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Medieval Sourcebook:
Notes on Reaction to the Posting of the Chrysostom Text on the Jews


The reactions to the addition of the text of Chrysostom's sermons Againt the Jews [or Judaiziers as one correspondent insists] has been more intense than for any other text posted. The main problem for some discussants seems to be that John Chrysostom is a major saint and patristic figure, thus he must be defended. On the other hand, their call for a contextual analysis is fair enough. For this reason, I have posted their comments.

I

On 11th August 1998, I posted the following to various discussion lists - basically a simple request for information.:

I came across etexts of six of John Chrysostom's eight homilies against the Jews. [See Migne PG 48]. They were, sadly, on a horrific Catholic anti-Semitic website [http://holywar.org].

For the time being I have cleaned up some of the errors, and added an introduction from James Parke's book on The Conflict of Church and Synagogue.

The problem is that I do not know where the text comes from. Is it a Public Domain 19th century translation, or a more recent text? There is at MELVYL a record of a 1966 dissertation by one Mervyn Maxwell which was a translation, but I have not been able to check that the etext is Dr. Maxwell's, nor have I been able to find him. Any help here would be appreciated.

Paul Halsall

PS: [Non academic comment] These texts to me, seem complete refutation, in and of themselves, for anyone who argues that the "fathers" are any guide whatsoever to moral living.

In the discussion that followed two major issues arose: Was Chrysostom an antisemite, and is there a genealogy of Antisemitism. For the latter point, the list of quotes posted by Maurice Bray, provides the context for the argument, however one decides:

Augustine: they subsist for the salvation of the nation, but not for their own

Chrysostom: the Jews are always degenerate because of their odious assassination of Christ. For this, no expiation is possible, no indulgence, no pardon

Aquinas: Jews, in consequence of their sins, are, or were, destined to perpetual slavery

Marx: What is the object of the Jew's worship in this world? Usury. What is his worldly God? Money. Very well then; emancipation from usury and money, that is, from practical real Judaism, would constitute the emancipation of our time.

Hitler: I believe that I am today acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew I am fighting for the work of the Lord " [ Mein Kampf ]

Luther: [ in his last sermon, four days before he died, ] called for practical measures: burn their synagogues, confiscate all books in Hebrew, prohibit Jewish prayers, force them to do manual labour, but, best of all, drive them out of Germany.

Adolf von Harnack: [ from 1890 - 1930 trained generations of Protestant pastors and exegetes. ]   He said that to conserve the Old Testament constitutes a " religious paralysis " for the church; the Jews are the worst among the peoples, the most atheistic nation and of all the nations on earth the one farthest from God. They are the devil's own, the synagogue of Satan, a community of hypocrites ".


II Re-reading Chrysostom

On August 12 1998, Normon (Dionysios) H. Reddington posted the following to the Byzantine studies list.

Well...

First off, these homilies are about Judaizers, not Jews. He attacks the Jews, using a standard method of classical rhetoricians, to win back their sympathizers to his own camp. Hence the lack of interest in converting Jews, and the irrelevence of  the remark "und ebensowenig werden solche Reden faehig gewesen sein die Juden mit   Sympathie fuer das Christentum  zu erfuellen." That wasn't his purpose. Think "Quartodecimanism".

Actually, compared to later anti-Semitism, these sermons are exceedingly mild. True, they don't support the view that Judaism is on a par with Christianity. Given that Chrysostom believed that Judaism was a false religion, and one which clearly had a major attraction for some of his parishioners, I'm not sure what else he could have said. The florid invective was the Greco-Roman style; most of the offensive statements were just rhetorical devices.

What do the homilies really say? Contrary to the biased introduction, which reads all sorts of  later attitudes into the Greco-Roman mind, Chrysostom certainly does not say  of the Jews that God "hates them and has always hated them." He does say that he himself "hates them" and urges Christians to do so also, as he often urges Christians to hate sinners. Anyone familiar with Chrysostom's writings knows that this hatred did  not mean that he desired to exterminate them or torture them, nor that he regarded them as inferior by nature. If they converted to what he believed to be the true religion, his hatred would at once cease.

The outline in the introduction is full of  inaccurate statements, although   (like the homilies) an effective piece of rhetoric. A less rabid outline might go like this -- still not, I admit,  an irenically ecumenical piece, to be sure, but not nearly what it's being billed as:

[Views in square brackets are mine; otherwise, I'm paraphrasing Chrysostom].

HOM. I:  The Jews, by rejecting Christ, were changed from children into dogs, the Gentile dogs were changed into children. The Jews refuse to accept Christ, whom they crucified, because they are grown carnal-minded; this is also why they have experienced catastrophes and been slaughtered by the Romans. In O.T. times, they failed to keep the Law; now when it has been abolished they insist on keeping it, but nevertheless during their fasts "dance barefoot" in the square and behave licentiously. [This is of course an interesting passage from the point of view of historians of  Jewish liturgy, as are Chrys.'s remarks about the "theatricality" of the synagogue. Hence the oddity of Parkes' statement: "There is no material in these  sermons   for a study of contemporary Jewish life."] Jews do not worship God, because they reject the Son who alone reveals the Father; that they have the Law and Prophets just makes their impiety worse. What's really bad is that Christians admire them, think of them as holy people with a special relationship to God, attend their festivals, regard their holy places as holy, etc. This is tantamount to sharing their rejection of Christ. No benefit, such as healing powers possessed by the Jews, is worth the blasphemy of endorsing the Jewish rejection of  Christ. Beware lest your wives, etc., are getting involved in Judaism, and even  leading you into it!

HOM. II: Apart from repeating a lot of Homily I -- Keeping fasts at the same time as the Jews, being circumcized, and otherwise  adopting Jewish customs is the same as going back under the Law, which has been abolished.

HOM. III: Do not keep fast at the same time as the Jews, even if that is the former church custom, because the Council of Nicea has declared a new uniform time. Church uniformity is vital.  Also the Jewish Passover is invalid if it is celebrated outside Jerusalem, according to the Law, so it's clear that the Jewish rite is unLawful. Lent is not "because of" Pascha or the Crucifixion, but because of our sins, a   preparation for the Eucharist; although useful for this purpose, it is not absolutely necessary to have a 40 day fast. Also, the Crucifixion took place on the "first day of  the feast of unleavened bread and the day of  preparation", which do not always coincide, so the Christian Pascha has no fixed relation to the Jewish year. And finally even if the Church's calendar computations are wrong, uniformity and concord are more important.

HOM. IV: The Jews want to carry off my flock. They urge fasting, but fasting is not good of itself, only when it is commanded by God. Why do you Judaizers want to be Jews when you are Christians? The Jews do not keep the Passover in Jerusalem, and thus they   break the Law themselves. During the Babylonian captivity, however, being unable to get to Jerusalem, they did not celebrate the Passover, and thus paradoxically upheld the Law by not celebrating the services. Actually, God never really wanted sacrifices anyway; they were a concession to human weakness, allowed because otherwise the people would have sacrificed to idols instead. By limiting sacrifices to Jerusalem, and then destroying the city, God was  weaning the Jewish people away from sacrifices. God is a physician. When the Jews are celebrating "STAY AT HOME  AND WEEP AND GROAN FOR THEM."  But Judaizers are more blameworthy than the Jews, and worst of all are ordinary Christians who fail to fight Judaizing trends in the Church.

HOM. V: The Jews reject Christ, but they should consider the various  prophecies He made which have been fulfilled. That other people  resembling Christ -- false messiahs -- have risen up as well is just a plot of the devil. The Jews expect to return to Jerusalem and  rebuild the Temple. This will not happen, because Christ said it will not and because the whole course of Jewish history has been described in the Prophets. Long detailed exegesis of  the various dates in Daniel etc., showing that several destructions of the Temple are predicted at exact times, and that the last destruction, by the Romans, is final. Thus the attempt to rebuild under Julian failed, and note that in  making the attempt the Jews admitted that their rites were useless   without the Temple.

HOM VI: I speak on behalf of the Martyrs, "who have a special hatred" for the Jews who spilled the blood of  Him for whom they shed theirs. [Said in a typically elaborate opening passage.] The Jews cannot say that their exile is a temporary punishment for  those sins which they acknowledge, because they did worse things in the past without being exiled. On the contrary, it is because they crucified Christ, a sin they refuse to acknowledge. As the chosen people, the Jews would have been protected supernaturally had they not done this one thing. Nor can they claim that their political misfortunes are just the way things go -- again, God would have protected them from their enemies. Because the Law has been abolished and the miracles have ceased, the Jewish priests today are not really priests, but actors playing a  part [an accusation Chrysostom elsewhere makes of numerous Christian sinners]. Synopsis of all five preceding sermons. Convert the Judaizing Christians back to orthodoxy. "Do you wish  to see the temple? Don't run to the synagogue; be a temple yourself."

Response to the Above [Halsall]

I do see your point, and I am quite happy to historicize these anti-Semitic patristic writers, just so long as in doing so, one does not then think that other things they say (which happen to agree with some modern prejudice) are not historicizable. They are interesting historical documents, after all.

And they are also directly responsible for much later the popular reception of other documents which build up on their "classical rhetoric".  Babi Yar, after all, had nothing to do with readers of Darwin.

