• Anti-Judaism in the Gospel trial narratives: Can the narratives be read in a way that is not anti-Jewish?

      Evans, Robert; Wright, Gertraud F. L. (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education), 2000-09)
      The aim of this study is to explore the issue of anti-Judaism in the Gospel Trial Narratives, and to question whether the text can be read in a way that is not anti-Jewish. Since many scholars argue that anti-Judaism is not found in the gospels but originates from the teachings of the Church Fathers, I persue this matter in chapter one. In an historical overview from the post-biblical period to the present, I scrutinize the role which the Church Fathers assigned to the Jews, that is placing the blame for the death of Jesus Christ solely on the Jews, thus initiating Christian hatred and persecution of the Jews for centuries to come. The second and more extensive part focuses on the Trial narratives and investigates the view of scholars that the roots of anti-Judaism are found in the gospels. These views are contrasted with others who dismiss these allegations. The first section deals with the arrest of Jesus, and with Jewish involvement The next section treats of the Jewish trial and the conflicting issue of Christology. The Roman trial in section three explores whether the Roman governor or the Jewish leaders bear the greater responsibility for Jesus' death. In this investigation I probe how far the Trial narratives are anti-Jewish, and question whether theology rather than history controls the text, and how tensions and conflicts can be understood if seen in a sociohistorical, political and cultural context. The reinterpetation of the narratives by modern scholars, Christian and Jewish, offers new insight into the texts, and largely affirms my theory that the Trial narratives can indeed be read in a way that is not anti-Jewish. In the concluding chapter, I investigate Ihe needs of contemporary readers with their prejudice and presuppositions to gain a well-informed understanding of the gospels. Next, from a post-Holocaust position, I consider the pervasive influence of anti-Judaism on Christian culture, and how recent changes in church teaching, in liturgy, and prayer, seek to correct distorted teachings. I further notice the positive efforts made to overcome the presistent anti-Jewish influence in literature and art, as seen in the recent Oberammergau Passion play with the excision of large parts of anti-Jewish elements. A brief investigation of Gospels Passion stories for children witnesses pro-Jewish attitudes emerging. Finally, I examine how the beneficial effect of a Christian-Jewish dialogue fosters mutual understanding, which is, as I learnt at my recent visit to Germany, of particular importance for the German Lutheran Church with its special needs of renewal, and how Christian-Jeewish dialogue promotes co-operation and Christian recognition of the Jewishness of Jesus and the Jewishness of the scriptures.