Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Medieval Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Larry Simon

Second Advisor

Dr. Rand H. Johnson

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul L. Maier

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The Catholic Church's newfound influence in late antiquity led to the political marginalization of the empire's Jewish community, a marginalization that is evident in Christian polemic against Judaism written after the Empire's religious transformation had largely been consolidated. This thesis is an analysis of the Altercatio Ecclesiae et Synagogae, written anonymously in the fifth century. Its primary intention is to discover what earlier writers influenced its author, what can be known about him, when the text was written, and what kind of arguments against Judaism he used.

The thesis begins by comparing and contrasting the anti-Jewish writing of Cyprian of Carthage and Augustine of Hippo, and concludes that the anonymous author's approach to Judaism was shaped largely by that of Cyprian rather than Augustine. It concludes on the basis of internal evidence that the text was likely written either c. 420 or c. 450. The thesis then engages in a close reading of the Altercatio; it shows how the author imagined the conflict between the Church and the Synagogue as a dispute over inheritance rights, with the Old Testament serving as the will whose meaning is the point at issue between the two litigants. It concludes with a full translation of the Altercatio based on J. N. Hillgarth's critical edition.