succeeded in convincing the bishop that he had really 
been baptised, and that since his baptism he had not lapsed, 
then upon his signing zplacitum before a bishop and a magis- 
trate, and swearing to it on oath, he was allowed to retain 
his slaves. If the owner- in question was a Christian who 
had lapsed, or a Jew who had never been baptised, then he 
was compelled to proceed to the sale within the statutory 
sixty days. If he failed to sell them within this period they 
were to be confiscated 2 . Harsh penalties were imposed for 
any infraction of the law, especially in the case where a Jew 
made the declaration and then lapsed. If a Christian slave 
neglected to declare his Christianity he was also exposed to 
severe punishment 3 . 

The second modification was the abolition of the death 
sentence for any Jewish offences. This he supported by 
both legal and scriptural argument. The laws abrogated are 
those imposing the death sentence on any who circumcise 
Christians, passed by Chindaswinth, and that compelling 
Jews to stone any member of their community who trans- 
gressed his placitum, passed by Recceswinth*. Extravagant 

1 Leg. Vis., 12.3.3. 

* Ibid., 12.3.1, 12 and 13. 

8 Ibid., 12.3.13 and 16. 

4 Ibid., 12.2.16 and 12.2.11. 


as is much of the legislation of Erwig, he is entitled to some 
respect for this action. His religious reasons appear sincere, 
and his legal argument, that it ignores the relative severity of 
different offences, is a sound one. 

Having ordered all unbaptised Jews to leave his kingdom, 
he was presumably referring to Christians of Jewish origin 
in speaking of * Judaei ' in the rest of his Code. In the main, 
the laws followed the preceding series. His favourite penalty 
was the lash, and the plucking out of the hair. To this in any 
serious offence was added the confiscation of the offender's 
property, and exile, either permanent or till the offender 
repented. There is the usual series of prohibitions against 
Jewish customs, meats and feasts 1 . Insulting the Christian 
faith, or seeking to evade its discipline or even being cogni- 
sant of the commission of such offences by others, was 
punished by confiscation and banishment 2 . Working on 
Christian feast days was punished with flogging or a fine. 
This law is mainly interesting in that it specifies especially 
agricultural work, showing that a considerable proportion 
of the Jews must have been on the land 3 . 

Then follows a series of laws regulating the position of the 
Hebrew Christians in the general community. It has already 
been said that they might only hold Christian servants if 
they had an absolutely blameless past, The same also applied 
to pagan or Jewish servants who wished to become Chris- 
tians 4 . This is somewhat inconsistent with the order that 
every Jew must have his whole household baptised. It is 
presumably a reference to all future acquisitions. No Jew 
was to hold any kind of office without special royal consent 5 . 
He was not to be bailiff of any Christian property 6 . A rigor- 
ous system governed his right to travel. He had to set out 
armed with a passport of orthodoxy given by his local priest, 
and with a letter of introduction to the clergy of all places 
he was going to visit. Each had to endorse this letter with the 

l Leg. Vis., 12.3.4 an d 5 passover, other feasts and circumcision; 
7, meats; 8, marriage; n, use of Jewish books. 

2 12.3.2 and 9. 
3 12.3.6. 

4 12.3.18. 
5 12.3.17. 

6 12.3.19. 


time of his arrival and departure, and a statement of his 
orthodoxy during his stay. All Jewish or Christian feast 
days he had to pass in the presence of the clergy. He was 
liable to severe punishment if he altered his route 1 . Not 
only travellers but all Jews were compelled to pass certain 
days in the presence of the bishop or his representative, and 
this they had to do ' not only washed but in a suitable frame 
of mind '. Even with this guarantee it must have been rather 
trying for the bishop. If there were no ecclesiastic in the 
neighbourhood, they were imposed upon some Christian 
whose orthodoxy was indisputable. This is in itself a sur- 
prisingly stiff piece of legislation, but the difficulties which 
beset the royal path in dealing with Jews were apparently 
as nothing compared with the problem set by Jewesses, who 
were strictly forbidden to come into the presence of the 
priest lest he be tempted to commit misconduct with them! 
They were to spend the same day in the presence of reputable 
Dorcases 2 . Christian laymen who had Jews in their employ- 
ment were responsible for seeing that their attendance at 
the bishop's was strictly carried out 3 . 

Erwig, like his predecessors, was justifiably afraid that 
local authorities would not carry all these laws into execution, 
and that the Jews would find means of evading them, or 
would plead ignorance of their scope. To prevent the latter, 
he had all Jews brought together to hear the laws read to 
them, after which a written copy was to be given to the 
Jewish community, so that no one could plead that he was 
ignorant of them through not being present at the reading. 
Further, the declaration of faith which every Jew had to 
sign was to be carefully conserved in the ecclesiastical 
archives 4 . To compel the authorities to carry out the law, 
not only were heavy penalties imposed for any connivance 
with its evasion, but every official was in some sense made a 
spy over the others. A higher official could only escape 
if a lower one had not reported to him a case with which he 
had not dealt himself. The king showed clearly that he had 
no real confidence in the integrity even of his bishops and 

1 12.3.20. 

2 12.3.21. 

3 12.3.22. 
* 12.3.28. 


higher magistrates. Bishops were allowed to confiscate each 
other's sees if they could detect each other in indifference. 
Fines and excommunications menaced offenders high and 
low 1 . That he was more suspicious of the secular authorities 
was not only to be expected, but is shown by a special law 
which allows a secular judge to try cases under these laws 
only in the presence of the bishop or someone directly 
deputed by him. He could only act on his own in districts 
where no clergy were available 2 . Even to himself Erwig only 
allows the prerogative of pardon for first offences. No second 
condemnation could avoid the full rigour of the law 3 . 

Such is the Code of Erwig, and it carries the seal of its 
impracticability in its violence against those whose duty it 
was to enforce it. The royal power was far too weak, and 
local feeling far too strong, for such legislation to have any 
chance of success unless the local authorities themselves 
really wished to carry it out, and Erwig admitted that he 
knew that this was not the case. Moreover there were far too 
many pressing problems in existence for a conscientious 
magistrate to be able to spend his time on such unprofitable 
nonsense. By the end of the seventh century the whole 
kingdom was falling into decay. The incompetence of the 
kings and the rapacity of the bishops and nobility had com- 
bined to destroy it, and it is highly probable that this 
perpetual harassing of the Jews had much to do with the 


General conditions had been steadily going from bad to 
worse. They came to a crisis in the reign of Egica, the 
successor of Erwig. According to his own statements he 
had done all that he could to alleviate the lot of the Jews, 
and had allowed them even to possess Christian slaves 4 . 
There were, officially, no Jews still living in Spain at this 
time, and it would seem, therefore, that he was speaking 

1 12.3.10, 23, 24 and 26. 

2 12.3.25. 

3 12.3.27. 

1 Toledo XVII, Royal Opening Address; M., XII, p. 94. 


of those who had lapsed from the Christian faith and had 
repented, or who had in some other way transgressed the 
laws of Erwig. This permission may well have had a 
genuine economic motive, for in the collapse of Rome 
Honorius followed the same course 1 . Similar economic 
necessity may also have been the basis for his * gentleness 
and kindness in urging them into the Christian fold ' 2 . 

Unhappily for his reputation, these expressions of gener- 
osity have left no trace in the records of history. Nor can 
we be certain of his motives, for if he were moved by a desire 
to restore the prosperity of his kingdom by encouraging 
the economic activities of the Jews, something or someone 
must have succeeded in effecting a complete change in his 
opinions. For he followed these actions with the promulga- 
tion of a law which could only have led to the complete 
economic ruin of the Jews. By this law no one but a true 
Christian was to carry on any commerce whatever or to 
travel for any purposes of trade 3 . By Christian must again 
be meant Gentile Christians or Jews whose Christian record 
was without blemish. But it gave the latter no more security 
than Marranos were to enjoy a thousand years later. It 
was possible for any Gentile to impugn the sincerity of the 
conversion of a Jew, and it was practically impossible for the 
Jew to prove it unless the court was disposed in his favour. 
Moreover, as it would clearly be to the interest of the Chris- 
tian rival to make such an accusation, this law can be fairly 
considered a fundamental attack upon the commercial sec- 
tion of the Jewish population in its entirety. Any unknown 
Christian arriving in a place for trading purposes was to 
open the proceedings by reciting the Lord's Prayer or the 
Apostles' Creed before witnesses, and by eating a dish of 
pork. Jews were only allowed to trade with other 
Jews, and within the kingdom: they might not travel 
abroad. All their property which had once been in 
Christian possession, real estate and otherwise, was to be 
turned into the treasury, and compensation would be given 
therefor. The compensation, unless the royal treasury was 
a very unusual one, could not with the best will in the world 

*C.T., 16.9.3. 

2 Toledo XVII, ibid. 

3 Leg. Vis., 12.2.18. Cf. Toledo XVI, Royal Address. 


have been very extensive if the confiscation was really carried 
out. Any Christian trading with a Jew was to be suitably 

Within a year this law bore fruit. The Jews were con- 
vinced that the situation was intolerable, and prepared for 
desperate measures. Correspondence was discovered which 
seemed to the authorities to reveal the preparation of a plot 
to overthrow the Visigothic power. The Jews were alleged 
to be in communication with the Moors and to be inviting 
them to invade the country. The treason was said to have 
been confirmed by confessions of the guilty parties. The 
king brought the question before the seventeenth council of 
Toledo, contrasted the ingratitude of the Jews with his own 
great generosity, and implored the council to take stern 
measures against them. How much truth there was in the 
accusation it is impossible for us to know. That desperate 
men should revolt against their persecutors is human nature. 
That the Visigothic kingdom lay an obvious prey to Moorish 
conquerors without the need for any invitation or treason is 
also obvious. 

In any case, the council considered that violent measures 
would be justified, and by a single act all the Jews of the 
kingdom were reduced to the status of slaves. Their prop- 
erty was confiscated and handed over to one of their Chris- 
tian slaves to administer. We learn indirectly that there 
was a special Jewish tax in existence, since the adminis- 
trator had to continue its payment to the treasury. Their 
children, from the age of seven, were taken from them and 
placed in Christian families, and subsequently married to 

Such was the end of the first Spanish Jewish community, 
a foreshadowing of the greater tragedy which was to befall 
their successors nearly eight hundred years later. For some 
peculiar reason Spain has always been the European land of 
the greatest Jewish prosperity and the deepest Jewish 
tragedy. The Marranos of the later mediaeval period and 
after had their prototypes in the Jews of the Visigothic 
times. Both seem to have shown an equal fidelity to their 
traditions, and an equal skill in evading the measures 
destined for their extermination. That in the end the 
Visigothic Jew welcomed the Arab invader, and perhaps even 


invited him 1 , was but the natural consequence of the treat- 
ment which he had received. To say with H. S. Chamberlain 
that * under the rule of that thoroughly Western Gothic 
king (Egica), who had showered benefits upon them, they 
invite their kinsmen the Arabs to come over from Africa, 
and, not out of any ill-feeling, but simply because they hope 
to profit thereby, they betray their noble protector >2 , is to 
distort the whole of the facts which are contained not in 
documents of Jewish propaganda, but in the pages of Chris- 
tian councils and Visigothic laws themselves. 


There is no evidence that the Jews were inspired by such 
motives in calling in their * kinsmen ' against the noble- 
hearted Aryan, but is there any evidence that the motive 
which had actuated their persecution during a century was 
itself based on economic grounds? There is a certain class 
of historian who, if a rich group is persecuted, will immedi- 
ately see only economic jealousy as the cause, and it is a 
reasonable presumption that some Jews were rich. In the 
absence of ail the * anecdotal ' side of the history of the 
Jews under the Visigoths, it is extremely difficult to know 
what were the relations between the Jews and the average 
Christian, though reasons have already been given for 
believing they were not unfriendly. But now that we have 
considered the laws themselves, we can go a little further. 
N'ot only do they not in the least suggest an attack on Jewish 
wealth, but if such was their motive, they were even more 
inefficient than they appear at first sight. A law which 
appeared curious when taken in its apparent sense, might 
reveal its true purpose if we applied the economic motive 
to it, but here, if we take that as the true objective, the laws 
make no sense at all. Firstly, apart from the eternal question 
of slaves, there is no reference whatever to economics and 
economic disabilities until the very end, the time of Erwig 

1 For a discussion on the extent to which this was so, see Juster, op* cit., 
p. 24, where all the sources are quoted. 

2 English Trans., VoL I, p. 342. 


and Egica. But secondly, even when there were economic 
issues at stake, the law says explicitly 1 that if their Christian 
faith be beyond reproach they are to enjoy all the privileges 
of other Christians in the carrying on of business. Persecu- 
tion from jealousy of their wealth would have left them 
Jews and restrained their activities, as was done in later ages. 
It would certainly never have forced their conversion and 
left them in the enjoyment of all their supposed wealth. 
Thirdly, it is to be noted that no special Jewish tax appears 
to exist before the time of Egica, although the Theodosian 
Code gave admirable precedent for such a tax. Alaric 
omitted it in the Breviary, but the persecuting kings could 
easily have restored it. Lastly, if we have no anecdotes, we 
have an unrivalled collection of abusive terms, both in the 
councils and in the laws, but above all in the royal addresses 
to the councils. In all the rich variety of epithet which 
enlivened Visigothic oratory, there is no single term which 
suggests other than religious hostility. Not even such a 
phrase as ' exploiters of Christians ', or * vaunters in the 
goods of this world 5 , slips in by accident in the rounded 
phrases so dear to their hearts. Jealousy is supposed to 
develop a certain low cunning. If it were jealousy which 
animated the Visigoths, it produced the unusual phenomenon 
of religious mania. 

*Leg. Vis., 12.2.18. 



In the passage of the eight centuries reviewed in the previous 
chapters of this book we have seen the laying of the founda- 
tions of modern antisemitism. At times the ancient legisla- 
tion itself has an appallingly modern ring in its very phrase- 
ology. With Leo and Charlemagne the curtain rings down 
upon the first act. The second act takes us up to the Reforma- 
tion: the third act is still upon the stage. But it is an act of 
the same play, and can be explained only in the light of what 
has preceded it. Our interpretation of the first act is, there- 
fore, no academic question, but the means by which we can 
understand what is passing before our eyes. 

To some the interpretation begins with the formation of 
the Jewish people themselves. They point to the troubles 
of the Jews in Egypt and in the Roman Empire before the 
coming of Christianity into power, and find there the ex- 
planation. It is racial. It is some quality in Jewish blood 
strengthened by the inhuman provisions of the Jewish law. 

Here it has been necessary to treat somewhat summarily 
the history of the relations between the Jews and the 
various peoples of the Graeco-Roman world, but enough has 
been said to show that this first interpretation is false. 
Without reverting to the plagues of Egypt, we can see that 
such hostility as existed in the Graeco-Roman world, 
especially at Alexandria, had reasonable historical causes, 
and needs no semi-mystic explanation. The adjustment of 
a monotheistic people to a polytheistic world was not an 
easy one. It is hard to blame the Jew for his monotheism. 
Nor will a modern patriot find anything criminal or abnormal 
in the revolts of the Jews against Rome. What trouble there 
was came from one of these two causes, monotheism or the 
harshness of the Roman domination. The significant fact 
for subsequent history is that when these two causes were 
removed, the problem remained. When Christianity became 


the religion of the state, monotheism was no longer abnormal. 
With the scattering of the Jews from Palestine in the second 
century, Jewish rebellions came to an end. But the Jewish 
problem remained. Either we are forced to revert to the 
explanation already rejected, and find some mystical racial 
reason, or we must find a new cause for its survival. 

The most popular cause for modern scholars is an econ- 
omic one, and they have sought to interpret Jewish relation- 
ships with their neighbours in economic terms. To-day, 
and indeed in the later Middle Ages, economic questions 
play a large role in the Jewish problem, but all the docu- 
ments of the centuries reviewed in this work fail to find a 
single genuine economic cause for the phenomenon. Apart 
from the famous Alexandrian letter with its warning to 
' keep clear of the Jews ', it is impossible to find a single 
reference to, or sign of interest in, the economic position 
of the Jews, whether in Rome, Byzantium or in western 
Europe. There are indeed references to single wealthy Jews, 
to particular Jewish traders, but nowhere is the general term 
* Jew J coupled with any term of economic significance, and 
nowhere do we find cases of economic hostility or maladjust- 
ment between the Jews of a locality and their neighbours. 
Even if considerable numbers of Jews were traders yet Jews 
were also represented in every class of society from slave to 
millionaire, from soldier to official, from artisan to peasant. 
And in the east as well as in the west our evidence all tends 
to show that they lived on good terms with their neigh- 

It is true that it was not an age which attributed events 
easily to economic causes, but that is not to say that it was 
ignorant of economic facts. We find plenty of abuse of this 
or that class or people. Greeks are called traders, Syrians 
are called worse, Egyptians are called soothsayers. But no 
one name covers the Jews. Emperors legislated to deal with 
the economic menace of particular groups. They never so 
dealt with the Jews, though frequently occupied with them. 
Even on the question of slavery it is solely the question of 
the ownership of a Christian by a Jew which moved them 
to pass laws. And if we review our documents impartially, 
the only possible conclusion is that there is no reference to, 
or interest in, the economic situation of the Jews, because in 


actual fact there was nothing of any interest or significance 
in that situation. They were neither a menace nor even a 
problem. They were a normal portion of society. 

The new factor was not economic. It was religious. 
Christianity began as a Jewish sect. Its original adherents 
were loyal Jews, observing the whole Law. But when after 
twenty years a considerable number of Gentiles joined the 
new sect the question of their relation to the Jewish Law 
became acute. But the points at issue were connected with 
the ceremonial law, and not with the fundamentals of 
Judaism, fundamentals which lay behind the teaching of 
Jesus, and were shared by all His Jewish followers. But at 
the same time Jesus had added something new to their 
experience. They found in Him something they lacked in 
Judaism, the * grace \ which forms so large a part of Paul's 
message, and which he contrasts with the powerlessness of 
the Law to do more than convict him of sin. Jewish scholars 
have rightly pointed out that there is a doctrine of ' grace ' 
in Judaism, a doctrine of repentance, and of reception back 
into the covenant of God. But whatever his attitude to this 
doctrine, Paul found something in his Christian experience 
which he personally had not found in Judaism. Such is the 
historical setting for what followed. At the end of the 
century the leadership of the Church was already passing 
into Gentile hands. Gentile congregations were powerful 
and numerous. Any compromise on the ceremo_nial law had 
been completely rejected. Had this been all, Judaism and 
Christianity might still have come together again after 
a period of tension. There were liberals * among the 
Jews who would have been ready to discuss the question 
of Gentile observance of the ceremonial law. The hardening 
of Judaism is a result, not a cause, of the separation. But, 
whether through the influence of Paul, or, more likely, 
through the misunderstanding of him by Gentile successors, 
the issue had gone much deeper, and the entirety of the 
religious conceptions of Judaism as proclaimed in the 
Old Testament was rejected as superseded by the Church. 
Such a claim made the acceptance of Jesus by the Jews 
impossible, and there follows the bitter period of hostility 
at the end of the first and the beginning of the second 
centuries which has been related. 


It is in this conflict and its issue that modern anti- 
semitism finds its roots. For the Gentile Church the Old 
Testament no longer meant a way of life, a conception of 
the relation of a whole community to God, but a mine from 
which proof texts could be extracted. Instead of being the 
history of a single community, and the record of its successes 
and failures, it became the record of two communities, the 
pre-Incarnation Church symbolised by the * Hebrews ', 
and the temporary and rejected people of the Jews. Out 
of this artificial separation of history into two parts, on the 
simple principle that what was good belonged to one group 
and what was bad to the other, grew the caricature of the 
Jew with which patristic literature is filled. 

The Christian theologian did not set out deliberately to 
blacken the character of his Jewish opponent, nor did he 
deliberately misrepresent his history. He cannot be said 
to have been actuated simply by hatred and contempt. 
His mistake was due to his belief in the verbal inspiration 
of the Scriptures which he read on the basis of the two 
separate communities. This is apparent in the whole 
volume of the literature of the time, with its complete silence 
about contemporary Jewish life. It is always the historical 
picture of the Jews in the Old Testament which moves the 
eloquence of the writers, never the misdoings of their living 
Jewish neighbours. After the period of violence at the end 
of the first century we have no evidence of any intensive 
campaign of Judaism against Christianity. We have, on the 
contrary, copious records of the friendship between the two 
peoples. Not only were there sects representing every 
shade of religious belief from orthodox Judaism to orthodox 
Christianity, but conciliar legislation in east and west alike 
is full of prohibitions of close social intercourse and even 
of participation in Jewish religious observances. 

