The roots of antisemitism can be found in the ancient history.
Antisemitism existed prior to Christianity, as the work of Manetho from the third century BCE shows.
However, antisemitism increased considerably following the rise of Christianity in Europe. This was partly due to the differences in belief, and partly due to anti-Jewish stories.
According to the Christian Gospels, approximately 2000 years ago there was a Jewish preacher called Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was a Jew. Followers of Jesus believed he was the Messiah and the son of God. Jews did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah or the son of god.
These differences in belief eventually caused the religion of Judaism to split, and those who worshipped Jesus formed the religion Christianity.
Anti-Jewish stories intensified the differences between the two religions. One example of such a story can be found in the story of Jesus’ crucifixion.
The Christian Bible states that Jesus was crucified for treason by the Roman Empire. However, throughout medieval history, it was widely believed by some Christians that Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus.
This belief stems from teachings of St. John, who repeatedly used the phrase ‘the Jews’ when describing Christian events, although this was not specifically in reference to the crucifixion of Jesus.
Despite this, the phrase and the accusation, stuck. ‘The Jews’ started to appear in several Christian stories. Eventually this led to Origen writing in the fourth century ‘the Jews…nailed Christ to the cross’. Origen’s words were taken literally, and this story became the common belief for some Christians.
This story, amongst many other factors, was part of a long history of tension between Christianity and Judaism that led to significant antisemitism throughout medieval history.