Anti-Semitism: 2000 Years of Christian Love

By Vexen Crabtree 2004 Oct 06

This is about the active hatred and oppression of Jews in history and at present. It is an examination of how and where specific anti-semitism arose out of proportion to the "normal" background levels of prejudice that have always plagued mankind. The history of organized anti-Semitism is a history of Christian influence; the Jews were accused of many wild things by Christians, one of the most infamous being the concept of the "blood libel" which they say is "the ritual murder of Christian children whose blood went into the unleavened bread eaten at Passover. This latter accusation [...] was often the excuse for Christian pogroms against Jews, ending in pillage, rape and massacre"1... this page is about that history with a few introductions to the confusing subject of how a religion that arose out of Judaism and paganism combined, then turned on its heritage with the most bloody and hateful vengeance that either pagans or Jews have ever seen.


1. Introduction

1.1. The Rise of Christianity

Nearly every culture that came into contact with Western Christianity tolerated and accepted Jews until Christianity spread its violent anti-Jewish message across the West. Only with Christian principles was anti-semitism made possible, culminating in the atrocities of the Nazis during World War 2. No other religion has hated the Jews as much as Christian communities.

The Dark Ages, encompassing the Spanish Inquisition, the Burning Times witch hunts, etc, was the time in which Christianity had complete control over the imagery and information people could come into contact with. Anti-Semitism spread from Christianity, through many stereotyped and falsified stories, to the whole of Europe and wherever else the Christian message spread at that time.

Semites include Hebrews, Assyrians, and Arabs. But hatred of, or prejudice against, the Jews specifically, which has waxed and waned since the foundation of Christianity - goes by the misnomer of anti-Semitism. One strand derives from the crude assertion that 'the Jews crucified Christ'

"Ideas that Shaped Our World" by Robert Stewart (1997)2

Book CoverBy tradition Semites are descendants of Shem, son of Noah, and include most of the peoples of the Middle East. Anti-Semitism refers specifically to prejudice against or hatred towards the Jews. In its earliest systematic form, anti-Semitism had a religious character, reflecting the hostility of Christians towards the Jews, based on their complicity in the murder of Jesus and their refusal to recognize him as the Son of God. Economic anti-Semitism developed from the Middle Ages onwards, expressing a distaste for the Jews as moneylenders and traders. The nineteenth century saw the birth of racial anti-Semitism in the works of Wagner and H. S. Chamberlain, who condemned the Jewish peoples as fundamentally evil and destructive. Such ideas provided the ideological basis for German Nazism and found their most grotesque expression in the Holocaust.

"Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)3

1.2. Crazy Beliefs are Sometimes Dangerous

Crazy beliefs are not harmless. Take, for example, a theory which started out as amateur science, and proceeded to win approval at a national level despite the protests of the scientific community. The theory of a 'hierarchy' of delineated human races, with Nordics at the top and Negros at the bottom (with a special place reserved for the Christ-rejecting Jews), combined pseudoscientific anthropology with religious prejudice to create history's most horrific apparatus of prejudiced murder. The Nazi's ideology of race and euthanasia derived from erroneous beliefs based on faulty theory; and it blossomed into a wave of terror. It is no exaggeration to say that, in a world where nuclear weaponry is becoming more easily available, that beliefs need to be questioned and challenged continuously and vigorously.

"Why Question Beliefs? Dangers of Placing Ideas Beyond Doubt, and Advantages of Freethought: 1.1. Beliefs Have Consequences" by Vexen Crabtree (2009)

1.3. Anti-Zionism, Anti-Judaism, Anti-Semitism, Israel and Racism

Although this essay is about hateful and racist antisemitism, we need to define other terms that are related. Anti-Zionism and Anti-Judaism are both different from racist anti-semitism.

They are all inevitable and deeply linked. One must be careful not to accuse the victims of Israel as being anti-Semites, when in fact they're merely anti-Zionists, or to accuse a Hindu of being an anti-semite because he sees the religion of Judaism as wrong or silly. Even if such a view is ignorant, uneducated or prejudice, it is held against the religion, not against a race of people. Likewise you must be doubly careful when criticizing Israel or Judaism, not to accidentally fall into anti-semitic rhetoric. Be precise and be aware of the issues. For obvious historical reasons there is a lot of emotion around the sensitive issues of antisemitism, people are apt to find it where it isn't present as much as to miss it where it is!

2. BCE to 4th Century: The Roman Empire Tolerated Jews Until Christianity Arose

The Roman way was tolerance. They allowed religious groups to order their own internal affairs according to their own religious rules. They allowed most religions to exist alongside each other, with the Emperors having various religious affiliations. Sometimes certain cults and sects were suppressed, sometimes bloodily and violently, but historically there was no other empire so tolerant and accepting of a multitude of religious beliefs as under Roman rule.

As Jewish Christianity arose within Judea, inside the Roman Empire, its fundamentally Jewish beliefs combined with pagan sun worshipping religions such as Mithraism and other Roman influences. Pauline Christianity which is the Christianity we know, was very similar to Judaism and the original Gnostic Christianity. It was these two close neighbours that Christianity first came to view as its two greatest competitors and enemies; all three had similar beliefs, all three competed for the same types of religious convert. But gnostic Christianity and the priestly castes of Judaism were both peaceful. Pauline Christianity was bloodthirsty.