There is nothing abnormal hi such conflicts as did occur. 
The Jews were an ordinary group of human beings with 
all the failings of humanity, and the Christians were the 
same. Each at times provoked the other, though the battle 
was unequal, for Judaism soon numbered fewer adherents 
than her rival. Occasional outbursts, caused by sudden 
religious inflammation or political disagreements, are 
normal in the life of a people. They form in themselves no 


explanation of a problem which has lasted nearly two thou- 
sand years. Moreover, if we had to explain events on 
the basis of casual happenings alone, we should be forced 
to the conclusion that there was far more reason for the 
Jew to hate the Christian than for the Christian to hate the 
Jew and this on the evidence of Christian sources alone. 

There is no other adequate foundation than the theological 
conceptions built up in the first three centuries. But 
upon these foundations an awful superstructure has been 
reared, and the first stones of that superstructure were laid, 
the very moment the Church had power to do so, in the 
legislation of Constantine and his successors. If we leave 
out ecclesiastical and secular legislation in the history of 
Jewish-Christian relations up to the eighth century there 
is almost nothing left. And if we add to legislation acts 
clearly due to religious fanaticism forced baptisms or 
burnings of synagogues by Christians, and riotous observa- 
tion of Purim or sudden acts of violence by Jews then we 
have nothing left at all except the incidents accompanying 
the Persian wars, which have their own evident political 

It is possible that Jewish association with certain heresies 
may have added somewhat to the vigour of the picture of 
the Old Testament Jew, but the evidence therefor is 
exceedingly slight. It is possible again that memories of 
the Jewish wars disposed the Roman population to believe 
ill of the Jew. It is possible even that a certain resentment 
of the old pagan population against this new Jewish religion, 
which was so much more of a menace than Judaism itself, 
may have turned to dislike of the Jews as the original 
authors of it. But all these three factors are at best minor, 
and the main responsibility must rest upon the theological 
picture created in patristic literature of the Jew as a being 
perpetually betraying God and ultimately abandoned by 

Up to the end of the period reviewed in this book the 
Jew himself shows no signs of the abnormalities which are 
noticeable in the later mediaeval period, and which are 
still evident to-day. By adopting the principle of using 
legislation to coerce a religious opposition, the first steps are 
already taken both in the east and in the west which will 


ultimately make those abnormalities inevitable. In the 
Byzantine empire, in France, and in the rest of Christendom 
it has become impossible for him to hold public offices. 
Other careers are also slowly being closed to him. Certain 
restrictions on his liberty have been enacted. It is still 
only the beginning. There is as yet no ghetto, no Jewish 
badge, no concentration into one or two professions, but 
the beginning has been made. More sinister for the future 
than the restrictions in force in the eighth century was the 
immunity enjoyed by those who violated such rights as 
the Jew officially possessed. A Theodoric and a Gregory 
might see that his rights were not ignored, but usually 
bishops, kings and barons were free to do what they willed. 
There was no appeal against them. 

The ninth century begins a new act in both east and west. 
The Basilica of Basil the Macedonian contain the laws 
governing Jewish life in eastern Europe down to the present 
century, and in the west the charters of Louis and the ful- 
minations of Agobard begin the story of the Middle Ages. 
But the new act follows directly from the first, and is rooted 
in the same causes. Fresh crimes were added to the historic 
crimes of the Old Testament. Ritual murder, the poisoning 
of wells, the profanation of the Host, all these are natural 
growths from the picture created by a Chrysostom or a 
Cyril. And the old falsification of Jewish history itself 
persisted, and has persisted up to the present time in 
popular teaching. Scholars may know to-day of the beauty 
and profundity of the Jewish conception of life. They may 
know that * some Jews ' were responsible for the death of 
Jesus. ButtheChristianpublicasawhole,the great and over- 
whelming majority of the hundreds of millions of nominal 
Christians in the world, still believe that ' the Jews ' killed 
Jesus, that they are a people rejected by their God, that all 
the beauty of their Bible belongs to the Christian Church 
and not to those by whom it was written; and if on this 
ground, so carefully prepared, modern antisemites have 
reared a structure of racial and economic propaganda, the 
final responsibility still rests with those who prepared the 
soil, created the deformation of the people, and so made 
these ineptitudes credible. 




Laws of Constantine 
C.T., 16.8.1; to Evagrius, 18^.315. 

On converts to Judaism and to Christianity. 
C.T., 16.8,3; to the Officials at Cologne, n.xii.32i. 

With certain exceptions Jews are to be called to the Decurionate. 
C.T., 16.8.2; to Ablavius the Pretorian Prefect, 2Q.xi.330. 

On the relation of Jews to the Decurionate. 
C.T., 16.8.4; to the Jewish Priests, Rabbis, Elders and other authorities, 

Immunities of synagogue authorities. 
C.T., 16.8.5; to Felix, P.P., 22.X.335. 

On molesting Jewish converts to Christianity. 
C.T., 16.9.1; to Felix, P.P., 22.X.335. 

Circumcision of non-Jewish slaves. 

Laws of Constantius 

C.T., 16.9.2; to Evagrius, I3.viii.339. 

Purchase and circumcision of non-Jewish or Christian slaves. 
C.T., 16.8.6; to Evagrius, I3.viii.339. 

Marriage between Jews and members of the imperial factories. 
C.T., 16.8.7; to Thalassius, PJP., 3^.352 or 357. 

Apostasy to Judaism. 

Laws of Valentinian 

C.T., 7.8.2; to Remigius Mag. Off., 6.V/J68, 370 or 373. 
Violation of synagogues. 

Laws of Gratian 

C.T., 12.1.99; to Hypatius, P.P., 18.^.383. 

On the relation of Jews to the Decurionate. 
C.T., 16.7.3; to Hypatius, P.P., 21^.383. 

Intestability for apostates to Judaism. 
C.T., 3.1.5; to Cynegius, P.P., 22.ix.384. 

Possession or purchase of Christian slaves. 

Laws of Theodosius the Great 

C.T., 3.7.2 or 9.7.5; to Cynegius, P.P., 14.1^.388. 

Intermarriage between Jews and Christians. 
C.T., 13.5.18; to Alexander, Prefect of Egypt, 18.11.390. 

Questions of maritime transport. 
C.T., 16.8.8; to Tatianus, P.P., 17.^.392. 

Jewish right of excommunication. 

C.T., 16.8.9; to Addeus, Cornmander-in-Chief of the Eastern Command, 

Judaism is a lawful sect. 
CJ., 1 1.9.7; to Infantius, Governor of the Eastern Provinces, 30. xii. 3 93. 

Jews may only marry according to Christian table of affinity. 

1 The text of this law is not to be found in the Codex Theodosianus. 



Laws of Honorius 

C.T., 12.1.157; to Theodorus, P.P., is.ii or iK.^gS. 

Jewish duty in the Decurionate. 
C.T., 12.1.158; ditto. 
C.T., 16.8.14; to Messala, P.P., 11.^.399. 

Confiscation of the aurum coronariwn. 
C.T., 16.8.16; to Romulianus, P.P., 22.^.404. 

Exclusion of Jews from military and court functions. 
C.T., 16.8.17; to Hadrian, P.P., 25/^404. 

Permission to send aurum coronarium restored. 
C.T., 16.544; to Donatus (in Africa), 24^.408. 

Jews and heretics must not disturb sacraments. 
C.T., 16.5.46; to Theodore, P.P., 15^.409. 

Laws against Jews and heretics to be strictly enforced. 
C.T., 16.8.19; to Jovius, P.P., i.iv.409. 

The * Caelicoli ' are to be suppressed. 
C.T., 8.8.8 or 2.8.26; to Johannes, P.P., 26^1409 or 412. 

Jews to be left undisturbed on Sabbaths and Feast Days. 
C.T., 16.8.20; to Johannes, P.P., 26.vii.4i2. 

Synagogues and Sabbaths to be left undisturbed. 
C.T., 16.9.3; to Annatus Didascalus and the Elders of the Jews, 

Jews may own Christian servants if they do not convert them. 
C.T., 16.8.23; to Annatus Didascalus and the Elders of the Jews, 24.1x4.1 6. 

Jewish converts to Christianity may revert to Judaism. 
C.T., 16.8.24; to Palladius, P.P., io.iii.4i8. 

Jews may not enter government service or army. They may follow 
law, liberal professions and decurionate. 

Laws of Valentiman III 

Const. Sirm. 6 fin. to Amatius, Governor of Gaul, 9^425. 

Jews to be excluded from government service. 
C.T., 16.8.28; to Bassus, P.P., 8.^426. 

Converted children of Jews to inherit from their parents. 


Laws of Arcadius 

C.T., 16.8.10; to the Jews, 27.11.396. 

Jews to fix their own prices. 
C,T., 16.8.11; to ClaucU'anus, Governor of the Eastern Provinces, 

The Patriarch not to be insulted. 
C.T., 945.2; to Archelaus, Prefect of Egypt, 17^.397. 

Jews not to become Christians from economic motives. 
C.T., 16.8.12; to Anatolius, Prefect of Illyricum, 17.^.397. 

Jews and their synagogues are to be protected. 
C.T., 16.8.13; to Caesarius, P.P., i.vii.397. 

Jewish clergy to have the same privileges as Christian clergy. 
C.T., 2.1.10; to Eutychianus, P.P., 3.11.398. 

Jews to follow Roman Law except on religious questions. 


C.T., 12.1.165; to Eutychianus, P.P., 3O.xii.3Q9. 

Jews to serve in Decurionate. 
C.T., 16.8.15; to Eutychianus, P.P., 3.11.404. 

The Patriarch to retain his privileges. 

Laws of Theodosius II 

C.T., 16.8.18; to Anthemius, P.P., 29^.408. 

Jews not to mock the Cross at Purim. 
C.T., 16.8.22; to Aurelian, PP., 20^^.15. 

Degradation of the Patriarch. 
C.T., 16.9.4; to Monaxius, P.P., 10.^.417. 

Various regulations on the possession of Christian slaves. 
C.T., 16.8.21; to Philip, Governor of Illyricum, 6.viii^j.i2. 

Jews are not to be attacked or synagogues burnt, but they must not 

outrage Christianity. 
C.T., 16.8.25; to Asclepiodotus, P.P., 15.11.423. 

Synagogues not to be pulled down or confiscated. New ones not to 

be built. 
C.T., 16.8.26; to Asclepiodotus, P.P., 9.^.423. 

Laws to be enforced, synagogues not to be pulled down, Jews to be 

exiled for circumcising non-Jews. 
C.T., 16.9.5; to Asclepiodotus, P.P., 9.^.423. 

Jews not to purchase Christian slaves. 
C.T., 16.8.27; to Asclepiodotus, P.P., 8.^.423. 

New synagogues not to be built, old ones not to be confiscated. 
C.T., 16.10.24; to Asclepiodotus, P.P., 8.^.423. 

Peaceable Jews not to be offended. 
C.T., 15.5.5; to Asclepiodotus, P.P., 1.11.425. 

Jews to observe seasons of fast and feast. 
C.T., 16.8.29; to John, Count of the Sacred Largesse, 30^.429. 

All special Jewish taxes to be confiscated to Charity Fund. 
Novella 3; to Florentius, P.P., 31^.438. 

No Jew to hold office; new synagogues not to be built; proselytising to 
be punished with death; new synagogues to be confiscated; burden- 
some public office to be undertaken; Jewish law to be followed in 
private cases only. 


Elvira (Spain), c. 300 
Canon 16. Intermarriage with Jews. 

49. Blessing of fields by Jews. 

50. Sharing feasts with Jews. 
78. Adultery with Jewesses. 

Antioch, 341 

Canon i . Eating Passover with the Jews. 

Laodicea, 360 

Canon 16. Gospels to be read on Saturday. 
29. Christians to work on Sabbath. 

37. Gifts for feasts from Jews, and sharing feasts with Jews, 


38. Unleavened bread not to be accepted from Jews, and Jewish 

feasts to be avoided. 


The Apostolic Canons 

Canon 61. Denying Christianity through fear of Jews. 
63. Entering a synagogue prohibited. 

69. Feasting or fasting with Jews prohibited. 

70. Oil not to be taken into synagogue for feasts. 


The Breviary of Alaric, 2.1.10; Jews to use Roman courts except on religious 

questions or by agreement. 

2.8.3 = C.T., 2.8.26; Sabbath not to be disturbed. 
3.1.5= C.T., 3.1.5; Jews not to possess Christian slaves. 
3.7.2 and 9.44= C.T., 3.7.2 and 9.7.5; intermarriage. 
i6.2.i = C.T. 16.7.3; apostates to be punished with intestability. 
16.8.5; converts to Christianity not to be molested. 

16.3.2= C.T. 
16.4.1 = C.T. 
164.2= C.T. 

16.8,7; apostates to Judaism. 

16.9.1; circumcised slaves. 

16.9.4; possession of Christian slaves. 

Novella 3= Novella 3, public office, building of synagogues, perversion 
of Christians. 

Roman Law of the Burgundians 

Law of Gondebaud, 194. Intermarriage. 

Roman Law of the Franks 

Clothaire II, Constitutio Generalis 4. Lawsuits between Romans to be 
conducted according to Roman Law. 

Roman Law of the Ostrogoths 

Theodoric, Cap. 143. Jews to retain privileges allowed by Law. 

Lex Romana Raetica Curiensis 

2.1.8; extent and limitations of judicial autonomy. 

3.1.5; purchase of Christian slaves. 

3.7.2; intermarriage. 

Law of the Lombards 

2.56.1; Roman citizens to live according to Roman Law. 


Laws of Reccared I of 588 

12.2. 12. Purchase, possession and circumcision of non-Jewish slaves. 

Laws of Sisebut 0/612 

12.2.13. Christian slaves of Jews to be freed; converts to Christianity 

to inherit; other legislation affecting slaves. 

12.2.14. Liberation of Christian slaves; mixed marriages; irrevocability 

of this law. 

Laws of Chindaswinth of between 641 and 652 
1 2 .2 .1 6. Christians Judaising. 


Laws of Recceswinth of c. 652 

12.2.2. Christian doctrine not to be criticised. 

12.2.3. Laws are to be considered irrevocable and strictly enforced. 

12.2.4. Apostasy not to be permitted. 

12.2.5. Passover and Jewish feasts not to be observed. 

12.2.6. Marriage only by Christian tables of affinity. 

12.2.7. Circumcision prohibited. 

12.2.8. Distinctions of foods prohibited. 

12.2.9. Actions or evidence against Christians prohibited. 

1 2. 2.10. Evidence against Christians prohibited. 

1 2. 2.1 1. Lawbreakers to be stoned or enslaved. 

12.2.15. Jews on no account to be protected by clergy. 

Laws of Erwig of c. 680 

12.3.1. Owing to Jewish evasions all laws to be re-enacted, except 

those concerning manumission and capital punishment. 

12.3.2. Blasphemy against Christian doctrine to be punished. 

12.3.3. All Jews to submit to baptism. 

12.3.4. Practice of Jewish customs to be punished. 

1 2.3 .5 . Celebration of Jewish feasts to be punished. 

12.3.6. Work on Sunday to be punished, and special feasts to be 


12.3.7. Distinctions of meats prohibited, except for those physically 

unable to eat pork. 

12.3.8. Marriage to be according to Christian customs. 

12.3.9. Blasphemers and apostates to be punished. 

12.3.10. Jewish bribes not to be accepted. 

12.3.11. Jewish books and teaching to be suppressed. 

12.3.12. Jews not to own Christian slaves. 

1 2 .3 . 1 3 . Jews to sell their Christian slaves or prove their own orthodoxy. 

12.3.16. Treatment of apostate slaves. 

12.3.17. No Jew to exercise authority over Christians. 

12.3.18. Slaves desiring to become Christians to be free to do so. 

12.3.19. No Jew to be appointed bailiff of Christian property. 

12.3.20. Regulations affecting Jewish travellers. 

12.3.21. Feast days to be spent in presence of bishop, or suitable 


12.3.22. Jewish employees to be obliged to obey regulations. 
13-3 -23 . Clergy to see to carrying out of these laws. 

12.3.24. Penalties for corruption or laxity. 

12.3.25. Lay judges not to act without ecclesiastical supervision. 

12.3.26. Local religious authorities responsible for strict enforcement. 

12.3.27. Limitation of royal prerogative of pardon. 

12.3.28. Method of publication of this legislation. 

Laws of Egica of c. 690 

1 2. 2. 1 8 Regulations of Jewish traders, Jewish taxes, and Jewish leases of 
Christian property, 

Agde> 506 1 
Canon 12. Fasting in Lent on Saturdays. 

34. Special conditions for Jewish catechumens. 
40. Clergy and laity to avoid Jewish feasts. 

1 These councils were held by the Cathotics (i*. Roman citizens} at a 
time when their Visigothic masters were Arians. 


Valencia, 524* 

Canon 16. Jews, heretics and pagans to be allowed in church up to the 
missa catechumenonim. 

Toledo HI, 589 

Capit. 14. Intermarriage; Christian slaves; children of mixed marriages; 
public office; proselytising, and circumcision. 

Narbonne, 589 

Canon 4. Jews not to work on Sunday. 

9. Psalms not to be sung during Jewish funerals. 
14. Jewish fortune-tellers not to be consulted. 

Toledo IV, 633 

Canon 57. Jews not to be compelled to be baptised. 

58. Jewish bribes not to be accepted by Christians. 

59. Apostates to be punished. 

60. Children of Jews to be brought up by Christians. 

61. Children of apostates to inherit. 

62. No communication to be allowed between baptised and 

unbaptised Jews. 

63 . In mixed marriages unconverted partner must be baptised 

and children brought up Christians. 

64. Apostates not to be allowed as witnesses. 

65 . Jews and Jewish Christians to be excluded from public office. 

66. Jews not to own Christian slaves. 

Toledo VI, 638 

Canon 3. Jews remaining in Spain must be baptised. 

Toledo VIII, 653 

King's Speech (Recces winth). Denunciation of apostates. 

Canon 10. Future sovereigns must be orthodox. 

12. Jews remaining in Spain must be baptised. 
Included in this council is a Placitum. See Appendix 3, A.i. 

Toledo IX, 655 

Canon 17. Jews to pass Jewish and Christian festivals in presence of 
ecclesiastical authorities. 

Toledo X, 656 

Capit. i. Easter must be celebrated uniformly. 

7. Christian slaves not to be sold to Jews. 

Toledo XII, 681 

King's Speech (Erwig). Implores action on Jewish apostasy and 

Canon 9. Confirmation of the Laws of Erwig. (See above.) 

Toledo XVI, 693 

King's Speech (Egica). Appeal for confirmation of all previous laws, 

together with prohibition of unconverted Jews trading, and converted 

Jews being taxed specially. 
Capit. i. Confirmation of King's Speech. 

1 These councils were held by the CathoUcs (i,e* Roman citizens) at a 
time when their Visigotkic masters were Arians. 


Toledo XVII, 694 

King's Speech (Egica). Jewish plot against Spanish security. All Jews 

except those of Septimania to be reduced to slavery. 
Canon 8. Confirms King's request. 



Law 102. Punishment of Jewish assault on Christians. 

Council of Epaone, 517 

Canon 15. Attendance at Jewish banquets prohibited. 


Childebert, c. 554 

Letter to clergy and people. Jews not allowed in street between Holy 
Thursday and Easter. 

Clothaire II y 614 

Edict. Jews not to hold office. 


Cap. Acquisgran. 15 (=Laodicea, Canon 29) 789. Christians to work 

on Sabbath, 
Cap. Acquisgran. 45 (= Carthage IV, Canon 196) 789. 

Jews not to give evidence. 
Cap. dup. ad Niumagen, 806. 

Clergy not to allow sale of church plate to Jews or others. 
Cap. de Jud. 1,814. 

Jews not to receive Church property in pledge. 
Cap. de Jud. 2, 814. 

Christians not to be taken in pledge. 
Cap. de Jud. 3, 814. 

Jews not to mint or trade privately. 
Cap. de Jud. 814. 

4a. Oath to be taken by Jew in giving evidence. 

4b. Oath to be taken in pleading not guilty. 

Vannesy 465 

Canon 12. Clergy to avoid Jewish feasts. 
Orleans II, 533 
Canon 19. Intermarriage. 
Clermont, 535 

Canon 6. Intercourse between Christian and Jew. 
9. Jewish judges. 

