Not all Jewish experiences under Christian rule in medieval Europe were uniformly negative. The reality was that the experiences varied according to time and place. One of the better periods for Jews was that of the Carolingian Empire that covered most of what is now France in the early ninth century. For some Christians, however, the relative freedoms Jews enjoyed to interact with the wider society were unacceptable. This was the context for the anti-Jewish writings of Saint Agobard, who was originally from Spain and became the bishop of Lugdunum (Lyons).
Richard Landes, a medieval historian and fellow friend of the late Barry Rubin, recently sent me one of Agobard’s letters requesting that I translate it. This letter, which has been dated to 827 CE, is cosigned with two other bishops: Bernard (the bishop of Vienne) and Eaof (who may have been the bishop of Chalons). The writers warn the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious that the Jews are harming and threatening the faith of the Christian masses through their alleged ‘insolence and inappropriate conduct’ and freedom to engage in their blasphemy against Christianity. The authors emphasise that action needs to be taken to keep Christians away from the company of Jews and prevent friendly interactions with them. That is, the Jews need to be segregated from the wider Christian society.
To justify their point, the bishops invoke ecclesiastical and Biblical history. They argue that their prescriptions are in keeping with the examples of Church Fathers like Hillary of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan, as well as prior decrees of church councils and synods in Gaul and elsewhere, which (among other things) prohibited Christians from partaking in the banquets/feasts of the Jews, prevented intermarriage between Jews and Christians, sought to remove Christian slaves from servitude to the Jews, and barred Jews from going out on the streets during the four most important days of Holy Week (Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday). It should be noted that the claim to be adhering to the historical precedent of the greater Church and the regional church is a common way of trying to bolster the legitimacy of one’s argument: compare with how Elipandus of Toledo (for instance) tried to claim that his doctrine of Adoptionism was supposedly espoused by prior Church Fathers the prior bishops of Toledo.
In turn, the three bishops assert that the mandating of segregation of the Jews from the wider Christian body and hostility towards them as a people as outlined in these prior decrees are justified by the narratives in the Bible. Drawing in particular on the stories of Peter and Paul as outlined in Acts of the Apostles, they argue that their conduct consistently points towards Christian abstinence from partaking in the feasts and company of disbelievers/infidels in general, including the Jews, who have become worse than other disbelievers through their knowing of the truth of Christianity and then actively rejecting it and blaspheming it. The Jews espouse various superstitions about God and promulgate a false story about the life of Christ. By denying that Jesus is Christ, the Jews equal the Antichrist in wickedness, and they continue to be sons of the devil. They do not merit to be honoured by virtue of descent from Abraham (when in truth they have been removed from the seedline of Abraham by denying Christ) or their riches.
Analytically, drawing on JM Berger’s work on identity constructs and extremism, we can view this letter as reflecting an example of extremism. The Jews (an out-group), who are referred to in terms that demonise them, constitute a threat to the identity and well-being of the Christians (the in-group), a crisis brought about by the relative freedom granted to Jews by the Carolingian rulers. The in-group’s identity must be protected by segregation of the out-group from the in-group and hostility towards the out-group (the solution). That said, the extremism reflected here comes at a lower end of the spectrum, because it is not calling for violence against the out-group. One can also see the use of historical narratives to justify the extremist approach here: the authors claim their approach reflects ecclesiastical precedent and the precedent of the greatest apostles of Christianity.
I have translated the letter below in full and have extensively annotated it for references to Church writings and the Bible (some of these were included in the edition of the Latin text that Landes sent me, others were not).
The letter of the bishops Saint Agobard, Saint Bernard and Eaof to the same emperor, concerning the Judaic superstitions
To the most Christian and glorious lord of ours, Ludovicus[i] the emperor the perpetual Augustus: Agobard, Bernard and Eaor, the unworthy bishops, your supplicant mere servants, send regards. As indicated in brief in the previously sent letter, the disturbance of the tranquillity of the faith in the hearts of some simple-minded Christians by the insolence and inappropriate conduct of the Jews has compelled us to write to your most tame and prudent solitude concerning how the precaution of the Christians should be towards the Judaic perfidy, superstitions, and innumerable errors, in so far as our utmost efforts could find from the use and instruction of the prior rectors of the Gallic churches. And indeed if, as now much necessity demands, we had dared or been able to bring to your ears the losses of the souls, which through the vases of the devil, that is the minds of the Jews, are brought on the faithful, your piety would order all together for a remedy to be applied. But now (indeed it is most dangerous for us to say and note, because just as in the time of his passion our Lord Jesus Christ, intending to pacify all things through the blood of his cross, was sold by the false disciple, and purchased by the true persecutors to be beaten and crucified, so now also he is purchased by the impious Jews in a certain way for the purpose of cursing with rather free license and blasphemy), we only write a few of the examples and statutes of the Fathers, and from there from the Acts of the Apostles, and from the Gospels and scriptures of the Old Testament, in order to strengthen the pious vigilance of governance of the good pastors.
The blessed confessor Hilarius[ii] (about whom Saint Hieronymus thus says in the letter to Laeta concerning instruction saying: ‘May she always have in her hands the works of Cyprianus. Let her run with unhindered feet through the letters of Athanasius and the books of Hilarius. Let her take delight in their tractates, their ingenuities, in whose books the piety of faith does not vacillate. Let her thus read the rest, so that she may judge more than she should follow’)[iii]: the man’s written life attests to the caution by which he always avoided the wicked company of the Jews and the heretics. For in such a way did he indeed revile the enemies of the Church, that not only did he not engage in banquets with them, but he did not even greet them as he passed them by. Also concerning Saint Ambrosius, the sacred history of his life narrates, that which is both worthy to insert here, and is religious for Christian minds to know: ‘In the parts of the East in a certain fortress, the synagogue of the Jews and the grove of the Valentinians[iv] were burned in fire by the Christian men, because the Jews and Valentinians used to insult the Christian monks.[v] For the heretics of the Valentinians worship thirty gods. But concerning the deed of this sort, the count of the East directed a report to the emperor, because the emperor had directed that the synagogue should be built by the bishop. But when the tenor of this precept had reached the ears of the venerable man bishop Ambrosius, he directed a letter to the emperor (because he himself could not rush out in time) in which he warned that man, that that which had been decreed by the same man should be revoked, and that he should keep listening to him: if he were not worthy of being heard by him, he would also not be worthy of being heard on his behalf, and of the commission of his prayers or his vows to him. He added that he was even prepared to undergo death for such a reason, lest by his own dissimulation he should make the emperor commit deviation in having ordered such unjust things against the Church. But afterwards, when he returned to Mediolanum,[vi] while the emperor was placed in the church, he composed a tractate concerning the same matter for the people: in this tractate he introduced the person of the Lord speaking: I ultimately made you emperor, I handed the army of your enemy to you, I gave the forces which he had prepared for his army against you, I subjugated your enemy under your power, I set those from your seedline over the throne of the kingdom, I made you triumph without toil: and you give triumphs from Me to My enemies? The emperor said to him as he came down in the hall: you have put forth a proposition against us, oh bishop. But in response he said that he had not spoken against him, but for his own benefit. Then the emperor said: in truth I had ordered harsh things against the bishop concerning the repair of the synagogue. It was being said that vengeance had to be taken for the monks by the counts, who were present at the time. To these things the bishop said: I indeed am now dealing with the emperor. But I must deal differently with you. And so he arranged, that those things which had been decreed should be revoked. And he did not want to accede first to the altar, unless the emperor testified by his faith that he should do so. To him the bishop said: therefore I act by your faith. The emperor responded: act by my faith. With this sponsorship repeated, the priest now safely conducted the divine mysteries. Behold the two greatest columns of the churches of God, that is Hilarius and Ambrosius. One of these teaches us by his example that we ought to abstain rather diligently not only from banquets with the Jews, but also from the act of greeting them, something that is displayed by all to each other. But the other, because a synagogue of the Jews burned by the Christians had been ordered by the emperor to be restored through the labour of the bishop, does not hesitate to offer himself to death, and (which would perhaps be thought of lightly, if it occurred today) a holy man shuddered so much and deemed it an abomination, that he did not doubt that death undertaken for such business would yield to him in the place of martyrdom. He also intimated that the one ordering such unjust things against the Church was deviating; and had he not preserved the place of hearing for himself, he testified that he would have passed over the accustomed intercession for him. What therefore is this man of God to be believed that he would have done, if he had seen in his time the canonical statutes being torn away for the sake of the infidel Jews?
