Roman Emperors: Jews Joining Christian Church to Avoid Justice Can Return to Judaism

Roman Emperors: Jews Joining Christian Church to Avoid Justice Can Return to Judaism

Emperor Honorius
Source: portableantiquities

Roman emperors Honorius and Theodosius II order that any Jews who have joined the Christian church to avoid punishments for crimes must be allowed to return to Judaism because, in the long run, Christianity will be better off without them.

This new law says:

"It has been established that men bound to the Jewish faith have become part of fellowship of the Church for the purpose of evading prosecution for crimes or on account of other necessities. Such actions come not from devotion to the faith, but from the deception of hypocrites.

Therefore, judges of the provinces in which such crimes may have been committed should allow such persons to return to their own sect, if any of them do not persist in the constancy of religious confession in Christianity or have not been filled with the faith and the mystery of venerable baptism. More suitable provision is thus made for Christianity." [CTh 16.8.23]

Throughout the history of the Christian West, there will be innumerable Jews who convert to Christianity — not out of sincere religious conviction, but out of fear of persecution or due to perceived social, economic, and political advantages. To some extent Christian leaders support this because Jewish conversion reinforces their religious narrative, but they are also suspicious of the converts, fearing that insincere conversion produces Christians who will gradually infect Christianity with Jewish practices.

In the Middle Ages, such converts will be persecuted and even killed; now, however, it seems easier to just encourage them to return to Judaism and avoid any possible problems down the road.

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Emperors of Rome: Honorius

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