When did Jesus not become Jewish?


A reflective, careful reading of biblical texts prevents anti-Jewish prejudices, which in the past also derived their alleged justification from the Bible, from solidifying. Some examples:


"Old Testament Revenge"
The biblical sentence, wrongly called the “command of vengeance”, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21: 23-24) actually regulates compensation payments, as is also known in modern jurisprudence. According to the tradition of interpretation, this is intended to prevent the violence from escalating. Neither the Old nor the New Testament knows a call to retribution for injustice suffered. It is therefore inappropriate for media reports on military actions in the Middle East to repeatedly refer to the above-mentioned Bible text.


"Pharisees are hypocritical."
To this day, hypocritical behavior is often referred to as "Pharisee-like". Individual statements of the Gospels are thereby inadmissibly generalized. Especially the followers of Pharisaic Judaism, to whom Jesus was very close, endeavored to serve God devotedly through their way of life. That is why the Pharisees are held in high esteem in rabbinic Judaism. The cliché of an allegedly rigid Pharisaic "piety of the law" records the Jewish concern to live according to the commandments of the Torah. The insistence on the special vocation of the Jewish people is often not understood and denigrated as an expression of arrogance.


"The Jews killed Jesus."
The narratives of the Passion of Jesus were particularly often misused in the course of church history to justify anti-Semitic attitudes and actions.

Judas, who had handed Jesus over to his persecutors, was singled out from the circle of Jesus' disciples, who of course were all Jews, and listed as the supposed prototype of "the Jew". Already in the church father Augustine (354-430) we can read: "Judas represents the Jews who were Christ's enemies, who both then hated Christ and today, in their succession of wickedness, continue to hate him."

For centuries, Jews were blamed for the death of Jesus, up to and including the accusation of "murdering God". The Gospels report the participation of the high priests and a Jewish crowd in the killing of Jesus ("Crucify!"). From a historical point of view, however, there is no doubt that the prefect of Rome - Pilate - ordered the crucifixion of Jesus and his soldiers carried it out.

Statements of guilt directed against Jews in the New Testament (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 2:15) are in the tradition of prophetic judicial speech. They belong to a time when "Christianity" was not yet confronted with "Judaism" as a separate entity. They accuse their own people and call them to repent. In the history of Christianity, however, after the separation of Church and Judaism, they were used to justify "biblically" hatred and hostility towards Jews. The New Testament, on the other hand, testifies that Jesus' death and resurrection were made to atone for the guilt of all people. (1 John 2.2; Col 1.20, etc.). A well-known passion song therefore says:

"What is the cause of such plagues? Oh, my sins have struck you; I, my Lord Jesus, are to blame for what you have endured. "

(Johann Hermann, 16th century, Protestant hymn book, no.81.3)


"The Old Testament is out of date."
There has been no lack of attempts to play off the new against the Old Testament in order to justify the alleged superiority of the Christian religion over the Jewish one. Such devaluation of the "Jewish Bible" has contributed to a distorted view of Judaism. According to today's conviction, there can be no talk of the "old covenant" being replaced by a "new covenant" in Christ. The Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau formulates confessionally in its basic order: "Called to repent out of blindness and guilt, it (the Church) confesses the permanent election of the Jews and God's covenant with them."


The Evangelical Church in Germany and its member churches have dealt with anti-Judaism in church and theology in several studies and synodal pronouncements and have taken paths of conversion and renewal. To mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (2017), the EKD again took a critical stance on Martin Luther's anti-Jewish writings.


https://www.ekd.de/synode2015_bremen/beschluesse/s15_04_iv_7_kundgebung_martin_luther_und_die_juden.html (accessed on 2.3.2017)