Theodosius I°

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THEODOSIUS I °, Roman emperor, 379–395 c.e. Although Theodosius, an orthodox Christian, was responsive to the influence of the church, he subordinated it to his authority. During his reign, and in the reigns of his sons Arcadius and *Honorius, the civil position of the Jews greatly deteriorated. In 388 the bishop of Callinicus on the Euphrates incited a crowd to burn a synagogue; the emperor commanded the governor of the East to punish the culprits and have the bishop rebuild the synagogue. *Ambrose, bishop of Milan, however, by his spiritual influence and by threats of damnation, persuaded the emperor both to reconsider his decision and repeal it (Ambrose, Epistula xl). In 393 Theodosius prohibited polygamy for Jews. Although this law corresponded with actual practice, it constituted an imperial intervention in the private life of the Jews (C. Justiniani 1:9, 7). The same year Theodosius asked the governor of the East to suppress with due severity the excessive zeal of those who usurped rights for themselves in the name of the Catholic religion. He stressed that Judaism was a lawful sect and forbade destruction of its synagogues (C. Th. 16:8, 9). From 393 to 426 there were at least ten imperial interventions against damaging synagogues, which indicates clearly the actual position of the Jews.


F.-M. Abel, Histoire de la Palestine, 2 (1952), 300ff.; M. Avi-Yonah, Bi-Ymei Roma u-Bizantiyyon (1970), 180, 182f.; Baron, Social2, index.

[Alfredo Mordechai Rabello]

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Theodosius I°

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