By Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry Jr
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.
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.1 For instance, Jewish scholar David Flusser comments on Matthew 8:11–12 regarding the “sons of the king-dom” being cast out: “This is a vulgar anti-Judaism of many members of the early Gentile church.”2
Regarding Matthew 27:25, Galambush (an apostate Christian) 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.”3
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 re-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 to 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 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.”4 To ameliorate the situation, Gibson edited the film to drop the offending text.
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.”
This defense of preterism is so important — and compelling — that I will continue it tomorrow. But rather than getting up and posting it at 5:30 am, I will sleep in an extra three minutes and post it at 5:33 am. No, wait! Tomorrow is Sunday! I have the day off. See you at church!
Notes1. S. McKnight, “A Loyal Critic: Matthew’s Polemic with Judaism in Theolo-gical Perspective,” in Evans and eds., Anti-Semitism and Early Christianity, 199.
2. David Flusser, Judaism and the Origins of Christianity, xxiii.
3. Julie Galambush, The Reluctant Parting, 125.