WORLD FUTURE FUND
THE BEGINNING OF OFFICIAL ANTI-SEMITISM IN EUROPE
IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS AND QUOTATIONS
The evil of anti-Semitism did not start in Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, it has deep roots in Christian history.
The reality is that organized anti-semitism, as an official state ideology and legal policy, never existed in world history until the fourth century CE, when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
At this time a reign of totalitarian terror was unleashed against all other competing religions that had little precedent in world history. We have detailed this in a special report on the subject. It is important to note that the demand for the persecution of Jews and other religions came from the Catholic Church - not secular authorities in the Roman Empire.
The material on this page represents a selection of quotations concerning the basis of ancient Christian anti-Semitism. The legal foundation for Christian persecution of the Jews was established in the fourth century CE with the adoption of Christianity as the official and sole state religion of the Roman Empire. It is extremely important to understand that this persecution was part of an overall plan of religious totalitarian persecution aimed not only at Jews but also pagans and non-Catholic Christian sects. Click here to visit our page on the Christian destruction of paganism.
Text from the New Testament which established the scriptural basis for hating the Jews is followed by quotes from the Theodosian Code (the law of the Christian Roman Empire), which codified the inferior and pariah status of Jews. These are then followed by antisemitic quotes taken from the writings of eminent thinkers in the first centuries of Christianity's existence.
This page is only part of the materials we have on Christian totalitarianism. To visit the general index of our materials click here.
NOTE: A BRIEF STATEMENT OF PUBLICATIONS PRINCIPLES
The World Future Fund serves as a source of documentary material, reading lists, and internet links from different points of view that we believe have historical significance. The publication of this material is in no way whatsoever an endorsement of these viewpoints by the World Future Fund, unless explicitly stated by us. As our web site makes very clear, we are totally opposed to ideas such as racism, religious intolerance, and communism. However, in order to combat such evils, it is necessary to understand them by means of the study of key documentary material. For a more detailed statement of our publications standards click here.
THE CHARGE OF JEWISH DEICIDE
The following sections of the New Testament have long been considered the scriptural basis upon which the Jews have been blamed for the death of Jesus Christ. This charge of deicide was used as the rationale for the persecution of Jews by Christians ever since.
"Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whither of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
"For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
THE THEODOSIAN CODE
The Theodosian Code was a compilation of the laws of the Roman Empire under the Christian emperors since 312 CE. The code was compiled by a commission created by Emperor Theodosius II in 429 CE, and published in 438 CE.
CHRISTIAN INTERACTION WITH JEWS IS FORBIDDEN
"It is not proper that Christians accept gifts which are sent by Jews or
heretics, nor celebrate feasts with them." --
"It is not proper for Christians to accept unleavened bread from the Jews,
and take part in their impieties." --
"If any cleric has gone to pray in a synagogue of the Jews or heretics, he is
to be removed from the clergy and segregated from the flock. ... If any
Christian brings oil into a temple of the pagans or into a synagogue of the Jews
or lights their lamps at the time of their festivals, he is to be segregated
from the flock." --
"Let no Jew take a Christian woman to wife, nor any Christian seek
marriage with a Jewess. For if any one admits anything of this sort, he will be
charged with his crime just as if he has committed adultery, and furthermore
liberty for accusations of this nature has been granted to the general public."
"No Jew shall retain his own marriage customs, nor seek marriage
according to the law of the Jews, nor possess several wives at the same time."
JEWS CANNOT TESTIFY AGAINST CHRISTIANS
"We order that no testimony shall be given against orthodox litigants by a heretic, or by those who adhere to the Jewish superstition, whether one, or both parties to the suit are orthodox. We grant permission to heretics or Jews, when they have litigation with one another, to introduce witnesses qualified to testify."
JEWS BANNED FROM MILITARY AND CIVIL SERVICE
JEWS MUST FOLLOW ROMAN (CHRISTIAN) LAW
JEWS MUST OBSERVE CHRISTIAN HOLIDAYS
JEWS CANNOT CONVERT CHRISTIANS TO JUDAISM
"We wish to make clear to the Jewish elders and patriarchs that if, after the enactment of this law, anyone attempts ... to reconvert a person who has given up the baleful sect of Judaism and has joined the cult of God, forthwith he and his accomplices are to be given to the flames and burned. Furthermore if anyone of the people has joined their evil sect and frequented their meeting places, he shall suffer his deserved penalty with them."
SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO
One of the most important Christian philosophers of ancient world, Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) played a crucial role in helping to establish the attitude of the early Catholic Church toward Jews. In this brief quote from The City of God, Augustine managed to touch on several themes central to Christian anti-Judaism: deicide, the failure of Jewish belief in Jesus, and the Diaspora caused by God for Jewish impiety.
"The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jews can never understand the scriptures, and forever bear the guilt of the death of Christ."
"The Jews are our attendant slaves, who carry, as it were, our satchels and bear the manuscripts while we study them. ... When we argue with the heathen we adduce the predictions found in the Bible written by the Jews."
"These people have also become vagabonds, since they crucified God and our Lord. For they are not in their former abodes, but are spread over the whole earth. Here the Psalmist speaks of the beggary of spiritual riches which is upon them. For they have neither prophets, nor law, nor priesthood, nor sacrifice, but in truth they are made beggars."
"Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judah, man manifest out of a human virgin, God hidden out of God the Father. For so had the prophet foretold: 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which, being interpreted, is, God with us.' He did many miracles that He might commend God in Himself, some of which, even as many as seemed sufficient to proclaim Him, are contained in the evangelic Scripture. The first of these is, that He was so wonderfully born, and the last, that with His body raised up again from the dead He ascended into heaven. But the Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him, because it behooved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and were dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ. And very many of them, considering this, even before His passion, but chiefly after His resurrection, believed on Him, of whom it was predicted, "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved." But the rest are blinded, of whom it was predicted, "Let their table be made before them a trap, and a retribution, and a stumbling-block. Let their eyes be darkened lest they see, and bow down their back always."
Therefore, when they do not believe our Scriptures, their own, which they blindly read, are fulfilled in them, lest perchance any one should say that the Christians have forged these prophecies about Christ which are quoted under the name of the sibyl, or of others, if such there be, who do not belong to the Jewish people. For us, indeed, those suffice which are quoted from the books of our enemies, to whom we make our acknowledgment, on account of this testimony which, in spite of themselves, they contribute by their possession of these books, while they themselves are dispersed among all nations, wherever the Church of Christ is spread abroad. For a prophecy about this thing was sent before in the Psalms, which they also read, where it is written, "My God, His mercy shall prevent me. My God hath shown me concerning mine enemies, that Thou shalt not slay them, lest they should at last forget Thy law: disperse them in Thy might." Therefore God has shown the Church in her enemies the Jews the grace of His compassion, since, as saith the apostle, "their offence is the salvation of the Gentiles." And therefore He has not slain them, that is, He has not let the knowledge that they are Jews be lost in them, although they have been conquered by the Romans, lest they should forget the law of God, and their testimony should be of no avail in this matter of which we treat. But it was not enough that he should say, "Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law," unless he had also added, "Disperse them;" because if they had only been in their own land with that testimony of the Scriptures, and not every where, certainly the Church which is everywhere could not have had them as witnesses among all nations to the prophecies which were sent before concerning Christ."
"If you are his people, then admit you led Him to death. You are so blind that you claim to be spoken of when you are not, and you do not recognize yourselves where you are. Malachai speaks of your rejection. Come, then, Jews unto Him. For the light is not in you Jews, but in Christ. In the place where you believe in Him, there will you come unto Him."
SAINT AMBROSE AND THE BURNING OF THE SYNAGOGUE AT CALLINICUM
On August1st, 388 CE, a Christian mob incited by local Church officials, looted and burnt down the synagogue at Callinicum, located on the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia. In response, the local magistrate of the province condemned the Bishop and ordered him to either rebuild the synagogue or repay the Jewish community for the damage. This decision was appealed to the Emperor Theodosius who, while not a friend of the Jews, did not tolerate criminal acts. Theodosius therefore confirmed the local magistrate and ordered the local Bishop to have the synagogue rebuilt at his own cost, because he (the Bishop) had been one of the officials who incited the mob to destroy it.
