Brothers Cyril and Methodius bring Christianity to the Slavic peoples / Wikimedia Commons
The Early Middle Ages
Portrait of Pope Gelasius I / Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome
Pope Gelasius I, pontiff from 492 to 496, drew upon Augustine to articulate a theory of church-empire (or, more loosely, church-state) relations that was ambiguous enough to be used both by popes and by emperors for at least six centuries. In particular, Gelasius wrote the following letter to the emperor:
There are indeed, most august Emperor, two powers by which this world is chiefly ruled: the sacred authority of the Popes and the royal power. Of these the priestly power is much more important, because it has to render account for the kings of men themselves at the Divine tribunal. For you know, our very clement son, that although you have the chief place in dignity over the human race, yet you must submit yourself faithfully to those who have charge of Divine things, and look to them for the means of your salvation. [But] in matters pertaining to the administration of public discipline, the bishops of the Church [know] that the Empire has been conferred on you by Divine instrumentality. . . .
Thus, Gelasius contributed to the development of the doctrine of separation of church and state by clearly delineating two distinct powers—the sacred and the royal. Each power governed within its respective sphere of action: the sacred power of the Church ruled over the spirituality of the universal body of Christianity, while the royal power of the emperor ruled over the lay affairs of the kingdom. Ecclesiastics should obey the emperor’s laws related to material and temporal matters, and the emperor should obey the Church’s decisions regarding religious issues such as the sacraments.
Subsequent emperors anxiously seized upon Gelasius’s acknowledgment of a rightful sphere of royal or lay power together with his assertion that the emperor’s power was conferred “by Divine instrumentality.” From the royal standpoint, Gelasius here supplied support for, if not Caesaropapism, at least a balanced dualism—power divided equally. To Gelasius, however, the derivation of the emperor’s power from God signified that the emperor was within the universal body of the Roman Catholic Church, not that the emperor shared power equally with the pope. Within the rigid hierarchy of the Christian universal body, only ecclesiastics were qualified to teach and decree about divine and religious matters, and only the pope stood supreme.
Gelasius was, of course, thoroughly familiar with and followed the New Testament condemnation of Judaism, as demonstrated by his occasionally vituperative antisemitic statements. According to the Christian antisemitic dogma revering the spiritual and reviling the carnal, the significance of the emperor’s royal power in the temporal and material world naturally paled in comparison to the pope’s power over eternal salvation in Heaven. Hence, Gelasius followed New Testament doctrine when he insisted that the Church’s power was “much more important” than the emperor’s power. In sum, Gelasius articulated an unbalanced dualism in which the pope and the emperor shared power, but the pope exercised more (or more important) power than the emperor.
In the next century, Emperor Justinian I largely accepted Gelasius’s political theory—except for the hierocratic conclusion. In a decree issued in 535, Justinian wrote:
The greatest gifts given by God to men from his heavenly clemency are priesthood and empire (sacerdotium et imperium). The former serves divine things, the latter rules human affairs and has care of them. Both proceed from one and the same source and provide for human life. Therefore nothing shall so preoccupy emperors as the moral wellbeing of priests, since priests pray constantly to God for the emperors themselves.
Thus, Justinian endorsed the Christian dogma that all humans are within the single and universal body of Christ, and he condoned Gelasius’s proposition that both the pope and the emperor derive their power from God-all of society, then, supposedly belongs to a natural and hierarchical body (or organism). But Justinian turned Gelasius’s hierarchical ordering upside down: according to Justinian, the emperor, not the pope, is supreme. The emperor—literally considered as “divinity on earth”—condescends to ensure the suitability of the clergy because they act on his behalf by praying to God. The remainder of this decree underscored the scope of Justinian’s asserted power over Church affairs: it continued by discussing the ordination of clergy and the upkeep of churches.
While Justinian often is cited for his strong expression of Caesaropapism, his famous Code, “one of the most formative agencies of Europe,” did not overlook the Jews. Indeed, as the emperor and professed leader of all Christianity, Justinian codified antisemitism. In the words of Rosemary Ruether, the Code held that Jews were “to present to Christian society the living proof of the social results of divine reprobation, both to testify to the truth of Christianity, and ultimately to convince the Jews themselves of this truth.” Thus, for example, the Code prohibited Jews from testifying in court against Christians.
Pope Gregorius I dictating the gregorian chants / Antiphonary of Hartker of the monastery of Saint Gall
Gregory I, the pope from 590 to 604, looms as one of the most significant medieval figures in the development of the Church and in the treatment of the Jews. Gregory (or Gregory the Great) entertained hierocratic notions, but as an astute political realist, he realized that the emperor’s strength in Constantinople and the Eastern Empire was insurmountable. Therefore, Gregory sought to expand the Church’s power to the West by, for example, sending missions to England and Gaul. In the East, Gregory deferred to the Caesaropapist view of the emperor, while in the West, he propagated the hierocratic notion that royal power ultimately served the Church. Gregory addressed the emperor as the “Lord Emperor” yet called the Western kings his “dearest sons.” Gregory’s strategy proved successful: he dramatically increased the influence of the papacy and thus enabled the Church to emerge as a leading governmental institution of the Middle Ages.
Meanwhile, with regard to Judaism, Gregory followed New Testament dogma, and his views became the basis for the medieval “Constitution for the Jews,” which guided papal treatment of Jews throughout the Middle Ages. To Gregory, Judaism “would ‘pollute’ Christian faith and ‘deceive with sacrilegious seduction’ simple Christian peasants.” Jews existed to be converted to Christianity even though they currently were unwilling or unable to see the truth of Jesus as Christ. Nonetheless, Gregory insisted that Jews be allowed to practice their own religion and not be directly forced to convert: “Just as license ought not to be presumed for the Jews to do anything in their synagogues beyond what is permitted by law, so in those points conceded to them, they ought to suffer nothing prejudicial.”
Despite this seeming toleration, in reality Gregory condoned resorting to any means necessary, short of physically coercing baptism, in order to induce Jewish conversion. For example, Gregory approved of bribing Jews to convert and forcing them to attend conversion sermons. Moreover, Gregory explicitly attributed his limited toleration of Jews to respect for Christian, not Judaic, tenets. He wrote that forced baptism had “no profitable effect” because true Christian faith cannot be directly coerced. Gregory continued:
For, when any one is brought to the font of baptism, not by the sweetness of preaching but by compulsion, he returns to his former superstition, and dies the worse from having been born again.
Let, therefore, your Fraternity [of Christians] stir up such men by frequent preaching, to the end that through the sweetness of their teacher they may desire the more to change their old life. For so our purpose is rightly accomplished, and the mind of the convert returns not again to his former vomit.
Within Christianity, the contrast between the Western hierocratic and the Eastern Caesaropapist tendencies contributed to an eventual schism between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches in 1054. Ultimately, though, a theological dispute culminated in this schism between East and West. The papacy had amended the Nicene Creed (which itself was a modification of the original Nicaean Creed) by adding the filioque clause, which proclaimed that the Holy Spirit “‘proceeds’ not only ‘from the Father’ but also ‘from the Son’ (filioque).” The addition of the filioque offended the Eastern Church for two reasons. First, the papacy had instituted the change unilaterally. Second, the clause transformed the conception of the Holy Trinity. The papacy’s commitment to the filioque underscored the increasing “Western emphasis on incarnation as the central reality of the universe.” Whereas Eastern Christianity inclined to the mystical—suggesting that Jesus restores humanity to its full communion with God—Western Christianity inclined to the juridical—suggesting that Jesus triumphed over original sin and atoned for human guilt. The focus of Western Christianity on God incarnate, then, legitimated and perhaps motivated the Church’s efforts to seek greater temporal power in order to promote the Augustinian City of God on earth.
Myers, Philip Van Ness (1905), A medieval king investing a bishop with the symbols of office
The schism between East and West and the Western emphasis on the incarnation and temporal power precipitated the Investiture Struggle, which strained Western Christianity for close to seventy-five years. During the ninth and tenth centuries, feudal authorities (lay lords) had begun appointing clerics to their positions and conferring the symbols of their religious or spiritual dignity (a ring and a staff). Such a lay investiture of ecclesiastical office often included the grant of a large fief but required that the cleric, in return, pay homage and swear fealty to the lay lord. As Ernest Henderson writes: “A bishop at that time was not only a dignitary of the church, but also a prince of the realm, whose duty it was to send his contingents to the king’s army, and to act as councillor at his court.”
The Investiture Struggle emerged because of a sustained papal challenge to this system of lay investiture. As popes and emperors vied for political dominance, the papacy sought in particular to increase the power of the Church primarily by freeing it from imperial and lay control. The most dramatic and climactic events of the Struggle arose during a confrontation between Pope Gregory VII (pontiff from 1073 to 1085) and King Henry IV of Germany (the Holy Roman Emperor). Gregory envisioned and attempted to implement the principles of an extreme hierocracy. In developing his hierocratic themes, Gregory clearly drew upon the Christian ideology of dogmatic antisemitism, expressly condemning Jews pursuant to Christian doctrine. For example, he claimed that Jews worship Satan and therefore should be banned from holding public offices:
We are compelled out of duty to warn Your Affection, that you ought not permit Jews in your land to be lords over Christians, or to wield any power over them any longer. For what is it to set Christians beneath Jews, and to make the former subject to the judgment of the latter, except to oppress the Church and to exalt the Synagogue of Satan, and, while you desire to please the enemies of Christ, to contemn Christ himself?
Then, to facilitate his justification of a hierocracy, Gregory degraded kings and princes by symbolically placing them in the position of the Jews. For example, Gregory wrote:
Who does not know that kings and princes are sprung from those who unmindful of God, urged on, in fact, by the devil, the prince of the world, and by pride, plunder, treachery, murders and by almost every crime, have striven with blind cupidity and intolerable presumption to dominate over their equals, that is to say, over men? [Therefore who] can doubt that the priests and Christ are to be accounted fathers and judges of kings and princes and all the faithful?
Gregory thus returned to the fundamental dualism opposing Christian spirituality and Jewish carnality. Royalty springs from the temporal and material world of Jewish carnality and hence deserves condemnation. Kings and princes must bow before the Christian spirituality of the Church.
Supported by this ideological foundation, Gregory resolutely insisted that the papacy controlled royal authorities. Early in his reign, Gregory summarized his hierocratic principles as follows:
1. That the Roman Church was founded by God alone.
2. That the Roman Pontiff alone is rightly to be called universal.
3. That he alone can depose or reinstate bishops. . . .
6. That, among other things, we also ought not to stay in the same house with those excommunicated by him. . . .
9. That the Pope is the only one whose feet are to be kissed by all princes. . . .
12. That he may depose Emperors. . . .
14. That he has power to ordain a cleric of any church he may wish. . . .
16. That no synod may be called a general one without his order.
17. That no chapter or book may be regarded as canonical without his authority.
18. That no sentence of his may be retracted by any one; and that he, alone of all, can retract it.
19. That he himself may be judged by no one. . . .
22. That the Roman Church has never erred, nor ever, by the witness of Scripture, shall err to all eternity. . . .
25. That without convening a synod he can depose and reinstate bishops.
26. That he should not be considered as Catholic who is not in conformity with the Roman Church.
27. That the Pope may absolve subjects of unjust men from their fealty.
Illuminated initial letter showing Henry IV from the records of the Duchy of Lancaster / The National Archives, London
Following these principles, Gregory initiated his conflict with King Henry IV by prohibiting lay investiture in February 1075. Gregory decreed:
Inasmuch as we have learned that, contrary to the establishments of the holy fathers, the investiture with churches is, in many places, performed by lay persons; and that from this cause many disturbances arise in the church by which the Christian religion is trodden under foot: we decree that no one of the clergy shall receive the investiture with a bishopric or abbey or church from the hand of an emperor or king or of any lay person, male or female. But if he shall presume to do so he shall clearly know that such investiture is bereft of apostolic authority, and that he himself shall lie under excommunication until fitting satisfaction shall have been rendered.