I am quite willing to add your comments to the file in question, although I shall not remove Parkes' comments. You really need to consider, however, that even your summary of chapter six, does not allow the benign [advocacy?] interpretation you give to Chrysostom.

PS: Again some largely non-academic comments:

I receive similar exculpatory messages rather commonly about the long extracts from Luther's On the Jews I have put online. One frequent comments is that Luther only began to hate Jews late in life [although his early letters to Spalatin - now also on line - indicate differently]. Another, to which I had no adequate response, is that Luther did not have much later effect - after all Striecher "only quoted him twice".

It seems to me that churches can either face up to this history or not. The RC church has gone a long way towards this in recent decades, by any account. And, as far as I can see, so the Orthodox have also begun the process: when the breakaway Old Calendarists   here in Queens were recently received back into the arms of the Patriarchal Church [and St. Irene's Cathedral became a "patriarchal and stavropegal monastery"] the local Old Calendarist  bishop was forced by the Patriarch to sign a formal and very public renunciation of his "classical rhetoric", which had involved denunciations of Jews. Some work needs still to be done, of course, on the texts of the liturgy.

Paul Halsall

III: Misrepresenting Chrysostom?

The following was a repsonse in private correspondence [hence the anonymity here] from a commentator at an Antipodean Catholic University.

I am not sure why you feel compelled to post an obscure and obviously poor (let alone partial) translation of the 8 homilies to the web. There is a very good and reliable translation of all 8 in the Fathers of the Church series, vol. 68 (1979) by Paul Harkins. Prefacing it with the intro. that you mention, is also somewhat misleading, since the definitive work on the series is by Robert Wilken, John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the late fourth century (1983). I am rather tired of Chrysostom being misrepresented, especially to students, who tend to read things on the web uncritically.

The homilies are in any case not "On the Jews", but against Judaisers. The exaggerated rhetoric is admittedly hostile towards the Jews, but should be read strictly within this context. In other sermons (a fact of which many scholars are unaware) he can be quite admiring of the local Jewish community and their religious devotion and stamina. One of the reasons his invective is so extreme in the current set of homilies is that he is trying desperately to persuade his audience that the practices of the Jewish community (which are very attractive and a long-standing and intimate part of Antiochene civic life) ought to be avoided, because Judaism and Christianity are two distinct religions. Not all of the Christians at Antioch had got the point. Consequently, they should be read with great care and the sentiments in them taken with a large grain of salt. It is subsequent use of these same sermons in the anti-semitic campaign that you should be concerned about.

Response to the Above [Halsall]

I did not feel "compelled" to post the texts. [Are such unwarranted assessments of people's motives really called for?] The translation was already on the web. My post to LT-ANTIQ was a request to locate its source. I have written to Prof. Wilken asking if it is his, or if he knows whose it is.

"There is a very good and reliable translation of all 8 in the Fathers of the Church series, vol. 68 (1979) by Paul Harkins."

But this is not on the web, nor likely to be for 70 years or so. However, I will add the reference for those who want a more up-to-date and reliable
translations [one, for instance, which idenitifies the citations.]

Prefacing it with the intro. that you mention, is >also somewhat misleading, since the definitive work on >the series is by Robert Wilken, John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the late fourth century (1983).

I do believe that you will find my bibliographical advice is indeed to Wilken's work. But what exactly is wrong with Parke's account of the sermons? Parkes was a significant scholar in that he was among the first Christian scholars to address the history of Christian anti-Semitism. This history is clearly one that many people still seek to deny or minimize.

"I am rather tired of Chrysostom being misrepresented, especially to students, who tend to read things on the web uncritically. The homilies are in any case not "On the Jews", but against Judaisers. The exaggerated rhetoric is admittedly hostile towards the Jews, but should be read strictly within this context."

A wonderful word that "context", isn't it? Odd that conservative scholars seem so unwilling to "contextualize" other statements which they so often support. Until this text cropped up in my web browsing, all I had actually posted of Chrysostoms was his Easter Homily and links to his sermons in the AN&PNF series. In fact, it may be that, too often students are given too rosy a picture of the early church fathers, as people they should "admire". If you are willing to say that the sermons Against the Jews [the title is as given in Migne after all, and was used by Mervyn Maxwell in his Chicago dissertation: given the content Chrysostom is against both Jews and Judaizers. I must mention that the word "Judaizer" is in and of itself anti-Semitic, and so find it odd when a modern scholar does not interrogate him or herself about the word] need to be seen in rhetorical context, why not say the same thing about the Easter Sermon, which, after all, is simply rhetorical verbiage which he did not actually mean.

In other sermons (a fact of which many scholars are unaware) he can be quite admiring of the local Jewish community and their religious devotion and stamina.

This is genuinely interesting. Send me references and I will add them, send me texts and I will post them. I am not out to make points in the texts I post. I simply post what comes along and looks interesting.

One of the reasons his invective is so extreme in the current set of homilies is that he is trying desperately to persuade his audience that the practices of the Jewish community (which are very attractive and a long-standing and intimate part of Antiochene civic life) ought to be avoided, because Judaism and Christianity are two distinct religions. Not all of the Christians at Antioch had got the point.

Is this some supposedly desirable point to reach? And if so, is it a historians' judgement to make? This was not a time when Christians were in any danger from non-Christians; it was a time when they were busy [I am sad to say - as a practising Catholic] depriving others of really rather basic rights. [if you check my website right now, you will see a summary of Christian legislation on the Jews: its is a pretty dire record, and one which I will use in class when students read Islamic legislation on hristians.]

Consequently, they should be read with great care and the sentiments in them taken with a large grain of salt. It is subsequent use of these same sermons in the anti-semitic campaign that you should be concerned about.

Of course I take them with a grain of salt, but then I take much of what the fathers' write with a grain of salt [e.g.. about women or about homosexuals], but this is not the recommended approach by current ecclesiastical authorities, nor those modern scholars who wax lyrical about the great intellectual achievements of the fathers.

The question as to  degree an author is responsible for subsequent use of his or her texts is very interesting - poor Nietzsche gets slammed all the ime - but I find   eight sermons [and especially number 6] to be more than a little problematic. These were sermons after all - designed to get out into the public and to have an effect. They were not made in a vacum in which Chrysostom did not know about the effects of Christian hostility, but in a world were law after law was passed depriving Jews of rights they had hitherto enjoyed. As I have said, I am willing to post any additions, citations, etc.

Paul Halsall

Marina Robb added a couple of notes about the titles of the work in Greek.

The Logoi kata Ioudaion can be found in PG 48: 843-942 Titles [from Migne] ('h' denotes eta)

Pros te Ioudaious kai Ellhnas apodeijas, oti, esti Theos o Christos ek tou para tois prophetais pollachou peri autou eirmenwn

B' Eis tous nhsteuontes thn twn   Ioudaiwn nhsteain, kai pros autous tous
Ioudaious...

G' Eis tous pro tou Pasxa nhsteuontes

D' Eis tas Salpiggas tou Pasxa autwn...

E' Logos Pemptos kata twn Ioudaiwn

ST' Th[i] proteraia[i] makran omilian eipwn kata Ioudaiwn kai bragxw katasxetheis apo tous mhkous twn eirmenwn, nun tauthn eipen z' Logos ebdomos kata ioudaiwn H' Logos ogdoos kata Ioudaiwn

In Greek there are two words that could be used for Jews Ioudaioi and (H)ebraioi   -- In modern Greek, at least, "ioudaioi" tends to be used of the Jews of the OT period, and clearly denotes the "faith" of the people, whereas "(H)ebraioi" is used to describe Jews, even today, as a "race" or ethnic grouping (i.e. Epistle to the Hebrews - directed to ethnic Jews who were Christians). I don't know how this holds for 5th century Greek - but it is interesting to note that Chrysostom chooses the word "Ioudaioi" - indicating their religion and not "(H)ebraioi" indicating their nationality. I don't know if that sheds any light on the subject.

IV Defending Chrysostom (1)

Matushka Photini Henderson <mhen@ptialaska.net> posted the following "Defence" on August 12.

I agree, Alexander -- let's get to substantive stuff.  I am sharing some comments received from a retired academic...  consider these points and references, and points of references.

---

Anti-Semitism is a complex issue in the Fathers, since the position of the Jews, over the centuries, has changed from that of a sometimes violently anti-Christian religious and social force to that of a victimized people. The same Jews who mistreated and victimized the early Christians, something often overlooked in contemporary historical sources, have in our times been the victims of mistreatment themselves. This observation must be seen, of course, through the prism of the Zionist policies pursued in the establishment of the Israeli State and the subsequent violence against the Palestinian people, many of them Orthodox; but certainly, as civilized people, we must recognize and loudly decry the atrocities visited on the Jews (and many other peoples, of course) during WW II. Ultimately, then, as I shall emphasize below, we should not glorify or vilify the Jewish people, but understand them in historical context: sometimes as persecutors themselves, sometimes as the persecuted. A controversial but, I think, very fair book by Bernard Lazare, Antisemitism: Its History and Causes (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), makes precisely my point: that to call anti-Semitism a single thing and to discuss it outside of historical context is to deal wrongly with the historical record. He also rightly points out that anti-Semitism often stems from intolerance within Judaism itself.

