Antisemitism in Christianity

Antisemitism in Christianity refers to the feeling of hostility that some Christian Churches, Christian groups, and ordinary Christians have towards the Jewish religion and the Jewish people.

Christian rhetoric and antipathy towards Jews developed in the early years of Christianity and it was reinforced by the belief that Jews had killed Christ and ever increasing anti-Jewish measures over the ensuing centuries. The action taken by Christians against Jews included acts of ostracism, humiliation, violence, and murder, culminating in the Holocaust.[1]:21[2]:169[3]

Christian antisemitism has been attributed to numerous factors including theological differences, competition between Church and Synagogue, the Christian drive for converts,[4] misunderstanding of Jewish beliefs and practices, and the perception that Judaism was hostile towards Christianity. For two millennia, these attitudes were reinforced in Christian preaching, art and popular teachings,, all of which expressed contempt for Jews[5] as well as statutes which were designed to humiliate and stigmatise Jews.

Modern antisemitism has primarily been described as hatred against Jews as a race and its most recent expression is rooted in 18th-century racial theories, while anti-Judaism is rooted in hostility towards the Jewish religion, but in Western Christianity, anti-Judaism effectively merged into antisemitism during the 12th century.[1]:16 Scholars have debated how Christian antisemitism played a role in the Nazi Third Reich, World War II and the Holocaust. The Holocaust has forced many Christians to reflect on the relationship between Christian theology, Christian practices, and how they contributed to it.[6]

Early differences between Christianity and Judaism

The legal status of Christianity and Judaism differed within the Roman Empire: Because the practice of Judaism was restricted to the Jewish people and Jewish proselytes, its followers were generally exempt from following the obligations that were imposed on followers of other religions by the Roman imperial cult and since the reign of Julius Caesar, it enjoyed the status of a "licit religion", but occasional persecutions still occurred, for example in 19 Tiberius expelled the Jews from Rome,[7] as Claudius did again in 49.[8] Christianity however was not restricted to one people, and because Jewish Christians were excluded from the synagogue (see Council of Jamnia), they also lost the protected status that was granted to Judaism, even though the said protection still had its limits (see Titus Flavius Clemens (consul), Rabbi Akiva, and Ten Martyrs).

From the reign of Nero onwards, who is said by Tacitus to have blamed the Great Fire of Rome on Christians, the practice of Christianity was criminalized and Christians were frequently persecuted, but the persecution differed from region to region. Comparably, Judaism suffered setbacks due to the Jewish-Roman wars, and these setbacks are remembered in the legacy of the Ten Martyrs. Robin Lane Fox traces the origin of much of the later hostility to this early period of persecution, when the Roman authorities commonly tested the faith of suspected Christians by forcing them to pay homage to the deified emperor. Jews were exempt from this requirement as long as they paid the Fiscus Judaicus, and Christians (many or mostly of Jewish origin) would say that they were Jewish but refused to pay the tax. This had to be confirmed by the local Jewish authorities, who were likely to refuse to accept the Christians as fellow Jews, often leading to their execution.[9] The Birkat haMinim was often brought forward as support for this charge that the Jews were responsible for the Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.[citation needed] In the 3rd century systematic persecution of Christians began and lasted until Constantine's conversion to Christianity.[citation needed] In 390 Theodosius I made Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire. While pagan cults and Manichaeism were suppressed, Judaism retained its legal status as a licit religion, though anti-Jewish violence still occurred. In the 5th century, some legal measures worsened the status of the Jews in the Roman Empire (now more properly called the Byzantine Empire since relocating to Constantinople).[citation needed]

Another point of contention for Christians concerning Judaism, which according to the modern KJV of the Protestant Bible, is attributed more to a religious bias, rather than an issue of race or being a "Semite". Paul (a Benjamite Hebrew[10]) clarifies this point in the letter to the Galatians where he makes plain his declaration ″28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.″ Further Paul states: ″15Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.″ Many misled Christians read Matthew 23, John 8:44, Revelations 2:9, 3:9, and wrongly believe that the term "Jew" means a Hebrew or a Semite...it does not, rather, it refers to the religious belief in Judaism. [11] A perfect real life example of this clarification is "Brother Nathanael" a Christian Hebrew. [12] [13]