Orleans III, 538 

Canon 13. Regulations for Christian servants of Jews; intermarriage; 

attending Jewish festivities. 

28. Sunday not to be observed in Jewish fashion. 
30. Jews not to mix with Christians between Holy Thursday 
and Easter. 


Orleans IV, 541 

Canon 30, Christian slaves of Jews to be redeemed on request. 
31, Conversion of servants to Judaism prohibited. 

Orleans V, 548 

Canon 22. Conditions to be observed when slaves take refuge in 

Macon, 581 
Canon 2. Jewish conversation with nuns. 

13. Jews not to be judges or tax collectors. 

14. Jews not to mix with Christians between Holy Thursday 

and Easter. 

15. Christians not to take part in Jewish festivities. 

16. Christian slaves to be redeemed. 

17. Attempted conversion of slave to Judaism to be punished. 

Paris , 614 

Canon 15. Jews seeking positions of authority to be baptised. 

Reims(?), 624 

Canon n. Christians not to be sold to Jews; Jews not to hold office. 
Jewish slanders against Christianity to be refuted. 1 

Chalons sur Saone, 650 

Canon 9. Slaves not to be sold beyond frontiers, so as not to fall into 
hands of Jews. 

* Canons of Carthage \ or t of the African Church ' 

Canon 84. Jews, heathen and heretics to be allowed into church up to 

the missa catechumenorum. 
89. Judaising to be suppressed. 
196. Jews and others not to give evidence. 

Rome, 743 
Canon 10. Intermarriage. 


The Code of Justinian contained certain laws from the Code of 
Theodosius. These are marked with an asterisk. Except where noted, 
they were unchanged. 

*Laws of Constantine 

C.T., i6.8.i = CJ., 1.9.3. 

*Laws of Constantius 

C.T., i6.8.7~CJ., 1.7.1. 

C.T., 1 6.8 .6 is combined with 16.9.1 (of Constantine), 16.9.2 (of Con- 
stantius) and 16.9.4 (f Theodosius II) and ascribed to Constantius, 
as C.J., 1. 10. i. 

1 This last may be a scribe's error for: 'Jewish banquets not to be attended *, 
reading ' convivia 'for * convicia '. It is so given in Concilium Clippiacense 
in M.GJH. quarto, Cone. I, p. 199. 


*Laws of Valentinian 
C.T., 7.8.2 = CJ., 1.9.4. 

*Law$ of Gratian 

C.T., i2.i. 99 = CJ., 1.9.5. 

C.T., 16.7.3 = CJ., 1.7.2. 

*Lazus of Theodosius the Great 

C.T., 3.7*2= C.J., 1.9.6. 

C.J., 1.9.7 has no counterpart in the Theodosian Code. 

*Laws of Honorius 
C.T., i2.i.i57=C.J., 10.3249. 
C.T., i6.8.i9=CJ., 1.9.12. 

C.T., 8.8.8 = C.J., 1.9.13, adding that on Jewish feasts Jews shall not be 
entitled to summon Christians. 

*Latos of Arcadius 
C.T.,, 1.9.9. 
C.T., 9.45.2 = CJ., I.I2.I. 
C.T.,, 1.9.8. 
C.T., i2.i.i65 = CJ., 1.9.10. 

*Laws of Theodosius II 

C.T., i6.8.i8=CJ., 1.9.11. 

C.T., i6.8.22=CJ., 1.9.15, including only the paragraph dealing with 

Jewish juridical competence. 
C.T., i6.94=CJ., 
C.T., 16.8.21 = CJ., 1.9.14. 
C.T., i6.8.26=CJ., 1.9.16. 
C.T.,, i.n.6. 
C.T., i5-5-5 = CJ., 3.12.6. 
C.T., i6.8.29=CJ., 1.9.17. 
Novella 3 C.J., 1.5.7, *7*5 an <i 1.9.18. 

Laws of Marctan 

C.J., 1.1-4; to PaUadius, P.P., 7-ii452- 

Christianity not to be discussed in public. 

Laws of Justin and Justinian 

C.J., 1.5-12 of 527. 

* Heretics are all such as do not belong to the Catholic faith ' 
including Jews. They are not to hold any office; or follow profession 
of law. Heavy penalties for connivance with evasion. 

Laws of Justinian 

C.J., 1.5.13, no date or address. 

Orthodox children not to be disinherited by Jewish parents. 
C.J., 1.5.17, no date or address. 

Complete destruction of Samaritan synagogues ordered. 
C.J., 1.3.54, no date or address. 

No Jew to possess Christian slaves, or slaves desiring to become 

C.J., 1. 10.2, no date or address. 

No Jew to own a Christian slave. 


C.J., 1.9.2, no date, (?) addressed to the Jews. 

Sabbath not to be disturbed. 
CJ., 1.5.21, to Johannes, P.P., 28.vii.53i. 

Jews may not give evidence against orthodox, but may do so against 

each other. They may witness documents. 
Nov. 37, to Salomon, Governor of Africa, i.viii.535. 

Jews not to be allowed to attend church services; or to own Christian 

slaves. Their synagogues are to be turned into churches. 
Nov. 45, to Johannes, P.P., i.ix.537. 

Jews are to perform decurionate without its honours; may, in a suit 
involving orthodox persons, only give evidence for them or for the 
Nov. 131, to Peter, P.P., 545. 

Jews may not lease orthodox property; they may not build new 

Nov. 146, to Areobindus, P.P., 8.11.553. 

(Owing to its importance the text is given in full as Appendix 2.) 

Laws of Leo the Isaurian 
Ecloga, App. 4.6. 

Jews to hold no public office. 
Ecloga, App. 4.7. 

Either Jewish parent may desire the children to be educated as 

Ecloga, App. 4.13. 

Samaritan synagogues to be destroyed. 
Ecloga, App. 4.16. 

Apostasy to Judaism to be punished. 
Ecloga, App. 4.24. 

Proselytising to Judaism to be punished. 
Ecloga, App. 6.26. 

Jews neither to possess nor circumcise Christian slaves. 
Ecloga, App. 6.27. 

No Jew to possess Christian slave. 
Ecloga, App. 6.28. 

Slave of Jew desiring to become Christian to be freed. 
Ecloga, App. 6.30. 

Circumcision of Christian to be punished. 


Chalcedon t 451 

Canon 14. Marriageable members of clergy not to wed Jew. 

Trullanum, 692 

Canon 1 1 . No Christian to eat unleavened bread with Jew, use them 
as doctors or bathe with them. 

Nicaea JI t 787 

Canon 8. Baptised Jews who lapse are to be treated as Jews. 

f Forged * Canons of Nicaea 

Canon 52 (56). Clergy are not to eat or have business associations with 




Admission to Church, C.J., Nov. 37; Carthage IV, 84; Nicaea II, 8; 

Valencia, 16. 

Adultery with Jews, Clermont, 6; Elvira, 78; Orleans IV, 31. 
Apostasy of converted Jews, L.V., 12.2.4; L.V., 12.2.11; L.V., 12.2.16; 

L.V., 12.3.9; L.V., 12.3.11; L.V., 12.3.15; Agde, 34; Nicaea II, 8; 

Toledo IV, 57; Toledo VIII, King's Speech. 
Attacks on Christianity, C.T., 16.8.21; C.J., 1.1.4; L.V., 12.2.2.; L.V., 

12.3.2; L.V., 12.3.9; Reims, u. 
Attacks on Christians, C.T., 16.8.1; C.T., 16.8.5; C.T., 16.5.44; C.T., 

16.5.46; Gondebaud, 102; Can. Apost., 61. 
Attacks on Jews, C.T., 16.8.26; C.T., 16.10.24. 
Aurum Coronarium, C.T., 16.8.14; C.T., 16.8.17; C.T., 16.8.29. 

Burial, ceremonies of Jewish, Narbonne, 9. 

Caelicoli, C.T., 16.8.19; C.J., 1.9.12. 

Children of Jewish marriages, EC. Leo. App. 4, 7; Toledo IV, 60. 

Children of mixed marriages, L.V., 12.2.14; Toledo III, 14; Toledo IV, 

Church property, Jewish possession of, Charlemagne, Cap. dup., 

Charlemagne, Cap. Jud. 
Circumcision (see also Slaves), C.T., 16.8.26; L.V., 12.2.7; L.V., 12.3.4; 

Toledo XII, 9. 

Clergy, respect for, Macon, 14. 
Clergy, responsibility of, C.J., 1.5.12, xii; C.J., I.3-54J L.V., 12.3.20, 21, 

22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28; Toledo XII, 9. 
Confirmatory Laws, C.T., 16.546; C.T., 16.8.26; C.T., 16.8.27; C.J., 

1.5.12; L.V., 12.2.14; L.V., 12.2.3; L.V., 12.2.11; L.V., 12.3.1; L.V., 

12.3.23; L.V., 12.3.26; Toledo VIII, 12; Toledo XII, King's Speech. 
Connivance in Jewish evasions, C.T., 16.546; C.J., i .3-54* xi ; CJ- *-5- 12 ; 

L.V., 12.2.15; L.V., 12.3.1; L.V., 12.3.9, 10; L.V., 12.3.22, 23, 24, 25; 

Toledo IV, 58; Toledo IV, 65; Toledo VI, 3; Toledo VIII, 10; Toledo 

XII, 9. 
Converts to Christianity (voluntary), C.T., 16.8.1; C.T., 16.8.5; C.T., 

16.8.28; Brev., 16.3.1; L.V., 12.2.14; Agde, 34. 
Converts to Christianity (compulsory), L.V., 12.2.15; L.V., 12.3.3; 

Toledo IV, 57; Toledo VI, 3. 

Converts to Christianity (false), C.T., 945-2*, C.T., 16.8.23; Nicaea II, 8. 
Converts to Christianity (evasion of), L.V., 12.2.15; L.V., 12.3.3; L.V., 

12.3.10; L.V., 12.3.16; L.V., 12.3.22; Toledo XII, 9- XT ^ 
Converts to Judaism, C.T., 16.8.1; C.T., 16.8.7; C.T., 16.7.3; Nov. T., 3; 

Ecloga,4.i6; Ecloga, 4.24; Brev., 16.2.1; Brev., 16.3.2; Brev., Nov. 3; 

L.V., 12.2.14; L- v - 12.34; Orleans IV, 31 ; Toledo XII, 9. 
Curial Responsibility, C.T., 16.8.3, 2, 4; C.T., 12.1.99; C.T., 16.8.13; 

C.T., 12.1.157, 158, 165; C.T., 16.8.24; Nov. T., 3; CJ., 1.5.12; 

Nov. J., 45. 

Doctors, Trullanum, n. 


Easter, celebration of, C.T., 16.10,24; L.V., 12.2.5; Antioch, i; Can. 

Apost., 69; Carthage IV, 89; Toledo X, I. 
Easter, appearance of Jews during, Childebert, epist.; Macon, 14; 

Orleans II, 30. 
Evidence, right of Jews to give, C.J., 1.5.21; Nov. J., 45; EC. Priv. Auct., 

xv, 7; L,V., 12.2.9, 10; Charlemagne, Cap. Acg. 45; Carthage IV, 196; 

Carthage VII, 2; Toledo IV, 64. 
Excommunication, right of Jewish, C.T., 16.8.8; C.J., Nov. 146, ii. 

Feasts (Jewish), C.T., 16.8.18; C.T., 15.5.5; L/V., 12.3.1, 4, 5, 20, 21; 

Toledo XII, 9. 
Feasts (Christian), attendance at of Jews, L.V., 12.3.6; Toledo IX, 17; 

Toledo X, i; Toledo XII, 9. 
Feasts (Jewish), attendance at of Christians, Antioch, i; Laodicea, 37, 38; 

Can. Apost., 69; Agde, 40. 
Fields, blessing of, Elvira, 49. 

Foods, distinction of, L.V., 12.2.8; L.V., 12.3.7; Toledo XII, 9. 
Fortune Tellers, Carthage IV, 89; Narbonne, 14. 

Gifts, acceptance of, L.V., 12.3.10; Can. Apost., 69; Laodicea, 37, 38. 

Heresy, defence of, C.J., 1.1.4; L.V., 12.2.2; L.V., 12.3.1, 2. 
Hospitality accepted, Agde, 40; Elvira, 50; Epaone, 15; Macon, 15; 

Orleans III, 13, ii; Trulknum, n; Vannes, 12. 
Hospitality of Jews accepted by converted Jews, Toledo IV, 62. 

Inheritance, C.T., 16.8.28; C.J., 1.5.13; EC. Priv. Auct., vii, 18; L.V., 

12.2.13; L.V., 12.3.8; Toledo IV, 61. 
Intermarriage with Jews, C.T., 16.8.6; C.T., 3.7.2; C.T., 9.7.5; Brev., 

3.7.2.; Brev., 94.4.; L.V., 12.2.14; L.R. Burg., 19.4; L.R.R.C., 3.7.2; 

Chalcedon, 14; Elvira, 16; Orleans II, 19; Orleans III, 13, ii; Rome, 

10; Toledo III, 14; Toledo IV, 63; Toledo X, 7. 

Judaising, L.V., 12.2.16; Toledo IV, 59. (See also Easter, Sabbath.) 
Judaism, legality and protection of, C.T., 16.8.9, 12, 13, 20, 24; Theodoric, 

Cap. 143; L.R.R.C., 2.1.8. 
Judicial autonomy, C.T., 2,1.10; C.T., 16.8.22; Nov. T., 3; Brev., 2.1.10; 

L.V., 12.2.9; L.R.R.C., 2.1.8; Theodoric, Cap. 143; Clothaire II, 

Const. Gen., 4. 

Lawsuits against Christians, C.J., 1.9.5; L.V., 12.2.9. 
Legal Profession, C.T., 16.8.24; C.J., 15.5.12. 

Maritime Duties, C.T., 13.5.18. 

Marriage by Jewish Law, C.J., 1.9.7; L.V., 12.2.6; L.V., 12.3.8; Toledo 
XII, 9. 

Nuns, conversation with, Macon, 2. 

Oath, Jewish, Charlemagne, Cap. de Jud., 4a. 

Official and military positions, C.T., 16.8.16; C.T., 16.8.24; Const. Sirm., 

6; Nov. T., 3; C.J., 1.5.12; Nov. J., 36; Ecloga, 4.6; Brev., Nov. 3; 

L.V., 12.3.17; Clothaire II, Edict; Clermont, 9; Macon, 13; Paris, 15; 

Reims, ii; Toledo III, 14; Toledo IV, 65; Toledo XII, 9. 

Partnership with Jews, Forged Nicaea, 52. 
Patriarch, The, C.T., 16.8.11, 14, 15, 17, 22. 

Placita, L.V., 12.24; L.V., 12.2.11; L.V., 12.3.12; L.V., 12.3.13; L.V., 
12.3.28; Toledo XII, 9. 


Pledges, Christians not to be taken as, Charlemagne, Cap. Jud., 2. 

Pork, L.V., 12.3.7. 

Property, Jewish Occupation of Christian, Nov. J., 131; Toledo XII, 9. 

Sabbath, Observation of , by Christians, L.V., 12.2.5; L.V., 12.3.20, 21; 

Charlemagne, Cap. Acg., 15; Agde, 12; Carthage IV, 89; Laodicea, 16; 

Laodicea, 29; Orleans III, 28; Toledo XII, 9. 
Sabbath, Protection of, C.T., 2.8.26; C.T., 8.8.8; C.T., 16.8.20; C.J., 

1.9.2; Brev., 2.8.3. 

Samaritans, C.T., 16.8.16; C.J., 1.5.17; Ecloga, 4,13. 
Slaves, not to be sold abroad, L.V., 12.2.14; Chalons, 9. 
Slaves, Jews reduced to, L.V., 12.2.11; Toledo XVII, 8. 
Slaves, Christian, acquisition of, C.T., 16.9.2; C.T., 3.1.5; C.T., 16.94, 

5; C.J.,; Ecloga, 6.26; Ecloga, 6.27; Brev., 3.1.5; Brev., 16.4.2; 

L.V., 12.2. 12, 13; L.R.R.C., 3.1.5. 
Slaves, apostasy of, C.T., 16.94; C.T., 12.2.13, 14; Ecloga, 4.16; L.V., 

12.3.16; Orleans IV, 31; Toledo XII, 9. 
Slaves, circumcision of, C.T., 16.9.1; C.T., 3.1.5; C.T., 16.8.22; C.T., 

16.8.26; Nov. T., 3; C.J.,; Ecloga, 6.26; Ecloga, 6.30; L.V., 

12.2. 12, 13,14; Macon, 17; Orleans IV, 31; Reims, n; Toledo III, 14. 
Slaves, liberation of, C.T., 3.1.5.; Ecloga, 6.28; L.V., 12.2. 14; L.V., 12.3.1; 

L.V., 12.3.12; Macon, 16; Orleans IV, 30, 
Slaves, possession of, prohibited, C.T., 3.1.5; C.J., 1.3.54; CJ., 1.10.2; 

Ecloga,6.26; Ecloga, 6.27; Brev., 3. 1.5; L.V.,i2.2.i2.;L.V., 12.2.13,14; 

L.V., 12.3.1; L.V., 12.3.13; Orleans III, 13, i; Toledo IV, 66; 

Toledo XII, 9. 

Slaves, possession of, allowed, C.T., 16.9.3; Toledo XVI, King's Speech. 
Slaves, Christian, concealment of their Christianity by, C.T., 16.94; 

L.V., 12.3.16. 

Slaves, Christian, sale of, to Jews, L.R.R.C., 3.1 .5; Reims, 1 1 ; Toledo X, 7. 
Slaves, non-Jewish, acquisition of, C.T., 16.9.1, 2. 
Slaves, circumcision of, C/F., 16.9.1, 2; C.T., 16.8.22; Brev., 164.1; 

Orleans IV, 31. 
Slaves seeking baptism, possession of, C.J., 1.3.54; Ecloga, 6.28; L.V., 

12.2.13; L.V., 12.3.18; Toledo XII, 9. 
Sunday, observance of, by Jews, L.V., 12.3.6; Narbonne, 4. 
Synagogue, building and repair of, C.T., 16.8.22; C.T., 16.8.25; C.T., 

16.8.27; Nov. T., 3; Nov. J., 131; Brev., Nov. 3. 
Synagogue, confiscation of, Nov. J., 37, viii. 

Synagogue, entering of, by Christians, Can. Apost., 63; Can. Apost., 70. 
Synagogue, services of, Nov. J., 146. 
Synagogue, violation of, C.T., 7.8.2; C.T., 16.8.12; C.T., 16.8.20, 21; 

C.T., 16.8.25, 26, 27. 

Talmud, suppression of (deuterosis), Nov. J., 146; L.V., 12.3.11; Toledo 

XII, 9. 
Taxation, Jewish (see also aurum coronarium), Toledo XVI, King's 


Testamentary rights (see also inheritance), C.T., 16.7.3. 
Trade right of (see also travel), C.T., 16.8.10; L.V., 12.2.18; Charlemagne, 

Cap. Jud., 3; Toledo XVI, King's Speech. 
Travel, regulation of, L.V., 12.3.20; L.V., 12.2.18; Toledo XII, 9. 


8.11.553. Nov. 146. Justinian to Areobindas, P.P. 

A Permission granted to the Hebrews to read the Sacred Scriptures 
according to Tradition, in Greek, Latin or any other Language, and an 
Order to expel from their community those who do not believe in the 
Judgment, the Resurrection, and the Creation of Angels. 

Preface. Necessity dictates that when the Hebrews listen to their 
sacred texts they should not confine themselves to the meaning of the 
letter, but should also devote their attention to those sacred prophecies 
which are hidden from them, and which announce the mighty Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ. And though, by surrendering themselves to senseless 
interpretations, they still err from the true doctrine, yet, learning that 
they disagree among themselves, we have not permitted this disagreement 
to continue without a ruling on our part. From their own complaints 
which have been brought to us, we have understood that some only speak 
Hebrew, and wish to use it for the sacred books, and others think that 
a Greek translation should be added, and that they have been disputing 
about this for a long time. Being apprised of the matter at issue, we give 
judgment in favour of those who wish to use Greek also for the reading 
of the sacred scriptures, or any other tongue which in any district allows 
the hearers better to understand the text. 

Ch. I. We therefore sanction that, wherever there is a Hebrew 
congregation, those who wish it may, in their synagogues, read the 
sacred books to those who are present in Greek, or even Latin, or any 
other tongue. For the language changes in different places, and the 
reading changes with it, so that all present may understand, and live and 
act according to what they hear. Thus there shall be no opportunity for 
their interpreters, who make use only of the Hebrew, to corrupt it in any 
way they like, since the ignorance of the public conceals their depravity. 
We make this proviso that those who use Greek shall use the text of the 
seventy interpreters, which is the most accurate translation, and the one 
most highly approved, since it happened that the translators, divided 
into two groups, and working in different places, all produced exactly 
the same text. 

i. Moreover who can fail to admire those men, who, writing long 
before the saving revelation of our mighty Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ, yet as though they saw its coming with their eyes completed the 
translation of the sacred books as if the prophetic grace was illuminating 
them. This therefore they shall primarily use, but that we may not 
seem to be forbidding all other texts we allow the use of that of Aquila, 
though he was not of their people, and his translation differs not slightly 
from that of the Septuagint. 

ii. But the Mishnah, or as they call it the second tradition, we 
prohibit entirely. For it is not part of the sacred books, nor is it handed 
down by divine inspiration through the prophets, but the handiwork of 
man, speaking only of earthly things, and having nothing of the divine 
in it. But let them read the holy words themselves, rejecting the com- 
mentaries, and not concealing what is said in the sacred writings, and 
disregarding the vain writings which do not form a part of them, which 
have been devised by them themselves for the destruction of the simple. 
By these instructions we ensure that no one shall be penalised or pro- 
hibited who reads the Greek or any other language. And their elders, 


Archiphencitae and presbyters, and those called magistrates, shall not 
by any machinations or anathemas have power to refuse this right, unless 
by chance they wish to suffer corporal punishment and the confiscation 
of their goods , before they yield to our will and to the commands which 
are better and dearer to God which we enjoin. 

Ch. II. If any among them seek to introduce impious vanities, denying 
the resurrection or the judgment, or the work of God, or that angels are 
part of creation, we require them everywhere to be expelled forthwith; 
that no backslider raise his impious voice to contradict the evident purpose 
of God. Those who utter such sentiments shall be put to death, and 
thereby the Jewish people shall be purged of the errors which they 

Ch. III. We pray that when they hear the reading of the books in one 
or the other language, they may guard themselves against the depravity 
of the interpreters, and, not clinging to the literal words, come to the 
point of the matter, and perceive their diviner meaning, so that they may 
start afresh to learn the better way, and may cease to stray vainly, and to 
err in that which is most essential, we mean hope in God. For this 
reason we have opened the door for the reading of the scriptures in every 
language, that all may henceforth receive its teaching, and become fitter 
for learning better things. For it is acknowledged that he, who is 
nourished upon the sacred scriptures and has little need of direction, 
is much readier to discern the truth, and to choose the better path, than 
he who understands nothing of them, but clings to the name of his faith 
alone, and is held by it as by a sacred anchor, and believes that what 
can be called heresy in its purest form is divine teaching. 

Epilogue. This is our sacred will and pleasure, and your Excellency 
and your present colleague and your staff shall see that it is carried out, 
and shall not allow the Hebrews to contravene it. Those who resist 
it or try to put any obstruction in its way, shall first suffer corporal pun- 
ishment, and then be compelled to live in exile, forfeiting also their 
property, that they flaunt not their impudence against God and the 
empire. You shall also circulate our law to the provincial governors, 
that they learning its contents may enforce it in their several cities, 
knowing that it is to be strictly carried out under pain of our displeasure. 




i. Of Recceswmth,/nwz L. Vis. 12.2.17. 

To our most merciful and tranquil lord Recceswinth the King, from us 
the Jews of Toledo as witnessed or signed below. We well remember 
how we were long and rightly constrained to sign this Declaration 
promising in the name of King Chinthila's holy memory to support the 
Catholic faith; and we have done so. However, because our pertinacious 
lack of faith and the ancient errors of our fathers held us back from 
believing wholly in Our Lord Jesus Christ or accepting the Catholic 
truth with all our hearts, we therefore make these promises to your 
greater glory, on behalf both of ourselves and our wives and children, 
through this our Declaration, undertaking for the future not to become 
involved in any Jewish rites or customs nor to associate with the accursed 
Jews who remain unbaptised. We will not follow our habit of contracting 
incestuous unions or practising fornication with our own relatives to the 
sixth degree. We will not on any pretext, either ourselves, our children 
or our descendants, choose wives from our own race; but in the case of 
both sexes we will always link ourselves in matrimony with Christians. 
We will not practise carnal circumcision, or celebrate the Passover, the 
Sabbath or the other feast days connected with the Jewish religion. We 
will not keep to our old habit of discrimination in the matter of food. 
We will do none of the things which the evil tradition of long custom and 
intercourse urges upon us as Jews. Instead, with utter faith and grace 
in our hearts, and with complete devotion towards Christ the Son of the 
Living God, as the apostolic tradition enjoins, shall we believe on Him 
and confess Him. Every custom of the holy Christian religion, feast 
days, marriage, and what is lawful to eat, indeed every ceremony thereof, 
we shall faithfully hold and embrace with all our hearts, reserving no- 
hint within ourselves of resistance, no suspicion of deception, whereby 
we may come to repeat those errors we now deny, or fulfil with little or no 
sincerity that which we now promise to do. With regard to s wines' flesh 
we promise to observe this rule, that if through long custom we are hardly 
able to eat it, we shall not through fastidiousness or error refuse the 
things that are cooked with it. And if in all the matters touched on above 
we are found in any way to transgress, either presuming to work against 
the Christian Faith, or promising in words to perform actions suitable 
to the Catholic religion, and in our deeds deferring their performance,, 
we swear by that same Father, Son and Holy Ghost, who is One God in 
Three, that whoever of us is found to transgress shall either perish by the 
hands of our fellows, by burning or stoning, or if your splendid piety 
shall have spared our lives, we shall at once lose our liberty and you shall 
give us along with all our property to whomever you please into perpetual 
slavery, or dispose of us in any other manner that seems good to you. 
To this end you have free authority, not only on account of your royal 
power, but also arising out of the stipulations of this our guarantee. This 
Declaration is given at Toledo in the name of the Lord, on the i8th of 
February in the sixth year of your glorious reign. 


ii. Of Erwig, from Leg. Vis. 12.3.14. 

I do here and now renounce every rite and observance of the Jewish 
religion, detesting all its most solemn ceremonies and tenets that in 
former days I kept and held. In future I will practise no rite or celebra- 
tion connected with it, nor any custom of my past error, promising neither 
to seek it out nor to perform it. Further do I renounce all things forbidden 
or detested by Christian teaching; and, 

(Here follows the Nicene Creed) 

In the name of this Creed, which I truly believe and hold with all my 
heart, I promise that I will never return to the vomit of Jewish super- 
stition. Never again will I fulfil any of the offices of Jewish ceremonies 
to which I was addicted, nor ever more hold them dear. I altogether 
deny and reject the errors of the Jewish religion, casting forth whatever 
conflicts with the Christian Faith, and affirming that my belief in the 
Holy Trinity is strong enough to make me live the truly Christian life, 
shun all intercourse with other Jews and have the circle of my friends 
only among honest Christians. With them or apart from them I must 
always eat Christian food, and as a genuinely devout Christian go often 
and reverently to Church. I promise also to maintain and embrace with 
due love and reverence the observance of all the Lord's days or feasts for 
martyrs as declared by the piety of the Church, and upon those days to 
consort always with sincere Christians, as it behoves a pious and sincere 
Christian to do. 

Herewith is my profession of faith and belief as given by me on this 

iii. Of Erwig, from Leg. Vis. 12.3.15. 

I swear first by God the Father Almighty, Who said, ' By Me shall ye 
swear, and ye shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain, Who 
made Heaven and earth, the sea and all things in them *, and set bounds 
to the ocean, saying c So far shalt thou come and here shall thy proud 
waves be stayed % Who said, * Heaven is my home, the earth my foot- 
stool ': Who first cast forth from Heaven the Archangel in his over- 
weening pride, before Whose sight the host of Angels stand in fear, 
Whose gaze lays bare the abyss and Whose anger wastes away mountains: 
Who put the first man Adam in Paradise, giving him the law that he 
should not eat of the forbidden apple tree. He ate of it and was cast 
forth from Paradise, and bound himself, together with the human race, 
in the chains of error. And by Him Who gladly received the offerings of 
Abel and justly rejected the unworthy Cain; Who, when they were about 
to die, took Enoch and Elijah to Paradise in the body of this life, and shall 
bring them back to the world at the end of this age; Who thought fit to 
save Noah with his wife and three sons and their wives and all the animals, 
birds and reptiles in the Ark at the time of the Flood, whereby every 
species was preserved; Who from Shem the son of Noah saw fit to give 
issue in Abraham, and from him the people of Israel; Who chose Patri- 
archs and Prophets, and blessed the Patriarchs of Abraham's line, Isaac 
and Jacob; Who promised holy Abraham, saying, * In your seed shall all 
mankind be blessed % giving him the sign of circumcision as the seal of 
His promise for ever. I swear by Him Who overthrew Sodom and turned 
Lot's wife, when she looked back, into a statue of salt; and by Him Who 
wrestled with Jacob, and touching a sinew made him lame, saying, * Thou 
shalt be called not Jacob but Israel '. I swear also by Him who freed 
Moses from the waters, and appeared to him in a flaming bush, and by 
his hand brought ten plagues upon the Egyptians, and freed the people 
of Israel from the Egyptian slavery, making them to cross dry through the 


Red Sea, where against natural law the water stood up in a solid wall. 
I swear by Him Who drowned Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. 
I swear by Him Who led the people of Israel by a pillar of cloud by day 
and of fire by night. I swear by Him Who gave to Moses on Mount 
Sinai the law written by His own fingers on tables of stone. I swear by 
Him Who made that mountain to smoke in the sight of all Israel. I swear 
by Him Who chose Aaron for His first priest and consumed his sons 
by fire in their tent, because they had dared to offer strange fire before 
the Lord. I swear by Him Who in His justice ordered Dathan and 
Abiram to be swallowed alive by the earth. I swear by Him Who changed 
the bitter waters into sweet by the casting in of the trunk of a tree. 
I swear by Him Who, when the people of Israel thirsted in Horeb, 
caused Moses to smite the rock with his rod and bring forth great 
streams of water. I swear by Him Who for forty years fed the people of 
Israel in the wilderness, and preserved their garments so that they wore 
not out with use; and kept them safe in every way. I swear by Him Who 
decreed once and for all that no Israelite should enter the Promised Land, 
because they had doubted the Lord's word, excepting only Joshua and 
Caleb, whom He promised should enter. I swear by Him Who told 
Moses that if he raised his hands on high, the people of Israel should 
be victors against the Amalekites. I swear by Him Who ordered our 
Fathers by the hand of Joshua to cross the Jordan and raise twelve 
stones from that river in witness thereof. I swear by Him Who enjoined 
upon all Israel that having crossed the river Jordan they should circumcise 
themselves with stone knives; and by Him Who overturned the walls of 
Jericho. I swear by Him Who adorned David with the glory of kingship, 
and saved him from the hands of Saul and of his son Absalom. I swear 
by Him Who at the prayer of Solomon filled the Temple with cloud, and 
poured His blessing therein. I swear by Him Who, raising the Prophet 
Elijah through a whirlwind in a chariot of fire, brought him from earth 
to the seats of Heaven; and by Him Who, at the prayer of Elisha, divided 
the waters of Jordan when Elisha smote them with the robe of Elijah. 
I swear by Him Who filled all His Prophets with the Holy Spirit, and 
freed Daniel from hungry and monstrous lions. I swear by Him Who saw 
fit to preserve three boys in the fiery furnace, under the eyes of a hostile 
king; and by Him ' Who keeps the key of David, closing what no man 
has opened, opening what no man has closed '. I swear by Him Who 
brings about all wonders, virtues and signs to Israel and other peoples. 
I swear also by the Ten Commandments. I swear also by Jesus Christ, 
His ascent to Heaven, His glorious and terrible coming, when He shall 
come to judge the living and the dead, showing Himself gentle to the 
just and terrible to sinners; and by the revered Body and precious Blood 
of Him Who opens the eyes of the blind, makes the deaf to hear and brings 
back the paralysed to the use of their limbs: Who loosens the tongues of 
the dumb, cleanses the devil-ridden, makes the lame to run, and rouses 
the dead: Who walked over the waters, and brought back Lazarus, freed 
from death, when his flesh was already in corruption, to life and safety, 
changing grief to joy: Who is the Creator of time, the Principle of life, 
the Author of salvation: Who illumined the world with His rising, and 
redeemed it by His Passion: Who alone among the dead was free, and 
death could not hold Him: Who undermines the gates of Hell, and by the 
majesty of His power draws the souls of the blessed up from the shades: 
Who having vanquished death has taken the body which He assumed 
upon earth into Heaven with Him after His victory over the world, and 
sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, receiving from Him 
the power of eternal sway. I swear also by all the heavenly virtues, and 


by the relics of all the Saints and Apostles, and also by the four holy 
Gospels, on which I lay this Declaration upon the sacred altar which I 
hold with my hands. Since I have taken care to note well everything 
in my profession of Faith, and have been able to put it together, I give 
my signature to you, my Lord Bishop, and affirm everything in all 
sincerity, with no reservations or deception as to what is meant. With 
absolute sincerity, as I have said in my profession, I have abjured all 
Jewish rites and observances, and with my whole heart shall believe 
in the Holy Trinity, never returning in any way to the vomit of my former 
error, or associating with the wicked Jews. In every respect will I lead 
the Christian life and associate with Christians. The meaning which I 
have discerned in what I have signed concerning the observance of the 
holy Faith I will guard with all the purity of my faith, so that I shall live 
from now henceforth according to the Apostolic tradition and the law 
of the holy Creed. If I wander from the straight path in any way and 
defile the holy Faith, and try to observe any rites of the Jewish sect, or 
if I shall delude you in any way in the swearing of this oath, so that 
I appear to swear sincerely, yet do not perform my promises in the spirit 
in which I have heard and understood them from you while I made my 
profession; then may all the curses of the law fall upon me as they are 
promulgated by the lips of the Lord against those who despise the 
commandments of God. May there fall upon me and upon my house 
and all my children all the plagues which smote Egypt, and to the 
horror of others may I suffer in addition the fate of Dathan and Abiram, 
so that the earth shall swallow me alive, and after I am deprived of this 
life I shall be handed over to the eternal fire, in the company of the Devil 
and his Angels, sharing with the dwellers in Sodom and with Judas 
the punishment of burning; and when I arrive before the tribunal of 
the fearful and glorious Judge, Our Lord Jesus Christ, may I be num- 
bered in that company to whom the glorious and terrible Judge with 
threatening mien will say, * Depart from Me, evil-doers, into the eternal 
fire that is prepared for the Devil and his Angels '. 


From Assemani, Cod. Lit. t /, p. 105. 

As a preliminary to his acceptance as a catechumen, a Jew * must 
confess and denounce verbally the whole Hebrew people, and forthwith 
declare that with a whole heart and sincere faith he desires to be received 
among the Christians. Then he must renounce openly in the church all 
Jewish superstition, the priest saying, and he, or his sponsor if he is a 
child, replying in these words: 

'I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads and 
sacrifices of lambs of the Hebrews, and all the other feasts of the Hebrews, 
sacrifices, prayers, aspersions, purifications, sanctifications and propitia- 
tions, and fasts, and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and 
hymns and chants and observances and synagogues, and the food and 
drink of the Hebrews; in one word, I renounce absolutely everything 
Jewish, every law, rite and custom, and above all I renounce Antichrist, 
whom all the Jews await in the figure and form of Christ; and I join 
myself to the true Christ and God. And I believe in the Father, the Son 
and the Holy Spirit, the Holy, Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity, 
and the dispensation in the flesh and the descent to men of the Word of 
God, of the one person of the Holy Trinity, and I confess that he was 
truly made man, and I believe and proclaim that after the flesh in very 


truth the Blessed Virgin Mary bore him the son of God; and I believe in, 
receive, venerate and embrace the adorable Cross of Christ, and the holy 
images; and thus, with my whole heart, and soul, and with a true faith 
I come to the Christian Faith. But if it be with deceit and with hypocrisy, 
and not with a sincere and perfect faith and a genuine love of Christ, 
but with a pretence to a be Christian that I come, and if afterwards I shall 
wish to deny and return to Jewish superstition, or shall be found eating 
with Jews, or feasting with them, or secretly conversing and condemning 
the Christian religion instead of openly confuting them and condemning 
their vain faith, then let the trembling of Cam and the leprosy of 
Gehazi cleave to me, as well as the legal punishments to which I acknow- 
ledge myself liable. And may I be anathema in the world to come, and 
may my soul be set down with Satan and the devils/ 


From P.O., /, p. 1456. 

It is my desire to-day to come from the Hebrews to the Christian 
faith. I have not been brought by any force, necessity, fear, annoyance 
or poverty; nor because of a debt, or of an accusation lodged against me; 
nor for the sake of worldly honours, of advantages, of money or property 
which has been promised me by anyone; nor for the sake of its useful 
consequences, nor to obtain human patronage; nor because of any 
quarrel or dispute which I have had with people of my own religion; 
nor for secret purposes of revenge on the Christians, by a feigned admira- 
tion for their law, nor because I have been wronged by them; but I have 
been brought by a whole-hearted love of Christ and of faith in Him. 

I renounce the whole worship of the Hebrews, circumcision, all its 
legalisms, unleavened bread, Passover, the sacrificing of lambs, the 
feasts of Weeks, Jubilees, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and all 
the other Hebrew feasts, their sacrifices, prayers, aspersions, purifications, 
expiations, fasts, Sabbaths, new moons, foods and drinks. And I abso- 
lutely renounce every custom and institution of the Jewish laws. 

Moreover, I place under anathema the heresies among the Jews, and 
the heretics themselves. I anathematise the Sadducees, who are called 
just, who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, who attack the resurrection of the 
dead, and deny the existence of angels. I anathematise the Pharisees, 
the separate ones, who fast on the second and fifth days, who pretend to 
sexual abstinence at definite times, and afterwards despise all continence, 
who foretell the future, and waste their time on astrology. I anathematise 
the Nazareans, the stubborn ones, who deny that the law of sacrifices was 
given by Moses, who abstain from eating living things, and who never 
offer sacrifice: I anathematise the Osseans, the blindest of all men, who 
use other scriptures than the Law, and reject most of the prophets, and 
who boast in a man as master, one Ebcai,that is * the hidden virtue', and 
who worship, as Gods, two women of his offspring, Marthonis and 
Marthana: I anathematise the Herodians, who worship as Christ a 
foreign king of the Jews, Herod, who was eaten of worms. I anathema- 
tise the Hemerobaptists, who believe as do the Pharisees, but also teach 
that a man cannot be saved without daily washing. I anathematise the 
scribes, or doctors of the Law, who are not content to live according to 
the Law, but of their own free will perform more than is prescribed in 
the Law, and devising washing of vessels and cups and platters and other 
articles of furniture, and frequently wash their hands and their pots; 


and who call all these many traditions they have added to the Law 
' Deuteroses ', as though they were a second series of Divine Laws, and 
they falsely ascribe the first to Moses, and the second to Rabbi Akiba, 
and the third to Annas who is also called Judas, and the fourth to the 
sons of the Hasmoneans who even violated the Sabbath in battle. 

Together with all these Jewish heresies and heresiarchs, deuteroses 
and givers thereof, I anathematise those who celebrate the feast of 
Mordecai on the first Sabbath of the Christian fast, hanging the effigy of 
Haman on a gibbet, and mingling the sign of the cross therewith, and 
burning all together, and subjecting the Christians to every kind of curse 
and anathema. 

II. Together with the ancients, I anathematise also the Chief Rabbis 
and new evil doctors of the Jews, to wit, Lazarus the inventor of the 
abominable feast which they call Monopodaria, and Elijah who was no 
less impious, and Benjamin, Zebedee, Abraham, Symbatius and the 
rest of them. Further I invoke every curse and anathema on him whose 
coming is expected by the Jews as the Christ or Anointed, but is rather 
Anti-Christ, and I renounce him and commit myself to the only true 
Christ and God. And I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy 
Spirit, the Holy Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity; I confess the 
Incarnation and the coming to man of one of the Holy Trinity, to wit, 
the only begotten Son and Word of God, begotten of the Father before 
all the centuries, through Whom all things were made. I believe Him 
to be the Messiah foretold by the Law and the prophets; and I am con- 
vinced that He has already come into the world for the salvation of man- 
kind; that He was truly made man, and did not surrender His Divinity, 
that He is truly God and truly man, without confusion, change or 
alteration, of one person and two natures. I believe that He suffered 
all things of His own will, and was crucified in the flesh, while His 
Divinity remained impassable, and was buried, and rose again on the 
third day, and ascended into heaven, and shall come again in glory to 
judge both the living and the dead. 

