Five  articles from Investigator:

Jesus and the Jews 136
Anti-Semitism in the Bible 137
The Bible Against Anti Semitism 138
Anti-semitism in the Bible 139
The Problem with "You" 140


JESUS and the JEWS

Anonymous

(Investigator 136, 2011 January)


NOT ANTI-SEMITIC BUT LIFE-SAVING


Mr Straughen (Investigator #69) quoted John 8:44 and claimed:

Saying that a particular race has the Devil as their father, killed Jesus, the prophets and oppose all men, is a sure way of inciting hatred, fear and persecution… Biblical anti-semitism infected the minds of the Church fathers…this campaign of centuries long vilification resulted in the persecution and murder of Jews — 3.5 million…from the 12th to the 16th centuries — and eventually culminated in the Holocaust.
Straughen's analysis is false. The Bible has no anti-Semitism, rather counsel that could have saved millions of Jewish lives.

Judaism comprised 10% of the Roman Empire's population — 4,000,000 out of 40,000,000. Yet Jewish leaders claimed Jesus' ministry would destroy Judea:
"If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation." (John 11:48)
But the reverse was true. Jesus taught principles which if heeded would have saved Judea from destruction. Jesus counselled:
•    Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:5-9)
•    If anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. (Matthew 5:42)
•    All those who take the sword will perish by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)
•    Pay back Caesar's things to Caesar, but God's things to God. (Mark 12:17)
•    Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he! And, ‘The time is near!' Do not go after them. (Luke 21:8)
Note Jesus' two points:
(1) Live peacefully, including with Rome;
(2) Shun false Christs (false Messiahs).
Most 1st-century Jews rejected this message. Jesus was crucified, the Jews rebelled against Rome, and Judaism's bloodiest century before the 20th followed. Jerusalem was destroyed, and 19 centuries of persecution of Jews followed. All this was Judaism's "great tribulation". (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24; Luke 21:20-24)

MILLIONS KILLED

Jewish rebellion began in 66CE and the Romans besieged Jerusalem but then retreated.

In 70CE the Romans returned and ravaged Galilee and Judea and destroyed Jerusalem. Josephus, the Jewish historian, recorded that a number of "messiahs" led the fighting. About 1,000,000 Jews died and the Temple of Solomon, which King Herod had rebuilt into "one of the most stupendous pieces of religious architecture in the ancient world", was levelled.  

Attempts to rebuild the Temple in the 130s and by Emperor Julian (361-363CE) failed.

In 74CE the Jews in Egypt rebelled but were crushed and their Temple in the city Heliontopolis was closed.

Further rebellions occurred in the final two years (115-117) of Emperor Trajan's reign.

Trajan hoped to conquer Persia and advance to India. His legions rampaged through Mesopotamia to the Persian Gulf. But Persian Jews fought with Persia, Roman Empire Jews rebelled for thousands of kilometres in the rear, and Jewish armies in Cyprus, Egypt and Cyrenaica took revenge on pagan populations. Trajan had to retreat from Mesopotamia or be cut off. The rebellions were brutally crushed. In Cyrenaica 220,000 Jews died, and in Cyprus 200,000. (Perhaps Iranians of today who want Israel destroyed should remember that Jews once saved Persia from Rome!)

Palestinian Jews did not join the 115CE rebellions because Trajan had promised to rebuild their Temple. Samaritans and pagans, however, opposed the temple-restoration and in 130 the next Roman emperor, Hadrian, visited Palestine to decide the dispute.

Hadrian built Hadrian's Wall in Britain and the Pantheon (a temple to all gods) in Rome and was also the high priest of Jupiter. His policy was to reaffirm Rome's alliance with Greek culture. He decided against rebuilding Jerusalem's temple.

Another great Jewish uprising followed (132-135CE) led by Simon Bar Cochba who was declared to be the Messiah i.e. Christ. Roman accounts say that 590,000 Jews were killed.

A Roman city Aelia Capitolina and a temple to Jupiter were built on the ruins of Jerusalem and Jews banned from entering. The decree read: "It is forbidden for all circumcised persons to enter or stay within the territory of Aelia Capitolina; any person contravening this prohibition shall be put to death."