Because lay-invested clerics provided substantial support to the empire, Gregory’s actions sharply threatened Henry’s power. Unsurprisingly, then, Henry initially disregarded Gregory’s directives. When Henry appointed an archbishop to the see in Milan, Gregory responded contentiously in a letter dated December 1075, which insisted that Henry “look more respectfully upon the master of the church—that is, St. Peter, the chief of the apostles [and hence also the pope, as St. Peter’s successor].” Almost immediately, Henry retorted by summoning a council that included most of the German bishops. The bishops accused Gregory of committing perjury and fornication and of usurping the papacy; they concluded by denying Gregory’s authority as pope.
Gregory swiftly and boldly moved to crush Henry politically. In perhaps the most famous of medieval papal decrees, Gregory excommunicated Henry and claimed to deprive him of all royal authority:
I believe that it is and has been thy [God’s] will, that the Christian people especially committed to thee should render obedience to me thy especially constituted representative. To me is given by thy grace the power of binding and loosing in Heaven and upon earth.
Wherefore, relying upon this commission, and for the honor and defense of thy Church . . . I deprive King Henry . . . who has rebelled against thy Church with unheard-of audacity, of the government over the whole kingdom of Germany and Italy, and I release all Christian men from the allegiance which they have sworn or may swear to him, and I forbid anyone to serve him as king.
And since he has refused to obey as a Christian should . . . I bind him in the bonds of anathema in thy stead and I bind him thus as commissioned by thee. . .
Henry, remaining steadfast, responded in kind. By letter, Henry addressed Gregory as “not pope but false monk” and called for him to relinquish the papacy: “Descend, descend, to be damned throughout the ages.” Despite this adamant initial response, Henry soon realized that he lacked the political support in Germany to withstand the papal excommunication. A coalition of nobles and bishops (some of whom had previously condemned Gregory) issued Henry an ultimatum: he must either be released from excommunication within a year or be deposed from his throne. Faced with likely downfall, Henry humiliatingly submitted to Gregory. For three consecutive days during the winter of 1077, Henry stood outside in the snow of a castle courtyard, barefooted in penitence and supplicated for absolution, while Gregory waited and contemplated inside.
In the end, Gregory released Henry from his excommunication, an absolution that, however reasonable, proved politically ruinous for Gregory. Many of Henry’s former supporters rallied to his support, and many of those who continued to oppose Henry nonetheless felt betrayed by Gregory. Henry’s adversaries soon elected a rival king and thus thrust Germany into civil war. After three years of indecision, Gregory finally decided to support the rival king, and therefore once again excommunicated and deposed Henry. This second excommunication and deposition, however, proved politically ineffective. When Henry won the civil war, he resolved to destroy Gregory, who eventually died in exile in 1085.
Despite Henry’s personal victory over Gregory, the Investiture Struggle effectively ended in political compromise: “royal theocracy had been defeated without papal theocracy becoming established.” This compromise, though, proved sufficient to facilitate a dramatic increase in papal power. The Church gained practical independence from royal authority, and the hierocratic theory holding spiritual power above temporal power was largely accepted. Thus emancipated and empowered, the Church exercised unparalleled control over spiritual affairs, and as the boundary between spiritual and temporal affairs often and inevitably blurred, the Church increased its temporal power as well. Indeed, the development of the Church “as an independent, corporate, political and legal entity, under the papacy” suggests that it might be considered the first “modern Western state.”
The Church used its newfound power to relentlessly pursue the City of God on earth. And significantly for subsequent legal development, the Church viewed law as one of the most potent tools for building Western Christendom. The laity were subject to the hierarchical power of the Church, which extended its juridical reach over matters such as matrimony, wills, slander, fornication, and neglect of Church festivals. The already extensive yet disordered canon law was compiled and organized in the mid-twelfth century by Gratian (in his Decretum) and then in the thirteenth century by Raymond of Penaforte (first in his Summa de Poenitentia et Matrimonio and then in his papally commissioned Decretales). In fact, the Church pioneered the concept of a legal system: “a distinct, integrated body of law, consciously systematized” by trained professionals. Harold Berman elaborates:
[T]he church took on most of the distinctive characteristics of the modem state. It claimed to be an independent, hierarchical, public authority. Its head, the pope, had the right to legislate, and in fact Pope Gregory’s successors issued a steady stream of new laws, sometimes by their own authority, sometimes with the aid of church councils summoned by them. The church also executed its laws through an administrative hierarchy, through which the pope ruled as a modem sovereign rules through his or her representatives. Further, the church interpreted its laws, and applied them, through a judicial hierarchy culminating in the papal curia in Rome. Thus the church exercised the legislative, administrative, and judicial powers of a modem state. In addition, it adhered to a rational system of jurisprudence, the canon law. It imposed taxes on its subjects in the form of tithes and other levies. Through baptismal and death certificates it kept what was in effect a kind of civil register. Baptism conferred a kind of citizenship, which was further maintained by the requirement—formalized in 1215—that every Christian confess his or her sins and take Holy Communion at least once a year at Easter. One could be deprived of citizenship, in effect, by excommunication. Occasionally, the church even raised armies.
Despite the ascent of the Church, royal (and imperial) power remained vibrant: the reality of a roughly balanced dualism of power crystallized after the Investiture Struggle. The premodern idea of the political community remained grounded in the symbolic imagery of the organism, like the body of Christ. Individuals were considered to be mere subjects, not citizens
empowered to participate in political affairs. As subjects, individuals fit within a rigidly hierarchical body politic that seemed natural and thus beyond the will or control of the ordinary person (or subject). Yet, at this point, the shape of the modern secular state began to come into focus as emperors and kings stood at least somewhat distinct from the Church. For instance, secular legal systems emerged, though they were modeled on the preeminent canon law system. In fact, secular law was based on a foundation of Christian spirituality: the assumption was that Christians would ensure that secular law would conform to Christian purposes. All law, then—not just canon law—was “seen as a way of fulfilling the mission of Western Christendom to begin to achieve the kingdom of God on earth.”
The development of constitutional principles was one aspect of these burgeoning legal systems. Within the Church itself, the bureaucratic “division of functions” required the formation and articulation of some constitution-like limits and checks upon the exercise of power. Furthermore, because of the roughly balanced dualism of power, the emerging secular states and the Church remained “always jealous of each other’s authority.” Thus, individuals typically lived under multiple and competing legal systems, the canon system plus one or more secular systems. The struggle to devise workable boundaries between the various competing systems spawned the formation of constitutional standards.
In sum, the seeds for the doctrine of separation of church and state were the birth of Christianity and the corresponding condemnation of Judaism. Those seeds were planted in the soil of the Roman establishment of Christianity, took root in the papal-imperial political disputes of the early Middle Ages, and finally sprouted in the Investiture Struggle. As Brian Tierney writes: “[T]he overt issue of church and state that arose during the investiture contest was related to the still more fundamental problem of defining the right relationship between spiritual office and material property.” Equally important, the fundamental Christian dualism opposing spirituality to materiality (as well as temporality and carnality) arose from the early Christian efforts to differentiate and condemn Judaism. Thus, predictably, Gregory VII relied explicitly upon the Christian ideology of antisemitism to support his condemnation of the temporal powers of kings and princes. Moreover, just as the early Christians effectively increased their political power by denouncing Jews, the Church of the Investiture Struggle successfully enhanced its power by denigrating the (implicitly Jewish) carnality of the temporal and material world. Even as the inchoate secular state emerged to share power with the ascendant Church, the state inherited the degraded position of Jews within the universal body of Christianity. Thus, most Christians supposedly found spiritual fulfillment in the Church but nonetheless needed protection from the potential dangers and depravities inherent in the temporal and material world—the world of the Jews and the state.
The Later Middle Ages
Christian Power and the Persecution of Jews
Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem / Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps more so than any other political action, a successful declaration of war manifests supreme authority and control. Hence, soon after the Investiture Struggle, the papacy displayed its enormous strength by launching the Crusades, wars to establish the Christian City of God throughout this world. In 1095, a papal proclamation initiated the first Crusade, and the next year, bands of Christian warriors set forth. The professed purpose of the first Crusade was to recapture Jerusalem and the
Holy Sepulcher from the Saracens, while the avowed goal of the second Crusade (launched in 1146) was to defend the recently captured Holy Lands against potential Saracen attack. Despite these nominal objectives, however, both of these Crusades—especially the first—rapidly degenerated into a war against all heretics and infidels, particularly Jews.
Throughout the Crusades, the papacy claimed to continue its earlier policy of not forcing Jewish conversion. Nonetheless, as the Crusaders crossed Europe, they slaughtered Jews in one pogrom after another. Often, Crusaders formed ill-disciplined armies, little more than Christian mobs, bent on avenging the death of Jesus. These armies were unconcerned with the niceties of Christian doctrine, such as the notion that true faith cannot be coerced. Thus, the mobs repeatedly forced Jews to choose: “baptism or death.” During the first Crusade, the Christian armies declared:
Look you! We set out on a long road in order to reach the Burial Place, and to revenge ourselves on the Ishmaelites, and behold! here are Jews, dwelling in our midst, men whose fathers killed Him, all guiltless, and crucified Him. Let us, therefore, take our revenge first on them, and extirpate them from among the nations, so that the name of Israel will no longer be mentioned; else they must become the same as we are, and profess our faith.
During this first Crusade, in particular, all of the antisemitism institutionalized within Christianity spewed forth in venomous denunciations and massacres of Jews. One Christian reported that “throughout the cities through which [the Crusaders] were passing, they wiped out completely, as enemies internal to the Church, the execrable Jewish remnants, or forced them to the refuge of baptism—but many of these later reverted, like dogs to their vomit.” During the first six months of 1096 alone, between one-quarter and one-third of the Jews in Germany and northern France were murdered. In tragic desperation, some Jews chose suicide, as illustrated in this Christian report:
At Worms too, the Jews, flying from the persecuting Christians, hastened to the Bishop. Since he promised them rescue only on the condition that they be baptized, they begged a truce for consultation. They entered into the Bishop’s chamber at that same hour, and while our people waited outside for what answer they were going to make, they, persuaded by the devil and by their own callousness, killed themselves!
Mainz Jews Blamed for Outbreak of Bubonic Plague / Wikimedia Commons
One of the leading European Jewish communities of that time was located in Mainz, in the Rhineland of Germany. The Mainz Jews felt unusually secure, so that when reports of crusading violence reached them, they nonetheless remained confident of their own safety. Shortly afterward, however, Count Emicho of Leiningen led a crusading army to the town, thus prompting Jewish efforts to initiate negotiations. Albert of Aix, a Christian, described Emicho’s reaction:
Emicho and the rest of his band held a council and, after sunrise, attacked the Jews in the courtyard with arrows and lances. When the bolts and doors had been forced and the Jews had been overcome, they killed seven hundred of them, who in vain resisted the attack and assault of so many thousands. They slaughtered the women also and with the point of their swords pierced young children of whatever age and sex. The Jews, seeing that their Christian enemies were attacking them and their children and were sparing no age, fell upon one another—brothers, children, wives, mothers and sisters—and slaughtered one another. Horrible to say, mothers cut the throats of nursing children with knives and stabbed others, preferring to perish thus by their own hands rather than be killed by the weapons of the [Christians].
