Free Paper on Early Christian Polemics Against Judaism Upto 312CE

Published: 2023-12-22
Free Paper on Early Christian Polemics Against Judaism Upto 312CE
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Religion Christianity
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1181 words
10 min read

The conversion of Constantine to Christianity played a significant role in the development of Christianity as a religion. Constantine’s vision of the words ‘in hoc signo vinces’ meaning “by this sign, you will conquer” and the dream he claimed to have had reaffirming the vision during his war against Maxentius is what he says led him to conversion. To Christians, this meant that the church got financial support, was given lands, new churches were built, and some clergymen were granted special privileges like exemptions from paying some taxes (, 2013). Christians were promoted to high-ranking offices, and confiscated items were returned to their Christian owners’. Constantine even went ahead to build a new city, which all the non-Christians were supposed to pay to access. The city had no worship places for other religions generally employed the Christian way of life, and played a major role in popularizing Christianity (, 2013).

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In the first few centuries, when Christianity came about, the religion was not as popular among the people as it is today. It was associated with incest, cannibalism, hatred for other people, and even black magic. Christians were met with hostility by the locals and would be publicly persecuted. The practice of Christianity was considered illegal, and local government authorities were in charge of ordering these persecutions. The religion was common among the poor people, and its teachings, which advocated for meekness and equality for all, were considered a threat by the elite people, especially those in authority. However, over time, it grew in popularity, when even the rich and the people in power started practicing it. This posed an even more significant threat to the leaders, and Christian persecution increased (Eusebius, 1965). The Diocletianic persecution was a specifically challenging time for Christians. Roman subjects were required to sacrifice to the Roman gods, eat sacrificial meat, and testify to these beliefs, failure to which led to imprisonment and execution. During the Valerian rule, Christians were condemned to the mines and exiled (Eastwood, 1996).

The link between Christianity and Judaism had the same basic concepts: monotheism and the creation of a covenant between God and his people. Jesus was a Jew, and he followed the Jewish laws (Veldt, 2007). His teachings were according to the Hebrew Bible, and he observed the laws stated in the rabbinic literature texts (Veldt, 2007). Origen, a Christian controversialist, claimed Christianity fulfills the Judaism's teachings (Veldt, 2007). Although the two dominions had similar beliefs and principles, conflict of interest was often raised against the Jews.

The first major concern was the methods of the argument regarding, exegetical, which means how differently Christianity and Judaism interpreted the Hebrew Bible and the texts of the rabbis, a common source of knowledge for the two practices, historical and social happenings, and logic. Many Christian polemics claim that Christians understood the bible better because they interpreted it figuratively, unlike the Jews, who were very rigid in their interpretation (Eusebius, 1965). They claimed biblical texts concerning priests, the Levites, Job, and priesthood concerning ritual impurity and other practices like observing the sabbath and circumcision were merely an allegory and ought to have been seen nothing short of that. These early Christians believed that the Jews’ superficial exegesis of the scriptures caused them to miss the spiritual truth open to Christians (Eastwood, 1996; Veldt, 2007). Origen claimed that for this reason, the Jews were spiritually blind and stubborn, which was then viewed as an act of resistance against God (Veldt, 2007).

The second reason was founded on the religious practices and rituals carried out by the Judaism faith. Early Christian polemics criticized the Jews for some of the practices they carried out. They considered them thieves for lending money to Christians at a high interest, which provided considerable revenue to the Roman government, which was very oppressive to the Christians (Eastwood, 1996). It was against the teachings of the bible, which made Christians see Jews as murderers of Christ. They hated the Jews for insulting Jesus, Mary, and church rituals. They also disliked the Jews because they molested the Christians (Marcellinus, 1986). They also blamed the Jews for the beheading of John the Baptist despite evidence that he fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies of the savior’s forerunner (, 2013).

Mary’s song condemning the rich and the self-righteous, John the Baptist, and Jesus’ teachings all showed how the Jews continued to place themselves against God’s will. Their unbelief in Jesus Christ made them enemies of Christ, while Gentile’s opposition to Christ only gave way to divine forgiveness for them. The Gentiles replaced the Jews, who were often viewed as a wicked nation according to the Old Testament teachings. Their unbelief in Jesus Christ was seen as an act of rebellion against God himself as Christian teachings stated that Jesus was a part of the holy trinity (Veldt, 2007). Christian teachers emphasized that the Jewish scriptures were not wrong, and were therefore not to be discarded but interpreted differently according to what the New Testament stated for complete understanding. Without faith in Christ, the early Christians believed that the Jews would not be able to understand the scriptures and that they would be incomprehensible until Christ’s arrival.

Judaism was seen as a form of religion that entailed external observations rather than a spiritual reality (Marcellinus, 1986). Their rituals were empty and lacking in truth as they only sought to preserve their ancient customs rather than seek the truth that faith in Christ brought. Their obsession with material things was seen as unspiritual and evil (Eusebius, 1965). As a result, the main problem these polemics had with the Jews was their refusal to acknowledge the events that took in the New Testament, such as the birth of Jesus Christ as the king of all nations, his death, crucifixion, and resurrection, and the new gospel of salvation. Persuading the Jews to accept Christ and join the church, the true Israel, was their primary aim as almost everything else Christians believed (, 2013). Parallel to the teachings found in the Jewish scriptures. Eusebius and Constantine’s combined efforts saw to it that Christianity rose in popularity. As many were converted to Christianity; there was an increased hostility between those that chose to hold on to their beliefs and those that believed in Christ.


Eastwood, B. (1996, August). Causes of Early Persecutions. History Today, 16(8). Retrieved from

Eusebius. (, 1965). The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine. (G. Williamson, Trans.) Baltimore: Penguin.

Marcellinus, A. (1986). The Later Roman Empire. (W. Hamilton, Ed., & W. Hamilton, Trans.) New York: Penguin Books. (2013, September 25). The Conversation of Constantine and the Ascent of Christianity. Retrieved from,CE%20battle%20of%20Milvian%20Bridge.&text=When%20he%20had%20a%20dream,a%20dream%2C%20Constantine%20was%20

Veldt, s. M. (2007). Christian Attitudes toward the Jews in the Earliest Centuries A>D. Western Michigan University, History. Western Michigan University. Retrieved from

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