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?
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.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal