"at the sound of those who revile and insult, at the sight of the enemy bent on revenge." Psalms 44:16

Does the New Testament upset Jews ?

Statue of Emperor Constantine outside York Cathedral

Statue of Emperor Constantine outside York Cathedral

Does this article give some insight into why Jews have such a problem with Christians and their reading of the Bible?

Norman A. Beck - Defamatory Anti-Jewish Polemic in Christian Lectionaries

During the past few decades, increasing numbers of mature Christians who read and study the specifically Christian New Testament texts critically have become painfully aware of the supersessionistic and vicious, defamatory anti-Jewish polemic that is included in some of these texts.

Although many Jews have been aware of these texts throughout the history of Christianity, most Christians have been insensitive to the nature of these texts and to the damage that these texts and the use of these texts have done to Jews throughout the history of Christianity and especially since the fourth century of the common era when mainline Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. (see Emperor Constantine, above)

Our concern in this section of the present study is focused on the inclusion of these religiously racist defamatory anti-Jewish texts in our Christian lectionaries. We shall examine specific lectionaries here to document the extent of inclusion of defamatory anti-Jewish texts, focusing primarily on the so-called "historic pericopes" in the form in which they were used by the majority of Christians prior to 1969

H  The "Historic Pericopes"
M  The Roman Catholic Lectionary for Mass as used during the 1980s
L   Lutheran adaptations of the Lectionary for Mass, printed in the Lutheran Book of Worship
R  The Revised Common Lectionary, 1992

Note - these writings are not familiar to wildolive but are left in for those to whom they may be familiar.

In the seven letters written by the Apostle Paul and available to us as redacted by other early Christians after Paul had been killed by zealous advocates of Roman Civil Religion and in the six Pseudo-Pauline and Deutero-Pauline epistles, there are only four verses (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16) of virulent anti-Jewish polemic. These verses are a vicious condemnation of the Jews for killing the Lord Jesus and the prophets and a celebration of the suffering of the Jews now that the "wrath of God" has come upon them, almost certainly an interpolation into Paul's letter thirty years or more after the death of Paul, perhaps by the writer of the Acts of the Apostles or by some other early Christian influenced heavily by the Acts of the Apostles. 

In the Gospel According to Mark, there are approximately 40 verses of defamatory anti-Jewish polemic. They are as follows:
HMLR Verse Objection

observation

(see below)

MR

3:6

The Pharisees are said to have begun to plan to destroy Jesus

1, 2,

MLR

7:6-13

Condemnation of the Pharisees for rejecting the commandments

1, 10

 

8:15

Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees

1

MLR

10:2-5

The Pharisees are said to be hard-hearted

1, 2, 10

 

14:55-65

The chief priests and council condemn Jesus as deserving death

1, 2

MLR

15:1-15

The crowd demands that Jesus, not Barabbas, be crucified.
 

1, 2, 3

In the Gospel According to Matthew, there are approximately 80 verses of defamatory anti-Jewish polemic:
 

MLR

3:7c

The Pharisees and Sadducees are called poisonous snakes

1

 

12:34a

The Pharisees are called evil poisonous snakes

1

 

15:3-9

Condemnation of the Pharisees for rejecting the commandments

1

 

15:12-14

The Pharisees are called blind guides leading the blind

1

 

16:6

Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

1

 

19:3-9

The Pharisees are said to be hard-hearted

1,10

 

19:28

The disciples of Jesus will judge the twelve tribes of Israel

11

HMLR

22:18c

The Pharisees are called hypocrites

1

 

23:13-36

The scribes and Pharisees are repeatedly vilified as hypocrites

1

 

23:38

The house of Jerusalem is to be forsaken and desolate

4

MLR

26:59-68

The chief priests and council condemn Jesus as deserving death

1,2

MLR

27:1-26

The people demand that Jesus, not Barabbas, be crucified

2,3

MLR

27:62-66

The chief priests and Pharisees request a guard at Jesus' tomb

1,2

LR

28:4

The guards tremble and become like dead when the angel appears

1, 2, 12

 

28:11-15

The chief priest bribe the guards to lie about their actions.
 

1, 2

In the Gospel According to Luke, there are approximately 60 verses of defamatory anti-Jewish polemic:
 

LR

3:7c

The multitudes are called poisonous snakes

13, 3

MLR

4:28-30

The members of the synagogue in Nazareth try to kill Jesus

1,2

 

7:30

The Pharisees are said to have rejected the purposes of God

1

 

11:39-54

The Pharisees and Torah scholars are repeatedly condemned

1

 

12:1b

Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy

1

 

13:14-17

The ruler of the synagogue is condemned as a hypocrite

1

LR

13:35a

The house of Jerusalem is to be forsaken

4

LR

22:63-71

The chief priests and council condemn Jesus as deserving death

1,2

LR

23:1-25

The people demand that Jesus, not Barabbas, be crucified.
 

