Saint Chrysostom on “Judaism”

Saint John Chrysostom 349-407

Many, I know, respect the Jews and think that their present way of life is a venerable one. This is why I hasten to uproot and tear out this deadly opinion. I said that the synagogue is no better than a theater and I bring forward a prophet as my witness. Surely the Jews are not more deserving of belief than their prophets. “You had a harlot’s brow; you became shameless before all”. Where a harlot has set herself up, that place is a brothel. But the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it also is a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. Jeremiah said: “Your house has become for me the den of a hyena”. He does not simply say “of wild beast”, but “of a filthy wild beast”, and again: “I have abandoned my house, I have cast off my inheritance”. But when God forsakes a people, what hope of salvation is left? When God forsakes a place, that place becomes the dwelling of demons.

(2) But at any rate the Jews say that they, too, adore God. God forbid that I say that. No Jew adores God! Who say so? The Son of God say so. For he said: “If you were to know my Father, you would also know me. But you neither know me nor do you know my Father”. Could I produce a witness more trustworthy than the Son of God?

(3) If, then, the Jews fail to know the Father, if they crucified the Son, if they thrust off the help of the Spirit, who should not make bold to declare plainly that the synagogue is a dwelling of demons? God is not worshipped there. Heaven forbid! From now on it remains a place of idolatry. But still some people pay it honor as a holy place.

St John Chrysostom, Eight Homilies against the Jews, Homily III

 

Even if there is no idol there, still demons do inhabit the place. And I say this not only about the synagogue here in town but about the one in Daphne as well; for at Daphne you have a more wicked place of perdition which they call Matrona’s. I have heard that many of the faithful go up there and sleep beside the place.

(3) But heaven forbid that I call these people faithful. For to me the shrine of Matrona and the temple of Apollo are equally profane. If anyone charges me with boldness, I will in turn charge him with the utmost madness. For, tell me, is not the dwelling place of demons a place of impiety even if no god’s statue stands there? Here the slayers of Christ gather together, here the cross is driven out, here God is blasphemed, here the Father is ignored, here the Son is outraged, here the grace of the Spirit is rejected. Does not greater harm come from this place since the Jews themselves are demons? In the pagan temple the impiety is naked and obvious; it would not be ease to deceive a man of sound and prudent mind or entice him to go there. But in the synagogue there are men who say they worship God and abhor idols, men who say they have prophets and pay them honor. But by their words they make ready an abundance of bait to catch in their nets the simpler souls who are so foolish as to be caught of guard.

(4) So the godlessness of the Jews and the pagans is on a par. But the Jews practice a deceit which is more dangerous. In their synagogue stands an invisible altar of deceit on which they sacrifice not sheep and calves but the souls of men.

(5) Finally, if the ceremonies of the Jews move you to admiration, what do you have in common with us? If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, our are lies. But if ours are true, as they are true, theirs are filled with deceit. I am not speaking of the Scriptures. Heaven forbid! It was the Scriptures which took me by the hand and led me to Christ. But I am talking about the ungodliness and present madness of the Jews.

St John Chrysostom, Eight Homilies against the Jews, Homily VI

Comments

  1. Is it considered beyond the pale to say that Chrysostom was simply wrong here, acting on his human passions of anger? That very much Jewish blood is on this author’s hands?

    I do not think it’s impossible to criticize it in good faith … not even a saint is infallible, only God Himself. Granted, we take into account that by that century the Jewish opposition to Yeshua of Nazareth had become the absolute norm, they didn’t have their Temple and they were PISSED to put it mildly, circumcision had long been the normative “conversion ritual” though this was not the Biblical way really (this is the act of “Judaizing”), callow and cunning men (great lovers of vain titles and wealth) of the lineage of the old Pharisees were dankly debating in what is modern-day Iraq over how much filth the believers in “that man” would be drowning in in “Gehinnom”, and the few remaining Jewish Christians (you might call them the “old believers” of the first centuries!) had no place else to go. They certainly weren’t welcome in the unbelieving synagogues.

    So the whole thing for me is just sad, very sad. History is bloody.

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