Is the New Testament anti-Semitic?
In an article published in the American Thinker, James Arlandson asked the question: "Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic?" In order to find answers to his question, he searched the New Testament for traces of Anti-Semitism is the gospels and the Pauline epistles.
The following is an excerpt of Arlandson’s article:
In the four Gospels, about four decades before the destruction of the temple by the Romans in AD 70, Jesus crisscrossed his homeland Israel, preaching and living the kingdom of God. Sometimes ordinary fellow Jews did not accept his teaching (John 6:60-66). But most in fact liked what they heard and saw, particularly his healing ministry.
The opposition to Jesus came from the leaders of his own nation. He opposed their power structures that governed the temple in Jerusalem. That is one reason he made a whip and cleared part of the temple (Mark 11:12-19). The Gospel of John uses the word "Jews" over seventy times, sometimes positively (e.g. 4:22) and sometimes neutrally (e.g. 2:6). But John mostly uses it of the Jewish leaders who were hostile to Jesus. This matches up with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In almost all cases when the sparks fly in the Gospels, the clash happens between him and religious leaders. In fact, a careful keyword search in an exhaustive concordance of the Bible confirms this class difference. He did not condemn ordinary people; rather, he told them that his way led to an easing of heavy religious burdens (Matt. 11:28-30). But he challenged the leaders who put these burdens on the people. See his lengthy "Seven Woes" pronounced on them (Matt. 23:1-36).
By analogy, Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, says that many Pharisees who interacted with the people also opposed the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem. They and the Sadducees - the very ones who made up most of the Jerusalem establishment - clashed often. Were these Pharisees anti-Semitic? Of course not.
Likewise, Jesus was a Jew who lived in a Jewish environment. Whom else would he challenge? Who else would oppose him? Hindus? Buddhists? Simple historical facts teach us that he had no political power, so he could not wield the weapons of anti-Semitism. All the verses in the four Gospels must be read in that historical context.
His conclusion: “Christians look high and low through the New Testament and can find no anti-Semitism.”
Good article. Read the article by clicking here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Anti-Semitism, New Testament