Rorate Caeli

The Jews Under the Popes and in Christendom

A previous post from Bonetus (January 13) referred to the legal restrictions on the Jews under the papal government of Rome, which was finally suppressed by the liberal-Masonic Kingdom of Italy in 1870. The history of the Jews in Rome is similar in many ways to their history in other parts of Christendom prior to the French Revolution. One of the most important books one can read on the topic is the massive work The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History, by E. Michael Jones (visit Mr. Jones provides documentation for his major historical theses, often from recognized Jewish historians. This blogger found the rhetorical style to be over-general and over-heated at times, and sometimes the connection asserted between some historical process and “the Jews” seemed a bit tenuous. Nevertheless the basic point is clearly demonstrated: “Judaism” under the rabbinic schools and the Talmud since 70 A.D. is significantly different from the revealed religion of the patriarchs and Moses, and the community of Jews who disbelieve Jesus of Nazareth will always produce a certain number of individuals whose ideas and actions objectively undermine, in characteristic ways, the influence of Christian faith in society. If a reader keeps this in mind, and Jones says as much in his own way, then his understanding of the Gospel and of history will be enriched without having to a priori suspect all Jews of nefarious designs against the Church.

Jones' book contains relatively little on the Jews in Rome itself under the popes. A survey of many histories by authors both Jewish and non-Jewish can provide a rough outline.

Well before the coming of Peter and Paul, the Jews were established in Rome under a legal agreement with Rome. They were authorized to freely practice their religion and were not required to worship the emperor or the gods, a privilege which the Christians were not to enjoy until Constantine. The Jews lived and prospered in Rome with not only prejudice and contempt from the surrounding host society: there were conversions and partial conversions from the Roman upper classes, especially women, and the utterly different religion of Moses with its invisible and one God could exercise a certain fascination on the Romans.

As the Empire gradually became Christian in the succeeding centuries, the Synagogue did not cease to attract as well as repel. In the context of everyday social and economic contact, many Christians were drawn by Jews to worship in synagogues and to consider the Jewish religion superior, thus denying their baptism and faith. Rabbis often had considerable medical knowledge together with a reputation for special powers. Jews were very open in denying the basic truths of Christian faith. Their presence was objectively a danger for the eternal salvation of baptized Christians who were weak or poorly instructed. The bishops reacted energetically with their preaching and by prohibiting Christians from social and economic contact with the Jews, which also necessitated getting laws passed to bar Jews from government positions. It is in the context of a still socially respected and influential Synagogue that one can understand the large body of sermons of St. John Chrysostom collected under the title “Against the Jews”. The great shepherd of souls and Doctor of the Church was doing everything he could to persuade his flock not to succumb to the very real attraction of the Synagogue. He was also handing on the Church's New Testament faith that her Lord, foretold by Moses, had fulfilled the Mosaic ritual prescriptions and rendered them obsolete.

Since the Jews had in large part rejected the Gospel, the Church was composed almost entirely of non-Jews who as Romans or residents of other parts of the Empire inherited the legal relationship with the Jews which their forefathers had: namely that the Jews are a foreign group within the state and may only continue to be so on terms set by the host society, now officially Christian and believing itself duty-bound to protect its faith from corruption. This is why papal Rome and medieval Christendom restricted the Jews in various ways. The practice of Judaism by the Jews themselves was protected by the Church against outbursts of popular or politically manipulated violence associated with eternal ups and downs of taxation on Jews by money-hungry rulers and Jewish money-lending to poor Christians at often exorbitant interest. One of the most famous letters of Pope Gregory the Great reprimanded a bishop who had not respected the legitimate freedom of the Jews in his diocese. But the Church always insisted on restricting Jews from contact with Christians. St. Thomas in question 10 of the Secunda Secundae of the Summa explains the Church’s power to do so and the necessity to protect the faith of the weak. There are other aspects of St. Thomas's legal thought, ethics and theology which would also be relevant to this issue. At any rate the laws could be sweeping and blind, imposing great suffering on the Jews as a group, as for example Pope Paul IV’s 16th century bull forcing all the Jews of Rome to have their residence in a small area along the Tiber, with consequent overcrowding and its attendant health and social problems, not to mention the flooding of houses when the Tiber overflowed its banks.

To be continued.


Son of Trypho said...

This is a very interesting post - as a Hebrew Catholic (convert from Orthodox Judaism) I can see some of the points that Bonetus is making with the article (and series) from a personal perspective.

However, I feel obliged to advise readers that Jones' work quoted here is quite controversial as are his views which have been characterised by some as anti-Jewish and/or anti-semitic.

(Now I know the usual suspects will jump up and down etc - but bear it in mind that it is probably not the best source for studies on late antique/medieval Jewry and Christian relations - so look widely if your interested in this topic for a broader and less controversial perspective.)

As to the article, I would concur with the general view that the Judaism of today is different from that of the religion pre 70 CE.

The same could be said of Christianity of course - there has been organic development of both faiths with both positive and negative features in their histories.

The Judaism of today (Orthodox) is one particular strand of religious thought derived from compilations of texts and internal community discussion of them. I think the major adjustments to a new religion (if I can call it that) are in place by the completion of the Mishnah (c.200 CE).

The absence of the Temple and these changes don't make this Judaism false, rather it struck me as an imperfect form of worship of God (in light of Christianity of course).

This should be emphasised in dialogue - sensibilities should be put aside - salvation is far more important than comforts today.

I do not see the requirement of enforced separation of faiths however I also don't buy into ecumenical dialogue as it is usually (and incorrectly) practiced.

The goal in such talks should be with a view to conversion, not mutual respect and discussion of fundamental differences. The false approach is not going to achieve anything - I know from personal experience.

I'm also inclined to suggesting that the Pope should curtail his visits to other areas/faiths - he is Bishop of Rome after all and his priority should be there.

If he wants to show a social responsibility in visiting with other faiths send a legate to represent him instead.

bedwere said...

How about using AD instead of CE?

benjoyce said...

I'm told that in one of then Cardinal Ratzinger's books he states that God's covenent with the jews is still valid? How can this be?

In scripture the curtain was torn in two (by God allowing the earthquake)while Jesus died on the cross. The curtain is to viel the "Holy of Holies" in the Old Covenent.

Also, (I could go look it up, upstairs) but there was a council of the Church that declared it a Mortal Sin to keep Mosaic Law.

If it is a mortal sin to keep Mosaic Law then how can God's covenent with the Jews still be valid?

Anonymous said...

What is this CE nonsense? CE what?


Rick DeLano said...

While it seems predictably obligatory to slur Dr. Jones' monumental work with blog-echoed aspersions of "anti-semitism", *I have actually read the work*.

I would beseech any would-be retailer of the slander to bother, please, to at least attempt to substantiate the calumny.

I would, also, humbly suggest that *you read it first*.

The posts by Bonetus in this series are brave and necessary.

Jordanes said...

I'm told that in one of then Cardinal Ratzinger's books he states that God's covenent with the jews is still valid? How can this be?

You would perhaps be referring to God and the World, in which he said that the Jews "still stand within the faithful covenant of God." That, of course, is not the same as saying that God's Covenant with the Jews, meaning the Old Covenant, is still "valid" or obligatory. After all, even the New Covenant is "God's Covenant with the Jews" -- the prophecies say that the New Covenant would be made with the House of Israel and the House of Judah, and it was with Israel that God made the New Covenant. God did not forsake Israel (despite Israel's repeated infidelity), but rather, as the prophets foretold, God again chose Israel. All of the original Christians were Jews -- not a single Gentile among them.

The trouble is that most of Israel did not choose God. But St. Paul in Romans 9-11 affirms that God is not finished with Israel, and we still await the general conversion of the Jewish people spoken of by the Church Fathers and mentioned by St. Paul in Rom. 11:11-16 and St. Peter in Acts 3:19-21.

J. G. Ratkaj said...

There is an excellent treatise (rather absent of the usual anti-catholic stereotypes) of a contemporary german historian, Thomas Brechenmacher, about the policy of the Roman Pontiffs towards the Jewry in the papal states: Das Ende der doppelten Schutzherrschaft, Der Heilige Stuhl und die Juden am Übergang zur Moderne (1775-1870, published in 2004. In essence he describes the solicitudes of the roman popes to shelter the jews in pontificial realm from unjust assaults but on other hand the zeal of the pontiffs to protect their catholic subjects from jewisch influence which they had seen as corruptive. The policy of Pope Paul IV, mentioned in the article, was due to the fact that some Jews promoted illegal protestant cells in Italy and Lutheranism in general to ratten the roman church.

Oliver said...

The problem is today the Catholic/Christian establishment is no longer the dominant force it used to be and now has to negotiate its place in the world with people who are going for the throat. The more negotiation, the greater the smell of blood!

Anonymous said...

Dear Son of Trypho,

Your post was most encouraging to me who prays for the conversion of the Jews to their Messiah.

If you would consider posting anything useful for those Catholics who work along Orthodox Jews with a view to their eternal salvation, please do so.

Sincerely in Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

Knight of Malta
Toronto, Canada

John Lamont said...

Two points to make:

1). The current error that holds that Jews should not be evangelised should not be confused with a defence of past Catholic treatment of Jews. Medieval Christendom and the papal States typically restricted citizenship to Catholics, and denied Jews the rights of citizens. The justice of this measure is debatable: St. Thomas teaches that i) it is permissible for a non-Christian to rule over Christians, and ii) that to be a citizen is to have a share in the rule of a state; so a fortiori it is permissible for non-Catholics generally to be citizens in a Catholic state. It seems better to me to leave aside the example of past Catholic treatment of the Jews when disussing the necessity of the Jews to convert - a necessity that is straightforwardly established by the Scriptures, and is indded the theme of most of the New Testament.

(continued in further post)

John Lamont said...

(continued from earlier post)

2). The interest of E. Michael Jones's previous works should not be allowed to obscure the fact that he has now embraced an irrational and immoral anti-Semitism. I base this claim not upon his book about the Jews, which I have not read, but upon his website and upon an interview with Christian Order , which I cite and critise below.

'A Jew is now a rejecter of Christ and thereby to some extent a rejecter of Logos, which is the Greek word for the rational order of the universe. Insofar as they rejected Christ, the Jews rejected Logos, and in rejecting Logos, they rejected the order of the universe, including its moral or political order. As a result, they became revolutionaries, a decision they solemnly ratified when they chose Barabbas over Christ.'

'What do you mean by Revolutionary?

Any attempt to overthrow the state or the cultural order of a particular people and replace it with one or other version of Messianic politics which promises us all heaven on earth but ends up delivering something quite different.

'Arguably the most important European revolution was the French Revolution (not to mention the English Reformation) . Yet in the French Revolution there is no evidence of extensive Jewish involvement. Doesn't this present a problem for your thesis?

The French Revolution was a black operation which, as they invariably do, got out of control. The Whigs who came to power in England after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 used the Masonic lodges on the continent to spread Enlightenment propaganda among the Catholic French in order to bring down the House of Bourbon. Voltaire was, as Alexander Pope suspected, a Whig operative and spy. The goal was to bring about the French version of the Glorious Revolution, but when that black operation took on a life of its own and careened out of control, the English were appalled by what they had wrought and declared war on France.

So the French revolution derived from Freemasonry, which was, as I stated above, a form of Cabala. This, of course, rightly leaves the whole question of direct Jewish involvement in the French Revolution out of the picture. But as Daniel Pipes has pointed out, the evidence is there, even if not as he would portray it. When [Abbé] Barruel got the evidence, in the letter from Simonini, he simply suppressed the evidence, even though he received a letter from both the pope and Napoleon's uncle supporting Simonini's allegations.''


John Lamont said...

Jones goes on;

''Using the definition of the Jew which St. John formulated, we could say that only Jews were responsible for his death. Those Jews also ratified that death when they said "Let his blood be on us and our children." We are not talking about some occult "blood curse," as some modern day Jews like to portray it. We are talking about a profound and premeditated form of rejection - murder being the ultimate form of rejection - that has perdured to this day. As long as Jews perdure in rejection they will be in the avant garde (as Marx would call it) of revolutionary ferment. Every Christian who sins participates in the rejection of Christ, but they will never constitute an avant garde like Jews because they cannot pervert their status as God's chosen people because they never enjoyed that status.'

Jones's assertions are wrong for the following reasons.

To say that the Jews, on account of refusing to believe in Christ, reject the moral order of the universe, is an obvious lie. Refusal to believe in Christ, which is not confined to the Jews, is a rejection of the supernatural order, and does not as such bring with it a rejection of all natural goods. That is why Jews, along with Muslims, Hindus, secularists, etc. (none of who get tarred by Jones as rejecting the moral order of the universe for refusing to believe in Christ) are all capable of recognising and doing natural goods - goods that require recognition and acceptance of the moral order of the universe. This capability was taught by the Council of Trent, which anathematised the claim of Protestants the all actions of unbelievers are sins. This claim was later repeated by Jansenists in a modified form, and again condemned in the bull Unigenitus and elsewhere. It is a standard heretical theme. Needless to say the claim that only the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ - when it was the Roman authorities who actually sentenced him and executed him - is unjust and absurd. In fact one of the points the New Testament wants to get across is that both Jews and Gentiles - i.e. both the two sections of the human race - had a share in responsibility for the death of Christ.

(continued - if the webmasters will permit me: I think this is an issue of substance that merits a few posts.)

John Lamont said...

Further problems with Jones's claims are:

If Judaism as such produces revolution, it is odd that no Jews were involved in revolutionary activity for the first sixteen hundred years after the birth of Christ. Such activity emerged from the Enlightenment, and culminated in the French Revolution. Enlightenment philosophy was the product of non-Jewish thinkers - beginning with nominalist theologians and heretics in the Middle Ages, extended by Protestantism, and finally completed by French thinkers such as Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau. None of these were Jews, and Voltaire and Diderot in particular hated Jews. Until Napoleon gave Jews full civil rights, Jews were cut off from the mainstream of European life, and had no influence on European thought. This of course happened after the French revolution, i.e. after the rejection of Christ and the Church in Europe had gotten fully under way and won its most substantive victory. The one exception to the latter generalisation is Spinoza, who rejected his religion and was solemly cursed for it. However, he was not a mainspring of the Enlightenment, which was a non-Jewish product. All this is well known; so Jones's talk of the 'Jewish revolutionary spirit', and his attributing the evils resulting from this revolution to the Jews, is a malignant lie. He makes some defence against this point in describing the French Revolution as a 'black operation', but diverges into the kind of fantasy and confusion that characterises his deranged kind of character, about kabbalistic inflluence and suppression of letters and so on.
After the French Revolution it is true that Jews who deserted their religion looked favourably upon the Enlightenment; not surprisingly since it provided them with equal civil rights. However, those Jews who preserved their traditional beliefs rejected the Enlightenment and revolution, and as far as possible minded their own business and stayed out of the mainstream of society - as their descendants do today. There is a Hebrew term of abuse, 'maskilim', that was applied by traditional Jews specifically to those Jews who apostasized and accepted the Enlightenment. This is in contradiction to Jones's thesis, since he claims that it is the rejection of Christ by orthodox Jewish belief that produces the Jewish revolutionary spirit.

John Lamont said...

I conclude my criticism of Jones with some excerpts from his interview, and comments on them:

'Christians today appear to be most at risk of persecution in Islamic countries and places like China. Aren't these places where the Jewish Revolutionary Spirit never took hold?

I disagree. No one has been persecuted more ruthlessly than the Catholics of the United States.'

This is nonsense. If he believes it, why doesn't he move from the United States to Saudi Arabia or the parts of Pakistan controlled by the Taliban to experience a lightening of persecution?

'What do you say to people who view the Islamic world as a greater threat to the world than this Jewish Spirit?

It depends which "people" you mean. I can understand why Serbs, given their history, would view Islam as a greater threat than the Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, although they certainly suffered under the imposition of Communism. However, when I hear an American talk about the dangers of "Islamofascism, " I think it's an infallible sign that I am in the presence of either a propagandist, an intellectual coward or a useful idiot.'

This is not an answer. Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and all of North Africa are not areas that were once Christian and then had Christianity stamped out by Jews. The danger from Islam at present comes principally from Wahhabi Islam. This is the official religion of Saudi Arabia, and is the kind of Islam whose propagation is funded all over the world by the Saudis.This form of Islam differs from the older forms that were responsible for the subjugation of vast Christian areas by being more intolerant of Christianity, and forbidding its practice in any way - as happens in Saudi Arabia - rather than by allowing it under oppressive conditions. Both forms of Islam, traditional and new, agree on the duty to impose their supremacy by force. Orthodox Jews, on the other hand, make no effort to convert others, and in fact discourage converts. This of course is exactly why Jones and his ilk choose the Jews as hate figures and go easy on Muslims; they know that they are not at risk from them as they would be if they attacked Islam. This is a repugnant kind of cowardice.

Son of Trypho said...

The CE/BCE notation is the system that I was educated in so I use it without any political/religious significance. It is also commonly used in mainstream academia these days.

As to Jones' work and views - as I noted earlier, some have characterised them negatively - other posters can comment further on that if they feel inclined.

Even Bonetus indicates some discomfort with some of the work in question.

I would suggest readers look for more specialised resources which are less contentious or come from sources with less problematic backgrounds.

As to the Mosaic Law being practiced by converts - this of course is unnecessary (as determined in the time of the Apostles) however it may be laudable for some Jewish converts to continue to do so, as long as they understand that they don't have to and they do not create confusion through their practices.

There is a vexing issue for Jewish converts to Catholicism - should they have their own particular practices within the Church i.e. a Hebrew rite or something developed organically from the EF and/or OF? Would this be of benefit? Anyone have any thoughts?

Martin said...

Another error by Mr Lamont, who claims that "Such [revolutionary] activity emerged from the Enlightenment, and culminated in the French Revolution."

This is false. Revolutionary activity started in Europe in the early 1400s with the Hussites.

Please check you facts, Mr Lamont

Mar said...

John Lamont said: "If Judaism as such produces revolution, it is odd that no Jews were involved in revolutionary activity for the first sixteen hundred years after the birth of Christ."

John, you may want to do some further study on this topic using Rabbi Louis Israel Newman's book as a point of reference. It is called 'Jewish Influence on Christian Reform Movements' - Columbia University Oriental Studies Vol XXIII (1925, New York)

The Introductory Note explains what the book is about: "...Dr. Newman deals with the question of the amount of Jewish influence that there is to be found exercised upon Christian Reform Movements. ...Dr. Newman...has selected a number of movements within the Church as specimens of this influence - some of them previous to the Reformation, others posterior. ... confined, for the most part, within the period beginning with the eleventh and ending with the sixteenth centuries...He deals even with certain aspects of American Puritanism."

Notice in particular "...beginning with the eleventh..."