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Christian anti-Judaism and the road to Auschwitz

April 16, 2015

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah). Let’s not forget how we got there.

auschwitzEusebius [famed Christian polemicist, Church historian, and bishop of Caesarea] will use [anti-Judaism] as a launching pad of his history of the Church, contrasting the triumph of the Church with the calamities that befell the Jews in “punishment” for their treatment of Jesus. Athanasius [Church Father, chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism] will use it to show that the Arians [a “heretical” non-trinitarian Christian movement that held that Jesus was a created being] are “no better” than the Jews. For Augustine [Christian theologian and philosopher who greatly influenced Western Christian thought], one of the “real” errors of the Pelagian vision will consist in the “Jewishness” of Pelagianism [belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid], and the Pelagianism of the Jews. The synod of Elvira [ecclesiastical synod of 305 CE that imposed all manner of legal disabilities on Jews, prefiguring Nazi laws centuries later] will legislate against the Jews as non-Christians. And Ambrose [bishop of Milan, one of the most influential Christian figures of the 4th century] will prohibit the rebuilding of a burned synagogue, because the Jews have no rights; they will have become not only non-Christians, but almost non-persons. The road from here to Auschwitz is long and may not be direct, but one can get there from here. (Efroymson, “Tertullian’s Anti-Judaism”)

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