And the most holy Cyprianus, and Athanasius the man of God, deemed them to be abominable with no less hatred. Indeed, as their works testify, they detest the most obstinate impiety of their infidelity over all the error of the heathens. All the most reverent governors of the Gallic churches followed their most religious faith and devotion given to Christ, and indeed sanctioned that all Christians had to shun entirely the whole most polluted society of the Jews. We have decided to show their opinions concerning this matter, and demonstrate from these how abhorrent their company is.
Alchimus Avitus the Viennensian[vii] bishop of the Church: the whole Church of Christ has known how outstanding and eloquent he was as an orthodox teacher. Saint Apollinaris the bishop of the Church at Valentina,[viii] how great he was and is, not only as sublimely testified by his written works, but also his frequent miracles even today. Saint Gregorius the bishop of the bishop of the Church at Lingonica,[ix] of what great sanctity and truth he was, his written life, and the send of his life and the honour granted to him by the Church, even today bear witness. Viventiolus the bishop of the Church at Lugdunum,[x] of what doctrine he was, not only his own writings, but also things written about him by others bear witness. Therefore those people, gathered in the name of the Lord with 20 other most reverent bishops for the defence and status of the Church, decreed concerning the aforementioned matter among other things: ‘If a cleric of upper ranks participates in a banquet of any heretic, he is not to have peace for the space of a year: if the junior clerics take this up, they are to be flogged. But from banquets with the Jews our constitution has also prohibited lay people; and whoever is made unjust by banquet of the Jews, he is not to eat bread with any cleric of ours.’[xi] And in the conclusion of their statutes, trusting in the presence of the Lord-as he himself says: ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with them’[xii]- they thus sanctioned: ‘On account of these things which have been pleasing in common consensus because of divine inspiration, if any of the holy bishops, who have affirmed the present statutes by their own signatures, and indeed those whom God has wished to be their successors, should abandon the integrity of observation and retire, let him know that he will be guilty in the judgement of both the divinity and fraternity.’[xiii]
Saint Caesarius the bishop of the Church at Arelate,[xiv] of what merit and doctrine he was, his many outstanding monuments show. This man with 35 bishops and vicars of the bishops gathered as one in the name of the Lord, for the sake of the defence and confirmation of the Catholic truth, decided as follows among other things: ‘Henceforth all clerics and lay people are to avoid the banquets of the Jews, and no one is to admit them to a banquet: for since they do not make use of common foods among the Christians, it is unworthy and sacrifice for their foods to be taken up by the Christians, since those things which we have taken up by the apostle’s permission, are judged by them to be unclean, and thus they should begin to be Catholics lower than the Jews, if we make use of these things that are put in place by them, while they despise the things offered by us.’[xv]
Priscus the bishop of the Church at Lugdunum,[xvi] Artemius at Senonica,[xvii] Remedius at Biturica,[xviii] and Saint Siagrius the bishop of Aedui,[xix] with many of the others, in renewing the ecclesiastical statutes, thus outlined[xx]: ‘The Jews are not to be assigned as judges for the Christian peoples, or permitted to be toll-gatherers, because the Christians would then seem to be subject to them (may God avert that). For the Jews, from the feast of the Lord[xxi] all the way to the first day after Pascha,[xxii] as per the edict of the lordly king Childebertus of good memory,[xxiii] the permission of walking through the streets or forum as though for the sake of insult is to be denied, and they should pay reverence to all the priests of the Lord and the clerics, and they are not to presume to sit before the priests unless ordered to do so. If by chance they should presume to do this, they are to be hindered by the judges of the places, in accordance with the person’s legal status.[xxiv] And let no Christian presume to participate in the banquets of the Jews. If any cleric or lay person presumes to do this (which is wicked to be said), may whoever has been made unjust by their impieties know that he is to be kept away from the company of all Christians.[xxv] And although there ought to be observation concerning what has been decided not only by canonical statutes, but also by the benefits of the laws regarding the Christians who either in the incursion of captivity or by some trickeries are implicated in servitude to the Jews, nonetheless now the complaint of certain people has thus arisen, that certain Jews residing throughout the cities or municipalities have broken forth into such great insolence and audacity, that it is not allowed that the Christians making the demand should be able to be released from servitude to them at a price. Therefore we sanction in the present council, with God’s authorship, that no Christians should henceforth be in servitude to a Jew; but rather with 12 solidi given for each good servant, may any Christian have the license of redeeming the slave himself whether for the purpose of freeing him or for servitude. Indeed it is wrong that those whom Christ the Lord redeemed by the pouring out of his own blood, should remain ensnared in the bonds of the persecutors. So if any Jew does not wish to acquiesce to these things which we have decreed, in so far as you put off the sale for the agreed sum of money, let it be allowed for the slave himself to dwell wherever he wishes with the Christians. We also sanction the following in particular, that if any Jew is shown to have persuaded a Christian slave to convert to the Judaic error, he is both to be deprived of the slave and punished by legal damnation.’[xxvi]
Saint Lupus with 24 other bishops, and vicars of the bishops, similarly gathered in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of issues of His body, which is the Church, decreed these things also among many: ‘Indeed by God’s favour we stand under the domination of Catholic kings: from the day of the feast of the Lord all the way to the second day after the sabbath in Pascha,[xxvii] that is, in the space of four days,[xxviii] they are not to presume to proceed among the Christians, nor are they to mix with the Catholic peoples in any placed or on any occasion.’[xxix]
In the Laodicean council it was decreed ‘that one should not accept festive gifts that are send by Jews and heretics, nor is one to celebrate feast days with them, nor is one to accept unleavened bread from Jews, and share in their impieties.’[xxx] And in another council: ‘That, if anyone is joined by the bond of marriage to the Judaic depravity, that is, whether a Jewish woman with a Christian man, or a Christian woman mixes with a Jewish man in carnal partnership: whosoever of these people are known to have committed such a wicked act, they are to be removed immediately from the Christian gathering and banquet as well as from the communion of the Church.’[xxxi]