After the first century, Christianity also crystallized, and the relations of Judaism and Christianity were wholly hostile and external; as we shall see, Christianity powerfully stimulated anti-Semitism. Throughout the Middle Ages, Jews had no part in the culture of Christian countries, and were too severely persecuted to be able to make contributions to civilisation [...]. It was only among the Muhammedans, at that period, that Jews were treated humanely, and were able to pursue philosophy.

"History of Western Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell (1946)7

"Within only a few decades of the Crucifixion, many converts to Christianity had already chosen to forget that the four evangelists, the twelve apostles and even Christ himself had been devout and practising Jews", "All that was well done in the Old Testament or that might be interpreted as proof of Messianic authority, the Christians claimed for themselves; the failures and denunciations they allotted to the Jews". The Jews saw the plundering and abuse of their own holy texts and themselves wrote on the life of Jesus. "Christian writers retaliated with hideous accounts of Jewish depravity". "It is here, in the rantings of the early Church Fathers against the Jews, that the first fertile seeds lie buried in the hysterical anti-semitism that was to become so rampant in the Middle Ages". Quotes taken from "The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall (1979)8.

Even before the Church was the official religion of the Roman Empire, when it was still autonomous, it was producing official anti-Judaism legislation. In the late second century, the Christian bishop Melito preached that Jews "have not only rejected their messiah, but in killing him, the Son of God, they are guilty of deicide: they have killed God himself", and, large volumes of gospels, epistles and other Christian writings were produced proving the unholy nature of the entire Jewish people and it was "not the Romans, but the Jewish leaders, or even the Jewish people themselves, who were responsible for Jesus's crucifixion"9. In 306CE "The church Synod of Elvira banned marriages, sexual intercourse and community contacts between Christians and Jews"10.

The aggressive Pauline Christianity gained the upper hand in the 4th century. The Roman Empire became a Christian Empire and under Emperor Constantine from the 4th century "theological diatribes" against the Jews began to appear in law. The first bloodshed was the finalisation of the slaughter of all the gnostics and the destruction and oppression of Judaism. The Roman Empire, once a multicultural tolerant nation became a theocracy ruled by Christian intolerance; and this influence spread through the Roman Empire to all of the Western world. Where Christianity had a stronger foothold, the Jews and non-Christians were persecuted and slaughtered more mercilessly than at any other time.

Due to this "religious fanaticism of such intensity" Jews were forced to live separately, were striped of wealth, belongings and all rights, they were reduced to slavery, ceremonially and regularly dehumanized, scapegoated, humiliated and slaughtered by Christian powers. This intolerance combined with complete enforced ignorance and superstition in all areas of life, resulted in the Dark Ages; that period in the Middle Ages when all of Europe was under the brooding, monstrous shadow of a bloodthirsty, out-of-control, corrupt Christian Church ruled from Rome. Roman Catholicism became most successful and bloodthirsty religion the world has ever known.

Mixed marriages between Jews and Christians were punished by death. In the Codex Thedosians of the Emperor Theodosius II (408-450), the Jews were forbidden to hold any public office or function or to build new synagogues. Justinian completed this process of discrimination against the Jews in the 6th century by outlawing them altogether with all pagans and 'heretics'.

"The Misery of Christianity - a Plea for Humanity without God" by Joachin Kahl (1968)11

The Christian anti-Judaism hatred spread further and further... this trend lasted a full one thousand years before it began to abate.

List taken from www.ReligiousTolerance.org10

3. 6th-11th Century: Non-Christian Cultures were not Anti-Semitic or Intolerant

It wasn't just the Roman Empire that tolerated Jews and multiple religions. Most surrounding cultures did too. It was only with the rise of Christianity that the world saw bloodthirsty, immoral and fundamentalist intolerance for freedom of belief. Non-Christian cultures around the growing darkness of Christianity were tolerant of Jews and others, including fledgling Christian communities, but Christian theology was not a well behaved child; its founders and theology was deeply intolerant of any knowledge or ways of life that was non-Christian. The most Christian countries were the most anti-semitic, the more the anti-Jewish rhetoric and legislation spread from the Christian Churches, the worse the violence became.

Spain

Under the Moors and the Arian Kings of Spain Christians and Jews could both practice their religions freely.

But to this relatively satisfactory situation the conversion of King Recared (589) and his successors to Catholicism soon put a stop. From the moment the voice of Catholic orthodoxy gained the royal ear [...] and throughout the seventh century, a series of Church canons and royal enactments complemented one another in a rising crescendo of anti-Jewish measures that was to culminate, at the end of the same century, in the total destruction of Spanish Jewry.

"The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall (1979)12

The seventeenth Church Council of Toledo bound over every Spanish Jew [...] into perpetual slavery. Whatever their intentions in 694, there can have been few Jewish slaves who regretted the annihilation in 711 of the Visigoth kingdom at the hands of the Moors, under whom the subject peoples, both Christians and Jews, were permitted to practice their own religions in a more tolerant atmosphere of cultural exchange.

"The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall (1979)12

France

One European purge of Jews centered around the widespread Christian belief that the end of the world was going to occur in 1033, the 1000th anniversary of the fable of the crucifixion of Jesus. France had also succumbed, after centuries of toleration, to the Christian anti-Jewish ravings.

In France some Christians sought to prepare the way for the return of the Saviour by forcibly baptising or murdering Jews.

"The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall (1979)13

Western Europe

All of Western Europe gradually came to be as bad as main Catholic countries as Catholicism's power continued to increase and spread, even to Germany which had, before Christianity, had high morals and tolerated Jews.

