Christian Antisemitism

Christian Antisemitism

In Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate, Professor William Nicholls, a former minister in the Anglican Church and the founder of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia, presents his stunning research, stating that Christian teaching is primarily responsible for antisemitism.

As Nicholls states, these conclusions 'can now be fully justified by the most up-to-date scholarship, Christian as well as Jewish.' Nicholls writes, 'Many Jewish writers have said, quite simply, that the Nazis chose the Jews as the target of their hate because two thousand years of Christian teaching had accustomed the world to do so.

Nicholls clearly illustrates that this myth is present in the New Testament and that 'it has not yet died under the impact of modern critical history.' Also included in this remarkable volume is Nicholls' research regarding the Jewishness of Jesus.

He writes, 'Historical scholarship now permits us to affirm with confidence that Jesus of Nazareth was a faithful and observant Jew who lived by the Torah and taught nothing against his own people and their faith...the Romans, not the Jews, were the Christ-killers.' In Part I, 'Before the Myth, ' Nicholls explores the life of Jesus and his teachings as found in the New Testament.

Reviews of the Christian Antisemitism

Although this dissonance has at least been recognised in the decades since the Holocaust, the centuries of Christian Anti-Semitic doctrine remain in both ecclesiastical and secularised form in Western culture. But as Nicholls point out, Anti-Semitism has morphed from a doctrinal to a political prejudice: "When they European Christians abandoned the religion of their upbringing, they retained its prejudices." Christianity has always had a difficult time establishing itself as something other than a mere Jewish heresy. The stakes today are as high as they have ever been regarding Anti-Semitism - for Christians as well as Jews. Jew-hatred posing as Anti-Israeli politics and terrorism is more common now than in the 1960's. Postscript: for more on the reasons for Christian anti-semitism, see:

Here is a selection of Nicholls arguments *** Christian antisemitism was a direct enabler of Hitlers Holocaust every German "knew" that Jews were the enemy of German civilization because they had been taught over the long Christian centuries that the Jews were the enemy of Christian civilization Hitler had "known" from childhood that Jews were bad because he had been brought up in a Catholic milieu Hitler's antisemitic ideas were not created from nothing without the widespread heritage of anti-Judaism and antisemitism put forward by Christianity, Hitler's extremism would have marked him for the madman he was with few exceptions, the Christian world did not care about the Nazi onslaught against the Jews.

Johns associating the Jews with Satan, along with the deicide charge, would be repeatedly developed and amplified over the centuries characterizing the Jews in Christianitys midst as enemies of Jesus, a fifth column within Christian society. Nicholls describes Augustines rationale providing for Jewish survival in Christendom as punishment for their crimes: from the fifth through the 16th centuries Jews were property of the church or princes and with few exceptions lived in poverty and despair. In the early years of his conflict with the Church Luther assumed that, freed of the whip of Church anti-Judaism and the thousand year-long persecution it inspired the Jews would abandon Judaism and enthusiastically accept conversion to his reformist Christianity. Even assuming that Christianity would want to repent its two thousand years of Jew-hatred resulting most recently in what is not likely to be the Wests final effort at a Final Solution to its Jewish Problem: is reform even possible? Even were all branches of Christianity to agree to somehow moderate the anti-Judaism of the gospels and Paul, is this even possible? According to Nicholls, Once all the anti-Jewish elements have been removed from Christianity, what is left turns out to be Judaism (p. Nostre Aetate, described as an act of contrition by the Church over the Holocaust, instructed its clergy to teach that the Jews of today are not to be considered guilty of deicide in the death of Jesus. Early in his book Nicholls already concludes that there is little basis for that since, No amount of tolerance and goodwill can obscure the fundamental threat to the Jewish people contained in the heart of traditional Christian belief my italics The very presence of the Jewish people in the world puts a great question mark against Christian belief in a new covenant which could not fail to cause profound and gnawing anxiety.

This book is a must for anyone who wants to understand why Christianity made Judaism the enemy, even though the historical Jesus never taught this.

That chapter explains how The Enlightenment secularized the hatred and points to how it is still used today.

Even had he claimed that he was the Messiah, Nicholls points out that in Judaism - this wouldn't be a capital crime (correct) and the court which according to the Gospel of John convicted him of being of blasphemer would not have convicted him. Finally, the Gospel of Matthew claims (and it's the only one of the four that mentions this) that the Jews, when asked by Pontius Pilate whether he should spare Jesus' life, shouted that "his blood be on our heads and our children's!" and that he should be crucified. However, the issue that Nicholls points out is that only the gospel of John relates this AND Pontius Pilate is portrayed as defending Jesus against the Jews which is NOT the history of Pilate. In the second section of the book Nicholls does an excellent job detailing how the increasingly influential church began to pressure the Roman emperors (after Christianity had gained legitimacy with Constantine) to strip away the rights of Jews in the Roman empire.

This is a hard book to read if your are a Christian. Nonetheless, he wants to abandon the New Testament -- especially Paul. Interestingly, my books Arsy Varsy and Varsy Arsy on 1st and 2nd Corinthians (respectively) lay the foundations to address his concerns without either abandoning Christianity or becoming anti-semitic.

  • English

  • Religion

  • Rating: 3.83
  • Pages: 499
  • Publish Date: May 28th 1993 by Jason Aronson
  • Isbn10: 1568215193
  • Isbn13: 9781568215198