Upon hearing this, Ambrose (339-397 CE), the Archbishop of Milan, one the most prominent figures in the Latin Church at the time, wrote Theodosius and boldly defended the destruction of the synagogue. In addition, he reprimanded the Emperor for ordering the local Bishop to pay restitution, even though the arson was clearly illegal according to Imperial Law. Ambrose was so indignant that he offered to burn the synagogue in Milan. Theodosius eventually yielded to Ambrose and did not punish the local bishop.
EXCERPTS FROM LETTER XL, 388 CE.
Ambrose, Bishop, to the most clement prince, and blessed Emperor, Theodosius the Augustus.
"... A report was made by the military Count of the East that a synagogue had been burnt, and that this was done at the instigation of the Bishop. You gave command that the others should be punished, and the synagogue be rebuilt by the Bishop himself. I do not urge that the Bishop's account ought to have been waited for, for priests are the calmers of disturbances, and anxious for peace, except when even they are moved by some offence against God, or insult to the Church. Let us suppose that that Bishop was too eager in the matter of burning the synagogue, and too timid at the judgment-seat, are not you afraid, O Emperor, lest he comply with your sentence, lest he fail in his faith?
... Shall, then, a place be made for the unbelief of the Jews out of the spoils of the Church, and shall the patrimony, which by the favour of Christ has been gained for Christians, be transferred to the treasuries of unbelievers? We read that Of old temples were built for idols of the plunder taken from Cimbri, and the spoils of other enemies. Shall the Jews write this inscription on the front of their synagogue: "The temple of impiety, erected from the plunder of Christians"?
But, perhaps, the cause of discipline moves you, O Emperor. Which, then, is of greater importance, the show of discipline or the cause of religion? It is needful that judgment should yield to religion.
Have you not heard, O Emperor, how, when Julian had commanded that the temple of Jerusalem should be restored, those who were clearing the rubbish were consumed by fire? Will you not beware lest this happen now again? For you ought not to have commanded what Julian commanded.
But what is your motive? Is it because a public building of whatever kind has been burnt, or because it was a synagogue? If you are moved by the burning of a building of no importance (for what could there be in so mean a town?), do you not remember, O Emperor, how many prefects' houses have been burnt at Rome, and no one inflicted punishment for it? And, in truth, if any emperor had desired to punish the deed sharply, he would have injured the cause of him who had suffered so great a loss. Which, then, is more fitting, that a fire in some part of the buildings of Callinicum, or of the city of Rome, should be punished, if indeed it were right at all? At Constantinople lately, the house of the bishop was burnt and your Clemency's son interceded with his father, praying that you would not avenge the insult offered to him, that is, to the son of the emperor, and the burning of the Episcopal house. Do you not consider, O Emperor, that if you were to order this deed to be punished, he would again intervene against the punishment? That favour was, however, fittingly obtained by the son from the father, for it was worthy of him first to forgive the injury done to himself. That was a good division in the distribution of favour, that the son should be entreated for his own loss, the father for that of the son. Here there is nothing for you to keep back for your son. Take heed, then, lest you derogate aught from God.
There is, then, no adequate cause for such a commotion, that the people should be so severely punished for the burning of a building, and much less since it is the burning of a synagogue, a home of unbelief, a house of impiety, a receptacle of folly, which God Himself has condemned. For thus we read, where the Lord our God speaks by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah: "And I will do to this house, which is called by My Name, wherein ye trust, and to the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh, and I will cast you forth from My sight, as I cast forth your brethren, the whole seed of Ephraim. And do not thou pray for that people, and do not thou ask mercy for them, and do not come near Me on their behalf, for I will not hear thee. Or seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah?" God forbids intercession to be made for those.
... Will you give this triumph over the Church of God to the Jews? this trophy over Christ's people, this exultation, O Emperor, to the unbelievers? this rejoicing to the Synagogue, this sorrow to the Church? The people of the Jews will set this solemnity amongst their feast-days, and will doubtless number it amongst those on which they triumphed either over the Amorites, or the Canaanites, or were delivered from the hand of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, or of Nebuchodonosor, King of Babylon. They will add this solemnity, in memory of their having triumphed over the people of Christ.
... And yet how great a thing it is, O Emperor, that you should not think it necessary to enquire or to punish in regard to a matter as to which up to this day no one has enquired, no one has ever inflicted punishment. It is a serious matter to endanger your salvation for the Jews. When Gideon had slain the sacred calf, the heathen said, The gods will themselves avenge the injury done to them. Who is to avenge the Synagogue? Christ, Whom they slew, Whom they denied? Will God the Father avenge those who do not receive the Father, since they have not received the Son?