Aiid I believe and profess the Blessed Virgin Mary, who bore Him 
according to the flesh, and who remained a virgin, to be truly and 
actually the Mother of God, and I venerate and honour her truly as the 
Mother of God Incarnate, and as the Lady and mistress thereby of all 

I am convinced and confess and believe that the bread and the wine 
which is mystically consecrated among Christians, and which they take 
in their sacred rites, is the very body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, 
transmuted by His Divine power reasonably and invisibly, in His own 
way beyond all natural understanding, and I confess that in taking the 
sacrament I am taking His very body and blood, to the gaining of life 
eternal and the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven which belongs to 
those who receive them in perfect faith. 

Finally, I beg for Christian baptism, out of a pure and spotless heart 
and mind, and a sincere faith, truly persuaded that it is the true spiritual 
washing, and the regeneration of soul and body. 

III. I receive, honour and accept as symbols and indications of their 
prototypes, the venerable Cross of the true Christ and God, no longer the 
instrument of death and crime, but of liberty and eternal life, and the 
sign of victory over death and Satan; likewise I receive the hitherto 
venerated images both of the Word of God according to the flesh among 
men, and likewise of the most pure and ineffable Mother of God, of the 
holy angels, and finally of all the saints. 

I honour and venerate with the honour due to them the blessed angels 


and all the saints, not only the patriarchs and prophets, but the apostles, 
martyrs, confessors, doctors, saints, all indeed who pleased Christ when 
He came, as His servants and faithful followers. 

Wherefore with my whole heart and mind and with deliberate choice 
I come to the Christian faith. 

But if I make this statement falsely and deceitfully, and not on the 
witness of my whole conviction and in love for the Christ who has 
already come, but because of some compulsion, necessity, fear, loss, 
poverty, debt, accusation brought against me, worldly honour, dignity 
of any kind, money, promised gifts, or to serve some end, or for human 
protection, or because of dispute and quarrel with some of my own faith, 
or to revenge myself thus on the Christians, feigning respect for their 
law, or if I pretend to become a Christian because of some injuries suffered 
from them, and then revert to Judaism, or be found eating with the Jews, 
or observing their feasts and fasts, or speaking secretly with them, or 
defaming the Christian faith, or visiting their synagogues or oratories, 
or taking them under my protection, and do not rather confute the said 
Jews and their acts openly, and revile their empty faith, then may there 
come upon me all the curses which Moses wrote in Deuteronomy, and 
the trembling of Cain, and the leprosy of Gehazi, in addition to the 
penalties by law established, and may I be without any hope of pardon, 
and in the age to come may I be anathema and doubly anathema, and 
may my soul be set down with Satan and his demons. 



From the Liber Sacramentorum Romanae Ecclesiae, Assemam, Cod. 
Lt. IV, ii, p. 91 . 

XCIII. Oratio et Preces in Dedicatione loci illius ubi prius fuit 

Deus qui absque ulla temporis mutabilitate cuncta disponis; et ad 
meliorandum perducis quae eligis esse mutanda: respice super hanc 
Basilicam in honore Beati Illius nomini tuo dicatam: ut, vetustate ludaici 
erroris expulsa, huic loco Sancti Spiritus novitate Ecclesiae conferas 
veritatem: per Dominum Nostrum. 

Ornnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui hunc locum, Judaicae supers titionis 
foeditate detersa, in honore Beati Illius Ecclesiae tuae dignatus es pul- 
chritudine decorare, Per Dominum. 

Praesta, quaesumus, Domine, ut ilia fides hie fulgeat quae signo 
Crucis erecta, mortem subegit, et salutem nobis contulit et triumphum. 
Per Dominum, 

Secreta* Deus vita credentium et origo virtutum, reple, quaesumus, 
hoc templum tuae gloria maiestatis in honore Beati Illius\ fiat domus 
prationis quod perditum fuerat ante latibulum; et quia infidelium turba 
in isto loco conveniebat adversa, populus tuus oblationibus suis te hie 
semper mereatur invenire propitium. Per Dominum. 

Post Cornm. Gratias tibi, referimus, Domine, sacro munere vegetati, 
tuam misericordiarn deprecantes; ut dignos eius nos participatione 
perficias. Per Dominum. 

Ad Populum. A plebe tua, quaesumus, Domine, spiritales nequitiae 
repellantur, et aerearum discedat malignitas Potestatum. Per Dominum. 



(To illustrate Ch. IV) 

These cases illustrate that there was a common tradition of Jewish 
responsibility in the persecution of individual Christians during the first 
century of Christianity, but that there was no precise knowledge of the 
actual fate of the individual concerned. In some cases the person con- 
cerned is historical, but various fates are ascribed to him, in others the 
person himself is imaginary, or only known to us as a name in some 
chance reference. 

Agabus, the prophet referred to in Acts xxi, 10, was seized by the Jews 
of Jerusalem and stoned. A miracle accompanying his death led to the 
conversion of a woman who was standing by. She was stoned also. 
(SA.J., Jan. 29.) Alternatively, he was killed by Jews and Greeks, at 
a place unmentioned, together with another preacher, Rufus. (S.C., 
April 8.) 

Ananias, bishop of Damascus, converted many Jews and Greeks at 
Eleutheropolis. The governor had him stoned. (S.A.J., June 21 and 28.) 
(Greek MSS., Jan. 25.) Alternatively, he was stoned at Damascus by 
the Jews. (S.A., April 9.) 

Ananias, a Jew who recognised Christ on the Cross, was immediately 
stoned and afterwards burnt by the chief priests. (Coptic Gospel of 
Twelve Apostles, P.O., ii, 167.) 

Andrew the Apostle, was executed by Herod at Bethlehem according 
to western tradition. (A.S., Feb. 10.) Alternatively, he was killed by 
heathen priests at Patras. (S.E. in P.O., xv, 583.) 

Aristobulus, the brother of Barnabas, and one of the seventy, suffered 
much from Jews and Greeks, and was finally stoned by them. (S.AJ., 
March 15.) Alternatively, he died in peace. (S.A., same date.) According 
to A.S. (same date) he was the first bishop in Britain, and died there. 

Barnabas was, according to all accounts, killed in Cyprus, at the instiga- 
tion of the Jews, and in some accounts by them also. (A.S., June n; 
SAJ., Dec. 17; S.A., June n.) 

Bartholomew, after a life of preaching among the Copts, is killed by 
King Agrippa. (S.A.J., Aug. 29.) Alternatively, he is crucified in eastern 
Armenia by the natives. (S.A., Aug. 24, and A.S., Aug. 25.) 

Carpus, with whom Paul left his cloak at Troas, after a life of preaching 
to the Jews, was mercilessly slain by them. (S.C., May 26.) 

Cleophas, the friend of Christ, was murdered by the Jews, (A.S., 
Sept. 25, embodying various ancient martyrologies.) 

Eutychus, a disciple of Saint John, is successful in converting many 
Jews and Greeks, and is finally killed by the latter. (SA.J., Aug. 24; 
S.E., Sept. 7.) This is one of the few cases where a man is said to have 
converted many ' Jews and Greeks *, but where his death is so definitely 
ascribed to the Greeks. A.S. records a number of different traditions. 

Fouros, one of the seventy, was much persecuted by Jews and Greeks, 
but died peacefully. (S.A.J., May 25.) 


Herodion, a cousin or follower of Paul, was taken by the Jews and 
pagans, and blinded, lynched and beheaded. (S.C., March 27; A.S., 
April 8.) His martyrdom is not definitely implied by S.A. (March 29). 

James, the son of Alphaeus, who, according to the Acts of the Apostles, 
was killed by Herod (xii, i), is accused of preaching another king to 
Claudius the governor, and stoned by his orders. (S.AJ., Feb. 4.) 
Alternatively, he is stoned by the Jews (S.C., Oct. 9) or stoned together 
with the scribe Hosiah, who first accused and afterwards was converted 
by him. (S.A., April 30.) Or, again, he is caught by the Jews just before 
he should have left for Spain, and they make Herod kill him. (Also S A., 
but Feb. 21.) 

James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, is similarly described in all the 
marty rologies . 

Joseph of Arimathea was immured by the Jews in prison, and left to 
die of starvation. He is found, in perfect health, forty years later by 
Titus on the capture of Jerusalem. (A.S., March 17.) Alternatively, he 
is released by Christ Himself, and continues preaching. (S.E., August 7.) 
S A. does not know of his imprisonment, but in one account states that 
the Jews tried to poison him. (S.A., Feb. 24.) 

Judas Cyriacus, the last Jewish bishop of Jerusalem, was killed by the 
Jews in the war with Hadrian. (A.S., May i.) Alternatively, he was 
martyred by Julian. (A.S., same date.) 

Longinus, the centurion present at the Crucifixion, is a popular figure 
with all the martyrologies. According to one account he was bribed by 
the Jews to make sure that Christ was killed on the cross, and therefore 
pierced His side with a spear. Pilate finds out that he has become 
a Christian, and informs Tiberius, who orders his execution. (SAJ., 
July 1 8, and S.E., July 30.) Alternatively, the Jews bribe Pilate to kill 
Longinus because he has become a Christian, and his head is brought 
to Jerusalem as proof of his death. (A.S., March 15, and SA., Oct. 16.) 
The two stories are also blended by making Pilate show his head to the 
Jews in order to please them, although they had not asked him to secure 
his death. (SAJ., second version, Nov. i.) 

Luke, after the death of Paul, preached in Rome, and a crowd of Jews 
and idolaters complained of him to Nero, who sentenced him to death. 
(SAJ., Oct. 19.) A number of variations are given in A.S., Oct. 18. 

Manean> foster brother of Herod, preached to Jews and Gentiles, and 
was martyred by them. (S A., April 9.) 

Marcian, first bishop of Cyprus, was killed by the Jews through jealousy. 
(S .C., Oct. 31.) Alternatively, he was thrown from a tower. (A.S., June 14.) 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was much persecuted by Annas and 
Caiaphas, but when they tried to bum down her house, they were 
themselves burnt. At the Ascension the Jews tried to stone her, but 
they killed fifty of each other instead. (SA., Aug. 15, and various 
apocryphal works.) 

Mary, Martha and Lazarus (and sometimes some others) were put 
in a boat at Jaffa, in order to drown them. (A.S., various dates, but see 
Aug., Vol. iv, 592; SA., April 9.) 

Mary Magdalen suffered many outrages from the Jews but finally 
died in peace. (SAJ., July 22; S.E.,Aug. 4.) Alternatively, she followed 
Saint John to Ephesus, and was buried outside the cave of the seven 
sleepers. (SA., July 22.) 


Matthew, after escaping from the cannibals to whom he had been 
preaching, returned to Palestine and * died a beautiful death', which, 
apparently, does not mean martyrdom. (S.A.J., March 6.)^ The same 
collection on a different date (Oct. 9) says that he was beheaded by Festus. 
Alternatively, the Jews secured two witnesses against him, and con- 
demned and stoned him. (A.S., Feb. 22.) 

Nathanael, after drawing from the Law and the prophets grave 
reproaches against the Jews, died at their hands. (S.A., April 9.) A.S. 
considers him to be probably the same as Bartholomew. (A.S., Jan. 10.) 

Nicanor, the deacon, was killed by Vespasian, or alternatively with 
many thousand others at the same time as Stephen. (S.A., July 29.) 

Nicodemus was much persecuted by the Jews, but finally died in peace 
and was buried with Stephen and Gamaliel. (S.A., April 9.) 

Parmenas, with two thousand Christians, was killed on that occasion. 
(Also S.A., but Aug. 2.) 

Paul is warned by the Christians of Rome that the chiefs of the Jews 
have implored Nero to send a letter to all his dominions ordering him 
to be executed wherever found. (S. Georgian, P.O., xix, 734.) 

Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, was , according to Eusebius, betrayed by 
heretics as a Christian, and put to death by Domitian (Hist, Ecc. in, 32), 
by Hadrian (S.A.J., July 3) or Trajan (S.E., July 9). Alternatively, 
Domitian released him, and on his return to Jerusalem the Jews strangled 
him. (S.A., April 17.) 

Simon of Cyrene believes in Jesus and is forthwith crucified by the 
Jews. (S.A., March i.) 

Temedrius, a deacon, one of the seventy, was stoned by the Jews for 
Christ. (S.A., April 9.) He is probably the same as Demetrius, in A.S. 
for the same date, who was a deacon, but of unknown century, and no 
details are known of his death. 

Thaddeus, after suffering many torments from Gentiles (S.E., July 9), 
or Jews and Gentiles (S.A.J., June 26), died in peace. Alternatively, he 
is martyred in Persia. (A.S., Oct. 28.) 

Timothy is finally killed by a mob of Jews and Greeks at Ephesus. 
(S.A.J., Jan. 1 8.) Alternatively, he is killed by the worshippers of Diana. 
(A.S., Jan. 24.) 

Urbanus, a disciple of Andrew, is murdered in Macedonia, by Jews 
and Greeks, together with many others. (S.C., Oct. 30; A.S., Oct. 31.) 












xlix, 13 

6, 357 

i, 22 

. . 38 


.. 38 



.. 38 

xxi, 23 
xxviii, 66 . . 

.. 98 

ii, 6-7 

- 39 

xxx, 19 

.. 1x3 



xxxii, 21 

yv"yiii ? 18 2O 

148, 277 
.. 6 

iii, 26 

.. 39 
.. 40 

v, 17 

.. 6 


vi, 4 

.. 41 
.. 43 

I Samuel 

vii, 1-23 . . 

.. 41 

v, 1-5 



.. 44 

I Kings 


ix, 26 

.. 6 

iii, 7 


x, 28-29 

xi, 31-33 . 
xxii, 48 

.. 6 

:: :: I 

iv, 28 
v, 17, 21 
vii, 36 

-. 43 

xi, 37 


II Kings 

xiii, 31 

.. 43 

v, z8 

. . 62 

xiv, i 

.. 43 

xiii, 21 



i, 1 1 

.. 82 

xl, 4 
Ixv, 15 

, . 289 

ii, 13 ff 

iii, 2 

.. 82 
.. 82 

Ixv, 17 

.. 113 

iv, 1,3 

.. 82 

j - i 

v, 16, 18 


ii, 8 

.. 277 

39, 40 . . 

.. 83 

ii, 20 


45, 46 

.. 8 3 

vii, ii 

.. 164 

vii, 13 



i, 19, 25, 30, 45 
viii, 19 

I 3 

.. 165 

ii, 19 



.. 83 

xi, 9 


ix, 22 

.. 83 


x, 31, 39 


xii, 10 


xi, 53 

.. 8 3 

I Maccabees 

xix, 31 

.. 64 

viii, 22 


Acts of the Apostles 

II Maccabees 

ii, 23 

- 47 

vii . . 

.. 105 

iii, 13, 17 . . 


iv, 21 

. . 4& 




iii, 57 

. . 43 

v, 38-39 


vi, 2, 5, 16 .. 

.. 44 

vi, 7 

.. 48 

viii, 5 ff, . . 

.. 44 


.. 61 

ix, 4, I3 34 

.. 44 



xii, 24 

.. 44 

vii, 39 

.. 48 




Acts of the Apostle 

:s, contd. 

I Corinthians 

vii, 51 

.. .. 48 

vii, 18-20 

- 56 

viii, 1-3 

.. ., 48 

ix, 19 

- 56 

x ? 1-47 . . 
xi, 1-18 . . 

. . 49 
- - 49 

II Corinthians 


.. .. 48 

iii, n, 15 - 

- 54 

xii, 13 
xiii, 42 

.. .. 69 

. . 50 

ii, 3 ff 

.50 - 

XIV, I ff . 


. . 50 
.. - 65 
. . 50 
.. - 65 



iii, 13 

- 50 
- 51 
- 5i 
98, 287 

xvii, 5 

52, 65 

.23,24 - 
iv, 22 

- 54 
. . 51 

xviii, 4-7 . . 

. . 52 


.. 65 

I Thessalonians 

12 ff. . . 

.. 65 

", 14 ff 


I9 c 



.. 69 

xix. 8-9 


xxi, 20 ff. 

.. .. 56 

II Thessalonians 

xxii, 3 


i, 8 . . 

.. 52 

xxiii, i 

. . 68 


.. .. 56 


xxiv, 5, 6 .. 

.. .. 56 

vii, 1-28 

- 59 
- 59 



18,19 .. 

- 59 

xxvi, 5, 22 

. . 68 

viii, 5 

- 59 

xxviii, 17 . . 


. . 68 
. . 68 

8-13 - .. 
x, 1-18 

- 59 
- 59 


- 59 


xi, 1-40 . . 

- 59 
.. 60 

i, 16 

- 53 


.. 60 

iii, 1-2 

- S3 



I Peter 


. 54 

i, 12 

.. 58 


- 54 


- 58 

iv, 1-24 . . 

- 54 

ii, 12 

.. 86 



iv, 15, 16 . . 

.. 88 

vii, 12 


14-25 - . 

- 53 


ix, 3, 4 

- 53 

vi, 9 

.. 88 


vii, 48 . . . * 


19 ff. 

- 53 


.. 88 


- 53 

xii, ii 

.. 88 

xi, 1-24 

- 54 

xiii, 15 

.. 88 


- 55 

xvi, 6 

,. 88 


- 55 

xvii, 6 

.. 88 


- 54 

xviii, 24 

.. 88 



xx, 4 

.. 88 



Altercations (anonymous) 

Athanasius and Zacchaeus 118 
Doctrinajacobi nuperBapti- 

zati (Sargis ofAbergd) , 264, 

285, 286, 287, 306 

Gregentius and Herbanus . . 284, 


The Trophies of Damascus 282, 
287, 288, 289 
Epistles, I 

xl and xli . . . . 166 

^23 187 

Sermo vtt . . . . . . 192 

De Tobia . . . . . . 192 


Commentary on Romans, ix, 

27 .... .. 102 

Anastasius of Sinai 

Disputatio contra Judaeos 

i 281 

ii 281 

iti. . . . .. 281,282 

Paruus Dialogus . . . . 282 


Ep. to Diognetus 

iii.. . . . . . . 101 

iv . . . . . . 84, 101 

xi.. 97 

Didascalia Apostolorum 

II, and 82 


V 278 

VI, xx 278 

X, i 277 

XI 278 

XII 278 

XII, iii 277 

XII, vii . . . , . . 277 

XIII .. .. ..278 

XIV, xxvi . . . . 277 

XV, u 277 

XV, viii . . . . . 277 

XVI 279 

XVII .. .. 277,278 

XVIII 278 

XIX 279 

XXI 278 


Encyclical Epistle > iii . . 186 

Sermon read at Cone. NIC. 

II 293 


Plea for the Christians 

i. 157 

" in 

xxxii in 


De Catechezandis, vii, xx, 

xxv, xxvii . . . , 172 
Epistclae, xxviii, xl, Ixxv, 

Ixxxii . . . . 96 

Epistola, cxcvi . . . . 203 


Altercatio Synagogae et 

Ecclesiae . . . . 239 

Barnabas, Epistle o/, iv . . 84 

Homily on Psalm sciv . . 192 

Expositio in Psalterium 

Ps. xlix . . . . . . 209 

Ps. Lxxxi . . . . 209 


II, xxvii . . . . . . 209 

IV, xxxiii , , . . 209 

IV, xliii , . . . . . 208 

V, xxxvii . . 208, 267 

In Evan. Matt., Tract. X 191 

Aduersus Judaeos 

i, 6 
ii, 3 
ui, 5 
iv, 6 
v, i 
vi, i 
vi, 2 
vi, 3 


vi, 8 

vii, i 
viii, 3 

164, 165 
.. 165 

164, 165 
.. 164 
.. 165 
.. 165 
.. 165 
.. 165 
.. 164 

164, 165 
.. 165 
.. 165 
.. 166 
.. 166 





Epistle, I, vi . . . . 88 

Pedagogue, I, v . . . . 117 
Stromata, II, v .. ..117 

Clementine Recognitions, I, Kii 94 


Testimonies against the Jews 99 


Adversus Judaeos .. . . 106 

Cyril of Jerusalem 
Catechetical Addresses 

iv, 2 . . . , . . 172 
x, 2 ...... 172 


Sermon on Penitence . . 292 

Ephrem the Syrian 

Rhythm against the Jews . . 276 


Adversus Haereses 102, 169 

Eusebius of Alexandria 

Sermon on the Resurrection 300 
Sermon ocv . . . . 299 

Eusebius of Caesarea (see also 
Index of Chroniclers) 
On Isaiah, xviii, i 80 

Preparatio Evangetica 161 f. 
I, ii-v ...... 97 

XII, i ...... 118 

Eusebius of Caesarea 

Demonstratio EvangeUca 161 f. 
I, ii . . . . 162, 172 


In Laudem Philastrii . . 171 
Sermon iv > . . . . . . 132 

Sermon xiii . . . . 192 

Gregory the Great 

, .. 213, 

I, xxxv (I, xxxiv) 212, 
1, xlvii (I, xlv) .. .. 
I, Ixviii (I, Ixvi) .. 

