14 votes, average: 4.86 out of 514 votes, average: 4.86 out of 514 votes, average: 4.86 out of 514 votes, average: 4.86 out of 514 votes, average: 4.86 out of 5 (14 votes, average: 4.86 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...

When Christians Went on the Attack Against Jews

I return now, for a couple of posts, to my thoughts on the rise of anti-Judaism in the early Christian tradition, and my thesis that it was largely driven by a different way of reading the Bible, that the Christians insisted the Jewish scriptures were looking forward to Jesus as a suffering messiah who would die for sins, and in doing so fulfilled all sorts of prophecies, and most Jews thought this entire view was nonsense, if not blasphemous.

Here is where my thoughts move on from what I said in the last post on the matter.  Should you need to refresh your memory, it is here:   https://ehrmanblog.org/why-christians-needed-an-old-testament-pagan-attacks-on-the-faith/

 

An important point to stress is that Christians recognized that if their own interpretations of the Jewish Bible were correct, the Jews’ own interpretations were necessarily invalid.   As I argued in Triumph of Christianity, the distinctive feature of early Christianity vis-à-vis all the other religions of the Roman world – including Judaism – was that Christians argued their views provided the way of salvation and the only way of salvation.  Christians introduced into the world or religion the sense of exclusivism: if we are right, you are wrong.   The implications for the battle over the Jewish Scriptures were that Jews could not claim any right to them, since they predicted the Christian message and the Christian religion, not the Jewish one.   It was these implications that led to the rhetorical violence that we see in the Christian opposition to Jews in the first four centuries, opposition driven almost entirely by an appeal to the Bible as Christian rather than Jewish.

We can see this polemic already in the earliest stages of the early Christian tradition within the pages of the New Testament itself.  And it is easy to trace its increasing severity and animosity with the passing of time.   In my book I will spend considerable space discussing the key texts, most of them completely unknown to the reading public at large.  As examples (the first being the exception):

To see these examples, which start getting quite, well, robust, you will need to belong to the blog.  Joining is quick, easy, and inexpensive — especially considering what you get for your membership fee.  And the entire fee goes to charity.  So why not join?

You need to be logged in to see this part of the content. Please Login to access.


Heightened Opposition to Jews in Early Christianity
Why Was the World Created in 4004 BC?

62

Comments

  1. Robert
    Robert  July 7, 2019

    Bart: “An important point to stress is that Christians recognized that if their own interpretations of the Jewish Bible were correct, the Jews’ own interpretations were necessarily invalid.  …  Christians introduced into the world or religion the sense of exclusivism: if we are right, you are wrong.   The implications for the battle over the Jewish Scriptures were that Jews could not claim any right to them, since they predicted the Christian message and the Christian religion, not the Jewish one.   It was these implications that led to the rhetorical violence that we see in the Christian opposition to Jews in the first four centuries, opposition driven almost entirely by an appeal to the Bible as Christian rather than Jewish.”

    Martin Goodman has an interesting epilogue to his Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations, entitled, “The Origins of Antisemitism.” In it he emphasizes, among many other factors, the Roman “demonization of the defeated nation” of the Jews, the “effects [of] which lasted for centuries” (p 551). He goes so far as to speak of “the emergence of Christian antisemitism” as “a by-product of the hostility of Rome to the Jews” and “it was not by accident that some Christians began in the second century to distance themselves from Jews with language of increasing vitriol at the same time that similar terminology was being used in the centre of imperial power at Rome. … if Christians were to defend their own good name and seek converts in a Roman world in which, after 70, the name of the Jews excited opprobrium, it was easier to join in the attack and agree with the pagans that the defeat of the Jews and the destruction of the Temple were to be celebrated as the will of God.” … “Of course the antagonism to Judaism found in many Christian writings of the second century was given a theological gloss.” 

    There were, of course, many factors that led to the catastrophic development of Christian antisemitism. Interesting that what you consider to be ‘almost entirely’ theologically driven by Christian exclusivism, Goodman sees as initially little more than opportunistic adoption of Roman imperial political propaganda later given a Christian theoligical gloss. Personally, I think the historical realities typically resist sweeping generalizations.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 8, 2019

      It’s very hard to write a 1000 word blog post on a complicated topic without making it sound too simple. But that’s why God invented books!

      • Robert
        Robert  July 9, 2019

        Bart: “… But that’s why God invented books!”

        And comments on blogs. So it sounds like you would accept a more complicated combination of your view and that of Goodman’s, even though they are almost polar opposites on this point. I actually think that’s how history needs to be written sometimes, a weird combination of oftentimes diametrically opposed and reversed causes and effects and conflicting motivations of all the various actors in a drama written by a million authors.

      • Avatar
        nichael  July 9, 2019

        >> ” But that’s why God invented books!”

        Yeah, like when he wrote out the KJV.

        😉

        [But seriously, this is one of the features that I most appreciate about this ‘blog. I.e. the number of books, papers and other sources that it has pointed me to (and, in particular, that I would never have otherwise know about.)

        Once again, thank you. Keep it up.]

  2. Avatar
    Rita Gomes  July 11, 2019

    The fact that the Qur’an manuscripts are more identical compared to the New Testament manuscripts would not be related to the language to which the Qur’an was written and to have remained in the same region of the same language, not to have been adopted as an official religion outside the dominions Arabs?
    Unlike the New Testament, which began with the Jews, passed through the Greek and later Latin, besides having been declared the official religion of the kingdom of Rome? A kingdom with different writings and different interpretations?
    Which may have contributed a great deal to the changes in the New Testament?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 12, 2019

      Good question. But no, I think the issue is unrelated. The Greek manuscripts were copied by people whose ancestors had spoken Greek for centuries as well. The Christian scribes just didn’t take as much care in copying their manuscripts.

You must be logged in to post a comment.