By Hyam Maccoby
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Extra resources for Antisemitism and Modernity: Innovation and Continuity (Routledgecurzon Jewish Studies Series)
The High Priest was indeed Jesus’ opponent – but the High Priest, regarded by the masses of the Jewish people as a Sadducee heretic, was appointed by the Romans and acted as their henchman in arresting political agitators such as Jesus. Jesus’ own teaching, as recorded in the Gospels was in no way opposed to Pharisaic Judaism; nor was his claim to messiahship blasphemous. His alleged Sanhedrin trial on these charges never happened, as indeed appears clearly from the gospel of John, which records no Sanhedrin trial.
30 ANTISEMITISM IN SPAIN In Spain, the doctrine of limpieza de sangre stems from the mass conversion of Jews to Christianity in 1391, when a massacre of Jews took place. The doctrine of blood-purity was reinforced by the great addition to the body of converts at the time of the Expulsion of 1492, when Jews were given the choice of expulsion or conversion. At this latter time, it is reckoned that about 100,000 Jews remained loyal to their ancestral religion and chose exile. About another 100,000 Jews bowed to the Christian ultimatum and accepted conversion.
Two Christian teachers were especially influential in this respect, St Chrysostom and St Augustine. The diatribes of St Chrysostom against the Jews were rivalled only by Hitler. He accused the Jews of cannibalism and every other crime, but chiefly of the crime of deicide. He declared also that the Jews worshipped demons in their synagogues. St Augustine, the great theorist, laid down the lines for the treatment of the Jews in future centuries. They were to be regarded as Cain, because of their deicide, but, like Cain, they were to be exempt from extermination, as their misery testified to the judgement of God upon them, and so they acted as ‘witnesses’ to the truth of Christianity.