... And now, O Emperor, I beg you not to disdain to hear me who am in fear both for yourself and for myself, for it is the voice of a Saint which says: "Wherefore was I made to see the misery of my people?" that I should commit an offence against God. I, indeed, have done what could be done consistently with honour to you, that you might rather listen to me in the palace, lest, if it were necessary, you should listen to me in the Church.
Saint Jerome was responsible for translating the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. The resulting Vulgate Bible is still to this day the official biblical text of the Catholic Church. A Christian intellectual and vigorous defender of the orthodox views of the then nascent Catholic Church, Saint Jerome (ca. 342-420 CE) wrote voluminously on subjects of theological importance. Throughout his life, Jerome wrote spirited polemics against Jews and their religious practices.
"The Jews seek nothing but to have children, possess riches and be healthy. They seek all earthly things, but think nothing of heavenly things; for this reason they are mercenaries."
"Holding fast to their ancient anger and violence, still today under the name of Nazarenes, the Jews in their synagogues blaspheme the Christian flock: and while they slay us, they will their own destruction in the eternal fire."
"If Judas sinned when he betrayed the blood of the Savior, how much more did the Jews sin who demanded Christ's blood, and offering a price for it, enticed Judas, the disciple, to betray his Lord?"
"If it is expedient to hate any men and to loathe any race I have a strange dislike for those of the circumcision. For up to the present day, they persecute our Lord Jesus Christ in the synagogues of Satan."
"A fornicatress is a woman who has had intercourse with several men. An adulteress, one who, deserting her true spouse, joins herself to another. The Synagogue is both of these, and if she continues in fornication and adultery, God will strip off her clothes and remove the ornaments which He gave her."
Jerome is alleged to have referred to Jews as "Judaic serpents of whom Judas was the model."
Source: Jerome quoted in Christianity and Antisemitism.
SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
A noted orator and Church activist, John Chrysostom (347-407 CE) was Bishop of Antioch and, for a short time, Bishop of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). Chrysostom was well known for his polemics against Jews and Jewish proselytization.
"The difference between the Jews and us is not a small one, is it? Is the dispute between us over ordinary, everyday matters, so that you think the two religions are really one and the same? Why are you mixing what cannot be mixed? They crucified the Christ whom you adore as God. Do you see how great the difference is? How is it, then, that you keep running to those who slew Christ when you say that you worship him whom they crucified? You do not think, do you, that I am the one who brings up the law on which these charges are based, nor that I make up the form which the accusation takes? Does not the Scripture treat the Jews in this way?
Hear what Jeremiah says against those same Jews: "Go off to Kedar and see; send off to the islands of the Kittim and find out if such things have happened." What things? "If the gentiles will change their gods, and indeed they are not gods, but you have changed your glory and from it you will derive no profit." He did not say: "You have changed your God," but, "your glory." What he means is this. Those who worship idols and serve demons are so unshaken in their errors that they choose not to abandon them nor desert them for the truth. But you, who worship the true God, have cast aside the religion of your fathers and have gone over to strange ways of worship. You did not show the same firmness in regard to the truth that they did in regard to their error. That is why Jeremiah says: "Find out if such things have happened, if the gentiles will change their gods, and indeed they are not gods; but you have changed your glory and from it you will derive no profit." He did not say: "You have changed your God," for God does not change. But he did say: "You have changed your glory." You did no harm to me, God says, because no harm has come to me. But you did dishonor yourselves. You did not make my glory less, but you did diminish your own." -- Saint John Chrysostom, Discourse IV.
Source: Saint John Chrysostom, Discourses against Judaizing Christians. Paul W. Harkins, Trans. (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1979), pp. 78-80.
"Are you Jews still disputing the question? Do you not see that you are condemned by the testimony of what Christ and the prophets predicted and which the facts have proved? But why should this surprise me? That is the kind of people you are. From the beginning you have been shameless and obstinate, ready to fight at all times against obvious facts."
Source: John Chrysostom, Homily V, XII, 1.
SAINT EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN
Venerated by Catholics, but also by members of the Syrian Church, Saint Ephraim (303-373 CE) was a poet and theologian during fourth century. The poem below offers a blanket condemnation of the Jews.