I, Ixxi (I, Ixix) . . . . 

II, xxxii (II, xxxviii) . . 

III, xxxviii (III, xxxvii) 

IV, ix ...... 

IV, xxi . . . . . . 

IV, xxxiii (IV, xxxi) . . 

V, viii (V, vii) . . . . 

V, xx (V, xxxvii) . . 

VI, xxxii (VI, xxix) .. 

VI, xxxiii (VI, xxx) . . 
VII,xxiv(VII,xxi) .. 

VII, xliv (VII, xli) .. 

VIII, xxi .. .. 
VIII, xxiii . . . . 
VIII, xxv . . . . 



IX, vi (IX, cxcv) 213, 214 
IX, xxxvi (IX, civ) .. 216 
IX, iv (IX, xxxviii) . . 214 
IX, cxxii (IX, ccxxviii) 354 
IX, Ivi (IX, xl) . . . . 214 

IX, cix (IX, ccxiii) .. 215 
IX, ex (IX, ccxv) ..215 

IX, cxxii (IX, ccxxviii) 218 
XI, Ixvii (XI, Hi) . . 302 

XIII, xii (XIII, xv) .. 214 
Commentary on Ezekiel, I, 

Horn, xii . . . . 220 

Commentary on Job 
iii, i . . . . . . 220 

xiii, ii.. . . . . 220 

Gregory of Nazianzen 

Sermon iv. and v. . . . . 188 

Gregory of Nyssa 

Catechetical Address . . 172 
Sermon against Usury . . 192 
Epistle to the Bishop of 

Melitene . . . . 269 

Hadrian, Pope 
Epistle to the Bishops of 

Spain .. . . . . 223 

Canons sent to Charlemagne 222 
Epistle to Charlemagne . . 186 
Hilary of Poitiers 

Commentary on Psalms, Ii, 6, 161 
Commentary on Matthew, 

xiii, 22 . . . . 160 

Life of . . . . 160, 324 


Adversus Judaeos .. . . 101 

i and v .. . . .. 104 

Commentary on Genesis, xlix 101 
Refutation of All Heresies, 

IV, xiii ff. . . . . 99 


Discourse on Last Things, 

xxviii . . . . . . 99 


Epistle to the Ephesians, xii 88 
Philadelphians, vi, i . . 84 


Contra Haereses 

III, xxi 106 

IV, v .. .. 84,117 
Isai the Doctor 

Treatise on the Martyrs 143 

Isidore of Pelusium 

Epistles, I, cxli; III, xciv; 

IV, xvii , . . . 172 

Isidore of Seville 

De Fide CathoUca . . . . 357 
II, v and vii . . . . 357 


Jacob of Serug 

Homily against the Jews 108, 279 
1,283 .- -. 99,279 
Taunt Song . . 258, 280 


Commentary on Psalms 

.. 192 

Commentary on Isaiah 

> 8 . . . . 

iii> 2 
v, 18 
vi, 9 

XVUl, 2 . . 

xxvi, ii.. 

xlviii, 22 .. 

xlix, i 


lix, 19 .. 

Ixv, 13 .. 

077 Jeremiah 

xviii . . 

xxviii . . 
on Ezekiel 

xxvii, 1 6 

xxxvii, i 

xxxviii. . 
on Amos, i, 22 
on Hosea, Preface 
on Matthew, xxiii, 6 
Contra Rufinum, III, xxv 











191, 314 
.. 173 

.. 132 
.. 191 
Translation of Origen, on 

Ezekiel, vii . . 155 


cxii 154 

cxxi . . 101, 154, 191 
Epistle of the Synod of Jeru- 
salem . . . . . . 173 

John of Antioch 

Epistle to Proclus . . . . 239 

Justin Martyr 
First Apology 

xxxi . . . . 93, 126 

Dialogue with Trypho 

viii . . . . . 101 

x . . in 

80, 84, 119, 126 
. . 101 








Ixxi Ixxiii 


. 98 
. 99 
. So 
, So 

, 100 

. So 

.. 109 

. . IOI 

70, 80, 96 
.. 109 


Divine Institutions ; IV, x . . 98 
Maximus Confessor 

Epistle, xiv . . . . 262 

Mercator, M. 

On the heresy and books of 

Nestorius, I . . . . 302 

Nicetas of Aquileia 

Explanation of the Creed, 

V, ix .. .. .. 172 


Epistles, Ivii . . . . 172 


Commentary on Genesis, viii 117 

on Numbers, x, 2 . 115 

on Ptalms, xxxvi 126, 148 

on Ezekiel, Horn, vii , . 155 

Contra Celsttm 

I, xxxii; xxxviii; Ixii . . 109 
VI, xxvii. . . . 80, m 

Exhortation to Martyrdom 148 
Paulinus of Nola 

Epistle, xxix, 9 . . . . 117 


On Heresies . . . . 102 


On Avarice, Bks, I-IV . . 192 
On the Government of God, 

IV, xiv . . , . 314 

Severus of Majorca 

Epistle on the 'Jews .. , , 204 
Severus of Antioch 

Catechetical Address* Ixx 269, 

Homily Ivi . . . , . 303 

xv and xvi . . . . 244 

xlvi , 303 

Hi 245 

Conflict of Severus. . . . 303 
Sidonius Appolinaris 

I, viii 314 

III, iv; IV, v; VI, xi .. 343 
Epistle on the Himyarite 

Jews 258 


Ode 260 


Stephen VI, Pope 
Epistle to Aribert qfNarbonne 



Address to the Greeks, xxxi 

and xxxvi xl 

Answers to the Jews 
iiL . 
x . . 
Apology, xxi 


page page 

To the Nations, I, xiv no, 150 
On the Scorpion's Bite, x . . 126 
221 On theatrical Displays, xxx no 


Questions on Genesis xlix, ex 299 

98 Theophilus 

Epistle to Autolycus, II, 

xxxiii, and III, lv . . 98 
104 Venantius Fortunatus 
117 Carmina,V,v .. .. 334 
85 Zeno 

99 Tractate xiv . . . . 182 



(Page references preceded by an asterisk are to the pages of the edition 

referred to in brackets after the title of the work} 

Acts of the Council of Con- 


stantinople . . . . 243 


Universal History (P.O.) 

Constantine, *V, 645 . . 298 
Thepdosius, *VHI, 408 234 
Justinian, *VIII, 427 . 259 
Maurice, *VIII, 439 . 293 
Phocas, *VIII, 449 . 259 
Mahomet, *VIII, 466 . 261 
Yezid ibn 'Abd el Malik 

VIII, 504 .. .265 
Annales Avenionensium Epis- 

coporum, I, ii, 138 . . 312 
Anonymous lives of the Fathers 
Ahoudemmeh, vii . . . . 306 

Basil of Caesarea, ii . . 296 

Germanics of Paris, Ixv .. 336 
Hilary of Aries . . . . 324 

Sulpicius of BourgeSj I, xiv 335 
Anonymous stories 

History of the Likeness of 

Christ . . . . . . 293 

De maximo miraculo . . 293 
De Salvatoris Imagine dicta 

Antiphonetes . . . . 294 

Passio S. Salsae . . . . 187 


De Proprietatibus Gentium 342 
Anonymus Valesianus, XVI, 

Ixxx . . . . . . 207 

Antoninus Placentius 

Itinerarium, v . . . . 259 

Arabic History of the Patriarchs 

of Alexandria (P.O.) 
4th Preface, *I, 122 103, 193, 
287, 290 

I, viii, *I, 419 . . 103, 299 
*I, 467 .. ..251 

I, xvi, *V, 35 . . . . 303 

Barhadbesabba 'Arbaia 

Ecclesiastical History (P.O.) 
Life of Mar Abraham, 

*IX, 626 . . 264, 306 
Life of Basil of Caesarea, 
*XXIII, 287 .. . . 306 

Life of Gregory of Neo- 
caesarea, *XXIII, 260 296 


Ckronography, X . . . . 265 

Chronicon, anno 609 . . 336 

Carmen de Synodo Ticinensi 209 

Vita Innocentii .. 187,188 
Chronicon Anonymum 

(C.S.C.O., S.S., III, iv, 2) 

*23 261 

*27 264 


^161 .. .. .. 301 

Chronicon Edessenum, anno 723 236 
Chronicon Pascale 

anno 484 . . . . . . 244 

anno 530 . . . . . . 259 


Life of S. Caesarius, I, Hi, 

21,22 321 

Dionysius of Tel Mahre 

anno 928 . . . . 265 

anno 1040 . . . . 262 

anno 1046 . . . . 265 

anno 1057 . . . . 305 

Chronicle, R.O.C., *II, 462 244 


Annales , anno 80 1 . . 337 


Universal Chronicle, anno 

723 266 

Ephraem the Monk 

Liber Imperatontm et Patrum 245 

Chronicle, anno 356 . . 187 

Ecclesiastical History 

I, iv . . . . . . 100 

I, ix . . . . . . no 

II, xxiii . . . . . . 129 

V, i 127 

V, xvi, 2 . . . . 126 

VI, xii . . . . . . 145 

Martyrs of Palestine, viii . . 135 


Annals (P.G., CXI) 

*io83 260 

1084 262 





Eutychius, contd. 
Annals (P.G., CXI), contd. 


Ecclesiastical History 
I, xiii 

III, xiv 

IV, xxxvi . . 

Chronicle, Ixv . . 
George Hamartolus 

IV, ccxxii . . 

IV, ccxxvii . . 
IV, ccxlviii . . 
IV, ccl 

Gesta Dagoberti, xxiv (xxv) 265 ,335 
Gregory of Tours 

Glory of the Martyrs, I, xxii 292 
History of the Franks 
IV, viii (xiii) . . 

IV, xxxv . . 

V, iv (vi) . . 

V, vi(xi) .. 

VI, v 
VI,x(xvii) .. 

VII, xxiii .. 







Miracles of the Saints, I, x 296 
Isidore of Seville 

History of the Goths, sub 

anno 650 . . 333, 355 
John of Asia 

Ecclesiastical History (R.O .C . , 
II),* 45 8 .. ..303 

John of Ephesus 

III, xxvii . . . . 259 

III, xxxi ...... 264 

Lives of the Eastern Saints 
v ...... 264 

xvi ...... 274 

xlvii . . . . . . 263 

John of Nikious 
Ixxxix . . . . . . 244 

xc ...... 258 

xci ...... 294 

xcix ...... 265 

cxviii . . '. . . . 263 

cxx ...... 262 

Joshua Stylites 

xlvii . . . . . . 250 

Iviii ...... 258 

Julian of Toledo 

History of the Rebellion 

against Waniba 
v . . . . 342, 362 

xxviii . . . . - - 3^2 

Defiance of the Tyrant of 

Gaul, i and ii . . . . 342 


Chronicle, XVIII, xvi . . 259 

Chronography (P.G.,XCVII) 
XV, *5*8 .. ..244 

XVI,*s85 -. -.244 
XVIII, *652 - 251 
XVIII, *6s6 .. -.259 
Mar Sabas, monk of 
Letter on Capture of Jeru- 
salem . . . . . . 261 


Life of Simeon Stylites . . 238 
Michael the Syrian 

VI, x 236 

VII, v 186 

VII, vii 181 

VIII, xii 303 

IX, vi .. .. 243,244 

IX, xiv 33 

IX, xxix 303 

IX, xxxi 259 

X, xiii 243 

X, xxv 245 

XI, i . . . . 260, 261 

XI, iv 265 

XI, ix 262 

XI, xii 265 

XI, xix 265 

XI, xx 302 

XI, xxii 251 

Nestorian History 

xix .186 

xxvii . . . . . . I4 2 

xxxiv . . . . . . 299 

liii 297 

cii . . . . - - 262 

Nicephorus of Constantinople 
De Rebus post Mauricium 

gestis, P.G., C, *925 . . 264 
Antirrhetus, iii . . . . 291 

Nicephorus Callistus 

Ecclesiastical History, XVII, 

xxv . . . . . . 296 


De Aedificiis, VI, ii . . 250 

History of the Wars, V, viii, 

ff 209 








History of Heraclius 

Ecclesiastical History 


.. 260 


. . 188 


260, 261 

IV, xviii 

.. 186 


.. 261 

IV, xix 

.. 186 


.. 262 

Religious History > vi 

.. 292 




sub anno 442 . . 

.. 238 

sub anno 724 
sub anno 765 

.. 291 
.. 293 

548 .. 
601 .. 

.. 259 
-. 245 


606 .. 

.. 260 

Ecclesiastical History 


261, 305 


.. 187 

714 .. 

.. 266 


.. 188 


.. 265 

VII, xiii 



.. 262 

VII, xvi . . 

. . 234 

Venantius Fortunatus 

VII, xxxviii 


Vita S. Germani, Ixii 

.. 336 


Zachariah of Mitylene 

Ecclesiastical History 
II, ix 

. . 142 



243 296 

II,xii .. 

.. 142 

VII, viii 

.. 301 



VIII, ii .. 

.- 303 

Sulpicius Severus 

IX, vi 
IX viii 

. . 260 
.. 259 

Chronicle, II, xxx . . 

.. 87 

IX, xxiv 

.. 244 






Roman Law 


.. 180 

Codex Theodosianus 


180, 250 


232, 246 


189, 246 


203, 250 

16.8.9 . . 189, 

246, 266 




.. 231 




.. 231 




.. 231 


189, 250 


232, 246 




. . 200 




.. 231 




. . 201 


202, 232, 247, 304 


. . 2OO 


. . 202 


.. 234 




.. 203 




203, 246 


. . 200 

16.8.21 .. 231, 

236, 250 


. . 200 

16.8.22 . . 182, 

232, 235 


. . 232 


202, 221 




. . 201 




l82, 236 




.. 237 




-. 237 




.. 205 




.- 235 


I8 3 


179, 247 


I8 4 


180, 247 


184, 241 

16.9.3 202, 

215, 367 


l8 4 

16.9.4 2 *5> 

235, 247 


I8 4 


.. 237 


I8 4 


237, 250 



Nov. 3 

238, 240 



Const. Sirm. 4 

.. 179 




205, 325 


. . 240 

Breviary of Alaric 



2. 1. 10 



. . 240 


.. 352 




.. 352 




.. 351 




.. 351 


2 4 I 


.. 352 


20 3 




20 3 


.. 352 




.. 352 






181, 250 

Nov. 3 

319, 352 


179, 250 

Leg. Rom. Burgond. Gonde- 


. . 178, 246 


.. 322 



Theodoric, Edict 143 

.. 207 



Leg. Rom. Raet. Cur. 




. . 210 






. . 210 


.. 363 


. . 210 





(ii) Barbarian Law 



Leg. Burgond. Gondebaud, 
CII ^22 



Leg. Franc. 
Childebert I 



Childebert II 
Clothaire II 

N N N N N 


'.'. '.'. 366 
.. 3 66 

Cap. Acg. 45 .. 
Cap. dup. ad Neum. 
Cap. de Usuriis . . 

-. 337 
337, 34i 
.. 342 

(iii) Byzantine Law 
Syrian Roman Law Book 
45 (Arab.) . . . . 249, 266 
53 (Armen.) . . 249, 266 
Codex Justinianus 


. . 222 


. . 243 

Leges Visigothonim 








. 349 


.. 215,247 

12.2. 1 

.. 360 




.. 360 




.. 360 




.. 361 




. . 361 


194, 255 


.. 361 




.. 361 


. . 240, 255 


.. 361 




.. 360 


248, 249, 256 

12.2. IO 

. . 360 


. . 248 

12.2. II 

.. 363 


. . 259 

12.2. 12 

- 353 


.. 256 


354, 355 


.. 256 




177, 248, 256 

12.2.15 . . 355, 

360, 361 

i .5.22 


12.2. l6 

359, 363 


. . 250 


361, 394 


248, 250 

12.2. l8 

.- 367 


. . 180, 250 






.. 364 




.- 363 






182, 250 


.. 364 




.. 364 




.. 364 




- 364 


. . 246 


.. 364 


248, 250 


.. 366 

1. 10.2 



.. 364 





I. 12. I 



.- 363 

1. 12.2 

. . 202 


361, 395 




361, 395 






Ccdex Justinianus, contd. 
37 250 
45 248 
131 - - 247,256 
146 . . . . 251 ff. 
27.1-15, vi .. ..247 
48.8.11 . . . . . . 63 

.9.14 see C.T. 16 8.21 
.9.15 16.8.22 
.9.16 16.8.26 
.9.17 16.8.29 
.9.18 Nov. 3, 
para. 2, 3, 
.10. i 16.9.4 
.11.6 16.10.24 

.12.1 9-45-2 

|.i2.6 X5-5-5 
0.32.49 12.1.157 

D the Isaurian 
App. iv, 7 
App. vi, 16, 24 . . 
App. vi, 26-30 
Mosaic Supplement . . 
Sclog. Priv. Auct. 
vii, 18 





Codex Justinianus, laws taken * 
from the Codex Theo- i 
dosianus, q.v. T 
1.5.7, see C.T. Nov. 3, para. 6 ^ 
1.7-1 16.8.7 
1.7-2 16.7-3 
1.7-5 Nov. 3, para. 4 
1.9.3 16.8.1 
1.9.4 7-8-2 T 
1.9.5 12.1.99 
1.9.6 3-7-2 and 9.7.5 
1.9.8 2. 1. 10 T 
1.9.9 16.8.10 
1.9.10 12.1.165 -r 
1.9.11 16.8.18 x 
1.9.12 16.8.19 Bas 
1.9.13 8.8.8 or 2.8.26 I 

xv, 7 

Lcloga ad Procheiron Mutat 
xxviii (xxvi), 14 
:panagoge, xl, 33, 34 

>il the Macedonian 
Jasilica, 21.1.45 





African Church, 196. . 

.. 232 

9 .. 



14 .. 



320, 324 

Nicea (forged) 52 

269, 341 


Antioch, i 

. . 320 

. . 175 

Nicea, II 

Apostolic Canons 
61 . . 

.. 176 


Actio IV . . 
Actio V . . 

. . 268 


. . A. /\J 

.. 176 


70 .. 
Aries II, 14 . . 
Auxerre, 16 

.. 176 

.. 341 

- 33 

II, 19 
III, 27 

324, 326 

Carthage IV 
Carthage VI, 2 
Chalons, 9 . . . . 

176, 250 
173, 203 
.. 176 
.. 176 
. . ^20 

III, 28 
III, 30 
IV, 30 .. 
IV, 31 .. 

V, 22 

320, 324 

. . 326 



Paris, 15 



.. 324 

Reims, n 327 

, 328, 329, 340 


.. 325 

Rome, 10 





. . 174 

III, 14 



-- 175 

IV, 57-66 . . 

.. 357 

50 . . 

. . 174 

VI, 3 



Epaone, 15 

174, 221 

.. 322 

Ep. to Pope Honorius . . 358 
VIII, 12 360 


IX, 17 

.. 361 


. . 175 

X, 7 

.. 362 

29 .. 

175, 222 

XII, 9 

.. 362 


I75 222 

XVI, King's speech .. 367 


175, 222 



King's speech 

.. 366,367 



Canon 8 

.. 368 


.. 328 

Tours, 13 

.. 341 




15 . . 

- 327 



16 . . 

329> 340 

ii .. 




