As previously mentioned, first century Rome had its "problems" with its Jewish province in Judea-Samaria. There were a number of skirmishes and several wars fought in the first and second centuries. With the war that ended in 70 AD, much of the Torah-based, Jerusalem-centered Messianic community was killed or scattered.
Two important events occurred around this time:
This combination of events caused a greater division between the Jerusalem Jews who believed in Yeshua and those who did not. Yeshua's brother, Ya'acov, was actually very instrumental in holding the believing and non-believing Jewish communities together. (1) This fracture in the Jewish community is significant as it pushed those Jews who believed in Yeshua (and also the gentiles who were coming to faith in Yeshua within Judaism), further away from the rest of Judaism.
This division gave gentiles who had no regard for the Jewishness of their "faith" (coming right out of the pagan Roman culture), a louder voice in community affairs and interpretation of Scripture. Anti-Jewish polemic can be found as early as the teachings of Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch at the end of the first century. Ignatius spoke out against gentile "Christians" having anything to do with Jewish forms of worship and that Jews becoming "Christians" should stop living as Jews, saying that it was "absurd to speak of Jesus Christ with the tongue and to cherish in the mind a Judaism which has now come to an end." (2)
With the war of 132 AD, Jerusalem was literally "plowed under," by the Romans and renamed Aelia Capitolina. Shrines to the Roman gods, Jupiter and Venus, were erected. What little was left of the community of Jewish believers in Yeshua was wiped out and soon replaced with a very Roman non-Jewish (highly pagan) "church." Rome went on to wipe out most of Judea, destroying 985 towns and killing over a half million Jewish men. (3) Even more died later from starvation, disease and fire.
Rome went on to pass harsh laws banning worship on the Sabbath, the Jewish (Biblical) feasts, public Jewish rituals, and reading of Torah. (This is part of the reason Sunday worship replaced following the Friday to Saturday evening Sabbath.) Jews, including those who followed Yeshua, werent allowed within 150 miles of the city. The lineage of Jewish successors to Yeshua and Ya'acov ended and a string of gentile "popes" soon followed.
THE EARLY CHURCH AND JUDAISM
The leadership of this new gentile "church" was quick to embrace the Roman government's position regarding Jews and was overtly hostile to anything Jewish, including the Torah. Numerous false doctrines were established as early as the second century. Among these were the teachings that "the Law" was actually given as a punishment to the Jews, that Jerusalem had been destroyed and taken from the Jews due to their sin, and that the "Church" had replaced Israel as God's people.
For instance, as early as the second century, we have Justin Martyr saying:
In the third century, we have the following opinion from Origen of Alexandria:
The attitude of these two "Church fathers" was not an anomaly. The whole of Roman society around the time of Yeshua and Paul was extremely anti-Jewish. One reason being that many Roman families had lost sons in the Jewish wars. Roman intellectuals of the day wrote much derogatory material about the Jews living among them. (6)
Roman society was pagan and centered around the worship of many gods. In the midst of this was a Jewish society of around 7 million, (about 10 percent of the Roman population), a very noticeable minority. (7) Jews were despised for their peculiar religious practices and failure to worship the gods of Rome as every other conquered people was forced to do. (8) Once the Jewish leadership had been removed, changes were immediately put into effect with little opposition.
CHURCH COUNCILS AND JEWISH REGULATIONS
Continued anti-Jewish laws passed by the Roman government, assured that there would be "no going back." Constantine, (the 4th century emperor of Rome, who remained a pagan sun worshipper unto his deathbed), claimed to have had "a vision" that led him to "legalize Christianity." This initiated a process that would eventually make paganized Christianity the religion of the Empire.
Now, if you were a Jew, and wanted to "believe in the Messiah," you had to publicly renounce all things Jewish and become "a Christian." Any Gentile who joined with the Jews in their worship would be breaking the law and punished. As early as the fifth century, laws were passed preventing Jews from holding public offices and forbidding the building of new Synagogues. (9)
The church councils of the fourth century formulated the doctrines and creeds that Christianity holds to this day. These councils were made up of gentiles from the same anti-Semitic background as those of the previous two hundred years. Jewish believers who held regard for Torah were barred from attending these meetings, and their positions on the meaning of Scripture with regard to Torah were "overruled." (10) One of the earliest councils ruled that anyone found eating with Jews would be prevented from taking communion so that he would "learn to amend," (11) and that marriage to a Jew would result in excommunication. (12)
The remaining believers, who held fast to the Torah observant doctrines of the original community, were mocked and considered at best "weak" in their faith if not in fact heretics.
For example, we have Epiphanius, in the fourth century, stating:
By the end of the 4th century, anything resembling a "pro-Torah" view of "the faith" had become non-existent in what was now called "Christianity." The Councils of Antioch (341CE) and Laodicea (360CE) prohibited Christians from participating in Jewish rituals. As one modern historian puts it, this was all done to show that Jewish tradition was, "inherently evil, obsolete and irrelevant for practical Christian life." (14)
All of this history is the foundation of the Christian Church. Persecution of Jews throughout history, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, numerous mass expulsions throughout history, and of course the Holocaust, are all the direct result of the Church's anti-Semitic doctrines.
The "Protestant Reformation" of the 16th century did nothing to change Christianity's anti-Jewish foundation. The "reformers," such as Luther and Calvin, were as anti-Semitic, if not more so, as their predecessors a millennium before them. Martin Luther's writings were a favorite of Adolph Hitler, who acquired many of his ideas on how to deal with Jews from him. (15)
The concerns of the "reformers" were solely with what they felt was corruption and abuse of power in the Christian/Catholic church. They had no desire to return to the Torah-based Judaism of Yeshua and the apostles. (16)
An understand of the following is imperative:
If a person is willing to accept the facts of history, and the idea that what they have
been taught in their church may not be the correct interpretation of Scripture, then they
have a chance to understand what Paul, the Torah-observant Pharisee, was saying in the
book of Romans.
RETURN TO THE ROMANS INDEX