The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance note that persecution and outlawing of a Jew would stop if he converted to Christianity:

List taken from ReligiousTolerance.org10

4. 11th-12th Century: The First Crusade: Muslims Were Tolerant of Others, Christians Were Not

Throughout the Middle Ages, the [Muslims] were more civilized and more humane than the Christians. Christians persecuted Jews, especially at times of religious excitement; the Crusades were associated with appalling pogroms. In Mohammedan countries, on the contrary, Jews at most times were not in any way ill treated. Especially in Moorish Spain [...].

"History of Western Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell (1946)14

Germany and more Eastern countries were not anti-Jewish, and communities existed there peacefully. But with the Crusades, large Western Christian armies roamed Europe, having an unfortunate affect on many Jewish settlements. In 1095 Pope Urban II 'proclaimed the first Crusade, which produced a wave of religious enthusiasm [...] - also to atrocious pogroms of Jews' writes Bertrand Russell (1946)15. He continues; 'Christian armies began to advance into Germany, and the first to feel the edge of their weapons were the peaceful Jewish communities long-settled in the trading cities along the river-valleys of the Rhineland and the Danube'.

Crusaders said, "'Great tracts of country stand between us and the enemies of God whom we wish to conquer. It is absurd to begin this enterprise when before our eyes are the Jews, more hostile to God than any other race'. Most men who wore the cross made little distinction between Jew and Muslim"16.

By early 1096, they [including "monks who had absconded from their monasteries"] were already beginning to move south-eastwards, in bands large and small. [They] butchered as many Jews as they could lay their hands on and looted their property.

"The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall (1979)17

Chronicler Solomon bar Simson records an age-old Christian argument, "You are the children of those who killed the object of our veneration, hanging him on a tree. And he himself had said, "There will yet come a day when my children will come and avenge my blood." We are his children and it is therefore our duty to avenge him against you who disbelieve in him"16.

Tens of thousands were killed in total. Multiple communities were attacked including those at Cologne, Neuss, Eller, Xanten, Trier and Metz. Also different groups of Christians under multiple leaders, from Christian Monks to Christian Hermits, overwhelmed Jews in Prague, Ratisbon, Regensburg, and other places, after attempting forced conversions of the Jews to Christianity.

Those [Jews] who were not massacred were often despoiled of their property and forcibly baptized. There were large-scale murders of Jews in Germany at the time of the first Crusade and in England, at the time of the third Crusade, on the accession of Richard Coeur de Lion. York, where the first Christian emperor had begun his reign, was the scene of one of the most appalling mass-atrocities against Jews. The Jews, before the Crusades, had almost a monopoly of the trade in Eastern goods throughout Europe; after the Crusades, as a result of the persecution of Jews, this trade was largely in Christian hands.

"History of Western Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell (1946)18

That Muslims were more tolerant towards Jews than Christians were is evidenced by the Jews' reaction to the Christian armies that were murdering them en route to the holy lands. They allied with the Muslims. Although Robert Spencer is intensely critical of Islam in his realistic book "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam" (2005), he still witnesses that Jews found solace in Muslim lands from the marauding Christians:

Book CoverIt is unfortunately true that Crusaders targeted Jews on several occasions. Some groups of Crusaders allowed themselves to be diverted from the mission Pope Urban had given them. Stirred up by anti-Semitic preachers, one contingent of men who were making their way East for the First Crusade instead turned to terrorize Jews in Europe, massacring many. Count Ernicho of Leiningen and his followers advanced through the Rhineland, killing and plundering Jews in five German cities: Speyer, Worms, Mainz, Trier and Cologne. [News] spread to the Middle East and led many Jews to ally with the Muslims and fight against the Crusaders when they arrived. Fifty years later, another group in the Rhineland, bound for the Second Crusade, began massacring Jews again.

"The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam" by Robert Spencer (2005)19

Some Christians were horrified and ashamed by the actions of their comrades, and some of their written complaints survive. But the overwhelming vast majority of Christian texts and rhetoric were violently anti-Jew. The hatred was very specifically anti-Jew and not merely anti-pagan. It wasn't a blanket hatred as with "pagans" in general, but a directed hatred of the Jews in particular.

After the taking over of Jerusalem from the Muslims by the Christian armies, the Muslims hoped to reclaim their territory but they weren't the only ones who wanted to see the Christian aggressors removed:

Nor were the Muslims the only ones to hope for a return to Islam. For generations, apart for some years of madness under Caliph al-Hakim, the Jews of the land and the city had, on the whole, been treated with tolerance by the Muslim rulers of Palestine. Yet what had the Christians done? Among the first monstrous acts of their presence in Jerusalem they had shut Jews in a synagogue and burnt them alive.

"People of the First Crusade" by Michael Foss (1997)20

The Jews reminisced over the temperate Muslim government, the safety, stability and tolerance of Muslim rule. It had all been replaced by Christian war, blood, danger, instability and fierce anti-semitism. The Muslims had also allowed the co-existence of Orthodox Greek Christians, and also Christian Copts, Syrians, Jacobites and Armenians. These relatively peaceful Christian groups were all oppressed by the new Christians proclaiming Latin patriarchy. The Catholics destroyed all peace in the whole Middle East. The more pagan Christians, peaceful and tolerant, were shocked at how low and barbaric Western Christianity had become.

