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Anti-Jewish Sentiments Obviously Inserted in Gospels

Discussion in 'Religion and Lighthearted Discussion' started by State, Jun 28, 2009.

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  1. State

    State Rookie

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    Hyam Maccoby, among others, makes a solid case that this is so, the hate speech of the NT. I don't think hate is too strong a word. His books such as Jesus: The Pharisee and The Mythmaker - Google Books convince me, in the absence of a credible counterargument thus far, that Jesus was not the figure in the Christian gospels, perfidiously rejected by the Jews.

    I think he was more of a holy (Chasid) nationalist who performed miracles (or was thought to).

    Well, whatever.

    In today Catholic mass's reading, which I heard at my wife's local Catholic parish, such an insertion may be found in Mark 5:40. USCCB - NAB - Mark 5

    Jesus shows up at a important guy's house, says the dead/dying child is merely sleeping. Here's where it gets interesting. The crowd ridicules him. Yet, somehow he is able then to do three things: 1) dismiss the crowd while they show contempt to him; 2) gain admittance to the dead child's room (Whose parents would allow a man to do that that they had no confidence in?); and 3) heal him or her.

    Of the options I think #3 is the most likely. The others don't fit the narrative, esp. being treated with ridicule when he has already raised large crowds to hear his charismatic preaching and has performed miracles.

    The motivation of the Pauline redactors of the Christian testaments is clear: to marginalize Judaism, from which Christianity was originally part of Judaism and gradually grew into being an off-shoot. Finally, it became a separate religion, most clearly with St. Paul, the pseudo Jew.
  2. PatsFanInVa

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    I've got to soften what appears such an insurmountable, built-in clash of faiths, as follows:

    - The Jesus of history and the stories we have received about him are two very different things

    - Bottom line, when the conflicts among faiths are emphasized, we focus on the scripture positions derived therefrom that breed more conflict. But when anti-semitism is not the focus of the Christian reading, the two faiths tend more to converge (as is the case in Islam as well.)

    - One more thing: when faiths are painted as intrinsically in conflict, the less popularly held faith, especially when identified with an ethnic group, is likely to get the short end of the historical stick (and of course this is precisely what happened)

    These caveats aside, of course, you are absolutely right, State. There were very good historical reasons for what amounts to historical slanders against the Jewish people written into the letter of the Christian scripture. We touched on Ed Sanders in another conversation, and that made me go searching for the video I found of him.

    For readers unfamiliar with him, he is a Christian and a dedicated historical critical scholar (as well as an authority on Jesus and Judaism, and on the letters of Paul.) I'm struck by his conclusion that Christianity has acted and "spoken" toward Judaism with a specific anti-Jewish and anti-Pharasaic voice from very early on, and I agree.

    We even have passages where Jewish crowds find occasion to shout out as if with one voice "let the his blood be upon us and upon our children." Yeah, I'm sure that's a popular chant. Sure. Heard that one at Gillette just last sunday... Putting the "fiction" in crucifixion, don't you think?

    [By the way, I thought I'd run across Geza Vermes, but hadn't. Picked up a volume at a Borders recently, then got all cheap and put it back down. But I'm sure I'll pick another up again.]

    Now -- all that said, I find the following fascinating:

    With my own Catholic first wife, I had an experience where I was with them for Christmas eve dinner. Her sister had gotten all opus-dei on them; her brother and father were relative secularists. She was sort of beginning to think of herself as Jewish. So her sister was trying to get her head around how I could have been "without Jesus" all my life.

    One thing led to another, and I politely put it that God was important to me, but that Jesus was not, which just sounded ridiculous to the sister in law. So I asked if we could go around the table and talk about our feelings on God and Jesus. Come to find out, brother-in-law and father-in-law felt exactly as I did, that Jesus was probably an exceptionally charismatic and probably a very good man, but that he was not to be confused with God.

    Long story short, we had a slight and temporary family meltdown. Groesse gedillah. But I also learned something key:

    Her family and I shared almost the same religious beliefs, and almost identical day-to-day values. As I've mentioned, I am not orthodox. So for my part, the things that supposedly separate Jews and Christians have sort of dissolved. I no longer concern myself a lot about ritual dietary laws, and I'm not a regular schul-goer. Her family, it seems, no longer really believes in the Trinity, just for example. I think a lot of Christians are in a similar position, just as a lot of Jews are in my position.

    Now think for a moment beyond the idea that a sort of plastic sameness has crept over us all...

    This also means that the instruction of Judaism, its core, survived too in the core of Christianity. We want to find divisive particulars, emphasize our uniqueness, point out better and worse creeds. But for me, I have discovered that when we discuss the values we believe make our religions worth embracing, we end up faced with the stark fact of our sameness.

    Do I still want my cultural distinctness? Even if I did not want it, history has a way of reminding people like me. Even without the grand tragedies we all learn about, individuals remind us. So my attitude is that fortunately, I do not have to fight for cultural distinctness. Whether I like it or not, I will have it. As it turns out, I do like it. I like my Jewishness, and I like Judaism.

    But with the exception of those trying to find a distinctness of their own, I find my Judaism reflected in, rather than repudiated by, the faith of others, whether Muslims, Christians, or adherents of Eastern religions. I do not say that this is strictly imitative, but that seeking for the core of any of these traditions leads us toward one another -- even if seeking to reinforce a given religion, the crystalized earthly structure that grows from a particular spiritual insight, always ends in a suspiciously political and worldly conclusion.

    Sorry if this is far afield and a bit kumbayah for your tastes. We (Jews) are called to be a light unto the nations: not to overcome them by force, but to lead by example. As the local anti-semites with tell you for hours on end, we may not always succeed in that. But it seems that we've at least given birth to two very large and unruly children, Christianity and Islam; eventually, children grow up ;)

    PFnV
  3. State

    State Rookie

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    You see what I'm saying? It appears to be an obvious editorial inserted that doesn't even make sense according to the narrative. The crowd is in a frenzy of hatred before the Pharisee's (it doesn't say that but could be asserted) house. Jesus tells them to scram, they do. Then he is allowed inside the house to the dead child's room. You think that's kosher if the people there had just been frothing at the mouth in excoriating him? Of course not.

    Hyam Maccoby is right, he's brilliant, and he cannot be ignored any longer.

    Christianity was invented by Saul of Tarsus, not Joshua from Galilee.
    We are definitely brothers. You have got to read Vermes: Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Changing Faces of Jesus

    Pay especial attention to the John S Ryan review. He's one of my Amazon.com teachers.
  4. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    If you're going to start referencing unbelievable instances in the Bible or the Torah, how about parting an ocean into two pieces, people living until 800+ years in the Old Testament, or a flood killing all life on earth except for one boat carrying supposedly two of every animal??

    Your flawed logic is HILARIOUS.
  5. PatsFanInVa

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    Ah, Mav sees "Jewish" in the thread title, and like a magnet, it draws him to the discussion...

    Okay a little background, Mav: For even remotely historical-minded people, both the Tanakh and the Greek Bible have been considered terrible sources if read as history (or science, of course.)

    The thought is not that we will uphold this or that miracle, particularly the large-scale ones, at least not for me. By now, you are very unlikely to find biblical literalists among people interested in biblical criticism, particularly historical [as opposed to textual] criticism. In traditional Jewish talmudic study, to write a commentary one has to know who was high priest at the time of the writing, who was king, and a few other particulars of the era in question. However, Talmudic commentary was limited to a somewhat literal viewpoint, though allowing for allegory, the function of stories as stories rather than rules, etc. Historical criticism inquires as to the motives of authors, the possibility of psuedonymous authorship, and of course outright fraud.

    So questions of intent, authorship, and believability in historical study go beyond the fairly mundane observation that records of supernatural intervention are not believable.

    In this particular instance State's going after the antisemitism inherent in the seed works of the world's single largest religion, Christianity.

    My response was that, essentially, both Christianity and Judaism are fortunately past the long night during which this unfortunate material was commonly emphasized. Living side-by-side with Jews for a millenium gave European Christians a unique opportunity to put some of these passages into practice; it's been said that you can't get directly from some of these passages to Auschwitz, but you can get there. That's the context in which the Nazis flourished, not in a vacuum.

    Now then, if the long and ugly history of antisemitism seems to you more an historical inconvenience, at odds with your current political agenda, I can understand if you prefer just to remove yourself. That's another story.

    But being prepared to wave away the entirety of historical criticism of the bible will leave you at best smugly ignorant.

    I cannot speak for State, but I at least am accutely aware of all manner of literal contradiction throughout the Tanakh much more damning than having four corners to the world or a sea of reeds (not an ocean) being split. How many times do you have to kill Goliath, for example? Was Saul cowering among baggage hoping not to be picked as King, or annointed by Samuel and beloved by the people? Exactly how many unsavory arrangements did Abraham make regarding Sarah in Egypt and Sinai to get favorable treatment from the local king?

    Well the latter stories are examples of doublets and triplets in the Hebrew bible, the result of contrasting traditions (in many cases from the Northern and Southern kingdoms, with the conflict noticed after the Assyrians crushed Israel but before Bablyon did likewise to Judah; and both being eventually recorded "by the rivers of Babylon" after the latter event.) And of course that's where historical criticism began, the study of the "superceded" "old testament."

    But you wouldn't know that, would you? You have no unbiased curiosity in any book of the bible, do you? There's always an axe to grind.