And as the ecclesiastical statutes are to be affirmed through the apostolic acts, and the new through the old, let us see what the most old and apostolic teacher and martyr of Christ and the bishop of the Church at Lugdunum Irenaeus says regarding the blessed John the apostle and evangelist, whom Jesus loved very much. He therefore says: ‘And indeed there was Polycarpus,[xxxii] who was not only erudite in the fellow discipleship with the apostles, and familiar with many who saw the Lord, but also was placed as bishop of Asia by the apostles at the Church among the Smyrnensians. We also saw him in the first of our age (for he remained for a long time, and very much long-living above the rest in old age he before witness gloriously and illustriously and died). He always taught these things that he learned from the apostles, which also he handed to the church, and also only those things which are true. And there are those who heard him say that while John the disciple of the Lord was going to Ephesus to wash, he saw Cerinthus within and then he jumped out from the bath even as he was unwashed, saying that he feared that the bath would collapse, as Cerinthus the enemy of the truth was placed within. And indeed Polycarpus responded to Marcion once as he met him and said: Recognise us. He replied: ‘I recognise, I recognise the first-born of Satan. Indeed the apostles and their disciples had such great reverence, that they did not even impart a word to anyone tampering with the truth.’’[xxxiii] If anyone says in response to these things that Cerinthus was a heretic, not a Jew, let him know that in the times of the apostles there were no heretics except from the Jews and Samaritans. Thus were Simon, Menander, Hebion and Nicolaus. But from the errors of the aforementioned Cerinthus, he should know that all the things he taught are Judaic. He preached that our Lord Jesus Christ was a pure man, and did not undergo the resurrection, and that one should perform circumcision. After the resurrection he said that there would be an earthly kingdom of Christ in Jerusalem, and men would have conduct subject in the flesh again to desires and vices in order to celebrate the legal festivities again, and sacrifices of flesh would again be butchered. But also from the statutes written above he should notice that the companies of the Jews are to be abhorred and avoided in a much more detestable manner than the rest of the heretics. For if all such people are to be detested because they are enemies of the truth, much more so are those who engage in greater enmities. For indeed it is the mark of the heretics to agree in common in some things with the Church, and to dissent from it in some things, that is, to blaspheme in part, and concord with the truth in party; but it is the mark of the Jews to lie entirely, blaspheme entirely our God and Lord Jesus Christ and his Church, and believing nothing about him to be true except his death: although not in him do they truly believe, because they say his death is like the deaths of the rest of men, that is, from the necessity of nature, not from the will of mercy. On account of this then they curse the Lord and his body in all their orations, just as was also previously prophesied in the voice of the Lord saying to the Father: ‘They will curse, and you will bless.’[xxxiv] If therefore the enemies of the Catholic faith are to be abhorred and avoided, because they are enemies of the truth; above all infidels, incredulous ones and heretics are the Jews to be detested, because no type of men is to found to whom it is thus pleasing to curse the Lord. This is hardly unknown to us, as we speak with them almost everyday and hear the mysteries of their error.
In short they say that their God is corporeal, and bound with bodily lineaments through the limbs, and indeed in one part He hears as we do, sees in another, speaks in other, and does something else; and through this a human body has been made in the image of God, except for the fact that He has the inflexible and rigid fingers of hands, so that He does nothing with His hands.
They say that He sits in the manner of an earthly king on his throne, which is surrounded by four beasts, and seemingly contained in a great palace. They say also that He considers many superfluous and vane things, which as they all cannot come into effect, they are turned into demons. But also they preach countless wicked things about God, as we have said, and they worship such a likeness, which they have feigned and decreed for themselves in the likenesses of their hearts, not the true, unchangeable and immutable God, of whom they are in fact ignorant. Also they believe that the letters of their alphabet are eternal, and obtained various ministries before the beginning of the world, over which they must preside forever. They say that the Mosaic law was written in many cycles of years before the world. They also claim there are many earths, many hells, many heavens: of which one, which they themselves call Racha, that is the firmament,[xxxv] which they claim upholds the millstones of God, by which manna is grinded into food for the angels to consume. But another they call Araboth,[xxxvi] in which they teach the Lord resides, and that this is in the Psalm according to them: ‘Make a journey to the one who lords over Araboth.’[xxxvii] Moreover they claim that God has seven trumpets, of which one is measured as a thousand cubits for Him. What more is there to say? There is no page of the Old Testament, no pronouncement, about which they do not have from the times of their ancestors fabricated and invented lies, and they themselves even today always fabricate new things in superstition, and when asked presume to respond. For also they read in the teachings of their ancestors, that there was a certain young man Jesus who was honourable among them, and erudite in the teaching of John the Baptist, and that he had very many disciples, upon one of whom he imposed the name of Cepha- that is Peter- on account of the harshness and bluntness of his sense. And as he was awaited by the people on the festive day, they say that certain boys from his school met him, and they sang to him out of honour and reverence for their master: Osanna to the son of David. But in the end, accused of many lies, he was shut in jail by the judgement of Tiberius, because his daughter (to whom, without a man, he had promised the birth of a boy) brought the conception of a stone. From there also, as a detestable mage, he was hanged on a fork-shaped stake, where he was struck on the head with a stone and killed in this manner, buried alongside a certain aqueduct, and commended to the guardianship of a certain Jew; but in the night the aqueduct was overcome with a sudden inundation, and he was sought by the order of Pilate over the course of twelve moons, and he was not found. Then they say that Pilate promulgated a law of this sort to them: ‘It is manifest that he has arisen again as he had promised, he who was also killed by you out of envy, and is not found in a tomb or in any other place. And for this reason I adore that you should adore him. He who does not want to do this, let him know that his lot will be in hell.’ But all these things their elders thus fabricated, and they themselves read with stupid obstinacy, such that by such comments the whole truth of both the virtue and passion of Christ is emptied out, and that adoration ought not to be exhibited to hum as God, but has been rather brought to him only by the law of Pilate. But also they say that Peter was not in any way led out of prison through the angle, as we believe, but by the mercy of Herod, in whose view the man’s wisdom was very much lauded. In short also they assert that the Christians adore idols, and they do not shudder to say that the powers that are obtained in our view by the intercessions of the saints, are made by the devil. On account of all of these things who is to doubt that they are worthy of the greatest hatred? Just as also the scripture demonstrates that they are to be hated, as it says according to what is the Hebraic truth: ‘Those who wickedly contradict You, Your adversaries have become elated in vain. Surely I hate those who hate You, oh Lord? And surely I have pined away against Your adversaries? I have hated them with perfect hatred, they have become enemies to me.’[xxxviii] With this zeal of God the fervent and blessed Hieronymus thus says in a certain place about these people: ‘If it is useful to hate men and for any people to be detested, with wondrous hatred I am averse to the mutilation. For even today they persecute our Lord Jesus Christ in the synagogues of Satan.’ Also elsewhere[xxxix]: ‘What great traditions of the Pharisees, which today they call deuteroseis, and how anile are their fables, I cannot repeat. Most things are so disgraceful, that I am embarrassed to say. But I will say one thing about the disgrace of this enemy people. They have the most wise men put in charge of the synagogues, and these people are the ones whom they have put in charge of disgraceful work, that they should prove by taste the blood of a virgin or one who has menstruated, clean or unclean as it is, if they cannot discern by the eyes. Moreover, to these people it has been commanded that each one should sit in his home on the Sabbath days, and should not go out, and not walk from the place in which he resides; if ever we begin to curtail those things by the letter so that they should not walk, lie or stand, but only sit, if they wish to keep the precepts, they are accustomed to respond and say, Rab Achibas, Simeon and Hillel our teachers handed to us that we should walk 2000 feet on the Sabbath, and the rest of the things of this sort, preferring the doctrines of men over the doctrine of God.’
