Explorations Magazine

January 2, 2022

Although the New Testament represents only 22% of the Christian Bible, its impact, teachings and influence are the cornerstone of a great compassionate and principled religion.

Regrettably the poetry and reasoning of first century events as presented in the New Testament are diminished by inaccurate interpretations and translations that blame Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus 2000 years ago. It is this historical untruth, repeated in almost every edition of the New Testament since its inception, that is the foundation for most of the anti-Semitism that led to the murder of Jews throughout Europe. It is time to stop teaching each new generation to distrust and hate Jews, based on misinterpretations of events of the first century.

This is a bigotry as absurd as teaching hatred of all Germans because of Hitler’s atrocities, or hatred of all Japanese because of the attack on Pearl Harbor, or teaching hatred of all Muslims because of 9/11, or teaching hatred of all descendants of Romans for nailing Jesus to the cross.

The chapters in this book represent an update to the work of the American Interfaith Institute, which was founded in 1982 to rebuild broken bridges between Christians and Jews by removing anti-Jewish references from the New Testament. There are basic historical facts, well researched and acknowledged, that are the catalyst of editions of the New Testament that are being developed by bible scholars:

1. The Romans employed citizens of their conquered nations to administer the government, just as the Nazis did in Europe. Religious leaders, including the Sanhedrin, tax collectors and others, had power but it was limited. If the instructions of their Roman overlords were not adhered to, their lackeys were either removed from their position, imprisoned or even crucified.

2. Crucifixion was an exclusively Roman form of execution.

3. Because Jesus had a significant and devoted following, Pontius Pilate believed Jesus was a threat who must be removed. When Pilate’s troops crucified him, they ridiculed him publicly as “King of the Jews” The Romans wanted no competition. It was in their interest to declare that Caesar was the one and only king.

4. The first Christians were of Jewish background. Jesus and his earliest followers never heard the words “Christian” or” New Testament.”

5. The inaccurate references to Jewish involvement in Jesus’ death in the New Testament texts are the principal foundation for Christian anti-Semitism.

Today, Christians and Jews find themselves allies in a struggle for the soul and survival of our civilization. It is time to bury old suspicions and fears; time for people of the book to unite in a new movement of solidarity. Our connections are revealed as never before: the ethical teachings of Jews and Christians are grounded in respect for the sanctity of life, the pursuit of justice, and the call for peace.

Clearly, this is the moment to explore and celebrate the bridges that connect. That is why, now, more than ever before, it is vital that Bible publishers remove misinformation from their publications and publish new editions that are sensitive to the issues that divide.

It is appropriate, in light of contemporary research and truth, to re-examine the scriptures. The American Bible Society, the largest in the world, has taken the lead by publishing a historically more accurate translation of the New Testament, the Contemporary English Version (CEV), which the Vatican has approved.

The research and production of this vast project extended over a 10 year period and I was privileged to be involved in the process. The CEV Bible has set the stage by translating the virulent references to Jews in light of the sociolinguistic setting of various New Testament writings. It is vital that anti-Jewish references in all other New Testament editions be critically examined within the sociological context of first century events and the realities of current research.

Note: John 7:1 and John 19:14-15 in the CEV as  compared to 3 other editions.

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