The History of Antisemitism and Christianity

by Ben Volman

The seeds of antisemitism were sown by the antagonism of early Christian leaders toward Jews and the Jewish religion. A famous example is John "Chrysostom" (Golden-Mouth), Archbishop of Constantinople (349-ca. 407), whose stirring sermons moved many listeners. But when he turned to Jews and Judaism, his mouth was anything but golden.

He vented his ire against members of his own flock, whom he accused of "Judaizing" because they were visiting synagogues and some were trying to keep the Jewish feasts. Underlying his pastoral concerns was a deep disdain for the Jewish people. He wrote,

Do you not see that you are condemned by the testimony of what Christ and the prophets predicted and which the facts have proved? But why should this surprise me? That is the kind of people you are. From the beginning you have been shameless and obstinate, ready to fight at all times against obvious facts. (Homily V, XII, 1)

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