Appendix F

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by
Ari Levitt*

Appendix F:
Anti-Semitic Decrees of Constantine and His Successors,
High Priests of the Babylon Mystery Religion in Rome

Summary

The following is a brief summary of the Anti-Semitic decrees that began with Emperor Constantine and continued with his successors.

• Sunday (not Shabbat) declared to be the day of rest: “On the venerable Day of the Sun [the day on which the sun god was worshipped] let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. …” [161]

• The Council of Laodicea (c. 364) ordered that all religious observances were to be conducted on Sunday, not Shabbat. “Christians shall not Judaize and (thus) be idle on Saturday [Saturn’s Day], but shall work on that day.”

• Jews declared to have “soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes.”

• Observance of the Resurrection on its biblical date forbidden.

• Christians forbidden “to have anything in common with the Jews.”

• Christians required “to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews.”

• Jews declared to “have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusion may urge them.”

• Jews forbidden to “celebrate two Passovers in the same year” (permitted by Torah [162]).

• Christians forbidden to “tarnish your soul by communications with such wicked people [the Jews].”

• Jews forbidden to observe Unleavened Bread, because it involves a “fast” “whilst others are seated at a banquet” during the Feast of Ishtar (Easter).

• Christians forbidden “to have anything in common with the murderers of our Lord.”

• Christians commanded to “have nothing in common with the Jews.”

• Any Jew who “dares to attack with [any] manifestation of anger another who has” become a Christian is to burned alive, “together with all his accomplices.”

• Any Christian who attends synagogue services is also to be burned alive.

• Marriages between Jews and Christian women of the imperial weaving factory are to be dissolved.

• Jewish husbands of Christian women are to be punished with death.

• A Jew shall not possess a Christian slave. “… that slave shall at once be appropriated for the imperial treasury.”

• Any Jew who circumcises a Christian slave (as required by Genesis 17:12,13) “will not only be fined for the damage done to that slave but he will also receive capital punishment” (be executed).

• Jews forbidden to hold any public office that exercises authority over any Christian.

• Jews required to accept financially ruinous public offices without hope of exemption.

• Jews forbidden to have any judgment over Christians, “carry out judicial sentences, nor be wardens of the jail.”

• Jews declared to be “the enemies of the heavenly majesty.”

• Jews forbidden to build a new synagogue.

• Any new synagogue that is built immediately becomes the property of the Catholic Church, and the builder “shall be punished by a fine of fifty pounds gold for his daring.”

• Any Jew who converts any one to Judaism “shall see his wealth confiscated and himself soon subjected to a death sentence.”

• No person “who cherish[es] the Jewish superstition, may offer testimony against orthodox Christians who are engaged in litigation, whether one or the other of the parties is an orthodox Christian.” But a Jew may offer testimony on behalf of an orthodox Christian against some one who is not a Christian.

• Christians forbidden to observe Passover: “All the brethren in the East who have hitherto followed the Jewish practice will henceforth observe the custom of the Romans and of yourselves and of all of us who from ancient times have kept Easter together with you.”

• Synod of Elvira of 306 (a council or assembly of churches or church officials) prohibited intermarriage and sexual intercourse between Christians and Jews, and prohibited them from eating together.

• Council of Orleans (533-541) prohibited marriages between Christians and Jews and forbade the conversion to Judaism by Christians.

• Trulanic Synod (692) prohibited Christians from being treated by Jewish doctors.

• Synod of Narbonne (1050) prohibited Christians from living in Jewish homes.

• Synod of Gerona (1078) required Jews to pay taxes to support the Church.

• Third Lateran Council (1179) prohibited certain medical care to be provided by Christians to Jews.

• Fourth Lateran Council (1215) required Jews to wear special clothing to distinguish them from Christians.

• Council of Basel (1431-1443) forbade Jews to attend universities, them from acting as agents in the conclusion of contracts between Christians, and required that they attend church sermons.

