Antisemitism in Medieval Europe

Topics: Middle Ages, Antisemitism, Jews Pages: 5 (2041 words) Published: February 19, 2007
Antisemitism in Medieval Europe

The history of antisemitism in medieval is full of examples of mans inhumanity to man and the way in which a positive religious message can be lost to intolerance. Antisemitism in Europe has roots deep into history, but seems to accelerate with the arrival of Christianity. The Catholic Church and later Protestant Churches openly oppressed Jews throughout the middle ages. The rulers of Europe also frequently enforced or supported antisemitic laws and decrees. The history of antisemitism in medieval Europe has direct links to the antisemitism of the 20th century, that has killed millions. The Early Christian church began to separate itself from Judaism almost immediately, this separation was necessary because Christianity wanted to be seen as its own faith and not a Jewish sect. The separation however was a painful one, particuliarlly for the Jews. "Within only a few decades of the Crucifixion, many converts to Christianity had already chosen to forget that the four evangelists, the twelve apostles and even Christ himself had been devout and practicing Jews", "All that was well done in the Old Testament or that might be interpreted as proof of Messianic authority, the Christians claimed for themselves; the failures and denunciations they allotted to the Jews".(McCall 259)"It is here, in the rantings of the early Church Fathers against the Jews, that the first fertile seeds lie buried in the hysterical anti-semitism that was to become so rampant in the Middle Ages."(McCall 260) This early antisemitism would be codified into law almost immediately and provide legal and moral cover to the oppressors. It is should be noted that many of the founders of the Catholic church including Popes and saints were ardent antisemites and claimed religious justificartion.

Examples of Antisemitism in Early Christianity:
306 AD"The church Synod of Elvira banned marriages, sexual intercourse and community contacts between Christians and Jews."( 315AD: Constantine published the Edict of Milan. [...] Jews lost many rights with this edict. They were no longer permitted to live in Jerusalem, or to proselytize. ( 325AD: The Council of Nicea decided to separate the celebration of Easter from the Jewish Passover. They stated: "For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people...We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews...our worship follows a...more convenient course...we desire dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews...How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are almost certainly blinded."( 337AD: Christian Emperor Constantius created a law which made the marriage of a Jewish man to a Christian punishable by death.( 339AD: Converting to Judaism became a criminal offence.( 367 - 376AD: St. Hilary of Poitiers referred to Jews as a perverse people who God has cursed forever. St. Ephroem refers to synagogues as brothels.( 379-395AD: Emperor Theodosius the Great permitted the destruction of synagogues if it served a religious purpose. Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire at this time. 380AD: The bishop of Milan was responsible for the burning of a synagogue; he referred to it as "an act pleasing to God."( 415AD: The Bishop of Alexandria, St. Cyril, expelled the Jews from that Egyptian city.( 415AD: St. Augustine wrote "The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus."( 418AD: St. Jerome, who created the Vulgate translation of the Bible wrote of a synagogue: "If you call it...
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