Heretics, Muslims, and Jews
Although popes determined that Jewish refusal to recognize Christ estranged them from Christian society, from Gregory the Great onwards they also made it clear that Jews, unlike other minority communities, were to be protected by Christians and allowed to practice their religion unharmed. Such a policy of comparative toleration stemmed from the teaching of St Augustine that Jews played a special role in the history of salvation because they are a living, although unwitting, testimony to the truth of Christianity and in particular to the importance of the Old Testament. In this chapter I examine the use of traditional language and rhetoric in papal letters and explore polemical themes such as the Augustinian ideas of spiritual blindness (‘Caecitia’), of Jewish stubbornness, obstinacy, and hardness of heart in refusing to accept Christianity (‘Duritia’), and of distortion of the Faith in their deliberate attempt to deny the authority of Jesus (‘Perfidia’)
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