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Medieval Sourcebook:
Professions of Faith Extracted from Jews on Baptism


i. Of Recceswinth, from Leg. Vis. 12.2.17.

To our most merciful and tranquil lord Recceswinth the King, from us the Jews of Toledo as witnessed or signed below. We well remember how we were long and rightly constrained to sign this Declaration promising in the name of King Chinthila's holy memory to support the Catholic faith; and we have done so. However, because our pertinacious lack of faith and the ancient errors of our fathers held us back from believing wholly in Our Lord Jesus Christ or accepting the Catholic truth with all our hearts, we therefore make these promises to your greater glory, on behalf both of ourselves and our wives and children, through this our Declaration, undertaking for the future not to become involved in any Jewish rites or customs nor to associate with the accursed Jews who remain unbaptised. We will not follow our habit of contracting incestuous unions or practising fornication with our own relatives to the sixth degree. We will not on any pretext, either ourselves, our children or our descendants, choose wives from our own race; but in the case of both sexes we will always link ourselves in matrimony with Christians. We will not practise carnal circumcision, or celebrate the Passover, the Sabbath or the other feast days connected with the Jewish religion. We will not keep to our old habit of discrimination in the matter of food. We will do none of the things which the evil tradition of long custom and intercourse urges upon us as Jews. Instead , with utter faith and grace in our hearts, and with complete devotion towards Christ the Son of the Living God, as the apostolic tradition enjoins, shall we believe on Him and confess Him. Every custom of the holy Christian religion, feast days, marriage, and what is lawful to eat, indeed every ceremony thereof, we shall faithfully hold and embrace with all our hearts, reserving no hint within ourselves of resistance, no suspicion of deception, whereby we may come to repeat those errors we now deny, or fulfil with little or no sincerity that which we now promise to do. With regard to swines' flesh we promise to observe this rule, that if through long custom we are hardly able to eat it, we shall not through fastidiousness or error refuse the things that are cooked with it. And if in all the matters touched on above we are found in any way to transgress, either presuming to work against the Christian Faith, or promising in words to perform actions suitable to the Catholic religion, and in our deeds deferring their performance, we swear by that same Father, Son and Holy Ghost, who is One God in Three, that whoever of us is found to transgress shall either perish by the hands of our fellows, by burning or stoning, or if your splendid piety shall have spared our lives, we shall at once lose our liberty and you shall give us along with all our property to whomever you please into perpetual slavery, or dispose of us in any other manner that seems good to you. To this end you have free authority, not only on account of your royal power, but also arising out of the stipulations of this our guarantee. This Declaration is given at Toledo in the name of the Lord, on the 18th of February in the sixth year of your glorious reign.

ii. Of Erwig, from Leg. Vis. 12.3.14.

I do here and now renounce every rite and observance of the Jewish religion, detesting all its most solemn ceremonies and tenets that in former days I kept and held. In future I will practise no rite or celebration connected with it, nor any custom of my past error, promising neither to seek it out nor to perform it. Further do I renounce all things forbidden or detested by Christian teaching; and,

(Here follows the Nicene Creed)

In the name of this Creed, which I truly believe and hold with all my heart, I promise that I will never return to the vomit of Jewish superstition. Never again will I fulfil any of the offices of Jewish ceremonies to which I was addicted, nor ever more hold them dear. I altogether deny and reject the errors of the Jewish religion, casting forth whatever conflicts with the Christian Faith, and affirming that my belief in the Holy Trinity is strong enough to make me live the truly Christian life, shun all intercourse with other Jews and have the circle of my friends only among honest Christians. With them or apart from them I must always eat Christian food, and as a genuinely devout Christian go often and reverently to Church. I promise also to maintain and embrace with due love and reverence the observance of all the Lord's days or feasts for martyrs as declared by the piety of the Church, and upon those days to consort always with sincere Christians, as it behoves a pious and sincere Christian to do.

Herewith is my profession of faith and belief as given by me on this date.

iii. Of Erwig, from Leg. Vis. 12.3.15.

