Does the New Testament Criticize Judaism from Within or from Without?

July 20 2015

Historians of ancient Christianity have long debated the meaning of New Testament passages that appear to criticize Judaism. For many scholars, these passages represent a sort of family squabble in which followers of one Jewish sect are attacking another. Charles David Isbell disagrees:

The . . . writers of the [the books of Mark, Matthew, and Luke] were not part of either mainstream Judaism or any identifiable Jewish sub-group of the era. The . . . points being made [in these books] fit a Roman or Hellenistic context far too often to sustain the idea that we are reading nothing more than the saga of some Jews involved in a petty dispute. In addition, the [later] Church Fathers, who were certainly not Jewish, had no difficulty in using the New Testament to denigrate Judaism in a most derogatory fashion. This they could do without the necessity of rephrasing as Gentiles what they read in a Jewish New Testament. All they needed to do was to take seriously the New Testament on its own terms as they read and understood it. As it stood, it fit well with . . . decidedly non-Jewish world views and cultures.

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Read more at Bible and Interpretation

More about: ancient Judaism, Christianity, Hellenism, History & Ideas, Jewish-Christian relations, New Testament

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror