Skip to main content

Antisemitism and the New Testament

I had a conversation a fellow bus friend yesterday.  During our conversation, he asked about the New Testament's antisemitism.  My first response was that it could be conceived as a response to the Jewish persecution of the infant church.  That is, the first followers of Jesus were persecuted by the Jews.  The Acts of the Apostles tells us that Saul (whom later becomes Paul) had letters from the Jewish authorities to go and find people of 'The Way' and bring them back for trial.

Upon reflection this morning, however, I pose a question: Can someone be labeled 'antisemitic' if they are Jewish?  That is, the writers of the New Testament make it clear that the first converts to 'The Way' were Jewish people.  Jesus, himself, was a Jew.  His execution was not at the instigation of the Romans but his fellow Jews.  The imprisonment, torture, and execution of those first followers of Jesus was brought about by Jewish people.  Granted, those things were carried out by the Romans, but the genesis of the persecution was from the Jews.

Now, if these persecution were started by the Romans or some other Gentile group, or if the writing of the New Testament were strictly written by Gentiles, then I could see the accuracy of the antisemitic claim.  Just like if I, being 'white' make derogatory remarks about African Americans, I would be called a racist.  Or if I, being male, made degrading remarks about women, I would be labeled a sexist.  But, a black person can use the 'n' word and a woman comedian can talk, very frankly and disrespectfully, about women.  And those things are consider alright.  But someone on the outside can't talk like that.

Furthermore, people don't seem to mind the 'antisemitism' found in the Jewish Scriptures.  We have prophets coming forward time and again stating the their fellow Jews are just as bad as the surrounding Gentiles (read Amos for an example of this).  Jewish people don't seem to have any problems with this found in their own scriptures.  Why?  I submit it's because it is coming from inside their tradition.

Likewise, look at what St Paul wrote in Romans:

With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness.  My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it.  My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters.  I would be willing to be forever cursed — cut off from Christ! — if that would save them.  They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children.  God revealed his glory to them.  He made covenants with them and gave them his law.  He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned.  And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise!  Amen.
Does that sound like the heart of an antisemitic person?  Absolutely not!  Therefore, I believe that the charge of antisemitism in the New Testament is unfounded.  Precisely because it was written from those within that tradition. Jewish people were making comments about their fellow Jews.  They were pointing out the glaring problems within their own tradition.  This is not antisemitism.  These are a prophets trying to bring their people back to the foundations of their faith.


~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,


Jack

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pipe Smoking—The Why

“I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” — C.S. Lewis

In my last post I talked about my ingress into the fantastical world of pipe smoking. In this post, I want to talk about the “why’s,” the reasons I smoke a pipe. And that’s an important distinction. I’m not saying why you should smoke a pipe, I’m only speaking from my experience.

So, why did I start smoking a pipe?

I’m not really sure. Seriously. I just sort of fell into it. I mean, I guess part of it is the “old world” feel about smoking a pipe. I’m a lost romantic in a very unromantic world. I like “old” things—antiques, craftsmanship, clothes1, shaving2, etc.—and pipe smoking fits into a lot of those categories. There’s a quote I use when I give retreats on Celtic Christian Spirituality that goes like th…

Pipe Smoking—The Beginning

“I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” — C.S. Lewis



As many of you know, I smoke a pipe. And while I really don’t mention it a lot on this blog, if you were to visit me we would, more likely than not, find ourselves sitting outside having a nice conversation and I’d be smoking a pipe. I might even offer you one, if you’re so inclined.

What I’d like to do is write a little series on pipe smoking. Perhaps some “how to’s” and what not. Who knows? I might even start a YouTube channel about it.

But one thing I’d like to try to do is tie pipe smoking together with theology and biblical study. A lot of people find the two—pipe smoking and spiritual commitment—diametrically opposed to one another. But as we saw in the Lewis quote above, it can be quite helpful and s…

Pipe Smoking—The Pipe Parts and Stuff

“I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” — C.S. Lewis

In our previous post, we talked about the different shapes of a smoking pipe. So today we’re going to talk about the different parts of a pipe and some of the tools you’ll need for smoking your pipe.

Now that you have your first pipe (congratulations, by the way!), let’s talk about the different parts of your pipe.


As you can see in the above image, a pipe has two basic sections, the stummel and the stem. The stummel is the wood part and the stem is the mouthpiece.

The stummel can be made of different material but is generally briar wood. Briar (Fr. bruyère)comes from a flowering, evergreen shrub (erica arborea) in the heather family that grows in the Mediterranean Basin. After the shrub has reached maturity…