Theodosius II°

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THEODOSIUS II ° (Flavius Theodosius Junior ), Roman emperor of the East, 408–450 c.e. Theodosius ii edited the first official collection of the imperial statutes from the time of Constantine to the year 438, the year of publication of the Theodosian Code (C. Th.). The Code was accepted and published by Emperor Valentinian iii also in the West, where it enjoyed wide circulation. The Jews are dealt with particularly in chapters 8 and 9 of book 16: ("De Judaeis, Caelicolis, et Samaritanis"; "Ne Christianum mancipium Judaeus habeat"). The reign of Theodosius ii marks a serious deterioration in the position of the Jews. His first law, of May 408, is directed against the feast of Purim, since it was believed that the Jews then burned images of the cross (C. Th. 16:8, 18). In 415 the patriarch Gamaliel was deposed (C. Th. 16:8, 22); construction of new synagogues was forbidden and destruction of the existing ones ordered, provided this did not result in disorder. The office of patriarch disappeared in the subsequent years, and in 429 the emperor took advantage of this by imposing a new tax which was to be paid by the community (a much easier and safer system for the treasury; C. Th. 16:8, 29; see *Honorius). Nevertheless, Judaism was proclaimed a tolerated cult in 423 (C. Th. 16:8, 26), provided it did not offend the Christian religion. Synagogues were protected, the reconstruction of synagogues that had been destroyed was ordered, and observance of the Sabbath was permitted (C. Th. 16:8, 10, 25, 27). However, in 438 an important statute was issued in which the Jews were defined as "enemies of the Roman laws and of the supreme majesty." Consequently they were forbidden to hold any high office, military or civil, and they lost all jurisdiction over Christians; the prohibition to build new synagogues was reinstituted, and the destruction of those that were unsafe was ordered. Jews, however, were not to be exempted from the burdensome curial offices. The civil inferiority of the Jews and discrimination against them were thus legally sanctioned.


Juster, Juifs, 1 (1914), 162–6, 237; 2 (1914), 101–3; F. Nau, in: rej, 83 (1927), 184–206; C. Pharr et al. (eds. and trs.), The Theodosian Code (1952); Baron, Social2, index; J. Gaudemet, L'Eglise dans l'Empire Romain (1958), 623ff.; M. Simon, Verus Israel (Fr., 19642) J.W. Parkes, Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue (1964).

[Alfredo Mordechai Rabello]

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Theodosius II°

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