Two Letters from Jim to David

David,

 

I appreciate that you do not see the NT as hate speech. To many modern Christians, it would not occur to them to hate the Jewish people for the things written therein. In fact, most would be horrified by such a notion. (When I was a Christian, I would have been horrified by such a notion too.) But much of modern Christianity is separated from its history and is horrified by the scope and temporal proximity of the holocaust.

 

Let me explain why I call it hate speech. Even if the words addressed to the Pharisees and other groups were accurate–I do not say that they are–they weren’t delivered to those people. The books of the NT are largely directed to non-Jews. And so the image that is painted of the Pharisee to the non-Jew is one horribly skewed. They have no context. They are left with this image of a twisted people who killed either:

 

1. God (if you are a Trinitarian), or

2. Their rightful king (if you are a Trinitarian or not)

 

In fact, the NT tells us that the chief priests and Pharisees had put guards at Jesus tomb

because they feared that his disciples would steal the body and claim he was resurrected. When he was resurrected, the guards ran and told the chief priests what had happened, and they paid off the guards to say that the disciples stole the body (Mt. 27:62-66 and 28:11-15.) From here we see that these men must be totally evil. (If you think back to my answer to you in TYVM, you might realize that this story is absurd. The disciples didn’t even begin announcing the resurrection for another seven weeks.) Here, the chief priests, and presumably the Pharisees, know the truth, but they try to cover it up. See, the story itself is hate speech, because it tells us that the Jew is capable of anything, capable of lying about the resurrection and dooming their own people for self-aggrandizement.

 

I made an unfair exchange in that last sentence. At first I’d been talking about Pharisees and priests. In the last sentence, I made it about the Jews. And it is my suspicion that you will call foul. And you are almost right to do so. But then, read through John. Who does John accuse of wanting to kill Jesus: the Jews. It’s not the Pharisees, it’s not the priests, but the Jews. The constant refrain in John is: “the Jews”. They are the ones antagonistic to Jesus. See, the NT doesn’t criticize the Jewish leadership. It is full of invective, both against them and the Jews at large.

 

And its not criticism. Not really. Jesus holds them accountable for the blood of Abel. That’s not criticism. That’s antagonism. Imagine if one of my daughters hit the other and took a book from her. And then I “corrected” her by yelling at her that not only is she accountable for that but for hitting the neighbor children, holding her responsible for sibling misbehaviors from other families. This would not be correction. But then, if I published a pamphlet to hand out to other children in the neighborhood, talking about how she assaulted other children, whom she’d never harmed, this would become a crime on my part of enormous proportions.

 

That’s the NT. It doesn’t merely offer criticism. It tells lies about the Jewish people. It spreads those lies to other peoples. And then those people, inspired by the NT have found reason to evict, torture, and kill the Jewish people.

 

We can’t be surprised at this reaction. When Jesus is crucified, the Jews are portrayed as wanting a robber to be freed rather than an innocent man, the innocent man. Even Pilate can see that Jesus is innocent. He doesn’t want to kill Jesus. But the Jews, they are all for it. That story is the very definition of hate speech. It doesn’t at all offer criticism. It paints a picture of the Jew that is so disfigured.

 

I understand it would never occur to you to look at this at hate speech. The NT is peppered with the word “love”. How could it be hateful?

 

It is.

 

With respect,

Jim

 

David,

 

I have a friend with whom I have often spoken about why I left the Church, and why I see the NT as untenable. In almost every conversation, he brings up how Jews are merely legalists who don’t really love God. (In his theology, doing the commands of God is not an expression of love, you see.) He sees their religion as wholly hypocritical, all action but no heart. Is this from his vast interaction with the Jewish people? No. I don’t think he knows one Jew personally. I know he doesn’t know any Torah observant Jews personally.

 

Where does he come by this knowledge then? The New Testament. Now, would he advocate killing Jews or burning their Torahs? No. Would he look for them to be pushed out of America? No. But it’s hard to say he doesn’t loathe them. For him, there is almost no crime worse than being legalistic. And it comes out when you talk to him. There is a disgust with the people who, in his opinion, do not love God and obsess over niggling details. That’s the power of the NT. He has an opinion about people he doesn’t know. And he judges their sincerity, having never observed their behavior.