Since therefore they are polluted with so many and such great things of uncleanliness in both senses and works, certainly fulfilled in them are the words of Haggai the prophet, who, per the Lord’s command to him, thus asks the priests: ‘If one polluted in soul touches from all of these things’- that is, bread, or condiment, or wine, or oil, or every food- ‘will it be contaminated? And the priests responded, and said: it will be contaminated. And Haggai responded and said: Thus is this people, and thus is this people before My face, says the Lord, and thus is every work of their hands.’[xl]
But as for the sake of all of these things one must necessarily make a distinction between the Israelites of the flesh and the spiritual Jews, the Lord mystically makes the designation through Zacharias the prophet saying: ‘And I have cut off My second stick, which is called a slender rope, so that I should dissolve the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.’[xli] For, according to the apostle, ‘What part does the faithful have with the infidel? What joining does light have with darkness? What gathering of Christ is there with Belial?’[xlii] Here it is to be noticed that just as infidels are removed by their own will from the ecclesiastical communion, so that they should not wish to participate with the faithful in any mysteries, so also the faithful should separate themselves in their devotion from intimacy and company with the infidels; and if they are not ye able to in places, until the time should come that they are also segregated in places, so the same faithful- that is the Church- shout to God saying: ‘Judge me, God, and discern my cause from the unholy people.’[xliii] This then will be perfectly fulfilled, when there will be that which John the Baptist preaches that the Lord will do, thus saying: ‘His winnowing-fork in his hand, will both clean his ground, and gather the wheat into the granary, while burning the chaff with inextinguishable fire.’[xliv] For before his passion, the Lord, still not wanting to take up the bread of the sons from the table, and send it to the dogs, said to the disciples: ‘I have not been sent, except to the sheep of the house of Israel who have become lost.’[xlv] And to the Canaanite woman he said: ‘Allow first the sons to be filled.’[xlvi] As if he were saying: May the bread which descends from heaven first be offered to the sons who are to be nourished to life; and with those people taken up, the rest who remained were scornful, as they said: ‘These words are harsh: who can hear it?[xlvii] How can this man give us his flesh eat?’[xlviii] Let the ministers of the table of the Lord cross over to the hungry dogs, that is, the apostles to the Gentiles, just as the blessed Mary the mother of God, filled with the Holy Spirit had preached: ‘He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away.’[xlix] And much before Anna the mother of Samuel said: ‘Those filled previously have hired themselves out for breads, and the famished have been satiated.’[l] And between these women the prophet Isaiah says: ‘Behold the Lord who dominates the armies will take away all the strength of bread from Jerusalem and from Judah.’[li]
This began to be fulfilled in such an order. First the Lord said to his preachers: ‘Do not wander away into the ways of the Gentiles, and do not enter into the cities of the Samaritans.’[lii] But as he was about to ascend to the heavens he said: ‘Go into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.’[liii] Of course this was so that the preaching of the apostles, first driven away from Judaea, should come to help us, since it had in its haughtiness driven away this preaching to bear witness to its own damnation. And when this had begun to be fulfilled, and already the time had arrived that the prophecies concerning the taking up of the Gentiles and repulsion of the Jews should be fulfilled, as Paul and Barnabas preached and those people rushed to hear the word of the Lord, as has been written in the Acts of the Apostles: ‘Seeing the crowds, the Jews were filled with envy, and blasphemously contradicted those things which were being said by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas said with constancy: It behoved you first to speak the word of God. But as you drive that away, you judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold we are turned to the Gentiles. For thus the Lord has commanded us: I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, so that you should be a source of salvation to the end of the earth. But the Gentiles rejoiced as they heard this, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were preordained for eternal life believed. So the word of the Lord was being disseminated through the whole region, but the Jews roused the religious and decent women, and the first men of the state, and incited persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and cast them out from their territory But they, after shaking out the dust of their feet on them, came to Iconium. Also the disciples were being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.’[liv] Also in the same book: ‘Paul insisted on the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus is Christ. But they contradicted and blasphemed, and he shaking out his clothes said to them: Your blood over your head, I am clean and henceforth I will go to the Gentiles. And migrating from there, he entered into the home of a certain person called Titus Justus.’[lv] Also there: ‘But Paul entered the synagogue, and he spoke with confidence through three months, engaging in argument and persuasion concerning the kingdom of God. But as certain people were hardened and did not believe, cursing the way of the Lord in the presence of the multitude, he departed from them, and separated off the disciples.’[lvi] On these words one must contemplate most subtly, how just as the number of the faithful from the Gentiles grew gradually, and the Jews became harsher against the word of the Lord, and ceased to believe, thus gradually was shown also the segregation of the preachers from those people. For they shook off both their clothes and the dust of their feet on them, fulfilling the precept of the Lord, who sent his disciples to preach and said: ‘And whoever does not receive you and does not hear your sermons, you should go out from the home and city, and shake off the dust from your feet. Amen I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha on the day of Judgement, than for that city.’[lvii] So they are ordered to shake off the dust from their feet as a testament to their toil, that they entered the city, and the apostolic preaching reached them. Or the dust is shaken so that those who have rejected the Gospel should receive nothing from them, not even for necessary provision. For thus is the shaking off of the dust explained by the teachers, not only in the Gospel, where it is commanded, but also in the Acts of the Apostles, where it is fulfilled.
And hence it is that in the beginning, when Paul and Barnabas were separated in work, one reads that throughout the individual cities they entered the synagogues of the Jews, and disputed on the Sabbath days concerning the kingdom of God, that is, when the Jews were gathered in them. But in the second trip through the individual places again one reads that Paul and Silas were received by brothers and remained with the brothers. Hence as both Paul and his companions ascended to Jerusalem, there went with them some of the disciples from Caesarea, leading with them, in order to be guests, a certain Mnason, an old Cyprian disciple.[lviii] And when they had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received them.
And Paul, the vessel of election and teacher of the Gentiles, keeps observation of this rule everywhere: this is easy for each diligent reader and listener to recognise from his deeds. In short when he was preaching among the Philippians, one reads that he did not enter into or remain in the home of Lydia the purple-merchant, although she worshipped God, before believing with her whole household she should be baptised in Christ[lix]: similarly he did not enter into the home of that man who was the prison guard, nor did he take up the obeisance of his humanity, until also he should believe in the Lord, be baptised with his whole household and become worthy of having such a great apostle as guest.[lx] But also when he had come to Tyre, it is written that he only remained with the disciples for seven days.[lxi] Similarly at Caesarea in the home of Philippus the evangelist, who had four prophesying virgin daughters, it is mentioned that he was a guest,[lxii] where also through a period of time, while he was detained in custody, one reads that his people alone ministered to him.[lxiii] Also at Sidon as he was dealt with humanely by Julius the centurion, he is said to have gone to his friends alone, who were indeed faithful, and to have cared for them.[lxiv] Also when he come to Puteoli, it is understood that he remained with the brothers for seven days.[lxv] But in Rome itself it is said that he remained in his conduct for two years.[lxvi] But also always both for him and those who were with him, it is asserted that he ministered all the necessary things with his own hands. And as he was laying the first foundations of the word of God among others, he is found to have received stipends from the churches of the faithful. Indeed the necessary things, which are narrated to have been imposed on him and his people by the father of Publius and the rest of the inhabitants of the island of Melita,[lxvii] who is not to see that they were in no way undertaken from the infidels, but rather from the faithful?[lxviii] For he both saved the father of Publius, and he exercises such great cares for infirmities on the same island, that there is no doubt that very many people from the inhabitants of that place were subjugated to the faith of Christ, and followed the message of their salvation with innumerable honours. And it is agreed that these things were thus kept by the apostle Paul.
