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The Gospel according to Matthew led to the demonization of the Jewish people for all time

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The Morning Judgment (Le jugement du matin), by James Tissot 1886-1894, depicted Jesus on trial before the Sanhedrin. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.254_PS2.jpg)

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Do you believe in ghosts? I never thought I did. But I do find that events, even words, sometimes open up areas of memory that were stored so deep that I never thought to recall them. And the spark of memory could bring on a blaze that could illuminate whole areas of my past to which I had never given the least bit of thought. And then, ghosts really came to life.

The dead might live again, living a life I never realized they had achieved in my memory. And we might afterward wonder if our ghosts were in fact real, or streams of memory from a dream taking on the cloth of reality.

It came to me recently that as a teenager I first learned that ghosts could come to life and become a horror story.

At the age of eighteen I went to Israel for a year of study. I spent a portion of the time in Jerusalem. While there I frequented a bookstore located not far from the King David Hotel. The Hotel was of interest to me because it was blown up by agents of the Irgun (a terrorist group led by future Prime Minister Begin,) in their ultimately-successful campaign, with others, to drive the British from their mandate, with the aim of recreating the Jewish State. The book store was of interest to me because it was there I learned how memories were created in the world that led to the demonization of the Jewish people for all time.

I came to the book store originally because it was a place one could browse without disturbance without actually buying any books. It had taken all my savings just to pay for my trip and I had no money for the luxury of a book purchase. The proprietor turned out to be a German Jew, a Holocaust survivor with a number tattooed on his arm. Conversations with him, to my surprise, turned out to be an education in the Christian scriptures.

We don’t really know for certain when Jesus was crucified. It is estimated that the Jesus ministry in Jerusalem lasted about three years, and that he was crucified by the Romans between 30 C.E and 33 C.E. The inconvenient truth is that wandering religious groupings, with their preachers, were a dime a dozen in that era, including those calling for insurrection because of Rome’s pagan insults to the Jewish religion. (Sicarii)

The first Gospel purporting to tell the story of Jesus was by Mark, appearing between 66 C.E and 75 C.E., 35-40 years after the event. The Gospel according to Matthew appeared at about 110 C.E., more than seventy years after the crucifixion. Matthew’s story was 90% a repetition of Mark’s report with some startling additions. Others, except for John’s, were further repetitions. It was what was written, attributed to Matthew, that changed the future and the fate of the Jewish people. It led to Jewish numbers in the world being a handful, instead of being at least two hundred million, or more, in our days.

Matthew wrote of a trial of Jesus by the Jewish Sanhedrin that would have been in conflict with Jewish law during the Passover season. As well, he told a story about a trial regarding the disturbance at the Temple, before Pontius Pilate. This also was unlikely under the conditions of Roman practice and in conflict with the way Pilate administered his mandate. Pilate, cruel and indifferent to the concerns of the restive Hebrews, governed, obsessed with accumulating riches during his tenure. He was later recalled by Emperor Tiberius when his brutal treatment of the Samaritans got to the Emperor’s ears. He once lined the roads leading to Jerusalem with almost two hundred crucified on crosses.

What memory did Matthew present? He presented a dramatic scene in which Pilate washes his hands of the decision to crucify Jesus, as if Pilate would actually care about public opinion. And Matthew quotes the “whole” people, saying, “May his blood be on us and on our children”. Then there is the story of Judas, whose treachery has been said to have been exaggerated.**

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The scene now shifts to the later period when the Church was establishing itself, and the four Gospels, of the numbers that existed, that were chosen to be included in the New Testament. There exist no actual copies of the original drafts, only fragments of later copies that bear evidence, to the knowledgeable, of alteration and elaboration.

It seems clear to some theologians* that the Church consciously shifted the blame for Jesus’ death from the Romans to the Jews, to make their offering more appealing to non-Jews in the Roman Empire and not threatening to Romans. By this time it was probably clear that Jewish Christians were more and more finding their way back to the mainstream of Judaic practice. The altered drafts chosen to be incorporated into the New Testament text were those that supported the Church’s objectives at that time.

Memories can be the real events of our lives that we want to re-live. Memories can be dreams that we want to be real. They can also be lies that we want to be real for all sorts of reasons. These memories can become realities for all those whom we choose to tell about them.

For billions of Christians, over the centuries, these tales, reported as memories, have become the ghosts that have been visited upon Jews wherever they found a home. And they have turned the lives of millions of Jews into nightmares.

*Recent sources: Studies in Mathew, Ulrich Luz; Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI, March 2011; Who Killed Jesus?, John Dominic Croisan; God’s Unfailing Word; Church of England, November, 2019;  A more comprehensive list of sources is available in the Acknowledgements section of The Order, Daniel Silva, Harper, 2020.

**Judas, William Klassen, 1997.

Max Roytenberg is an author, poet and blogger, with many published articles in Jewish periodicals in Dublin, New York, Winnipeg and Vancouver. After a career as an Economist and Executive in the Food Industry, in Canada and abroad, he writes, and lives with his Bride, in Vancouver. He has children and grandchildren in the US, Canada, China and Israel. His last book, “Hero In My Own Eyes”, is available through major booksellers and on Amazon.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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