Unformatted text preview: PreChristian PreChristian Antisemitism, the Nascent Church, and the Beginnings of the Teachings of Contempt
The first Chapter in the “Longest Hatred” Antisemitism in the GrecoRoman, Antisemitism in the GrecoRoman, PreChristian Era 3rd C. BCEManetho, a Hellenistic Egyptian alleges that Moses was not a Jew but an Egyptian renegade priest called Osarseph and portrays the Exodus as the expulsion of a leper colony. 2nd C. BCE Antiochus Epiphanes sacks Jerusalem, calls Judaism “inimical to humanity” prohibits brit milah, confiscates copies of Torah and erects an altar to Zues in the Second Temple after plundering it. The Maccabean Revolt 2nd C. BCEMnaseus of Patros, a Greek author reports that the Jews worship a donkey’s head in the Holy of Holies This is repeated by Apollonius Molon. Democritus Apion and Plutarch assert that Jews venerate donkeys. Roman Emperor Tiberius expels Jews from Romesending Jewish youth to military service and exiling the rest of the population as well as proselytes. 22 BCEStrabo tells a perverse story of Moses who led followers to Jerusalem 5 BCE65 CESeneca, a stoic philosopher says, “Meanwhile the customs of this accursed race have gained such influence that they are now received throughout the world. The vanquished have given laws to their victors.” 3741CEThousands of Jews were killed by mobs in Alexandria 50 CEJews ordered by Claudius expelled from Rome 1st C. CE. Apion of Alexandria writes antiJewish poetry including the first “blood libel.” Late 1st C. CETacitus writes antiJewish polemics and says that the Jews “regard the rest of mankind with all the hatred of enemies.” Tacitus “This worship, however introduced, is upheld by its antiquity; all of their customs, which are at once perverse and disgusting, owe their strength to their very badness….They sit apart at meals, they sleep apart, and though as a nation they are singularly prone to lust, they abstain from intercourse with foreign women, among themselves nothing is unlawful.” Histories 5:45 119 CE Emperor Hadrian bans circumcision, making Judaism de facto, illegal. 13235 CEHadrian builds a Pagan Temple on the Temple mount in Jerusalem and renames it Aelia Christian AntiJudaism Christian AntiJudaism Early Days competition between Jewish SectsThe Jesus movement as a sect The separation and competition between the early Church and the Synagogue 100500 Religious AntiJewish Christian polemical writings 326: Emperor Constantine makes Christianity the Official Roman State Religion Jews as “Christ Killers” The Jews as Eternally cursed (St. Augustine) The Church and the Later Roman The Church and the Later Roman Empire Constantine makes Christianity the State Religion of the Empire Incorporates AntiJewish Church canonical legislation into Imperial Law Codes AntiJewish Laws AntiJewish Laws Cannot hold public office Jews Banned from public places Jews can’t be witnesses in court Can’t read the Bible in Hebrew Marriage of Jews and nonJews prohibited Christians forbidden to convert to Judaism Jews not allowed to proselytize non Jews Late Antiquity: The demise of the Late Antiquity: The demise of the Empire and the Rise of the Church Augustine becomes the key theological transition figure in western church history and the “greatest” theologian of the west The Code of Justinian (534 C.E.) systematically restricts Jewish rights under Roman law, incorporates antiJewish canon law while maintaining Rome’s stance that Jews are a “religio licita” Increasing western intolerance and sporadic persecutions force Jews to move to the east/south Jews attain legal status as second class citizens delimiting their status as “witnesses to unbelief” The Jew as a “theological category” The witness to unbelief and the people of the “mark of Cain” enshrining the Jew in a theological destiny The Logic proceeds roughly as follows:
1. The Content of the “Teachings of The Content of the “Teachings of Contempt”
At the time of Jesus, Jewish religion had declined into a dead, lifeless, legalism which Jesus countered with a “new” gospel (=good news!) Jesus was sent from the Divine to call Israel to repentance and renewalJesus as “messiah”= “anointed one”(Christos in Greek) The people Israel, true to their consistent patterned history of unfaithfulness and hard heartedness which unfolded throughout the Hebrew scriptures, refused to heed Jesus’ call and rejected him and his message of spiritual renewal 2. 3. 1.. 1 2. 3. The “Jews” clearly could not understand what was written plainly in their own scriptures now being revealed in JesusThey read only materially, not “spiritually” Jewish leadership, threatened by Jesus and clearly with malice (as hypocrites they nevertheless recognized the “truth of Jesus’ teachings ) made common cause to “rid themselves of this troublemaker and messianic pretender. They manipulated Rome’s governor into arresting and executing Jesus, taking charge of the task themselves when Pilate refused The Jews therefore killed their messiah and turned from God’s mercy 1.. 1 2. 3. 