Friday 27 December 2013

Anti-Semitism in the NT? Examining the claims of Uri Yosef

There have been many claims in the past about the NT teaching some form of Anti-Semtism. This will be the first of a few articles on Anti-Semitism if the Lord Wills me to write more on it.

I will be focusing mainly on scriptural quotations raised by Uri Yosef of in his article called "THE ANTI-JEWISH NEW TESTAMENT" I hope this may satisfy my Jewish readers, specifically the Rabbinic communities and of course, Christians who have run into this problem when speaking to Jews.

Let me start of my article by saying this emphatically, Anti-Semitism IS WRONG. The slaughter of the Jews has been a stain on the history of Christendom itself and has besmirched the name of Jesus himself. Sadly, this has permeated the thinking of the Jewish people to the point where most Jews reading the NT assume that it's contents promote Jew hatred among Christian ranks.

Mr Yosef quotes also from various Lectionary for Mass documents from Lutheran and Catholic sources, which I am happy to read in the future if the Lord Wills

For now in this article, I shall take a look at the Gospel passages 1 by 1 and see if Mr Yosef has actually looked at the statements in context. I shall also look at the passages in Paul's letters as well as the book of Acts.

The first Gospel that Yosef takes a look at is the subject of the Gospel of Matthew with respect to the references that are shown in a table of his.

Yosef's points shall be quoted then I shall show the context and what the text means. He does also give specific sources with respect to the verses on the table and I shall provide a link to his article so you can look for yourself:

Quotations of scripture shall be in Bold and Mr Yosef shall be provided in Italic and Bold

3:7c The Pharisees and Sadducees are called poisonous snakes

"4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

John the Baptist is taking note of the wickedness of the Pharisees and Sadducees hypocrisy and wickedness and is exhorting them to repent of their evil ways. One point I have to come to is I fail to see any Anti-Semitism in the text, Why would the disciples or those who believed in Jesus as Jews would make Anti-Semitic comments? That makes zero sense and this is a point I have to hammer home throughout the article.

John the Baptist himself is Jewish and thus is not guilty of being Anti-Semitic at all. Besides, Isaiah calls the Israelites a number of things in the following passage: 
"Isaiah 57:3 “But you—come here, you children of a sorceress,
    you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
4 Who are you mocking?
    At whom do you sneer
    and stick out your tongue?
Are you not a brood of rebels,
    the offspring of liars?"

Is that Anti-Semitic? If not, why not? And if it is a condemnation of a particular group of Jews, why is that same courtesy not extended to the NT? 

12:34a The Pharisees are called evil poisonous snakes --

"22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”"

The Pharisees were the ones to attack Christ and he then condemned them because of their wicked utterance. They claimed he was doing miracles by the power of Beelzebub and Jesus then refutes their claim and exposes the Pharisees' hearts in the presence of the people, showing the folly of their statement. Nothing anti-Semitic here and again, in light of Isaiah 57? What basis can you claim that is not Anti-Semitic and Matthew 12:34 is, when both Isaiah and Jesus were both Jews?

15:3-9 Condemnation of the Pharisees for rejecting the commandments

"3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]”
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”"

Jesus was actually in the right for condemning the Pharisees, they were taking ordinary traditions and placing them above that of the Word of God given to them through Moses. If anything, This is meet and right so to do. What is wrong with Jesus condemning the Pharisees for substituting the Word of God for the traditions of men? Isaiah chides the Israelites for doing the same thing as the Pharisees, Putting human rules above God's commands, hence why Jesus has a go at the Pharisees.

15:12-14 The Pharisees are called blind guides leading the blind 

"12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides.[d] If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”"

The Pharisees were spiritually blind and would not heed the warnings that Jesus gave, hence he tells the disciples not to waste their time with them, after all, they showed by the creation of their traditions that they made the Word of God, ie. the TANAKH Null and void.

16:6 Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

"5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Doesn't Jesus have the right to warn about false teachers? The Rabbis of today warn about certain teachers within the orthodox community who propagate what they deem as strange ideas. Didn't Immanuel Schochet once warn people about the Real Kosher Jesus by Shmuley Boteach? I am not endorsing Boteach's book here, I am simply making a point. 

Jesus is telling the disciples not to be lead astray by the Pharisees. Rabbis, Do you not have that concern about the people in your ranks? Do you think that many have been lead astray in your eyes and you need to call them back and warn them?