Emicho’s massacre of the Mainz Jews included the horrifying tragedy of Rachel (of Mainz) and her four children, as recorded in the Hebrew chronicles of the first Crusade:
[Rachel of Mainz] said to her companions: “I have four children. On them as well have no mercy, lest these [Christians] come and seize them alive and they remain in their pseudo-faith. With them as well you must sanctify the Name of the holy God.” One of her companions came and took the knife to slaughter her son. When the mother of the children saw the knife, she shouted loudly and bitterly and smote her face and breast and said: “Where is your steadfast love, O Lord?” Then the woman said to her companions in her bitterness: “Do not slaughter Isaac before his brother Aaron, so that he not see the death of his brother and take flight.” The women took the lad and slaughtered him—he was small and exceedingly comely. The mother spread her sleeve to receive the blood; she received the blood in her sleeves instead of in the [Temple] vessel for blood. The lad Aaron, when he saw that his brother had been slaughtered, cried out: “Mother, do not slaughter me!” He went and hid under a bureau. She still had two daughters, Bella and Matrona, comely and beautiful young women the daughters of R. Judah her husband. The girls took the knife and sharpened it, so that it not be defective. They stretched forth their necks and she sacrificed them to the Lord God of Hosts, who commanded us not to renounce pure awe of him and to remain faithful to him, as it is written: “You must be wholehearted with the Lord your God.” When the saintly one completed sacrificing her three children before the Creator, then she raised her voice and called to her son: “Aaron, Aaron, where are you? I shall not have mercy nor pity on you as well.” She pulled him by the leg from under the bureau where he was hidden and she sacrificed him before the sublime and exalted God. She placed them under her two sleeves, two on each side, near her heart. They convulsed near her, until the enemy seized the chamber and found her sitting and mourning them. They said to her: “Show us the moneys which you have in your sleeves.” When they saw the children and saw that they were slaughtered, they smote her and killed her along with them.
With the papal declaration of a second Crusade in 1146, Church leaders once again provoked Christian hostility against Jews. One telling episode, in particular, revealed the range and depth of Christian antisemitism. The pope appointed St. Bernard, the abbot of Clairvaux, to be the official preacher of the second Crusade. Ralph, one of the monks in Bernard’s monastery, promptly began preaching vengeance against Jews for killing Christ: “Avenge the Crucified upon his enemies who live among you. Afterwards you shall journey to battle against the Muslims.” Partly due to Ralph, then, the horrors of the first Crusade began to recur as anti-Jewish violence quickly erupted. At this point, Bernard stepped forward to rebuke Ralph and to discourage the Crusaders from killing Jews; in fact, Bernard managed to save many Jewish lives. The reasons for Bernard’s actions, however, are striking. First, since Ralph was from Bernard’s own monastery, Ralph was subject to Bernard’s control within the Church hierarchy. By leaving the monastery to preach, Ralph had violated ecclesiastical protocol and therefore had implicitly challenged and embarrassed Bernard. Second, Bernard opposed killing Jews only so that they could continue suffering in the Diaspora as witnesses to Christian spirituality unless they willingly converted. For Bernard, then, Jews were not protected because of religious toleration or simple human sympathy, but rather because, according to the New Testament, Jews had to play a crucial role in the Christian drama of eternal salvation.
While the Crusades were the most deadly of the papal-initiated persecutions of the Jews, popes continued to oppress Jews in additional ways. In particular, popes relied upon the sophisticated canon law system to enforce the theologically inferior status of Jews. For example, Pope Innocent III, one of the most powerful of all popes, reiterated and codified standard Christian antisemitic dogma. Innocent, who was pontiff from 1198 to 1216, expressly condemned “the carnal Jews” as “demons” who “seek only what sense perceives, who delight in the corporeal senses alone.” The Jew “lies” by denying that Jesus was the Messiah, and hence God “condemned the Synagogue because of her disbelief.” Furthermore, Innocent, continuing previous policy, maintained (at least as an official position) that Jews should not be killed or forced to convert:
Thus the Jews, against whom the blood of Jesus Christ calls out, although they ought not to be killed, lest the people forget the Divine Law, yet as wanderers ought they to remain upon the earth, until their countenance be filled with shame and they seek the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord. That is why blasphemers of the Christian name ought not to be aided by Christian princes to oppress the servants of the Lord [that is, Christians, especially Crusaders], but ought rather to be forced into the servitude of which they made themselves deserving when they raised their sacrilegious hands against Him Who had come to confer true liberty upon them, thus calling down His blood upon themselves and upon their children.
Pope Innocent III wearing a Y-shaped pallium / Fresco at the cloister Sacro Speco
Consequently, Innocent convoked an ecumenical council in 1215 that issued several decrees reinforcing the subjugation of Jews. One decree, for instance, was intended to increase Jewish visibility and hence vulnerability: to alert unsuspecting Christians of a Jewish presence, Jews were required to wear an identifying conical hat or yellow patch. Subsequent papal decrees further contributed to the separation of Jews from the Christian social body by forcing them to live in ghettos, yet Jews were also impressed with the universalism of Christianity by being forced to attend conversion sermons.
The status of Jews in the late Middle Ages reveals how the proper alignment of social forces can channel intense power into forms of cultural oppression. Christianity, at its birth, had articulated (for political expediency) a discourse of condemnation and oppression in the antisemitic doctrine of the New Testament. Then, over the millennium after Constantine, the protection of emperors and kings enabled the established Church to grow as a bureaucratic institution, thus facilitating the spread of Christianity throughout Western society. By the time of the Investiture Struggle, Christianity had become a definitive component of European culture and social organization. Finally, as the Church attained maturity, it was able to emancipate itself from the shelter and control of royal and imperial power. During the late Middle Ages, the Church thus stood at the apex of its power. Christian domination of European culture and social structure allowed the Church to control and to effectively define Jews. One of the decrees of Innocent III exemplifies the totality of Christian power by effectively forcing Jews to observe Christian holidays:
[D]uring the last three days before Easter and especially on Good Friday, [the Jews] shall not go forth in public at all, for the reason that some of them on these very days, as we hear, do not blush to go forth better dressed and are not afraid to mock the Christians who maintain the memory of the most holy Passion by wearing signs of mourning.
Still more egregiously, though, the papacy attempted to ensure “the purity of Jewish doctrine”: several popes, starting with Gregory IX in 1239, condemned the Jewish Talmud and ordered copies seized and burned because it did not harmonize with the Christian conception of Judaism. Christians, in other words, not only condemned Judaism but also demanded that Jews “conform to the image Christians had made of them and practice what Christians told them was their religion.” In sum, the systemic social and legal persecutions of Jews confirmed that they were less than human—that is, less than Christian—and this social degradation of Jews bolstered Christian faith by reinforcing the truth of the Christian world view.
The Emerging Secular State
Sculpture of Aristotle / Louvre Museum, Paris
A philosophical development significant for the emerging secular state occurred early in the thirteenth century: Aristotle’s writings became available to Christian philosophers and theologians. To some, Aristotle’s pagan philosophy dangerously threatened basic Christian tenets; yet to others, Aristotle offered potentially revolutionary insights. The radical differences between the Aristotelian and Christian concepts of the state epitomized the gulf between the two worlds of thought. In Christian theology, the emerging state was symbolically grounded on the dualism opposing Christian spirituality to Jewish carnality. In its squalid Augustinian status, the state or civil society arose as punishment for original sin, and even in the best Christian light, the state still inherited the degraded position of Judaism within the universal body of Christ.
Aristotle’s concept of the state, however, contrasted dramatically with this bleak Christian view. To Aristotle, the good of the state or political community and the good of the individual are inseparable. The telos or natural end of human life is eudaimonia or happiness, and one achieves happiness by living a life in accordance with virtue. Most important, according to Aristotle, “man is by nature a political animal”; hence, one cannot live virtuously unless one lives and acts prudently and sagaciously within a political community. Aristotle wrote that in “the best regime, [the citizen] is one who is capable of and intentionally chooses being ruled and ruling with a view to the life in accordance with virtue.” Furthermore, the government, regardless of its form or type, should pursue the satisfaction of the common good, not private interests. The political community, in short, enables individuals to be citizens and to live virtuously. Contrary to Christian dogma, participation in a political community is neither punishment nor degradation, but rather the highest good. Walter Ullmann elaborates:
The contrast between the [Christian and Aristotelian] points of view, as far as they related to government, can be expressed thus: the [Christian] governmental system, the descending, derived its substance from a principle, from a norm laid down by an a-natural organ, aiming at unity and uniformity; the [Aristotelian], ascending, started from the multiformity of natural manifestations and took them as the basis of its thesis. The one system related to the other world (life in this world was merely preparatory); the other system related to this world alone which was its goal.
Thomas Aquinas / Wikimedia Commons
Within this context, St. Thomas Aquinas, who lived from 1225 to 1274, stands as the “great synthesizer.” He struggled to reconcile Christian faith with Aristotelian reason: according to Thomas, for example, humans can use reason to learn certain truths about God, but other truths concerning God are accessible only by faith. Because he was the preeminent Christian Aristotelian of the Middle Ages, many of Thomas’s ideas have had lasting importance in Western political thought, especially for the doctrine of separation of church and state. Thomas accepted many elements of Aristotle’s concept of the state. For instance, Thomas wrote that “it is natural for man . . . to be a social and political animal, to live in a group.” Furthermore, the king should attempt to promote a virtuous life for his people. Thomas even wrote that “the state is a perfect community” that pursues the “common good.”
Largely because of these Aristotelian elements in his political thought, Thomas contributed heavily to the development of the concept of a secular state. Most important, Thomas introduced into Christendom the idea of the political. An individual no longer was merely a subject under a government descending from above; instead, one might be a citizen who participated in government. Thomas helped open a “conceptual gulf” between church and state because he “showed the conceptual existence of a human body politic, the State.” An individual might be a “good citizen” in a State without necessarily being a “good man.” This distinction, between being a good citizen and a good man, suggested that various human activities could be understood as occurring in discrete realms or spheres of action, and within these discrete spheres, different normative values might apply. Different values or standards might apply, for instance, in politics, economics, and morality. Thus, political science emerged as the study or practical science of the realm of politics or good government.
Nevertheless, if Thomas proved anything through his consummate efforts at synthesis, he proved that Christianity and Aristotelianism cannot be harmonized: they are incompatible. And ultimately, Thomas remained a Christian. Thomas’s resolute commitment to Christianity manifested itself in (among other ways) his rote expression of standard Christian antisemitic dogma. According to Thomas, Jewish history merely prepared for the coming of Jesus, and hence the New Testament perfects or fulfills the imperfect Old Testament. Thomas condemned the Jews for their carnality, yet consistent with Christian dogma, he maintained that they could not be forced to convert (though they certainly could be persecuted severely). Jews, Thomas wrote, blasphemed against Jesus and the Holy Ghost “when [the Jews] ascribed to the prince of devils those works which Christ did by the power of His own Divine Nature and by the operation of the Holy Ghost.” And of course, Jews should be condemned and subjugated because they refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah and ultimately committed deicide:
Among the Jews some were elders, and others of lesser degree. . . . [T]he elders, who were called rulers, knew, as did also the devils, that He [Jesus] was the Christ promised in the Law: for they saw all the signs in Him which the prophets said would come to pass: but they did not know the mystery of His Godhead. Consequently the Apostle says: If they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. It must, however, be understood that their ignorance did not excuse them from crime, because it was, as it were, affected ignorance. For they saw manifest signs of His Godhead; yet they perverted them out of hatred and envy of Christ; neither would they believe His words, whereby He avowed that He was the Son of God.
