Dr. Val Karanxha interviewed me about my new book titled, Killing the Torah: The Roots of Christian Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism. Check out the podcast below!
From the book:
Despite significant improvement in interfaith dialogue in some quarters between Christians and Jews, many Christians still maintain theological positions that are inimical to fundamental Jewish beliefs, and consequently, to the Jewish people. The essential perspective that sets the tone for Christian attitudes towards Jews and Judaism is their theological view of the Torah. Most Christians will argue that they hold no bias against the Torah. They cannot, they claim, since it forms a part of their biblical canon. The reality, however, is that theologically many Christians are guilty of legicide, i.e., killing the Torah, much in the same way that they have historically accused Jews of deicide, i.e., of killing God incarnate.
Where my previous works have focused on Jewish attitudes towards Christians, this work is focused on challenging Christians to ensure that their perspectives on the Torah are not merely lip service to what forms the foundation for Jewish identity. The famed Lutheran theologian Rudolf Bultmann stated in 1933 that the Hebrew Scriptures were no longer revelation as it has been and still is for Jews, More seriously he stated that the Hebrew Scripture means nothing more to Christians. Bultmann, a professor of the New Testament at the University of Marburg, did not believe that the Hebrew Scriptures should be discarded, however. But this was only, perhaps unconsciously, so that it served as the sinister foil compared to the light of the Gospel. These ideas are not limited to Bultmann, however. Even a Christian theology generally favorable towards like Hans Küng stated that the apostle Paul was justified in killing the law.
The mistake that Rudolf Bultmann and others have made is that despite their study of ancient Judaism and Second Temple Judaism, their attitudes towards the Torah prevented them from legitimately recognizing the existence of contemporary Jews. The Shoah, i.e., the Holocaust, did not sadly irrelevant and does not affect their religious beliefs.
Rudolf Bultmann and others seemingly refused to understand this because the practical consequences of their theological views leave only two possibilities. The first proposition is that Judaism “died long ago.” The second implication is closely related and perhaps more insidious. It renders contemporary Judaism a fraud. Maybe this statement is the most troubling to me since, as a rabbi, it strikes at the heart of my identity.
The challenge for Christianity was the simultaneous adoption of the sacred texts of the Jewish people while also rendering them null and void. It was not only a matter of Christians choosing not to follow the man-dates of the Torah, but it was also to invalidate the legitimacy of continued Jewish observance and fidelity to it. The goal was, in effect, the killing of the Torah.
Posted by Rabbi Dr. Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez the director of Yeshivat Meor Enaim. He is the author of The Creation of Jewish Identity: From the Biblical Era to the Second Temple Period and 19 additional books on various Jewish topics. If you purchase through our link, Yeshivat Meor Enaim gets a commission to help continue our mission.