Original Research

Die oorsake van anti-Semitisme in die antieke heidenwêreld in en rondom die Nuwe-Testamentiese tydvak

A. du Toit
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 33, No 2 | a625 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v33i2.625 | © 1999 A. du Toit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 August 1999 | Published: 17 August 1999

About the author(s)

A. du Toit, Navorsingeenheid vir Nuwe Testament, Departement Nuwe Testament (B), Universiteit van Pretoria, South Africa

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The causes of anti-Semitism in ancient paganism in and around the New Testament period

In this article the causes of ancient anti-Semitism are investigated. This is not a mere academic quest, since some of these factors may still be relevant today. After discussing some methodological pitfalls, various causes are identified, some of which were limited to specific areas. Where the balance of power was felt to be in jeopardy, groups reacted strongly. Ensuing clashes aggravated the resentment and caused anti-Semitism to become still more deeply engrained in the collective memory. In Alexandria economic rivalry probably was a factor. In Rome Jewish propagandistic zeal and Roman pride influenced attitudes. The Egyptian vilification implying that the Jewish nation originally was contaminated by a disease, further negativized attitudes. However, the main causes of anti-Semitism were of a sociological and religious nature. These two causes are related, but at its deepest level ancient anti-Semitism was the price the Jewish people paid for its refusal to compromise its religious convictions and unique identity. In how far the causes of modern anti-Semitism overlap with those of antiquity should be investigated on its own.


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