Eventually then, as a faithful Christian and regardless of his Aristotelian bent, Thomas unsurprisingly subordinated the state to the Church. In so doing, he expressly referred to the fulfillment of the Old Testament in the New Testament:
[S]ince in the old law earthly goods were promised to the religious people . . . the priests of the old law . . . were also subject to the kings. But in the new law there is a higher priesthood by which men are guided to heavenly goods. Consequently, in the law of Christ, kings must be subject to priests.
Thus, while Thomas never degraded the state as harshly as, for example, Augustine had done, he nonetheless insisted that temporal and material affairs always must remain ancillary to eternal salvation.
For this reason, according to Thomas, a king’s government should be modeled on God’s rule over the universe. Thomas’s differentiation of four types of law reflected this emphasis on God’s dominion. To Thomas, eternal law manifests “the very Idea of the government of things in God the Ruler of the universe.” Natural law consists of a small number of principles that manifest “a participation in us of the eternal law.” Divine law consists of the revealed or positive law of the Christian Bible. Finally, human law is the humanly created positive law that implements the general principles of the natural law. Thomas believed that states could enact human (or positive) law—which he then called “civil law”—but such law always remains clearly inferior or subordinate to eternal, divine, and natural law. A purported human law that is inconsistent with divine or natural law is, according to Thomas, “no longer a law but a perversion of law.” Hence, contrary to the Augustinian mandate to humbly obey even unjust civil authorities, Thomas insisted that citizens should disobey unjust human laws—those positive laws that either contravene divine law or were enacted contrary to the common good. In short, the state, when creating human law, should act consistently with Christian tenets.
Thomas added that the best form of government—the one most likely to pursue the common good—is a monarchy, but a monarchy in which the king is assisted by an aristocracy. Thomas expressly tied this conclusion to his criticism of the Jews. He drew examples from the Old Testament to demonstrate that the power granted to a king is so great that a pure monarchy usually degenerates into tyranny. Therefore, only the most virtuous person should become king. Thomas continued:
[P]erfect virtue is to be found in few. And, what is more, the Jews were inclined to cruelty and avarice, which vices above all turn men into tyrants. Hence from the very first the Lord did not set up the kingly authority with full power, but gave them judges and governors to rule them.
Thus, Thomas supported his argument for a somewhat diluted monarchy, or a mixed form of government, by reasoning that Jewish vice had initially necessitated this governmental form. Moreover, Thomas noted, God then inflicted an absolute king on the Jews to punish them.
Central tympanum of the Royal portal, Chartres Cathedral / Photo by Guillaume Piolle, Wikimedia Commons
Finally, the ultimate goal of a Christian political community is not to live virtuously in this world (as Aristotle argued), but rather to prepare for God’s grace and to attain eternal heavenly salvation. Thomas wrote: “[S]ince society must have the same end as the individual man, it is not the ultimate end of an assembled multitude to live virtuously, but through virtuous living to attain to the possession of God.” Thomas then reasserted his hierocratic conclusion: because only the divine government of the Church could successfully lead individuals to the final goal of salvation, mere human governments must ultimately submit to papal control.
In sum, Thomas helped solidify the concept of the secular state. He raised its status from the depths of Augustinian denigration so that politics in the temporal world could at least be respectably studied. Nonetheless, he remained true to his Christian roots. He not only reiterated standard Christian antisemitic doctrine, he also based much of his political theory on that dogma. Despite his Aristotelian orientation, then, Thomas subordinated the state to the Church and insisted that the state existed to help Christians prepare in this world for their blissful eternal salvation.
While Thomas contributed to the theoretical concept of a state, the secular state also continued to evolve in the political hurly-burly of medieval society. Even when the Roman Catholic Church soared to the zenith of its social dominance, royal and imperial power always remained prominent. Often, the Church and the state (in the form of a royal or an imperial presence) jostled and negotiated in their efforts to impose particular structures or arrangements upon the rest of society. Unsurprisingly, as the Church and the state maneuvered for power, they each used the local Jews to further their respective interests. As already discussed, the Church issued numerous decrees during the thirteenth century to reinforce the Christian definition and subjugation of Jews. Frequently, the Church sought assistance from the civil authorities as it attempted to enforce these decrees. Sometimes the state would cooperate, and sometimes it would not—usually depending upon the state’s perception of its own interests and its own power vis-a-vis the Church. For example, around the twelfth century, emperors, kings, and princes began to consider and treat Jews as property: since Christian dogma effectively condemned Jews to perpetual servitude, they were defined as “serfs of the Royal (or Imperial) chamber.” Consequently, royal and imperial authorities gained an increased interest in encouraging the commercial activities of at least some Jews; whenever money was needed, the authorities could generate revenue by legally imposing confiscatory taxes or declaring themselves the heirs of “their” Jews. Hence, when the papal decree that required Jews to wear a conical hat or yellow badge caused some wealthier Jews to flee from Castile in 1219, the king of Castile, fearing a loss of royal income, requested the pope to suspend the decree in Castile. In this instance, the pope submitted to the royal request.
Over time, though, the Church often succeeded in securing state cooperation, typically to the detriment of Jewish communities. During much of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, for example, the English kings resisted many ecclesiastical demands regarding Jews. In 1253, however, when English Jews were not generating substantial royal revenue, King Henry III issued an edict enforcing many of the antisemitic papal policies, such as the requirements that Jews wear a badge and not eat or buy meat during Lent. Then, in 1290, King Edward I banished Jews from England altogether—supposedly “for the honor of the Crucified,” though Edward conveniently commanded that any debts previously owed to Jews should now be paid to the state.
As the thirteenth century turned toward the fourteenth, papal control of European monarchs steadily declined. States frequently complied with papal policies, but more and more often, state officials acted to further their own interests and not due to compulsion. Michael Wilks argues that, at this time, the dream of universal government—whether under an emperor or a pope—gave way to the reality of a multitude of European secular states competing with each other as well as with the Church. In fact, the growing power of secular rulers led to a successful challenge of the papacy early in the 1300s. For more than a century after 1250, the popes had refused to confer the imperial crown on anyone, with the brief exception of Henry VII. Of course, this obstinacy at least appeared to doubly affirm papal political dominance. Popes not only asserted the power to designate an emperor in the first place, but also stood alone at the ostensible apex of power because no one was so designated. When Louis, duke of Bavaria, was elected king of Germany and emperor in 1314, he exercised imperial power in the face of papal opposition, which led to his excommunication and deposition. But refusing to yield, Louis invaded Italy, captured Rome, and continued to defy the papacy until his death in 1347. An edict, issued in 1338 by Louis and the German electors, declared that the emperor was determined through election and needed no papal confirmation. Despite the democratic tinge of this edict, it paraphrased the New Testament while tracing the emperor’s secular power to God: “God has openly given the secular law to the human race through Emperors and kings. . . . [T]he Lord Jesus Christ Himself [ordered] that what is God’s should be rendered to God and what is Caesar’s to Caesar.”
While the rulers of the emerging secular states struggled with the popes for supremacy, the rulers simultaneously attempted to assert control over their own Christian subjects. Quite often, Jews again played an important role in these political developments. In particular, royal and imperial authorities occasionally protected or attempted to protect Jews from frenzied Christian mobs. This protective relationship, which had roots reaching back to the fourth century, surged in importance during the Crusades when Jews desperately turned to civil authorities for protection from the rampaging armies. In response, some state officials were willing to offer refuge, sometimes even issuing charters protecting Jews. Most often, though, these protective charters amounted to no more than “parchment for covering jars,” as even well-intentioned state officials were unable to dissuade mobs rapt with religious fervor. In a report on a typical incident from 1096, a Jew quotes a chief municipal officer:
“Listen to me, you Jews! At the beginning I promised you that I would shield and protect you so long as one Jew lives in this world; these promises I gave you, and so I acted, keeping my promise! But from now on, in the face of all these people, I can no longer do anything for your rescue. Consider now what you want to do. You know well that if you do not do thus and so, the city will be devastated; therefore, it is better that I deliver you to their violence than that they come upon me with a siege and level the castle.”
The protective relation between states and Jews continued throughout the later Middle Ages and beyond. For example, during the fourteenth century, Christians accused Jews of causing the bubonic plague by poisoning water supplies. Individual Jews were tortured until they confessed to the crime, and then entire Jewish populations were burned in retribution. In such circumstances, Jews depended upon governmental officials for protection, which, as during the Crusades, frequently proved inadequate.
Again, however, state protection of Jews typically arose not from a principled commitment to religious liberty but rather from the pursuit of state interests. Occasionally, civil authorities sought to protect Jews merely to preserve public peace and order. A letter dated 1203, from King John of England to the mayor and barons of London, illustrates this view, as the king insisted upon protection for the Jews even as he compared them to dogs:
[A]s you know that the Jews are under our special protection, we are amazed that you permit harm to be done to the Jews residing in the city of London, since this is obviously against the peace of the kingdom and the tranquility of our land. . . . We say this not only for our Jews, but also for our peace, for if we gave our peace to a dog it should be inviolably observed. Therefore, we commit henceforth the Jews residing in the city of London to your care, so that, if anyone attempts to do them harm, you shall defend them, affording them assistance by force.
More often, though, governmental officials protected Jews if the officials perceived them to be useful and loyal subjects. Consequently, state protection could swiftly vanish as the governmental perception of its interests shifted. If a civil official believed that opposition to a Christian mob bent on violence threatened political stability, then the government willingly sacrificed Jewish subjects to placate the mob. Or if a governmental official himself became a fanatical Christian, he would often turn on Jewish subjects and strike a blow for Jesus. At times, such as 1492 in Spain, governmental zealotry even led to the expulsion of all Jews unwilling to convert to Christianity. Moreover, governmental officials readily exploited Jewish dependence by extorting money in exchange for protection. For example, in 1321, the king of France demanded 150,000 pounds from Jews accused of poisoning water supplies. In short, then, insofar as states created or recognized a legal right (however limited) for Jews to survive and practice their religion, that legal right existed to promote the interests and goals of the state, not the Jews.
The medieval emergence of the secular state, together with a recognition of the relationship between governmental officials and Jews, illustrates the complex operation of power. The history of the Middle Ages reveals that the symbolism of Christian dogma provided the discursive framework for the emergence of the secular state and its separation from the Church. In particular, the dogmatic Christian dualism opposing Jewish carnality to Christian spirituality facilitated the creation of a secular sphere of action in at least two ways. First, the Christian dogma posited the existence of a temporal and carnal realm. Second, Christianity insisted that the only goal that truly matters is the spiritual attainment of eternal and other-worldly salvation; at least theoretically, then, the existence of a this-worldly secular sphere posed no threat to Christian domination. Even when Thomas’s (Christianized) Aristotelianism somewhat enhanced the status of the secular state, it still remained subordinate to the Church.
