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Texts from the History of the Relationship

Dating from the Patristic/Rabbinic Era until the Dawn of Modernity

Plus a Few More Recent Texts

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"In the Christian world ... erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament relative to the Jewish people and their presumed guilt circulated for too long, engendering sentiments of hostility toward this people."  – Pope John Paul II, October 31, 1997

These words, spoken at a Vatican conference on "The Roots of Anti-Judaism in the Christian Milieu," are a fitting prelude to this collection of primary texts. Many reflect the growth of a Christian theological system that delegitimized the ongoing Jewish tradition and abetted the marginalization of Jews in Christian Europe. There are also texts representing Jewish polemical responses to these developments, though they are few  in number due to the efficiency of Christian censors over the years.

A Christian and a Jewish scholar discuss biblical interpretation (Ulm, 1483)As with any documents, a full understanding of these texts demands knowledge of the historical contexts in which they were composed. For instance, the relatively few Jewish writings about Christianity often were written when Jews were a tolerated, sometimes oppressed, and occasionally attacked minority in European "Christendom."

The earlier Christian materials stem from a time when a vulnerable Christianity was subject to periodic persecution in the Roman Empire. In addition, Roman intellectuals charged that Christianity was a superstitious distortion of Judaism, particularly because Christians failed to observe the Law of Moses, which they acknowledged had come from God. To justify itself, Christianity sought to discredit the Judaism with which it was often unfavorably compared. Later Christian writings emerged when church leaders exercised broad political power as heads of state. They often display an ambivalent stance toward Jews: marginalizing them as much as possible, yet defending them against wanton violence and superstitious accusations.

It must be stressed that after the Shoah (Holocaust), a wide range of Christian churches repudiated the pivotal claim made by most of the Christian writers listed below; namely, that Jews were collectively cursed or punished by God for the crucifixion of Jesus. Students should compare the materials in this section of Dialogika with the "Documents and Statements" section.

This collection is made available to provide educators, researchers, and students with easy access to pertinent primary texts from the history of Jewish-Christian relations. Items are searchable and may be printed in pdf format. Suggestions for further historical materials to include should be sent to the webmaster.

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# Article Title Author
1 Epistle of BARNABAS (ca. 100) Barnabas
2 JUSTIN MARTYR, "The Dialogue with Trypho" (ca. 160) - excerpts Justin Martyr
3 MELITO OF SARDIS, "On the Pasch" (ca. 175) Melito of Sardis
4 TERTULLIAN, "Against the Jews" (ca. 200) Tertullian
5 ORIGEN, "On First Principles" (ca. 225) Origen
6 ORIGEN, "Against Celsus" (ca. 248) - excerpts Origen
7 CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE, "On the Lord's Prayer" (252) - ch 1-11 Cyprian of Carthage
8 CONSTANTINE I, "On the Proper Day to Celebrate Christ's Resurrection" (325) Constantine I
9 JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, "Eight Orations Against Judaizing Christians" (387-388) John Chrysostom
10 AMBROSE OF MILAN, "Letters about a Synagogue Burning" (August, 388) Ambrose of Milan
11 ROMAN IMPERIAL LAWS concerning Jews (329-553) Roman Imperial Laws
12 AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO: Selections (ca. 400, 411) Augustine of Hippo
13 POPE GREGORY I, "Letters on the Treatment of Jews" (591, 598) - excerpts Pope Gregory I
14 TOLEDOTH YESHU (ca. 14th century, tradition to 6th century?) Toledoth Yeshu
15 JOHN OF DAMASCUS, "Against the Jews on the Question of the Sabbath" (ca. 735) John of Damascus
16 POPE STEPHEN IV, "Letter Against Jews Owning Land" (768) Pope Stephen IV
17 POPE ALEXANDER II, "Warning Against Violence Toward the Jews" (ca. 1060) - excerpt Pope Alexander II
18 HENRY IV, HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR, "Settlement Charter in the German States" (February 19, 1090) Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
19 THE CHRONICLES OF RABBI ELIEZER BAR NATHAN, "The Massacres of Jews by the First Crusaders" (1096) Rabbi Eliezer Bar Nathan
20 BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX, The Jews and the Second Crusade (1146) Bernard of Clairvaux
21 EPHRAIM BEN JACOB, "The Ritual Murder Accusation at Blois" (May, 1171) Ephraim Ben Jacob
22 THOMAS OF MONMOUTH, The Accusation of the 1144 Ritual Murder of William of Norwich (1173) Thomas of Monmouth
23 RIGORD, The Expulsion of the Jews from France (1182) Rigord
24 WILLIAM OF NEWBURGH, The York Riots (1190) William of Newburgh
25 POPE INNOCENT III, On the Jews and Forced Baptisms (1199, 1201, 1209) Pope Innocent III
26 FOURTH LATERAN COUNCIL, "Canons Concerning Jews" (1215) Fourth Lateran Council
27 FREDERICK II, HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR, "Refuting Ritual Murder Accusations" (1236) Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
28 FREDERICK, DUKE OF AUSTRIA, "Charter of the Jews in the Duchy of Austria" (July 1, 1244) Frederick, Duke of Austria
29 ODO OF CHATEAUROUX, On the Jewish Talmud (1247, 1248) Odo of Chateauroux
30 THOMAS AQUINAS, "Letter on the Treatment of Jews" (1271) Thomas Aquinas
31 POPE GREGORY X, "Letter Against the Blood Libel" (Oct 7, 1272) Pope Gregory X
32 JACOB VON KÖNIGSHOFEN, The Black Death and the Jews (1348-1349) Jacob von Königshofen
33 POPE EUGENE IV, "Cantate Domino" (1441) - excerpt Pope Eugene IV
34 AN ITALIAN JEW, The Expulsion from Spain (1492) Italian Jew
35 HIERONYMOUS HÖLTZEL, publisher, An Account of Alleged Host Desecration and Ritual Murder (1510) Hieronymous Höltzel
36 MARTIN LUTHER, "That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew" (1523) - excerpts Martin Luther
37 MARTIN LUTHER, "On the Jews and Their Lies" (1543) - Parts 11-13 Martin Luther
38 POPE PAUL IV, "Cum Nimis Absurdum" ["Since it is completely senseless ..."] (July 14, 1555) Pope Paul IV
39 CATECHISM OF THE COUNCIL OF TRENT, "Reasons Why Christ Suffered" (1566) Council of Trent
40 THEODOR HERZL: Audience with Pope Pius X (1904) Theodor Herzl
41 EDITH STEIN: Letter to Pope Pius XI (1933, 1938, 1939) Edith Stein
42 POPE PIUS XI, Encyclical "Mit Brenneder Sorge" (Mar 14, 1937) Pope Pius XI
43 POPE PIUS XI, "Spiritually, we are Semites" (Sept 6, 1938) Pope Pius XI
44 DRAFT ENCYCLICAL: "Humani Generis Unitas" (1938) G. Desbuquois, G. Gundlach, J. LaFarge
45 JACQUES MARITAIN: "The Mystery of Israel" - excerpts (1943) Jacques Maritain