As well, it must be remembered that the Fathers of the Church view Jews as the adherents of a religion, as a spiritual entity, not merely as a race. And even when they use the word race, they also mean it in a spiritual way, not simply as we use it today. (Thus "Judaizers" was an accusation made against non-Jews as well as Jews. And sinners are sometimes called a "race.") These distinctions are lost on contemporary dilettantes, who think that the curse on the Jewish race applies exclusively to people of a single blood line, rather than to any person who, like the hypocrites of the Jewish establishment of Christ's time, perpetuate anti-Christian sentiments. A "Jew" can, once more, be a Gentile who makes a mockery of Christianity within the Christian Church. It is obvious, then, that the term "Jew" is used in a number of very special ways in Patristic literature. (We True Christians, in fact, are called, by the Fathers, the "New Israel" and "Israelites," in the sense of remaining loyal to the whole Covenant of God's Providence which the Jewish religious leaders violated and defiled.)

(One can perhaps compare the use of the term "Jew" by the Fathers to references to "Ethiopians" in the desert Fathers. This term is frequently used to describe dark spirits and demons. That the Ethiopians as a race were, at the same time, Orthodox, and that their race was adorned with Saints [prior to Chalcedon], this was a recognized fact in the Early Church. The word is used in a way that transcends race alone.)

Calling any Church Father anti-Semitic on the basis of ostensibly denigrating references to Jews, therefore, is to fall to intellectual and historiographical simple-mindedness. Applying modern sensitivities and terms regarding race to ancient times, as though there were a direct parallel between modern and ancient circumstances, is inane. This abuse of history is usually advocated by unthinking observers who simply cannot function outside the cognitive dimensions of modernity. My remarks in this regard apply not only to those who find literal anti-Semitism in the Fathers, but also to women, in our times, who, deviating from a true vision of femininity and a Christian understanding of the lofty place of the female in the Church, are quick to characterize statements in the Fathers about the FALLEN nature of women (which are often quite harsh) as symptomatic of a general denigration of females (as though fallen males are not also brutally portrayed in the Fathers). Post-Lapsarian and unrestored nature, whatever the gender of the individual, is corrupt and cannot be described in positive ways. (Restored men and women are another matter, and here equality in Christ prevails, whether as regards race or gender.) A clinical diagnosis of human spiritual ills is not the same thing as precriptive racism or intolerance. To suggest this is unfair. It is not so much that the Fathers were misogynists or racists as it that those who find misogyny and racism in their writings are possessed by small minds, perplexed spirits, and the whimsical concerns of our age. I am loath to loathe anything; however, such smallness is something that I abhor!

With regard to St. John Chrysostomos, there are certainly very harsh condemnations of the Jews in his writings. In the most commonly cited of these, he calls the Jews "pigs" and associates them with drunkenness. I would never use such language today, at a time when Christian-Jewish relations and the course of history have brought about a different reality than that which St. John confronted. (Who in America, today, for example, would refer to "Japs" when speaking of the Japanese? Nonetheless, during WW II this was a perfectly acceptable public expression, on account of the reality of the hostilities which existed, then, between the U.S. and Japan.) As I have said, these things must be put in the context of the hostility which Jews themselves had against Christians and the fact that the Christian Fathers found abhorrent the rejection of the Messiah by the Jews. St. John's statements are expressions of theological and "ideological" (if I may use this somewhat inappropriate modern term) outrage, not of racism. It speaks for itself that he also praised the Jewish Prophets, those Jews (including the Apostles) who accepted Christianity, and even preached, like all of the Church Fathers, against the wrong or violent treatment of Jews. These things, of course, are seldom mentioned by those who want to make a racist of him. One exception, by the way, is an April 27, 1998, editorial in "Christianity Today" (Vol.  XL, No. 5, p. 12), which makes some of the same points that I do in defending Christians against a film presented at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, a documentary that holds Christianity responsible for Nazism (an outrage which even some Jews have decried). Finally, the Divine Chrysostomos was a great rhetorician. Much of his language reflects the rhetorical devices of his time, not the personal antipathy which a reader jaundiced by the "nicety" of modern discourse might attribute to him. This must be remembered at all times when reading him and other Church Fathers.

I would also direct you to a study, History, Religion, and Antisemitism (I could be wrong about the title, but it is close to this), by Stanford Professor Gavin Langmuir, a prominent historian of anti-Semitism, which was published in Berkeley, in 1990, by the University of California Press. This work approaches the history of anti-Semitism with a sophistication, based on good historical research, that puts an end to that unenlightened and artless theory, first put forth in the last century by eccentric (though admittedly trained) scholars and passed about today by coffee shop "scholars" whose greatest skills lie in classifying toilet tissue by gradations of softness; namely, that there is a chain of thought connecting St. John Chrysostomos, Luther, and Hitler, and that its links are cemented together by anti-Semitism. In so doing, he offers peripheral support (amidst some ideas about Christian thought that I would question) for many of the points that I have made about our contemporary ignorance of the historical image of Jews in the ancient world, their anti-Christian sentiments and their violence against Christians, and the many ways that the Fathers of the Church used the word "Jew" in their writings and the diverse images that this usage entailed. It is important not only that you understand the context in which charges of anti-Semitism are usually raised against the Fathers (the Chrysostomos-Luther-Hitler link), but that you reply to such ignorance by pointing out the complex nature of anti-Semitism, its enigmatic history, and its various forms in Christian writings (for example, early Christian anti-Jewish polemics are something quite different from Medieval Western anti-Semitism, the latter more often than not the product of actual racism).

If you are confronting someone who has accused St. John Chrysostomos of anti-Semitism, enlightening such a person may be a difficult thing. You will face endless citations from his writings that most simply refuse to put in context. Moreover, there are people who simply refuse to relinquish the idea that anti-Semitism links Christianity, the Reformation, and The Third Reich. This comfortable view of history helps them to avoid that complexity that characterizes the true course of human experience. It also allows them to attribute to the Fathers of the Church a meanness of spirit by which they can separate themselves from the Patristic witness and thus the compelling force of Orthodox Christianity. The only thing that one can say about such tenacious anti-Patristic polemicists is that there is a definite link, in them, between the hippocampi and the glutei maximi, and this link is cemented in place by utter stupidity. Forgive my harshness and strong language, but blasphemy which is supported by ignorance, and which gains social acceptance, is one of the most destructive forces in society. It must never be tolerated, however vogue it becomes.

I do not deny, by the way, that there is much naive, unthinking, and un-Christian anti-Semitism among some Orthodox Christians, whose wrong views are, nonetheless, supported by certain truthful memories, embedded as they are in the historical consciousness of our Church, of the harsh and undeniable mistreatment of Christians in the Early Church by the Jews: a consciousness which we do not hold in common with Western Christians, who are separated from the Apostolic Church and their original Christian roots and who therefore lack such memories. The naked anti-Semitism of some Orthodox people (which I do not endorse, and for which reason I have been ridiculed), however, pales, as I said above, before the putrid bigotry of those who, steeped in the hypocrisy of the modern world and its widespread historiographical disdain for the beauty of the age of the ancient Fathers, attribute to the Patristic witness the filthy racism and human denigration of human beings that belong as much, if not more, to our times and to the heterodox than to the ancient world and our Orthodox forefathers. And whereas modern man lays claim to supposed enlightenment, yet still practices racial genocide and is beset by the worst forms of bigotry, at least ancient man had his alleged social "primitiveness" to justify whatever injustices he may or may not have in fact embraced.

I would avoid people who like to dismiss the Patristic witness because of flaws in the character of the Fathers, whether real or imagined. I befriended at Princeton a brilliant philosopher (Rose Rand), then an old woman, who was one of Wittgenstein's few female students. She was a rabid anti-Semite. But this did not make her philosophy inadequate. It did not invalidate her brilliant insight into some very intricate theories about human thought and language. The same could be said of the Fathers. If perchance some were anti-Semitic (and again, to say this unreservedly and without a clear definition of terms is to nullify the meaning of intellectual history and to use language wrongly), does this mean that the Truth which they taught was tainted by their anti-Semitism? I think not. To say so is, again, simple-mindedness and ultimately constitutes an anti-intellectual stand. And anti-intellectualism, despite its moldy and revolting presence in some Orthodox circles, is inimical to the Patristic spirit.

The matter at hand is, once more, complex. It should not be discussed with people who lack an appreciation for that intelligent shade of gray that lies between the antipodes of white naivete and black ignorance. As a case in point, Dr. Rand, my aformentioned, virulently anti-Semitic friend, was a Polish Jew!

Response to the Above [Halsall]

Photini Henderson <mhen@ptialaska.net> posted a note yesterday, which I found very disturbing. In fact I ended up thinking about it all day.

I will address the substance of the post in a moment, but first, lets address the presentation. The post was presented as being from a "retired academic". The "retired academic" choose to attack anonymously, and to engage in intense ad hominem arguments:

>These distinctions are lost on contemporary dilettantes,

>fall to intellectual and historiographical simple-mindedness. Applying modern sensitivities and  terms regarding race to ancient times, as though there were a direct parallel between modern and ancient circumstances, is inane.

>This abuse of history is usually advocated by unthinking observers who simply cannot  function outside the cognitive dimensions of modernity.

>by coffee shop "scholars" whose greatest skills lie in classifying toilet tissue by gradations of softness;

>The only thing that one can say about such tenacious anti-Patristic polemicists is that there is a definite link, in them, between the hippocampi and the glutei maximi, and this link is cemented in place by utter stupidity.