PREDICTIONS FULFILLED

The above catastrophes fulfilled Bible predictions:
For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world… (Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1)
[Fulfilled commencing 70CE]

Jesus said… "the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem." (John 4:20)
[Fulfilled in 70/135 CE]

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. (Matthew 21:43)
[Fulfilled by Christianity]

For we here have no lasting city [Fulfilled 70/135CE], but we are looking for the city [God's rule] that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)

MESSIAH/CHRIST

The Jewish uprisings were energized by expectations the Jewish "Messiah" was coming. Josephus wrote: "What more than all else incited them to the war was [the belief] that…one from their country would become ruler of the world."

Many Jews readily followed various rebel groups:
Judas the Galilean rose in the days of the registration, and drew off people after him. And yet that man perished, and all those who were obeying him were scattered abroad. (Acts 5:36-37)
Acts 21:38 mentions "Sicarii" which means "dagger men" or "terrorists". The Sacarii captured the Roman fortress of Massada in 66CE. Their leader, Menahem, was a son of the Judas mentioned in Acts 5. Encyclopaedia Judaica says, "It is almost certain that Menahem was considered a Messiah."

Yet Jesus had warned: "Then if anyone says to you. ‘Look! Here is the Messiah! Or ‘There he is!' — do not believe it." (Matthew 24:23)

The real Messiah, Jesus, had already come and preached peace (Isaiah 9) but was rejected. The Old Testament prophet Daniel had foretold that the Messiah would be "cut off" i.e. killed and Jerusalem and its Temple destroyed. (Daniel 9:25, 26; Matthew 23:37-24:2)


JESUS

Jesus foretold: "So when you see the desolating sacrilege [Roman legions] standing in the holy place [Jerusalem], as spoken of by the prophet Daniel…then let those in Judea flee to the mountains…" (Matthew 24:15)

Christian Jews fled Jerusalem after the failed siege of 66CE and escaped the horrors of 70CE. Encyclopaedia Judaica says that the Christian community moved across the Jordan River, and G.A. Williamson in The Jewish War writes: "It is hard to account for this escape if [the] prophecy was written after the event."

NO ANTI-SEMITISM

There is no anti-Semitism in the Bible. When Jesus said "You are from your father the Devil…" he did not demonize a nation but was addressing a crowd wanting to kill him. (John 8:40)

The medieval "Christians" Mr Straughen referred to, who killed Jews solely for being Jews, fulfilled another prediction, namely that many Christians would betray Christian standards and be like "The dog [that] turns back to its vomit." (II Peter 2) There were, however, also faithful Christians who rescued Jews but that's another story.

Had the Jewish nation accepted the counsel of Jesus:
•    There would have been no wars with Rome;
•    Judea and Jerusalem would not have been destroyed;
•    Judean Jews would not have been dispersed;
•    Judea would not have been resettled by immigrants who became today's Palestinians;
•    Roman power would still have faded and Judaism retained its homeland perpetually.

BOOK OF LIFE

The Bible is the "book of life". It opposes sexual promiscuity which has killed hundreds of millions of people (#48), opposes infanticide which also killed hundreds of millions (#41), advocates peace between nations (Isaiah 2), inspired the men who founded modern science hence modern prosperity, and could have saved Judea from destruction. Its message is: "Choose life so that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)


REFERENCES:

Grayzel, S. 1968 A History of the Jews, Mentor, USA

Purcell, N. Hadrian: Beyond The Wall, BBC History, July 2005.

Williamson, G.A. 1970/1981 The Jewish War.





ANTISEMITISM in the BIBLE

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 137, 2011 March)


I have read Anonymous' Jesus and the Jews (no. 136, page 52) and am unable to agree with his conclusion that the Bible is free from anti-Semitism. Here is the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia's definition of Anti Semitism:
Working definition: "Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for "why things go wrong." It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits. (1)

Here is a recap (for those not familiar with my original article in No. 69) of the passages of scripture from the Revised Standard Version Anonymous is referring to:
•    "You [the Jews] are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father oflies." (John 8:44.)

•    "For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all men." (1 Thess. 2:14-15.)
As a comparison let us examine what the Koran has to say about Christians:
"O Believers! Take not the Jews or Christians as friends. They are but one another's friends. If anyone of you taketh them for his friends, he surely is one of them! God will not guide the evil doers." (2)
As we can see parts of the Koran are anti-Christian. It exhibits prejudice towards Christians just as parts of the Bible exhibit prejudice towards Jews. Just as all Jews have the devil as their father, displease God and oppose all men, so too, Christians are evil doers and therefore must not be befriended by Moslems.

How many Christians would concede the author/s of the Koran is being reasonable when he places them in the category of evil doers just because they are Christians? If they agree that to impute sinister stereotypes and negative character traits is wrong then surely they must also agree that the Bible writer is wrong when he places all Jews in the category of evil doers as well.

The discriminatory passages in the Bible and Koran can only stir up hatred and suspicion between people of different faiths - the very thing that threatens to plunge the world into violent confrontation.

1 www.european-forurn-on-antisemitism.org/working-definition-of-antisemitism/English/

2 The Koran Sura 5:51 (Rodwell's translation).



 

THE BIBLE AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM

Anonymous

(Investigator 138, 2011 May)


Mr Straughen (#137 p. 60) claims that when Jesus said "You are from your father the devil…" (John 8:44) the "You" means all Jews.

Mr Straughen is mistaken. A general statement about all Jews would include Jesus and his apostles. Jesus would in that case not have said "You" but "We" or "Us". For example "We Jews are from our father the devil" or "All of us Jews are from our father the devil."

Jesus, however, was not announcing a doctrine of anti-Semitism. He was addressing a crowd of Pharisees (John 8:13) that wanted to kill him and stop his message. The crowd, by their murderous intent, showed they were from "your father the devil."

And the suppression of Jesus' message would have terrible repercussions. As I explained in #136 the rejection of Jesus' counsel led to Judaism's "great tribulation" that killed millions of Jews, destroyed Jerusalem, and lost Jews their homeland until the 20th century. By having beliefs and attitudes that led to such horrible consequences, that murderous crowd of Pharisees and other Jews who were like them were of their "father the devil."

The New Testament further teaches that: "All [i.e. all humankind not only Jews] have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." It teaches that the whole world is led astray by "the devil" and faces consequences even more terrible than Judaism's great tribulation. (Ephesians 2:2; Revelation 12:9; II Peter 3:3-12)

The two doctrines that "Jews and Gentiles are alike all under sin" (Romans 3:9) and that all humans have a common ancestor (Acts 17:26) together make nonsense of racial prejudice and racial superiority. Theologically speaking: "Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all." (Colossians 3:11)

What about I Thessalonians 2:14-16 where "the Jews" are described as "hostile to all men"? The NIV translation clarifies what's meant:
For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
"The Jews" does not mean all Jews, since the Christian "churches in Judea" were themselves Jews as was Paul the apostle who wrote this. The Jews "hostile to all men" were Jews who sought to suppress the Christian message — "to keep us [apostles] from speaking to the Gentiles…"

The explanatory note in the Life Application Bible says: "When Paul refers to the Jews, he is talking about certain Jews who opposed his preaching of the gospel. He does not mean all Jews. Many of Paul's converts were Jews, Paul himself was a Jew." (p. 2173)

In Romans 3:1-3 Paul writes that "some" Jews were unfaithful; nevertheless being a Jew is of "advantage…in every way".

When I was 16 a man from the Hitler era tried to convince me that Jews controlled governments and corporations everywhere and are dangerous. But I already knew enough of the Bible to avoid anti-Semitism. The Bible shielded me from indoctrination.

When Straughen misrepresents the Bible, some people may be misled into rejecting its excellent ethics including its opposition to anti-Semitism. Whenever I hear of anti-Semitism, or robbery, or rape, or theft, or child abuse, or immorality or any other evil the Bible condemns I wonder how many of the perpetrators were influenced by atheists!





Anti-Semitism in the Bible - A Final Reply to Anonymous

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 139, 2011 July)


I have read Anonymous' response (No. 138, p. 30) to my previous comments on this subject and am unable to agree with him.

Anonymous claims that those passages of scripture which appear anti-Semitic refer only to a specific group of Jews — in the case of John 8:44 to the Pharisees Jesus was addressing. This may be so, but how can we be sure it is so and not merely a rationalisation on the part of apologists that attempt to explain an unpalatable fact?

If scripture is inspired by God and the passages are not meant to be anti-Semitic and God has foreknowledge of potential misunderstandings, then Jesus' words would be carefully qualified in the opening lines of John 8:44 by the phrase "You Pharisees who stand before me..."

The problem is that John 8:44 doesn't say this. Rather, the author of scripture uses intemperate and unqualified language that may reflect personal anti-Semitic views.

A similar situation applies to 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15. Anonymous, in his attempt to resolve the issue, appears to have confused race with religion. The word 'Jew' refers more to the ethnicity of a person than their actual race. For example the Ethiopian Jews are Jewish by faith but Negroid by race.

Jews who converted to Christianity would have still been Semites by race if they were born Semites, but after conversion Christians by religion. Therefore, they would no longer identify themselves with the children of the devil and have no hesitation in maligning Jews.

In the final analysis the unqualified, unflattering and intemperate language used by some authors of scripture to describe Jews suggests, in my opinion, the presence of anti-Semitic bias.

 



THE PROBLEM WITH "YOU"

Anonymous

(Investigator 140, 2011 September)


I previously explained that Jesus' statement "You are from your father the devil" (John 8:44) was not addressed to all Jews in the world but to a crowd seeking to kill him.

Mr Straughen feels that:
If scripture is inspired by God and the passages are not meant to be anti-Semitic and God has foreknowledge of potential misunderstandings, then Jesus' words would be carefully qualified in the opening lines of John 8:44 by the phrase "You Pharisees who stand before me..." (#139)
During my primary-school days teachers sometimes made a misbehaving class remain for a while after the official end of the lesson and announced, "You will all be kept in for ten minutes." Although the students were only children the teacher did not need to "qualify" the pronoun "You". We understood that "You" did not mean everyone in the world, nor all students in the school, but only this one class.

Nowadays the pronoun "you" is often meaningless. I sometimes listen to ABC radio, to interviews with learned politicians, professors and authors. After "good morning to you" — the "you" being singular and referring to the person addressed — there might be a question such as "What do you think should be done militarily in Afghanistan?" The interviewee's reply might commence with, "What you should do is…" If "you" in this reply is still singular and referring to the person addressed then the interviewee is placing the responsibility for solving Afghanistan's problems on the interviewer. It often happens that after a few more uses of "you", the interview becomes ambiguous gobbledegook and I switch the radio off.

The problem effects science also. For example, "Some of the planets merge, some are ejected, some fall into the star and you're left with fewer planets…" (New Scientist, 26 February, 2011, p. 7) In this case "you're" refers not to the interviewer but to the star so that, "the star is left with fewer planets." That's easy enough.

In a political or ethical discussion, however, if "you" is spoken repeatedly with ambiguous meaning, it requires enormous mental effort to interpret what the speaker means when saying "you". Because all the words are familiar the hearer assumes he has understood when he probably hasn't.

The Bible avoids confusion on the pronoun "you" by usually defining the audience that's being addressed, as did John when quoting, "You are from your father the devil." John says Jesus was talking with some Pharisees (John 8:13) and with "Jews who had believed in him". (8:31)

I think that the Bible writers have done right in being clear and that English speakers should copy their example.


There is still, however, the question of interpretation when a teaching is extended beyond the original audience. A sectarian book I read applies "You are from your father the devil" to today's clergy. That, of course, is the same sort of generalized hate-mongering as anti-Semitism.

Finally a reminder: This discussion began in #136 where I showed that Jewish rejection of Jesus' counsel led to millions of Jewish deaths and expulsion of Jewish survivors from their homeland. It's a lesson being repeated everywhere — people who reject God's counsel hurt themselves, since God is wiser than humans and "His ways are higher than our ways." (Isaiah 55:9)


Hundreds of statements in the Bible investigated for accuracy on this website:

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/