On The Keeping of Easter

Edited from www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/const1-easter.html. [163]

From the Letter of the Emperor to all those not present at the Council.
(Found in Eusebius, Vita Const., Lib. iii., 18-20)

“When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; for what could be more beautiful and more desirable, than to see this festival, through which we receive the hope of immortality, celebrated by all with one accord, and in the same manner?

“It was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of all festivals, to follow the custom [the calculation] of the Jews, who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded. In rejecting their custom, we may transmit to our descendants the legitimate mode of celebrating Easter, which we have observed from the time of the Saviour’s Passion to the present day [according to the day of the week].

“We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews, for the Saviour has shown us another way; our worship follows a more legitimate and more convenient course (the order of the days of the week); and consequently, in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast. How can they be in the right, they who, after the death of the Saviour, have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusion may urge them? They do not possess the truth in this Easter question; for, in their blindness and repugnance to all improvements, they frequently celebrate two passovers in the same year. We could not imitate those who are openly in error. How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are most certainly blinded by error? For to celebrate the passover twice in one year is totally inadmissible.

“But even if this were not so, it would still be your duty not to tarnish your soul by communications with such wicked people [the Jews]. Besides, consider well, that in such an important matter, and on a subject of such great solemnity, there ought not to be any division. Our Saviour has left us only one festal day of our redemption, that is to say, of his holy passion, and he desired [to establish] only one Catholic Church. Think, then, how unseemly it is, that on the same day some should be fasting whilst others are seated at a banquet; and that after Easter, some should be rejoicing at feasts, whilst others are still observing a strict fast.

“For this reason, a Divine Providence wills that this custom should be rectified and regulated in a uniform way; and everyone, I hope, will agree upon this point. As, on the one hand, it is our duty not to have anything in common with the murderers of our Lord; and as, on the other, the custom now followed by the Churches of the West, of the South, and of the North, and by some of those of the East, is the most acceptable, it has appeared good to all; and I have been guarantee for your consent, that you would accept it with joy, as it is followed at Rome, in Africa, in all Italy, Egypt, Spain, Gaul, Britain, Libya, in all Achaia, and in the dioceses of Asia, of Pontus, and Cilicia.

“You should consider not only that the number of churches in these provinces make a majority, but also that it is right to demand what our reason approves, and that we should have nothing in common with the Jews.

“To sum up in few words: By the unanimous judgment of all, it has been decided that the most holy festival of Easter should be everywhere celebrated on one and the same day, and it is not seemly that in so holy a thing there should be any division. As this is the state of the case, accept joyfully the divine favour, and this truly divine command; for all which takes place in assemblies of the bishops ought to be regarded as proceeding from the will of God.

“Make known to your brethren what has been decreed, keep this most holy day according to the prescribed mode; we can thus celebrate this holy Easter day at the same time, if it is granted me, as I desire, to unite myself with you; we can rejoice together, seeing that the divine power has made use of our instrumentality for destroying the evil designs of the devil, and thus causing faith, peace, and unity to flourish amongst us.

“May God graciously protect you, my beloved brethren.”

Jews and the Later Roman Law (315-531 CE) [164]

The Middle Ages, for the Jew at least, begin with the advent to power of Constantine the Great (306-337). He was the first Roman emperor to issue laws which radically limited the rights of Jews as citizens of the Roman Empire, a privilege conferred upon them by Caracalla in 212. As “Christianity” grew in power in the Roman Empire it influenced the emperors to further limit the civil and political rights of the Jews. Most of the imperial laws that deal with the Jews since the days of Constantine are found in the Latin Codex Theodosianius (438) and in the Latin and Greek code of Justinian (534). Both of these monumental works are therefore very important, for they enable us to trace the history of the progressive deterioration of Jewish rights.