But if anyone were to consider also the deeds of Peter the chief of the apostle, he would also see that he once entered into the presence of Cornelius, and those who were with him, and he did not remain among them or receive food, until filled with the Holy Spirit and baptised in the name of Christ, they should become worthy of the company and society of the faithful.[lxix] But also at Joppe, when he was a guest at the home of a certain faithful person called Simon, he wanted to dine as he was hungry, where he also saw a linen vessel that was filled with various animate things and fell from heaven, and a voice addressed him: ‘That which God has cleaned, do not call it common.’[lxx] But this is narrated to have occurred three times, so that through the faith of the Holy Trinity, the future cleansing of all peoples should be signified beforehand, just as the apostles had long ago been ordered by the Lord, that they should go and teach all people, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Therefore such were those Gentiles, believing, baptised and cleansed. However, lest those who had believed out of circumcision should be scandalised, he ate with them while those other people were absent, and when those other people were present he refrained from eating with them.[lxxi] Hence also that should be faithfully considered: that if such a great apostle, lest he should scandalise the faithful Jews who still applied carnal observations of the law, withdrew himself from the banquet of the faithful Gentiles, lest he should seem to be acting against custom- that is of the Jews- by dining with the Gentiles; with what zeal should the Christians now remove themselves from the company of the infidel Jews, lest by the example of this illicit communion they should scandalise the partners and participants in the Christian religion, and by such a deed they should also seem to support the Jews superstitions, and be convicted of dissolving the ecclesiastical statutes?
But also in the books of Clemens the bishop of the Roman Church[lxxii] are found some things said by the aforementioned apostle concerning the observation of this matter. We thought it would not be inappropriate to insert them into this discussion. For although the same books are deemed apocryphal, nonetheless the testimonies in general from these books are found to have been appropriated by the teachers. Therefore, although Clemens had not yet been purified by the grace of baptism, and for this reason had been kept away from the table of Peter with the rest who were like him, he introduces the same apostle speaking to him in these words: ‘Not on account of pride, oh Clemens, do I not hold banquet with those who have not yet been purified. But I fear that I may bring harm to myself, and thus be of no benefit to them.’ And a little after he said: ‘Therefore may none of you be saddened to have been separated from our banquet. For only for a small time is separated the one who wants to be baptised, but for much time the one who is slower in wishing to do. And so it is up to you to come to our table when you wish, and not up to us, as we have not been permitted to take up food with anyone, unless he has first been baptised.’
These things have necessarily been brought forth from the writings of Clemens by us because we wish to show with evidence that the most ancient observation of this matter was handed down by the apostles. For these are true things and to be taken into consideration, and indeed all the more so as they do not seem to differ in any way from the acts of the apostles.
Or are the elect apostles of Christ to be thought to have wanted to have a common table with the Jewish infidels, or to have been able to have a welcome banquet with those people, about whom the teacher of the Gentiles Paul thus says to the Thessalonians: ‘For you have become imitators and brothers of the churches of God which are in Judaea and in Jesus Christ. Indeed you have suffered the same things from your fellow countrymen, just as they have suffered from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, have persecuted us, and do not please God, and oppose all men, prohibiting us from speaking to the Gentiles lest they should be saved, so that they should always fulfil their sins, but the anger of the Lord has reached over them all the way to the end.’[lxxiii] Therefore is it with such people (whom the vessel of election calls the killers of Jesus and the prophets, the persecutors of the apostles, not pleasing God, opposing all men, always fulfilling their sins and wailing under the anger of God all the way to the end of the age) the apostles are to be believed to have had common banquet, or should any of the faithful retain that company?
Indeed the apostle made mention of the churches which were in Judaea in Christ, that is, of those from the Jews who had believed; also it is to be considered about those people, whether also those placed among their fellow countrymen should observe these things. And we can easily recognise this form the words of Saint Luke, as he says: ‘The multitude of the believers had one heart and soul, and not any one of these people said anything was his own, but they had all things in common.’[lxxiv] And a little after he said: ‘All the owners of homes or fields, brought forth in sale proceeds those things which they sold, and placed them before the feet of the apostles. So there was division for the individuals, in accordance with each person’s need.’[lxxv] And after some other words he again says: ‘And they were one together in Solomon’s colonnade. But none of the rest dared to join them, but the people magnified them.’[lxxvi] Therefore they did not lead a common life with those people, with whom they did not even have the common company of dwelling. Indeed all things which they had in common, were not sought from any place whatsoever, but had been undertaken solely from the delivery and offer of the faithful. But also in the greatest necessity of hunger which is mentioned to have occurred under Claudius, it is reported that they did not indeed seek or receive anything from the disbelieving Jews, among whom they stayed, but rather they allowed the offerings of the faithful from those of the Gentiles who had come to the faith of Christ, truly as helpers of them.[lxxvii] For already the time was pressing that it should be said to all the faithful, about all the enemies of the Christian faith: ‘If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive into the home, and do not say hello to him. For he who says hello to him, shares in his evil works.’[lxxviii] According to this sentiment, if he who says help to him is alienated from the apostolic doctrine, shares in his evil works, how much more shares in the Judaic wickedness the one who also celebrates a common banquet with these people?