Within this discursive framework, political developments spurred the evolution of the state as a separate and secular entity. Unsurprisingly, the emergence of the secular state tended to benefit the two already dominant social entities or political forces of the Middle Ages—the Church, on the one hand, and royal and imperial powers, on the other. The Church sought to optimize its power. Since the Church contributed to the production of the secular state through the symbolism of its Christian dogma, the Church necessarily subordinated and often degraded the state. The state, after all, always remained tainted by its link to Jewish carnality despite being within the universal Christian body. Moreover, the creation of the secular state further empowered Christianity by reducing governmental interference in ecclesiastical affairs while still allowing the Church to occasionally enlist governmental assistance in the pursuit of Christian universalism. Hence, for example, the Church—often assisted by civil authorities, Christian mobs, or both—was able to intensify its persecution of the theologically condemned Jews.
Despite the insistent Christian denunciation of the material and temporal world, the state (royal and imperial powers) also benefited from its separation and secularization. Indeed, Thomistic theory clearly elevated the state above its degraded Augustinian status, even though Thomas continued to insist that the state was below the Church. Additionally, the burgeoning secularization allowed states to develop institutions independent of the Church. In particular, the secularization of the state facilitated the crucial development of legal systems apart from the canon law system; by the end of the thirteenth century, the idea of a public law of the state was firmly established. And occasionally, the emerging states flexed their muscles, so to speak, by opposing papal decrees, such as those involving the treatment of Jews. Of course, state policies, whether regarding Jews or otherwise, typically reflected state interests. Most often, civil officials sought merely to enhance their power in relation to their subjects (or citizens) and the Church (by, for example, exploiting the social subjugation and dependence of the Jews).
1. See Isidore Epstein, Judaism: A Historical Presentation 99 (1959). Another useful general historical account of Judaism is Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1987).
2. See Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Citations of the Hebrew Bible are to the following edition: The Holy Scriptures (Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society of America 1955) (according to the Masoretic Text). Books on Judaism in general include the following: Beryl D. Cohon, Judaism: In Theory and Practice (1948); David C. Gross, How to Be Jewish (1988); Louis Jacobs, The Jewish Religion (1995); Morris N. Kertzer, What Is a Jew? (1953); Roy A. Rosenberg, The Concise Guide to Judaism (1990); Milton Steinberg, Basic Judaism (1947); Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy (1991). Books that focus on the differences between Judaism and Christianity include the following: Abba Hillel Silver, Where Judaism Differs (1987); Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, Judaism and Christianity: The Differences (1943).
3. See William Nicholls, Christian Antisemitism 31–32 (1993); Elaine Pagels, The Origin of Satan 3–6, 34 (1995). Some other books on antisemitism in general include the following: Edward H. Flannery, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism (1985); Gavin I. Langmuir, History, Religion, and Antisemitism (1990); Harold E. Quinley & Charles Y. Glock, Anti-Semitism in America (1979); Robert S. Wistrich, Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (1991). A book on the Jewish internalization of antisemitic attitudes is Sander L. Gilman, Jewish Self-Hatred (1986). Books that focus on the relationship between Christianity and antisemitism include the following: John Dominic Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus (1995); Weddig Fricke, The Court-Martial of Jesus (Salvator Attanasio trans., 1987); Frederic Cople Jaher, A Scapegoat in the New Wilderness: The Origins and Rise of Anti-Semitism in America (1994); Jacob Neusner, Jews and Christians: The Myth of a Common Tradition (1991); James Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue (1934); James Parkes, Judaism and Christianity (1948) [hereinafter Parkes, Judaism]; Rosemary Ruether, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism (1974); Samuel Sandmel, Anti-Semitism in the New Testament? (1978); Antisemitism and Foundations of Christianity (Alan Davies ed., 1979). Books that focus on the Holocaust include the following: Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust (1989); Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews: 1933–1945 (1975); Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust (1986); Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (1985) (three volumes).
4. Indeed, Jesus was probably an observant Jew, or in current terms, an Orthodox Jew. See Nicholls, supra note 3, at 45–84. For Josephus’s Christianized account of Jesus, see Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, reprinted in 3 Complete Works of Josephus 94 (Bigelow, Brown edition, based on the Havercamp trans.).
5. Therefore, Christians call the Hebrew Bible the Old Testament. See Niels C. Nielsen, Jr., et al., Religions of the World 435 (1983). Most, if not all, of the New Testament probably originated during the first eighty years of the Christian movement. See Martin E. Marty, A Short History of Christianity 28–29 (1959); Robert C. Monk & Joseph D. Stamey, Exploring Christianity: An Introduction 18, 232 (2d ed. 1990). Other helpful histories of Christianity include the following: Margaret Deanesly, A History of the Medieval Church 590–1500 (8th ed. 1954); Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity (2d ed. 1993); Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians (1987).
6. See Nicholls, supra note 3, at 18, 31, 43–44, 83; Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind 89, 92 (1991). The Church had adopted the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible (as the Old Testament) before the New Testament was completely written and canonized. See Nicholls, supra note 3, at 154.
To be clear, I am not using the term “disciples” to refer to Jesus’ twelve selected disciples. See Monk & Stamey, supra note 5, at 23.
7. See Pagels, supra note 3, at 8, 33.
8. The New Testament states: “[Christ] is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:15 (emphasis in the original); see Nicholls, supra note 3, at 12, 172–73 (on the Christian theology of supersession). Rosemary Ruether, a Christian theologian, writes: “The heart
of the conflict between Jew and Christian . . . lies in the Christian claim to the ‘true Israel’ which defines the old Israel as apostate and ‘divorced’ by God. This sets Christian anti-Judaism fundamentally apart from pagan antisemitism.” Rosemary Ruether, The Faith and Fratricide Discussion: Old Problems and New Dimensions, in Antisemitism and Foundations of Christianity 230, 233 (Alan Davies ed., 1979).
9. The New Testament repeatedly refers to Jews as “the Jews.” See, e.g., John 5:18; 19:12. This rhetoric tends to reinforce the Christian message that Jews are different and strange—the Other Consequently, when I discuss Christian descriptions and treatments of Jews, I often use the Christian terminology, “the Jews,” to underscore Christian antisemitic attitudes. Otherwise, I shall ordinarily refer merely to Jews or Judaism.
Quotations from the New Testament are from the King James version. See Holy Bible (containing the Old and New Testaments) (King James Version 1611); see also Holy Bible (translated from the Latin Vulgate, Douay-Rheims version 1582) (Catholic Bible). For purposes of this text, the differences between the Douay-Rheims and King James versions of the Christian Bible are insignificant.
10. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” John 5:39–40; see Matthew 22:34–46 (Jesus argues that Pharisees misunderstood the Hebrew Scriptures); Galatians 2:21 (attacks Jewish law).
11. John 5:37–38; accord Matthew 22:29, 34–46 (Pharisees do not understand God); Galatians 2:21 (attacks Jewish law); Acts 28:26–28 (Jews never understand God); Hebrews 8:6–13 (Jewish covenant is defective); see Ruether, supra note 3, at 70–73 (Jesus’ disciples searched the Hebrew Bible to show that it meant that Jesus was the Messiah).
12. The New Testament states:
[T]he 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 alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
1 Thessalonians 2:14–16; see Nicholls, supra note 3, at 84, 126–27.
13. See Nicholls, supra note 3, at 3 (the image of the Jew as Christ killer is a central element in Christian myth and is taught to all Christians).
14. See Pagels, supra note 3, at 10, 103.
15. Matthew 27:25 (emphasis omitted).
16. John 19:12–16. The official Latin title of Pilate as governor of the Roman province of Judea was praefectus, combining “prefect” (emphasizing military command) with “procurator” (emphasizing financial responsibility). Ferguson, supra note 5, at 42.
17. John 19:4–7. Likewise, the Gospel of John adds: “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” John 5:18. And in a similar vein:
I [Jesus] and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
John 10:30–33 (emphasis omitted).
18. John Dominic Crossan calls the passion narratives “prophecy historicized,” not “history remembered.” Crossan, supra note 3, at 1–8; see Pagels, supra note 3, at 3–111. But cf. Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah (1994) (arguing that the passion narratives represent historical fact). The passion narratives are the New Testament passages referring to the trial and death of Jesus. See Nicholls, supra note 3, at 21.
19. See Fricke, supra note 3, at 117–20 (many bands of insurgents); Silver, supra note 2, at 97 (many messianic movements). From 66 to 73 C.E., the Jews fought a war to free themselves from Roman rule. Rome defeated the Jews and destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. See Epstein, supra note 1, at 108–12; Johnson, supra note 1, at 127, 136–40.
20. See Nicholls, supra note 3, at 86–89; Telushkin, supra note 2, at 545–47. Rabbi Telushkin emphasizes that many Jews long have been skeptical about the coming of a Messiah. He reports that a first-century sage, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, said: “If you should happen to be holding a sapling in your hand when they tell you that the Messiah has arrived, first plant the sapling and then go out and greet the Messiah.” Telushkin, supra note 2, at 545.
21. Crossan, supra note 3, at 212. See Fricke, supra note 3, at 117–20; Johnson, supra note 1, at 141; Silver, supra note 2, at 97.
22. See Jaher, supra note 3, at 34–35; Nicholls, supra note 3, at 105–07; Pagels, supra note 3, at 14 (during the first century c.e., the Romans arrested and crucified thousands of Jews).
23. See Fricke, supra note 3, at 4, 109, 127–32.
24. During this period, there were at least four major groups within the Jewish community—the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Zealots, and the Essenes—but many Jews did not officially belong to any of these groups. When Rome defeated the Jews and destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the vitality of the Sadducees was undermined because they focused largely on Temple worship. In fact, the Pharisees were the only group to substantially survive the war. See Epstein, supra note 1, at 95–109; Johnson, supra note 1, at 127, 136–40; Monk & Stamey, supra note 5, at 6–7, 9; Ruether, supra note 3, at 45, 60, 75, 77.
25. See Epstein, supra note 1, at 95–107; Fricke, supra note 3, at 4; Johnson, supra note 3, at 100, 106, 108, 121–22, 127; Ruether, supra note 3, at 58–59, 67–69, 86–88; Wistrich, supra note 3, at 13–14. William Nicholls tersely summarizes the historical record: “The Jews did not conspire to kill [Jesus] and were not responsible for his death. He met his end on a Roman cross condemned by a Roman official for a Roman offense.” Nicholls, supra note 3, at xxvi. In 1965, the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Church’s Attitude to Non-Christians contained a tepid repudiation of the charge of deicide against the Jews. This Declaration has had little effect on Christian education because it is contrary to the Christian Gospels. See Wistrich, supra note 3, at 235.
26. Crossan, supra note 3, at 152.
27. See Jaher, supra note 3, at 21; Nicholls, supra note 3, at 27, 107–08; Pagels, supra note 3, at 10–11, 15; Ruether, supra note 3, at 89–95; Wistrich, supra note 3, at 13–14. Everett Ferguson notes that early Christianity was in a struggle with Judaism for the allegiance of pagans. Ferguson, supra note 5, at 573. Samuel Sandmel emphasizes that the Gospel of Mark was shaped to assure the Gentile Christian community of its full validity. See Sandmel, supra note 3, at 47–48.
28. See Nicholls, supra note 3, at 16–17, 90–99.
29. Pre-Christian Gnosis emphasized a dichotomy of material and spiritual worlds, where humanity can be redeemed by the descent of a savior. See Ferguson, supra note 5, at 282–92; Nicholls, supra note 3, at 132; cf. Silver, supra note 2, at 97–98 (explaining the Christian interpretation of Jesus’ death as universal atonement).