33 -- 



99 .- 



-- 354 

Vannes, 12 

320, 324 


Names in italics are those of authors whose works are discussed 
in the text or chapter bibliographies 

Abbot, G. F., xvii, 308 
Abdul Masih, 125, 144, 274 
Abraham, as pre-incarnation 

Christian, 162 
Abrahams, /., 137 
Acts of the Apostles, 27, 47, 128 
Acts of Heathen Martyrs, 2 
Africa, Councils in, 175 f.; Jews 

in, 202 f., 250 

African Church, Canons of, 232 
Agabus, 402 
Agapius, 293, 298 
Agatha of Catania, 145 
Agde, Council of, 319 
Agricola and Vitalis, 145 n. 6 
Alaric II, Breviary of, 307, 317, 

347> 35 1 

Alexandria, Jews of, in Ptolemaic 
times, 15, 17; in Roman times, 
i, 13, 18; confiscation of syna- 
gogues in, 251; miraculous box 
at, 294; mockery of crucifix at, 
234, 292; persecution of Chris- 
tians at, 147; relations with 
Moslems in, 262; riots in time of 
Athanasius in, 147, 186; riots 
in time of Cyril in, 193, 235; 
source of hostile stories of the 
Jews, 15, 371 

Allard, P., 122, 125, 149 

Alphius of Leontini, 134 

Altercations, Christian reports of, 
x, 112, 239, 276 ff., 280 ff.; 
Jewish reports of, x, 113, 283 

Ambrose, 153, 166 ff. } 185, 188, 

Ananias, Bp. of Damascus, 402 

Ananias, a Jew, 402 

Anastasius, P. of Antioch, 245 

Anastasius of Sinai, 281 f. 

Andrew, 129, 402 

An therms, Bp. of Chersonese, 133 

Antichrist expected by the Jews, 

99> 304 

Antioch, anti-Christian excesses 
at, 243, 245; anti- Jewish excesses 
at, 238, 244; Council of, 176; 
disputations at, 113; expulsion 
of Jews from, 293; Jewish 

gardens at, 181; profanation of 
image at, 293; sermons of 
Chrysostom at, see Chrysostom 

Antisemitism, in Roman world, i, 
371; lack of economic causes for, 
26, 256, 339, 369, 372; theo- 
logical origin of, 26, 95 ff., 
158 ff., 305, 372 ff. 
(see also Jews, attitude of 
Christians to) 

Aphraates, Demonstrations of, 
117, 154, 276 ff.; on persecution 
of Christians, 142 

Apion, 25 

Apocryphal New Testament, Jews 
in, 94 ff., 102, 114, 2975.; 
Miracles of Jesus, 298; Hebrew 
Gospel of Matthew, 114; Acts of 
Peter, 95; Gospel of Peter, 102; 
Preaching of Peter, 102; Acts of 
Philip, 94, 103; Acts of Pilate, 
103, 298; Gospel of Twelve 
Apostles, 103, 298; Assumption 
of the Virgin, 103 

Apollonius Molon, 16 

Apologies for Christianity, 92, 

Apostasy, see conversion 

Apostolic Canons, 176 

Aqiba, 78, 93 

Arcadius, legislation of, 200, 231, 
240, 242 

Arians in western Europe, 318, 
347; attitude to Catholics of, 
319, 352; attitude to Jews of, 
M7> 321 

Aribert of Narbonne, 221 

Aristobulus, 129, 402 

Aries, forced baptism at, 211,335; 
Jews during siege of, 321 

Armentarius of Tours, 323, 341 

Aronius, 307 

Asceticism, 155 

Assemani, 122 

Athanasius, 171, 186 

Athanasius and Zacchaeus, Dialo- 
gue of, x, 118, 280 

Augustine, 96, 153, 171, 202 

Augustine- Ps., Dialogue of, xi, 239 



Aurum Coronarium, 10, 19, 200, 

235> 246, 353 
Austremonius, 133 
Auxerre, Council of, 330 
Avengillayon, 109 
Avignon, riot at, 312 
Avitus of Clermont, 134, 534 
Avitus, Emp., 319 

Baptism, forced, in Antioch, 245; 
Aries, 335; Borion, 250; Bourges, 
335; Chersonese, 133; Clermont, 
X 34> 334 Dertona, 188; Mar- 
seilles, 211, 335; Minorca, 205; 
Ravenna, 207; Terracina, 211; 
Uzes, 333 

ordered by Chilperic, 334; 
Chintila, 358; Dagobert, 265, 
335; Erwig, 362; Heraclius, 
265, 285; Justinian, 250; 
Leo the Isaurian, 265; Lom- 
bards, 209; Maurice, 265; 
Phocas, 245, 265; Recces- 
win th, 359; Sisebut, 355 
disapproval of, 211, 327, 333, 

Barbarian invasions, 199,201,311, 


Barcochbar, 78, 93, 126 
Bardy, G., 271 
Barnabas, 129, 402 
Barnabas f Epistle of, 84, 97 
Barsauma, 233, 236, 238 
Bartholomew, 402 
Basil of Caesarea, 195 
Basil of Cheronese, 133 
Basilica, The, 225, 246, 267, 376 
Basnage, J. C., xiv 
Beaulieu, A. Leroy, xvii 
Bedarride, I., xvi, 307, 345 
Beirut, synagogues collapse in, 

250; miraculous image of, 293 
Benedicta of Lyons, 140 
Berrhoea, Jewish outrages at, 244 
Billerbeck, P., 29 
Birkath-ha-Minim, 77, 80, 91, 93 
Bischoff, E., 29 
Bishops, civil authority of, 247, 

254, 319; conduct of, 156 
Boleslav of Kalish, 120 
Bollandists, The, 121, 128 
Bonosus and Maximilian, 140 
Borion, Jews of, 250 
Bourges, blind archdeacon at, 336; 

forced baptism at, 335 
Branscomb, B. H., xvi, 29 
Brehier, L., 313 

Burgundy, legislation of, 318, 321 
Burkitt, F. C., 27 
Buxdorf family, xvii 
Byzantine literature, 273 


Caelicoli, 203 

Caesarea, martyrdom of Carterius 

at, 139; reported betrayal to 

Moslems of, 260; riots in, 20 
Caesarea in Cappadotia, 262 
Caesarius of Aries, 321 
Caglieri, synagogue of, 214 
Callinicum, synagogue of, i66ff. 
Caro, G., 308, 313 
Carpus, 402 
Carterius, 139 
Carthage, Councils of, 203; Jewish 

insult in, 150 
Cassiodorus, 207, 209 
Catechumens, explanation of creed 

to, 172; Jewish influence on, 

95> 172, 3<>3 

Cautinus of Clermont, 340 

Cedrenus, 225 

Chalcedon, Council of, 256 

Chalons, Council of, 329 

Chamberlain, H. S., xiii, 158, 369 

Charlemagne, attitude to Jews of, 
337; legislation of, 321, 337, 
542 371 

Childebert I, 327, 332 

Childebert II, 332 

Chilperic, 334 

Chindaswinth, 351, 358 

Chintila, 358 

Christianity, antiquity of, 77, 97 ff.; 
161; attitude of Roman author- 
ities to, 85 ff.; charges of 
immorality against, 80, iiof.; 
effect of admission of Gentiles 
to, 49; Jewish view of, 79, 106 ff.; 
a religio illicita, 89; sepera- 
tion from Judaism of, 47, 61, 
77 ff., 149; task of in fourth 
century, 153 ff., 157^; the True 
Israel, 84, 100; variety of sects 
in, 94, 183, 194, 374 

Christians, the new nation, 288, 


Chromatius, 191 

Chrysostom, sermons of at An- 
tioch, 79, 119, 157, 163 ff., 231, 
232, 245; attitude of Epiphan- 
ius to, 168 

Church plate, bought by Jews, 
218, 262, 337 



Chwolson, D. A. xvii 
Circumcision, Christian gibes at, 

83, 104, 278; prohibition of, 24, 


(see also Conversions to Ju- 

daism, and A pp. I, it) 
Clearchus, 14 

Clemens and Domitilla, 87,90,91 
Clement, Epistle of, 88, 90 
Clementine Recognitions, 71, 94 
Cleophas, 402 
Clermont, Council of, 323, 324, 


(see also Avitus, Austremonius, 

Cautinus and Ubricius) 
Clothaire II, 332 
Clovis, conversion of, 321, 323 
Codex Justinianus, 225, 246, 317 
Codex Theodosianus, 177, 199, 

214, 225, 246, 317 
Cohen, ]., xv 
Cologne, Jews in, 312 
Constantine, legends of, 186; legis- 

lation of, 178 ft. 
Constantine the monk, 296 
Constantinople, confiscation of 

synagogue in, 238, 294; miracle 

of glass-blower's son at, 296; 

miracle in S. Sophia at, 293; 

rioting in, 264 

Constantius, legislation of, 179 ff. 
Conversion to Christianity, xvii, 

*33> *34 1 7 1 > 213, 214, 216; 

ritual for, 


, 304; stories of, 291 ft., 

Conversion to Judaism, 25, 62, 81, 
107, 154, 171, 287, 325; pro- 
hibited, 179, 180, 181, 182, 247, 

267, 355 

(see also App. /, it) 
Converts to Christianity, allowed 
to return, 202, 221, 356, 358; 
attitude of Gregory to, zioff.; 
forced to remain Christians, 

353> 355> 35 6 36 ff - not l be 
molested, 179, 213, 219; sus- 
pected, 268, 304, 319, 334, 356 
(see also App. I, it) 

Converts to Judaism, death-bed 
repentance of, 176, 269 

Corban, discussion of, 44 

Corluy, ]., 125, 149 

Councils, attitude to Jews of, 174, 

!77 325> 327 33i 
Crete, false Messiah of, 233 
Crucifixion, apocryphal stories of, 

103; not cause of seperation, 

33 f., 45, 69; gibes on offering 
vinegar at, 104; Gospel ac- 
counts of, 42, 45 f.; impossible 
death for Messiah, 98; Jewish 
petition to Marcian on, 303; 
Jewish story of, 46; Peter's ac- 
count of, 47; Paul's account of, 
50, 52, 69; Stephen's view of, 48 

Cumberland^ R., xv 

Curial responsibilities, 177, 178, 
181, 200, 232, 248, 352 
(see also App. I, ii) 

Cyprian, 72, 99 

Cyril of Alexandria, 193, 235 

Cyril of Jerusalem, 157, 231 


Dagobert, 265, 335 

Decurionate, see curial responsi- 

Delehaye, H., 2, 122 

Demetrius of Thessalonica, 144 

Democritus, 16 

Depping, G. B., xvi, 307 

Deuterosis, 154, 252 

Dickens, C., xv 

Didascalia Apostolorum, 71, 82 

Dio Cassius, 87, 90, 91 

Diocaesarea, attempted rising at, 
187; martyrs of, 135 

Diogenes Laertius, 14 

Disputations, see altercations 

Doctrina Jacobi nuper baptizati, 
2855., 306 

Dohm, C. W., xiv 

Dominicans in Middle Ages, xii 

Donatists, The, 202 

Donatus of Istria, 112, 295 

Drumont, Ed., xiii, 158 

Dubnow, S., xvi; 345 

Easter, celebration with Jews of, 
119, 175, 221, 222; date of, 
119; exclusion of Jews from 
streets during, 327, 330, 332 
(see also App. I, ii) 

Easton, B. S., 29 

Eclogues, see Leo the Isaurian 

Edersheim, A., xviii 

Edessa, attempted rising of Jews 
at, 186; confiscation of syna- 
gogue at, 236; Jews refuse to 
receive Heraclius at, 261 

Egica, 366 

Egyptian story of Exodus, 15 



Eisenmenger, J. A., xii 
Elijah, bones of, 299 
Eliphius, 140 
Elisha, bones of, 295 
Elliot, George, xv 
Elvira, Council of, 174, 221 
Emancipation of the Jews, xiii 
Entawos the Amorean, 295 
Epaone, Council of, 322 
Ephrem the Syrian, 117, 276 
Epiphanius, conversion of, 168, 

295, 296; writings on heresy of, 

168 ff., 251 
Erwig, abolition of death sentence 

by, 363; legislation of, 362 
Eucharist, Jews converted by, 296 
Euphrasius, 340 
Eusebius of Alexandria, 299 
Eusebius of Caesarea, 80, no, 118, 

126, 160 ff. 

Eusebius of Emesa, 299 
Eutychus, 402 
Evidence, right of Jews to give, 

176, 222, 232, 248, 267, 338, 360 

(see also App. I, it) 
Excommunication, Jewish right 

of, 62, 64, 189 
Expulsion of Jews, by Avitus, 334; 

Constantine, 186; Chintila, 358; 

Dagobert, 335; Erwig, 363; 

Recceswinth, 360; Sisebut, 355; 

Wamba, 362 

from Antioch, 293; Clermont, 
334; Dertona, 188; France, 

tn. 2; Narbonne, 362; 
n, 355> 358, 360, 363^ 
* 334 

Feasts to be spent in presence of 

Bishop, 361, 365 
Ferreol of Uzes, 333 
Fields, not to be blessed by Jews, 

Fiscus Judaicus, 62 

Foakes Jackson, F. J., 69 

Fouros, 402 

Franks, character of, 342; laws of, 

Friedldnder, M., 2 


Gamaliel, defence of Peter by, 48 
Gamaliel, Patriarch, 235 
Gaudentius, 192 

Generalisations, danger of, 312, 

Genizeh fragments, 113 

Genoa, Jews of, 208 

Germanus of Paris, 336 

Germany, National-Socialist policy 
in, 200 

Gospels, synoptic, attitude to Jews 
in, ix, 33 

Gothofredus, 203 n. 5 

Graetz, H., xvi, 345, 359 

Gratian, legislation of, 180, 181, 

'Greens, The' 244 

Gregentius and Herbanus, Dialo- 
gue of, 283 ff. 

Gregory the Great, attitude to 
Jews of, 2 10 ff.; attitude to 
slave-owning of, 2158:., 321; 
as a Biblical commentator, 219; 
interest in conversion of Jews 
of, 210, 335; letters to Frankish 
kings of, 215, 222, 326, 332; 
letters to Reccared of, 218, 354 

Gregory of Nazianzen, 188 

Gregory of Neocaesarea, 296 

Gregory of Nyssa, 268 

Gregory of Tours, History of, 
3<>7 323; story of miraculous 
image in, 292 n. 2 

Gregory III, Pope, 221 

Guntram, legislation of, 332 


Habib of Edessa, 145 
Hadrian, Emp., 13, 19 
Hadrian, Pope, 222, 339 
Hagada in Church Fathers, xi, 

108, 117, 154, 277 
Hagadists, The, 108 
Hahn B., 308 
Harnack, A., xvi, 125, 149 
Harris, Rendell, 71, 99 n. 
Hebrews, distinct from Jews, 161, 


Hebrews, Epistle to the, 52, 58 ff. 
Hecataeus, 15 
Helbo, R., 107 
Hemerobaptists, 169! 
Heraclius, 261, 265 
Heretics, Epiphanius' description 

of, i68ff.; Jews treated as, 102, 

249, 256, 300; list of, 194; 

treatment of, 155, 183, 190, 

239 ff., 255 ff. 

Herford, R. T., xvi, 29, 37, 57 
Hermes, Aggaeus and Caius, 145 n. 
Hermippus, 14 
Herodians, 156, 169 



Herodion, 403 

Hilarion, 192 

Hilary of Aries, 324 

Hilary of Poitiers, 160 ff., 323 

Hild, J. A., 2 

Himyarite Jews, 258 

Hippolytus, 72, 99, 104 

Hodgkin, T,, 197 

Honorius, Emp., Legislation of, 

200, 232 

Honorius, Pope, 221, 358 
Hoshaye, R., 113 
Hospitality, Jewish, 174, 268, 320, 

322, 324, 327 

(see also App. I, ) 
Host, profanation of, 207 n. 2 

Iconoclastic controversy, 291 ff. 
Ignatius, 84 

Images, Jews converted by, 292 ff. 
Inmestar, crucifixion of boy at, 


Innocentius of Dertona, 187 
Intermarriage with Jews, 174, 180, 

182, 223, 250, 256, 322, 324, 

35*> 354 

(see also App. I, ) 
Irenaeus, 106, 117 
Isaac, as alternative to Jesus, 116 
Isaac of Troki, x 
Isai the Doctor, 142 
Isbozetas, 143 
Isidore of Pelusium, 283 
Isidore of Seville, x, 276, 348, 

355> 356, 357> 359 


Jacob of Serug, 99, 279 

Jacobs, Joseph, xvi 

James, Epistle of, 58 

James, son of Alphaeus, 403 

James the brother of John, 130 

James the Just, 129, 403 

James of Nisibis, 296 

Jamnia, a Jew of, 214 

Jason and Papiscus, Dialogue of, 
x, 71, 280 

Jerome, 78, 80, 96, 108, 117, 119, 
!53> *59 i73> 233, 253, 3*3 

Jerusalem, bishops of, 93; capture 
of by Heraclius, 261; capture of 
by Moslems, 262; capture of 
by Persians, 260; capture of by 
Titus, 77, 82, 149; Jews present 

at sermons in, 173; massacre of 
Christians in, 260 ff.; massacre 
of Jews in, 238, 261 

Jesus, apocryphal miracles of, 
298; attitude to Torah of, 38 ff.; 
conflict with Pharisees of, 34 ff., 
37, 38 ff.; historicity of, 97; 
Jewish attitude to Messianic 
claims of, 45, 80, 114; Jewish 
stories of life of, see Sepher 
Toldoth Jeshu; Jewish view of 
resurrection of, 80; as one of 
twenty- two elders, 290; teach- 
ing of, 34 ff., 373 

Jewesses, danger of to Spanish 
clergy, 365 


I. History of the Jews 

Entry into Palestine, 5 

Relations with Greco-Roman 
world, 8, 19, 371 

Contacts with Rome, 7, 20, 22 

The Jews as Roman citizens, 10, 
199, 208, 312, 317, 332, 335, 

339 344* 353' 359 
The Jews in Persia, 141, 257 
The Jews in the fourth century, 

157, 177 ff. 

The Jews in fifth-century Pales- 
tine, 233 

The Jews under the Byzantines, 
257, 274; the Franks, 199, 222, 
312, 318, 323, 335, 342; the 
Lombards, 209; the Moslems, 
262; the Ostogroths, 199, 206 ff., 
317; the Visigoths,, 199, 222, 

345 350 
The Jews in the Middle Ages, 

i99 254- 376 

Perversions of Jewish history in 
patristic literature, 96 ff., 105, 

158, 160 

II. Occupations of the Jews 
Occupations in Alexandria, 17 ff.; 
in eastern provinces, 274; in 
Roman empire, 12 ff., ngff., 
192; in Persia, 274; in Spain, 
175, 348 ff., 369; in the west, 


Doctors, 336; Farmers, 6, 12, 175, 
219, 221, 348, 364; Financiers, 
13, 192, 316, 323, 341, Jewellers, 
340; Lawyers, 201, 248; Offi- 
cials, 140, 204, 325; Slave-trad- 
ers, 216, 219, 329, 340; Soldiers, 
6, 10, 201, 260; Traders, 12, 17, 
305- 3*3> 338' 34L 348. 372 



Missionary activity of the Jews, 
6, 23, 62, 107, 120 

III. Relations of Jews with 

Relations with the general popu- 
lation, 20, 118 

Friendly relations with Christians, 
118 ff., 164, 189, 269, 305 ff., 
322, 324, 339, 342, 349, 369 

Business relations with Christians, 
269, 332, 341 

Relations with Christian scholars, 
ii7ff., 277 

IV. Pagan view of the Jews 
as ass worshippers, 16 

as beggars, 23 

as misanthropes, 14, 20, 23 

as philosophers, 14, 23 

as worshippers of Sabarius, 21 

Egyptian view of the Jews, 15 ff. 