And still, so that the Christians should be more cautious about the iniquities brought out by the heretics and Jews, it was rather said and always is said to them: ‘Oh most dear ones, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits if they are from God; for many pseudo-prophets have come out into the world. In this the Spirit of God is known. Every spirit which professes that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, is from God; and every spirit which absolves Jesus is not from God; and this is the Antichrist.’[lxxix] And in the same place: ‘For who is lying, except the one who denies that Jesus is Christ? This is the Antichrist, who denies the Father and Son. All who deny the Son do not have the Father; all who profess the Son, also have the Father.’[lxxx] From these words it is most evidently declared that the Jews are not only liars but also Antichrists, who since they deny the Son, profess in vain the Father; but as they do not profess the Son, they do not merit to have the Father; on top of all of these things indeed they deny that Christ, who arose from the Virgin Mary, is the Christ, and thus have claimed equally the name and discourse of the Antichrist for themselves. For what else is the Antichrist to say, except indeed that Jesus was not Christ, but that he himself is that which he has seemingly falsely been believed to be? In this alone therefore the Antichrist surpasses the blasphemy of the Jews, because he presumes to call himself Christ. But in this the Jews have equal the wickedness of the Antichrist, because they dare to deny that Jesus was Christ. But who is to have a common table with the Antichrist, and assert himself to be keeping faith in Christ? Or who is not to flee gladly the necessity of those people, whom he sees blaspheming his Saviour? And let him hear him reporting terribly to those people: ‘Woe to you Corozain, woe to you Bethsaida; indeed if in Tyre and Sidon had arisen the powers which arose among you, they would have long ago performed repentance in ash and in a sackcloth. But indeed I tell you, for Tyre and Sidon it will be more tolerable than for you on the Day of Judgement. And as for Capharnaum, surely you will not be exalted all the way into heaven? You will descend into hell. For if in Sodom the powers had arisen that arose among you, they would have perhaps remained all the way up to this day. But I say to you, that it will be more tolerable for the land of the people of Sodom on the Day of Judgement, than for you.’[lxxxi]
So Corozain, Bethsaida, and Capharnaum, the cities of Galilee, are lamented by the Saviour, because they did not perform repentance after such great signs and powers. But Tyre and Sidon are preferred to them, because they only spurred the natural law, whereas those cities, after the transgression of the natural law, were given to idolatry and vices. And thus Tyre and Sidon are preferred to them, because after transgression of the scripture they also cared little for the signs which arose among them.[lxxxii] And indeed consider, although it is wicked not to hear the truth and to despise it when it has been heard, it is much more and incomparably worse to reject the truth when it has been heard and recognised, and to persecute it while despising it and to blaspheme against it. This is shown most openly by the blessed Peter, saying about such people: ‘It had been better for them not to know the way of justice, than to be turned back after knowing it.’[lxxxiii] But this is much more evidently demonstrated by the words of the Lord who thus says through parable: ‘When an unclean spirit goes out from a man, it walks through arid places, searching for rest, and does not find it. Then it says: I will return into my home, from where I came. And coming it finds that home empty, cleaned with brooms and made ornate. Then it comes and takes up seven other spirits more wicked than it, and entering they dwell there, and they become new things worse than the prior affairs of that man, thus it will be also for this most terrible generation.’[lxxxiv] From this it is most clear that the unclean spirit of idolatry has received from the heart of the once Judaic people, when the law was given to it, and it walked for a long time through arid places, that is the unfruitful hearts of the Gentiles, and in these it wanted to make a secure dwelling for itself. But also from there it was expelled amid the advent of the Christ, as all nations believed in him, and it returned to its original home, which indeed it found empty of God, but decorated with the carnal observations of the law, as though cleaned by the traditions of the Pharisees. And as it sees that home to be most worthy of its habitation, it took up seven other spirits more wicked than it, and with these it penetrated its innermost depths, so made its newest affairs worse than the prior ones. Indeed now that home is possessed by a greater number of the demons of the Judaic people, blaspheming Christ in its synagogues, than the number by which it had been possessed in Egypt before the knowing of the law.
Therefore in vain do the supporters of the Jews think us to be sad, and them to be rejoicing, and that they should be honoured for the sake of the patriarchs, and they dare to say better than the Christians; although we read also that the Agarenes, who are now called Saracens following the corruption of the word,[lxxxv] also the Amalachites, and the Madianites,[lxxxvi] and the Africans have descent from Abraham, and so no one should think that they should be honoured and better than the Christians. But not only are the Jews incapable of being better than we, but also are found to be worse than these nations, which we have listed above: indeed the latter peoples did not receive the law, but the former after the law was given to them, and after the prophets were sent to them, even killed the Son of God. But if, according to the apostle, ‘not those sons of flesh are these sons of God, but those who are sons of the promise, these people are reckoned in seed.’[lxxxvii] Therefore the Jews, in so far as they are removed from the promised seed of Abraham, that is, Christ, they thus proven to be unworthy of the glory of the sons of God; and they did not have a share of the heavenly mother Jerusalem, but they have remained sons of earthly Jerusalem and Agar the slave-girl, who begets in servitude.
But what does scripture day? ‘Cast out the slave-girl and his son. For the son of the slave-girl will not be an heir with the son of the free woman.’[lxxxviii] Therefore the Judaic people have been expelled from the father’s home, and separated from the inheritance of the sons of the Church, which was rendered free through Christ. For as the Lord says, ‘The slave does not remain forever in the home, but the son remains forever. But all who commit a sin, are slaves of sin.’ Nor can they be absolved from the yoke of servitude, unless they merit to be liberated through the son of God. Therefore the Jews (who, even as the Lord says- ‘If the Son frees you, you will be free’[lxxxix]- do not themselves believe, but boast that they are the seed of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone) are not only rendered as removed from the liberty of the spirit, but also are found guilty of carnal servitude. And not this only, but also they continue to be the sons of the devil; just as the Lord shows, saying to them: ‘You are from your father the devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father.’[xc] Or do they not satisfy everyday the desire of their father, despising the law, rejecting the prophets, persecuting the Church, and blaspheming the Son of God? Since these things are thus, by what account will the servants of sin be preferred to the servants of God, the sons of the slave girl to the sons of the free woman, the disinherited to the heirs, the sons of the devil to the sons of God? The Lord through the prophet Isaiah separates them through such great division from His servants, that He shows that they have lost the original name, and that they have been delegated among the dead, as per these words: ‘Behold My servants will eat, and you will be hungry; behold My servants will drink, and you will be thirsty. Behold My servants will rejoice, and you will be confounded. Behold My servants will shout out of the exultation of the heart, and you will wail out of the grief of the heart, and you will howl out of the contrition of the spirit, and you will send away your name in a curse to My elect, and the Lord your God will kill you, and He will call His servants by another name; in which he who has been blessed over the earth, will be blessed in God amen; and he who swears on earth, will swear on the Lord, amen.’[xci]
And so the Judaic people have been stripped of the original name, and killed by the sword of their incredulity, while the elect of God have been called by another name, and blessed with the Christian name, and sworn in the sacraments of Christ. And so they cannot be equated, nor should they be joined at least in corporal company, as it has not even been deserving to be joined to them in the appellation of servitude.
But if we were also to consider this, with what virtues the habitation of the tabernacle of God, and its ascension of the holy mountain can be compared, not least among them does that virtue obtain a place, by which the just man is thus worthy of being praise: ‘To nothing has the wicked man been led in His sight; but He glorifies those who fear.’[xcii] And so the faithful and those who fear God are to be glorified in all things and be honoured. But that people who have been wholly placed in wickedness, and who have not known the virtue of God and the wisdom of God, and have remained through this in the oldness of wickedness and error, are to be considered for nothing in the sight of all the believers; nor is anyone to honour them for the sake of money or riches; but on account of greed for those things rather Naaman, besmirched with leprosy, was despised by all the people of the faithful who were expiated in the baptismal waters through the true Eliseus, as truly a man most sordid and most unclean.[xciii] Moreover indeed anathema is always to be pronounced upon him and everywhere as per the voice of the apostle, who says: ‘If anyone does not love our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha.’[xciv] For if the one who does not love the Son of God, is anathema; therefore he who hates, who persecutes, who blasphemes, is still to be anathematised in a much more detestable manner. If moreover anyone indulges gladly in the friendship of such a person, and is not embarrassed to bring the help of an impious companionship to that person, he will also deservedly hear that which Josaphat heard having been rebuked through the prophet of the Lord: ‘You provide help to the impious, and you are joined in friendship to these people who hate the Lord, and thus you deserve the anger of the Lord.’[xcv] And indeed that king received the testimony of justice in all other things; but in this alone he caused offence, and merited the anger of God, because he did not shudder to provide help to the impious and those who hate the Lord and join to them in friendships; the scripture evidently designates those people to be none other than the ones who had excised themselves from the house of David; so also these impious people, and Jews always enemies of the Son of God, separate themselves from the house of the true David, which is the Church, and cut off from the kingdom of Christ, they await and desire the kingdom of the Antichrist, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the spirit of His mouth, and will destroy it through the illumination of His advent. After accepting the kingdom of the heavens, he will return and order to be killed in his presence not only that person, but also those who wanted that person to reign over them, as per the parable of the Gospel.