5. 13th-16th Century

5.1. Christian Anti-Jewish Legislation Continues

During the middle ages, Jews faced periods of forced expullsion "from almost every country of Christian Europe"1. In England the Jews' situation was unique. Before Christianity, England contained many religions, pagan Celts, druids, natural religions and an assortment of imported beliefs all co-existed. But the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity led to a top-down enforcement of Christianity. The populace were convinced, coerced and led into Christianity by varied ingenious schemes, and all other religious beliefs were purged. Christianity meant the end of religious pluralism in England in the Middle Ages; if the Jews were present before 1000CE, they too would have been violently purged. Jews were introduced to England only in the 11th century, but by then England was already Christian. They were imported as subservients to the Christian government, coerced into providing trading advice and financial services.

The thirteenth century saw continuing Papal legislation limiting the rights of Jews, cross-marriage and even cross-contact between Jews and Christians were enforced, with Jews living in walled-off areas. The Catholic Church led the world in making new, innovative ways at dehumanizing the Jews, removing every right possible.

"Throughout Western Europe, although in some countries later than others, the general pattern was the same. The springtime of Christian usury and the pillaging, burning and looting of Jewish property" led eventually to them becoming financially useless and being expelled by the Christian rulers.

In England, France and Germany Jews were expelled as Christian commerce finally caught up with historical Jewish experience of trade which they'd gained before Christianity shattered their communities. "And from Spain and Portugal too, where Jewish prosperity lasted longer than in the North, all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity were finally driven out in the last decade of the fifteenth century [so that] the main bulk of the European Jewish had been pushed eastwards into Poland and the European provinces along the Russian border"21.

In Spain, although "running as a common thread through all the killings, in Andalucia, in the rest of Castile, in Aragon, and especially in the Balearic Islands, was a sense of revulsion against all those who were not Christian", it was the Jews in particular who suffered from the waves of attacks such as those that begun in Seville in June 1391; the Moors were harassed less severely22.

5.2. Martin Luther (1483-1540)

Martin Luther fathered the Protestant reformation with the publication of his 95 theses in 1517. He was also one of the most famous Christian anti-Semitical writers during this time, and in 1543 listed seven horrible, unjust and inhuman ways in which Jews should be treated, effectively stripping them of most their rights within (what was to be) Protestant territories. Martin Gardner, the mathematician and skeptic, traces the history of the abuse of scientific ideas, and traces the history of anti-semitism through to its Christian roots.

In Germany, the first influential and passionate anti-Semite was Martin Luther. His solution of the German 'Jewish problem' was a simple one. Drive them out of Germany. [...] He wrote: 'They are such a heavy burden like a plague, pestilence, misfortune...'. Either deport them, or put them into slave labour, Martin Luther argued. He also suggested 'that their synagogues or schools be set on fire... that their houses be broken up and destroyed...'

"Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science" by Martin Gardner (1957)23

New York, NY, April 20...The impact of Martin Luther's anti-Jewish writings, the persistence of anti-Jewish ideas in Christian theology and the efforts of the Lutheran Church to fight the scourge of anti-Semitism and racism are explored in the new issue of [our] Interfaith Focus.

Anti-Defamation League (1999 or 2000)

He made his famous recommendation that rebellious peasants should be 'killed like mad dogs' [and] that synagogues be burned - Jews were 'poisonous bitter worms'. [...] The Bohemian Protestants also turned on the Jews and expelled them from Prague. Indeed, most of the new sects were as intolerant as the old ones.

"A History of Sin" by Oliver Thomson (1993)24

5.3. The Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834) was Mostly Concerned With Policing Jewish Beliefs

In Spain,

The Catholic Kings' objective was a unitary Christian Spain, made up of Old and New Christians. [...] In the last year of the campaign for Grenada, considerable efforts were being made to fabricate evidence that Jews and converts both posed a mortal threat to Spain. Between 1490 and November 1491, no effort was being sparred by the Inquisition (including repeated bouts of torture) to prove that ten men had kidnapped a child from the village of La Guardia near Toledo, crucified him, then cut out his heart and drunk his blood. Despite the fact that no child was ever found to be missing from the village, the accused were eventually found guilty and burned alive. [...] In content the allegations differed very little from other propaganda and false accusations directed against Jews in other parts of Europe. [...] The same elements, such as crucifixion, circumcision and bleeding, repeatedly appeared in the cases made against Jews. [...] Many in Spain believed that the 'taint' of Jewish birth could never be eradicated [therefore converts - New Christians - were not trusted]

"Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam" by Andrew Wheatcroft (2004)25

Shortly after 1491, masses of Jews were expelled from Spain, but, that was far from the end of the story. Conversos were those non-Christians in Spain who had been forced to convert to Christianity or die. They included Muslims and Jews, but it was the Jews who got particular attention. The majority of the activity of the Spanish Inquisition was aimed at "crypto-Jews", i.e., those who were secretly practising Judaism. Superstition and paranoia was rife; one of the accusations against Jews that was frequently heard was that they practised magic because, many people believed, Hebrew was an especially potent language of magic.

