History of Antisemitism and Why We Eat Ham for Easter
I’ve been taking a deep dive in the book of Galatians for a series that I will do later this year, and one thing that is super clear is that it is God’s intent that the Church be one great big united family made up of all people, Jew and Gentile alike, who believe in Jesus. During the first 50 or 60 years of the church this was true to some extent. But in 117AD a dude named Hardian became the Roman Emperor, and he wanted to “Romanize” Jerusalem and Judea. He banned circumcision and initiated an intense period of persecution aimed at Jews. His focus included Jewish Christians, but it did not include Gentile Christians, so Gentile Christians began to give their Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ the cold shoulder.
Around 130 AD there was a church father named Irenaeus who began using the term “Christ killing Jews,” a term at the heart of the anti-semitism endorsed by Hitler. Jump ahead a couple of hundred years and Augustine wrote to Christians in Africa advising them to have nothing to do with Jews. He went so far as to order that Christians have no business dealings with Jews…and that they eat ham for Easter, as a personal afront to their Jewish neighbors.
What does this have to do with us today you may ask? It highlights the fact that Christians have to come to grips with our own role in propagating antisemitism historically, and that we have a New Testament duty to fight back against antisemitism rooted, of all places, in the book of Galatians.
This year you might want to consider serving turkey.