The dreaded 'J' word ? (part 11)

What's a nice Jewish boy ... ?

The teachings of Jesus, for the purpose of our look, is of far more interest.

Judging by the rhetoric and behaviour of the Christian world towards the Jews throughout history, from the early Church fathers to Martin Luther and beyond, we would expect to see the following sort of material in the New Testament ...

"The synagogue is not only a whorehouse and a theatre; it is also a den of thieves and a haunt of wild animals ... not the cave of a wild animal merely, but of an unclean wild animal ... The Jews have no conception of things at all, but living for the lower nature, all agog for the here and now, no better disposed than pigs or goats, they live by the rule of debauchery and inordinate gluttony. Only one thing they understand: to gorge themselves and get drunk".

Well, the above was written by a Christian, but certainly not Jesus, or any of the writers of the New Testament.

It was penned by John Chrysostom, one of the Church Fathers, in the 4th Century.

But where did all that hate come from? Certainly not from the New Testament.

Obviously something very sad and tragic had happened in that intervening 3 centuries, but is outside the scope of this study. I cover this in greater detail in my other book, 'My Son, the Christian?', available at all good bookshops (once it's published!)

No, the New Testament, believe it or not, is a book of love, not hate.

Let us read what Saul (the 'road to Damascus' man), arguably the greatest promoter of Christianity, had to say about his fellow Jews.

"I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen."

And Jesus too, although full of righteous anger at the behaviour of the religious leaders, had nothing but love for his fellow Jews. The healings speak for themselves. He mixed with the dregs of society; lepers, prostitutes, beggars, tax collectors (not the respectable people they are nowadays) and publicans (ditto). We also see him weeping over Jerusalem, when he saw the troubles and bloodshed to come.

Finally, close to the moment of death, when he hung in agony on the barbaric Roman cross, he spoke words of forgiveness for all those who had a part to play in the unfolding drama.