Posted: Apr 20, 2015 8:05 pm
by Zwaarddijk
tuco wrote:While the issue may indeed be more complex than usually presented, but I do not believe the conclusion is supported by data. The Jews had problems before Christians. Obviously those who converted were not racist, by definition.

1) We find much wider conversion from Judaism to Islam than to Christianity. IMHO, this probably hints at theological objections rather than racial ones - Islam's notion of what God's nature is is much closer to that of Judaism, than either is to Christianity. Christianity has a notion of God that is problematic for both sides.

2) There's some pretty good literature on pre-Christian persecution of Jews, and it turns out the anti-Judaism of pre-Christian times differed significantly. The Alexandrian riots were basically due to political alignments (Jews had aligned with one representative of Rome, the Greeks with a competing one) more so than religious strife (also, the Greek racism against the Egyptian natives made Jewish exceptionalism at the time seem rather meek). The Jews were not the only people in Rome to fight separatist battles (although some authors would want you to think the Jews alone resisted, due to their stubbornness and racism or whatnot). The Alexandrian riots seem to be, in combination with the Jewish wars, the major instances that anyone would associate with anti-Judaism. A few Roman authors say negative things - but these seem to indicate that most other people were not negatively inclined to Jews (and that this was a sad thing). The situation changes when Christianity appears.

3) Roman paganism was not all that interested in trying to convert anyone into a belief system. It's unclear to what extent Rome even really tried to make anyone properly assimilate beyond participating in the imperial cultic activity, i.e. making the right sacrifices. Again, given the Jewish arrangements (on the one hand fiscus judaicus, but on the other hand no need to sacrifice) this would fit in with the refusal to participate in "non-kosher" religious activities, rather than with a particularly racist approach. Conversion to Judaism seems to have been common enough in the Roman empire before Christianity took over - as we have, indeed, archaeological evidence of. If Jews were very driven by racism, acquiring converts (and thus diluting their race) would seem a weird approach.