Christianity and antisemitism

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Christianity has had a troubled relationship with Judaism, often involving antisemitism. Although the first Christians were Jewish, anti-Judaic attitudes started to manifest themselves before the end of the 1st century.

Anti-Judaic attitudes developed from the early years of Christianity and persisted over the ensuing centuries, driven by numerous factors including theological differences, competition between Church and Synagogue, the Christian drive for converts,[1] misunderstanding of Jewish beliefs and practices, and alleged Jewish hostility toward Christians.

These attitudes persisted in Christian preaching, art and popular teaching of contempt for Jews over the centuries. In many Christian countries it led to civil and political discrimination against Jews, legal disabilities, and in some instances to physical attacks on Jews which occasionally ended in emigration, expulsion, and even death.

From time to time, anti-Jewish sentiments within European society were exploited for internal political purposes and sometimes to extract a financial advantage from Jewish subjects. Such sentiments made the expansion of anti-Jewish measures politically acceptable.

Antisemitism has been described as primarily hatred against Jews as a race with its modern expression rooted in 19th century racial theories, whilst anti-Judaism is described as hostility to Jewish religion but in Western Christianity it effectively merged into antisemitism during the 12th century.[2] Scholars have debated how Christian antisemitism may have played a role in the Nazi Third Reich, World War II and the Holocaust.

Throughout Christian history many popes, bishops and some Christian princes stepped up to protect Jews, it was only in the mid-20th century that the Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations issued major statements repudiating anti-Judaic theology and began a process of constructive Christian-Jewish interaction[citation needed].


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