The History of Jewish Christianity
From the First to the Twentieth Century
Hugh Schonfield




Chapter 1
The disciples of the Galilean Wonder-Worker, first attempts at organization; death of Stephan the protomartyr and persecution by Saul of Tarsus; preaching of the Gospel in the Provinces; execution of James the son of Zebedee; formation of a Jewish Christian Sanhedrin under the presidency of James the Just; first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas; response of the Gentiles; dispute on the status of Gentile converts; verdict of the Council of Jerusalem.

Chapter II
The famine in Judaea in the reign of Claudius; league of Nazarenes and Zealots to withstand official oppression; evidence from the Epistle of James, die Apocalypse, of Baruch, Josephus and the Talmud; martyrdom of James the Just.

Chapter III
Paul's further missionary journeys; antinomianism among the Gentile believers; Paul's last visit to Jerusalem; his arrest and interrogation; martyrdom of Peter and Paul at Rome.

Chapter IV
Increase of anarchy in Judaea; escape of the Nazarenes and moderate Pharisees from Jerusalem; war with Rome and its aftermath; brief exposition of the Book of Revelation; the belief in the near return of Christ.

Chapter V
Exile of the Nazarenes at Pella; their Christology contrasted with that of the Gentile Christians; separation of the Jewish and Gentile churches; the rule of the Desposynoi; persecution of the. family of Jesus on account of their Davidic descent; interrogation of the grandsons of Jude by Domitian; martyrdom of Simon son of Cleophas under Trajan; last Jewish bishops of Jerusalem; second revolt of the Jews in the reign of Hadrian; Bar-Kochba persecutes the Nazarenes; end of the war and scattering of the Jewish believers; foundation Ælis Capatolina; Marcus first Gentile bishop of Ælis; attempted expulsion of the Nazarenes from the Synagogue.

Chapter VI
Preaching of the Apostles; organization of native churches; the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles; missionary activities among the Jews; methods of approach; pseudonymous propaganda and interpolations; the Gospel of the Hebrews; ministry of healing.
i. Remains of Jewish Christianity in the Talmud
ii. Longer Fragments of the Gospel of the Hebrews

Chapter VII
Crystallization of Jewish and Christian traditions and doctrines; unfriendly controversy; examples of Nazarene and Rabbinist polemics; Toledot Yeshu; separation of the Jewish Christians into two groups; influence of the Nazarenes on the Syrian Church; the Clementine Romances and the Odes of Solomon; Symmachus and his Greek Old Testament; some account of Hegesippus.

Chapter VIII
Conversation of the Roman Empire to Christianity; disputation between R. Sambres and Pope Sylvester before Constantine; history of Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia; history of Count Joseph; anti-Jewish edicts of the Councils; finding of relics of Christ and the Apostles; conversion of the Jew, of Minorca according to Bishop Severus; the pseudo-Messiah Moses of Crete and the conversion of some of his followers; change in the Christian attitude towards the Jews.
Addendum: Some professions of Faith required of Jewish Converts.

Chapter IX
Causes of the disruption of Jewish Christianity; genesis and development of Gnosticism; the Antitheses; the Sophia mythos; celibacy and vegetarianism; final heterodoxy of the Ebionites; rise of Islam; last glimpses of independent Jewish Christianity in the East.

Chapter X
The second phase of Jewish Christianity; forced baptism and its results; Jews under the Visigothic kings; decree of King Sisebut; wholesale conversions; decrees of the Fourth Council of Toledo.

Chapter XI
Decree of the Sixth Council of Toledo; Christianized Jews’ address to King Reccesuinth; Julian, Archbishop of Toledo; approach to the Jews in the Eastern Church; disputation between Herbanus thc Jew and Gregentius, Archbishop of Tephren; Jacob the newly baptized; Jews under the Carlovignian kings; a Jewish Christian and William II of England; Moses Sephardi (Petrus Alfonso).