    At any rate, in regards to the thread at hand: one especially vital field within historical biblical criticism is, predictably, Jesus scholarship. Those who understand how powerful a force religion still is, are tremendously interested in the origins not just of a small "parent" religion, which after all claims perhaps 15-20 million adherents worldwide, but of that religion's gigantic "child" religions, Christianity and Islam, which together comprise close to half of humanity.

    Christians have long wanted to know: were I fortunate enough to have walked the earth when Jesus did, what would I see? What was he like? And now that we're peering more deeply into these texts, what did he really say and do? What was his agenda, in his time -- not what was the agenda based on him as a memory, starting some decades after his death. Not the orthodoxy that crystallized centuries after his death.

    To know that, you have to ask an awful lot of questions; the motivations of the authors of the Christian canon are, of course, among those questions.

    And of course State points to one aspect very important to Jews: where did Christianity -- and its putatively irrelegious progeny in the west, among those who do not claim that faith -- begin their dark journey into antisemitism?

    And I would add, how did Christianity in many forms all but escape that seemingly inescapable perversion, written into the literal Christian texts?

    For my part I do worry that the very question is somewhat divisive, if honest. I'm here half because I'm fascinated by it, and half because the original phrasing (to me) needs softening.

    We all need to understand we're talking history here, at bottom, vs. scripture and appeal to divine authority.

    So it's not about "do you really believe all the animals in the world got on the ark." That's pretty easily explained; the Hebrews trace themselves culturally to Iraq before Canaan in the Abrahamic faiths; well, it wasn't just the character of Abraham who came from there, but Gilgamesh and Utnapishtim too. Gilgamesh releases a raven to bring back a twig from a tree to establish that the waters have receded; Noah releases a dove. Do you really think these are independently arrived-at stories? I don't. But the motive is preservation and transmutation of a beloved story, in the Noah case. What are the motives of those who recorded the gospels, in any given case?

    That's what we're looking at, not "look how fake your book is, mine's better!"

    PFnV
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  6. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    State's reasoning has major flaws in logic. He quotes aspects of stories in the New Testament and then says that they were probably unbelievable, in order to try to discredit Paulian text. At the same time he completely ignores the fact that the Old Testament is full of all kinds of unbelievable material.
  7. PatsFanInVa

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    State's logic did not posit an historically perfect and scientifically unassailable Hebrew bible. In fact, it did not deal with the Hebrew bible. It dealt with the Greek bible, and attitudes toward Jews found in those books.

    Exactly what is wrong with his "logic"?

    Do you believe it is "illogical" to say, "this is the way that a shark's digestive system works" because it leaves out how tall a giraffe is?

    Your usual trademark ignorance is only surpassed by your stubborn repetition of your errors.

    Evolve.

    PFnV
  8. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    His flaw in logic is he starts with certain anti-Jewish sentiment in the Greek bible, an argument which I can probably agree with. However, he then makes the inappropriate leap of bringing up and repeating various stories regarding Jesus and how unlikely those cited stories could have happened, as a way to discredit those texts and to support his original claim. His leap makes no sense and is even more amusing when one looks at all the unbelievable stories from the Torah or in the Old Testament.
  9. PatsFanInVa

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    I find it interesting that your assumption is a need to pit Jews against Christians.

    Granted, the subject matter gets us half-way there. But I would have expected this much more from our theocons.

    I do not know State's views on the Tanakh, or as Christians and their children call it, the "old testament." I do know that for my part, the same methodology is applicable regardless of the text. I am a firm believer for example in the documentary hypothesis, which includes a fairly iconoclastic view of editors and redactors. On a less academic note, I take accounts of grand epic-scale miracles with a grain of salt, and I do not find my faith therefore threatened.

    However, I still fail to see how a claim that the books of the Greek bible were written and redacted to further an anti-Jewish bias, is gainsaid by a claim (however valid) that a certain book of the Hebrew bible is scientifically or historically spurious.

    If I told you that Bush rode roughshod over the Bill of Rights, you cannot claim my logic is flawed on the basis that there are two creation accounts in Genesis, and that you believe that I believe that book is infallible and literal.

    You're more out of your depth than usual on this one, Mav.

    PFnV
  10. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    Here is an example of linking the thread claim with questions about the believability of ancient text.

    By the way, PFnV GFY with your constant snide little remarks every time you post. Amidst all the psuedo-intellectual BS you regularly post, you still fail to hide your personal vendetta on all the matters you discuss, and your lack of objectiveness is transparent. You're easily one of the most pompous voices on this forum who gets all uppity whenever someone disagrees with you, and you take it out in a pathetic passive-aggressive manner. Grow up, little boy.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  11. PatsFanInVa

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    The bit just above the synagogue-official's-daughter story is also interesting, and both sort of coalesce in a way around the Markan "messianic secret" theme. Mark's Jesus is pretty reticent; he basically tells the heal-ee in the above bit that she healed herself through a placebo effect and, the author of Mark tells us, Jesus isn't even aware he's healed her until she tells him. Further he asserts that the dead girl isn't "really" dead. Here, Jesus is not trying to astound anybody, by Mark's account. The boy just can't help it. He's concerned with keeping his messianic mission secret, and although healing is common at the time, shows a good deal of humility about this ability.