>To say so is, again, simple-mindedness and ultimately constitutes an anti-intellectual stand. And anti-intellectualism, despite its moldy and revolting presence in some Orthodox circles, is inimical to the Patristic spirit.

>It should not be discussed with people who lack an appreciation for that intelligent shade of gray that lies between the antipodes of white naivete and black ignorance.

Note the pose adopted by the writer [who will not admit his or her name] - others are no intellectuals or academics, but I am. Meanwhile, the writer engages in a series of vilifications worthy, dare one say it, of Chrysostom himself.

Oddly enough, however, the argument made is hardly compelling: indeed it  positively leaks.

1. The first thing to note is that the target is wrong. Noone - certainly not I - have argued against seeing the fathers in context. Rather I, at least, have suggested it is incoherent to suggest that in matters one does not agree with the fathers, or where their views are downright offensive, one cannot seek to minimize damage by making the argument of contextualiztion and rhetorical strategy, and then invoke other patristic and arguments statements as being authoritative in some absolute manner. Thus, I accept as coherent a view which seeks to present all the fathers' writings in the social and literary milieu in which they were written; or a view which tries to argue that patristic writings are currently authoritative expressions of Christian thought. What is ludicrous is to pretend that there is a mechanism of picking and choosing.

2. It is also worth nothing that the anonymous "retired academic" engages in what any student of Popper will immediately recognize a series of interpretative closed circles [c.f.. certain types of vulgar Freudianism and Marxism]. For instance, any attempt to argue that Chrysostom was anti-Semitic by citing his words is ruled out.

>If you are confronting someone who has accused St. John Chrysostomos of anti-Semitism, enlightening such a person may be a difficult thing. You will face endless citations from his writings that most simply refuse to put in context.

But the word "context" here is simply a signifier for shifting sands which will enable this "retired academic" to deny any meaning to the word "anti-Semitism".

3. The "retired academic's' basic strategy is to argue that those people who do argue Chrysostom was anti-Semitic, by refusing as he (or she) sees it to see Chrysostom's word's "in context" are in fact improper commentators because they are a irretrievably tinged with "modernity". The oddity here is that, since "modernity" is not defined, the"retired academic" can use it in any way he (or she) likes. It seems that in this particular argument, "modernity" means the liberal political view that all are equal and have equal rights as individuals and so should not be characterized and demeaned by race, ethnicity or religion. Or "modernity" may simply mean "the prejudices of modern people".

The problem is that the "retired academics" defense of Chrysostom  is essentially a modern, or even post-modern defense. The argument is that peoples attitudes and social stances, their words and comments, are not universal signifiers having a consistent meaning, but are in fact meaningful only in very localized circumstances. This is a position which Chrysostom himself, and indeed no traditional theological writer east or west, adopts. They in fact treat biblical texts written in one context as having meaning in their present [in the Sermons under consideration, for instance, Chrysostom, uses ancient Biblical texts of characterize the Jews of his own day].

In other words, the "retired academic's" argument is essentially a modern argument. And that is fine. Except...

4.  Although the "retired academic" wishes to adopt the pose of independent erudition, he (or she) repeatedly gives information the he (or she) is committed to a highly ideological view of the world, which he (or she) is seeking to defend. I believe this is often known as advocacy scholarship.

5. Despite the above points, the "retired" academic's arguments are not, in detail, so modern after all. They amount to "the Jews deserved it" and "Some of my best friends are Jews". Lets look more closely.

>Anti-Semitism is a complex issue in the Fathers, since the position of the Jews, over the centuries, has changed from that of a sometimes violently anti-Christian religious and social force to that of a victimized people. The same Jews who mistreated and victimized the early Christians, something often overlooked in contemporary historical sources, have in our times been the victims of mistreatment themselves. This observation must be seen, of course, through the prism of the Zionist policies pursued in the establishment of the Israeli State and the subsequent violence against the Palestinian people, many of them Orthodox; but certainly, as civilized people, we must recognize and loudly decry the atrocities visited on the Jews (and many other peoples, of course) during WW II.

One may wonder what "context" calls for a discussion of "Zionist policies of Israel". [I am not by the way a Zionist since I oppose all nationalism, although I would not object to being though of as  a philo-Semite]. "Retired academic's" argument here, however, is no discussion of context. It is a straightforward claim that "the Jews" [lets remove individuality eh?] were a "violently anti-Christian religious and social force". Thus, the direct implication is, anti-Semitism [which above all sees Jews a a "social force"] was justifiable.

What is the actual context here? The context seems to be that Christians were persecuted intermittently by the Roman authorities until Constantine, and then proceeded to seek out and destroy other people's religious activities - whether those were by "heretics", traditional Greco-Roman pagans, or by Jews. At the time Chrysostom was writing, and for seventy years previous, Christians had been in this dominant position. I agree that some earlier Jewish-Christian polemic can be understood as controversy between sects growing out of the same roots, but the social context of Chrysostom's period was quite different. The "retired academic" seems quite unwilling to think of "contexts" in which Jewish communities might see Christians as both a threat and as blasphemous usurpers of Jewish texts.

Even, however, if some Jews had been specifically anti-Christian [not that Chryosostom actually alleges any such activity in the sermons], one may wonder what "context" justified Chrysotom's method of homiletic assault? The suggested context is that of Classical rhetoric, with its genres of denunciation and decryning [a rhetorical analysis, I note in passing, which many Biblical literalists are not willing to apply to the wilder fancies of St. Paul's denunciations of specific groups]. One wonders, however, if this is quite accurate as an assessment of the genre of Chrysostom's sermons: were, after all, sermons to a congregation ever a "classical" genre? The preaching of Cynics was done from a position of powerlessness, and the promoters of satire did so within small literary circles. But what genre involved a man in a position of high public power getting up and using the most scathing language, language calculated to affecr behaviour? Perhaps legal argumentation, or speeches to the Athenians assembly? By Chrysostom's time, however, intellectuals were quite aware of the dangers of such demagoguery, and I do not see how a claim that Chrysostom's sermons were a matter of demogoguery in any sense justifies him.

>Ultimately, then, as I shall emphasize below, we should not glorify or vilify the Jewish people, but understand them in historical context: sometimes as persecutors themselves, sometimes as the persecuted. A controversial but, I think, very fair book by Bernard Lazare, Antisemitism: Its History and Causes (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), makes precisely my point: that to call anti-Semitism a single thing and to discuss it outside of historical context is to deal wrongly with the historical record.

This is an example of the "retired academics' use of post-modern argumentation. He denies a simple one to one correlation between a word and what is signified throughout time. This is a fair point: it is one, however, which undermines all claims to the authority of ancient texts.

As to the specifics. The conflicts of Jews and other urban groups, for example in Hellenistic Alexandria, or between Antiochus IV and his Jewish subjects, are not, I agree, in any real sense different from other inter-group conflicts of the ancient world. It is also true that there has been in the present century some effort to develop theories of justified anti-Semitism based on "scientific" arguments about race and genetics - arguments which one does not find previously [although the whole issue of "purity of blood" in Spain is sufficiently analogous that one cannot claim modern racial anti-Semitism is entirely new.] But, the position of Christianity in regard to the Jews has indeed lead to a certain coherency of anti-Semitic themes through many centuries. Jews were presented as killers of Christ and hence cursed. The theme comes up again and again - in Chrysostom, in Luther, and yes in Russian anti-Semitic propoganda.   And despite the availability of "scientific theories" it is the traditional themes of Christian anti-semitism which in fact dominate Nazi propaganda.

Anti-Semitism with Christian societies is not always the same, but it is usually a variation on similar themes. Moreover, on the local level the genteel anti-Semitism of Voltaire, and the scientific theorizing of so many, pale besides the repeatedly cited Christian themes, themes taught from pulpits continously across the centuires.

>He also rightly points out that anti-Semitism often stems from intolerance within Judaism itself.

A second example of the claim that the Jews deserved it.

>As well, it must be remembered that the Fathers of the Church view Jews as the adherents of a religion, as a spiritual entity, not merely as a race. And even when they use the word race, they also mean it in a spiritual way, not simply as we use it today. (Thus "Judaizers" was an accusation made against non-Jews as well as Jews. And sinners are sometimes called a "race.") These distinctions are lost on contemporary dilettantes, who think that the curse on the Jewish race applies exclusively to people of a single blood line, rather than to any person who, like the hypocrites of the Jewish establishment of Christ's time,

Notably, here, the "retired academic" does not want to put into "context" the biblical texts, but simply assumes - and simply *is* the word, that they decribe historical reality. The whole question of what constituted the "Jewish establishment" at the time of Christ is interesting. If we mean the Sadduccees, do they have some right to demand that we understand the "context" of their dealing with occupation by the extremely dangerous Roman army?

>perpetuate anti-Christian sentiments. A "Jew" can, once more, be a Gentile who makes a mockery of Christianity within the Christian Church. It is obvious, then, that the term "Jew" is used in a number of very special ways in Patristic literature. (We True Christians, in fact, are called, by the Fathers, the "New Israel" and "Israelites," in the sense of remaining loyal to the whole Covenant of God's Providence which the Jewish religious leaders violated and defiled.)