During the first few decades of its existence the Spanish Inquisition was mostly concerned with rooting out heresy amongst conversos - that is, Jewish converted, mostly forcibly, to Christianity. For the inquisitors the possession of Jewish texts was a sure sign that conversos were secretly practising Judaism, and so a ruthless campaign of rooting out and burning such books was instituted. [...] While the Italian Inquisition was primarily set up to counter the threat of Protestantism from over the Alps, it also targeted Jews and their books. In 1553 many thousands of Hebrew works were destroyed in an orgy of book burning across the Italian states. Fifteen years later in Venice, a major center of Jewish publishing, the authorities instituted another round-up and burned thousands more copies of the Talmud and other Jewish texts.[...]

The campaign against Jewish books was not only about the heresy of converted Jews secretly practising Judaism, but also about their perceived and real magical activities. For many Christians as well as Jews, Hebrew words were in themselves thought magical.

"Grimoires: A History of Magic Books" by Owen Davies (2009)26

6. 17th-18th Century

[Ignoring social ills,] the papacy, more concerned with heresy, maintained its support for judicial violence; in Rome between 1634 and 1790, 2000 Jews were forcibly converted to Christianity

"A History of Sin" by Oliver Thomson (1993)27

7. 19th Century

In "The Ascendancy of Europe 1815-1914" by M S Anderson (1985)28 the author mentions that throughout the 19th century, anti-semitism was propagated as much by Catholics as by any other political or radical idealist. Perry & Schweitzer are much more explicit in the details of some of the atrocious methods employed by Catholics, under the supervision of the Vatican:

Book CoverIn the nineteenth century, the Catholic Church opposed the emancipation of the Jews, insisting that they remain in ghettos [...] and be denied equal rights. In its view, which dated back to St. Augustine in the fifth century, Jews should remain degraded until they renounced their anachronistic religion and embraced the saving truth of Christianity. The Jews immured since 1555 in the ghetto of Rome, which was ruled by the popes [...] suffered oppression, humiliation - including, as in the Middle Ages, having to wear a yellow star of David on their clothing [...]. After 1870 and until [the 1960s] papal pronouncements regarding Jews normally assumed that their proper status was ghetto subjugation and restrictions. [...] Forced conversions ended only after 1870. [...]

Popes fostered anti-semitic movements in Europe; from behind the scene Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) supported the virulently antisemitic Catholic Social Party in Austria and smiled on its leader, Karl Lueger, as he smiled on the French antisemitic volcano Edouard Drumont. [...]

The Vatican daily L'Osservature Romano in 1892 "glorified in antisemitism. Good antisemitism, wrote a typical Catholic journalist, is "nothing other than Christianity, completed and perfected in Catholicism".

"Anti-Semitism" by Marvin Perry & Frederick M. Schweitzer (2002)29

8. Biblical Reasons for Christian Anti-Semitism

The Church Fathers were anti-Jewish, probably because the Jews actually owned and wrote the "Old Testament" of the Christian Bible, and argued with the new Christian sect over the claims of these newcomers about the Jewish Scriptures. From the very beginning the Church Fathers were vehemently anti-Jewish. They claimed that Jews belonged to Christians, along with their sacred texts; the Jews were forced to be slaves of Christians. Aquinas, a highly influential Christian theologian of the 13th century, is just one example of a high-brow Christian scholar who continually repeated the traditional Christian claims against Jews.

St Thomas Aquinas gives the principle theological backing in his Summa Theologica when, reiterating the views of St Bernard, he declares that 'since the Jews are the slaves of the Church, she can dispose of their possessions'.

"The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall (1979)30

In the Gospels we read more and more frequently about the Jewish people being reluctant to accept Jesus as the Messiah. He speaks to the Jewish audiences about 'your Law' as if it were not the same Law which he acknowledges and lives by. He grieves for the 'hardness of the hearts' of the Jewish congregation (Mark 3:5). We read about the Jewish people having been 'moved against' Jesus by the priests (Mark 15:11)

"Jesus Versus Christianity" by Alfred Reynolds (1993)31

"The Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets"

Pilate, the Roman governor, is pressurized by Jews to "take action against an innocent man to placate the hostile Jews (Mark 15:15)". Jesus is crucified despite Pilate finding 'no fault in him' (Luke 23:3). Pilate 'asserts the prisoner's innocence' and washes his hands of the proceedings (Matthew 27:24, John 19:4-6) and only the insistence of 'the Jews' prompts him to deliver Jesus to his executioners. In Matthew 27:25 the Jews en masse are said to welcome the blame and responsibility for the death of Jesus - "his blood be on us", they say in the Gospels, written by Christians. Reading this story in the Gospel of John, one might even get the impression that the executioners in question were Jews, although the only form of execution used by the Jews was stoning; crucifixion, the Roman form of carrying out a death sentence, filled them with horror'. The Gospels are adamant in their condemnation of 'the Jews'31.

St Paul, a very early Christian writer and the most influential person in forming Christianity, wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 "...the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuted us. How displeasing they are to God! How hostile they are to everyone! ... In this way they have brought to completion all the sins they have always committed".

Pauline Christianity always blamed the Jews for the persecution of their Messiah. The Romans crucified a large number of people, but the Italians were not blamed (as ancestors of the Romans) but the Jews (as ancestors of the Rabbis with whom Jesus argued). Because of the contents of the New Testament, Christian enthusiasts have consistently produced violently anti-semitic propaganda, which have permeated into society in general even in today's enlightened world, all in God's name, according to Christian scripture.

Sons of the Devil

[The Bible's representation of the Jew:] The Jews were descended neither from God (like Jesus and the Christians), nor from Abraham but from the devil (John 8:44), and, as the children of the devil, the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning, they were bound to seek Jesus' life.

"The Misery of Christianity - a Plea for Humanity without God" by Joachin Kahl (1968)32

Jesus said to [the Jews], "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. [...] You belong to your father, the devil [...] The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.

John 8:42-47, New Testament, NIV

More Pauline Text

The epistles show that at one time the point was reached when no reconciliation was possible and when the 'Church of Christ' was inevitably set against 'the Jews'. The Jews are said to have failed to attain righteousness and stumbled through unbelief (Rom. 9:31-33). They are ignorant of God's will (Rom. 10:3) and invoke His severe stricture (Rom. 10:21). Straying from the path of righteousness, they have sinned through blindness and stubbornness (Rom. 11). ['The Jews'] have 'both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and... please not God, and are contrary to all men (1 Thess. 2:15)

"Jesus Versus Christianity" by Alfred Reynolds (1993)33

The Rest of the New Testament: 34

Aside from the gospels and Pauline texts considered above, the general tone of much of the New Testament is one of intolerance for those who do not accept Jesus as saviour.Christian

"1 John Chapter 5" by Vexen Crabtree (2012) (you can read the whole chapter plus commentary on this page).

1 John was written specifically to counter ideas that the author disagreed with, and to assert that only its author's ideas were the correct ones. 1 John 5:1 (same as John 8:42) says that if you don't believe in Jesus then you can't actually love God. Not exactly a tolerant endorsement of the likes of Moses, Abraham, and other Jewish heroes of the Old Testament! 1 John 5:2-6 adds that "God's testimnoy" is greater than "man's" and that God's testimony is that Jesus is its son - only those who believe in that have God's testimony in their heart. Verse 10 says that if you don't believe in Jesus, you must believe that God is a liar. Verses 12-13 finish by saying that only those who believe in Jesus can survive death.

So 1 John 5 makes it clear that Jews (for example) do not love God because they don't accept Jesus, and, also, if you don't believe in Jesus, you can't carry out God's commandments. It is not about your behaviour, about whether you love God as much as you can, about whether you are kind to others: it is all about whether or not you believe that the creator of the universe, and untold billions of planets, happened to choose to have his only son here on Earth. If you don't believe that, then, you believe that God is a liar, and you follow man's testimony, not god's: all your other attempts to be good and godly are useless, according to 1 John 5:1-13.

This kind of blank-and-white thinking about them-and-us prepared Christianity for its 1600-year spate of heresy-hunting and intolerance of even the slightest divergences of belief. If you didn't believe exactly the right things about Jesus then you couldn't love God, couldn't do what God wanted, and in other words, were agents of Satan, who could rightly be pursued and oppressed, because anyway, they had no chance of attaining immortal life if left to their ways.

"1 John Chapter 5" by Vexen Crabtree (2012)

Hypocrisy

It is a painful but inescapable truth that antisemitism, which seethes with hate, was spawned and nourished by Christianity, which reveres a Jewish prophet who preached love and compassion. The New Testament and the writings of the Church Fathers often refer to Jews and Judaism contemptuously. Jews were depicted as an accused people, children of the Devil collectively condemned by God to suffer for rejecting and killing Christ. This degrading image of the Jew was propagated over the centuries in numerous books, sermons, works of art, and folklore, and vestiges endure into the twenty-first century. Two thousand years of Christian anti-Judaism [...] hardened hearts against Jews. [...] This mind-set, deeply embedded in the Christian outlook, helps to explain why so many people were receptive to anti-Jewish propaganda.

"Anti-Semitism" by Marvin Perry & Frederick M. Schweitzer (2002)35

The hypocrisy is that the Jews were led from captivity by Moses, a character massively revered within Christianity, and Jesus preached love and tolerance, yet the Christians managed to bring the world, and the Jews, down to a horrific hell as if Jesus and Moses both never existed! It is a psychological characteristic of Christianity that has allowed such contradiction, violent hypocrisy and emotional corruption within its ranks for so many hundreds of years.

Book CoverFor the first few hundred years, Christians did not have a bible. They exchanged writings, letters and collections of stories and sayings between themselves. Bart Ehrman is one of the most qualified historians of early Christianity. In "Lost Christianities", he points out that the Gospel of Peter, perhaps the most or second most widely read Christian book sometime after 100CE to 200CE, was also a highly anti-semitic gospel, even more than the surviving gospels that were canonized36.

Even though it is a contradiction and makes little sense, anti-semitism, a hatred of Jews, has pervaded Christian history and theology for two thousand years.

9. Hitler's Germany

Nazi anti-Judaism was the work of godless, anti-Christian criminals. But it would not have been possible without the almost two thousand years' pre-history of 'Christian' anti-Judaism...

Hans Küng, "On Being a Christian"

I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.

Adolf Hitler

The most well-known example of serious anti-semitism is the atrocities committed by Hitler's Germany, with millions of Jews murdered. Like previous Catholic-influenced pograms, the Nazis also slaughtered many other groups such as gays, occultists, atheists and many forms of minority religion.

Hitler would have to have been positively unusual not to have been influenced by the long standing Christian tradition of blaming Jews as Christ-killers. In a speech in Munich in 1923, Hitler said, 'The first thing to do is to rescue [Germany] from the Jew who is ruining our country... We want to prevent our Germany from suffering, as Another did, the death upon the Cross.'

