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Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate Paperback – June 1, 1995
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Professor William Nicholls is one of those rare thinkers capable of combining extraordinary scholarship and erudition with a deep understanding of human nature and human aguish. Above all, he is a man of remarkable courage, a courage stemming from his ownsense of morals and faith. Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate is a work with no precedent and no equal. At one level, it is a brilliant, breathtaking chart of the history of Christianity, from its birth to modern times, and the legacy of hatred that it promoted, in both its religious and secular forms. At a second level, this book is designed to delineate Christian responsibility, not only for the butcheries and persecutions of the past, like the Spanish Portuguese Inquisitions, but also andspecifically for the destruction of six million Jews during the Holocaust. As a Christian, deeply committed to the faith of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, Professor Nicholls not only feels the rage for this historical travesty but also the moral, nay, the religious charge, to face up to the burden of this responsibility and to redress this wrong. Written in a scintillating and swift, stripped-down prose, this is a luminous and compelling book that could change forever Christian perception of (Professor José Faur, author, In the Shadow of History: Jews and Conversos at the Dawn of Modernity)
Professor Nicholls' history of the Christian origins and perpetuation of, and the church's continuing responsibility for, the antisemitic myth―including that myth's secularized and racist forms―is a marvel of contemporary historical and moral scholarship. We are given a comprehensive, definitive accounting of Christian hate for Jews from its beginnings to today―all in some 500 pages―together with compelling proposals for religious and theological reform and renewal. This historical exposition extends as well to the many moral, theological, political, and psychoanalytic dimensions of the question of antisemitism. We may expect this work to remain authoritative for a long time. It is a gem. (A. Roy Eckardt, University of Oxford)
Professor William Nicholls is one of those rare thinkers capable of combining extraordinary scholarship and erudition with a deep understanding of human nature and human aguish. Above all, he is a man of remarkable courage, a courage stemming from his own sense of morals and faith. Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate is a work with no precedent and no equal. At one level, it is a brilliant, breathtaking chart of the history of Christianity, from its birth to modern times, and the legacy of hatred that it promoted, in both its religious and secular forms. At a second level, this book is designed to delineate Christian responsibility, not only for the butcheries and persecutions of the past, like the Spanish Portuguese Inquisitions, but also and specifically for the destruction of six million Jews during the Holocaust. As a Christian, deeply committed to the faith of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, Professor Nicholls not only feels the rage for this historical travesty but also the moral, nay, the religious charge, to face up to the burden of this responsibility and to redress this wrong. Written in a scintillating and swift, stripped-down prose, this is a luminous and compelling book that could change forever Christian perception of itself and bring a propitious change in Christian attitudes toward Jews and Judaism. (Professor José Faur, author, In the Shadow of History: Jews and Conversos at the Dawn of Modernity)
From the Back Cover
In Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate, Professor William Nicholls, a former minister in the Anglican Church and the founder of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia, presents his stunning research, stating that Christian teaching is primarily responsible for antisemitism. As Nicholls states, these conclusions "can now be fully justified by the most up-to-date scholarship, Christian as well as Jewish". Nicholls writes, "Many Jewish writers have said, quite simply that the Nazis chose the Jews as the target of their hate because two thousand years of Christian teaching had accustomed the world to do so. Few Christian historians and theologians have been sufficiently open to the painful truth to accept this explanation without considerable qualification. Nevertheless, it is correct". Christian Antisemitism traces, over two millennia, the growing domination of Western culture by the Christian "myth" (as Nicholls calls it) about the Jews, and shows how it still exerts a major influence even on the secularized "post-Christian world". Nicholls shows, through scrupulous research and documentation, that the myth of the Jews as Christ-killers has powered anti-Judaism and antisemitism throughout the centuries. Nicholls clearly illustrates that this myth is present in the New Testament and that "it has not yet died under the impact of modern critical history". Also included in this remarkable volume is Nicholls' research regarding the Jewishness of Jesus. He writes, "Historical scholarship now permits us to affirm with confidence that Jesus of Nazareth was a faithful and observant Jew who lived by the Torah and taught nothing against his own people andtheir faith...the Romans, not the Jews, were the Christ-killers". In Part I, "Before the Myth", Nicholls explores the life of Jesus and his teachings as found in the New Testament. Was Jesus the founder of Christianity? Did he offer teachings against his people? Did he believe himself to be the Messiah? In Part II, "The Growth of the Myth", Nicholls looks at the impact made by Paul and documents the slow but steady relegation of the Jews to a position of hatred and victimization and their role as scapegoat. Also included in this section of the book is a close look at the development of the notion of the Jew as a player in Christian theology. In Part III, "The Myth Secularized", Nicholls observes the "secularization" of antisemitism, from the age of Napoleon to the present. His conclusion is a pessimistic one, noting that "the Holocaust has not brought an end to anti-semitism. It still pervades European and North American culture". Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate is an extraordinary document of historical research. It is also a moving statement by a former Christian theologian who has come face-to-face with the most painful aspects of the religious tradition in which he was raised. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The Church Fathers assimilated the anti-Judaic ideology of Matthew and John and added liberal doses of their own bile for good measure. Almost to a man, the Church Fathers heaped opprobrium on the Jewish people, the violence of their enmity often corresponding to the extent to which they were considered 'holy' by the faithful. Augustine was the most humane, insisting that the Jewish people should be preserved in misery and oppression as a sign and warning to the faithful.