If I use "Gypsy" to mean "thief", even when I am talking about a member of another group, I am exhibiting an attitude to Gyspsies or not? If the word "Jew" is used as a general insult, what does that say about attitudes to Jews?

>(One can perhaps compare the use of the term "Jew" by the Fathers to references to "Ethiopians" in the desert Fathers. This term is frequently used to describe dark spirits and demons. That the Ethiopians as a race were, at the same time, Orthodox, and that their race was adorned with Saints [prior to Chalcedon], this was a recognized fact in the Early Church. The word is used in a way that transcends race alone.)

An interesting comment. Apparently all the Ethiopian saints since Chalcedon are not, in the view of the "retired" academic" really saints!

>Calling any Church Father anti-Semitic on the basis of ostensiblydenigrating references to Jews, therefore, is to fall to intellectual and historiographical simple-mindedness. Applying modern sensitivities and terms regarding race to ancient times, as though there were a direct parallel between modern and ancient circumstances, is inane. This abuse of history is usually advocated by unthinking observers who simply cannot function outside the cognitive dimensions of modernity.

Quite. Of course such a position, coherently, would apply to claims about
language of the Church fathers in many other areas - theological, social,
and moral.

[Remarks about the misogyny of the Fathers deleted - as more of the same]

>With regard to St. John Chrysostomos, there are certainly very harsh condemnations of the Jews in his writings. In the most commonly cited of these, he calls the Jews "pigs" and associates them with drunkenness. I would never use such language today, at a time when Christian-Jewish relations and the course of history have brought about a different reality than that which St. John confronted. (Who in America, today, for example, would refer to "Japs" when speaking of the Japanese? Nonetheless, during WW II this was a perfectly acceptable public expression, on account of the reality of the hostilities which existed, then, between the U.S. and Japan.) As I have said, these things must be put in the context of the hostility which Jews themselves had against Christians and the fact that the Christian Fathers found abhorrent the rejection of the Messiah by the Jews. St. John's statements are expressions of theological and "ideological" (if I may use this somewhat inappropriate modern term) outrage, not of racism.

No-one has used the word "racist" to describe Chrysostom's remarks. Jews did not "reject" the messiah, rather Christians developped an understanding of Jesus as God. [In this context Chrysostom's discussion of Apollonius of Tyana is really very interesting.]

>It speaks for itself that he also praised the Jewish Prophets, those Jews (including the Apostles) who accepted Christianity, and even preached, like all of the Church Fathers, against the wrong or violent treatment of Jews. These things, of course, are
seldom mentioned by those who want to make a racist of him. One exception, by the way, is an April 27, 1998, editorial in "Christianity Today" (Vol.  XL, No. >5, p. 12), which makes some of the same points that I do in defending Christians against a film presented at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, a documentary that holds Christianity responsible for Nazism (an outrage which even some Jews have decried).

An "outrage", eh? Odd that the Catholic bishops of both France and Germany
have had no difficulty with the issue, nor (in a more limited way) has the Vatican. A small group of Christians, who refuse to admit that Christians have ever done anything bad, sought to attack the film. Unfortunately, the film is accurate.

>Finally, the Divine Chrysostomos was a great rhetorician. Much of his language reflects the rhetorical devices of his time, not the personal antipathy which a reader jaundiced by the "nicety" of modern discourse might attribute to him. This must be remembered at all times when reading him and other Church Fathers.

Notice that in all these defences of Chrysostom which invoke "rhetorical devices", the actual rhetorical devices are not specified, nor elaborated on. This cannot be for lack of space [after all look at the amount of space spent attacking me in an ad hominem manner.] Moreover, the assumption is that the use of "rhetoric" in some sense exempts a writer or orator from criticism. I demur.

>I would also direct you to a study, History, Religion, and Antisemitism (I could be wrong about the title, but it is close to this), by Stanford Professor Gavin Langmuir, a prominent historian of anti-Semitism, which was published in Berkeley, in 1990, by the University of California Press. This work approaches the history of anti-Semitism with a sophistication, based on good historical research, that puts an end to that unenlightened and artless theory, first put forth in the last century by eccentric (though admittedly trained) scholars and passed about today by coffee shop "scholars" whose greatest skills lie in classifying toilet tissue by gradations of softness; namely, that there is a chain of thought connecting St. John Chrysostomos, Luther, and Hitler, and that its links are cemented together by anti-Semitism. In so doing, he offers peripheral support (amidst some ideas about Christian thought that I would question) for many of the points that I have made about our contemporary ignorance of the historical image of Jews in the ancient world, their anti-Christian sentiments and their violence against Christians, and the many ways that the Fathers of the Church used the word "Jew" in their writings and the diverse images that this usage entailed. It is important not only that you understand the context in which charges of anti-Semitism are usually raised against the Fathers (the Chrysostomos-Luther-Hitler link), but that you reply to such ignorance by pointing out the complex nature of anti-Semitism, its enigmatic history, and its various forms in Christian writings (for example, early Christian anti-Jewish polemics are something quite different from Medieval Western anti-Semitism, the latter more often than not the product of actual racism).

The latter claim here is simply false. Most modern, and indeed current, anti-Semitic writings by Christians continues to use the same themes and arguments as traditional Christian anti-Semitism. The Jew as deiicide, and as a blood-sucking child killer is still an important theme, for instance, in recent anti-Semitic outbreaks in Belorussian and in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Moroever, noone makes the simply claim that Chryostom caused Auschwitz. The claim rather is that the geneology of modern anti-Semitism in the west - even when it wears pseudo-scientific clothes - does indeed ascend through a series of writers, writers who have provided ample source material for repeated sermons. Voltaire, no Christian he, is in the geneaology, but so are Luther and Chrysostom.

>If you are confronting someone who has accused St. John Chrysostomos of anti-Semitism, enlightening such a person may be a difficult thing. You will face endless citations from his writings that most simply refuse to put in context. Moreover, there are people who simply refuse to relinquish the idea that anti-Semitism links Christianity, the Reformation, and The Third Reich. This comfortable view of history helps them to avoid that complexity that characterizes the true course of human experience. It also allows them to attribute to the Fathers of the Church a meanness of spirit by which they can separate themselves from the Patristic witness and thus the compelling force of Orthodox Christianity.

The is an example of the closed interpretative circle of the "retired academic".

>The only thing that one can say about such tenacious anti-Patristic polemicists is that there is a definite link, in them, between the hippocampi and the glutei maximi, and this link is cemented in place by utter stupidity. Forgive my harshness and strong language, but blasphemy which is supported by ignorance, and which gains social acceptance, is one of the most destructive forces in society. It must never be tolerated, however vogue it becomes.

Ah, tolerance, one of those nasty "modern" things!

>I do not deny, by the way, that there is much naive, unthinking, and un-Christian anti-Semitism among some Orthodox Christians, whose wrong views are, nonetheless, supported by certain truthful memories, embedded as they are in the historical consciousness of our Church, of the harsh and undeniable mistreatment of Christians in the Early Church by the Jews: a consciousness which we do not hold in common with Western Christians, who are separated from the Apostolic Church and their original Christian roots and who therefore lack such memories.

A simply and demonstrably untrue comment. Slavic Christians were presented with a distorted view of the centuries of Christian origins as the only things that were translated were very specifically "Orthodox" documents. To claim "memory" though such a barrier is simply nonsense.

Greek Christians, of course, have long had access to the variety of surviving ancient sources. But I question whether, except from a highly tendentious ideological position, one could claim "memory" within that community, of the early Church.

>The naked anti-Semitism of some Orthodox people (which I do not endorse, and for which reason I have been ridiculed),

Note that the essential point here is a distinction between the justified anti-Semitism of some [the fathers, the current writer?] and the "naked" anti-Semitism of "some Orthodox people". Percentages would be interesting here....

>however, pales, as I said above, before the putrid bigotry of those who, steeped in the hypocrisy of the modern world and its widespread historiographical disdain for the beauty of the age of the ancient Fathers, attribute to the Patristic witness the filthy racism and human denigration of human beings that belong as much, if not more, to our times

No one accused them of "racism". But if the "rhetoric" they used was indeed of its time, then it is legitimate to point out that "denigration of human beings" was a significant aspect of that rhetoric. Again [and here I commit he internet sin of making a "Hitler argument", but that seems  justified in this context], one finds repeatedly in interviews with some older Germans the claim that "modern people cannot understand the times" of the late 1930s [tell that to Bonhoeffer!] and that "it was a different age". One also finds ample discussion of the skilful use of rhetoric by Hitler and others. The point is, of course, that some "modern people" find the rhetoric itself problematic.

>and to the heterodox than to the ancient world and our Orthodox forefathers. And whereas modern man lays claim to supposed enlightenment, yet still practices racial genocide and is beset by the worst forms of bigotry, at least ancient man had his alleged social "primitiveness" to justify whatever injustices he may or may not have in fact embraced.

This is simply confusing. Is the claim here that "modern man" who claims enlightenment conducted genocides? As far as I can recall, it was the people who *rejected the Enlightenment by name* and rejected the Enlightement theory of the human being as a rights-bearing individual who were responsible for modern genocides. [And still are - see Serbia.]

