The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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From 104670.3420@compuserve.com Sat Sep 14 17:44:24 PDT 1996
Article: 65551 of alt.revisionism
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From: "Duncan Coons" <104670.3420@compuserve.com>
Newsgroups: soc.history.medieval,israel.jewstudies,alt.revisionism,alt.messianic,alt.fan.jesus-christ,alt.bible.prophecy
Subject: Re: the deciside charge aginst the jews
Date: 14 Sep 1996 23:02:46 GMT
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elieshed@netvision.net.il wrote in article
...
> 
> I would like to know who is the inventor of the christian doctorin of
> the deciside : that all the jews everywhere and at all times are 
> collectively and equaly responsible for the killng of Jesus.
> where the writers of the new testment the inventors of the doctorin
> or the church fathers? 
>  is this  doctorine still centeral in christianity today ( after this 
> doctorin had caused the horors of the holocust) or each church
> ( the catholics ,the protestants , the Greek ortodocs) is diffrent 
> in her opinion on this doctorin ?
> Eli eshed 
> 
This issue is quite complex, and I can only touch on the most salient
issues.

The hostility between NT (ie. Jewish) Christians and the Pharisees, along
with the religious authorities in Jerusalem, was actually intra-Jewish, and
Jesus would have considered himself a Jewish prophet speaking primarily to
other Jews, but for subsequent centuries that fact became obscured as
Gentile Christians internalized as religious anti-Semitism the hostility of
earlier NT Christians toward the obduracy of their fellow Jews, that is,
their refusal to accept Jesus as Messiah, along with the early Church's
experience of Jewish persecution of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. In
general, though with many complications, the later a NT text the more
liable it is to anti-Semitic misinterpretations, since the Jewish authors,
increasingly distressed that their former co-religionists were less likely
to accept the Christian message than were the growing gentile churches, and
having themselves been ejected from the synagogue, were engaged in an
intra-Jewish polemic against their adversaries. The most powerful
anti-Semitic texts are thus in John (eg. 8.44ff ), otherwise the most
beautiful of the gospels, and it is John who carefully reinterprets the
"priests and elders" who charge Jesus before Pilate as collectively "the
Jews." 

The supposed obduracy of the Jews later evolved in medieval art into the
contrasting images of Church and Synagogue, the latter with her eyes
covered (her inability to perceive the truth) and her spear broken (her
former authority destroyed.) See the statues on the thirteenth-century
facade at Strasbourg; she's not physically blind, it's worth noting, but
has wilfully blinded herself. 

As the to question of deicide, Jewish instigation of the execution of
Christ appears throughout the gospels, even though there can be little
doubt that the Roman authorities, considering Jesus a dangerous Jewish
agitator, were actually responsible. Crucifixion was, after all, a Roman
punishment, and the trial recorded in the gospels was plainly a *political*
trial conducted by a Roman official, though the NT tries to conceal this
fact. The most important text is undoubtedly Matthew 27:25: "His blood be
on us and on our children." Even here the context does not permit the
interpretation "Jews as such," and obviously any racial interpretation
would have included Matthew himself, but the distinction is sufficiently
subtle that one can't be surprised that, with the passage of time, later
Gentile Christians failed to notice it. 

The standard explanation for this and similar distortions of history is
that the early Church wished to shift the blame for Christ's execution from
the Empire, wherein the bulk of its missionary activity was now directed
and under whose auspices the execution had actually occurred, to the Jews,
in order to exculpate the former. Later tradition, in a letter supposedly
written by Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius, even made Pilate a
secret Christian compelled against his will by the Jews to sentence Jesus
to death, a fiction that provided corroboration for this shifting of blame.
In short, we can disentangle at least two important motives for the charge
of deicide: first, a practical need to blame someone other than the Romans
for the execution, and second, a hostility toward Judaism and Jews for
their refusal to accept Christ's deity and for their ejection of Jewish
Christians from the synagogue. It's always important to remember that this
early contention between Jews and (Jewish and Gentile) Christians occurred
within the context of a common monotheism, with both parties sincerely
believing themselves to be the historic people of God, and that monotheism,
in contrast to the pluralistic polytheism that characterized the pagan
world, invariably (and I say this without any hostility) tends toward
intolerance. One cannot easily accept that there is only one God and then
fail to judge different faiths as deviations from an immutable religious
truth. Contemporary liberal Jews and Christians alike often employ various
stratagems to get around this logical consequence, but it is unavoidable.
Arguably liberal Muslims are more successful, given Islam's more
“ecumenical” assumptions. 

