The Origins of Antisemitism

To understand where this hatred originated, it is necessary to consider the beginnings of Christianity. While Jesus and his followers were indeed Jews, they were determined to separate themselves from the traditional Jewish faith, associated with the Temple. This was in part due to the rebellious nature of many Jews, who caused trouble to the Roman rulers, but also because of their non-belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah; the fulfillment of the Old Testament. In Christianity, the story of Judas also contributed to Antisemitism, as it was believed he betrayed Jesus for money, creating the start of the negative association of Jews with money and greed. In the gospel of John, Jews were actually depicted as the children of the devil.

 Jews have also been accused of killing Jesus; this is because at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion there was another criminal who was up for execution. This man was Jesus Barabbas, a nationalist revolutionary who was also convicted, and as was custom at the time, the crowd (who were Jewish people) were given the choice to free one of the prisoners. They freed Barabbas, and thus the divisions between Christians and Jews became certain; the Jews were seen as muderers. These Biblical origins show us how Christianity was responsible for creating Antisemitism. 

When Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, the majority of Europe became Christian. The Jews were hated because they did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, but the Romans did not exterminate them as they did with other heretics. The Romans allowed the Jews to live in order for them to witness the second coming of Christ, which would force them to admit their wrongs and accept Jesus as the Messiah after all. But while waiting for the second coming, the Jews suffered greatly. The economy was built on agriculture, but Jews were not allowed to own land, they could not work in industries as craftsmen had to come from Christian guilds. The only work Jews were allowed was with money lending and trade, further associating the faith with greed. 

This association has survived long since the days of the Romans; in the 1870’s economic depression was blamed on Jewish bankers, and this too was the case in the Great Depression starting in 1929. Biblical accounts and the persecution of the Jews by the Romans created Antisemitism, rather than fault of their own, which would then be used by Hitler to carry out the Holocaust in Europe. But Antisemitism did not originate with Hitler and the Nazis, though it is strongly associated with them, it has much deeper roots in the Christian faith, and the attitudes of Europeans as a whole. 

I hope you found this post interesting, thank you for reading! 

2 thoughts on “The Origins of Antisemitism

    • No, they were forced into the roles of bankers etc. which linked their faith to greed, which in turn led to them being scape goats when economies fell, antisemetism is and was very much a real thing that led to the deaths of millions…

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