>I would avoid people who like to dismiss the Patristic witness because of flaws in the character of the Fathers, whether real or imagined. I befriended at Princeton a brilliant philosopher (Rose Rand), then an old woman, who was one of Wittgenstein's few female students. She was a rabid anti-Semite. But this did not make her philosophy inadequate. It did not invalidate her brilliant insight into some very intricate theories about human thought and language. The same could be said of the Fathers. If perchance some were anti-Semitic (and again, to say this unreservedly and without a clear definition of terms is to nullify the meaning of intellectual history and to use language wrongly), does this mean that the Truth which they taught was tainted by their anti-Semitism? I think not. To say so is, again, simple-mindedness and ultimately constitutes an anti-intellectual stand. And anti-intellectualism, despite its moldy and revolting presence in some Orthodox circles, is inimical to the Patristic spirit.

The matter at hand is, once more, complex. It should not be discussed with people who lack an appreciation for that intelligent shade of gray that lies between the antipodes of white naivete and black ignorance. As a case in point, Dr. Rand, my aformentioned, virulently anti-Semitic friend, was aPolish Jew!

Some of my best freinds are Jews also.

Paul Halsall

V Defending Chrysostom (2)

Photini Henderson <mhen@ptialaska.net> posted a another anonymous note  on August 13th, 1998: This one needs no response.

A couple of good replies to Halsall have already been posted on his site:

/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6-react.asp

I will only point out a few things in response to Halsall's ridiculous claims about St. John Chrysostom being antisemitic.

For one, he asserts in his response to some of the replies that he has received that even to use the term "Judaizer" is antisemitic. Given this outlandish assertion, we should not waste too much time trying to argue with him.   Personally, I don't feel the need to assume the position for a butt-whuppin every time someone tosses out the charge of antisemitism.  The Jews certainly do not feel such a need when it comes to anti-Christian statements in Jewish literature, nor when it comes to persecution against Christians in which non-Christian Jews have played significant roles.

Based on Halsall's definition of Antisemitism, no one is more anti-semitic than God Himself and His prophets, because any criticism of the sins of the Jews or of their rejection of correction, and most importantly their rejection of Christ is seen by Halsall as antisemitic.

Halsall is especially bothered that St. John Chrysostom says God hates the non-believing Jews, and that so should we.

In this case, we find King David as the proto-hate monger:

"...Thou [God] hatest all workers of iniquity" (Ps 5:5)
"I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked" (Ps 25 (26):5).
"Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate Thee?  and am not I grieved with those that rise up against Thee?  I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies" (Ps. 138 (139): 21-22).

And God Himself says through the Prophet Hosea:

"All of their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of my house, I will love them no more..." (Hosea 9:15).

Now of course what is meant by "hate" must be properly understood, both in the Scriptures and in St. John's homilies.  Such hate is directed at the evil which people do, and not really at the individuals themselves apart from their participation in such evils.

St. John's homilies were actually directed against Judaizing Christians, not against the Jews directly.  He objects to their anti-Christ faith, not to their race.  He also does not advocate violence or coercion -- and this is very important.  As Fr. George Florovsky points out in his book, The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century:

"By temperment Chrysostom was a maximalist and on occasion he could be harsh and severe.  However, he was always an opponent of force and coercion in any form, even in the fight against heresy.  He was against the use of civic measures and political pressure in matters of faith and morality. "It has been specifically forbidden for Christians to correct those who have fallen into sin by force," he said.  "We are not fighting to bring death to the living but to bring the dead back to life, and in our struggle we must be meek and humble... I persecute not by deeds, but by words, and I want to cast out not heretics, but heresy... I am accustomed to endure oppression, but not to oppress, and to bear persecution, but not to persecute.  Christ was victorious in being crucified and not in crucifying others.   He did not strike out, but He accepted blows."  Chrysostom endured the condemnation of those who did not think as he did, and in this respect his oration On Imprecation and Anathema is a typical expression of his attitude.  He saw the true power of Christianity in meekness and endurance, not in force.  It is himself with whom each man should be severe, and not with others"  (p. 247, vol 7, Collected Works of Georges Florovsky).

In closing, let me quote from an old post of Mark Markish on this subject, who happens to be a Russian Jew, and who answers this charge as only Mark Markish could:

We have seen comments to the effect that some homilies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Ambrose of Milano are anti-Semitic.  May be so; may be not so; at any rate, all that is peanuts compared to the horrible anti-Semitic quotes listed below.   They are horrible indeed, and could be easily multiplied.  Worst of all, I cannot cite the source: that would be (in the same logic) by far the most anti-Semitic thing to do.

With respect,  -- Mark Markish <mmarkish@tiac.net>

They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of His children: hey are a perverse and crooked generation...  They provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not... They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.  The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs. The children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not Him. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines. They have forsaken Me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways, to do that which is right in Mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments. The Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and He shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the Lord to anger.  And He shall give Israel up... Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. And though they say, "The Lord liveth"; surely they swear falsely.    O Lord are not Thine eyes upon the truth? Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; Thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction.

Response to the Above [Halsall]

Is the post above below another anonymous post? Smyrna1922 asserts this is by Deacon John Whiteford, but I do not see that name here. In anycase, I respond.

>I will only point out a few things in response to Halsall's ridiculous >claims about St. John Chrysostom being antisemitic.

The claims may or may not be true, but they are not "ridiculous" in that the surviving texts support such an interpretation on first view, even if they can be explained. Of course I am not opposed to explanation, although what seems to me to be actually happening is an effort by certain posters to explain away  Chrysostom's remarks. Such advocacy scholarship by vested interests is, of course, quite problematic.

But I will point out one final time, that my main point has not been that Chrysostom is anti-Semitic, but that it is incoherent to argue that one set of statements can be made safe by "contextualization" while retaining other statements from the same source as universally authorative regardless of context.

>For one, he asserts in his response to some of the replies that he has received that even to use the term "Judaizer" is antisemitic. Given this outlandish assertion, we should not waste too much time trying to argue>with him.

The assertion here is not explained. To use the word "Jew" or its derivatives as an insult necessarily involves negativity. [One might remark, in passing, that the reported words of Jesus that not one jot of the law shall pass away, and the reported activities of the earliest Apostolic church - ie keeping the Jewish fasts and feasts, etc. - present an occasion for discussion of how the change in leadership within Christianity lead to the possibility of using the word "Jew" and "Judiazer" in this way. Oddly enough, Jesus seems to have been somewhat of a Judaizer himself.]

>Personally, I don't feel the need to assume the position for a butt-whuppin every time someone tosses out the charge of antisemitism. The Jews certainly do not feel such a need when it comes to anti-Christian statements in Jewish literature, nor when it comes to persecution against Christians in which non-Christian Jews have played significant roles.

Ah, another claim of justified anti-Semitism! And another de-individualization of Jewish people with the term "the Jews", as if there is some corporate Jewish attitude rather than a myriad of Jewish responses the situations Jews have found themselves in.

The issue here is not whether Jews have been anti-Christian. In fact, long before I added the Chrysostom text to my website, I had added links to the Toledot Yeshu and the other collections of Jewish texts on Christianity at the University of Pennsylvania.

>Based on Halsall's definition of Antisemitism, no one is more anti-semitic than God Himself and His prophets, because any criticism of the sins of the Jews or of their rejection of correction, and most importantly their rejection of Christ is seen by Halsall as antisemitic.

>Halsall is especially bothered that St. John Chrysostom says God hates the non-believing Jews, and that so should we.
>In this case, we find King David as the proto-hate monger:

>"...Thou [God] hatest all workers of iniquity" (Ps 5:5)
>"I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked" (Ps 25 (26):5).
>"Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate Thee?  and am not I grieved with those that rise up against Thee?  I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies" (Ps. 138 (139): 21-22).

>And God Himself says through the Prophet Hosea:

>"All of their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of my house, I will love them no more..." (Hosea 9:15).

>Now of course what is meant by "hate" must be properly understood, both in the Scriptures and in St. John's homilies.  Such hate is directed at the evil which people do, and not really at the individuals themselves apart from their participation in such evils.

So  God is an anti-Semite? This writer seems to have a real problem in distinguishing between self-critical texts generated within a community, and slanderous totalizing discussions from outwith a community.

>St. John's homilies were actually directed against Judaizing Christians, not against the Jews directly.  He objects to their anti-Christ faith, not to their race.

The assumption that Jewish faith is "anti-Christ" is in and of itself a trope of anti-Semitism.

Again we have the odd situation of people trying to defend Chrysostom by "putting him in context", but refusing to do so with regard to Jews. This is also anti-Semitic.

>He also does not advocate violence or coercion -- and this is very important.  As Fr. George Florovsky points out in his book, The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century:

>"By temperment Chrysostom was a maximalist and on occasion he could be harsh and severe.  However, he was always an opponent of force and coercion in any form, even in the fight against heresy.  He was against the use of civic measures and political pressure in matters of faith and morality. "It has been specifically forbidden for Christians to correct those who have fallen into sin by force," he said.  "We are not fighting to bring death to the living but to bring the dead back to life, and in our struggle we must be meek and humble... I persecute not by deeds, but by words, and I want to cast out not heretics, but heresy... I am accustomed to endure oppression, but not to oppress, and to bear persecution, but not to persecute.  Christ was victorious in being crucified and not in crucifying others.   He did not strike out, but He accepted blows."  Chrysostom endured the condemnation of those who did not think as he did, and in this respect his oration On Imprecation and Anathema is a typical expression of his attitude.  He saw the true power of Christianity in meekness and endurance, not in force.  It is himself with whom each man should be severe, and not with others"  (p. 247, vol 7, Collected Works of Georges Florovsky).

Noone has accused Chrysostom of urging violence, [and then again noone has urged violence against Church fathers]. But public rhetoric has, as any good preacher must know, its effects.

>In closing, let me quote from an old post of Mark Markish on this subject, who happens to be a Russian Jew, and who answers this charge as only Mark Markish could:

Another "my best friend is a Jew" defense!

The references (given above) were, inter alia, to Judges 10.

The complete failure of this writer [a Deacon!] to see the fallacy of citing such texts is awe-inspiring .

Not to mention rather sad.

Paul Halsall

Points by Other Posters

Michael Di Maio

I want to make a couple of comments. In antiquity, especially during the time  of the late Roman empire, there was a strong sense of what we   would call today as anti-Semitism.  Although this is something considered negative today, this was not the case in antiquity.  It was considered to be the norm.  John Chrysostom was no different than his peers in this respect.  To say that this sort of material did not appear in his works, to say the least, is the worst type of revisionism; this does not reduce the importance of his works for Christians nor do we have to apologize for his views since they are part of the historical record.    I believe we have a record that an overzealous bishop destroyed a Jewish temple in Palestine.   The laity of this place of worship asked the Emperor Theodosius I to rebuild the sanctuary.  When the emperor agreed that the temple members were entitled to repayment for the damage done to the temple, the clergy (St. Ambrose, in particular) railed so much against it that the emperor backed down.  If John Zonaras is to be believed, Ambrose told Theodosius thatt the muderers of Christ were not entitled to a place of worship (Zonar., 13.18).  This anti-Semitism was acceptible in antiquity, but not today.   Why attempt  to rewrite the historical record?

Michael Gaddis

On Fri, 14 Aug 1998, Paul Halsall wrote:

>Noone has accused Chrysostom of urging violence,

I don't wish to get heavily involved in this fascinating if slightly overheated debate -- as a historian, I do not feel I have to come down "for" or "against" John Chrysostom, in some absolute sense, as if we were putting him on some kind of trial.  Nor do I wish to take a position regarding the various definitions of anti-semitism that are being debated. However, the statement "Chrysostom never advocated violence" needs to be corrected.

First, the one time when Chrysostom actually was put on trial, the Synod of the Oak in 403.

Among the charges preferred by the deacon John:

(2) A monk had on Chrysostom's instructions been beaten, taken into custody, and put in chains along with possessed persons.

(19) He had people who were in communion with the whole world shut up in prison by his own decision, and when they died there, he did not even think it fit to give due honor to their remains.

(27) He gave a blow with his fist to Memnon in the Church of the Apostles, and while the blood was still flowing from his mouth made him take communion. (Acts of the Synod of the Oak, as preserved in Photius' Bibliotheca, quoted here from the translation appended to J. Kelly's 1995 biography of Chrysostom, "Golden Mouth".)

In all fairness it should be recognized that these were charges brought by John's political opponents, and undoubtedly contain much that is exaggerated or even invented.  But according to Theodoret, a source much more sympathetic to John, Chrysostom as bishop got together "certain monks who were fired with divine zeal" and sent them to destroy pagan temples throughout Phoenicia (Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History 5.29).  John's own letters 21, 28, 53-55, 69, 123, 126, 175, 221 (written to encourage the  same monks, all in PG 52) confirm this story, and also make it clear that this battle against paganism involved considerable physical violence by both sides.

Finally let's hear Chrysostom's own words, which he addressed to his Antiochene congregation in 386:

"I desire to ask one favor of you all...  which is, that you will correct on my behalf the blasphemers of this city.  And should you hear anyone in the public thoroughfare, or in the midst of the forum, blaspheming God; go up to him and rebuke him; and should it be necessary to inflict blows, spare not to do so.   Smite him on the face, strike his mouth, sanctify thy hand with the blow." [Homilies on the Statues 1.32, quoting from the translation in the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, first series, v.9, p.343]

One of the previous posters (I forget who) cited from Florovsky's book, and in supporting the assertion "Chrysostom never advocated violence" they adduced a quote from a different sermon in which Chrysostom expressed sentiments which would seem to completely contradict the words I quote above -- he speaks of "turning the other cheek", arguing by persuasion and not compulsion, etc.  Although expressing opposite attitudes, both quotes are genuine Chrysostom:  so which of the two should we consider to be more "authoritative" or "representative" of Christian tradition?  That's not a question that can be easily answered.

 

VI: The Chrysostom Debate: An Analysis

Some observations by Norman H Redington on August 14, 1998

1-- I observe that at an extraordinarily large part of  this debate has revolved around personal slights, people using or objecting to terms like "ridiculous", and so on. This shows that the logical as opposed to the rhetorical content of the argument is probably secondary on both sides.

2-- I attempt to summarize both positions without  insulting rhetoric, and  then (more dangerously) to explain each.

3-- Everyone seems to agree that Chrysostom (and possibly other writers) who use seemingly anti-Semitic language do so PARTLY because in their time such polemic between religious groups was taken for granted.

4--  One side however argues that this language is nevertheless morally objectionable, for two logically independent reasons:

  a-- it has been used by later anti-Semites to justify atrocities

b-- it is an expression of  bigotry, which is immoral by nature, and thus reflects a limitation in Chrysostom's ethical thought

  c--  this is especially true because the Jews no longer posed  any real threat to Christians in Chrysostom's time in terms of physical persecution, whereas the Christians were now in a position to oppress the Jews

5-- The same side adds that the above points do not necessarily "demonize" Chrysostom, but that if the context of the times is used  to "soften" the impact of Chrysostom's comments on the Jews, the same context must necessarily "soften" the impact of his or other Fathers'  comments on women, gays, etc.

6-- The other side begins by pointing out additional mitigating factors besides the florid invective style of  late antique rhetoric:

   a-- Chrysostom does not seem to be calling for "pogroms" or the racial annihilation of the Jews, but only for Christians to stay away from Jewish festivals.

   b-- Chrysostom's writings contain a number of positive references to the Jewish community (although so far only two have been posted to the list).

   c-- Much of Chrysostom's invective is quoted from the Old Testament and was originally directed against Hebrews who had strayed from the   correct Jewish faith, which is precisely how Chrysostom viewed the Jews of his own time.

  d-- the Jewish "race", as opposed to religion, is clearly not the target of the invective, since Jewish converts were numerous and rose to epicopal rank in the Church; indeed, the eventual conversion of all Jews was confidently expected.

7-- Moreover, this side maintains, the context not only mitigates but in fact justifies Chrysostom's language:

  a-- Orthodox Judaism and official Orthodox Christianity   cannot both be simultaneously true; therefore ideological and rhetorical conflict between them is unavoidable

  b-- each religion furthermore strives to rid itself of subtle infiltration by the ideas of the other; this influence is just as  dangerous to each religion (in the opinion of  its hierarchy)  as overt perscution, because it threatens the core beliefs of the group. Chrysostom was thus justified in defending his parishioners against Judaizing forces, given his belief that Christianity is the True Faith.

8-- These are the compelling logical arguments on both sides. There also is a subtext to which each side probably, though less certainly subscribes.

a-- Probably, those who accuse Chrysostom of anti-Semitism hold one of two opinions which such an accusation bolsters. They may believe that Christianity and/or Western culture is an oppressive patriarchy which persecutes all groups deviating from the norm (e.g. Jews). Or, they may believe in the traditional humanistic ideal of   universal toleration grounded in the conviction that no one group monopolizes the truth. In addition, probably those who hold to this side would be willing to let Chrysostom's relatively weak anti-Semitic language pass unnoticed if his writings were not invoked to support conservative political stands on other subjects of  current debate.

b-- Probably those who defend Chrysostom believe firmly that the Christian Church alone is the "Ark of Salvation" and that Judaism therefore no longer has anything to offer (the opinion of Chrysostom  himself). Besides this, most probably hold to the view that the Fathers of the Church had superior insight if not outright divine guidance.

c-- The first camp views the second as the stronghold of bigots, who would burn other people at the stake if they only had the power, and who as it is are powerful enough to constitute an oppressive reactionary force in society. The second camp views the first as a bastion of a dominant and overtly anti-Christian liberal establishment.

d-- It could even be argued that each side has a legitimate reason to completely distrust the other. The first side is afraid that if it makes any concession that Chrysostom's  anti-Semitic rhetoric is somehow excusable, it will have yielded to the forces of evil responsible for Auschwitz. The second side feels that if Chrysostom's words are not  defended to the letter, a "contextualizing" process will begin which will not only similarly contextualize other patristic social pronouncements but -- far more importantly-- the very foundational dogmas of Christianity, such as the Resurrection.

9-- Therefore, no resolution to this debate seems likely.

Response to the Above [Halsall]

Norman H Redington <redingtn@MIT.EDU>'s comments were fair enough. But let
me make a few annotations.

>6-- The other side begins by pointing out additional mitigating factors besides the florid invective style of  late antique rhetoric:
   a-- Chrysostom does not seem to be calling for "pogroms" or the racial annihilation of the Jews, but only for Christians to stay away from Jewish festivals.

Surely calling for a pogram is not bar at which anti-Semitism becomes somehow unacceptable? The problem is not Chrysotom's call to Christians, but his description's and characterizations of Jews.

>   b-- Chrysostom's writings contain a number of positive references to the Jewish community (although so far only two have been posted to the list).

For which thanks to you.

>   c-- Much of Chrysostom's invective is quoted from the Old Testament and was originally directed against Hebrews who had strayed from the correct Jewish faith, which is precisely how Chrysostom viewed the Jews of his own time.

Now here we have an additional issue. I am not a great fan of Paul Johnson [to say the least], but he is not an idiot. In his History of the Jews [pp 164-165], he discusses the situation of the Jews in precisely this period. It turns out that the 380s were the point at which being a Jew became a real  problem. For instance [I am paraphrasing Johnson here] in 388 a Christian mob, instiagted by the local bishop, burned down the syagogue of Callinicum on the Euphrates [how far is that from Antioch?]. Theodosius I ordered it to be rebuilt at Christian expense - and ended up being denounced by Ambrose, who was able to force Theodosius to retract the order. The following decades saw, under Christian pressure, the communal rights and privileges of Jewish communities being withdrawn. [In other words, society at the time was - to a decree - tolerant, but the pressure of Christians lead to a decrease in tolerance.] Johnson argues that Chrysostom's sermons, far from being part of a tradition of anti-Semitic rhetoric, were in fact the original pattern for later invective. In particular for the use of biblical passages, especially from Matthew and John. Thus the "specificallu Christian anti-Semitism, presenting the Jews as murderers of Christ, was grafted on to the seething mass of pagan smears and rumours, and Jewish communities were now at risk in every Christian city".

Is Johnson correct here? Because if he is, there is a real problem.

>7-- Moreover, this side maintains, the context not only mitigates but in fact justifies Chrysostom's language:
  a-- Orthodox Judaism and official Orthodox Christianity cannot both be simultaneously true; therefore ideological and rhetorical conflict between them is unavoidable

Does this really involving "saints" calling the Jews "pigs"?

>8-- These are the compelling logical arguments on both sides. There also is a subtext to which each side probably, though less certainly subscribes.
a-- Probably, those who accuse Chrysostom of anti-Semitism hold one of two opinions which such an accusation bolsters. They may believe that Christianity and/or Western culture is an oppressive patriarchy which persecutes all groups deviating from the norm (e.g. Jews). Or, they may believe in the traditional humanistic ideal of  universal toleration grounded in the conviction that no one group monopolizes the truth.

There is not a dichotomy here. It is possible to believe that what one elieves is true, but that the dignity of the other person entitles them to think differently. To use classic terms, error may have no rights, but people in error most certainly do.

>In addition, probably those who hold to this side would be willing to let Chrysostom's relatively weak anti-Semitic language pass unnoticed if his writings were not invoked to support conservative political stands on other subjects of   current debate.

His language is not "weak", and I have no idea how it could be characterized as such. Moreover, so far, "other areas of debate" have not come up.

Paul Halsall

Points by Other Posters

Daniel Boyarin responded to my comment above

>Is Johnson correct here? Because if he is, there is a real problem.

Johnson is not correct here. Chrysostom certainly has a rich tradition beginning with melitto of sardis to go on. But obviously there is a difference in the situation of a chrysostom making these rhetorical gestures in the context of a triumphant church and melito's second century context.

Paul, I appreciate very much the way that you have raised this issue. While Chrysostom is not an "anti-semite" in the modern sense--remember that I am the consummate Foucauldian--neither can his language in those eight sermons be cleansed of their extremely negative effect on jews. Moreover, I think that the rhetoric of Jewish oppression of xians has been greatly overplayed by some respondents here. The sources are all xian apologetic texts, such as Polycarp's martyrdom etc. Which are much discredited as historical sources per se. I am not saying that there has never been any Jewish persecution of Xians. There was a massacre in the early seventh century of Xians by Jews, but reports are much exaggerated. Again I recommend Wilken's fine work, as well (for the earlier period) as the recent book of Judith Lieu.

Max Deshu

Thanks for posting this exchange, if that's the right word. I expect the excellent points made by Dr Halsall will go unheard by his secret interlocutor. That person's perception of Jews as persecutors of Christians falls especially flat since the Roman state had obliged the clergy by enacting numerous discriminatory measures directed against Jews during the course of the 4th century -- what a difference a century makes -- and in C's time you have Ambrose intervening on behalf of the bishop of Edessa's
synagogue destruction.

The claim of historical context made by the mystery scholar also interested me, since Chrysostom's context was Syria, where Christian Judaizing was quite marked, to the point of attending synagogue services on occasion, among other things. In other words, C's extreme bigotry toward Jews was not shared by all Christians or even by most Christians of his time and place. There's evidence that church fathers felt much more threatened by the Jews as their seniors and competitors ("the Jewish temptation") than ordinary citizens in this period, as attested by the council of Elvira's laments over Christians associating with Jews, respecting and even attending their services.

 

VII Chrysostom Argument/Notes on Being a Jewish Christian

From Emily

I want to thank Paul for his very detailed and cogent refutation of the assertions of the mystery writer.  I don't think I have either the energy for that kind of rigorousness, or the training in classical rhetoric, to identify all of the types of argument asserted by this character.

        What I do think s/he has done, however, is to embrace some of the ideology flying around in certain pseudo-academic circles that blame Jews for the slave trade, for destruction of an ancient African utopia, and a variety of other things.  Interestingly enough, the mystery author does not address the "judaizers" at work in Paul, or other gospel sources, and their implications - either for the development of coptic Christianity or other forms of "hybrid" religion which either still exist, or have passed out of existence, in the intervening 1900 and some years.

        Other than the persecutions of certain apostles in the time of Paul by the Jerusalem "establishment," and perhaps the rejection of some early Christians by certain synagogues for having breached the laws of ritual purity through aspects of their Christian practice, I cannot see any historical validity to the `Jews persecuting Christians' claim.

        In actuality, there have long been in Jewish circles cults around various religious figures and leaders claiming messianic status for those leaders, (even in the times of the prophets; the question of whether a prophet heralded the coming of the messiah was not a new question in the gospels)   and although these events are never a community-wide movement, they are generally met with tolerance by others in "the mainstream" (whatever that is), or adherents of other teachers.  (One of these, I think his name was Schneerson, died only about three years ago in Israel, and his followers began to post billboards with messages from him from heaven on them.)

        As for Nazism,  its ideological foundations, concerning "culpability" for "the state we now find ourselves in" (oversimplified, I know) does stem directly from old-fashioned doctrinal Christian anti-semitism, some from the age of Chrysostom, some from Luther, and many between and since.

        The proto-science of Nazism probably stemmed as much as anything else from Darwinian approaches to genetics, without the benefit of things like modern genetic testing and DNA mapping - ie, an approach to genetics that was into defining "classes" of things on a "scale," with lots of tools of mathematics and geometry (measuring, finding angle and arc lines, and so on) was popular.

        For better or for worse, like many culturally, or geographically, isolated groups, many Jews with European ancestry share some genetic tendencies, largely due to inbreeding.  (Although there is no "telltale" Jewish genetic pattern, If the Nazis had had DNA mapping at their disposal, many, many more people, even those who had no notion of "being jewish," but carried certain gene markers common in the Jewish population [tay-sachs, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase disorder, etc.] would have been exterminated as well.)

        So those who want to make a case that their anti-Semitism is not at all "racial," but is more "anti-ideological,"  are at the same time "older" than Nazis (in invoking the ancient ideological disputes) but also  "new," a la someone like Lewis Farakkhan, who, of course, cannot credibly advocate racial hatred toward another minority group, but who can make statements like "them and their dirty religion caused the subjugation of the African people . . . " etc.

        Then there is some anti-semitism that is more racial than it is about religion, and is even held by those who advocate religious freedom.  For instance, the real estate agent who, according to my mother, "took one look at your father and drove us back to [the next town], saying, `I'm sure you'll be much happier there."

        And much anti-semitism mixes the racism along with the anti-religious bent, where a group of racially inferior people also have no morals, etc.

        The zionism issue is, in my opinion, unfortunately entirely separate from both of these, and invoking it muddies both waters.     In a number of unfortunate ways, zionism has become an encouraged substitute for Jewish religious practice in many corners, to the real detriment of religious development and formation for Jewish youth.

         I'm not a zionist in really any fashion - but given that many  countries could have agreed to take in Jewish survivors of the Nazi regime,  and many responded by strict imposing strict immigration  quotas,  it is easy to see how zionism, (previously a marginal, not very popular, agrarian movement), became a unifying political and social ideology.

        I'm curious about who the "neo-Patricism" embraced by the mystery writer is serving - practically, and politically.  Although I know that pre-Vatican II antisemitism (of all stripes) was not rare in the American RC community, and that many older Catholics long for the "old Church," it seems that his/her group have picked only one particular thread of "old Church" tradition on which to bolster their perspective.

        Especially given the site's provocative name, (along with its invocation of zionism in defense of the writer's position) I'd lean toward the notion that its founders are either of a radical Islamic bent, or American sympathizers of that trend, (Farrakhan, et al)  who are perhaps looking for Christian "bricks" with which to build their own (non-Church-like) house, or "white supremacist" types who want to attach a "Christian nation" label to their activities.


Source.

Compilation by Paul Halsall of discussion on a number of email lists.


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, August, November, 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu