“Antisemitism” as “The Real Devil that Christianity Spawned”
Rather than hostility toward Jews having its origins in group competition for resources, Goldhagen contends that “antisemitism” is “the real devil that Christianity spawned.” He conveniently ignores the fact that antipathy to Jews was widespread throughout the pre-Christian civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome, and instead claims that “antisemitism”
began in ancient Israel during the time of Jesus and migrated shortly thereafter to Greece. There it was codified in the context of early Christians’ desires to appropriate the early Jewish religious and messianic tradition, really Judaism revamped, for themselves. In Greece the Gospels were written, at best based on a long chain of hearsay, not until fifty to one hundred years after Jesus’ death by people who never knew or saw Jesus or the events surrounding his life. Antisemitism then moved to and became entrenched in Rome, the center of the Western world, where Christianity and simultaneously antisemitism had its greatest conquest when Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity for himself and the Roman Empire in the early fourth century. As his empire spread to more European lands in particular, the secular and religious authorities brought the antisemitic gospel with them, which, after Rome’s fall (which did not see the Church fall), spread to all of Europe, so that during the Middle Ages antisemitism, together with Christianity, had solidified itself as the one pan-European belief system, about which different peoples, peoples of different classes and stations, different professions, and eventually even different and warring forms of Christianity could agree upon and coalesce. Then, with European and Christian colonization of much of the world, antisemitism spread farther.
In addition to ignoring the extensive and often violent pre-Christian aversion to Jews, Goldhagen also makes no mention of the fact that Christianity, unlike Judaism, is a universalist creed which eventually led to Europeans being the first people in history to ban slavery for moral reasons. Instead, he maintains that the New Testament is an “antisemitic” and “eliminationist” tract:
The Christian bible is, whatever its subsidiary pronouncement to the contrary, at its heart an eliminationist document. A codification of eliminationist antisemitism against Jews. Their evangelical calls for Jews to follow Jesus aside, the Gospels so deprecate the Jew’s existing cultural core (namely the Jewish bible’s laws and codes), implicitly and explicitly calling for an end to this people as Jews, and so demonize Jews in the process for putatively being Jesus’ enemies and murderers, and so threaten them with violence and destruction, that it is hard to see this as anything but an eliminationist mindset, a blueprint for eliminationist politics, and, if only tacitly, a call to eliminationist action — and this is how it has been taken by Christians and others beholden to the foundational paradigm it grounded.
Goldhagen claims that the New Testament contains “four hundred fifty antisemitic verses just in the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, averaging more than two per page.” Conveniently, he has nothing to say about the “eliminationist” mindset, politics and actions that are far more clearly evident in the Jewish Bible, and how this has shaped Jewish attitudes toward non-Jews. Read more