- The Monograph
- Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: St. Paul's Letters and Jewish Christians
- Chapter 2: What and when was "Parting of the Ways"?
- Chapter 3: Jews, Christians, and Roman Legitimacy
- Chapter 4: Jesus the Jew
- Chapter 5: Recruiting Gentiles and Effect of the name "Christian"
- Chapter 6: Christian Anti-Jewish Rhetoric
- Chapter 7: Christian Reinterpretation of the Jewish Bible
- Chapter 8: Labeling Jews as "Christ Killers"
- Chapter 9: Jewish Rebellion and Roman Destruction
- Chapter 10: Myths Used to Justify Christian Anti-Jewishness
- Chapter 11: Why did Jews find Christianity unacceptable
- Chapter 12: Gospel History
- Chapter 13: Christian Jew Hatred and Antisemitism
- Chapter 14: St. Paul and "Parting of the Ways"
- Chapter 15: The Jewish Messiah and the Role of Jesus
- Chapter 16: Religious Differences Among Jews
- Chapter 17: Christian Rants against Jews and Judaizers
- Chapter 18: Christian Opposition to Biblical "Law" Denouncing Jews who Observe It
- Chapter 19: The "Holy", "Unholy", and "True Israelites"
- Chapter 20: Do Christians Need to Demean Jews? What if Jesus had not been a Jew?
- Chapter 21: Currying Favor with the Romans; Roman Oppression and Jesus' Crucifixion
- Chapter 22: Christian Missionary Success and Accommodation to Roman Society
- Chapter 23: Christian Anti-Jewishness Before and After Gaining Power
- Chapter 24: The Psychology of Antisemitism
- Chapter 25: Christian Literature and Perpetuation of Anti-Semitism
- Chapter 26: Can New Testament Antisemitism be Deleted?
By simply existing as non-Christians opposing Christianity, Jews remained a bane to Christianity’s contention that the Jewish Scriptures composed and sustained by Jews were written for Christians. According to M. S. Taylor (p. 139): “We have here a [Christian] tradition which remains constant over centuries, and forms a coherent body of mutually reinforcing arguments. It functions according to internal logic in which the invalidation of Judaism emerges as a theoretical necessity in the appropriation of the Jewish God and the Jewish Bible for the Church.” Tertullian (ca. 198, Apologies XX): “We point to the majesty of ‘our’ scriptures if not their antiquity” (my emphasis, ANF vol. 3, p. 33).
It was thus extremely unfortunate for Jews that Christianity needed to use Jesus’ ties to Judaism to provide it with the façade of antiquity. Had Jesus, his followers, and his message not been Jewish, Christianity — had it survived (under whatever name) without Jewish connection— would have been forced to seek historic legitimacy elsewhere than from Jewish Scriptures. That is, had a non-Jewish messianic figure like charismatic Jesus arisen from a Gentile non-Jewish environment, such new savior-based religion would have faced finding other means than appropriating Jewish Scriptures to justify a historic divine origin. Its antisemitism would most likely then have been less virulent, scaling no differently from other Roman ethnic/religious/cultural prejudices. Moreover, had such a Gentile movement not been dependent on exploiting the Jewish Scriptures, it would have been obvious to that movement that Jesus the Jew was not a Messiah for either the Jews or the non-Jews (see Note #15).
Meeks (1985, p. 114): “If Marcion’s movement [Christian rejection of any ties to Jews, Judaism, and the Jewish Torah — Note #17] had endured, Christianity would have become a different thing.” Ehrman (2003, p. 111) points out that had Marcion’s movement succeeded, it could “have led simply to benign neglect [of Jews] as Jews and their religion would have been considered to be of no relevance and certainly no competition for Christians. The entire history of anti-Semitism might have been avoided, ironically, by an anti-Jewish religion.”
Again, it is essential to recognize that it was not direct conflict with Jews that accounted for the intense antisemitism in Christianity’s development. For Christian Fathers, such as Tertullian (ca. 198), to write polemical anti-Jewish (Adversus Judaeos) tracts, dialogue with Jews or intimate knowledge of Judaism was not necessary (Ruether 1974, p. 148). Efroymson (1976) notes: “Tertullian’s anti-Judaism is an inheritance from his Christian and Roman and African roots. But if he did not really know any Jews, if there were no personal confrontations and disputations with living Jews to keep this inheritance from wasting away, what kept it alive? Briefly, it can be argued that he grew to need anti-Judaism…. He uses it rhetorically to win arguments against his [Christian] opponents, and he uses it theologically, or symbolically, to construct a Christianity, a Christian social identity which is centrally, crucially, un-Jewish, anti-Jewish, and better-than-Jewish.”