1,2,3

In the Gospel According to John, there are approximately 130 verses of defamatory anti-Jewish polemic:
 

 

5:16-18

The Jews are said to have persecuted Jesus and wanted to kill him

1, 2, 3

 

5:37b-47

It is said that God's word and God's love is not in the Jews

1

 

7:19-24

It is said that none of the Jews do (what is written in) the Torah

1

 

7:28d

It is said that the Jews do not know the One who has sent Jesus

1

 

8:13-28

It is said that the Pharisees know neither Jesus nor the Father

1

H

8:37-59

The Jews are said to be descendants of their father, the Devil

1, 13

MLR

9:13-41

The Pharisees and other Jews are condemned as guilty

1, 13

MLR

10:8

The Jews are said to be thieves and robbers

1, 13

 

10:10a

The Jews are depicted as those who steal and kill and destroy

1, 13

 

10:31-39

The Jews are said to have picked up stones to throw at Jesus

1,2

L

11:53

It is said that the Jews realized that they would have to kill Jesus

1, 14

 

11:57

It is said that the chief priests and Pharisees wanted to seize Jesus

1

 

12:10

It is said that the chief priests planned to kill Lazarus and Jesus

1

 

12:36b-43

It is said that most Jews loved the praise of men more than of God

1

H

16:2-4

(The Jews who) kill Jesus' disciples will think they are serving God

1

HMLR

18:28-32

The Jews are said to have demanded that Pilate sentence Jesus to death

1,2,3

HMLR

18:38b-40

The Jews are said to be demanding that Jesus, not Barabbas, be crucified

1,2,3

HMLR

19:4-16

The Jews are depicted as insisting to Pilate that Jesus be crucified.
 

1,2,3

In the Acts of the Apostles there are approximately 140 verses of defamatory anti-Jewish polemic, included in 20 of the 28 chapters of that document:
 

MLR

2:23b

Peter tells the men of Israel that they crucified Jesus

6

MLR

2:36b

Again Peter tells the men of Israel that they crucified Jesus

6

MLR

3:13b-15a

Peter tells the men of Israel that they killed the originator of life

6

MLR

4:10a

Again Peter tells the men of Israel that they killed Jesus

6

MLR

5:30b

Peter tells the members of the Jewish council that they killed Jesus

1,2

 

6:11-14

Some Jews are said to have brought false accusations against Stephen

1

MLR

7:51-60

Stephen shown as condemning the Jews for betraying and killing Jesus

1,2

LR

9:1-2

Paul is depicted as planning the arrest of disciples of Jesus

2

 

9:23-25

Jews are said to have plotted to kill Paul

1,2, 5

 

9:29b

Jewish Hellenists are also said to have tried to kill Paul

1, 2, 5

 

12:1-3a

It is said that the Jews were pleased when Herod killed James

1, 5

 

12:3b-4

Herod is said to have seized Peter also to please the Jews

1, 5

 

12:11

Peter is said to have realized that the Jews wanted to kill him

1, 5

 

13:10-11

Paul is said to have condemned the Jew Elymas as a son of the Devil

1, 2

L

13:28-29a

It is said that the Jews had asked Pilate to crucify Jesus

1, 2, 5

 

13:39d

It is said that Jews cannot be forgiven by means of the Torah

7

ML

13:45-46

Jews are said to have spoken against Paul

1, 2, 5

ML

13:50-51

Jews are said to have encouraged persecution of Paul and Barnabas

1, 2, 5

 

14:1-6

Many Jews opposing Paul and Barnabas and attempting to stone them

1, 2, 5

 

14:19-20

Jews are said to have stoned Paul, thinking that they had killed him

1, 2, 5

L

17:5-9

Jews are said to have incited a riot, looking for Paul and Silas

1, 2, 5

L

17:13

Jews are said to have stirred up turmoil against Paul

1, 2, 5

 

18:6

Paul said to have told the Jews, "Your blood will be on your own heads!"