The real significance of Roman law for the Jew and his history is that it exerted a profound influence on subsequent Christian and even Muslim legislation. The second-class status of citizenship of the Jew, as crystallized in the Justinian code, was thus entrenched in the medieval world, and under the influence of the Church the disabilities imposed upon him received religious sanction and relegated him even to lower levels.

In our first selection, laws of Constantine the Great, Judaism is denied the opportunity of remaining a missionary religion because of the prohibition to make proselytes.

The laws of Constantius (337-361), the second selection, forbid intermarriage between Jewish men and Christian women. A generation later, in 388, all marriages between Jews and Christians were forbidden. Constantius also did away with the right of Jews to possess slaves. This prohibition to trade in and to keep slaves at a time when slave labor was common was not merely an attempt to arrest conversion to Judaism; it was also a blow at the economic life of the Jew. It put him at a disadvantage with his “Christian” competitor to whom this economic privilege was assured.

The third selection, a law of Theodosius II (408-410), prohibits Jews from holding any advantageous office of honor in the Roman state. They were compelled, however, to assume those public offices which entailed huge financial losses and almost certain ruin, and they were not even granted the hope of an ultimate exemption. This Novella (New Law) III of Theodosius II also makes a direct attack on the Jewish religion by reenacting a law which forbade the building of new Jewish synagogues. This prohibition was known a generation before this. It was reenacted now, probably to pacify the aroused Christian mob in the Eastern Empire which desired to crush the religious spirit of the Jews who were massing at Jerusalem and confidently looking forward to the coming of a Messianic redeemer in 440. This disability, later taken over by some Muslim states, was reenunciated by the Church which sought to arrest the progress of Judaism, its old rival.

A Latin law of Justinian (527-565), the final selection, does not allow a Jew to bear witness in court against an orthodox Christian. Thus as early as the sixth century the Jews were already laboring under social, economic, civil, political, and religious disabilities.

I. Laws of Constantine the Great, October 18, 315: Concerning Jews, Heaven-Worshippers, [165] and Samaritans

“We wish to make it known to the Jews and their elders and their patriarchs that if, after the enactment of this law, any one of them dares to attack with stones or some other manifestation of anger another who has fled their dangerous sect and attached himself to the worship of God [Christianity], he must speedily be given to the flames and burn, together with all his accomplices.

“Moreover, if any one of the population should join their abominable sect and attend their meetings, he will bear with them the deserved penalties.”

II. Laws of Constantius, August 13, 339: Concerning Jews, Heaven-Worshippers, and
Samaritans

“This pertains to women, who live in our weaving factories and whom Jews, in their foulness, take in marriage. It is decreed that these women are to be restored to the weaving factories. [Marriages between Jews and Christian women of the imperial weaving factory are to be dissolved.]

“This prohibition [of intermarriage] is to be preserved for the future lest the Jews induce Christian women to share their shameful lives. If they do this they will subject themselves to a sentence of death.” [The Jewish husbands are to be punished with death.]

A Jew Shall Not Possess A Christian Slave

“If any one among the Jews has purchased a slave of another sect or nation, that slave shall at once be appropriated for the imperial treasury.

“If, indeed, he shall have circumcised the slave whom he has purchased, he will not only be fined for the damage done to that slave but he will also receive capital punishment.

“If, indeed, a Jew does not hesitate to purchase slaves-those who are members of the faith that is worthy of respect [Christianity] then all these slaves who are found in his possession shall at once be removed. No delay shall be occasioned, but he is to be deprived of the possession of those men who are Christians.”