4. The primary result of this “final apostasy” is that God turned “his” back on Israel and gave the covenantal witness to God’s “new Israel,” the ChurchIsrael after the “Spirit” The covenant had thus been “superseded” This “new covenant” was to be one of love, grace and Spirit as opposed to that of Law, command, and soulless legalism Jesus is seen as Israel’s liberator from its bondage to this oppressive distortion of God’s Kingdom and the killing of Jesus transforms the Jews into the “enemies” of God (though, in God’s mercy, God is always willing to welcome “them back if they see the error of their ways) 1.. 1 2. 3. 1. Among the many “proofs” for this interpretation is the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. as a recapitulation of the Babylonian destruction “for the sins of Israel” Another “proof” is the growth of the gentile mission in the Diaspora The resulting dispersion of the Jews from Jerusalem and ultimately from the land itself (after the 2nd revolt of Bar Kochba in 135 C.E.) is perceived as punishment for the crucifixion of Jesus, God’s very Son. This dispersion is the beginnings of the myth of the “wandering Jew” as eternal witnesses to God’s judgment, justice and wrath. Jews are condemned to wander the earth as visible signs of the Churches’ vindication 1.. 1 – All aspects of Jewish religious life are coopted by the Church as the proper property of the Church The Hebrew scriptures are the Churches’ “Old Testament” which prefigures and prophesies the “New” All of Israel’s “heroes” become “saints” of the church and all of Israel’s villains are witnesses to the apostasy and faithlessness of Israel. Israel’s prophetic self reflection becomes a weapon turned against the Jew – – Only the “ethical” commandments retain any validity in the “new dispensation” Torah has been “transcended” The keeping of kashrut, circumcision, Sabbath and festival days, especially Passover are abandoned, – The Place of the Christian The Place of the Christian Scriptures in the Teachings of Contempt The earliest writings of the Christian scriptures were in the 50’s C.E. The earliest “Gospels” were written around 70 C.E. and the Gospel of John wasn’t completed until ca. 100 C.E. Gospels all written post70 C.E. Temple destruction and as the Pharisees were becoming the dominant Jewish sect along with the Jesus movementall others destroyed! The Polemic of the Gospels The Polemic of the Gospels All of the Gospels evince a strongly polemic stance witnessing the competition between the Jesus movement and other Jewish communities INTRA Jewish issues! Tensions/cooperation varied from region to region The focus on the Pharisees (the enemies of Jesus) The focus on the passion/death of Jesus as a proRoman, antiJewish polemic Strongly negative portrayal of Jewish groups of which Jesus was a part and shared common life The Place of Paul in the Teachings of The Place of Paul in the Teachings of Contempt The success of the gentile mission in the Diaspora The gradual shift of the Jesus movement from a Jewish sect to a “religion” of the gentile Roman empire The “stumbling block” of halachic issues of “membership” (kashrut and circumcision) for gentiles wishing to join the movement The place of the “God fearers” in Diaspora synagogues and the diversity of Diaspora Judaism Paul’s failed attempts to reconcile the spread of the Jesus movement in the gentile world to his vision of the eschatological return of Christ in the immediate future The disaster of the first and second revolts in Judea The Rabbinic rejection of messianism and the consolidation of Rabbinic dominance against “sectarian forms of Jewish expression and practice The pressure of competition with vastly more powerful and influential Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora The loss of the umbrella of legitimacy given by the “religio licita” of the Jewish community in the Empire Christianity’s emergence as a “separate” and identifiable “superstition” viewed as subversive and seditious to Roman culture The Rise of sporadic but significant persecution and rising antagonism against the Jewish leadership The ambivalence raised by the intimate connections to the antiquity and heritage of Judaism while having to distance themselves in order to win converts The gentile Diaspora Church vs. The gentile Diaspora Church vs. Diaspora Judaism: Factors in the Growing antagonism and hostility Reality of continued attraction of gentiles to Jewish life, practice and community The continued “existence” of the Jews becomes a theological “problem” In its struggle to define “orthodoxy” the Church begins to see Judaism as a “heresy” The Heretic Marcionthe churches’ most fateful dissenter The struggle over the Hebrew Scriptures and their place in the life of the church The “Church Fathers” develop the systematic view of “the Jews:” Justin Martyr: The fall of Jerusalem as punishment for Jewish apostasy and sin Tertullian: Christian faithfulness vs. Jewish unfaith and disobedience Irenaeus: The superseded Covenant Melito: The deicide charge Chrysostom: demonization of the Jewish community Synagogues of Satan ...
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- Jesus Movement, State Religion Jews, gentile Diaspora Church, persecutions force Jews