Cut the Jews a break…

One thing that I’ve never quite gotten is the incredulity that Christians have toward Jews because, well, they just don’t “get it”. I mean, isn’t it obvious that Christ must be the son of God? Isn’t the New Testament chock full of clear auguries that Jesus is the Messiah? Aren’t the religions close enough that the jump from Judaism to the “clearly superior” Christianity is but a tiny leap?

Of course what Christians don’t get is the gap is much larger than they think…

First, Judaism is built on the idea of one God and one God only, and the Torah goes to great lengths to inoculate against interlopers:

  • Exodus 20:3 – “Thou shall have no god before me”
  • Deuteronomy 6:14 – “You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you”
  • Kings 17:35 – “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down yourselves to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them”
  • Jeremiah 25:6 – “and do not go after other gods to serve them and to worship them”

and the list goes on…

In fact one could say much of the basis of Judaism revolves around just such exclusiveness –  “the Covenant”, where in return for the  singular worship of the one god YAHWEH, he will make them his chosen people.

However, now comes along a second deity, Jesus, who is to share the pantheon and of course, what do they do? Exactly what God told them to do – they reject him.

Now I know you may argue that he (Jesus) isn’t a second god, however all the Trinity “consubstantiality” mumbo-jumbo aside, for anyone looking objectively from the outside he is a second deity. He is the “Son of God” (a new being) , “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (again a separate entity), and now requires worship as, “No one comes to the Father except through me”.

In short, contrary to scripture, he was a new deity to “bow down to” and it would be hard to argue, from a Jewish perspective he would appear otherwise (and certainly anyone looking from the outside watching Christians would have difficulty saying that Jesus hadn’t usurped the father in regards to worship as it were). Thus, again, it is no surprise that they rejected him – that’s what they were taught by God to do.

Secondly, the Jews had very strict laws about ritual purity and dietary requirements and along comes this new kid on the block and he changes everything in an extremely radical way. Moreover he challenges church authority and breaks the rules of the Sabbath.

Now he may have a compelling message and a silver tongue, but the impulse of faithful Jews would likely be to reject such an heretical interloper. It is the logical thing to do. Just as if a new Judeo-Christian sect were to say tomorrow, “It is not necessary to remain monogamous because the Lord told me,” it is likely that most would reject such a change and the religion that goes with it. It is similarly just too radical.

Third, Christians assume that there were all these miracles going on in real time during Jesus’ life, therefor the Jews should have seen the clear signs of God. However the Gospels were written at a minimum of 40 years after Jesus’ ministry. It is difficult to know if the miracles were not exaggerated or even pulled from whole cloth afterward. The entire interaction with the Jews in the Gospels (which to note,  is not consistent) could have represented a proxy for interactions between Jews and Christians at the time of writing of the Gospels. That is, current scores were being settled in the guise of prior history.

Certainly 40 years after the fact, when Christians were gaining numbers and still living within Jewish territories, there must of been a lot of conflict. Since undoubtedly Jews still outnumbered Christians, there may well have been considerable persecution of Christians by Jews and even martyrdom. Certainly if nothing else there was a lot of frustration then, just like now – why don’t the Jews get it? These frustrations may have been reflected, back dated as it were, into the Gospel texts.

Fourth, if we are to take the New Testament at face value, God “hardened their hearts” toward Jesus. So it would seem odd to blame them for the sin that God inflicted on them, however of course, despite reading various apologies to this fact, I really don’t get the point of God doing so (not from lack of trying) so I’ll leave that question to the more informed reader.

Fifth, because a few powerful Jews with significant investment in maintaining the status-quo rejected Jesus, is hardly the reason to blame an entire culture. It wasn’t like Jesus visited every Jew in the entire nation of Israel, not by a long shot. Thus condemning as a people over the mistakes of the few seems rather cruel (a “collective punishment” as it were – unfortunately far too common in the Bible). For that matter since a millennium or two has passed, continuing to punish them either literally or figuratively for “the sins of the father” seems remarkably cruel.

Sixth (and you know you’ve gone to far if you’ve gotten to “sixth”), while I have little doubt Jesus existed, he may neither have been the Son of God (there may of course be no God), nor even divinely inspired (even if he was certainly a Rabbi of sorts). In which case the persecution of the Jews would seem a sick joke based on fiction, one that if Jesus ever did exist, being a Jew himself, I’m sure he would have been enormously saddened by.

Finally, if there is a God, I know by the conscience that he must have endowed me with, that the blame and persecution of Jews is just plain wrong and always was. It is something I need no scripture to tell me and I reject any claim otherwise. There is morality that goes beyond the any interpretation of the Bible and those who would use the Bible to justify injustice show not the word of God, but the sickness of their hearts.


First of all this post went on too far – my original point was really that God commanded that the Jews remain faithful to him and him alone, thus for the Jews in the bible to reject Jesus makes entire sense – what else would they do if they were faithful? Unfortunately I kept writing.

Second, I don’t even feel comfortable saying “the Jews”. In the text above I mean the phrase in a biblical context as implied at the time of the writing of the Gospels, however like any culture, people who are “Jewish” represent such a wide variety of perspectives and viewpoints that to lump them together under “the Jews” feels frankly racist. People who might fall under the name “Jew” are just so diverse, even so far as to not believe in God in some cases, that to try to say “Jews are X”, “Jews do Y”, “Jews believe Z”, etc. is iffy at best.

Finally, I am not a Jew, nor a Christian for that matter, so I have no right to speak for them. I am just extrapolating from what little I know of Jewish faith and biblical history. In the end, it is only those who would choose to call themselves Jews who have the right to speak for themselves and I ultimately must defer to their take here.

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