After learning about the Holocaust, I’ve asked myself many times how this could have happened. Why would anyone believe it’s acceptable to massacre an entire people? This is my reasoning for writing my paper on how Christian theology influenced anti-Semitism. Much of the Holocaust appears to have it’s beginning with Christian theology. I will begin my paper with the early writings of Christians and continue chronologically until after World War II.
The Apostle Paul was one the first people to criticize the Jewish people. At first, he tried to explain to the Christians not to adopt a superior attitude towards the Jews.
IF THE PART OF THE DOUGH OFFERED AS FIRST FRUITS IS HOLY, THEN THE WHOLE BRANCH IS HOLY; AND IF THE ROOT IS HOLY, THEN THE BRANCHES ARE ALSO HOLY…DO NOT BOAST OVER THE BRANCHES. IF YOU DO BOAST, REMEMBER THAT IT IS NOT YOU THAT SUPPORT THE ROOT, BUT THE ROOT SUPPORTS YOU.
At one point this appeared to be Paul’s feeling towards the Jews and the Christians. His sentiment appeared to change, according to Christian suppressionists. In the text Romans, many of Paul’s statements were misinterpreted by those Christians to make themselves appear more superior to the Jewish people.
…INCLUDING US WHOM HE HAS CALLED, NOT FROM THE JEWS ONLY BUT ALSO FROM THE GENTILES? AS INDEED HE SAYS IN HOSEA, "THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE I WILL CALL ‘MY PEOPLE,’ AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED I WILL CALL ‘BELOVED.’" "AND IN THE VERY PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, ‘YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,’ THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED CHILDREN OF THE LIVING GOD,"
…GENTILES, WHO DID NOT STRIVE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, HAVE ATTAINED IT, THAT IS, RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH; BUT ISRAEL, WHO DID STRIVE FOR THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS BASED ON THE LAW, DID NOT SUCCEED IN FULFILLING THAT LAW… [ROMANS 9]
"In proclaiming his Christian message Paul stressed that the Jewish nation had been rejected by God, and the new Covenant had superseded the old," said David Cohn-Sherbok, in his book The Crucified Jew. "In these ways the New Testament laid the foundations for later Christian hostility to the Jewish nation…and served as the basis for the early Church’s vilification of the Jews." (Cohn-Sherbok)
Another early Christian writing which may have encouraged Jewish hatred is the Gospels of John. Scholars believe John wanted to gain favor with the Roman Hierarchy. Therefore, he emphasized the Jewish involvement in the death of Christ and minimized the Roman role. "The Gospel of John contains some of the most hostile anti-Jewish statement in the Christian scriptures. So sharp is the contrast in that gospel between Jesus’ exhortations to his followers to love one another and the hostile references to the Jews…John is ‘a gospel of Christian love and Jew hatred.’" (Charlesworth)
Some examples of John’s apparent sentiments towards the Jewish people...