Roman Emperors Grant Jewish Clergy Same Privileges as Christian Clergy

Roman Emperors Grant Jewish Clergy Same Privileges as Christian Clergy

Emperor Arcadius
Source: portableantiquities

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Emperors Arcadius and Honorius decree that Jewish clergy are allowed to keep their own laws and rituals and are exempt from service in municipal senates. This gives Jewish clergy the same privileges as Christian clergy.

The new decree says:

"Jews will be constrained by their own rituals. While preserving their privileges, We decree that the privileges which are conferred upon the first clerics of the venerable Christian religion will continue for those who are subject to the power of the illustrious Patriarchs, for the rulers of the synagogues, the patriarchs, the priests, and for all the rest who are occupied in the ceremonial of that religion.

The foregoing, indeed, was decreed by the divine imperial authority of the sainted emperors Constantine, Constantius, Valentinian and Valens. Such Jews will therefore be exempt from the compulsory public services of decurions and must obey their own laws." [CT 16.8.13]

Most grants of privilege go to Christian clergy and Christians alone — pagan and Jewish believers are usually ignored. Here, though, we have an unusual case of Jews benefiting from a specific grant of privilege.

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