Byzantine (Eastern Roman) emperor 527–65. On becoming emperor in the East, Justinian was determined to reunite the divided empire by conquering the West. Fearing his repressive policies towards non- conforming religious groups, the Jews of the West (Naples in particular) fought stoutly to resist the advance of Belisarius, Justinian’s general. The wisdom of their attempt at resistance was illustrated by events in the newly-conquered province of Africa, where a novella (edict) of the emperor’s, promulgated in 535, prohibited the practise of pagan, heretical and Jewish rites throughout the province. All synagogues were confiscated.
   In 529 Justinian promulgated the most important legal code of antiquity, the Corpus Juris Civilis. In it the emperor defined the status of the Jews in the Byzantine Empire for the next 700 years. Along with the general procedures of Roman law, these statutes were later taken into the legislation of European states and fixed the status of Jews as inferior citizens with limited protection right up to the 19 century.
   The new elements relating to the Jews in Justinian’s code concerned the economically vital question of the ownership of slaves, and the position of the Jews in the law courts. It was established that a Jew could not keep a slave who converted to Orthodox Christianity. In court a Jew could give evidence only on behalf of an Orthodox Christian and not against him. Conversion of a Christian to Judaism was severely punished, but not by death as was later to be the case in the West. Baptism with the consent of one Jewish parent was valid, and the inheritance rights of Jewish apostates to Christianity were protected by law. Of far more serious import was Novella 146 of the year 553, in which the emperor interfered with the religious autonomy of the Jewish communities. Taking the opportunity of a disagreement between the Jews of Constantinople over the language of the weekly lesson, which the elders insisted must be only in Hebrew, Justinian ordered: ‘Wherever there is a Hebrew Congregation those who wish it may, in their synagogues, read the sacred books to those who are present in Greek, or even Latin, or in any other tongue.’ Permitted Greek versions were the Septuagint and that of Aquila. The Novella went on to say: ‘But the Mishnah… we prohibit entirely. For it is not…handed down by divine inspiration…but the handiwork of man…having nothing of the divine in it.’ He was firmly opposed to rabbinic interpretations, believing them responsible for the spread of error. In fact, those ‘errors’ he enumerates as punishable by death (denial of the existence of angels and of the last judgement) indicate that he confused Jewish with Samaritan beliefs. Though it is doubtful to what extent this novella was put into effect, the attempt to define by law the practice and content of the Jewish faith was a gloomy augury.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Justinian I. — Justinian I., Mosaikdetail aus der Kirche San Vitale in Ravenna …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Justinian I — • Roman Emperor (527 65) Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Justinian I     Justinian I     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • JUSTINIAN I° — JUSTINIAN I°, emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, 527–565, a virulent and consistent persecutor of all non Orthodox Christians, heretics, pagans, and also of Jews and Judaism. Justinian s famous Corpus Juris Civilis and his novellae (imperial… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Justinian — (lat.: Iustinianus) ist der Name folgender Personen: Justinian I. (527–565), oströmischer Kaiser Justinian II. (685–695 und 705–711), byzantinischer Kaiser Justinian (Feldherr), oströmischer General im 6. Jahrhundert und ein Verwandter Justinians …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Justinian — Jus*tin i*an, a. Of or pertaining to the Institutes or laws of the Roman Justinian. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Justinian I — [jus tin′ē ən] (L. name Flavius Ancius Justinianus) A.D. 483 565; Byzantine emperor (527 565): known for the codification of Roman law (Justinian code): called the Great …   English World dictionary

  • Justinian I — Infobox Emperor name =Justinian I full name =Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Justinianus title =Emperor of the Byzantine Empire caption =Justinian depicted on one of the famous mosaics of the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna reign =9 August 527 13 or 14… …   Wikipedia

  • Justinian I — /ju stin ee euhn/, (Flavius Anicius Justinianus) ( Justinian the Great ) A.D. 483 565, Byzantine emperor 527 565. * * * orig. Petrus Sabbatius born 483, Tauresium, Dardania died Nov. 14, 565, Constantinople Byzantine emperor (527–565). Determined …   Universalium

  • Justinian — (c. 482 565)    One of the greatest emperors in Byzantine history, Justinian made profound and lasting imprint on the course of the empire s subsequent development. Famed for his marriage to the actress and courtesan, Theodora, whose reputation… …   Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe

  • Justinian II — Infobox Monarch name =Justinian II title =Emperor of the Byzantine Empire caption =Justinian, on the reverse of this coin struck during his second reign, is holding a patriarchal globe with PAX, peace reign =685 – 695 705 December, 711… …   Wikipedia

  • Justinian II. — Auf der Rückseite dieses Solidus, der während der zweiten Regierungszeit Justinians geprägt wurde, trägt der Kaiser einen Globus mit der Aufschrift PAX (Frieden). Auf der Vorderseite ist Christus abgebildet. Justinian II.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.