The Anti-Semitism of the New Testament
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”—John 8:44
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.”—Matthew 27:24-25
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.”—Acts 7:51-52
“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.”—Titus 1:10-11
“For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”—1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”—Revelation 3:9
In one of his sermons, the Reverend Dr. Frank G. Kirkpatrick, Pastor of the Trinity
Episcopal Church and Professor of Religion at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut,
describes how anti-Semitism grew out of a passage in the New Testament (Acts
13:44-52) that was to be read on that particular Sunday, as well as others like it.3
This passage proclaims that the Jews have brought damnation on themselves by
rejecting Jesus as their Messiah, a belief that has caused Jews throughout the
centuries to be persecuted, exiled, and which eventually brought on the Holocaust.
Rather than speculate about and explore the reasons as to why the New Testament
contains the racist defamatory anti-Jewish rhetoric, this essay considers some
examples of such New Testament passages that appear in Christian lectionaries.
Lectionaries are collections of Scriptural passages from Christian Bibles that are
read during regular weekly Catholic and Protestant church services, and which are
repeated on some cyclical schedule. As such, these lectionaries are widely used by
many millions of Church-going Christians, and they are somewhat similar to Jewish
prayer books, such as a Siddur.
The material found in the lectionaries is, of course, only the "tip of the iceberg", but it
suffices to demonstrate the plausibility of the assertion that the anti-Semitism among
Christians is rooted in the New Testament.
II. ANTI-JEWISH POLEMIC IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Much of the information in this essay has been extracted from an article by
Professor Norman A. Beck, a New Testament scholar and Professor of Theology
and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University.
In his article, Professor Beck deals with texts found in six of the 27 books that comprise the New Testament, to which he refers as "… the specific texts identified as most problematic …" in some of his published works. Professor Beck identifies the offensive passages in the New
Testament and indicates the instances in which all or portions of these texts are
included in major lectionary series. Read More: http://thejewishhome.org/counter/AntiJewishNT.pdf
[Selected material from some of these sources was used in preparing this essay]
The New Testament & Anti-Semitism (http://www.messianicracism.mcmail.com/ca/antisem/idx.htm) - Several relevant articles may be found at this website.
Jewish-Christian Relations (http://www.jcrelations.net/) - This website contains a
wealth of scholarly materials that deal with all aspects of Jewish-Christian relations.
Elder and Younger Brothers: The Encounter of Jews and Christians, by A. Roy
Eckhardt, Schocken Books (1973)
Your People, My People: The Meeting of Christians and Jews, by A. Roy Eckhardt,
Crown Publishing Group (1974); ISBN 0-81290-4125
Antisemitism in the New Testament , by Lillian C. Freudmann, University Press of
America (1994); ISBN: 0819192953
Removing the Anti-Judaism from the New Testament, by Howard Clark Kee and
Irvin J. Borowsky, American Interfaith Institute, Philadelphia, PA