[b-hebrew] Septuagint vs Hebrew, influence of Constantine ????

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Mon Oct 16 14:15:27 EDT 2006

Dear Ethel,

You wrote:

>Constantine decreed legal reasons for capital punishment (IOW death/murder):
>1.  No one can convert to Judaism.
>2.  No Christian can marry a Jew.
>3.  No Chrisitian can be circumcized.
>4.  No Christian can read the Talmud.

The historical site you have provided from Fordham 
University shows the general truth of the first 
two of these four points, and other sources 
suggest the validity of the other two points:

1. On the first point above, see the third 
paragraph below:

I. Laws of Constantine the Great, October 18, 315: 
Concerning Jews,  Heaven-Worshippers,* And Samaritans

We wish to make it known to the Jews and their 
elders and their patriarchs that if,  after the 
enactment of this law, any one of them dares to 
attack with stones or some other  manifestation of 
anger another who has fled their dangerous sect 
and attached himself to  the worship of God 
[Christianity], he must speedily be given to the 
flames and burn~  together with all his accomplices.

Moreover, if any one of the population should join 
their abominable sect and attend  their meetings, 
he will bear with them the deserved penalties.

HH: On the second point, again the death penalty 
was enacted (see last paragraph):

2. The laws of Constantius (337-361), the second 
selection, forbid intermarriage between  Jewish 
men and Christian women. A generation later, in 
388, all marriages between Jews and  Christians 
were forbidden.

II. Laws of Constantius, August 13, 339:Concerning 
Jews,  Heaven-Worshippers, And Samaritans

This pertains to women, who live in our weaving 
factories and whom Jews, in their  foulness, take 
in marriage. It is decreed that these women are to 
be restored to the  weaving factories. [Marriages 
between Jews and Christian women of the imperial 
weaving  factory are to be dissolved.]

This prohibition [of intermarriage] is to be 
preserved for the future lest the Jews  induce 
Christian women to share their shameful lives. If 
they do this they will subject  themselves to a 
sentence of death. [The Jewish husbands are to be 
punished with death.]

3. On the third point about circumcision, see 
another source:

Roman rule, nevertheless, continued. Emperor 
Hadrian (A.D. 117-38) endeavored to establish 
cultural uniformity and issued several repressive 
edicts, including one against circumcision.

Wikipedia throws some question on this:

According to the Historia Augusta, the Roman 
emperor Hadrian issued a decree banning 
circumcision in the empire,[2] triggering the 
Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt of 132 AD. The Roman 
historian Cassius Dio, however, made no mention of 
such a law, and blamed the Jewish uprising instead 
on Hadrian's decision to rebuild Jerusalem as 
Aelia Capitolina, a city dedicated to Jupiter.
Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius, permitted 
Jews to circumcise their own sons, but forbade 
them (upon penalty of death or banishment) from 
circumcising non-Jews. Genesis 17:12 commands that 
Jews must circumcise their slaves; this law 
prohibited that practice, as well as making it 
illegal for a man to convert to Judaism.

The Jewish Encyclopedia is similar:

Thus, Spartianus ("Hadrianus," § 14) reports that 
the Jews rebelled because circumcision was 
interdicted; while the more reliable Dion Cassius 
says (lxix. 12) that Hadrian attempted to turn 
Jerusalem into a pagan city, which the Jews 
regarded as an abomination, and they therefore 
rebelled. It is possible that both of these 
measures were responsible for the rebellion; on 
the other hand, it is also possible that they were 
merely the consequences of it. Hadrian, who had a 
gentle disposition, was lauded throughout the 
great empire as a benefactor; he indeed so proved 
himself on his many journeys. Palestinian cities 
like Cæsarea, Tiberias, Gaza, and Petra owed much 
to him; and his presence in Judea in 130 is 
commemorated on coins with the inscription 
"Adventui Aug[usti] Judææ." He therefore could 
have had no intention of offending the Jews; but 
as a true Roman he believed only in the Roman 
"sacra" (Spartianus, l.c. § 22). It may have 
happened that in his zeal to rebuild destroyed 
cities he had disregarded the peculiarities of the 
Jews. The law against circumcision was founded on 
earlier Roman laws, and did not affect the Jews only.

4. On the fourth point, one Jewish source 
attributes this same Jewish revolt in A.D. 132 to 
laws against the Talmud:

Emperor Hadrian and the Talmud

Hadrian was Emperor of the Roman World empire from 
117 A.D. to his death, 138 A.D. In 132 A.D. the 
Jews began a revolt, and for four years carried on 
a bloody war. Otherwise Hadrian's reign was peaceful.

The reason for this Pharisee revolt is told by 
Rodkinson in his History of the Talmud:
One of the causes of the great revolt against the 
Romans at this time was the prohibition by the 
Roman government of the study of the Torah 
[Talmud] … they rebelled, led by Bar Kochba. Rabbi 
Aqiba (Akiba) was the first to become his 
adherent, who journeyed from town to town, 
inciting the Israelites to rebel … It is not 
surprising, therefore, that Hadrian was not 
contented barely with the massacre of the sages of 
the Talmud, but was intent also on the destruction 
of the Talmud itself … he decreed that if any of 
the old rabbis should qualify a young rabbi … both 
should be put to death … believing that with the 
death of the elder generation the Talmud would be 
forgotten and Israel would blend with the nations 
and its memory be obliterated; because he very 
well knew that as long as the Talmud existed there 
was little hope for the assimilation of the Jews 
with other nations. This decree however, was not 
executed … the efforts of Hadrian met with no 
success … He saw the Talmud still existing … 
uniting Israel into one people, and establishing 
it still more firmly as a national and religious 
whole … the Talmud regained its former power and 

And the pupil of one of the contemporary rabbis 
"Rabbi Jehudah the Nasi" (the "prince") became 
"the compiler of the Mishnah" (or laws of the 
Talmud). (See Exhibit 14 and Exhibit 15) In 553 
A.D. Emperor Justinian forbade the spread of the 
Talmudic books throughout the Roman Empire. (Corp. 
Juris. can. VII Decretal, lib V, Tit. IV, cap. 1)a

Another Jewish site has this:

In Christian countries, the Talmud and other 
Jewish law books were censored by Christian 
authorities, who believed that certain passages of 
those books contained insults to Christianity or 

A third source says:

The couple of negative references to “Jesus” in 
the Talmud, in fact, may not even be referring to 
Jesus of Nazareth at all but more likely to 
another “Jesus” who lived centuries later. This 
question is difficult to determine since the 
Talmud was subject to Christian censorship 
concerning these same passages.

We naturally think of the written Talmud when we 
hear the word, but the oral law pre-existed its 
written form.

Harold Holmyard

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