Christian hatred of Jews is not just a Catholic tradition. Martin Luther was a virulent anti-Semite. At the Diet of Worms he said that 'All Jews should be driven from Germany.' And he wrote a whole book, On the Jews and their Lies, which probably influenced Hitler. Luther described the Jews as a 'brood of vipers' and the same phrase was used by Hitler in a remarkable speech of 1922, in which he several times repeated that he was a Christian. [...] It is hard to know whether Hitler picked up the phrase 'brood of vipers' from Luther, or whether he got it directly from Matthew 3:7. [...] As for the theme of Jewish persecution as part of God's will, Hitler returned to it in Mein Kampf: 'Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.' That was 1925. He said it again in a speech in the Reichstag in 1938, and he said similar things throughout his career.

"The God Delusion" by Prof. Richard Dawkins (2006)37

Some object by saying that Hitler wasn't being very Christian, but, as pointed out, his anti-semitism comes after 2,000 years of already-existing Christian anti-semitism.

Witness the role played by the Catholic Church in aiding Nazi Germany. For example, the German Church opened its genealogical records to the Third Reich so that a person's Jewish ancestry could be traced. Not a single German Catholic, including Adolf Hitler, was excommunicated for committing crimes against humanity.

"God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist"
Prof. Victor J. Stenger (2007)38

10. Modern Times

Stereotypes: The stereotypes of Jews that were fabricated by early Christians are still with us today: Big nosed, money grabbers, conspirators and grotesque, these all stem from the bigoted viewpoints forced upon all of Europe by Christian literature and messages that were endlessly created in the name of their God, based on versus found in the New Testament.

Liberal Christianity: There have always been moral people, some of them Christians, who have bemourned the actions of fellow Christians against the Jews. Thankfully, the future is bright as in the 20th and 21st centuries, liberal Christianity has become the dominant form of Christianity. Liberal Christianity abandons much of the traditions and original Christian ideas in favour of a much more deistic approach to belief and morality. Liberal Christianity is largely moral and certainly good-natured. As such, the more violent anti-Jewish readings are marginalized in favour of other, more universal, interpretations. Liberal Christianity, and especially universalism, has led to a much more moral-minded and apologetic Christianity, which is a very welcome modern trend.

Where is the Jewish Jesus? Jesus is described as Jewish in the Bible; he spoke Aramaic and lived in the Middle East. But how is Jesus depicted in Christian films about Jesus? Without exception, Jesus is an upstanding white man39!

11. Islam

It says in Qur'an 5:12-13 that Jews have abandoned parts of God's message so they are cursed and that their hearts are made hard. All but a few Jews are deceitful. But Muslims are to forgive them and overlook their misdeeds. So the Qur'an is teaching that Jews are nearly all liars, but, that us humans aren't to do anything about it.

Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia have the most oppressive and violent attitude towards Jews of all countries40.

11.1. The Growing Violence of Muslim Antisemitism in Europe

The European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia's report on the subject of growing and violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males41. Because of this, the EUMC withheld publication (until it was leaked). The report summarized country-by-country events, including large rallies against Jews by hundreds of Muslims chanting "kill the Jews", and no end of other incidents. Throughout the West, violent anti-semitism is correlated with Muslim immigration.

Since 2000, anti-Semitism in France has been epidemic. Synagogues have been burned down, schools vandalized, shops attacked, rabbis beaten, children assaulted, school buses shot at, [...]. At Muslim demonstrations shouts of "Death to the Jews" have become common. [For example in 2004] an assailant shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Great") stabbed another seventeen-year-old Jewish boy in the chest in another suburb of Paris [as he left a Jewish school].

"While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within" by Bruce Bawer (2006)42

Given the precarious position of the Jews that remain in Muslim countries and the constant violence they endure, many observers see this problem only getting worse.

11.2. Kill Any Jew That Falls Into Your Power

Just as with Christianity, Muslim violence against Jews comes from the very roots of the religion. In this case, Muhammad himself:

Flushed with victory Muhammad [... hardened his] attitudes towards the Jewish tribes of the region, who kept their faith and reject Muhammad as a prophet of God. With this rejection, Muhammad's prophetic calls to Jews began to get violent, emphasizing earthly punishment. Striding into the center of the marketplace of the Banu Qaynuqa, a Jewish tribe with whom he had a truce, he announced to the crowds, 'O Jews, beware lest God bring upon you the vengeance that He brought upon Quraysh and become Muslims.' [... they didn't convert so] he laid siege on them until they offered him unconditional surrender.

Even then Muhammad's anger was not assuaged. He found a new focus for it in a Jewish poet, K'ab bin Al-Ashraf [... A volunteer, Muhammad bin Maslama, was to kill him. He asked] for permission to lie in order to deceive K'ab bin Al-Ashraf into walking into an ambush. The Prophet granted him this permission. [...] After the murder of K'ab, Muhammad issued a blanket command: 'Kill any Jew that falls into your power.' This was not a military order: The first victim was a Jewish merchant, Ibn Sunayna, who had 'social and business relations' with the Muslims.

"The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam" by Robert Spencer (2005)43

12. Conclusions

The violent and irrational anti-semitism in history has had its roots in one common cause: the teachings of early and middle ages Christianity. Anti-semitism has always been rife within Christianity from the original Church Fathers of the first century. Many of the most influential Christian theologians, for example Augustine, St Aquinas and later, Martin Luther, all indulged themselves by writing anti-Jewish volumes. Aquinas wrote that "since the Jews are the slaves of the Church, she can dispose of their possessions". The Christian anti-semites took their cue from Biblical verses such as Mark 15:15, Luke 23:3, John 19:4-6, 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 that blames Jews as a whole for the death of Jesus, John 8:42-47 that says Jews are descended from the devil, and in Rom 10:3 that they are ignorant of God's will, and other verses are often cited by early Christians too although sometimes the logic of their exegesis confuses me.