Chapter XII
The Crusades and Jewish Persecution; St. Bernard of Clairvaux; disputation between Nicolas Damn and R. Jehiel of Paris; charges of blasphemy against the Talmud; copies publicly burnt; disputation between Pablo Christiani and R. Nahmanides; an argument on the Trinity; creation of a board of censorship for the Talmud; Abner of Burgos; disputation between John of Valladolid and Moses haCohen of Tordesillas; disputation between Joseph ibn Vives Al Lorqui (Geronimo de Santa Fe) and twenty-two Jewish rabbis at Tortosa; the activities of the Dominicans; a decree of James II of Aragon; outcome of the disputations.

Chapter XIII
Intermarriage of Jewish Christian with Christian notables; history of the Pierleoni family: a Jewish Christian Pope; Anacletus II; history of the Carthagena family; Solomon Halevi (Paul de Santa Maria), Bishop of Burgos; his testament to his son; Jewish Christians in the Eastern Church, Gregory Abu’l Faraj. surnamed Bar Hebseus, Primate of the Jacobites.

Chapter XIV
The Domus Conversorum at Oxford and London; Henry III’s charter; important inmates; Nicolas de Lyra; his Postills and the Reformation; history of the protesting movement in the East; Paul of Samosata and the Paulicians; the Bogonmils, Cathars and Albigenses; Zachartah of Kiev; Theodora, Tsarina of Bulgaria; initiation ceremony of the Cathars; suppression of the Albigenses by the Inquisition.

Chapter XV
Apotheosis of clericalism; Marranos of Spain and Portugal and the Chuetas of Malloruca; objects of the Inquisition; treatment of heretics; tests for crypto Jews; refugees in the Netherlands; expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal; Christopher Columbus and the new world; sermon of the Archbishop of Cranganor at Lisbon to a convicted company of New Christians; Mercy and Justice.

Chapter XVI
Jewish Christianity under Protestantism; Luther and the Jews; the Renaissance; Pfefferkorn and Reuchlin; representative Jewish Christians of the 16th and 17th century; Mark Raphail advises Henry VIII of England on his marriage with Queen Catherine; Dr. Lopez accused of conspiring to poison Queen Eliazbeth; Jewish Christian mendicants and the Liber Vagatorum.

Chapter XVII
Influence of Jewish ideas on Christian life and thought; Messianic expectations in the 17th century, apocalyptic year 1666; Edzard and Callenberg initiate missionary work among theJews, Institutum Judsicum; Shabbathai Zevi; Frankists; mystical Jewish Christianity, Christian students of Jewish Literature; John Toland vindicates Jewish Christianity in his Nazarenus.

Chapter XVIII
Modern Protestant missions to the Jews; representative Jewish Christians of the 19th century; great increase in Jewish voluntary baptisms; Jewish Christian missionary enterprise.

Chapter XIX
Foundations of Modern Jewish Christianity; Michael Alexander. first Jewish Christian Bishop of Jerusalem since a.d. 135; Palestine Place and the Beni Abraham association; Hebrew Christian Prayer Union; formation of the Hebrew Christian Alliance; Joseph Rabinowitz, the Herzl of Jewish Christianity; the Israelites of the New Covenant at Kischineff.

Chapter XX
Christianity within the Jewish community; P. Lichtenstein and anti-Semitism; Jewish Christians and Christian denominationalism; The “Ebionite” controversy; growth of a distinct Jewish Christian consciousness.

Chapter XXI
The Great War and the Jewish situation; Jewish Christward movements; the first international Jewish Christian conference; foundation of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance with Sir Leon Levison as President; constitution of the Alliance; National Alliances formed in many countries; the principle of a Hebrew Christian Church approved; descendants of the Portuguese Marranos join the Alliance; the Nazi regime In Germany; sufferings of Jewish Christians and non-Aryans; questions for the future.
Extracts from the Presidents Address, First I.II.C.A. Conference, 1925



