A correspondent just notified me of a blog post from 2010 on St. John Chrysostom by Roger Pearse, a scholar of Christianity in the ancient world (“Some remarks about John Chrysostom’s homilies against the Jews“). Pearse quotes from a 1935 summary of Chrysostom’s writings whose author, A. L. Williams, notes that Chrysostom was motivated by the fact that many Christians were
frequenting Jewish synagogues, were attracted to the synagogal Fasts and Feasts, sometimes by the claims to superior sanctity made by the followers of the earlier religion, so that an oath taken in a synagogue was more binding than in a church, and sometimes by the offer of charms and amulets in which Jews of the lower class dealt freely.
We gather from these Homilies that the Jews were a great social, and even a great religious, power in Antioch.
Exactly. As discussed in Chapter 3 of Separation and Its Discontents, the phenomenon of Judaizing Christians in the ancient world is a marker of Jewish power at the time. For example, the rather limited anti-Jewish actions of the government during the 150 years following the Edict of Toleration of 313, which included many attempts to ban the common practice of Jews enslaving non-Jews, are interpreted by historian Bernard S. Bachrach “as attempts to protect Christians from a vigorous, powerful, and often aggressive Jewish gens.” Jews as a powerful group were looked up to and emulated by many non-Jews, just as today we see the same phenomenon, not only among many Evangelical Christians, but also Hollywood celebrities who dabble in kabbalah and pretty much the entire non-Jewish political class which we see making pilgrimages to Israel and proudly wearing yarmulkes and displaying menorahs during photo-ops. Read more