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.