30. The concept of a dying and rising god was probably borrowed from the pagan mystery religions. See Fox, supra note 5, at 94–96, 124–26; Nicholls, supra note 3, at 132; Tarnas, supra note 6, at 109–10. But cf. Ferguson, supra note 5, at 279–82 (Christianity borrowed from mystery religions, though perhaps less than many assume).
31. See Pagels, supra note 3, at 11–13.
32. See Neusner, supra note 3, at 5–6; Nielsen, supra note 5, at 485; Silver, supra note 2, at 161; Monika K. Hellwig, From the Jesus of Story to the Christ of Dogma, in Antisemitism and Foundations of Christianity 118, 122, 126–27 (Alan Davies ed., 1979). The claimed universality of the Christian way is one reason that proselytizing is such an integral part of the religion. See Nielsen, supra note 5, at 487–88.
33. Christians therefore read the Old Testament differently from the way Jews read the Hebrew Bible: in each religion, the text (of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) is understood within the context of a larger canon (and each religion has a different larger canon). See Neusner, supra note 3, at ix–x; Ruether, supra note 3, at 117–82; Gregory Baum, Introduction, in Rosemary Ruether, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism 1, 11–12 (1974). In fact, the New Testament at times seems to blatantly misread the Hebrew Bible. See Ruether, supra note 3, at 86, 109; cf. Pagels, supra note 3, at 77 (giving example of Greek mistranslation of Hebrew Bible). William Nicholls writes:
The Old Testament is not the Jewish Bible. It is an extremely novel reading of the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. So reread, the Bible is no longer the history of covenant and Torah but a complex web of predictions of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.
Nicholls, supra note 3, at 114.
34. See Parkes, Judaism, supra note 3, at 107–08; Ruether, supra note 3, at 89–95; Wistrich, supra note 3, at 13–14.
35. John 8:42–47; 10:22–39.
36. John 8:42–45. Elaine Pagels emphasizes how the New Testament associated Satan with Jews (who refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah) and not with the Romans. See Pagels, supra note 3, at 13–15.
37. Matthew 23:37–39; accord 1 Thessalonians 2:14–16.
38. See Matthew 11:20–24 (Jews condemned to Hell); Luke 10:13–15; 16:19–31 (same).
39. See Ferguson, supra note 5, at 315, 367; Fox, supra note 5, at 94–96; Nicholls, supra note 3, at 33–34; Ruether, supra note 3, at 104; Wistrich, supra note 3, at 15; cf. Etienne Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages 70–81, 93–94 (1955) (Augustine and other Church Fathers were influenced by Plato through Neoplatonists, especially Plotinus). In effect, Christianity imbued Jewish eschatology, which contrasted two historical stages of time, with Platonist metaphysics, which contrasted two metaphysical realms, the material and the spiritual (or, respectively, the world of objects and the world of forms or ideas). See Plato, Phaedo, in Plato, The Republic and Other Works 487, 505–12, 534–35 (B. Jowett trans., 1973) (Anchor Books ed.); Plato, The Republic, in Plato, The Republic and Other Works 7, 169–73 (B. Jowett trans., 1973) (Anchor Books ed.); cf. Silver, supra note 2, at 184, 189–95 (on the dualism of Christianity).
40. Galatians 4:23; see Colossians 2:16–23 (Jewish practices are carnal).
41. Galatians 5:16.
42. Romans 9:31–32.
43. For references to hypocrisy, see Matthew 22:18 (on hypocrisy); Matthew 23:3 (Jews “say, and do not”); Matthew 23:28 (Jews “outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and inequity”); Luke 11:44 (“ye are as graves which appear not”). For references related to being blind fools, see Matthew 23:17 (“Ye fools and blind”) (emphasis omitted). For references related to being hard of heart, see Mark 10:2–9; Matthew 19:1–9. For a reference to the Christian emphasis on spiritual glory, see Matthew 5:29–30 (prefer physical suffering to eternal suffering in Hell).
44. Hebrews 13:14. Augustine did not directly quote this passage. Instead, he derived the title of his treatise, The City of God, from several Old Testament Psalms. See St. Augustine, 2 The City of God, at bk. XI, §1 (Marcus Dods trans. & ed., 1948) (quoting Psalms 46:4; 48:1; 87:3). Nonetheless, as will be discussed later in this chapter, Augustine interpreted the phrase “city of God” in accordance with New Testament symbolism.
45. Mark 12:15.
46. Mark 12:17; accord Luke 20:25.
47. See Nicholls, supra note 3, at 278–79, 467 n.3. Nicholls notes that the word “secular” comes from a Latin word meaning a period of time. Originally, therefore, “secular” contrasted with “eternity,” not with “religion.” See id. at 279.
48. See Jaher, supra note 3, at 21.
49. Wistrich, supra note 3, at 16–17 (quoting from Homily 1, Against the Jews, in W.A. Meeks & R.L. Wilken, Jews and Christians in Antioch in the First Four Centuries of the Common Era 97 (1978)).
50 See Cohon, supra note 2, at 218–19 (Christianity, as developed by Paul, directly negated Judaism); Pagels, supra note 3, at 34 (the identification of Satan with Jesus’Jewish opponents would fuel antisemitism for centuries); Ruether, supra note 3, at 121 (“Christian scriptural teaching and preaching per se is based on a method in which anti-Judaic polemic exists as the left hand of its christological hermeneutic”); Baum, supra note 33, at 5–6 (“The central Christian affirmation seems to negate the possibility of a living Judaism”). Zygmunt Bauman writes:
Christianity could not reproduce itself, and certainly could not reproduce its ecumenical domination, without guarding and reinforcing the foundations of Jewish estrangement—the view of itself as the heir and the overcoming of Israel. The self-identity of Christianity was, in fact, estrangement of the Jews. It was born of the rejection by the Jews. It drew its continuous vitality from the rejection of the Jews. Christianity could theorize its own existence only as an on-going opposition to the Jews.
Bauman, supra note 3, at 38 (emphasis in the original). But cf. Davies, supra note 3 (a collection of essays considering whether Christianity is inherently antisemitic; most essays, however, conclude that Christianity can be separated from antisemitism).
51. See, e.g., Luke 10:33; 17:16; John 4:40–42 (emphasizing Jews as faithless).
52. Ruether writes that, to Christianity, Jews are “preserved in a physical way as a witness to God’s wrath upon Jewish ‘unbelief.’” Ruether, supra note 3, at 56; see id. at 95–97 (Jewish practices are carnal and unrelated to salvation); id. at 105–07 (for Paul, Jews exist only to be converted to Christianity); see, e.g., Romans 9:1–11:36 (Jews exist to convert).
53. Nicholls, supra note 3, at 3.
55. Bauman, supra note 3, at 38.
56. Id. at 39–41.
57. Antisemitism, however, spread to non-Christian cultures and religions. See Wistrich, supra note 3, at 195–267 (on antisemitism among Moslems).
58. Bauman, supra note 3, at 17 (quoting Christopher R. Browning, The German Bureaucracy and the Holocaust, in Genocide: Critical Issues of the Holocaust 147 (Alex Grobman & Daniel Landes eds., 1983)).
59. See Johnson, supra note 1, at 207; Wistrich, supra note 3, at 26–32, 96, 164–65; see, e.g., Karl Marx, On the Jewish Question (1843), in The Marx-Engels Reader 26, 49 (Robert C. Tucker ed., 2d ed. 1978) (blames Jews for causing Christians to become capitalists). Wistrich writes: “Austrian ‘antisemitism without Jews’ (they constitute only 0.1 per cent of the total population) seemed to be illustrating the truth of Henryk Broder’s remark about the Germans: that they will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz!” Wistrich, supra note 3, at 96.
60. Bruno Bauer, The Jewish Problem (1843), reprinted in The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History 262, 262 (Paul R. Mendes-Flohr Jehuda Reinharz eds., 1980).
61. See Johnson, supra note 1, at 169–310; Parkes, Judaism, supra note 3, at 135 & n.35. For an example of a decree from the thirteenth century that required Jews to wear conical hats or yellow patches, see That Jews Should be Distinguished From Christians in Dress, reprinted in The Jew in the Medieval World: A Source Book, 315–1791, at 138 (Jacob R. Marcus ed., 1938).
62. See, e.g., Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, 793 (1983); McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 442 (1961); cf. Stephen L. Carter, The Culture of Disbelief 88 (1993) (on the origins of the rhetoric of the Judeo-Christian tradition); Robert Wuthnow, The Restructuring of American Religion 76–77 (1988) (the same).
63. See Ruether, supra note 3, at 62–63; Weiss-Rosmarin, supra note 2, at 9–10 (Judaism and Christianity are irreconcilable); Moshe Halbertal, The Scourge of Reason, New Republic, March 15, 1993, at 35, 37 (the Judeo-Christian tradition is an illusion). Jacob Neusner writes: “The conception of a Judeo-Christian tradition that Judaism and Christianity share is simply a myth in the bad old sense: a lie.” Neusner, supra note 3, at ix; accord id. at 93–104.
64. Rosemary Ruether, a Christian theologian, observes that this fiction “reduces Judaism to the Scriptures of Hebrew national religion which stand as the ‘Old Testament’ to the Christian ‘New Testament,’ declared to be its universal and spiritual fulfillment.” Ruether, supra note 3, at 63.
65. Neusner, supra note 3, at 18–19. Neusner refers to this mistaken characterization of Christianity as reforming Judaism as a “Protestant error” because it sees Christianity relating to Judaism as Protestantism relates to Roman Catholicism. Id. at 18.
66. See id. at 28, 103. Ruether ironically turns this argument on its head:
[T]he Judaism which rejected Jesus as the Christ and which resisted Christian preaching was not the Judaism of the temple priesthood [the Sadducees] of Jesus’ lifetime, but the Judaism of the Pharisees, which brought to full development at Jamnia that alternative to the temple which also excluded the Christian answer. This was the Judaism with which Christianity was in conflict during its early mission. If Christianity regards Judaism as “obsolete” and its continued existence as a “mystery,” now that it has “rejected” its own future in Christ, it might be equally true that Judaism regards Christianity as “obsolete,” a holdover from the heady apocalypticism of Jewish Palestine from the time of the Maccabees to the Sicarii of the Jewish Wars. This, from the Pharisaic perspective, had already been proven a false line of development. That Christianity could actually survive such a birth and continue to grow, not merely to adulthood but into a kind of giant, is, from the Jewish perspective, an enigma, given the self-contradiction of its religious starting point. That Christians could through the ages continue to assert that the Messiah has come, when evil demonstrably continues to reign—and, still more, to do such evil “in his name”—is, from a Jewish perspective, an unfathomable self-contradiction.
Ruether, supra note 3, at 62.
67. Neusner, supra note 3, at 28; see Monk & Stamey, supra note 5, at 212; cf. Weiss-Rosmarin, supra note 2, at 126–51 (Jews cannot accept Jesus as a prophet, teacher, or rabbi). Early Jews proselytized, but Judaism has not endorsed this practice for at least 2000 years. See Kertzer, supra note 2, at 202–03; Monk & Stamey, supra note 5, at 212; Nielson, supra note 5, at 434; Wistrich, supra note 3, at 8.