III. A Law of Theodosius 11, January 31, 439: Novella III:
Concerning Jews, Samaritans, Heretics, And Pagans

“Wherefore, although according to an old saying [of the Greek Hippocrates, the ‘father’ of medicine] ‘no cure is to be applied in desperate sicknesses,’ nevertheless, in order that these dangerous sects which are unmindful of our times may not spread into life the more freely, in indiscriminate disorder as it were, we ordain by this law to be valid for all time:

“No Jew — or no Samaritan who subscribes to neither [the Jewish nor the Christian] religion — shall obtain offices and dignities; to none shall the administration of city service be permitted; nor shall any one exercise the office of a defender [that is, overseer] of the city. Indeed, we believe it sinful that the enemies of the heavenly majesty and of the Roman laws should become the executors of our laws — the administration of which they have slyly obtained and that they, fortified by the authority of the acquired rank, should have the power to judge or decide as they wish against Christians, yes, frequently even over bishops of our holy religion themselves, and thus, as it were, insult our faith.

“Moreover, for the same reason, we forbid that any synagogue shall rise as a new building. [Fewer synagogues meant less chance of Christians becoming Jews.] However, the propping up of old synagogues which are now threatened with imminent ruin is permitted. To these things we add that he who misleads a slave or a freeman against his will or by punishable advice, from the service of the Christian religion to that of an abominable sect and ritual, is to be punished by loss of property and life. [That is, the Jew who converts any one to Judaism loses life and property.]

“On the one hand, whoever has built a synagogue must realize that he has worked to the advantage of the Catholic church [which will confiscate the building]; on the other hand, whoever has already secured the badge of office shall not hold the dignities he has acquired. On the contrary, he who worms himself into office must remain, as before, in the lowest rank even though he will have already earned an honorary office. And as for him who begins the building of a synagogue and is not moved by the desire of repairing it, he shall be punished by a fine of fifty pounds gold for his daring. Moreover, if he will have prevailed with his evil teachings over the faith of another, he shall see his wealth confiscated and himself soon subjected to a death sentence.

“And since it behooves the imperial majesty to consider everything with such foresight that the general welfare does not suffer in the least, we ordain that the tax-paying officeholders of all towns as well as the provincial civil servants - who are obligated to employ ,heir wealth and to make public gifts as part of their burdensome and diverse official and military duties hall remain in their own classes, no matter what sect they belong to. Let it not appear as if we have accorded the benefit of exemption to those men, detestable in their insolent maneuvering, whom we wish to condemn by the authority of this law. [Jews have to accept financially ruinous public offices without hope of exemption.]

“This further limitation is to be observed, namely, that these public servants from these above mentioned sects shall never, as far as private affairs are concerned, carry out judicial sentences, nor be wardens of the jail. This is done in order that Christians, as it sometimes happens, may not be hidden away and suffer a double imprisonment through the hatred of the guards- [imprisonment is bad enough without having a Jewish jailer.] And furthermore it may be doubted that they have been justly imprisoned.”

IV. A Law Of Justinian, July 28, 531:
Concerning Heretics and Manichaeans and Samaritans

“Since many judges, in deciding cases, have addressed us in need of our decision, asking that they be informed what ought to be done with witnesses who are heretics, whether their testimony ought to be received or rejected, we therefore ordain that no heretic, nor even they who cherish the Jewish superstition, may offer testimony against orthodox Christians who are engaged in litigation, whether one or the other of the parties is an orthodox Christian.” [But a Jew may offer testimony on behalf of an orthodox Christian against some one who is not orthodox.]

V. Canons of The Council of Elvira [166]

Source: www.bu.edu/religion/courses/syllabi/rn301/canons.htm

Canon 15. Christian girls are not to marry pagans [which would include Jews], no matter how few eligible men there are, for such marriages lead to adultery of the soul.

Canon 16. Heretics shall not be joined in marriage with Catholic girls unless they accept the Catholic faith. Catholic girls may not marry Jews or heretics, because they cannot find a unity when the faithful and the unfaithful are joined. Parents who allow this to happen shall not commune for five years.

Canon 17. If parents allow their daughter to marry a pagan priest [which would include a Jewish Rabbi], they shall not receive communion even at the time of death.

Canon 21. If anyone [including Jews] who lives in the city does not attend church services for three Sundays, let that person be expelled [from the city] for a brief time in order to make the reproach public.

