Sons of Jacob by Paul Gottfriedn”I pray you think you question with the Jew.”n—William ShakespearenThe Merchant of VenicenThe Jews Under Roman andnByzantine Rule by M. Avi-Yonah,nNew York: Shocken Books.nJudios, Espanoles en la Edad Medianby Luis Suarez Fernandez, Madrid:nEdiciones Rialp.nL’eclipse du sacre by Alain denBenoist and Thomas Molnar, Paris:nla Table Ronde.nT hen26 / CHRONICLESnJews Under Roman and ByzantinenRule has already appeared innGerman and Hebrew editions by thensame polyglot author who has nownproduced the English translation. Avi-nYonah has mined Greek, Hebrew, andnLatin sources and puts into his footnotesnwhatever space does not permitnhim to treat elsewhere. His stated reasonnfor writing his work is that “thenperiod after the destruction of the Jewishnstate [unlike the earlier postbiblicalnperiod] remained as the so-called ‘periodnof the Mishnah and Talmud,’ thenpreserve of specialized historians whonregarded it as the ‘history of sufferingnand scholarship’ and nothing more.nThis book has been written in order tonrestore it to its proper place in thenpolitical history of the Jewish nation asna whole.”nFrom the death agony of the SecondnJewish Gommonwealth through thenestablishment of a Roman (rather thannHebrew) form of Christianity as thenimperial state religion, up to the Arabnconquest of the Middle East, Jews, ornthose perceived as such, were a generallynpersecuted group. Jewish communitiesndid harrass Christianizing Jewsn— known disparagingly as “Minimn[types]”—and would, in some cases,nhave put them to death, had theirnpunitive power not been taken away bynthe Romans. Yet, the polihcally weak-nPaul Gottfried is a senior editor ofnThe World and I, author of ThenSearch for Historical Meaningn(Northern Illinois University Press),nand a practicing Jew.nened Jews could do little from thensecond century on to afflict Christians,nwhile the triumphant adherents ofnwhat began as a Jewish sect tried toneradicate their mother religion. It isnnot surprising that kindred religionsnshould fight. The struggles withinnChristianity and Islam have been atnleast as violent as their struggles againstneach other. And though 16th-centurynJesuits could speak sympathetically ofnOriental religion, they were unsparingnin their attacks on the Lutherans.nStill, there is something disturbingnabout the pervasiveness of medievalnanti-Semitism. Outbreaks of violencenand institutionalized discriminationnagainst Ashkenazic Jews (those ofnRhenish and Central European origin)noccurred in Northwestern and CentralnEurope from the 11th century on; thensame things also happened to SephardicnJews (those of Spanish origin) andnto Near Eastern Jews in Christiannstates even earlier. In the sixth centurynthe Byzantine Empire classified Jewsnas Christian heretics and reserved thenright to treat them as enemies of thenChurch. Indeed anti-Jewish legislationnwas enacted in the Roman Empirensoon after Constantine’s son, ConstantiusnII, proclaimed Christianity thenstate religion.nIn a magisterial study of SpanishnJewry, Luis Suarez Fernandez examinesnthe rise of political and socialnanti-Semitism in the medieval Christiannkingdoms of Asturias, Castile, andnAragon. Fernandez shows that thenedict of expulsion issued against thenJews by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492ndid not abruptly end a happy age for itsnvictims. Popular outbursts againstnJews, often abetted by church andnstate, had taken place throughout Castilenand Navarre from the early 14thncentury on. Fernandez’s historiographynis particularly noteworthy inasmuchnas it comes from a devout Catholicnand a political conservative. By nonmeans a self-hating Christian trying tonturn Western civilization against itself,nFernandez is troubled by the unde­nnnserved fate of a politically loyal andnmaterially productive medieval Spanishnminority.nAlthough Avi-Yonah tries to be objectivenin treating his subject, there arentwo cases in which his interpretationsnmight be challenged. For all his discussionnof the Roman persecution ofnJews, he generally supports a conventionalndistinction between the Romans,nas occasional political enemies,nand the Christians, as persistent religiousnenemies of the Jews. This distinctionnis not only untenable, butnshows the influence of an unexaminednbias among liberal Jewish scholars.nAnti-Semitism is made coextensivenwith Christian society while anti-nChristian pagans are presented as religiouslynneutral, or even friendly, tonthe Jews: the enemies of one’s enemiesnbeing, after ah, one’s friends. Avi-nYonah makes much of Julian thenApostate (361-363), the anti-Christiannemperor who tried to restore Romannpagan religion. Although Julian, innthe short period that he ruled, treatednJews better than he did his Christiannenemies, Roman pagans were rarelynfriendly to Jews and Judaism. Hostilitynto Jews was as much at home in Romenas it was in Alexandria and the greatncities of the near East.nThe writings of Cicero, Pliny, Tacitus,nand Juvenal all betray a distaste fornboth Jews and their exotic way of life.nIn a voluminous study, the GermannJewish scholar Guido Kiseh showednthat most medieval charges againstnJews (with the obvious exception ofndeicide) originated in ancient Romannsociety. The Roman Emperor Hadrian,nwho destroyed the Second JewishnCommonwealth, despised Jews notnonly as troublesome subjects, but as anculturally disagreeable nation. Thenancient Rabbis were certainly aware ofnRoman hostdity to their way of life andnto their national existence. In the Talmudicnwritings Rome is identified withnEdom, the descendants of Esau andnthe perpetual adversary of the Jews.nThe same identification was laterntransferred to Roman Christianity,nwhich the Rabbis understood to bencontinuous with pagan Rome, as anpersecutor of their people.nThe Rabbis grasped somethingnabout later medieval anti-Semitismnwhich the modern Jewish historiansnhave largely ignored. Christianity be-n