68. See Denise Lardner Carmody & John Tully Carmody, Christianity: An Introduction 40–42 (1983); Monk & Stamey, supra note 5, at 103–04, 109–17; Ruether, supra note 3, at 78; Weiss-Rosmarin, supra note 2, at 51, 54, 62. See generally Neusner, supra note 3, at 13 (differentiating being and becoming).
Different Christian theologians, of course, have different conceptions of faith. My description of faith in the text is closer to an Augustinian and Protestant definition of faith than to a Thomistic definition, which tends to be more cognitive and intellectual. See Monk & Stamey, supra note 5, at 67–68, 142. Richard Tarnas defines Christian faith as follows: “[T]he soul’s active, freely willed embrace of Christ’s revealed truth, with man’s commitment of belief and trust working in mysterious interaction with God’s freely bestowed grace.” Tarnas, supra note 6, at 112.
69. See Cohon, supra note 2, at 99–100; Weiss-Rosmarin, supra note 2, at 47, 92; cf. Silver, supra note 2, at 190 (“the more dualistic the more anti-Judaistic”).
70. Deuteronomy 30:15–19.
71. Kertzer, supra note 2, at 3; see Nielson, supra note 5, at 399, 444–45; Steinberg, supra note 2, at 12–15. Most Jews do not believe in an afterlife, although the Talmud can be interpreted as suggesting that there is one. See Gross, supra note 2, at 127–28; Silver, supra note 2, at 265–68.
72. Psalms 34:15.
73. Isaiah 1:17.
74. Deuteronomy 6:18.
75. Deuteronomy 16:20; accord Exodus 22:21–26 (do good; for example, care for strangers); Isaiah 16:5 (act righteously and seek justice); 51:1 (pursue righteousness); Jeremiah 5:1 (seek truth and justice).
76. Gross, supra note 2, at xxx. Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher who drew upon Aristotle, said, “[t]he reward for virtuous living . . . was the good life itself.” Kertzer, supra note 2, at 14; see Steinberg, supra note 2, at 66, 78 (on Maimonides and virtue). Morris Kertzer writes:
The story is told of a Gentile who asked Hillel, the great rabbi and scholar of the first century, B.C.E., if he could tell him all there was to know about Judaism while he stood on one foot! Hillel replied: ‘Certainly! What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy neighbor. That is all there is in the Torah. All the rest is commentary. I suggest you study the commentary.’
Kertzer, supra note 2, at 8 (emphasis in the original).
Among Orthodox Jews particularly, Jewish law—the rules of conduct—is considered sweet and good partly because it promotes ethical conduct in this world, but in Christianity, law is necessary only because people are depraved. See Silver, supra note 2, at 136–37; Weiss-Rosmarin, supra note 2, at 84, 89. There are 613 mitzvot, or laws and regulations. See Gross, supra note 2, at 23, 53–54. The Judaic concern for this world is also evidenced by Judaism’s tendency to promote and celebrate study and education, which are means to cultivate good and just conduct in this world. See Cohon, supra note 2, at 127–28; Kertzer, supra note 2, at 7.
77. See Kertzer, supra note 2, at 6; Silver, supra note 2, at 137–38, 152, 179–80, 258–59; Weiss-Rosmarin, supra note 2, at 65.
78. See Monk & Stamey, supra note 5, at 129 (the key difference between Christianity and Judaism is that the former emphasizes faith and belief, while the latter does not); Pagels, supra note 3, at 74 (the message of the New Testament is that one finds the Kingdom of God by believing in Jesus as the Messiah, even if one is otherwise lacking in spiritual self-knowledge); Silver, supra note 2, at 173–75 (on the Jewish concept of faith). Silver writes:
[Ejxtreme inwardness, which regards the act itself as of little or no account, is alien to Judaism. A meritorious act is important even without kavanah, without the correct inner intent, without its having been done li’shmah—for its own sake. By performing it the agent may ultimately come to acquire the correct inner attitude—for men learn by doing and are affected by whatever activity they are engaged in, and a moral act per se has a social utility, quite apart from the agent’s intent.
Silver, supra note 2, at 139.
79. Silver, supra note 2, at 112; accord Steinberg, supra note 2, at 86 (sin is failure to be just and righteous, a failure to lead the good life). Judaism rejects the concept of original sin (see Kertzer, supra note 2, at 199–200), yet Judaism acknowledges that all people are susceptible to sin: “Perfection is not a human trait.” Steinberg, supra note 2, at 89.
80. For example, Martin E. Marty describes the Christianity of Southern Protestants as “otherworldly individualism.” Martin E. Marty, Protestantism in the United States: Righteous Empire 222 (2d ed. 1986).
81. See Jacobs, supra note 2, at 347–48; Telushkin, supra note 2, at 643–44.
82. See Kertzer, supra note 2, at 8.
83. The Tractate Avot 1:14, in The Talmud: Selected Writings 221 (Ben Zion Bokser trans., 1989); see Cohon, supra note 2, at 111.
84. Kertzer, supra note 2, at 115; see The Tractate Taanit 23a, in The Talmud: Selected Writings 117 (Ben Zion Bokser trans., 1989); Cohon, supra note 2, at 101, 127; Silver, supra note 2, at 115, 189–95; Weiss-Rosmarin, supra note 2, at 76.
85. See supra notes 33–34 and accompanying text.
86. Nicholls, supra note 3, at 87.
87. Id. at 122. Nicholls writes:
The texts that the leadership of the new [Christian] movement found in the Torah, the Prophets and the Psalms, came to be known as the Testimonies. They are the real foundation of Christian theology. The texts are referred to many times in the New Testament, they are quoted and paraphrased in the Christian liturgy, and they formed the basis of Christian instruction from the first. In the following centuries they would be collected together in books called Testimonies.
Another spurious similarity between Judaism and Christianity lies in their respective understandings of monotheism. Judaism resolutely maintains the unity and oneness of God: God is absolutely incorporeal and thus has no human attributes. See Kertzer, supra note 2, at 200; Weiss-Rosmarin, supra note 2, at 15–21. Meanwhile, Christianity justifies Jesus’ death by understanding him as the Son of God, as God incarnate, who upon death ascended to Heaven. To Judaism, a Holy Trinity—a God, a Son who is God incarnate, and a Holy Spirit—cannot be the incorporeal unity of a truly monotheistic religion. These radically different conceptions of monotheism lead, of course, to further differences between Judaism and Christianity. For instance, whereas many forms of Christianity abound with pictorial and sculptured images of Jesus, as God incarnate, Judaism never represents or visualizes its Deity because doing so would be inconsistent with the incorporeal unity of God: “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above.” (Exodus 20:4); see Johnson, supra note 1, at 8, 63; Weiss-Rosmarin, supra note 2, at 21.
With regard to the Judaic concept of God, Judaism further maintains that God is personal (though not personified), which means that God remains near all persons so that they can all know goodness and therefore how to act justly and righteously. See Exodus 33:18–23 (humans cannot see the face of God but can learn all the goodness); Deuteronomy 30:11–14 (the word of good conduct is within all); Silver, supra note 2, at 3. Moreover, God is worshipped most genuinely through conduct, not through prayer:
Judaism holds that man can most genuinely worship god by imitating those qualities that are godly: as God is merciful, so we must be compassionate; as God is just, so we must deal justly with our neighbor; as god is slow to anger, so we must be tolerant in our judgment.
Silver, supra note 2, at 7. Finally, even the importance of believing in God is disputed within Judaism. Some reason that one worships God adequately merely by living a just and ethical life (see Halbertal, supra note 63, at 37), while others insist that one must have “at least a modicum of belief in God” (Gross, supra note 2, at 6). See generally Steinberg, supra note 2, at 31–58 (on the Jewish concept of God).
88. Rosemary Ruether has done the most complete study of the antisemitism in the writings of the Church Fathers. This writing is called the adversus Judaeos literature. See Ruether, supra note 3. For a summary of this literature, see Nicholls, supra note 3, at 208.
89. Anthony Giddens, Profiles and Critiques in Social Theory 32 (1982).
90. Because of the eventual importance of the New Testament discourse, it should be noted that the two central themes—first, the dualism between Christian spirituality and Jewish carnality, and second, Christian universalism—stand somewhat in tension at a theoretical level. Exclusion and condemnation (the first theme) tends to undermine the openness and inclusiveness that universalism (the second theme) seems to require. This tension between the themes, however, has not weakened Christianity, but rather has introduced flexibility and thus resiliency into Christian social power. Significantly, the relation between the themes facilitates the Christian exercise of oppressive power: Christians easily justify the subjugation and persecution of non-Christians (especially Jews), first, by claiming power over them because all are within the universal body of Jesus and, second, by condemning them for refusing to accept the spiritual fulfillment of that united and uniform Christian body. See generally Robert A. Williams, The American Indian in Western Legal Thought (1990) (explores the significance of Christian universalism for the domination of Native Americans).
91. See Monk &c Stamey, supra note 5, at 33–48. Books that discuss the development of Christianity, antisemitism, or the doctrine of separation of church and state during the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages include the following: Harold J. Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (1983); Fox, supra note 5; James Muldoon, Popes, Lawyers, and Infidels (1979); Edward A. Synan, The Popes and the Jews in the Middle Ages (1965); Brian Tierney, The Crisis of Church and State 1050–1300 (1988) [hereinafter Tierney, Crisis]; Brian Tierney, Religion, Law, and the Growth of Constitutional Thought 1150–1650 (1982) [hereinafter Tierney, Religion]; Walter Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages (1955) [hereinafter Ullmann, Growth]; Walter Ullmann, A History of Political Thought: The Middle Ages (1965) [hereinafter Ullmann, History]; Church, State, and Jew in the Middle Ages (Robert Chazan ed., 1980) [hereinafter Chazan]; Church and State Through the Centuries: A Collection of Historic Documents With Commentaries (Sidney Z. Ehler & John B. Morrall trans. & eds., 1954) [hereinafter Ehler]; Documents of the Christian Church (Henry Bettenson ed., 2d ed. 1963) [hereinafter Bettenson]; The Jew in the Medieval World: A Source Book, 315–1791 (Jacob R. Marcus ed., 1938) [hereinafter Marcus]; Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages (Ernest F. Henderson ed., 1892) [hereinafter Henderson]. General histories that provide useful information regarding the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages include the following: J.M. Roberts, The Penguin History of the World (1987); The Columbia History of the World (John A. Garraty & Peter Gay eds., 1972) [hereinafter Columbia].
92. See Johnson, supra note 1, at 140–43; Monk &: Stamey, supra note 5, at 9.
93. See Monk 8c Stamey, supra note 5, at 42–43; Bettenson, supra note 91, at 7–14.
94. See Edict of Toleration (311), reprinted in Bettenson, supra note 91, at 15.
95. See Edict of Milan (313), reprinted in Bettenson, supra note 91, at 15.
96. See Monk & Stamey, supra note 5, at 43; Roberts, supra note 91, at 277–79; Bettenson, supra note 91, at 16–18.
97. A division between Eastern and Western Christianity began as early as Constantine’s rule. When Constantine moved his capital from Rome to Constantinople in 330, the new imperial court and armies overshadowed the Church. Hence, the prelates of Constantinople tended to accept the Caesaropapist claims of the Eastern emperors. In the West, however, the gradual disintegration of royal and imperial authority allowed the Church to dominate. See Tierney, Crisis, supra note 91, at 8–9.