 

This leads to a further error, as well. He is unlikely to listen to the substance of an argument. Instead, he attributes motive to the arguer. He is able to write off their opinion without considering their merits. “You only think that because of motivation x or emotion y.” But he doesn’t address the actual points of the argument. He doesn’t even have to listen to the other person as if they too are a person with an intellect. He can write them off ahead of time. This is a deep error that obscures the truth.

 

He constantly judges the “heart condition” (his words) of the Jew. He doesn’t have to take their ideas seriously. He already knows they’re wrong, because he knows what they are like deep down inside. This makes me very sad for him, honestly. Not so much angry as sad. Because he never really confronts an opposing opinion. He avoids them by writing off other people. And that does us no good. By refusing to take others seriously, we cannot test our own ideas. We cannot rid ourselves of what is false, nor refine partially true.

 

Jim

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24 Responses to Two Letters from Jim to David

  1. Dina says:

    Jim, you clearly and eloquently articulate what I think! And you do it much more kindly and tactfully. I have a lesson or two to learn from you about compassion and courtesy.

    Thanks!

    Dina

  2. June Volk says:

    To My Friend,
    “There’s no charge” 🙂
    Junzey

  3. Roman says:

    I am a Christian who reads both the Old and New Testament. I love the Jewish people. I personally know many Jewish people. Orthodox, Messianic, and secular alike. One thing the New Testament does NOT do is make me have ill feelings toward Jews. You see because of my belief in Yeshuia as the Messiah, I understand that His whole purpose for coming to Earth was to die for our sins. In the New Testament, Yeshua is quoted many times telling his disciples that in a little while he is going to die, but not to worry because this must take place. Any true Christian knows that it wasn’t the Jews who had Yeshua killed, it wasn’t the Romans even though they were the ones who carried it out, but it was God Himself who had Yeshua killed for the atonement of our sins. But then Yeshua was resurrected as a sort of “First Fruit” so that we may know that He was truly the Messiah. This is why we as Christians place our faith and trust in the finished work of Yeshua. The Old Testament prophets prophesied about the things that the Messiah would do once he came on the scene, and Yeshua fulfilled all of those things. To hate Jewish people is absolutely stupid and especially for Christians. How can we say we love Yeshua but hate the Jewish people? I submit that a Christian who has a proper understanding of the Bible as a whole understands that the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah, and the New Testaments shows the fulfillment of those prophesies. In fact, if you ever read the book of Romans, it reads as almost a love letter to the Jews. Rabbi Shaul talks at length about how the Jewish people are still God’s chosen people, How God is not finished with the Jewish people nor has He forsaken them, and how we as Gentile believers need to understand that we were engrafted into the Jewish faith. We are like the adopted little brothers of the Jews. For us to hate our Jewish brothers is absolutely absurd. One last thing the comment that the NT was written for non-Jews is a bit false. The first believers in Yeshua were all Jewish. The book of Matthew is written specifically to Jews so that they can know that Yeshua is indeed the Messiah.

    • David says:

      Hi Roman,
      Well said.
      Carry on.

    • Dina says:

      Hi, Roman.

      I was reading these comments of yours:

      “Any true Christian knows that it wasn’t the Jews who had Yeshua killed, it wasn’t the Romans even though they were the ones who carried it out, but it was God Himself who had Yeshua killed for the atonement of our sins.”

      “To hate Jewish people is absolutely stupid and especially for Christians. How can we say we love Yeshua but hate the Jewish people?”

      “For us to hate our Jewish brothers is absolutely absurd.”

      I wish you had been around to tell this to John Chrysostom, Torquemada, Martin Luther, and others.

      That would have saved us a heap of trouble.

      Peace and blessings,
      Dina

    • Jim says:

      Hello Roman,

      Thank you for your response. One interesting thing I would point out. You say that it wasn’t the Jews who killed Jesus, but God. Theoretically, that is true. But in reality the NT tells a very different story. Let me explain.

      By your logic, Judas should not be held responsible for the death of Jesus. He was only doing the will of God. It was God who wanted Jesus killed, not Judas. But what does Jesus say to Judas? “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matt. 26:23). By your logic, he should have been congratulating Judas for fulfilling the will of God. But instead, he tells Judas it would be better for him not to live. And in fact, Judas hangs himself.