The effects of this hateful ideology were (and are) catastrophic. The sad history of the invective, calumny, theft, violence and murder to which the Jews were subjected during the Middle Ages and beyond is a deeply depressing one. What is worse, the inveterate hatred of Jews on the part of Europeans survived the collapse of Christian faith and mutated into new forms conforming to the fashion of the age, from 'scientific' racism to anti-Zionism. It explains why 'the Jews' manage to be responsible for everything, from capitalism to communism, from global warming to 9/11, and why otherwise mild-mannered guests at your dinner parties become apoplectic at the mention of Israel (while remaining relatively unmoved by the enormities of any other nation). Indeed, Nicholls makes a strong case that loss of faith in Christianity (whose dogma calls for Jews to suffer, not die) removed the solitary barrier between the Jewish people and genocide.
In the wake of the Holocaust, Nicholls argues that the anti-Jewish roots of Christianity and European culture need to be addressed as a matter of priority. This is a devastating book, but it is a book that everyone needs to read.
This is one of the most intellectually honest books I have ever read. I realize that it will shock Christians as it triggered a profound spiritual exhaustion in me. But denial is not an option. Part One: Before The Myth, raises the questions if Jesus the Jew was the founder of Christianity, whether he was rejected by his people and the concept of the crucified Messiah. The first section deals with myth and history, biblical criticism, Jesus and His own people, the Synoptic problem, oral tradition, Albert Schweitzer's challenge, redaction criticism, checks on authenticity and the diversity of early Christianity. The second explores Judaism in the first century, Roman rule, the mission and message of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, Pharisees, opponents of Jesus, various parables, and Jesus and the Torah. The final section considers Jewish messianic expectations, language and society, the development of early ideas about Christ, what Jesus himself said about his mission, the Son of Man, the entry into Jerusalem, the trial of Jesus plus falsifications in the Gospels and what motivated them.
Part Two: The Growth of the Myth, consists of: Paul and the Beginning of Christianity, The True Israel: Battle for the Bible, Jews in a Christian World, Popular Paranoia and the Inquisition & Reformation. In the first section, Nicholls explores the early days of Christianity, resurrection visions, sectarian theology, the crucial break, mythmaking, the traditional interpretation, Paul's intentions, the question of a double covenant, James, Peter and different views in the early church. The Battle for the Bible deals with the break between Judaism and Christianity, editorial bias in the Gospels, different versions of the trial, John's Anti-Judaism, Anti-Judaism in the New Testament, the theology of supercessionism (replacement theology), 2nd century writers, Marcion and Tertullian.
The section titled Jews in a Christian World chronicles the ever increasing laws against the Jews, the codes of Theodosius and Justinian, fall of the Western Roman Empire, Bishop Ambrose, the canon law of the church, theological Anti-Judaism in the Church Fathers, the Christological interpretation of the New Testament, and Gregory the Great and the Jews. The next, Popular Paranoia, deals with Abelarde, the crusades, blood libel, charges of desecration of the host, the Fourth Lateran Council, the Black Death, the origins of the calumnies, pressures on the Christian Psyche, subconscious rage and rebellion, paranoid projection and the transmission of paranoid systems. This is of prime importance for gaining a psychological understanding. The section on the Inquisition & Reformation considers the fate of Spanish Jewry in the 15th century, the Council of Trent, the Reformation and the humanists.
Part Three: The Myth Secularized, is divided into The Napoleonic Bargain, Secular Antisemitism, the Churches in the 20th century, Old and New Antisemitism, and the possibility of ending Antisemitism. In the first, Nicholls analyses the new societies of modernity, liberal Anti-Judaism, the Enlightenment and its views on religion, Anti-Judaism of the philosophers, the French revolution, Congress of Vienna and progress towards emancipation. In the section on secular antisemitism, he looks at the leftwing Hegelians, Karl Marx, the new racial doctrines, the Dreyfuss affair, Russian antisemitism, antisemitic parties of Austria and Germany, and the matrix of Nazism. The role of the churches in the 20th century is considered with reference to the Holocaust and after, Pius XII, the rescuers, the response of the Catholic Church and the relation between it and the Jews in the 1990s, the World Council of Churches and the new theologies.
In the chapter Antisemitisms Old & New, the author comments on the survival of the traditional form, the leftwing variety, mutations, Holocaust denial, Anti-Zionism which he claims is the typical current mutation, media reporting on the Middle East conflict, Liberal antisemitism, that amongst the Black community in the USA, and the influence of Christian Liberalism on Jewish intellectuals. In the final chapter, he explores the possibilities of ending this ancient hatred. He considers Christian history, theology and its effects, removing Anti-Judaic accretions in the church, returning the Bible to the Jewish people, rethinking Christological interpretation of the Old Testament, earliest Christianity, theology and history, the alternatives for Christians and the looming choice between Jesus or Christianity.
There is an appendix of the three accounts of Peter's acclamation of Jesus as the Messiah, 37 pages of Notes arranged by chapter, a vast bibliography and a thorough index. Nowadays the main influences on the western public mind are secular "salvationist" ideologies that sprung from Christianity. Unfortunately they contain the virus without the antibodies provided by the Old Testament in traditional Christianity. And the collapse of political Marxism has only increased its potency as opiate of the intellectuals in various mutant forms. The message of this book is frightening; I encourage all people of good will to read it and act upon its recommendations. Other informative books on this subject are Our Hands are Stained with Blood by Michael L Brown, The Crucifixion of the Jews by Franklin H Littell and The Anguish of the Jews by Edward H Flannery.