Can the New Testament be blamed for the way Jews have been treated in Western Europe over the centuries?
Introduction In 1543CE, Martin Luther, one of the most influential theologians in Western Europe, published a letter called On the Jews and their Lies. He argued that their synagogues and schools be set on fire, prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden from preaching, and their property and money confiscated. To support his argument Martin Luther quotes frequently from the New Testament. And he was not alone. This and other anti-Semitic material, it could be argued, was influential in the growth of anti-Semitism and what led to the holocaust. The question we need to consider is whether the New Testament itself is guilty of anti-Semitism. In particular we will look at the two verses considered most guilty of anti-Semitism: Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ (Mt 27:25) You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (Jn 8:44) Both of these verses contain themes that have surfaced again and again in the two thousand years since they were recorded: the Jews are Christ killers, and are devil people. When Luther launched this attack, Christianity...Read More