Just watched ‘Constantine’s Sword’ by James Carroll and I must admit – the history lesson is an eye-opener to say the least.
I think within Christianity we do not completely understand where our anti-Jewish sentiments both come from and how they impacted history…namely in Europe. It is sad to know that with Constantine era (325 Ad and on) that Christianity becomes a religion that kind of bullies it ways through history with the help of state/religion co-mingling for some 1400 years after 325 AD…which had dreadful reprecussions for one group focused on in the NT…the Jewish people.
Christianity does not speak higly of Judaism – even from as early as the gospels and early church leaders – language colored in what can only be seen as denigrating towards Jewish people, their culture, and their faith. This story continues into the middle ages (with the crusades), then in the Reformation Period (Catholics and Protestants alike), and finally into what became the Shoah under Nazi Germany – which really was a culmination of this rheotric which finds it’s history in Christian roots.
Christianity needs to recognize this sickness is within them – and up to them to ‘stop’. This rhetoric has made it hard for one people group on this planet – the Jewish faithful. In the crusades we see the slaughter of villages of Jewish people along the Rhineland in Germany. During the Protestant Reformation the introduction of ghetto’s and the stripping fo the rights of Jews happens (under Catholic rule and Luther’s own wording – this lasted for some 300 years this persecution). By the time Hitler arrives on the scene (or Mussolini in Italy) the commonplace mentality (started within Christian roots) of the denigration of the Jewish people is such a familiar history that what Hitler starts really was already happening for some 1000 years in Europe already…Hitler was just so recent we take a little more careful note of him.
However, this same mentality still exists within Christianity that spawned such hatred in the past. Jewish faith is still denigrated (2nd tier), the Law is condemnatory (according to Paul), Christianity believes to have usurped the Jewish lineage/tradition (ie: connection to God), and guess who killed Jesus? It’s really sick when you think about it. It’s also really backwards and filled with deceptions.
Jesus followed Judaism people – light should go on about now. Jesus never saw the usurping of the Jewish faith as something ‘normal’…nor the law as something ‘bad’. Jesus makes no claim to any Christian usurption of the Jewish tradition – Paul barely does this. The stories in the gospel do point to the Jewish people killing Jesus (fact) – yet the story could not be any less true to actual history (Romans had him killed). Fact is, Christian scripture has very little ‘good’ to say about Judaism – from the gospels to Paul…and this is where the heart of this problem lies…in interpretation and historical context.
If I was looking at the facts and remarking on Jesus’ statements in the gospels about ‘persecution’ – or John’s revelation about the ‘end of times’ and the world gathering to ‘Jerusalem’ for war…I think maybe this is about Judaism and their struggle…not Christians. In fact, Christianity has done nothing but fan the flame of hatred in the 2000 year history…persecuting the Jewish faithful for being Jewish…and this all based on interpretation of some books written in history (now called ‘the word of God’). Maybe Christianity needs to admit they got this all wrong!