Books: The Church as Sinner

A new book claims that Christianity, not just bad Christians, is to blame for persecution of the Jews

Here's a historical puzzle, for those with the stomach for it. How is it that the Jews survived the first Christian millennium? The church, from the moment of its embrace by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, enjoyed immense power and employed it with ruthless efficiency to eliminate dozens of heresies and pagan creeds. Its relationship with Judaism, its spiritual predecessor and the first challenger to its claims for Christ, was especially poisonous. Why, then, were the Jews permitted to live--and be persecuted--another day?

The answer, provided in James Carroll's fascinating, brave and sometimes infuriating history, Constantine's Sword: The...

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