Among histories of Christianity there has long existed a gap, which either has passed unnoticed or has been deemed of little consequence by Christian scholars. It is only where this gap is at its narrowest, in the early days of the Church, that any consideration has been paid to it, and then the treatment of the subject involved, the life and faith of primitive Jewish Christianity, has been of the most partial character. A common judgment has been expressed by the late Dr. Hort in his lectures on Judaistic Christianuy. He describes the Jewish Church as;

“a natural product of the circumstances of the Apostolic Age, living on for some generations, and that probably not without times of revival, but becoming more and more evidently a futile anachronism as the main body of the Church grew up into a stately tree in the eyes of all men; and at length dying naturally away.”
This point of view can no longer be held by the serious investigator. Gentile Christianity has been intelligibly enough preoccupied with its own rise to power and influence, and in the first flush of that power it sought by anathema, suppression and wholesale destruction of documents to overthrow the witness of Jewish Christianity. If there was a death at all, which there is good cause to doubt, it was not natural one; it was matricide. Far from becoming a futile anachronism its spirit and human activity has persisted until the present day, and is even now undergoing a revival on a scale unknown since apostolic times.

Jewish Christianity has always existed to supply that of which the Church has stood in need — the Messianic vision. Gentile Christians in conversation with Jews have often spoken of Jesus as “our Savior, and your Messiah.” Yet Jesus is as much the Messiah of the Gentiles as he is of the Jews; only the Catholic Church has largely lost the sense of the meaning of that exalted office. If it were not so, if the true preaching of the Kingdom of God had been carried out according to the Gospel injunction, the horrors of warfare would have long since ceased between so-called Christian countries. The only diplomatic corps that Europe would require would be “ambassadors for Christ.”

A few Christian scholars who have been at pains to study the subject have deplored the lack of any text book to which the student could turn. Canon A. Lukyn Williams has written:

“It is much to be wished that some really trustworthy history of Christianity in relation to Jews were in existence.”
And more recently Dr. Parkes in reviewing the available literature states:
“Finally there is the question of the Judeo-Christians. A number of books are quoted dealing with the rise of the Gentile Church, but I doubt whether full justice has yet been done to this section of the early Church. At least, I have not been able to find an adequate study of the subject.”
Clearly, then, the gap is there to be filled; but the present work, constructive as it is, makes no pretensions to be exhaustive: it rather outlines the cavity and indicates the materials which are available to render it solid and permanent. It can claim, however, to be the very first attempt to provide a connected account of Jewish Christianity from the first to the twentieth century. There have been studies of limited periods, particularly of the first two centuries, and information of one kind and another is to be found scattered up and down the pages of a veritable library of ancient and modern authors, and where these are not mentioned in the text, I can only express a general indebtedness to the authorities consulted. I have taken care to give full and exact references, as these constitute the evidence for the statements made; and if on this account the book seems too much like a string of quotations the intention has been to anticipate criticism on many controversial points and to provide the general reader with the actual words of documents with which he cannot be expected to be familiar, it is all the more necessary to chart the landmarks and principal features when entering unexplored territory for which no map is in existence. At least I have precedent of Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, whose Ecclesiastical History is so indispensable, and whose introductory words so well reproduce my own situation.
"Acknowledging that it is beyond my power to present the work perfect and unexceptionable, I freely confess it will crave indulgence, especially since, as the first of those that have entered upon the subject, we are attempting a kind of trackless and unbeaten path. Looking up with prayer to God as our guide, we trust, indeed, that we shall have the power of Christ as our aid, though we are totally unable to find even the bare vestiges of those who may have traveled the way before us; unless, perhaps, what is only present in the slight intimations, which some in different ways have transmitted to us in certain partial narratives of the times in which they lived; who, raising their voices before us, like torchbearers at a distance and, as looking down from some commanding height, call out and exhort us where we should walk, and whither direct our course with certainty and safety. Whatsoever, therefore, we deem likely to be advantageous to the proposed subject, we shall endeavor to reduce to a compact body by historical narration. For this purpose we have collected the materials that have been scattered by our predecessors, and culled, as from some intellectual meadows, the appropriate extracts from ancient authors."
I have striven to be as impartial and just as a subject in which partiality and injustice have previously played so large a part will allow. I believe that I have fairly represented the attitude of the Gentile Church and of the Jewish people. I have not sought to gloss over the failings of the Jewish Christians, while freeing them from a great deal of misrepresentation. The measure of my faithfulness to what I deem to be the facts will be for the reader himself to judge. Criticism is likely to come because of my treatment of the early days of Christianity, but I trust that readers will be broadminded enough to concede my right of interpretation of the fragmentary data in the way that I have done. The evidences have been accumulating, and partly due to the painstaking if unpalatable researches of Dr. Robert Eisler, which tend to show that Jewish Christianity was a much more fundamental thing, politically, socially and spiritually than ecclesiastical historians have been disposed to admit. One day the whole story of Christian beginnings will have to be rewritten, and any day may bring to light again part of the vanished record. Even that very Gospel which the Nazarenes cherished may ere long be restored.