Let Sabbath Day and circumcision go, as they
have let you go and passed away!
He wants to make us healthy ones contract
that illness which he suffered from of old.
The ravening slave is prompting us to clamp his
fetters, shackles, irons on the free.
He doesn't even stand beside the Slave, denying,
as he does, that Servant's Lord.
Today, when, by denial, he has strayed, he calls
the nations off the beaten track.
In former times he murdered openly; but now
he murders secretly instead.
So then he dressed himself in prophecies, the
prophecies of those whom he had killed;
He took upon himself the blood of God; and
will he be afraid of shedding yours?
The Spirit rent the curtain of the door, to make
the disbeliever rend his heart.
Ezekiel found modest words to tell what
filthy acts the Jew committed then.
Physicians came to visit him, but he became his
He visited the seed of Abraham: the heirs turned
into murderers; and then
SAINT GREGORY OF NYSSA
Gregory of Nyssa (ca. 335 to ca. 394 CE) belonged to a group known as the "Cappadocian Fathers", who were scholars that set out to demonstrate that Christian faith was a unique combination learning, piety, and life-style. They were crucial contributors to the development of Church doctrine concerning the Holy Trinity.
"[Jews are] murderers of the Lord, assassins of the prophets, rebels against God, God haters, . . . advocates of the devil, race of vipers, slanderers, calumniators, dark-minded people, leaven of the Pharisees, Sanhedrin of demons, sinners, wicked men, stoners, and haters of righteousness."
Source: Kevin MacDonald, Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism (Praeger, 1998), p. 91.
An early Christian apologist and theologian, Justin Martyr (ca. 100/114-162/168 CE) was born in Palestine of pagan parents. He studied philosophy before converting to Christianity and was martyred in Rome by Marcus Aurelius. Christian theologians like Justin Martyr used statements from the Old Testament to demonstrate how God had turned against the Jews because of the crucifixion of Christ.
"In Leviticus it is written: 'Because they have transgressed and despised me, and because as traitors they walked contrary to me, I also will walk treacherously with them, and I will destroy them in the land of their enemies. Then their uncircumcised heart will be ashamed' (Lev. 26:40-41). For the circumcision according to the flesh was given to you from Abraham as a sign so that you might be distinguished from other nations and from us, and so that you alone might suffer what you now rightly suffer; so that your land might become desolate, and your cities burned, and strangers eat the fruits of your land before you, and not one of you set foot in Jerusalem. ... Therefore these things have rightly and justly come upon you, for you put the just one to death, and before him his prophets and now you deal treacherously with those who hope in him, and with him who sent him, Almighty God, the Creator of all things.
Source: Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho16; PG 6.509-512. Cited in Robert Doran, Birth of a Worldview: Early Christianity in its Jewish and Pagan Context (Westview Press, 1995), p. 57.
SAINT CYRIL, PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA
Saint Cyril (376-444 CE) became Patriarch of Alexandria in 412 CE upon the death of his predecessor Theophilus. Immediately after assuming his new office, Cyril initiated a series of measures directed against Christian "heretics," Alexandria's non-Christian population, and the Jews of the city. He summarily closed the churches of the Christian Novatian sect and confiscated all Novatian property. Cyril was also intimately involved in the murder of Hypatia and the destruction of pagan temples in Alexandria. Concerning the Jews, Cyril personally whipped the Christian populace into a frenzied mob and then directed this mob to expel the entire Jewish population of Alexandria. Synagogues were torn down and Jewish homes and businesses were burnt to the ground.
"Without any legal sentence, without any royal mandate, the patriarch, at the dawn of day, led a seditious multitude to the attack of the synagogues. Unarmed and unprepared, the Jews were incapable of resistance; their houses of prayer were leveled with the ground, and the Episcopal warrior, after-rewarding his troops with the plunder of their goods, expelled from the city the remnant of the unbelieving nation. Perhaps he might plead the insolence of their prosperity, and their deadly hatred of the Christians, whose blood they had recently shed in a malicious or accidental tumult. Such crimes would have deserved the animadversion of the magistrate; but in this promiscuous outrage, the innocent were confounded with the guilty, and Alexandria was impoverished by the loss of a wealthy and industrious colony."