Holy Week and hatred of the Jews redux

(CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Even after years of fruitful work on Christian-Jewish relationships, good biblical scholarship and the landmark Second Vatican Council document “Nostra Aetate”, the nagging old canard that the Jews killed Jesus won’t quite go away. And there is no other time of year when this rears its head than Holy Week, when the the passion and death of Jesus is proclaimed in liturgy after liturgy, and those problematic Scripture verses are spoken for all to hear. They have been the source of millennia of persecution and pain. How are we to think of them, and why can’t they just go away?

This week, New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine, herself a Jew, pens as essay for the Australia Broadcasting Networks’ Religion and Ethics program, “Holy Week and the Hatred of the Jews.” Levine offers a reason why this hatred remains and looks at six approaches that the church and academy have tried to resolve the issue. None, she notes, are entirely satisfactory.

Her essay is well worth the time to read and puts a new spin on the Gospel you hear at Good Friday liturgy.

Levine is the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Graduate Department of Religion, and Program in Jewish Studies. Her most recent book is “The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus.” CNS recently reviewed another work, “The Jewish Annotated New Testament, New Revised Standard Version Bible Translation,” that Levine co-edited along with scholar Marc Zvi Brettler. You can read the review at Catholic San Francisco.

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4 Responses to Holy Week and hatred of the Jews redux

  1. Jon Matthew says:

    The verses are not problematic to me. It is the word of God. The gospels say a lot of things that sinners find troubling but instead of trying to reinterpret them to fit your own ideology you should find the truth in them, reflect and give penance to the Lord God.

  2. George Staton says:

    Really, we are living the yearly remembrance of what happened almost 2,000 ago: the Holy Week. I really do not understand what the fuss is about. I just finished reading Miss Levine´s article and any one can see it is biased. If you do not really believe that God inspired the New Testament, then you can propose a manipulation of the words in such a way as liberal theologians and biblical scholars do. That is why the now Pope, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger gave a very sound speech at a meeting of interfaith scholars about the Bible: “The Bible interpretation in crisis”. Now he is Pope Benedict XVI, and his teachings are quite clear for anyone that wants to be a Christian. History cannot be erased, nor the Bible changed because it upsets someone. So what can one say… sorry that it happened… sorry that God inspired the Holy writs… Well, I am not sorry, I have faith and hope and try to be charitable. Personally I feel that Levine’s article is an agenda article that disregards Christian sensibility, And I am sorry that you people consider it worth reading. I will pray for you on this Holy Week, Certainly I will.

  3. marlene piccolo says:

    Why are we still in an accusatory mode? The Roman’s crucified Christ!
    And, I am a Roman Catholic. If you believe that God sent his son to save us, then rejoice in all the good that was intended.


    Historical fact is just that … facts that took place in the past. The Catholic church has made it abundantly clear that we are to love our neighbor regardless of their ethnicity, denomination, faith background, etc. With that said, the fact is: Jesus was handed over to Pontius Pilate by the Sanhedrin – The Jews. Jesus was crucified because the Jews were incited by the Sanhedrin. BUT, this HAD TO BE so that we could be saved and live in paradise with our Lord and Savior, Jesus, and our Heavenly Father. Otherwise, we would be dead due to our sinful nature and sinful acts. I do not harbor any ill feelings towards anyone of any faith not Jews, not Muslims for 9/11, not Baptists because of their hatred of Catholics.

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