    But read the segue to the official's daughter story. Sure the Pauline flavor is there, if you are reading with Hyam Macoby's spectacles, right? But there is a good story here.

    Jairus is the one asking Jesus to come and do the magic thing - he has sought him out, and when he sees what happens to the 12-year ebola case, he evidently springs into action. People from his house -- relatives or friends, one must conclude -- say "oh stop bugging Jesus, she died anyway." And they proceed to Jairus' house.

    So the picture painted here is that one of those bloody Pharisees has a dying daughter, and like any good parent, he lets that override his damnable Jewishness, and asks for Jesus' help. Also bear in mind they are still in Galilee, I believe; it's the Jerusalem authorities and crowds that really get mean.

    So we have Mr. Pharisee-in-extremis (Saducees, remember, did not establish or have contact with synagogues, being of the opinion that the Temple only was of any importance as a house of worship.)

    And even he seeks out Jesus. Now it must be noted that miracle-working was something that was done fairly commonly in the Greek bible. We can make the "miracle-working" a black box; for the faithful, it is a miracle. For the skeptic, it is medicine. Regardless, Jesus was doing something that made sick people all better, and he was noted as one of many at that time and place who could do so.

    So the Pharisee seeking him out is not an admission of Messiahship, but it does show that like anybody, local Jews accorded Jesus respect as one who could work miracles; In fact, when someone says "you do miracles by the power of demons," he answers, "by what power do your sons do miracles?" So it's clear he's a known miracle-doer. In the context of this story, there are already crowds pressing him for healing.

    So there's our sitzimleben, and it remains to us to answer your questions. First, I do think that it is likely the father let Jesus in the house. There is a commotion, but it is people in mourning (weeping, etc.) The earlier crowd has not been allowed to follow him.

    Can he get through the "crowd" then? Yes. It is a commotion of mourners, not a throng of 10,000. Did the father allow him in? Yes. In fact, he sought him out.

    But to your point: the mourners ridicule him. I do not know the customs of the day, and it would seem very difficult to reconstruct. The situation we are trying to discern is this:

    - The girl's father has gone out and seen the local miracle-worker, decides he's a pretty good one, and brings him back hoping he will heal the sick girl.

    - Between the time he leaves and the time he returns with Jesus, the girl "dies," and a commotion of weeping has materialized. So he arrives not long after the moment of "death," but long enough that people have gathered there.

    - The father returns with Jesus, and here is where my credulity is strained: He has with him a fairly well-known healer, in a context where these healers are not unknown.

    And the family/friends do what...? They ridicule this healer the father has returned with.

    This seems strange. Even if I didn't say "Eh, it's worth a shot," I certainly can't see ridiculing the healer guy. Mourning and wailing aside, even if I were peeved that someone was bringing around a charlatan (assuming that attitude was out there too,) I would go off on the father who brings him there, and probably not right there or then. Who knows what cultural difference over 2000 years have developed. It does strike me as a very odd way to react to a man who very well may help you, and who has been brought in for that purpose.

    Would I fold this into an otherwise much clearer anti-Jewish gloss? I'd be tempted to, given the weirdness of the reaction of the mourners. It does, however, seem like an odd moment to break off one's mourning and take a moment out to ridicule a healer, thereby dishonoring the man of the house (and a local synagogue official, no less.)

    It's also a sort of "he even healed those ingrate Pharisees' families, the ingrates" statement, read in retrospect from the rough time of Mark's writing (the 60s CE.)

    And yes, it's quite in keeping with the common theme of hostile crowds associated with Pharisaic Judaism of the day.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  12. Lifer

    Lifer Banned

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    "Hate speech"?? Really? Please. Make it plain, not in language only dogs and PFIV can understand. How is this Jew "hating Jews" by believing Jesus is the Messsiah?
  13. PatsFanInVa

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    A couple of points here, Lifer -

    1) One could read your response as belittling, and I'd hate to think that was your intent, or you'd be an ass-clown; and

    2) From the reading of the story on face value, I don't see where Jairus is aware of, much less embraces, the notion that Jesus was the Messiah. He does, however, believe that Jesus is a healer. As established internally in Christian sources, there were plenty of healers running around first century CE Judea.

    In fact it's a pretty universally remarked-upon theme that Jesus keeps his "messiahship" a secret repeatedly in Mark.
  14. gomezcat

    gomezcat It's SIR Moderator to you Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Please keep the personal attacks off here, or I will start handing out infractions.

    Thanks.

    Thread is locked.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2009
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