98. See Edict of the Emperors Gratian, Valentinian II, and Theodosius I establishing Catholicism as the State Religion (Feb. 27, 380), reprinted in Ehler, supra note 91, at 6–7.
99. At this point in history, the modern concept of a state did not exist. Ullman suggests that the concept of the state per se did not develop until closer to the thirteenth century (see Ullmann, History, supra note 91, at 17–18), though other commentators place the emergence of the state in the eleventh century. See Berman, supra note 91, at 113; Tierney, Religion, supra note 91, at 10. In any event, during the late stages of the Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages, the key distinction was between the clergy (ordained members of the Church) and the laity (unordained members). See Ullmann, Growth, supra note 91, at 1–2. Thus, for several hundred years, the central conflict was not so much between church and state as between priesthood (sacerdotium) and kingship (regnum), fought within the single and universal body of Christ. See Ullmann, History, supra note 91, at 17–18. Part of my argument, though, is that the rhetorical seeds of the modern state originated with the New Testament condemnation of Judaism as carnal.
100. Walter Ullmann writes:
Who—that was the basic problem—was to govern, that is to direct and orientate the corporate union of Christians—the emperor, because he was emperor, or the pope because he was successor of St Peter?… [W]ho was functionally qualified to define the doctrine, purpose and aim underlying the corporate union of all Christians, to direct that body according to its underlying purpose and aim—emperor or pope?
Ullmann, Growth, supra note 91, at 11; see Ehler, supra note 91, at 1–2.
101. See Ullmann, Growth, supra note 91, at 13–14; Ullmann, supra note 91, at 100.
102. See Ehler, supra note 91, at 2; Ullmann, Growth, supra note 91, at 18; Ullmann, History, supra note 91, at 35.
103. This council led to the adoption of the Nicaean Creed, which asserted belief “in one God the Father [and in] Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only-begotten, that is, of the substance of the Father.”
The Creed of Nicaea (325), reprinted in Bettenson, supra note 91, at 25; see Monk 8c Stamey, supra note 5, at 46; Columbia, supra note 91, at 232.
104. See Roberts, supra note 91, at 277–79; Ehler, supra note 91, at 2. In a sense, Constantine’s Caesaropapism merely continued the approach typical of pagan states of antiquity, which combined religion and politics and which deemed the emperor divine. See Ehler, supra note 91, at 1; Ullmann, History, supra note 91, at 35. The difference, of course, was that Constantine’s Caesaropapism substituted Christianity for the earlier pagan religions.
105. See Ullmann, History, supra note 91, at 20.
106. Cf. Peter Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire (1992) (on the spread of Christianity around 300–450 C.E.); Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People 18–23 (1990) (Christianizing Europe was a problem, not a given).
107. Edict of the Emperors Gratian, Valentinian II, and Theodosius I establishing Catholicism as the State Religion (Feb. 27, 380), reprinted in Ehler, supra note 91, at 7. Robin Lane Fox underscores the link between Christianity and rising religious intolerance:
[Christianity] changed the degree of freedom with which people could acceptably choose what to think and believe. Pagans had been intolerant of the Jews and Christians whose religions tolerated no gods except their own. Yet the rise of Christianity induced a much sharper rise in religious intolerance and the open coercion of religious belief. Christians were quick to mobilize force against [other religions].
Fox, supra note 5, at 23.
108. See Brown, supra note 106, at 19; Mark 12:17. Emperor Theodosius officially prohibited paganism by 391. See Columbia, supra note 91, at 222–23; Roberts, supra note 91, at 285; Synan, supra note 91, at 19–20.
109. See Synan, supra note 91, at 19–20, 28.
110. See Law of Constantius (Aug. 13, 339), reprinted in Marcus, supra note 91, at 4–5.
111. See A Law of Theodosius II (Novella III) (Jan. 31, 439), reprinted in Marcus, supra note 91, at 5–6. Jews could still hold public offices that entailed financial ruin. See Marcus, supra note 91, at 3–4.
112. See Ruether, supra note 3, at 190; cf. Nicholls, supra note 3, at 192 (Constantine mandated that Sunday be a day of rest).
113. See A Law of Theodosius II (Novella III) (Jan. 31, 439), reprinted in Marcus, supra note 91, at 5–6.
114. Reuther, supra note 3, at 194.
115. A Law of Theodosius II (Novella III) (Jan. 31, 439), reprinted in Marcus, supra note 91, at 6.
117. Law of Constantius (Aug. 13, 339), reprinted in Marcus, supra note 91, at 4–5.
118. A Law of Theodosius II (Novella III) (Jan. 31, 439), reprinted in Marcus, supra note 91, at 5.
119. Id. at 6.
120. Id. at 5.
121. Id. at 6.
122. For further legal condemnations of Jews and Judaism, see Reuther, supra note 3, at 194–95.
123. Baum, supra note 33, at 13.
124. See Nicholls, supra note 3, at 203; see, e.g., Johnson, supra note 1, at 164.
125. Synan, supra note 91, at 30.
126. I use the term “state” loosely here. See supra note 99.
127. In fact, over the years, Jews often have been portrayed as pigs. See Jaher, supra note 3, at 70.
128. St. Augustine, The City of God (Marcus Dods trans. & ed., 1948) (except where otherwise noted, all of my subsequent citations to The City of God will be to the second volume of this edition). Augustine lived from 354 to 430 and wrote The City of God around 412 to 427. For discussions of Augustine and his political thought, see Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine (L.E.M. Lynch trans., 1960) [hereinafter Gilson, Augustine]; Etienne Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages 70–81 (1955) [hereinafter Gilson, Middle Ages]; Ernest L. Fortin, St. Augustine, in History of Political Philosophy 176 (Leo Strauss & Joseph Cropsey eds., 3d ed. 1987); R.A. Markus, Marius Victorinus and Augustine, in The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy 327 (A.H. Armstrong ed., 1967) [hereinafter Markus, Augustine]; R.A. Markus, Refusing to Bless the State: Prophetic Church and Secular State, reprinted in Sacred and Secular 372 (1994) [hereinafter Markus, Refusing]; R.A. Markus, The Sacred and the Secular: From Augustine to Gregory the Great, reprinted in Sacred and Secular 84 (1994) [hereinafter Markus, Sacred].
129. Psalm 87:3; see Psalms 46:4; 48:1. Augustine quoted these passages in Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. XI, § 1 (vol. 1).
130. Hebrews 13:14.
131. Augustine was influenced by Platonic and Neoplatonic metaphysics even though he probably had little direct knowledge of Plato’s own writings. See Gilson, Middle Ages, supra note 128, at 70–81, 93, 94; Paul Vincent Spade, Medieval Philosophy, in The Oxford History of Western Philosophy 55, 56–57, 89 (Anthony Kenny ed., 1994); Tarnas, supra note 6, at 101–08. Thomas Aquinas expressly noted that Augustine was a Platonist: “[W]henever Augustine, who was imbued with the doctrines of the Platonists, found in their teaching anything consistent with faith, he adopted it; and those things which he found contrary to faith he amended.” St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, in I Basic Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, at pt. I, qu. 84, art. 5 (Anton C. Pegis ed., 1945).
132. See, e.g., Markus, Augustine, supra note 128, at 406–19 (in discussing Augustine’s concept of two cities, Markus does not mention Augustine’s view of Jews or Judaism); Fortin, supra note 128 (not discussing Augustine’s attitude toward or treatment of Judaism). Etienne Gilson offers an uncritical description of a narrow part of Augustine’s use of Judaism: Gilson notes that, according to Augustine, only grace can bring salvation and eliminate sin, while the Jewish law cannot do so. See Gilson, Augustine, supra note 128, at 153–54, 169. Most often, Gilson uses a rather thin euphemism, referring to the old man (Jews) as opposed to the new man (Christians). See, e.g., id. at 176.
133. St. Augustine, The Work of the Monks, in The Fathers of the Church 323, 349, 350 (Roy J. Deferrari ed., 1952).
134. Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. XIV, § 2.
135. Id. at bk. XIV, § 28.
136. See id. at bk. XVII, §§ 18, 46; Johnson, supra note 1, at 165.
137. Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. IV, § 34 (vol. 1). Augustine similarly wrote:
[T]he Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him, because it behoved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdoms, 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
Id. at bk. XVII, § 46.
138. Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. XIV, § 1; see Fortin, supra note 128, at 195–98 (on the two cities).
139. Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. XIV, § 28.
140. See Fortin, supra note 128, at 196–97.
141. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Mark 12:17; accord Luke 20:25.
142. Tierney, Crisis, supra note 91, at 10.
143. See Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. XIX, § 17; Gilson, Augustine, supra note 128, at 179; Fortin, supra note 128, at 183, 195–98; Markus, Augustine, supra note 128, at 417–18; Markus, Refusing, supra note 128, at 374.
144. Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. I, § 1 (vol. 1).
145 See Fortin, supra note 128, at 96; Markus, Augustine, supra note 128, at 412; see, e.g., Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. XX, § 9 (“the Church even now is the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven”).
146. Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. XV, § 1.
147. Markus, Augustine, supra note 128, at 412.
148. Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. XV, § 1.
149. Id.; see Fortin, supra note 128, at 195.
150. See J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment 32, 43, 45 (1975); Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics 118–19 (1987 ed.); Markus, Augustine, supra note 128, at 406–12. Markus also argues that Augustine suggested a threefold conceptual scheme involving the sacred, the profane, and the secular. The profane is the opposite of the sacred, while the secular represents an intermediate realm where the sacred and profane overlap. The secular was “the realm to which the institutions of politically organized societies belong.” Markus, Sacred, supra note 128, at 85.
151. Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. I, § 35 (vol. 1)
151. Augustine, supra note 128, at bk. I, § 35 (vol. 1); accord id. at bk. XI, § 1 (vol. 1).
152. See Marcus Dods, Preface, in St. Augustine, The City of God (Marcus Dods trans. & ed., 1948). Thus, Etienne Gilson argues that Augustine’s purpose was to trace a “theology of history.” Gilson, Middle Ages, supra note 128, at 80. R.A. Markus argues that Augustine’s denigration of civil authority marked a change in Christian attitudes. According to Markus, from the time of the Roman establishment of Christianity, Christians readily accepted the culture, values, social structure, and political institutions of the Roman Empire. “[T]he prevailing assumption was hardly questioned: the Roman Empire was God’s chosen means for the social embodiment of Christianity, with a kind of messianic mission in the world, its emperor the representative of God’s own authority over a society which was the image of His Kingdom.” Markus, Refusing, supra note 128, at 373; accord Voegelin, supra note 150, at 109–10 (the Roman Empire was practically built into Christianity).
153. Again, I use the term “state” loosely here. See supra note 99.
154. Markus, Augustine, supra note 128, at 417; see Gilson, Augustine, supra note 128, at 180–81; Fortin, supra note 128, at 196–97.
155. Markus writes:
The general implications of [Augustine’s view] are clearly hostile to any close linking of the two institutions [of church and state], and indeed part of Augustine’s purpose appears to have been to question radically the theological premises of the view of history which led to so close a linking of the Christian Church to the Roman Empire during the fourth century.
Markus, Augustine, supra note 128, at 417.
156. Richard Tarnas writes, for example, that “the doctrine of the two cities would have much influence on subsequent Western history, affirming the autonomy of the spiritual Church vis-à-vis the secular state.” Tarnas, supra note 6, at 148.
From Please Don’t Wish Me a Merry Christmas: A Critical History of the Separation of Church and State, by Stephen M. Feldman (New York University Press, 1997)