The Hermeneutical Dilemma Behind ‘Anti-Judaism’ In The New Testament: An Evangelical Perspective -- By: Philip du Toit

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 20:1 (Sep 2015)
Article: The Hermeneutical Dilemma Behind ‘Anti-Judaism’ In The New Testament: An Evangelical Perspective
Author: Philip du Toit


The Hermeneutical Dilemma Behind ‘Anti-Judaism’ In The New Testament: An Evangelical Perspective

Philip du Toit1

Abstract

In this contribution the hermeneutical problem of ‘anti-Judaism’ in relation to the New Testament is approached from an Evangelical perspective. The term ‘anti-Judaism’ is especially problematic in the light of the hermeneutical distance between the Ἰουδαῖοι of the New Testament and contemporary Judaism. The main questions asked are whether the New Testament can be free of ‘anti-Judaism’ and whether there is room in prevalent New Testament scholarship for an Evangelical approach to this topic. The concepts of both fulfilment and replacement, which play an integral part in attempting to answer these questions, are identified as integral to the New Testament. The latter conclusion is reached from an overview of various New Testament texts with a focus on the Pauline literature. The conclusion is reached that there are instances in the New Testament where a stand is taken against Ἰουδαῖοι, yet not as distinct from other people, but as part of an element of judgment against all sinful people, which is inherent in the gospel.

1. Introduction

Although the concept ‘anti-Judaism’ is usually understood as opposition against Jews’ religious convictions or customs, while the concept ‘antisemitism’ would refer to prejudice against race or ethnicity (Langmuir 1971; Murrell 1994; Anti-Semitism 2007),2 there exists a trend to relate these two concepts with each other (e.g. Gager 1983; Nichols 1993:314; Hoet 2001:187-188; Byford 2006). The rationale behind this trend is that ‘anti-Judaism’ is seen as a prerequisite for antisemitism (Langmuir 1971; cf. Gager 1983) on the basis that historically, a negative view of Judaism has often led to antisemitism. The holocaust, which is understood as resulting from antisemitism, still has a profound influence on the way Jews and Judaism is perceived today. It influences how the way of life and the customs of the Ἰουδαῖοι (‘Jews’ or ‘Judaeans’, see below) of the New Testament are understood, as well as how their relationship with those who accepted Jesus as Messiah is perceived.

In the past few decades, New Testament scholarship has progressively been characterised by the avoidance of ‘anti-Judaism’, in order to nip in the bud any rise to antisemitism. The avoidance of ‘anti...

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