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1st century roman empire and 21st century essay

Introduction The persecutions of the Jews during the fourth century A.

  • We learn from Ephraem as from Justin and Origen that the old faith received at this period numerous accessions from heathendom;
  • Some quotations from these may show more clearly the tenor of Ephraem's violent anti-Jewish feelings;
  • This compromise was not acceptable to Ambrose, who insisted that no reparation whatsoever ought to be made to the Jews, either by individual Christians or by the Christian community, and that no punishment should be inflicted on the Christian rioters.

Since the fourth century marks the transition from the enlightened toleration of Jews to their bigoted persecution, this neglect by scholars has long needed attention. Some progress in remedying this situation was made by Leopold Lucas in his Zur Geschichte der Juden im vierten Jahrhundert 1910. Lucas used the Theodosian Code extensively, but did not utilize much of the material which had already been uncovered by Solomon Krauss in his series of articles on the "Jews in the Works of the Church Fathers" [Jewish Quarterly Review, V 1893VI 1894 ].

Williams Adversus Judaeos 1935which treats of the intellectual warfare between 1st century roman empire and 21st century essay and Christianity during the fourth century in a somewhat less accurate manner than Parkes, particularly in matters of dating.

The most recent work in the field is Marcel Simon's Verus Israel 1948published in Paris and only recently available in the United States. Simon's conclusions in this scholarly work concerning Jewish-Christian relations for 135-425 agree with those presented here in almost all cases, and have been most helpful; but Simon has used the Theodosian Code and the church canons very little and concentrates on intellectual matters more than actual persecution.

This persecution was largely the result of Christian propaganda by the church fathers and religious fanatics, who deliberately stirred up both popular in- [3] dignation and official repression against the hapless Jews on the baseless charge of Jewish maltreatment of Christians.

The legislation of the fourth century emperors at first shows an attempt to protect the ancient privileges of the Jews, and then manifests a gradual submission to the popular Christian demand for persecution and repression.

The remarkable coincidence between the fulminations of the church fathers such as Jerome and Ambrose, popular pogroms, and the enactment of repressive laws against the Jews tells the sad story. The fourth century 1st century roman empire and 21st century essay the passage from Jewish privilege to persecution, from prosperity in the classic world to poverty in the medieval ghetto. The objective of this investigation will be to outline the origins and progress of this tragic decline during the crucial period of the fourth century.

Besides offering the first English translation of all fourth century laws and canons concerning the Jews, the following essay will, it is hoped, bring to the attention of scholars the close connection between the writings of the church fathers and anti-Jewish legislation by contemporary Roman emperors. This breakdown and the ever-growing influence of the ecclesiastical authority on the central government is visible in the Roman legislation of the century which dealt with the actual rights and privileges of the Jewish community.

The Theodosian Code, a compilation of the mid-fifth century, does not contain all the legislation previously passed, but it probably contains all that was ever enforced or not withdrawn before 438. The Theodosian Code gives accurate dates and place locations from which laws and rescripts were promulgated; from these it is possible to reconstruct the progressive decline in privileges and security suffered by the Jews in the Roman Empire from 321 to 438.

The Theodosian Code shows us that those immunities which had been granted to the Jews by the pagan emperors, and which had made them a privileged class dwelling within the Roman world, were continued by the Christian emperors. They were in every economic stratum of the empire; many were rich, many were poor.

Some were merchants, others artisans, and still others farmers. They had their own cult organizations called synagogues.

If any Jew did not belong to such an organization he had to pay the Roman government poll tax and sacrifice to the Roman gods. Only a Jew within the synagogal organizations could escape these munera civic duties. The synagogues were the Jewish collegia, which themselves had to pay collegiate munera, the Fiscus Judaicus, a didrachm levied by Rome after A. This Fiscus was collected indirectly by the synagogues and sent to Rome. It originally had been gathered to support [5] the Capitoline temple, but later was paid directly into the emperor s treasury.

The main Jewish privilege was that Jews could not be forced to perform any task which violated their religious convictions. This meant that they were exempt from the crushing burden of the decurionate, that responsibility for the collection of imperial taxes which was gradually impoverishing the middle class of the Roman world.

And Jews were neither compelled to celebrate state worship nor forced to attend pagan temples. The Jews had to perform all other liturgies and tutelae forced donations common to all Roman citizens. At the opening of the 1st century roman empire and 21st century essay century the central Jewish administrative council, called the Sanhedrin, was very active in Palestine, and several schools were in operation there under the guidance of the Jewish nasi or patriarch.

The maintenance of these institutions was a religious duty for the Jews. The money for their support, called the aurum coronarium, was collected by men called apostoli, agents of the patriarch, and deposited in the Jewish synagogues. Some Jews, such as slaves, did not support the state at all, but a Jew could be slave to another for only seven years, and it was a religious duty for Jews to free brothers enslaved by the Gentiles.

Therefore it seems probable that there were very few Jewish slaves, and most Jews contributed at least something to the public welfare.

  1. Shall the patrimony which by the favor of Christ has been acquired for Christians be transferred to the treasury of un- [42] believers? The accession of Septimius Severus marked the beginning of a period in which the relatively ordered, hereditary imperial dynasties began to break down.
  2. The generalizations of patristic writers in support of the accusation have been wrongly interpreted from the fourth century to the present day.
  3. He seems to have feared lest some of his flock would be exposed to the danger of being led astray by Jewish practices and arguments. Chapter 6, 'Epictetus and the Imperial Court' 1965 , has a unique theme that provides a counterpoint to the 'values of status and ambition' on which the imperial court and society as a whole were based.
  4. The same theme is also discussed in chapter 11, 'Emperors, Kings, and Subjects. The patriarchs pleased God by their lives, and Abraham lived as a Christian and not as a Jew.

As Juster shows, the economic and political position of the Jews in the Roman Empire was unique. No other group had exactly the same rights or obligations. Nevertheless, at the opening of the fourth century nothing marked the Jew off conspicuously from his neighbor.

From the end of the second great revolt in Palestine, 135, to the time of Constantine, 313, most emperors and the Roman governments they represented were indifferent to the nature of Judaism.

Already in this first law there is evidence of that hatred which would change the role [6] of the Jew in a little over 100 years, from one of privileged citizenship in the Roman Empire to that of outcast.

  • The dynasty of the Antonines began in 96 with the murder of Domitian and his succession by Nerva;
  • This is perhaps the finest of all the essays in this volume and shows a masterly use of ancient sources, documentary evidence and prosopographical data;
  • In 46 BC, Caesar won the civil war and was named dictator of Rome;
  • The final end of the Western Empire came in with the death of its last emperor, Romulus Augustulus, ironically named after one of the twin founders of Rome, and the proclamation of the German barbarian general Odoacer as king of Italy;
  • Only one contemporary event is related, apart from general denunciations against visiting synagogues at times of Jewish feast or fast.

Much of Christian hatred toward the Jews was based on the popular misconception, amazingly enough still prevalent, that the Jews had been the active persecutors of Christians for many centuries.

Juster, Parkes, and 'Williams have ably shown the fallacy of this idea concerning Jewish persecution of Christians during the first three centuries.

It remains to discover whether there is any basis for the claim, often voiced in the writings of the church fathers, that the Jews were actively persecuting Christians during the crucial fourth century, thus inviting Christian hatred and retaliation.

The following examination of the sources for fourth century Jewish history will show that the universal, tenacious, and malicious Jewish hatred of Christianity referred to by the church fathers and countless others has no existence in historical fact. The generalizations of patristic writers in support of the accusation have been wrongly interpreted from the fourth century to the present day. Jewish hatred was rather directed toward the Gentile Romans who had despoiled the Temple and kept the Jews from Jerusalem.

Evidence that the Jews took no part in the great persecutions of the second, third, and fourth centuries comes not from Jewish sources nor from inference, nor from later generalization, but from the Acta Sanctorum, which records the lives of the very martyrs whose deaths are in question. The responsibility for the persecution of Christians lay completely with the Romans and not with the Jews after the first century of our era.

Scattered throughout the Acta Sanctorum, however, are many references to Jewish hostility and often violence towards the Christians. An examination of those Acta involving the Jews may help to show first: When she would not worship idols in the hearing of the governor, Marciana was condemned to be torn by wild beasts in the arena.

Imprisoned in a school of rude gladiators, she was protected from them every night by a miraculous wall. When she was later insulted by the Jews, she predicted that their synagogue would burn down and never be rebuilt.

After she was tortured and put to death her predictions in due course proved correct. Monceaux dates the passion as a fourth or fifth century composition, and regards Marciana as a victim of Diocletian in 304 or 305. He was sent, along with some other churchmen, to preach among the heathen of Palestine.

The success of his preaching earned him the hostility of the adherents of the older worship, and of the numerous Jews in the region. Stirred up by the 1st century roman empire and 21st century essay, a mob of pagans seized the bishop and dragged him through the streets until he expired.

His appeal was evidently of no avail.

When, after the death of Antherius, the people received another bishop, the Jews demanded a miracle to prove the newcomer's claims. Thereupon the bishop walked through fire in full canonicals and the Jews and unbelievers were at once converted to Christianity, "the soldiers with the other Christians receiving them at the font.

According to Eusebius the trio were Egyptian Christians, who were taken up to Diocaesarea, a predominantly Jewish town. There they were tried by the prefect [8] Fermilian and sentenced to death. In his last prayer the dying Paul prayed for the Jews and pagans. The Armenian tradition asserts that the accused lived in Diocaesarea and not Egypt, and that they did not come to the notice of Fermilian until the Jews denounced them.

If the account of Eusebius is taken as substantially true, the reference to the Jews in the prayer of Paul can be explained by the fact that they inhabited Diocaesarea in large numbers in the early fourth century when the martyrdom supposedly occurred. There is no guilt on the part of the Jews implied in this. But the scribe at Constantinople perhaps felt that there must have been some special nobility in Paul's prayer. It became, therefore, the reply of Paul to the Jewish demands for his execution at the prefect's judgment seat.

The parallel with "Forgive them, for they know not what they do" becomes apparent. The Armenian version makes Paul's deed still nobler; for it was by the Jews that he was originally denounced as a Christian.

The Jewish hatred of Christians described in these Acta is also referred to in the works of the fourth century church fathers. Jerome in his commentary on Amos accurately reflects the general opinion of Jewish anti-Christian hostility when he says, ". It is natural enough that the Acta of the period show an attempt to keep in line with these orthodox sentiments. The fact that any active persecution of Christians by Jews was a thing of the past by the second century made little impression on the pious mind.

Jewish responsibility for the Passion of Christ was [9] the fact uppermost in the minds of ecclesiastical writers. When contemporary Jews or contemporary events in Jewish history were described, the preoccupation of the church fathers with the ancient day of sorrow made them merge the present with the past in wild anachronisms and attach the opprobrium connected with the Jews of Christ's time to their fourth century descendants.

The Acta of Bishop Austremonius, who is said to have been of the first century, 1st century roman empire and 21st century essay was more probably of the fourth, illustrates the violence of some Jewish anti-Christian feeling.

This prelate was very successful in preaching to the Jews of Clermont. Among his converts was Lucius, the son of one of the Jewish elders.

Lucius father, enraged by his son's apostasy, seized a knife, and killed both the bishop and his own son. Urbicus is said to have secured a decree against Judaism in 312 when it was a lawful religion and Christianity was not only unrecognized but being actively persecuted in certain portions of the Roman Empire.

Index of Canons

Suspicion is thus placed on the dating of this narrative, which is almost certainly later than Constantine's Peace of the Church. This type of confusion is quite common in the Acta Sanctorum. Two further cases from the Acta are of particular interest in view of the continual legislation of the church and the fourth century emperors against Jewish possession of Christian slaves.

In a rage her mistress beat Matrona and locked her up in a room without food or water. Later when she was found still to be recalcitrant, Matrona was beaten so severely that she died.

This tale was very popular in the Middle Ages, and there are many versions of it. The date is uncertain, fourth to sixth century. A slave, Mancius, was found to be a [10] Christian by his Jewish master. He was severely beaten, but refused to alter his religion.

Finally he died under the punishment. At the martyrdom of Isbozetes by Chosroes, the Persian King, the saint is impaled on a cross with a Magus on his right and a Jew on his left. The Magus desires to become a Christian, and, being accepted, expires.

The Jew expresses his willingness to do anything to save his life, but is ignored. After long suffering, he dies unsaved. Victor early in the fifth century. Caplan states that this "fifth century" document is not historical for Africa, since no detail of it is African. In parts it resembles the Acts of Victor of Cerezo in Spain of the ninth and tenth centuries. He says it undoubtedly belongs to Spain of the later Middle Ages.

  • Rome found it relatively easy to administer these provinces;
  • The University of North Carolina Press, 2004;
  • The northern limit was in Britain where, after an unsuccessful Antonine attempt to annex southern Scotland, the frontier was eventually established on Hadrian's Wall, which stretched from the Tyne to the Solway.