Therefore as Christians ripped out from the power of darkness, and brought across into the kingdom as sons of the kindness of God, we ought in no way to be polluted by their company and society, from whose errors we are shown to have been absolved in every way. For it behoves to remember how also that prophet, who had been sent from Judah into Bethel, where the golden calf was being worshipped by Jeroboam the king of Samaria, responded to the king’s invitation to him as he had been prohibited by God from eating and drinking there: ‘If you give to me the middle part of your home, I will not eat the bread, nor will I drink the water in this place.’[xcvi] Moreover he refused to accept the gifts offered to him by the same king. But indeed later misled by a certain pseudoprophet, he ate and drank in the same place contrary to the precept of the Lord, and handed to a lion by the judgement of the Lord, he was killed by it and died.[xcvii] As for the fact that in the Old Testament the religious Jews diligently abstained from the food and drink of the infidels, it is not easily noticed where they ordered so by the Lord; however documents exist from the examples of the holy ones, as has been written about Daniel: ‘But Daniel decided in his heart that he should not be polluted by the king’s table, nor from the wine of his drink; and he asked the one in charge of the eunuchs that he should not be contaminated.’[xcviii] And it was granted to Daniel, Anania, Azaria and Misaheli,[xcix] while the rest of the Israelite boys were feasting on the royal food. This observance grew so much among the Jews, that by the time of the advent of the Lord it was general among all; such that the impious Jews said to the disciples of the Lord: ‘Why do you eat and drink with the publicans and sinners?’[c] And not only these people, but also the infidels who were of circumcision debated against Peter, saying: ‘Why have you entered into the presence of men who are uncircumcised, and eaten with them?’[ci] With the account rendered to them he added that a voice from heaven responded to him for the second time: ‘Those things which God has purified, do not call them common.’[cii] From this time there began to be declared that which the blessed Paul wrote: ‘All things are clean to the clean, but nothing is pure to the unjust and infidels.’[ciii] Although most use this testimony on the contrary, that is, that on account of this they think it has been permitted for them to take up the goods of the infidels, nonetheless it wholly confirms our observance, that we know the tables of the unclean are unclean, because their mind and conscience have been made unjust. But how will the tables of those, whose granaries and storehouses have been cursed, not be unclean?
But as we have come to the curses imposed by God on the infidel Jews, let us revisit them a little more diligently from previous figures. And so Moses says to all the Israelitic people across the Jordan in the wilderness of the plain: ‘Behold I bring forth in your sight today a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if you obey the commands of the Lord; a curse, if you do not listen to the commands of your God. When the Lord your God beings you into the land to which you are going in order to live, you will place a blessing over Mount Garizim, and a curse over Mount Hebal, which are across the Jordan.’[civ] As these words are full of very magnified senses, they could not be fulfilled before, except after the crossing of the Jordan, that is, after the body of Christ was dedicated to the touched Jordanian waters through the sacrament of baptism. For Garizim, which is interpreted as division, signifies the apostolic people divided from the synagogue of the infidels, just as Paul says about it: ‘But as it was well pleasing to Him who separated me from the womb of my mother, that He should reveal His Son in me, I have not acquiesced to the flesh and blood.’[cv]
But Hebal, which is interpreted as an old abyss, signifies the carnal and infidel synagogue, which has not acquiesced to crossing over the newness of the reviving spirit, but has preferred to remain in the oldness of the fatal letter. And as they persist there, there has come upon them the immense river of curses, according to which it has been written: ‘The princes of Judah have been become like those who pick up the boundary mark. Over them I will pour My anger like water.’[cvi] And just as all together all the promises and blessings have rested over the apostolic people, thus all the threats and curses have been confirmed upon the synagogue of Satan, in the order of the affair by which Moses had predicted with his words when he said: ‘You will be cursed in the city’- that is, Jerusalem; ‘Cursed in the field’ (dispersed through the world); ‘Your granary cursed.’ Another rendering puts it thus: ‘Cursed are your storehouses, and all your remains, cursed is the fruit of your stomach, and the fruit of your land. Cursed will be the one entering’- that is, being born into this life; ‘And cursed will be the one going out’-[cvii] that is, dying and leaving this life. And after many words: ‘A migrant,’ he said, ‘who dwells with you in the land,’ that is, the people of the Gentiles, ‘will ascend over you and will be more sublime,’ that is having been made the son of the patriarchs, and made the companion of the olive root and richness. ‘But you will descend, and you will be inferior,’ cut off from the olive, and lying dry in the ground, destined for the fire. ‘He will be on the head, and you will be in the tail.’[cviii] And now come certain people trying through their own efforts to elevate these people onto the head from where they fell, as though they should not be on the tail: but they will always be so, until the fullness of the Gentiles enters, and thus all Israel will be saved, all of course are to be saved. For upon these infidels who now exist the Lord will increase the plagues, ‘great and persistent plagues, the most terrible and perpetual infirmities’; another rendering says: ‘Very real plagues, and real infirmities.’ Also there: ‘And He will bring upon you all the afflictions of Egypt which you feared, and they will cling to you. Moreover all the weariness, and plagues, which have not been written in the volume of this law, the Lord will bring them upon you, until He should destroy you.’[cix] This is indeed that which we have set forth earlier regarding the Gospel: ‘They will be the newest things of that man,’ that is, into whom the unclean spirit with seven others more wicked will have entered, ‘worse than the prior things.’
And indeed we have said these things in brief, and about many things we have offered only a few words; though strictly we wish to show with what great gifts of blessings God has prepared the apostolic people worthy of them, and on the contrary with what great curses He has driven away the infidel synagogue filled as it is with its merits; how far also was fulfilled in the elect that which had been foretold; for He who have the law will give blessings, blessing those, that is according to the apostle, ‘in every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ.’[cx] And to those who did not believe in the letters of Moses, nor the words of Christ, and have been rebuked through this by the just judgement of God, that curse should come upon them, which had been foretold thus by Moses himself: ‘Cursed are all who have not remained in the words of this law,’ that he should do those things, not wanting to hear that which has been written in it: ‘Next to you is the word, very much in your mouth, and in your heart, that you should implement it.’[cxi] The apostle thus explains it: ‘This is the word of faith which we preach. So if you confess in your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For by belief in the heart one attains justice, but confession by mouth leads to salvation.’[cxii]
There these things have been discussed briefly by us. For also one must yield to greater, more skilled and more eloquent ones, to whom it is very easy to lay open deeper and more hidden things of this matter: this indeed should now be happening, as the kindness of many is cold, iniquity is abundant everywhere, the wickedness of the faithless is recovering, and the fallacy of the Antichrist is approaching. And would that the industry of the most religious emperor should order someone of his own people to gather all the things which are to be understood, have been expounded and signified by the teachers of the churches in the holy scriptures concerning the Antichrist. Indeed it would be able to protect the faith, raise hope, and strengthen and commit to preservation the sweetness of the love of Christ. Amen.
[i] Louis the Pious.
[ii] Saint Hilary of Poitiers.
[iii] Jerome letter 107:12.
[iv] A Gnostic sect that first arose in the second century CE and was condemned as heretical by orthodox Christians.