No other religion has displayed such immovable hatred towards another religion as Christianity did towards the Jews. No holy war has ever lasted so long and been so bloody as the one the Christians waged against innocent Jews from the first century and through the Dark Ages. History provides us with only few occasions where Jews, or even Muslims or pagans, were as intolerant or morally corrupt as the West was under Christian rule. Thankfully modern Christianity, since it lost its power, is generally more humane. Christianity has slowly been forced to change its ways mostly due to pressure from increasingly powerful secular, poly-cultural governments and changing culture.

It was Christianity that turned the Roman system of tolerance and temperance into a monstrous behemoth and oppressor of any non-Christian belief systems. Muslim governments and people through the Middle Ages were more tolerant of beliefs, of science and knowledge, and of Jews, than Western Christianity. Pagan cultures surrounding Western Christian countries were all more tolerant of Jews than those countries inflicted by Christianity. Anti-semitism marched in step with Christianity, was caused by Christian beliefs and was preached from the pulpit by the highest Christian leaders right on through to the twentieth century.

Read / Write Comments

By Vexen Crabtree 2004 Oct 06
Originally published 2000 Apr 06
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/antisemitism.html
Parent page: Christianity

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References: (What's this?)

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The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. [Book Review]

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(1985) The Ascendancy of Europe 1815-1914. Second edition. Published by Pearson Education Limited, Essex, UK. Anderson is Professor Emeritus of International History in the University of London and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

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(2006) While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. Published by Broadway Books.

Beckerlegge, Gwilym
(2001, Ed.) From Sacred Text to Internet. Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Aldershot, UK, in association with The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK. This was a course book for the OU module "Religion Today: Traditional, Modernity and Change" which ran until 2011.

Davies, Owen
(2009) Grimoires: A History of Magic Books. Davies is Professor of Social History at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. Hardback. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

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(2011) Forged. Subtitle: "Writing in the Name of God - Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are". Hardback. Published by HarperCollins, New York, USA.

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Footnotes

  1. Hinnells (1997) anti-semitism. Added to this page on 2014 Aug 11.^^
  2. Stewart (1997) p55.^
  3. Heywood (2003) p233.^
  4. Heywood (1992) p233.
  5. Lewis (1986) p20/22. Added to this page on 2005 Mar 18.^
  6. Sand (2009) p87-88. Added to this page on 2013 Jan 05.^
  7. Russell (1946) p324.^
  8. McCall (1979) p259-260.^
  9. Ehrman (2011) p149. Added to this page on 2014 Aug 11.^
  10. ReligiousTolerance.org article "Anti-Judaism: 70 TO 1200 CE". Accessed in year 2000.^^
  11. Kahl (1968) p55.^
  12. McCall (1979) p261, p263.^
  13. McCall (1979) p215.^
  14. Russell (1946) p324. Added to this page on 2006 Jul 11.^
  15. Russell (1946) p423.^
  16. Foss (1997) p58-59.^
  17. McCall (1979) p91.^
  18. Russell (1946) p427.^
  19. Spencer (2005) p142-3. Added to this page on 2007 Jan 21.^
  20. Foss (1997) p183.^
  21. McCall (1979) p283-284.^
  22. Wheatcroft (2004) p103. Added to this page on 2011 Jun 10.^
  23. Gardner (1957) ch13 Apologists for Hate. Added to this page on 2009 Aug 17.^
  24. Thomson (1993) p161.^
  25. Wheatcroft (2004) p122-3. Added to this page on 2011 Jun 10.^
  26. Davies (2009) p74-5. Added to this page on 2010 Jun 22.^
  27. Thomson (1993) p184.^
  28. Anderson (1985) p248. Added to this page on 2010 Jun 22.^
  29. Perry & Schweitzer (2002) p6. Added to this page on 2005 Mar 18.^
  30. McCall (1979) p271-272.^
  31. Reynolds (1993) p316-7.^
  32. Kahl (1968) p53.^
  33. Reynolds (1993) p314.^
  34. 2012 Jul 22: Added own quote to this page from a new page.^
  35. Perry & Schweitzer (2002) p3.^
  36. Ehrman (2003) p18, 20.^
  37. Dawkins (2006) p274-276. Added to this page on 2006 Dec 24.^
  38. Stenger (2007) p249. Added to this page on 2010 Feb 24.^
  39. Telford (2001) p270-272.^
  40. Kressel, N. (2007) Chapter 2, digital location 868-71. Added to this page on 2014 Dec 01.^
  41. Bruce Bawer (2006) p140-148. The EUMC report (published 2004) is entitled "Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the European Union". Added to this page on 2011 Feb 24.^
  42. Bawer (2006) p140-1.^
  43. Spencer (2005) p11-12. Qur'anic sources for this story are (1) Ibn Ishaq, 363. (2) Bukhari, vol. 4, book 56, no. 3032. (3) Bukhari, vol. 5, book 64, no. 4037. (4) Ibn Ishaq, 369. Added to this page on 2011 Jun 10.^

© 2014 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.

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