Having said so much by way of explanation of the nature and need for such a history, it is necessary to add that there are contributory factors which make the publication of this work both timely and essential. We can mark in our own day the beginnings of the return of the great Gentile Churches to the simpler faith and Christology of the early Jewish Christians. During the past century and a half there has been manifested a progressive re-orientation, a Zionism of faith. Not only those who are Israelites by race have turned their hearts towards Jerusalem. The attempts of the several denominations to model their government and order on what they believe to be the lines laid down in the primitive Church, the renewal of foreign missionary activity, phenomenal manifestations life the revival of prophecy and speaking with tongues, second adventism, the intensified quest for the historical Jesus, the acceptance of their Messiah by thousands of Jews, all these and many more are signs to the discerning that the wheel has turned full circle, and that the message of salvation that went forth from Zion is returning to Zion again, parallel with the dispersion and restoration of the Jewish people. If it is permissible to coin a new word, this trend may best be described as the Rejudaissance of Christianity.

From the libraries of the Near East and the sands of Egypt many precious records of the early church are being brought to light which can assist us in reconstructing its history and beliefs, while the recovery of the ancient Gospel manuscripts enable the modern disciple to catch in ever clearer accents the utterances of his Master.

It is being increasingly recognized how impossible is the attitude which would divorce Christianity from its Jewish origin and associations. As Henry Ward Beecher wrote fifty years ago:

"the ignorance and superstition of medieval Europe may account for the prejudices of the Dark Age. But how a Christian nowadays can turn from a Jew, I cannot imagine. Christianity itself sucked at the bossom of Judaism. Our roots are in the Old Testament. We are Jews ourselves gone to blossom and fruit; Christianity is Judaism in evolution, and it would seem strange for the seed to turn against the stock on which it was grown."
The state of affairs in Germany under the Hitler regime shows clearly that anti-Judaism is equally anti-Christianity. The only alternative to both is a revived Paganism, and this, while it is more blatantly flaunted by a section of the Nazis, is subtly reflected elsewhere in the Churches by a modern Neo-Platonism. History does have a way of repeating itself, and it is to be anticipated that before there can be a return to the original faith of the Prophet of Nazareth, there will be a recrudescence of many ancient heresies. Theosophy and Spiritualism have already restored Gnosticism to its place in the borderline of Christianity. The Church will do well to heed the admonition of Isaiah to “Look unto Abraham you father, and unto Sarah that bare you.”

As the times of the Gentiles run out it is probable that Jewish Christianity will steadily regain its original position of authority and will enunciate simple and universal principles of Christian belief in which the Unity of God and the Messiahship of Jesus will be the fundamentals, acceptable alike to Jew and Gentile. Jewish Christians will become the intermediaries between East and West, the healers of old wounds, the heralds of the Kingdom of God. For these greater reasons which transcend the claims of scholarship the story of Jewish Christianity is deserving of the utmost consideration, and those of us who can look at history with the eye of faith may ask with Zangwill in his Blind Children:

Do we sport carelessly,
Blindly upon the verge
Of an Apocalypse?
Hugh J Schonfield