I swear first by God the Father Almighty, Who said,' By Me shall ye swear, and ye shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain, Who made Heaven and earth, the sea and all things in them ', and set bounds to the ocean, saying ' So far shalt thou come and here shall thy proud waves be stayed ', Who said, ' Heaven is my home, the earth my footstool ': Who first cast forth from Heaven the Archangel in his overweening pride, before Whose sight the host of Angels stand in fear, Whose gaze lays bare the abyss and Whose anger wastes away mountains: Who put the first man Adam in Paradise, giving him the law that he should not eat of the forbidden apple tree. He ate of it and was cast forth from Paradise, and bound himself, together with the human race, in the chains of error. And by Him Who gladly received the offerings of Abel and justly rejected the unworthy Cain; Who, when they were about to die, took Enoch and Elijah to Paradise in the body of this life, and shall bring them back to the world at the end of this age; Who thought fit to save Noah with his wife and three sons and their wives and all the animals, birds and reptiles in the Ark at the time of the Flood, whereby every species was preserved; Who from Shem the son of Noah saw fit to give issue in Abraham, and from him the people of Israel; Who chose Patriarchs and Prophets, and blessed the Patriarchs of Abraham's line, Isaac and Jacob; Who promised holy Abraham, saying,' In your seed shall all mankind be blessed ', giving him the sign of circumcision as the sea] of His promise for ever. I swear by Him Who overthrew Sodom and turned Lot's wife, when she looked back, into a statue of salt; and by Him Whowrestled with Jacob, and touching a sinew made him lame, saying,' Thou shalt be called not Jacob but Israel'. I swear also by Him who freed Moses from the waters, and appeared to him in a flaming bush, and by his hand brought ten plagues upon the Egyptians, and freed the people of Israel from the Egyptian slavery, making them to cross dry through the Red Sea, where against natural law the water stood up in a solid wall. I swear by Him Who drowned Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. I swear by Him Who led the people of Israel by a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. I swear by Him Who gave to Moses on Mount Sinai the law written by His own fingers on tables of stone. I swear by Him Who made that mountain to smoke in the sight of all Israel. I swear by Him Who chose Aaron for His first priest and consumed his sons by fire in their tent, because they had dared to offer strange fire before the Lord. I swear by Him Who in His justice ordered Dathan and Abiram to be swallowed alive by the earth. I swear by Him Who changed the bitter waters into sweet by the casting in of the trunk of a tree. I swear by Him Who, when the people of Israel thirsted in Horeb, caused Moses to smite the rock with his rod and bring forth great streams of water. I swear by Him Who for forty years fed the people of Israel in the wilderness, and preserved their garments so that they wore not out with use; and kept them safe in every way. I swear by Him Who decreed once and for all that no Israelite should enter the Promised Land, because they had doubted the Lord's word, excepting only Joshua and Caleb, whom He promised should enter. I swear by Him Who told Moses that if he raised his hands on high, the people of Israel should be victors against the Amalekites. I swear by Him Who ordered our Fathers by the hand of Joshua to cross the Jordan and raise twelve stones from that river in witness thereof. I swear by Him Who enjoined upon all Israel that having crossed the river Jordan they should circumcise themselves with stone knives; and by Him Who overturned the walls of Jericho. I swear by Him Who adorned David with the glory of kingship, and saved him from the hands of Saul and of his son Absalom. I swear by Him Who at the prayer of Solomon filled the Temple with cloud, and poured His blessing therein. I swear by Him Who, raising the Prophet Elijah through a whirlwind in a chariot of fire, brought him from earth to the seats of Heaven; and by Him Who, at the prayer of Elisha, divided the waters of Jordan when Elisha smote them with the robe of Elijah. I swear by Him Who filled all His Prophets with the Holy Spirit, and freed Daniel from hungry and monstrous lions. I swear by Him Who saw fit to preserve three boys in the fiery furnace, under the eyes of a hostile king; and by Him 'Who keeps the key of David, closing what no man has opened, opening what no man has closed'. I swear by Him Who brings about all wonders, virtues and signs to Israel and other peoples. I swear also by the Ten Commandments. I swear also by Jesus Christ, His ascent to Heaven, His glorious and terrible coming, when He shall come to judge the living and the dead, showing Himself gentle to the just and terrible to sinners; and by the revered Body and precious Blood of Him Who opens the eyes of the blind, makes the deaf to hear and brings back the paralysed to the use of their limbs: Who loosens the tongues of the dumb, cleanses the devil-ridden, makes the lame to run, and rouses the dead: Who walked over the waters, and brought back Lazarus, freed from death, when his flesh was already in corruption, to life and safety, changing grief to joy: Who is the Creator of time, the Principle of life, the Author of salvation: Who illumined the world with His rising, and redeemed it by His Passion: Who alone among the dead was free, and death could not hold Him: Who undermines the gates of Hell, and by the majesty of His power draws the souls of the blessed up from the shades: Who having vanquished death has taken the body which He assumed upon earth into Heaven with Him after His victory over the world, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, receiving from Him the power of eternal sway. I swear also by all the heavenly virtues, and by the relics of all the Saints and Apostles, and also by the four holy Gospels, on which I lay this Declaration upon the sacred altar which I hold with my hands. Since I have taken care to note well everything in my profession of Faith, and have been able to put it together, I give my signature to you, my Lord Bishop, and affirm everything in all sincerity, with no reservations or deception as to what is meant. With absolute sincerity, as I have said in my profession, I have abjured all Jewish rites and observances, and with my whole heart shall believe in the Holy Trinity, never returning in any way to the vomit of my former error, or associating with the wicked Jews. In every respect will I lead the Christian life and associate with Christians. The meaning which I have discerned in what I have signed concerning the observance of the holy Faith I will guard with all the purity of my faith, so that I shall live from now henceforth according to the Apostolic tradition and the law of the holy Creed. If I wander from the straight path in any way and defile the holy Faith, and try to observe any rites of the Jewish sect, or if I shall delude you in any way in the swearing of this oath, so that I appear to swear sincerely, yet do not perform my promises in the spirit in which I have heard and understood them from you while I made my profession; then may all the curses of the law fall upon me as they are promulgated by the lips of the Lord against those who despise the commandments of God. May there fall upon me and upon my house and all my children all the plagues which smote Egypt, and to the horror of others may I suffer in addition the fate of Dathan and Abiram, so that the earth shall swallow me alive, and after I am deprived of this life I shall be handed over to the eternal fire, in the company of the Devil and his Angels, sharing with the dwellers in Sodom and with Judas the punishment of burning; and when I arrive before the tribunal of the fearful and glorious judge, Our Lord Jesus Christ, may I be numbered in that company to whom the glorious and terrible Judge with threatening mien will say, ' Depart from Me, evil-doers, into the eternal fire that is prepared for the Devil and his Angels'.