"19:3-9 The Pharisees are said to be hard-hearted"

"3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”"

And the people in the TANAKH are called hard-hearted, Even Moses, himself Jewish and who according to Rabbinic Judaism stands on the highest plane of Revelation said this:

"Numbers 20:9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank."

Even Moses knew that there were rebels and hard hearted stubborn people among the Israelites, Jesus even tells you WHY Moses gave the command of divorce, it was because of the hardness of their hearts? I fail to see any anti-semitism in this context, he is making a point that Israel were stubborn hence Moses allowed divorce to occur, although this wasn't intended from the beginning.

19:28 The disciples of Jesus will judge the twelve tribes of Israel

"Matthew 19:27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."

No anti-Semitism at all here, this is referring to the reward that the disciples and those after them will recieve if they are willing to forsake all to follow Christ and put him above everything. How is the apostles being given the authority to judge anti-semitic I don't know.

22:18c The Pharisees are called hypocrites HMLR 

"Matthew 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away."

Jesus is exposing the Pharisees for asking their dis-ingenious question to try and land him into trouble. Again for the life of me, WHERE is there any anti-semitism in this text? It is not there.

23:13-36 The scribes and Pharisees are repeatedly vilified as hypocrites

"13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. [14] [b]

15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation."

A condemnation of the Pharisees is not anti-Semitic in the slightest. Just a plain reading of the text shows that Yosef is reading something into the text that's NOT there. Again as I said before the Israelites are called depraved children by Isaiah because of their wickedness. Jesus is condemning the Pharisees to hell for the spiritual deadness of Israel they have caused, their hypocrisy, their self rightousness and other things detestable to God. A question to the Rabbis, Do you guys like to see evil flourish and good do nothing? If so, that is worrying to say the least.

23:38 The house of Jerusalem is to be forsaken and desolate

"Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

If there is no repentance, then Jerusalem is left desolate. Jesus is upset and distraught with the state his people because of their sins and their refusal to turn back to God. My question to the Rabbis, Are you not concerned about how many Jews are mostly secular Jews do things that the Torah deems detestable? 

26:59-68 The chief priests and council condemn Jesus as deserving death MLR

"57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.

Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”[e]

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”

“He is worthy of death,” they answered.

67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”"

Matthew is simply recording what transpired with the death of Jesus, The Pharisees see Jesus as worthy of death not only because of his Messianic claims, but also his claims of deity, which is another topic neither here nor there. I would encourage the Jews to do an honest reading of the text in Matthew 26 and tell me, where there is any Anti-Semitism in this text.

27:1-26 The people demand that Jesus, not Barabbas, be crucified MLR

Same as before, Matthew is simply recording what happened. Furthermore, it is not every Jew in Israel that is demanding this of Jesus. The Galileans, themselves Israelites, where not involved with Jesus death. Again, I would encourage the Jews to do an honest reading of the text in Matthew 27 and tell me, where there is any Anti-Semitism in this text.

27:62-66 The chief priests and Pharisees request a guard at Jesus' tomb MLR

"Matthew 27:62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard."

This is a request to have the guards to guard the tomb so that the body isn't stolen by the disciples at all. Again, I am not seeing anti-Semitism here. Is this nitpicking for the sake of it?

28:4 The guards tremble and become like dead when the angel appears LR

"Matthew 28:1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”"

Er.. Where is the anti-Semitism again? All that is being shown is the Guards are frightened by an angel of the Lord that appeared to them. Again Yosef is reading something into the text that which is not there.

28:11-15 The chief priest bribe the guards to lie about their actions

Matthew 28:28 11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Considering the early apostles were Jews, Matthew is recording a rumour that is circulating among the unbelieving Jews, not the Messianic Jews and by Messianic I mean Jews who believe in Jesus. Matthew is telling you what the chief priests did and recording a person's actions in this context is no way anti-Semitic.

The references in Mark will be addressed in another article in the future.

Answering Judaism.

1 comment:

  1. I will make only the following comment in response to your series of responses to my article, and it is this:

    Except for a couple quotes from the late works of Shmuel Golding, a former Christian who converted to Judaism, all the material in my article came from Christians who were both scholars and ordained pastors, who are properly referenced in the footnotes.

    So, whereas I used strictly Christian scholarly sources in composing this article, and my purpose is to discourage Jews from adopting the Greek Testament as part of their Scriptures and, thus, converting to Christianity, your quarrel is really with those Christian scholars/clergy who published all this material (sources are provided in the article).