      Likewise, it is difficult to say that the Jews aren’t guilty when the story the NT tells pits the Jews against Jesus. He calls the Pharisees such names as “brood of vipers.” According to the NT they attempt to trap him in his words, but he is to clever for him. And they are willing to trade away his life for that of Barabbas. Pilate is asking why he should kill Jesus (as if Pilate was renowned for his mercy): ” ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they cried out all the more, saying, ‘Let him be crucified!” (Matt. 27:23). And then of course, he washes his hands to protest his innocence. You see, it’s not the Romans who did it. They carried out the deed, but they were being directed by this frenzied mob of Jews. Pilate looks weak. The Jews look hateful. The Roman wanted nothing to do with it. And as he protests his innocence, the Jews accept it upon themselves and their children.

      That is the story. It’s an ugly story I hate even to repeat. One message of the NT may very well be love, but the story it paints of the Jewish people is hateful. And while it is true that according to theology, Jesus died as a sacrifice, according to the plan of God, the story makes clear they are responsible. Just as Judas is.

      And in fact, then the NT holds them responsible not just for the death of Jesus. According to Matthew, they know about the resurrection and they cover it up. Their guilt is even deeper than we could have imagined. At least if they had only killed him, it might have been because they didn’t understand. But clearly Matthew is holding them responsible for more. Afterward, they should have been horrified by their error. They should have acknowledged him. (All this by NT logic, I mean.) But they don’t. They pay off the guards to lie about the situation. If, as Jesus tells Thomas: “Blesses are those who have not seen and yet believe”, what may we infer about those who have seen but refuse to believe anyway.

      No, Roman. I am sorry to say but the story is not one of love and brotherly unity. The story makes clear villains of the Jews. They are not merely fulfilling the will of God. They are themselves wicked, like Judas not absolved of their guilt.

      Jim

      • David says:

        Hi Jim,

        You point is well taken that Roman in his post, although ultimately correct that it was the will of God, brushed over the issue of the guilt of others involved. That’s because I believe he might of said that the issue of who is guilty for this or that is secondary. Truth and grace go together, you can’t have one without the other. Because the truth of the guilt is inescapable, therefore the grace which is freely given is so much more precious when received. The Truth is Peter also is guilty and denied Jesus and was freely forgiven. Paul is guilty and is freely forgiven. We are all guilty and are freely forgiven according to the NT. The NT is, more than anything else, a document of love and forgiveness.

        You can’t morally and honestly blame the misguided actions of some on a twisting of the words of the NT. The NT also teaches that we are all sinners and yet Jesus did not come to condemn us sinners but to save us all. That’s why God sent him. Any reasonably minded person knows to take the NT as a whole and apply the lessons of God.

        Just as you take the lessons and teachings of the OT as a whole. There’s lot’s of examples there as well.

  4. Shomer says:

    When he was resurrected, the guards ran and told the chief priests what had happened, and they paid off the guards to say that the disciples stole the body (Mt. 27:62-66 and 28:11-15.)

    Imagine you have a guard of Roman soldiers, armed Roman soldiers. And these soldiers would be killed if they slept on their guard. Please, tell me, how is it possible that they were given bribes to tell others that they fell asleep. I rather imagine that his body had disappeared as Moses’ body had. Because of all contradictions regarding “Jesus'” resurrection and ascention I suggest to end where Mark Ch. 16 ended in the old texts; with V 8! His body had disappeard – that’s it. If “Jesus” had ascended, his mother would have ascended, too and Mohammed likewise. As a matter of fact I have obtained information about a graveyard in Zurich where a devout Christian had noticed empty tombs some 90 years ago. The bodies were burried there after a revival some 70 years before. Thus, disappeared bodies I do not have a problem with. The much bigger problem I have with an ascention and a preceding resurrection as described in the Gospels.

  5. Paul summers says:

    Hello Jim
    Of course we disagree on many things here. Me being a believer in Christ Yeshua.
    However when one as yourself quotes the NT totally wrong, it would appear that you havnt read the NT. And I can only assume that your statements are based on second hand information and chinese whispers.
    If you can show me anywhere in the NT that indiates that the ministry of Yeshua was aimed at gentiles rarther than Jews, then I will show you where the Torah
    was given to Moses in the White House!

    Theological differences are one thing, but advocating total inaccurcies based on “what you want to believe” Are another!

    • Jim says:

      Paul,

      Your assumptions about my knowledge of the NT are not only incorrect but unfounded. I spent the first 31 years of my life in the Church and read the NT frequently and thoroughly. If you had read what I wrote carefully, you would find that:

      1. At no point did I misquote the NT.
      2. At no point did I say that the ministry of Jesus was aimed at the gentiles.

      I am perfectly aware that Jesus claimed to be sent to “the lost sheep of Israel.” But the gospels are not to the “lost sheep of Israel”. Only one of the gospels is believed to be directed to the Jewish people, but it clearly didn’t stay there if it was. So all the horrible things it writes about them are stories imbibed by the non-Jewish population about the Jewish people.

      I must say that I find it incredible that you could write “Theological differences are one thing, but advocating total inaccuracies based on ‘what you want to believe’ Are another!” That’s the entire modus operandi of Christian missionary work, begun in the NT and carried on into the present day. You already believe in Jesus, so you read him into any text you can. And yet, you will accuse me and others of taking things out of context?! And it’s what you just did to what I wrote.

      Note that you addressed Jesus’ ministry. But that’s not what I wrote about. It wasn’t even the topic. Then you ignored the fact that much of what I wrote was about the story told about the Jews and not what Jesus said about them. (Some was about what Jesus said, but that related to the point about the narrative.) And somehow you spin this into a story about my ignorance of the NT? I don’t even know what to say. You appear ignorant of what I wrote. Did you actually read it before responding?

      Jim

      • Paul summers says:

        Hi Jim

        Yes I did read your comments prior to responding. The Gospels and the letters were written by Jews and addressed to Jews. The NT is a Jewish document written by Jews. Of course not every word is for the Jew only, but on the whole, it was because the early church was Jewish by origin.
        x

    • Jim says:

      Paul,

      I’d like to make one other point if I may. In the TYVM thread you referred Dina to Hebrews 8, which quotes from Jeremiah 31. Only, it misquotes it. Hebrews 8.9 ends “…and so I had no concern for them, says the Lord.” But look in Jeremiah. Is that what it says? No. “…though I was their husband, says the Lord” (31.32).

      I ask you: Where are your words of incredulity toward the author of Hebrews? Why do you not say to him, “However, when one as yourself quotes the prophets totally wrong, it would appear that you haven’t read the prophets. And I can only assume that your statements are based on second hand information and chinese whispers.” Why are you not so jealous in guarding the holy words of God as you are in defending the NT?

      When Matthew alters Isaiah 7.14, not just the word ha’almah to virgin but changing the tense, altering “she” to “they”, altering the context, omitting the continuance of what Isaiah teaches us about the child, where are you then? Do you turn to Matthew and tell him that he appears totally ignorant of the topic upon which he writes. Do you guard Isaiah like you do Matthew?

      Why do you not so jealously guard the words of the prophets against its abusers? Why do you instead accept the words of the ignorant NT authors who “advocate total inaccuracies based on what they believe”?

      Jim

      • Dina says:

        Hi Paul,

        I’m glad to see you’re back in business and I look forward to reading your responses over at “TYVM.”

        In the meantime, I’d just like to add one thing to Jim’s astute comments, just a question, really.

        If Christian scripture was supposed to originally target a Jewish audience, why was it written in Greek, the language of the gentiles, rather than Hebrew or Aramaic, the language of the Jews?

        Only the wealthy, educated, Hellenized Jews fluent in Greek would have been able to access the information in Christian scripture, not the Pharisees and the poor masses.

        Thanks,
        Dina

        • Paul summers says:

          Hi Dina

          The septuagint as you know is greek. Written 200 yrs prior to Christ.

          The language of the masses was actually greek not hebrew. Classical hebrew was quite rare for the common man.
          As the NT is written in greek it would be appropiate for the audiance. The NT was aimed at all, not just the elite. In fact the elite could speak both.
          So it wasnt the elite who spoke greek but the every day man. Hence the NT in greek.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Paul.

            Allow me to correct some historical errors in your last comment to me.

            Let’s discuss the two issues in your comment here: the Greek Septuagint and the language of the masses.

            1. The Greek Septuagint

            The Torah (Five Books of Moses only) was translated into Greek in the third century BCE. King Ptolemy II ordered this translation for the Library of Alexandria and he commissioned Jewish sages (who were fluent in many languages besides for Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) to do the work. The word “Septuagint” derives from the number of sages forced to translation the Torah: seventy-two.