Canon 22. If people fall from the Catholic church into heresy [observe any Jewish customs] and then return, let them not be denied penance, since they have acknowledged their sin. Let them be given communion after ten years’ penance. If children have been led into heresy, it is not their own fault, and they should be received back immediately.

Canon 28. A bishop may not receive the offerings of those who are not allowed to receive communion. [No Jew may make a contribution.]

Canon 39. A pagan [including a Jew] who requests the laying on of hands [prayer for healing] at a time of illness, may receive the imposition of hands and become a Christian if his or her life has been reasonably honest.

Canon 43. In accordance with the Scripture we shall celebrate Pentecost and not continue the false practice [of celebrating Shavu`ot on the fiftieth day after Passover rather than Pentecost on the fiftieth day after Easter]. If one does not accept this practice, it will be considered a new heresy.

Canon 45. A catechumen who has stayed away from the church [or adopted Jewish practices] for a long time may be baptized if one of the clergy supports his or her claim to be a Christian, or if some of the faithful attest to this, and it appears that the person has reformed.

Canon 46. If a Christian gives up the faith and stays away from the church [practices Messianic Judaism] for a long time, provided he or she has not become an idolater, he or she may be received back and commune after ten years of penance.

Canon 49. Landlords are not to allow Jews to bless the crops they have received from God and for which they have offered thanks. Such an action would make our blessing invalid and meaningless. Anyone who continues this practice is to be expelled completely from the church.

Canon 50. If any cleric or layperson eats with Jews, he or she shall be kept from communion as a way of correction.

Canon 51. If a baptized person has come from heresy [Judaism], he must not become a cleric. One who has already been ordained is to be removed from office immediately.

Canon 78. If a Christian confesses adultery with a Jewish or pagan woman, he is denied communion for some time. If his sin is exposed by someone else, he must complete five years’ penance before receiving the Sunday communion.

VI. Additional Anti-Semitic Canon Laws

Source: dsca.ch/vaticano/preamble2.html

• Prohibition of mixed marriages and sexual intercourses between Christians and Jews (Synod of Elvira, ca. 306)

• Prohibition for Christians of sitting at the table with Jews (Synod of Elvira, ca. 306).

• Jews were not allowed to hold public office (Synod of Clermont, 535).

• Jews were not allowed to have Christian slaves, either men or women (Third Synod of Orléans, 538).

• Jews were not allowed to go out in the streets in the Holy Week (Third Synod of Orléans, 538).

• The Talmud and other Jewish books were burned (Twelfth Synod of Toledo, 681).

• Christians were not allowed to consult Jewish physicians (Synod of Trullano, 682).

• Christians were not allowed to live with Jews (Synod of Narbonne, 1050).

• Jews were taxed to support the Church in the same measure as Christians (Synod of Gerona, 1078).

• Prohibition of working on Sundays (Synod of Szabalcs, 1092).

• Jews were not allowed to bring accusations or testify against Christians (3rd Lateran Council, 1179, can. 26).

• Jews were not permitted to be plaintiffs or witnesses against Christians in the courts (3rd Lateran Council, 1179)

• Jews were not allowed to disinherit their brothers who converted to Catholicism (3rd Lateran Council, 1179, can. 26).

• Jews had to wear a badge on their clothing (4th Lateran Council, 1215, can. 68 – like a decree issued by the Caliph Omar II, 634 – 44, obliging the Christians to wear a blue belt and the Jews a yellow belt.)

• Prohibition of building Synagogues (Council of Oxfortd, 1222).

• Christians were not allowed to take part in Jewish ceremonies (Synod of Vienna, 1267).

• Ghettos were obligatory (Synod of Breslavia, 1267).

• Christians were not allowed to sell or rent premises to Jews (Synod of Ofen, 1279).

• The conversion of a Christian to Hebraism or the reconversion of a baptized Jew to his former religion was considered heresy (Synod of Mainz, 1310).