V. Christian view of the Jews 
Christian view based on Matt. 

xv, and not on crucifixion, 
33 f., 45, 69; at time of destruc- 
tion of Temple, 77; at time of 
separation, 45, 69, 81, 83, 149; 
in fourth century, 158 

The Jews as apostates, 102 ff., 
298; as devils, 164; as frivolous 
or repulsive, 101, 153, 191; as 
hated by God, 101 n. 4, 165, 
279; as heretics, 102, 249, 256, 
300; as idolators, 164, 299; as 
ignorant of God, 102; as litigi- 
ous, 192; as possessing special 
smell, 334; as responsible for 
crucifixion, 33 ff ., 45, 69 

Epithets applied to the Jews in 
laws, 185, 237 f., 370 

The restoration of the Jews, 77, 
165, 279, 284, 288 

The ultimate destination of the 
Jews, 54, 159, 185, 220, 300, 

Admission to church services, 173, 

176, 269, 304 
For the Christian view of Jewish 

history, see History of the Jews 

VI. Christian attacks on the Jews 

The Jews attacked in Antioch, 238; 

Illyricum, 231; Jerusalem, 236, 

238; Mesopotamia, 259; Pales- 
tine, 236, 238; Telia, 258; Tyre, 

see also Synagogues, destruction 

VII. Jewish attitude to 

Jewish attitude to Peter, 48; to 
Paul, 64 ff.; in Jerusalem, 77; 
in the first century, 48, 61, 69; 
at the time of separation, 48, 
61, 81, 149; in the second cen- 
tury, 108, 149; in the fourth 
century, 156 f.; to crucifixion, 
46; to doctrine of Trinity, 108, 

Power of Jews over early church, 

Defamation of Christianity by 

Jews, 79, 125, 150, 243 
Influence of Jews on catechumens, 

95 172, 3<>3 

Influence on heretics, 95, 324, 375 
Jewish reply to Christian claims, 

80, 108, 277, 357 
Secret respect for Christianity, 

115, 287, 290 

VIII. Jewish attacks on the 

Jews accused of betraying Aries, 
321; Caesarea,, 260; Diocaesarea,, 
262; Telia, 257; Visigothic 
Spain, 368 

Jews attack Christians in Alex- 
andria, 147, 186, 235; Africa, 
202; Antioch, 243 f.; Arabia, 
258, 263; Avignon, 312; Berr- 
hoea, 244; Caesarea, 259; Dio- 
caesarea, 187; Edessa, 187, 261; 
Jerusalem, 93, 260 ff.; Mesopo- 
tamia, 259; Palestine, 233, 259; 
Tyre, 262; in time of Julian, 
167, 188 

Jews, converts to and from, see 

'Jews', as a term of abuse, 239, 
300 ff. 

'Jews', Christians calling them- 
selves, 194, 203 

Jochanan, R. y 109, 116 

John, Gospel of> ix, 28, 33, 60, 
82 ff. 

John the Baptist, preaching of, 
43; bones of, 299 

John of Ephesus, 263, 271 



ohn of Nikious, 225, 262, 294 
oseph of Arimathea, 298, 403 
osephus, no 
[oshua the Stylite, 225 
ovian, 181 

Judaising, in Africa and the east, 
175, 203, 278; in Armenia, 268; 
in Byzantine empire, 268; in 
Gaul, 222, 320, 324; in Visi- 
gothic Spain, 350, 359 
Judaism, Alexandrian view of, 15; 
Christian view of, loofL, 373; 
view of Recceswinth of, 360 f. 
Judaism, antiquity of, 98; early 
history of, $f.; dispersion of, 
25; in first century, 34, 81; in 
second century, 115; in fourth 
century, 1535. 

Roman toleration of, 25; legal- 
ity of, 8, 62, 181, 183, 189, 
246, 249, 266; situation of as 
monotheism, 9, 24, 25, 155, 

Judaism, asceticism in, 155; doc- 
trine of mediator in, 116; 
doctrine of forgiveness in, 115 

Judaism, attitude of Jesus to, 38 ff.; 
attitude to Gentiles of, 6, 
23, 24, 62, 107, 120; causes of 
Christian separation from, 34 

Judas Cyriacus, 403 

Judas Iscariot, 192 

Judeo-Christians, 56, 58, 72, 77, 
78, 92 ff., 106, no, 154, 169 ff. 

Judicial autonomy, 8, 232, 352 

Julian, attitude of Jews to, 298; 
attitude to Jews of, 20, 188, 
190; frees Jews from decurion- 
ate, 180; Jews offer crown of 
idols to, 299; reign of, 181, 

Julian of Toledo, 276, 342, 348 

Julius Caesar, 8, 10, 21, 24 

Juster, J., xvi, i, 345, 359 

Justin Martyr, 72, 96, 117; 
Dialogue with Trypho of, 71, 
82, 98, 99 ff., 111; accuses Jews 
of responsibility for persecu- 
tion, 79, 126, 132; attitude of to 
Christians who keep Law, 70 n., 

Justinian, abolishes legality of 
Judaism, 249, 266; legislation 
of, 245 ff., 254; regulation of 
synagogue services by, 251 ff. 

Juvenal, 21, 23 

Klausner, /., xvi 
Krauss, S., 225 

Labourt, M. J., 122 

Lactantius, 97 

Lake, Kirsopp, 28 

Laodicea, murder of acrh-deacon 

of, 239; synagogues collapse in, 

251; Council of, 175 
Law, The, see Torah 
Lazare, B., xvii 
Leclercq, H., 125 
Legal profession, Jews and, 201, 


Legislation, purpose of, 155, 185 
Lemann, Abbe" J., xiii 
Lenz, H, K., 151 
Leo the Isaurian, forced baptism 

ordered by, 265; Eclogues of, 

225, 246, 267, 371 
Leo of Patara, 139 
Leontini, Jews of, 134 
Lessing, T., xiv 
Letters to the synagogues, The, 

79 ff' 

L&ueque, N. f xvii 
Levi, Israel, 107 
Lex Romana Raetica Curiensis, 

199, 209 
Liturgy, attitude to Jews in, 173, 


Lombards, Jews under the, 209 

Longinus the Centurion, 130, 403 

Lot, F., 197, 307 

Louis the Pious, laws of, 339, 376 

Lucas, L., 151 

Luke, Gospel of, 42; story of cru- 
cifixion in, 47; story of death 
of, 403 

Lukyn Williams, Canon, xi 

Lyons, martyrs, of, 127 

Lysimachus, 16 


Macon, Council of, 323 ff. 

Mancius, 134 

Manean, 403 

Manetho, 15, 25 

Mar Kadagh, 142 

Mar Maris, 112 

Marcian, Emj>., Jewish petition 

t, 303; legislation of, 240 
Marcian, Bp. of Cyprus, 403 
Marciana, 144 



Mark, Gospel of, attitude to Jews 
in, 38 ff., 82; historicity of, 27, 
42; story of crucifixion in, 47 

Marmorstein, Dr., 113, 115 

Marr, W., xiii 

Marseilles, forced baptism at, 211; 
Jewish trade at, 322; refugees 
from Clermont received at, 


Martial, 23 

Martyrs, burial in Jewish ceme- 
teries of, 145; collections of 
lives of, 121, 127; eastern Acta 
f> 2 75 Jewish hostility to, see 
Ch. IV; Jews prayed for by, 
i35>" Jewish sympathy with, 
139, 144, 306; tradition of in 
first century, 130, 402 

Mary, Martha and Lazarus, 403 

Mary Magdalen, 403 

Mary the Virgin, 403,' Assumption 
of, 103 

Matrona, 134 

Matthew, death of, 404 

Matthew, Gospel of, attitude to 
Jews in, 33, 41, 43, 60; 
story of crucifixion in, 45 

Maurice, Emp., orders baptism 
of Jews, 265 

Meaux, Council of, 331 

Meir of Jabne, R., 109 

Mellito of Sardis, 90 

Mendelssohn, M., xiv 

Merchant of Venice, eighth cen- 
tury version of, 293 

Merrill, E. T., 88 ff. 

Messiah, Jewish refusal of, 281 

Messianism, in first century, 22, 
25; in Crete, 233; in Mesopo- 
tamia, 264; in Sicily, 218; in 
Syria, 264 

Metuentes Deum, The, see Con- 
version to Judaism 

Michael of Saba, 291 

Michael the Syrian, 225, 265 

Mieses, M., xvii 

Milan, Jews of, 208 

Minim, The, 78, no 

Minorca, Jews in, 203 ff. 

Miracle Plays, xi 

Miracles, conflict for superiority 
in, 112, 295; practical and theo- 
logical use of, 295 ff., 336 

Mnaseas, 16 

Molinier, 226 

Monasticism, oriental, 189, 234, 
242, 263 f., 275, 305, 331 

Monophysite controversy, 296, 

Montanists, not persecuted by 

Jews, 126 

Montefiore, C., xvi, 29, 57 n. 
Moore, G. F., 29 
Moslems, relations with Jews of, 

262; Christian altercations with, 

Murawski, Bp., 151, 166- 


'Name, The', 85, 86, 88 
Naples, interference with Jews of, 

214; Jews during siege of, 209; 

Jewish slave trade at, 216, 217, 


Narbonne, Council of, 330, 354; 
Jews in, 217, 221; Jews ex- 
pelled from, 362; rebellion 
against Wamba in, 342, 362 

Nathanael, 404 

Nau, Dr., 236 

Navicularii, 189 

Nazareans, 169 f. 

Nazarenes, 78 

Nero, persecution of Christians 
by, 86, 89, 91, 125, 146 

Nestorian controversy, 239, 241, 
243, 300! 

Neumann, T., xvii 

Newman, L. I., 308 

Nicaea, second council of, 268, 
291; forged canons of, 269 

Nicanor, 404 

Nicodemus, 404 

Nicpmedia, martyrs of, 143 

Nisibis, Jews of, 264 

Novella, 146, 251 ff., 392 

Nunneries, behaviour in, 330 

Oath, Jewish, 222, 238 

Official positions, exclusion from, 
201, 204, 205, 238, 248, 325, 
328, 332, 352, 364 
(see also App. I, it) 

Old Testament, adoption of by 
Christians, 96 ff., 104 f.; alleged 
Jewish falsification of 118, 
2 5& 298; method of inter- 
pretation of, 98 ff., 149, 158, 
173, 200, 251, 275, 281, 374; 
promises of cannot be fulfilled 
twice, 279 
(see also Torah and Promises) 



Orange, Council of, 320 

Origen, 71, 72, 105, 117; accuses 
Jews of responsibility for per- 
secution, no, 126, 147 

Orleans, Council of, 323 

Ossenes, 169 f. 


Palermo, confiscation of syna- 
gogues in, 213 

Palestine, different religions al- 
lowed in, 5; few Christians in 
fifth century in, 233; Jewish 
settlement in, 5 

Papacy, attitude to Jews of, xiv, 
210, 223, 254, 317, 333 

Paris, Council of, 328 

Parmenas, 404 

Passover, Christian attendance at, 

165, *75> !7 6 
Patriarch, The Jewish, 10, 11, 62, 

231^ 235 

Patriarchs, The, as Christians, 
104, 162 

Paul, at Corinth, 65 ff.; at Rome, 
68; attitude of Jews to, 56, 64, 
77, 92; attitude to Law of, 28, 
51 ff., 55, 57, 69, 373; attitude 
to the Promises of, 54 .; career 
of, 50 ff., 55, 63, 64; death of, 
298, 404; preaches in syna- 
gogues, 50, 52; remains a Jew, 

5 1 * 55 

Paul, Epistles of, 28, 58 
Paul, Valentinian and Thea, 135 
Persecution, Christians accept 
shelter of synagogue during, 
144 f. 

Jewish share in, during aposto- 
lic age, 64, 128 ff.; in first 
century, 128, 149; from the 
second to fourth centuries, 
133 ff.; under Julian, 140; 
in Persia, 140 ff., 186; in 
Vandal Africa, 147; in Mos- 
lem Spain, 147; according to 
patristic literature, 126, 148; 
according to modern scholars, 
122, 125, 150 

Roman responsibility for, 133 
Persia, persecution under Shapur 
in, 140, 186; war with Byzan- 
tium of, 257, 305 
Peter, attitude to Jewish authori- 
ties of, 47; betrayal of by Jews, 
298; reception of Gentiles by, 

Peter, Acts of, 95 

Peter, Epistle of, 58, 87, 89 

Peter, Gospel of, 102 

Pfefferkorn, xii 

Pharisees, attitude to Rome of, 22; 
conflicts with Jesus of, 38 ff.; 
friendship with Jesus of, 43, 
44; not mentioned in crucifix- 
ion narratives, 45; support Paul, 
56; teaching of, 35, 38, 40, 49, 
54, 169; warn Jesus of danger, 


Philastrius, 171, 251 
Philip of Alexandria, 290 
Philip of Heraclea, 127, 139 
Philip, Acts of, 94, 103 
Philo, 18, 154 
Phocas, baptism of Jews ordered 

by, 245, 265 
Phylacteries, use of by Christians, 

X1 9 

Pilate, 46, 102 ff. 
Pionius, 127, 137, 144, 147 
Placita, 304, 358, 361, 363, 365, 

394 . 

Polycarp, 127, 136, 147 

Polygamy, 182, 250 

Pompey, 21 

Pontius, 127, 143 

Pork, necessity of in commercial 
transactions, 367; readiness to 
eat, 299; reasons for non-use 
of, 282; regret for failure to 
eat, 289 

Portugal, slave martyred in, 134 

Poseidonius, 16 

Priscus, 334, 340 

Promises, The, Christian attitude 
to, 57, 58 ff., 84, 96, 253; 
Pauline attitude to, 53; Phari- 
saic attitude to, 54; not to be 
shared with Jews, 84 

Psychological tests, Visigothic sub- 
stitute for, 360 

Purim, regulations for, 234, 250; 
Christian boy killed during, 234 

Rabbulas, 236 

Radin, Max, xvi, i 

Ramsay, Sir W., 85 ff. 

Raven, C. E., 28, 29 

Rawlinson, A. E. J., 27 

Reccared, conversion of, 347; 
legislation of, 353 ff.; letter of 
Gregory to, 218, 354 

Recceswinth, definition of Judaism 
by, 360; legislation of, 358, 
359 ff- 



Reims, Council of, 327, 328 
Reuchlin, xii 

Revelation, Book of, 57, 88, 89 
Ritual Murder, xiii, 16; 234 n. 2 
Rohling, A., xii, xiii, xvi 
Roman Law, of the Burgundians, 
318; of the Franks, 318; of the 
Lombards, 209; of the Ostro- 
goths, 207; of the Raetians, 
209; of the Visigoths, 317 
Romanus of Antioch, 112 
Rome, attitude to Judaism of, 21, 
25; blind Jew at, 336; Council 
of, 223; expulsion of Jews from, 
21, 24; knowledge of Christian- 
ity of Jews in, 68; persecution 
of Church by, 855., 91; state 
of Empire in fourth century, 

Rosel, G., 122 
Ruinartf 121 


Sabbath, Christians to work on, 
175, 222, 320; Gospels to be 
read on, 175; Jesus' attitude to, 
39; Jews not to be disturbed 
on, 203, 250, 352; Jews not to 
be served on, 176; Pharisaic 
attitude to, 40 

Sadducees, 169, 252 

Salvador, /., xv 

Salvianus of Marseilles, 314 

Samaritans, hatred of Christians 
of, 258; laws affecting, 258; 
risings of, 233, 243, 258; 
synagogue of at Rome, 208 

Sanctuary, exclusion from, 201, 
232, 247. 353 

Sargis of Abergra, see Doctrina 

Scherer, J. E., 308 

Schurer, E. f xvi, i 

Scribes, 36, 169 

Sebeds, 225 

Seneca, 23, 25 

Sepher Toldoth Jeshu, xi, 46, 
80, 109, 114, 191 

Septimania, rising in, 362 

Sergius of Amida, 263 

Severianus of Philadelphus, me- 
thod of argument of, 297 

Severus of Antioch, catechetical 
addresses of, 269, 304; Letters 
of t 244; moderation of, 29; 
view of Nestorius of, 303 

Severus of Majorca, 203 ff. 

Shammai, R., 107 

Shapur II, 140 ff. 

Sidonius Apollinaris, 307, 314, 

3*9 343 

Simeon bar Sabbae, 141 
Simeon, Bp. of Jerusalem, 404 
Simeon Stylites, 238 
Simeon the Mountainer, 274 
Simlai, R., 113 
Simon of Gyrene, 404 
Sira, the Persian martyr, 142 
Sisebut, 354, 355 
Sisinand, 356 
Slave trade, 216, 219, 231, 329, 


Slaves, martyrs among, 134; num- 
ber of Christians from, 180; 
right to possess Christian, 202, 
215, 3^7 

(for all legal questions affecting 
slaves see App. I, ii) 

Smyrna, 136 

Sombart, W., xiv 

Spain, commercial situation in, 
349 f.; correspondence of Pope 
Hadrian with, 222; situation of 
Jews in, 276, 348 

Stahelin, F., 2 

Stephen, relics of in Minorca, 
204; speech of, 48, 61 

Stephen VI, Pope, 221 

Stobbe, O. } 308 

Strack, H. f xvi, 29 

Sulpitius of Bourges, 335 

Sunday, no work to be done on, 

330. 332 

Swintila, 356 

Synagogue, collapse of buildings 
of, 238, 250; regulations of 
services of, 251; ritual for 
consecration of, 401 

Synagogues, confiscation of, in 
Africa, 250; at Alexandria, 251; 
at Antioch, 238; at Borion, 250; 
at Caglieri, 214; at Constanti- 
nople, 238, 294, 303; at Edessa, 
236; at Palermo, 213; at Terra- 
cina, 213; at Tipasa, 187 
by John of Ephesus, 263; by 
Sergius of Amida, 263 

Synagogues, destruction of, at 
Amida, 263; at Callinicum, 
166 ff., 187; at Clermont, 331, 
334; at Daphne, 244; at Der- 
tona, 187; in Eastern Empire, 
235; in Illyricum, 231; in Min- 



orca, 2041.; in Palestine, 236; 

at Ravenna, 207; at Rome, 187, 

207; in Syria, 235; at Tours, 331 

Synagogues, laws affecting, see 

App. i, a 

Syrian Roman Law Book, 249, 

Syrians, The, 191, 313, 341, 350 

Tacitus, 15, 16, 20, 23, 25, 86, 89 
Talmud, attacks on, xii, 78, 253, 

254; compilation of, 191, 275; 

references to Jesus in, 109; 

references to Christianity in, 

106, 108, 171; surrender of, xii, 


(see also Altercations, Cruci- 
fixion, Isaac, Jesus, Minim, 

Tarbula, 142 

Tarphon, R., 109 

Taxes, Jewish, 368, 370 

(see also aurum coronarium) 

Telia, betrayal of, 257 

Temedrius, 404 

Terracina, Jews in, 211; synago- 
gue at, 213 

TertuUian, 72, 99, 104, 117, 150; 
accuses Jews of responsibility 
for persecution, 85, 111, 126, 

Testimonies, ix, 71, 99; Teutonic 

edition of, x, 358 
Thaddeus, 404 
Theodoret of Cyr, 188, 283, 292, 


Theodoric, 206 ff., 267 
Theodoras of Alexandria, 147 n. i 
Theodoras of Gyrene, 145 
Theodoras of Mopsuestia, 297 
Theodosius I, 166, 185, 199, 241 
Theodosius II, 233, 236, 242 
Theodosius the priest of the Jews, 

9 297 
Theophilus and Simon, Dialogue 

of, 280 
Tiberias, collapse of synagogues 

in, 251; story of image at, 

292 n. 5 
Timothy, 404 
Timothy and Aquila, Dialogue 

of, x, 280 

Titus, circumcision of, 51 
Titus, Emp., council of before 

Jerusalem, 87, 91 

1 ftfi K 

Toledo, Councils of: Illrd, 354; 

IVth, 355, 356, 360; Vlth, 221, 

358; Vllth, 358; Vlllth, 360; 

IXth, 361; Xth, 361 f.; Xllth, 

,562; XVIIth, 366 
Tomei, Conversion of Jews of, 

289 f., 306 
Torah, attitude of Peter to, 50; 

attitude of Paul to, 50 ff., 69; 

Christian view of, 37, 50, 57, 96, 

162; meaning of, 33, 35, 37; 

observation of by Christians, 

49 50> 92 
Toussenel, A., xiii 
Trade restrictions, 367 
Travel, control of, 364 
Trinity, Doctrine of, 108, 155, 

172, 269, 278 

Trophies of Damascus, 287 
Trullanum, Council, 268 
Trusteeship, 247 
Tyre, plot of Jews in, 262 


Ubricius of Clermont, 133 

Uhlmann, F., 122 

Urbanus, 404 

Usury, canons on, 269, 341; Jews 

and, 13, 192; Laws on, 192, 342; 

sermons on, 192 
Uzes, forced baptism at, 333 

Valentinian and Valens, legisla- 
tion of, 181 

Valentinian III, legislation of, 205 
Vannes, Council of, 320, 324 
Vasilief, A. A., 226 
Venantius of Aries, 145 
Venantius Fortunatus, 334 
Vincent and Orantius, 145 n.- 
Visigoths, in Illyricum, 232; in 
Spain, 347 ff.; conception of 
kingship among, 347 

Wagenseil, J. S., xi 
Wamba, 362 
Wilcken, U., 2 
Willrich, H., i 

Zeno, Emp. Henoticon of, 243; 

views on Jews of, 244 
Zeno of Verona, 182 
Ziegler, A., 346 
Zionism, xiv