1, 3

 

18:12-17

Jews are said to have brought accusations against Paul

1, 2, 5

 

19:13-19

Jewish exorcists are shown to be condemned

1,2

 

21:27-36

Jews are depicted as seizing Paul and as trying to kill him

1, 2, 5, 8

 

22:4-5

Paul says that when he was a Jew he had persecuted Christians

1, 2

 

23:2-5

Paul is said to have condemned the chief priest for striking Paul

1, 2

 

23:12-22

Jews are said to have plotted to eat nothing until they kill Paul

1, 2, 5

 

23:27-30

Paul is said to have been nearly killed by the Jews

1, 2, 5

 

24:9

The Jews are said to have accused Paul of many crimes

1, 2, 5

 

25:2-5

Jews are said to have plotted to kill Paul

1, 2, 5

 

25:7-11

Jews are said to have continued to bring accusations against Paul

1, 2, 5

 

25:15-21

Jews are said to have spoken repeatedly against Paul

1, 2, 5

 

25:24

All Jews are said to have shouted that Paul must be killed

1, 2, 5

 

26:21

The Jews are said to have seized Paul and tried to kill him

1, 2, 5

 

28:25-28

Paul is said to have condemned the Jews for never understanding God.

1, 2, 5

Here is a wildolive response to these allegations

Observations on "Defamatory Anti-Jewish Polemic......" by Norman Beck.

Defamatory Anti-Jewish Polemic or Anti-Semitism are out-workings of hatred or defamation of Jews, either individually or corporately, just because they are Jews.

Jesus condemned various people or groups, who were Jews, because of their various sins and shortcomings. One such grouping was Pharisees, who he was talking to, because they were hypocrites.

One must remember that Jesus' remarks were from one Jew to other Jews. This was not a Gentile condemning all Jews.

This point is often lost on those Gentiles who read the New Testament as being about a blonde haired, blue eyed European having a go at the Jewish race/faith. (Those who have created God and Jesus in their own image - including their own anti-Semitism)

One must also remember that Jesus was criticising various religious Jews for their failure to live out their Judaism - not criticizing Judaism itself. Since that time, it could be said that Judaism is open to criticism for having departed from Torah Judaism.

Comments that apply to many objections, as listed in column 4

1)Critisism of individual Jews, or groups of Jews, for their sins. (Coming from a Jew)

2)Factual - historical observations
Unfortunately, the actions of an influential minority are usually historically laid to the account of the whole nation.

3)The "Crowd" referred to is better translated as "mob" and would not have been the same group that had welcomed Jesus as the coming Messiah. They, being the faithful, would have been at home so early in the morning after their four cups of wine at the Seder of the previous evening. This is not targeting all Jews.

4)Quoting Jewish scriptural prophecy from the Tanakh. (Jewish scriptures)

5)Concerning John's gospel - His account tends to read unfortunately as attacking the Jews. However, it must be borne in mind that John was a Jew referring to other Jews at a time when Christian anti-Semitism was unimaginable. His comments should be seen as an in-house debate between different groups of Jews.

David Stern's Complete Jewish Bible uses the term "Judeans" to attempt to cope with this issue, to zoom in a bit and focus on the ruling elite in Judea as opposed to ordinary Jews. Even this device is not ideal. Only reading while connected to the Hebrew roots of our faith will overcome this problem.
The word in Greek is "Ioudaios" in the sense of as a country); Judaean, that is, belonging to Yehudah (Strong's Dictionary) which is no help. What the reader must do is to try and understand what John (Yochanan) had in mind as he wrote.

6)The accusation of responsibility for Jesus' crucifixion can be traced to all of us who have sinned and thus made the Messiah's death necessary. Peter was preaching to an audience that was Jewish because the message had not yet spread to the Gentiles, but who were all sinners - needing salvation through Jesus' crucifixion.

7)Legalistic observation of Torah will not save anyone. God has always required Trust in his mercy for atonement of the failures of our best intentions. David Stern has made great efforts to make this distinction to overcome Christian perceptions that the LAW was evil and has been done away with. Jesus himself declared that not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter would pass away.

8)The phantom comma slur. In some translations there is a comma - "But the Jews, who refused to believe......" from which we understand that all the Jews refused to believe. Some people read these statements, from other versions, as if there was a comma. But there is no justification for the comma. The passage should read, "But the Jews who refused to believe......" - referring only to those Jews who refused; not to all Jews or those who did believe.

9)See also - Bible_against Israel?

10)Interestingly, Norman Beck has not mentioned Jesus' parable of the vineyard (Luke 20:9) which tends to be quoted as a rejection of the Jews, even though the text clearly states in Luke 20:19 "The Torah-teachers and the head cohanim would have seized him at that very moment, because they knew that he had aimed this parable at them, but they were afraid of the people."

11 An Old Testament prophecy, but why is it thought anti-Semitic?

12 Were the guards even Jews?

13 Both John the Baptist and Jesus challenged the crowds that came to them. A slur against all Jews?

14 "They" referring to the Judeans - the religious authorities (see 5 and 10) not Jews in General.

 

But, let us not forget that there problems with various translation of the Bible concerning Israel and the Jews.

 

Posted 30/05/14

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