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Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic?

January 7th, 2013

For centuries, Jewish scholars and leaders have touted the B’rit Hadashah (the New Testament) as anti-Semitic.  Recently I came across an internet article (link here) attributed to Shmuel Golding, which states:

Bible-intoxicated Christians through the ages have thrown in the teeth of the Jews the demonic charges of “Christ-killers” and have fanned the flames of Jew-hatred using the New Testament for their justification.

While it is clear that historically there have been members of the Church who have done this, it would be extremely erroneous to say that they were “bible-intoxicated.”  The vast majority of these persecutors of Jewish people, far from being intoxicated with the Bible, had hardly imbibed the Bible at all.  That is not to say that there were not some Christians who knew the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) and yet were foolishly anti-Semitic, but for the most part, the principle sources of anti-Semitism throughout the ages were an  ignorance of Scriptures and the agendas of wrong-thinking religious and political leaders.

Historically, much of this anti-Semitism came about after Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire.  Often Jewish critics conveniently forget the anti-Christianity of Judaism that went on before that time.  I, myself, have been on the receiving side of such hatred, and primarily because I’m a Jew (a new form of anti-Semitism).  In the end, these hatreds have everything to do with the weaknesses of humankind and its rebelliousness against God (i.e. sin) and nothing to do with Scriptures.

While modern Jewish rhetoric is quick to point out the perpetrators of anti-Semitism throughout the ages, they do not speak to the many Christians throughout history who have stood up for the Jewish people, and spoken out against hatred of them, including many church leaders in the Middle Ages.  It is interesting to me that the tendency in the Evangelical Church since the 19th Century to care about the Jewish people and, more recently, about the State of Israel, has come at a time when Scriptural literacy in the church is on the increase.

A fair reading of the B’rit Hadashah would show that Yeshua (Jesus) and the writers of the B’rit Hadashah (all of whom were Jewish) cared about their Jewish people, just as the prophets in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament) did.  

  • Like those prophets, the writers of the B’rit Hadashah condemned those who were not obedient to God. 
  • Like the prophets of old, they warned their Israelite brothers of the consequences of their disobedience. 
  • Like the prophets of old, they urged their Jewish people to believe in the Messiah God promised in the Tanakh and fulfilled in the coming of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ).

The dispute Yeshua and his disciples had with the Jewish leaders of the day was an internally Jewish one.  While a remnant of the Jewish people believed in Messiah Yeshua (including many leaders – see Acts 6:7) and entered into the New Covenant promised by God (see Jeremiah 31:31-34), most did not.  The same can be said of the Gentile world.  In the end the B’rit Hadashah points out that all can be saved to eternal life, through Messiah’s sacrifice on the cross, and all are condemned if they do not, regardless of whether they are Jewish or Gentile.

The B’rit Hadashah is not anti-Semitic.  It speaks of the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Tanakh by the one whom God promised, who himself was God as promised in the Tanakh (Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 52:10-53:12).  Won’t you come to him and have eternal life?  If you would like to know how or want to know more, please contact us.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, a Jewish believer and the General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Daniel Muller, Jesus and Israel, Jewish Identity, Jewish Objections to Jesus, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Christianity, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, Salvation, The Bible

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