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Did Jews Really Kill Jesus?
[Opinion] Ancient attempt to place blame the height of stupidity
David Michael Weber (crossfire)     Print Article 
Published 2007-04-13 11:09 (KST)   
Well, another Easter has come and gone. The pagan Easter Bunny has laid his colorful pagan eggs for all the good Christian girls and boys while Jesus Christ was been crucified, buried, and has risen from the grave again. Now it's time to start thinking about Christmas shopping.

But the lingering gloomy shadow of Easter is ever-present and has been for a long time. What should have been a simple celebration of a holy man's selfless sacrifice and resurrection sprinkled with pagan fertility symbolism has long been used as fuel in the furnace of anti-Semitism.

"The Jews killed Jesus" has been the claim of anti-Semites for centuries, from the Middle Ages until the Age of Enlightenment forced them to abandon such mystical religious nonsense and "scientifically" rationalize their prejudice with racism.

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Jesus was accused of heresy by the Jewish high council, the Sanhedrin, and handed over to the occupying Romans to be executed for sedition against Rome by reportedly claiming the title "King of the Jews." The Roman governor offered the crowd a choice between freeing a known murderer and Jesus, and the crowd chose the murderer.

From a religious standpoint, the claim of 쏪ews killed Jesus" should not have created such fury. After all, if those Christians who hated (and still hate) the Jews for supposedly killing their messiah actually read the Bible (and read between the lines rather than taking things so literally) they would have understood that Jesus' death was pretty much preordained and a necessity for the Christian religion.

So Christians should keep the Jews warm in their heart every Easter season and send them thank you cards, because otherwise they'd be burning in hell for being pagans never having heard about the 쐔rue religion. Let's face it, without the crucifixion and resurrection, would Goths and the like of the Dark Ages have been as willing to give up their bloody and fierce gods for the words of an unemployed carpenter living in the desert? I don't think the party tricks of multiplying of fish and bread or turning water into wine would have wowed the pagan barbarians back then.

Personally, I've never really understood that bit of animosity towards Jews, and I even went to Catholic School for six years (before someone left a window open, but that's another story). Not once in that time did I ever get the impression Jews were in any way shape or form bad people. After all Jesus was a Jew, as I had been taught, so a certain amount of respect was to be accorded to the Jewish people.

This view may seem strange coming from a member of a religious organization that long held Jews in contempt and blamed them for killing the founder of their religion. But my Catholic upbringing was somewhat different than perhaps traditional Catholic upbringings. Being Catholic in the southern part of America is somewhat different than being one in New England, Ireland, or Italy. Catholics are a minority that are not entirely understood. Some southern Christians groups don't believe Catholics are even Christians. So being in a minority perhaps has lent southern Catholics a more sympathetic disposition.

In addition I grew up after a number of reforms had swept through the Catholic Church under the second Vatican Council, and more importantly I grew up after the 1960s. My church was a former barn founded by former hippies. Even my staid conservative Catholic school had us singing 60s folk songs during Mass.

Due to this different upbringing, I naively thought for a long time that anti-Semitism was just some bizarre psychological disease that only the Nazis had mysteriously suffered from. When I began studying history more intently, I couldn't understand the reason for all the hostility towards the Jews during the Middle Ages. I could understand the anger over the whole money thing, since money is often a source of ill will, but this whole "Jews killed Jesus" thing just struck me as absolute nonsense. Yet it was precisely because Jews were so persecuted by Christian society that one of the only professions they could take up was money-lending, which in turn incurred further resentment.

Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the official religion of the flailing Roman Empire, had this to say about Easter and Jews:
"It appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Savior a different way."
He was blaming the entirety of the Jews for Jesus's cosmically preplanned execution three centuries beforehand. Talk about sins of the father! In this case the sins of the father's father's father's father's father's father's ... well, you get the idea. I'm pretty sure not every Jewish person was even in Jerusalem at that time.

Even the later anti-Semitism founded in scientific racism and Social Darwinism had its roots in this religious bias. Such hatred was so traditional that it couldn't be tossed aside with the coming of science and reason; so the prejudice was backed up with spurious scientific theories of racial superiority.

But what they all overlooked was the huge favor the "Christ-killing" Jews did for Christianity. Christianity needed a dead savior to be more marketable back in those times. Without the Crucifixion, there'd be no Easter. There'd be no Christian symbolism to attach to and dominate pagan spring rituals. There'd be no Easter Bunny, no fish sticks on Fridays, and probably no Christmas or Santa Claus even.

And more importantly, there'd be no resurrection -- the main selling point of Christianity to people who couldn't (and still can't) look past the magical bells and whistles to the underlying message of peace, love of your fellow man, and all that jazz.
©2007 OhmyNews
A native Tennesseean, David M. Weber is currently at the grammatical grindstone cranking out gerunds, dangling modifiers and perfecting tenses as an English teacher in Japan. In his travels, he has hiked the Inca Trail, been mugged in Mexico City, broke his leg in Switzerland, attempted to bike through Mexico and failed, climbed Pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, drank great quantities of beer at Oktoberfest and gambled at Monte Carlo.
Other articles by reporter David Michael Weber

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