Anti-Judaism in the Gospels, The Draft Book, Part 3

From, Antisemitism and Jewish Survival: Zionism and the 21st Century. What is the “Jewish Problem,” how would Hitler have come by the idea that the Jews were a threat so extreme as to demand their full and final eradication? The “problem,” I argue, was born with Christianity, came into existence in the first century, in the earliest texts collected into what Christianity refers to as the “New Testament.” It was developed over the centuries by Christian theologians and carried over into Western secular society, inheritor of Christian history.
According to Paula Fredriksen, whose writings are said to have inspired the Vatican’s Nostre Aetate, the gospels “function as community-building documents. They offer religious proclamation, not simple history.” Three of the four gospels included in Christian cannon, those attributed to Mark, Luke and Matthew, are dated between 70 and 100 C.E., immediately following the fall of Jerusalem. The fourth gospel, John, was later, written or compiled in the early second century. While there is disagreement among scholars today regarding how the gospels are to be understood, for most people no guidance is needed. The gospels are as they appear, the Word of God: they are “gospel truth.”
All four gospels refer to “the Jews” disparagingly; agree that “the Jews” are responsible for the death of Jesus. But two gospels, those attributed to Matthew and to John, go much farther in their dramatic and graphic description of Jesus trial and death. Their style is polemical in style and clearly intended to incite.
The Matthew Gospel: Matthew represents Pilate as gentle and compassionate, the Jews as an angry lynch mob not only demanding Jesus’s death, but demanding also responsibility and blame for all future Jewish generations. “Which of the two will ye that I release unto you? And they said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What then shall I do unto Jesus who is called Christ? They all say, Let him be crucified. And he said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out exceedingly, saying, Let him be crucified. So when Pilate saw that he prevailed nothing, but rather that a tumult was arising, he took water, and washed his hands [a Jewish, not Roman tradition] before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man; see ye to it. And all the people answered and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.”
Records dating from Pilate’s governorship actually paint a very different picture of the governor as not only contemptuous of Jews, but going out of his way to provoke confrontations and riots. In fact the emperor relieved him of his position out of concern that his actions were fanning the fires of rebellion.
According to the John Gospel “the Jews” are represented as demonic antichrists. “I know,” John has Jesus say, “that ye are Abraham''s seed: yet ye seek to kill me... I speak the things which I have seen with my Father: and ye also do the things which ye heard from your father... Ye are of your father the devil…” (John 8: 37-47)
This association of the Jews with Satan is repeated throughout the gospel, and the John gospel has far more accusatory references to “the Jews” than all three earlier gospels combined.
Judaism remained a continuing problem for the early church. During the first centuries Christians, as did Pagans, continued to hold Judaism in respect due its ancient history and attractiveness of its holidays. Many apparently observed Jewish holidays, and Christian farmers sought the blessing of rabbis for a rich harvest. Such Christians were referred to as “Judaizers” and were seen as a threat to the new religion. John Chrysostom, (c. 344-407) wrote a series of homilies, the Adversus Judeaeos, described by Catholic theologian James Parkes as, "the most horrible and violent denunciations of Judaism to be found in the writings of a Christian theologian". In Homily I, VII, 1 Chrysostom wrote, "Shall I tell you of their plundering, their covetousness, their abandonment of the poor, their thefts, their cheating in trade? The whole day long will not be enough to give you an account of these things." In his Orations Against The Jews Chrysostom wrote, "The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ and for killing God there is no expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. Christians may never cease vengeance..." And later, “the Synagogue is a brothel, a den of scoundrels." 1500 years later Nazi propagandists and sympathizers would quote and apply Chrysostom both as justification and model for the Holocaust. 
Other articles in this series: