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The terms: Anti-semitic and anti-Judaic:

Joseph Telushkin wrote:

"...the word 'antisemitism' was created by an antisemite, Wilhelm Marr [in 1879]. Marr's intention was to replace the German word Judenhass (Jew-hatred) with a term that would make Jew-haters sound less vulgar and even somewhat scientific.... Throughout history, antisemitism has been directed against [the religion of] Judaism and its values. ...Until about 1800, the societies in which Jews lived were generally piously Christian or Muslim, and so antisemitism focused on Jewish concepts of God and law. In the last two centuries, during which nationalism became a dominant value in the Western and Arab worlds, antisemitism increasingly focused on the Jews' peoplehood and nationhood." 1

More accurately, passages in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) which denigrate Jews as a group should be called anti-Judaic rather than anti-semitic verses. 2 They were originally directed against followers of one of the approximately 24 faith groups within Judaism that were active at the time that most of the Christian Scriptures were written -- i.e. 48 to 150 CE (according to many liberal Christian theologians) or 48 to 100 CE (according to many conservative Christians).

At first, it may seem strange to search for anti-Judaic passages in the Christian Scriptures.  After all, Jesus, his mother, his (foster) father, brothers, cousins, disciples and early apostles were all Jewish. So were the initial followers of Jesus, and almost all of the authors of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and Christian Scriptures.  Jewish Christianity was composed almost entirely of Jews.  Two other movements in primitive Christianity -- Pauline Christianity and Gnostic Christianity -- were initially also almost entirely Jewish. It was only after the propagation of Pauline Christianity throughout the Roman Empire began, that the majority of Christians converted from religions other than Judaism.

Unfortunately, passages do exist in the Christian Scriptures -- primarily in the Gospels -- .

bulletSome feel that the passages were directly responsible for horrendous levels of persecution and mass murder of Jews by Christians down through history, and were even responsible for facilitating the Nazi Holocaust.
bulletOthers suggest that it was the incorrect interpretation of these passages, not the passages themselves, which caused the Christian persecutions and mass murders of Jews.
bulletStill others are unaware of both anti-Judaic passages in the Bible and the Christians' mass murders of Jews in past centuries. "What we don't learn from the past, we're destined to repeat" 3

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Topics covered in this section:

bulletWe plan to write a series of essays in the future on anti-Judaic passages in the Bible.

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  1. J. Telushkin, "Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History," William Morrow, (1991). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  2. There is a difference of opinion as to whether the "s" in anti-semitic" should be capitalized. Since "Semite" refers to a group of languages and not to a religion, we elect to leave the "s" in lower case.
  3. This is the dedication on the Holocaust Museum in Israel.
  4. Gerd Lűdemann, "The Unholy in Holy Scripture: The dark side of the Bible," Westminster John Knox Press, (1997), Chapter 3, Pages 76 to 127. This book is extremely difficult to read because of the quality of the translation.
  5. Peter Gomes, "The Good Book: Reading the Bible with mind and heart," William Morrow, (1996).
  6. Charles Glock & Roidney Stark, "Christians beliefs and Anti-Semitism," Harper & Row, (1966)

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 Home page > Christianity > Bible > here

 Home page > Christianity > Bible > What the Bible says > here

or Home page > World religions > Judaism > here

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Copyright © 2002 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-DEC-5
Latest update: 2006-APR-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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