            The rest of Tanach was translated much later.

            Observant Jews never relied on the Septuagint for their studies.

            2. Language of the Masses

            The language of the Jewish masses in the Holy Land in the first century was primarily Aramaic. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_of_Jesus for more information.

            The wealthy, Hellenized Jews would have spoken Greek–such as the famous Jewish historian Philo, who did indeed rely on the Septuagint. These Jews were in fact the elite. The Pharisees were mostly dirt poor and were the leaders of the dirt-poor masses. (There were some wealthy Pharisees, but they were few and far between.)

            You will no doubt find it interesting to read about the lifestyle of the Pharisees in the works of Josephus, a Jewish historian who was a contemporary of Jesus.

            Dina

      • David says:

        Hi Jim,

        It appears to me the NT quotes the Septuagint in the case of Jeremiah 31:32 as it does in many instances. I haven’t checked into the other case you cited.

        At least on version of the English translation of Jeremiah of the Greek Septuagint reads:

        “32 It will not be like the covenant with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, because they did not abide in my covenant, and I was unconcerned for them, quoth the Lord.”

      • David says:

        Hi Jim,

        By the way I responded on the Isaiah 53 thread to this portion of your post from that thread.

        “You have also been rather emphatic that Israel cannot die, so that this can’t be about Israel. And yet, it talks about “deaths”. In light of that, it might be reasonable to think that Israel can suffer deaths without being destroyed, because many of those who make up Israel can die, but corporate Israel remains. And yet you have insisted it can’t be about Israel, because it can’t die. I find that outrageous, sir.”

      • Paul summers says:

        Hi Jim

        May I also add that your tone and atitude are not in my view very mature and proper. This blog is not a platform for you to vent your differences. You should just present your argument from a line of scripture and not take it as a personal vendeta against someone who doesnt beleive in your views. Calm down please.
        x

        • Jim says:

          Paul,

          I am wholly flabbergasted by your responses. Perhaps because your computer was down, you did not see the beginning of the conversation and are missing some context. It began with a random post from Derek here:

          https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/the-school-of-matthew/#comment-7435

          There are many good responses from Dina and Yehudah, which I recommend reading. My first response to that was here:

          https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/the-school-of-matthew/#comment-7442

          In any case, you continue not to address any of the actual points I made.

          There seems to be some sort of misunderstanding however. You (and other Christians here) seem to think that if people belong to one subset of a group, they couldn’t possibly say anything hateful about others in that same subset. I could not imagine saying, no Democrats or Republicans could speak hatefully about each other because they are all Americans.

          Nicholas Donin and Pablo Christiani were both Jews who, after converting to Chrisianity, wrote and said hateful things about other Jews. In fact they led in their persecution. Don’t misunderstand. That doesn’t show that the NT is hateful. It only belies the argument that being written by Jews of a certain sub-set to other Jews in the same sub-set couldn’t possibly write things hateful about other Jews.

          I hardly find this point worth mentioning, but I wouldn’t want you to think I ignored it, although I’ve already addressed it in a way. You say that the NT was written mostly to Jews. That’s a bit of a stretch. Only one of the four gospels is believed to have been written for Jews specifically. Most of the letters are not written to specifically Jewish audiences: Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Thessalonians, Phillipians, Colossians. Even Revelation was written to churches in Asia Minor (and employs the ugly phrase, “synagogue of Satan”). Your name-sake calls himself “an apostle to the gentiles” (Rom. 11.13). And he is responsible for much of the NT. While there may have been Jews in these churches, they weren’t specifically Jewish. So you’ve exaggerated in your claim quite a bit. Also, because they aren’t exclusively Jewish, they sustain my argument that if they are offering legitimate corrective material, they do it inappropriately by giving it over to non-Jews.

          Jim

          • Jim says:

            Small mistake above. I meant to write in the sixth paragraph: There seems to be some sort of misunderstanding however. You (and other Christians here) seem to think that if people belong to one subset of a group, they couldn’t possibly say anything hateful about others in that same group but a different subset. I could not imagine saying, “No Democrats or Republicans could speak hatefully about each other because they are all Americans.”

            Jim

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