• Prohibition of selling or pledging objects belonging to the Church to Jews (Synod of Lavour, 1368).

• Jews were not allowed to act as mediators between Christians, particularly in marriages (Council of Basel, 1434, XIX session).

• Jews were denied university degrees (Council of Basel, 1434, XIX session)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

REFERENCES TO TEXTBOOKS

Elbogen, pp. 4-18; Roth, pp. 140-148.

Golub, J. S., Medieval Jewish History, Sec. I; Sec. 111, “The Christian Church.”

READINGS FOR ADVANCED STUDENTS

Graetz, II, pp. 559-574, 611-626; 111, pp. 10-23; Graetz-Rhine, 11, pp. 402-411, 425-437, 458-479; Margolis and Marx, pp. 228-230, 265, 297.

Abbott, G. F., Israel in Europe, pp. 41-46. A rather popular work by a publicist.

Milman, H. H., The History of the Jews, 11, Book xx. Though Milman had no first hand knowledge of Jewish sources, he was at home in the medieval Latin historical literature.

Parkes, J., The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue. The best book in English on the relation of the Christian Church to the Jew in the early Middle Ages.

JE, “Constantine I”; “Diaspora”; “Disabilities”; “Justinian.”

ADDITIONAL SOURCE MATERIALS IN ENGLISH

Scott, S. P., The Civil Code, XII, pp. 75ff; XVII, pp. 170, 255

SOURCE

Jacob Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World: A Sourcebook, 315-1791, (New York: JPS, 1938), 3-7. Later printings of this text (e.g. by Atheneum, 1969, 1972, 1978) do not indicate that the copyright was renewed)

_______________

161. In 46 BC, when the Roman “Julian calendar” was adopted, December 24th was the shortest day of the year. Therefore, December 25th was the first annual day that daylight began to increase. Thus, the origin of the rebirth, or annual birthday of the Invincible Sun. In accordance with the Julian calendar, the Saturnalia festival [Feast of Saturn] appears to have taken place on December 17, was preceded by the Consualia near December 15, and followed by the Opalia on December 19. These pagan celebrations typically lasted for a week, ending just before the late Roman Imperial Festival for “Sol Invictus” (Invincible Sun) on December 25. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII caused the current “Gregorian Calendar” to be adopted, in order to eliminate the solar time shift error that was introduced over the time period of 1,629 years by the inaccurate Julian calendar. By December 1582 the shortest day of the year on the Julian calendar had shifted 12 days from December 24, 46 BCE, to Wednesday, December 12, 1582 CE. However, the original December 25 “birth date” was retained for all pagan sun gods by the Saturnalia, Consualia, Opalia, Sol Invictus traditions, which were now incorporated into the Roman Catholic “Twelve Days of Christ-mass.” On the new Roman Catholic Gregorian calendar, the shortest annual day was numerically shifted back 10 days to the December 22, where it remains to this day, while the original order of the seven days of the week remained unchanged. Therefore, Wednesday, December 12, 1582, became Wednesday, December 22, 1582, and the true Sabbath day (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) remained unchanged. [Sabbatarian.com/Paganism/RomanEmpire.html] [RETURN]

162. Any Jew who was unable to observe the Passover on the evening of 14 Nisan was permitted to observe it the previous day. Thus Yeshua and his Talmidim observed Passover the night before the Paschal lamb was slain. [RETURN]

163. This text is part of the Internet Jewish History Sourcebook The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history. [RETURN]

164. Source: www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/jews-romanlaw.html. This text is part of the Internet Jewish History Sourcebook The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history. [RETURN]

165. Heaven-Worshippers were a sect closely allied to Judaism. [RETURN]

166. Held early in the fourth century at Elliberis, or Illiberis, in Spain, a city now in ruins not far from Granada. The exact year in which it was held is a matter of controversy upon which much has been written. Estimates range from 300 to 342. [RETURN]

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