THE VILLAGE AND RURAL SPIRITUALITY
between tradition and modernity
May, 6-8, 2019

The relations between Christians and Jews in the Eastern Roman Empire

Viorel Popa, University of Oradea

The relations between Christians and Jews in the Eastern Roman Empire (centuries IV-VI)

This study presents the relationship between Christians and Jews in the first centuries. Between Christians and Jews there was coexistence, competition and conflict in the geographical area of the East Greek (IV-VI centuries). After the proclamation of Christianism as state religion in 395, many actions of the eastern roman Emperors were taken to protect the new religion. Judaism and Paganism were restrained through legislation and political measures. The tensions between Christian and Jews have been resolved by the emperors, but with many difficulties. Some imperial letters to the praetorian prefect of the Orient province are a key to understanding the emperor’s politics toward Jews and Pagans in IV and V centuries. Imperial legislation concerning to relations between Christians and Jews is composed of letters addressed to governors and prefects of the Roman provinces. These letters have resulted from pressure on the imperial court by Christians and Jews equally and they express emperor’s concern that peace and unity in the Empire to be kept at all costs. Oppressed Christians or Jews must be protected of the state authorities. The attitude of emperor Theodosius the Second toward Jews was favourable, according to the sources of the time. The emperor insisted to the observation of the laws and to de punishment of the instigators to violence. The attitude of the Roman emperors was to restrict Christian hostility towards citizens who had other faith and try to achieve a balance in interfaith relations.

Keywords: letters, governors, prefects, Pagans, emperor, legislation.