From Assemani, Cod. Lit., 1, p. 105.

As a preliminary to his acceptance as a catechumen, a Jew ' must confess and denounce verbally the whole Hebrew people, and forthwith declare that with a whole heart and sincere faith he desires to be received among the Christians. Then he must renounce openly in the church all Jewish superstition, the priest saying, and he, or his sponsor if he is a child, replying in these words:

'I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads and sacrifices of lambs of the Hebrews, and all the other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspersions, purifications, sanctifications and propitiations, and fasts, and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and hymns and chants and observances and synagogues, and the food and drink of the Hebrews; in one word, I renounce absolutely everything Jewish, every law, rite and custom, and above all I renounce Antichrist, whom all the Jews await in the figure and form of Christ; and I join myself to the true Christ and God. And I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Holy, Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity, and the dispensation in the flesh and the descent to men of the Word of God, of the one person of the Holy Trinity, and I confess that he was truly made man, and I believe and proclaim that after the flesh in very truth the Blessed Virgin Mary bore him the son of God. and 1 believe in, receive, venerate and embrace the adorable Cross of Grist, and the holy images; and thus, with my whole heart, and soul, and with a true faith I come to the Christian Faith. But if it be with deceit and with hypocrisy, and not with a sincere and perfect faith and a genuine love of Christ, but with a pretence to a be Christian that I come, and if afterwards I shall wish to deny and return to Jewish superstition, or shall be found eating with Jews, or feasting with them, or secretly conversing and condemning the Christian religion instead of openly confuting them and condemning their vain faith, then let the trembling of Cain and the leprosy of Gehazi cleave to me, as well as the legal punishments to which I acknowledge myself liable. And may 1 be anathema in the world to come, and may my soul be set down with Satan and the devils.'



From P.G., I, p. 1456.

It is my desire today to come from the Hebrews to the Christian faith. I have not been brought by any force, necessity, fear, annoyance or poverty; nor because of a debt, or of an accusation lodged against me; nor for the sake of worldly honours, of advantages, of money or property which has been promised me by anyone; nor for the sake of its useful consequences, nor to obtain human patronage; nor because of any quarrel or dispute which 1 have had with people of my own religion; nor for secret purposes of revenge on the Christians, by a feigned admiration for their law, nor because 1 have been wronged by them; but 1 have been brought by a whole-hearted love of Christ and of faith in Him.

I renounce the whole worship of the Hebrews, circumcision, all its legalisms, unleavened bread, Passover, the sacrificing of lambs, the feasts of Weeks, jubilees, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and all the other Hebrew feasts, their sacrifices, prayers, aspersions, purifications, expiations, fasts, Sabbaths, new moons, foods and drinks. And I absolutely renounce every custom and institution of the Jewish laws.

Moreover, I place under anathema the heresies among the Jews, and the heretics themselves. I anathematise the Sadducees, who are called just, who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, who attack the resurrection of the dead, and deny the existence of angels. I anathematise the Pharisees, the separate ones, who fast on the second and fifth days, who pretend to sexual abstinence at definite times, and afterwards despise all continence, who foretell the future, and waste their time on astrology. I anathematise the Nazareans, the stubborn ones, who deny that the law of sacrifices was given by Moses, who abstain from eating living things, and who never offer sacrifice: I anathematise the Osseans, the blindest of all men, who use other scriptures than the Law, and reject most of the prophets, and who boast in a man as master, one EIxai, that is 'the hidden virtue', and who worship, as Gods, two women of his offspring, Marthonis and Marthana: I anathematise the Herodians, who worship as Christ a foreign king of the Jews, Herod, who was eaten of worms. I anathematise the Hemerobaptists, who believe as do the Pharisees, but also teach that a man cannot be saved without daily washing. I anathematise the scribes, or doctors of the Law, who are not content to live according to the Law, but of their own free will perform more than is prescribed in the Law, and devising washing of vessels and cups and platters and other articles of furniture, and frequently wash their hands and their pots; and who call all these many traditions they have added to the Law 'Deuteroses', as though they were a second series of Divine Laws, and they falsely ascribe the first to Moses, and the second to Rabbi Akiba, and the third to Annas who is also called Judas, and the fourth to the sons of the Hasmoneans who even violated the Sabbath in battle.

Together with all these Jewish heresies and heresiarchs, deuteroses and givers thereof, I anathernatise those who celebrate the feast of Mordecai on the first Sabbath of the Christian fast, hanging the effigy of Haman on a gibbet, and mingling the sign of the cross therewith, and burning all together, and subjecting the Christians to every kind of curse and anathema.

II.. Together with the ancients, I anathematise also the Chief Rabbis and new evil doctors of the Jews, to wit, Lazarus the inventor of the abominable feast which they call Monopodaria, and Elijah who was no less impious, and Benjamin, Zebedee, Abraham, Symbatius and the rest of them. Further I invoke every curse and anathema on him whose coming is expected by the Jews as the Christ or Anointed, but is rather Anti-Christ, and I renounce him and commit myself to the only true Christ and God. And I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity; I confess the Incarnation and the coming to man of one of the Holy Trinity, to wit, the only begotten Son and Word of God, begotten of the Father before all the centuries, through Whom all things were made. I believe Him to be the Messiah foretold by the Law and the prophets; and I am convinced that He has already come into the world for the salvation of mankind; that He was truly made man, and did not surrender His Divinity, that He is truly God and truly man, without confusion, change or alteration, of one person and two natures. I believe that He suffered all things of His own will, and was crucified in the flesh, while His Divinity remained impassable, and was buried, and rose again on the third day, and ascended into heaven, and shall come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead.

And I believe and profess the Blessed Virgin Mary, who bore Him according to the flesh, and who remained a virgin, to be truly and actually the Mother of God, and I venerate and honour her truly as the Mother of God Incarnate, and as the Lady and mistress thereby of all creation.

I am Convinced and confess and believe that the bread and the wine which is mystically consecrated among Christians, and which they take in their sacred rites, is the very body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, transmuted by His Divine power reasonably and invisibly, in His own way beyond all natural understanding, and I confess that in taking the sacrament I am taking His very body and blood, to the gaining of life eternal and the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven which belongs to those who receive them in perfect faith.

Finally, I beg for Christian baptism, out of a pure and spotless heart and mind, and a sincere faith, truly persuaded that it is the true spiritual washing, and the regeneration of soul and body.

III I receive, honour and accept as symbols and indications of their prototypes, the venerable Cross of the true Christ and God, no longer the instrument of death and crime, but of liberty and eternal life, and the sign of victory over death and Satan; likewise I receive the hitherto venerated images both of the Word of God according to the flesh among men, and likewise of the most pure and ineffable Mother of God, of the holy angels, and finally of all the saints.

I honour and venerate with the honour due to them the blessed angels and all the saints, not only the patriarchs and prophets, but the apostles, martyrs, confessors, doctors, saints, all indeed who pleased Christ when He came, as His servants and faithful followers.

Wherefore with my whole heart and mind and with deliberate choice I come to the Christian faith.

But if I make this statement falsely and deceitfully, and not on the witness of my whole conviction and in love for the Christ who has already come, but because of some compulsion, necessity, fear, loss, poverty, debt, accusation brought against me, worldly honour, dignity of any kind, money, promised gifts, or to serve some end, or for human protection, or because of dispute and quarrel with some of my own faith, or to revenge myself thus on the Christians, feigning respect for their law, or if I pretend to become a Christian because of some injuries suffered from them, and then revert to Judaism, or be found eating with the Jews, or observing their feasts and fasts, or speaking secretly with them, or defaming the Christian faith, or visiting their synagogues or oratories, or taking them under my protection, and do not rather confute the said Jews and their acts openly, and revile their empty faith, then may there come upon me all the curses which Moses wrote in Deuteronomy, and the trembling of Cain, and the leprosy of Gehazi, in addition to the penalties by law established, and may I be without any hope of pardon, and in the age to come may I be anathema and doubly anathema, and may my soul be set down with Satan and his demons.


from James Parkes:  The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue: A Study in the Origins of Antisemitism, (New York: JPS, 1934), 394-400

This text in multiple later printings by Atheneum has no indication of renewed copyright.

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© Paul Halsall, August 1998
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