Anti-Semitism in the West from Constantine to the Expulsion of Jews from Spain

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Anti-Semitism in the West from Constantine to the expulsion of Jews from Spain



I. Constantine and Christianity as the state religion

A. Legislation concerning Jews

B. The Justinian Code

C. Anti-Semitic Church Fathers

II. The Crusades

A. The march to Jerusalem

B. Fourth Lateran Council

C. Host desecration and blood libel

D. Pogroms

III. The expulsion of Jews from Spain

A. The Inquisition

B. The Conversos

C. Expulsion


Anti-Semitism is defined as prejudice or discrimination against, and persecution of, the Jews as an ethnic group. Historically, this has been practiced for many different reasons, by the ancient Egyptians before the Exodus, under the Babylonian
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"The unbridled utterances of bigotry and hate coming from the venerated Church Fathers of the early Christian Church raises some doubt as to both their sanity and their saintliness."2 Despite their belief that Christ's death was necessary and predestined, they denounced the Jews as a "condemned race and hated of God."3
Because of the growing power of the Church, Christian theology and the Church Fathers were to become more and more obsessed with Jewish guilt. The following teachings of the Fathers were to be handed down throughout succeeding generations in Christendom. Origen (185-254 C.E.) echoed the growing hostility:

On account of their unbelief and other insults which they heaped upon Jesus, the Jews will not only suffer more than others in the judgment which is believed to impend over the world, but have even already endured such sufferings. For what nation is in exile from their own metropolis, and from the place sacred to the worship of their fathers, save the Jews alone? And the calamities they have suffered because they were a most wicked nation, which although guilty of many other sins, yet has been punished so severely for none as for those that were committed against our Jesus.4

The Church, who was now Israel, had to discredit the other Israel. And it did so by making anti-Jewish theology an integral part of Christian apologetics. The Fathers turned out volumes of literature to prove that they were the true people of God, and that

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