A scholarly study of Judeo-Christian heritage examines the roots of anti-Jewish sentiment.
Debut author Gutbrod writes that he was raised by Catholic parents in a household dominated by a virulently anti-Semitic worldview. He says that he drank deeply from this poisoned well until he started to seriously study the Bible and the historical context that informed its development. In this book, he contends that Judaism evolved under the rule of the Roman Empire but that Romans chafed at Jews’ embrace of their own nationalistic identity. Partly as a result of the harsh response of Roman leaders, a pummeled Judaism splintered into distinct sects—a fracturing that birthed Christianity. But although the early Christians still identified as Jews, they progressively established their own theological identity and their own authoritative Scriptures. According to the author, the schism between Judaism and Christianity widened when Christians curried favor with Rome by defaming the Jewish people as a seditious threat. It was not Jews, Gutbrod says, but Romans who truly executed Jesus, even if Roman prefect Pontius Pilate tried to make it seem as if the matter was decided by Jews alone. The legacy of anti-Semitism only intensified, he says, when the Gospels were written about 40 years later and the acrimony between Jews and Christians was at a fever pitch. Overall, Gutbrod’s scholarship is incandescently sharp and judicious, and he pieces together a biblical hermeneutic that meticulously considers not only the human imprint on the text, but also its historical and revelatory character: “What I have attempted to relate in this book is how human nature can twist and manipulate sacred literature in order to justify present concerns or needs.” As a result, he provides a clinic in exegetical temperance, slowly considering all the possible interpretations of the text and letting the evidence point to the most plausible conclusions.
A well-researched biblical exegesis that should equally interest the novice and the expert.