PMW 2022-004 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr
This is part 2 of a series on preterism and anti-semitism. According to some, the New Testament is one embarrassing book. How can anyone believe it? Not only is preterism anti-Semitic, but so is the New Testament. Christianity just needs to fold up, pack it away, and leave the world alone.
This New Testament=anti-Semitism charge is according to secularists and liberal “theologians,” that is. But ironically, those evangelicals who charge preterism with anti-Semitism because of what they read among the secularists and liberals are shooting themselves in the foot.
To criticize the preterist interpretation of Revelation as anti-Semitic because of its strong teaching against the Jews requires that you also criticize the Gospels and Acts on the same basis. Those liberals who charge that Revelation’s denunciations of Israel are anti-Semitic must also charge the Gospels and Acts as such. In fact, virtually every contemporary academic study dealing with the history of anti-Semitism traces the roots of modern anti-Semitism to these books. See for example:
• John Dominic Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995) .
• Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Crucified Jew: Twenty Centuries of Anti-Semitism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992).
• T. A. Burkill, “Anti-Semitism in St. Mark’s Gospel,” NT 3 (1959): 34-52.
• W. R. Farmer, Anti-Judaism and the Gospels (Harrisburg, Penn.: Trinity, 1999).
• Riemund Bieringer, Didier Pollefeyt, and Frederique Vandecasteele, eds., Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox, 2001).
• L. T. Johnson, “The New Testament’s Anti-Jewish Slander and the Conventions of Ancient Polemic,” Journal of Biblical Literature 108 (1989): 419-41.
GREAT TRIBULATION: PAST OR FUTURE?
(Thomas Ice v. Ken Gentry)
Kregel Publications debate book on the nature and timing of “the great tribulation.” Both sides thoroughly cover the evidence they deem necessary for understanding “the great tribulation.” They then carefully interact with each other. Helpful introduction to the debate between futurism and preterism.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
The New Testament in general
Jack T. Sanders writes that “whether or not Christian writers cringe at applying the term ‘anti-semitism’ to part of the New Testament, we must realize that it is that hostility that we are describing” (Sanders The Jews in Luke-Acts [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987], xvi).
The Gospel of Matthew
Some scholars view Matthew a the “most severely ‘anti-Jewish” Gospels. For instance, Jewish scholar David Flusser comments on Matthew 8:11-12 regarding the “sons of the kingdom” being cast out: “This is a vulgar anti-Judaism of many members of the early Gentile church” (Judaism and the Origins of Christianity [Jerusalem: Magness, 1988. xxiii]).
Regarding Matthew 27:25, Galambush (an apostate Christian) (p. 59) laments: “It is hard to imagine a more anti-Jewish account than this ‘most Jewish’ gospel.” She also states that 1Th 2:14-16 “was slanderous in its original context and, in later years, disastrous in its consequences” (Julie Galambush, The Reluctant Parting: How the New Testament’s Jewish Writers Created a Christian Book [San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005], 125).
Matthew 27:25 is of such concern that it played prominently in the following story. A May 21, 2000 Associated Press article commented on the re-writing of the decennial Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany (which dates back to 1634). It was written so as to remove “anti-Semitic” aspects of the crucifixion account: “When enraged Temple leaders shouted ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ during a climactic scene at the premiere Sunday of the world’s most famous Passion play, dissenters defended Jesus for the first time: ‘Set him free!’ The revision is among a series of thoughtfully scripted changes introduced for the millennial production of the Oberammergau Passion play, acted roughly every decade since 1634. Many of the story’s most ardent critics now declare this version a milestone in decades-
long efforts expunge negative images of Jews. ‘I can say positively that it is a turning point,’ said Irving Levine, an interfaith expert for the American Jewish Committee, which has been working with the Anti-Defamation League since the 1960s to remove Jewish stereotypes from the Oberammergau play.”
In his article “Mel Gibson and the Gospel of Anti-Semitism” Charles Patterson (JewishVirtualLibrary.Org) writes: “The trouble with Mel Gibson’s film ‘The Passion’ is not the film itself, but the gospel story on which it’s based. The gospel story, which has generated more anti-Semitism than the sum of all the other anti-Semitic writings ever written, created the climate in Christian Europe that led to the Holocaust. Long before the rise of Adolf Hitler, the gospel story about the life and death of Jesus had poisoned the bloodstream of European civilization..” To ameliorate the situation, Gibson edited the film to drop the
In February 4, 2004, the New York Times published an article by Sharon Waxman titled: “Gibson To Delete A Scene In “Passion.’” That article also charged that Matthew 27:25 was anti-Semitic and dangerous. She writes: “Mel Gibson, responding to focus groups as much as to protests by Jewish critics, has decided to delete a controversial scene about Jews from his film, ”The Passion of the Christ,” a close associate said today. A scene in the film, in which the Jewish high priest Caiaphas calls down a kind of curse on the Jewish people by declaring of the Crucifixion, ‘His blood be on us and on our children,’ will not be in the movie’s final version, said the Gibson associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity…. Jewish leaders had warned that the passage from Matthew 27:25 was the historic source for many of the charges of deicide and Jews’ collective guilt in the death of Jesus.”
The Gospel of Luke
Weatherly opens his important defense of the historicity and moral character of Luke’s writings with these words: “Is the New Testament anti-Semitic?. . . As the question as been posed and answers sought, the Lukan corpus has become a particular focus of investigation” (Jon A. Weatherly, Jewish Responsibility for the Death of Jesus in Luke-Acts [Sheffield: Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplemental Series 106, 1994], 13).
Luke repeatedly blames the Jews for Christ’s death: Lk 24:20; Acts 2:22-23, 36; 3:13-15a; 4:10; 5:28, 30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27-29; Ac 26:10. And this is deemed the seed of full blown anti-Semitism by Josef Blinzler (The Trial of Jesus: The Jewish and Roman Proceedings Against Jesus Christ Described and Assessed from the Oldest Accounts. [Trans from 2d ed. by Isabel and Florence McHugh. Westminster, Maryland: Newman, 1959]) who writes: “It was repeatedly stated on the part of the Jews that, when all was said and done, modern antiSemitism was nothing else than the logical result of the Christian thesis that the Jews were guilty of the death of Jesus.”
THE HARROWING OF HELL
By Jay Rogers
This postmillennial book examines the power of the Gospel, not only to overcome all opposition, but to rise far above the powers of hell. The term “Harrowing of Hell” refers to idea that Christ descended into Hell, as stated in the Apostles’ Creed.
For more Christian educational materials: www.KennethGentry.com
The Gospel of John
Many critical scholars argue that John is the most anti-Semitic of the Gospels. For example:
• Rosemary Ruether, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism (New York: Seabury, 1974), 111-16.
• R. Fuller, “The ‘Jews’ in the Fourth Gospel,” Dialog 16 (1977): 35.
• E. J. Epp, “Anti-Semitism and the Popularity of the Fourth Gospel in Christianity,” CCAR Journal, 22:4 (Fall, 1975), 35-52.
• M. A. Getty, “the Jews and John’s Passion Narrative,” Liturgy 22:3 (March 1977): 6ff.
For anyone to charge preterism with antiSemitism requires that they also discredit the New Testament is antiSemitic. But that price should be too high for the Christian, just as its charge is too low for the liberal and secularist.