In my view the charge of deicide was less important in the Middle Ages than
often supposed. I doubt you could find many medieval texts that claim "Jews
are everywhere and at all times collectively and equally responsible for
the killing of Jesus." St John Chrysostom comes closest, as far as I am
aware, to making the charge of deicide as commonly understood, and he also
makes being Christian and being anti-Semitic almost synonymous: "He who
abundantly loves Christ will never have done fighting against those [ie.
Jews] who hate him." There is no doubt that the medievals tended, for
philosophic reasons, to think in terms of abstractions, so that it was
easier for them than for us to think of class concepts like *knight* or
*beauty* as carrying universal generic properties, or to believe (to cite
an analogous case) that original sin could reside spiritually and even
physically in all men because the first man Adam (Hb. Man) sinned, or to
imagine that the Jew one sees in the street is, by virtue of his class
membership, somehow guilty of an ancient crime allegedly committed by an
ancestor; but the general approach was to regard the Jews and their
misfortunes as a corroboration of the truths of Christianity, a kind of
valuable object lesson in the perils of unbelief. The crucial text is
Augustine, *City of God* 18.46, where the dispersal of the Jews after the
destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 is interpreted as useful evidence of
the consequence of their errors, and reflecting this a pseudo-Augustinian
text reads: *Cum veniat sanctus sanctorum, cessabit unxio vestra*, "when
the Holy of Holies comes, then shall your anointing end" (see Langland,
*Piers Plowman* B-18.109a). Jews would thus be permitted to live among
Christians, but always in a subordinate status that testified to their
spiritual blindness in the face of the Messiah and the resulting loss of
their previous special relationship with God.

Langland, incidentally, makes a "blind Jew named Longinus" (cf. *Gospel of
Nicodemus* 625) the first to experience the salvific effects of the shed
blood of the Crucifixion, recovering his sight and receiving eternal life
after piercing Christ with his sword (*Piers Plowman* 18.78-91), an episode
which illustrates succinctly what I consider the general attitude. The Jews
are spiritually blind, but they can recover their sight. This isn't of
course satisfactory from a modern perspective, but it's a far cry from the
notion of Jews as always and everywhere Christ killers, and in fairness we
have to admit that Jewish attitudes toward Christians have not always been
complimentary.

Canon law attempted to protect Jews in their religious practices, a
protection (often honoured in the breach) inconsistent with the notion of a
racial taint imparted by deicide, and the perennial medieval issue of the
conversion of the Jews assumes their eventual spiritual absorption by
Christendom. Anti-Semitic statements by Popes generally reflect a concern
that Jews not be permitted to rule over Christians, not that they are
infected with a kind of genetic blasphemy, though it must be admitted that
they often come close. Eg. Gregory VII: “What is it to set Christians
beneath Jews, and to make the former subject to the latter, other than to
oppress the Church and exalt the Synagogue of Satan and, while desiring to
please the enemies of Christ, to condemn Christ himself.” Innocent IV,
however, has a more positive message: “It is from the archives of the Jews,
so to speak, that the testimonies of the Christian faith come forth.”

The charge of deicide was explicitly repudiated in Vatican II, and
mainstream Christians of all persuasions have in recent decades understood
Christ's historical ministry within its undeniable Jewish context and have
acknowledged the tragic legacy of Christian anti-Semitism.

This post is already too long, so to the claim that Christian anti-Semitism
"caused" the Holocaust, I'll simply point out that the Nazis were notably
anti-Christian. Even a cursory examination of Rosenberg's *Myth of the
Twentieth Century* indicates his greater hostility to Catholicism, Hitler's
nominal religion, than to Judaism, and Speer quotes Hitler as wishing
Germany had been conquered by Muslims, Islam being in his view a more
suitably aggressive religion for a master race. The crucial shift was from
the religious anti-Semitism I have described to a racial anti-Semitism that
attitributed, on the basis of nineteenth-century racial science, immutable
biological characteristics to various ethnic groups, thus rendering their
"otherness" a perpetual physical fact and suggesting the need for an
equally physical solution. Christian anti-Semitism was arguably a necessary
context for the Holocaust, but not its principal cause.



From 104670.3420@compuserve.com Sun Sep 15 16:09:44 PDT 1996
Article: 71258 of can.politics
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From: "Duncan Coons" <104670.3420@compuserve.com>
Newsgroups: rec.heraldry,can.politics
Subject: Canadian Rebel Flag
Date: 15 Sep 1996 21:38:31 GMT
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I am trying to discover the significance of a flag designed by the Canadian
rebel leader William Lyon Mackenzie for the abortive 1837 rebellion in
Upper Canada against the Family Compact (ie. colonial authorities).
rec.heraldry seems the most promising newsgroup.  

The flag has an olive green background centred with a skull-and-cross bones
with the (obviously American) motto "Liberty or Death" underneath; at the
time Mackenzie was a republican who admired the  American form of
constitutional democracy. In the flag's upper left hand corner (and herein
lies the problem) there is a yellow six-pointed star (or more accurately a
mullet of six points) encircled by six smaller stars.

The number six, as far as I can see, has no particular relevance in the
contemporary politics; Canada at the time was divided into Upper and Lower
Canada, roughly Ontario and Quebec. Hence the obvious assumption that the
stars in the rebel flag are modelled on the American stars and stripes
seems inapplicable.

The Star of David has been proposed, with the suggestion that the
rebellion, should it be successful, would inaugurate a New Jerusalem.
Mackenzie was not, however, notably religious, although a subsidiary issue
in the rebellion was opposition to the Church of England's dominance in
Upper Canada. In general rebels were Nonconformists of various persuasions,
loyalists Anglican. 

After the failure of the rebellion, Mackenzie, in hiding, created his own
seal, which is described as "a new moon breaking through darkness." If
anyone is familiar with the significance of this design, it might be
helpful in discovering the general symbology with which Mackenzie was
working.

Any help would be appreciated.

--Duncan Coons



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