[v] The incident narrated here occurred in 388 CE during the reign of the Roman emperor Theodosius, who is addressed by Ambrose.
[vii] Of Vienne, a town in south-eastern France. Alchimus Avitus was bishop of Vienne and lived in the fifth and sixth centuries CE.
[viii] Saint Apollinaris of Valence, who was bishop of Valence and lived in the fifth and sixth centuries CE.
[ix] Bishop Gregory of Langres, who lived in the fifth and sixth centuries CE.
[x] Saint Viventiolus of Lyons, who was bishop of Lyons and lived in the fifth and sixth centuries CE.
[xii] Matthew 18:20.
[xiii] Canon 30 from the Synod of Epaone.
[xiv] Saint Caesarius of Arles, who was bishop of Arles and lived in the fifth and sixth centuries CE.
[xvi] Bishop of Lyons in the late sixth century CE.
[xvii] Artemius the Bishop of Sens.
[xviii] Remedius the Bishop of Bourges. He was bishop at some point in the sixth century CE.
[xix] Syagrius the Bishop of Autun. He lived in the latter half of the sixth century CE.
[xx] The Synod of Mascon dated to 581/583 CE.
[xxi] i.e. Maundy Thursday.
[xxii] i.e. Easter Monday.
[xxiii] The Frankish king Childebert I.
[xxiv] This is Canon 14 from the synod.
[xxv] Canon 15.
[xxvi] Canon 16.
[xxvii] i.e. The same period of Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday.
[xxviii] It would make sense here to prohibit Jewish interaction with the Christians on the four days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, as these are the most important days of the Holy Week.
[xxix] From Canon 33 in the third council of Orleans in 534 CE.
[xxx] The Synod of Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana (not Laodicea that corresponds to modern-day Latakia in Syroa). The synod met either in 363 or 365 CE. The canons cited here are 37-38.
[xxxii] Polycarpus of Smyrna.
[xxxiii] Eusebius Church History 4:14.
[xxxiv] Psalm 108:28.
[xxxv] Cf. Genesis 1:17,
[xxxvi] The seventh heaven.
[xxxvii] Psalm 67:5.
[xxxviii] Psalm 138:20-22.
[xxxix] Jerome letter 121:10.
[xl] Haggai 2:14-15.
[xli] Zechariah 11:14.
[xlii] 2 Corinthians 6:15.
[xliii] Psalm 42:1.
[xliv] Matthew 3:12.
[xlv] Matthew 15:24.
[xlvi] Mark 7:27.
[xlvii] John 6:60.
[xlviii] John 6:52.
[xlix] Luke 1:53.
[l] 1 Samuel 2:5.
[li] Isaiah 3:1.
[lii] Matthew 10:5.
[liii] Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 14:23.
[liv] Acts 13:45-52.
[lv] Acts 18:6-7.
[lvi] Acts 19:8-9.
[lvii] Matthew 10:14-15.
[lviii] Acts 21:16. It should be noted that the understanding of this verse is debated on account of problems posed by the original Greek text. Did disciples from Caesarea take Mnason with them to Jerusalem (the interpretation adopted here) or did they take Paul to Mnaso’s house to stay with him on the way to Jerusalem? Personally, looking at the Greek, I find the latter view more convincing.
[lix] Acts 16:13-15.
[lx] Acts 16:29-34.
[lxi] Acts 21:4.
[lxii] Acts 21:8-9.
[lxiii] Acts 23:35; Acts 24:23.
[lxiv] Acts 27:3.
[lxv] Acts 28:13-14.
[lxvi] Acts 28:30.
[lxvii] The island of Malta.
[lxviii] Acts 28:1-10.
[lxix] Acts 10:44-48.
[lxx] Acts 10:15
[lxxi] Galatians 2:12.
[lxxii] Pope Clement I. The works referred to here are the Recognitions of Clement, which are apocryphal.
[lxxiii] 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
[lxxiv] Acts 4:32.
[lxxv] Acts 4:34-35.
[lxxvi] Acts 5:12-13.
[lxxvii] Acts 11:28-29. Note the original Latin text here: ab his vero qui ex gentibus ad fidem Christi venerant, ne eos ministri, oblations fidelium pertulerunt. The phrase ne eos ministri is problematic and may be a case of anacoluthon. One solution, suggested by Emanuel Samostz (Des Heiligen Agobard, Bischofs zu Lyon, Abhandlungen wider die Juden, 1852, p. 28) is to insert a verb like offenderent or laederent to complete the sense. Hence, ‘lest the ministers should offend/harm them.’ Alternatively, ne may be functioning as an emphatic particle here, though the sense is still problematic in this case.
[lxxviii] 2 John 1:10-11.
[lxxix] 1 John 4:1-3.
[lxxx] 1 John 2:22.
[lxxxi] Matthew 11:21-24.
[lxxxii] The Latin text as written here is problematic, but a comparison shows that the explanation of these verses come from Jerome’s commentary on Matthew, which I have used here to complete the sense.
[lxxxiii] 2 Peter 2:21.
[lxxxiv] Matthew 12:43-45.
[lxxxv] In medieval Christian writings, the designation of Arabs as Saracens was often interpreted as deriving from a supposed Arab claim of descent from Abraham and his offspring with his wife Sarah, whereas in fact they are descended from the handmaiden Hagar and her offspring Ishmael whom she had with Abraham. However, it should be noted that in Islamic tradition, Hagar is not depicted negatively at all, nor is the Arab descent from Ishmael and Hagar denied.
[lxxxvi] The Midiniates, because their ancestor Midian was the son of Abraham and his concubine Keturah (1 Chronicles 1:32).
[lxxxvii] Romans 9:8.
[lxxxviii] Genesis 21:20, quoted in Galatians 4:30.
[lxxxix] John 8:36.
[xc] John 8:44.
[xci] Isaiah 65:13-16.
[xcii] Psalm 14:4.
[xciii] Cf. 2 Kings 5. Naaman, a Syrian military commander, was healed from leprosy by following Elijah’s instructions, but Elisha’s servant Gehazi was greedy and deceived Naaman into thinking that Elisha asked for talents of silver and clothing. When Elisha found out and Gehazi lied about the matter, he pronounced the curse of Naaman’s leprosy on Gehazi. Therefore, it may be that the author meant to say that it was on account of greed for riches that Gehazi, rather than Naaman, was besmirched with leprosy and despised by the true faithful who had been baptised and expiated. Naaman is also mentioned in the New Testament (cf. Luke 4:27) and his story has been seen as contrasting the Jews’ rejection of Jesus and salvation with its acceptance by the Gentiles.
[xciv] 1 Corinthians 16:22.
[xcv] 2 Chronicles 19:2.
[xcvi] 1 Kings 13:8.
[xcvii] 1 Kings 13:18-24.
[xcviii] Daniel 1:8.
[xcix] These three are companions of Daniel, introduced in Daniel 1:6.
[c] Luke 5:30.
[ci] Acts 11:3.
[cii] Acts 11:9.
[ciii] Titus 1:15.
[civ] Deuteronomy 11:26-29.
[cv] Galatians 1:15.
[cvi] Hosea 5:10.
[cvii] Deuteronomy 28:16-20.
[cviii] Deuteronomy 28:43-44.
[cix] Deuteronomy 25:59-61.
[cx] Ephesians 1:3.
[cxi] Deuteronomy 30:14.
[cxii] Romans 10:8-10.