(The Jewish Chronicle) David Baddiel — a so-called Jewish “comedian” and social commentator in the U.K. — is at it again, applying his glib thesis that “Jews don’t count” to Jesus Christ — whining that Christ’s “jewishness” has been whitewashed and erased during the last 2,000 years of Christianity:
I’d like to talk to you about Jesus. I mean, I would, but also I was keen on starting a column with those words (particularly in the JC)….mainly because over Christmas I had a discussion with the historian Tom Holland about the man Himself (I’ve gone for capitals: sorry, Jews. Just makes the grammar clearer).
The podcast was brilliantly interesting in general, but the bit that triggered me was Tom’s reluctance, as a historian, to describe Jesus straightforwardly as a Jew. He drew a distinction between Judeans, the people who lived in that region at the time of Jesus, and the modern or indeed medieval conception of Jews, concluding that when, in the Gospels, you read Jews, you should think Judeans.
This bothered me, because of something removed from Tom’s historical point, which is the de-Jewification of Jesus. There is a long tradition of this, firstly from the Church — early pictures of him on the cross portrayed Jesus as he would actually have been crucified, naked, but a loincloth was quickly added, not just for modesty but also to conceal the fact of his circumcision — but latterly, from progressives, keen to reclaim Jesus as non-white. Which is of course correct.
The European Robert Powell, blue-eyed, often indeed blond version of Jesus of Nazareth is obviously a retrofit. Jesus had dark skin. He was Middle Eastern. But I’ve noticed that this reclamation sometimes comes with a Jews-don’t-count-y spin, which involves a distinct forgetting that he could have had Middle Eastern dark skin and still be Jewish. The bringing-Jesus-back-to-his-roots party is one to which it feels like Jews, imagined by some progressives as basically white, are not invited.
I battle against this, because it’s Jewish (a term not generally allowed to Jews) erasure. And also because like all Jews, except maybe the most extreme frummers, I like being able to claim Jesus as unsere (one of ours — but you knew that). Yes, the Church founded in his name turned out to be quite bad news for us in the long run, but his basic words and teachings are fairly sound, plus of course he’s undeniably a very big historical macher.
So Tom Holland’s historical finessing disrupted my thinking. But then I delved a bit further into what scant evidence there is of the life of the historical Yeshua. And even if ancient Judeans do differ a fair bit from the good men and women of Hampstead Garden Suburb, there’s a lot that speaks to me of Jewishness.
Jesus was, as already noted, circumcised; he was expected to keep kosher, but has his own thoughts on that (Gospel of Mark) — I think we can all relate; at the age of 12, his parents took him to the temple for Pesach (Gospel of Luke) and OK, he wow’d the rabbis with his own thoughts, which is a bit unusual, but he may have been planning to get Barmitzvah’d there and do Maftir and Haftorah; and of course, his mother thought he was The Messiah.
I ended up having a long chat with Tom Holland about it all on my Twitter DMs, and eventually just asked him outright: was Jesus a Jew?
He replied, very historically: “After the sack of Jerusalem, Vespasian obliged Judaeans to pay the tax they had previously paid to the Temple to Jupiter, whose own temple had burnt down in 69. This became so intrusive that Suetonius records seeing an old man having his genitals inspected by a magistrate, to see if he had been circumcised. So the Romans recognised Judaean identity as something very definite, and understood that it was not merely ethnic, but framed by the idea of a covenant with their god that was marked by circumcision. So had Jesus been alive under the Flavian emperors, would he have been obliged to pay the tax? Yes, he absolutely would.”
Which I like because I believe that the thing which, in the end, marks Jews out as a specific ethnic minority, over many centuries, is how we have been treated by more powerful others.
You are a Jew, that is, because you are persecuted for being one, and that happened to Jesus as much as it happened to my Nazi Germany-born mother.
There’s good stuff too, obviously, but in the end we know that, “They tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat” is said by all Jews before all festivals. Even Christmas. Although the failure of that particular kill attempt doesn’t actually become clear until Easter.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Baddiel couldn’t get a straight answer out of Tom Holland, who is a quintessential “court historian” — a 100% kosher-approved gatekeeper who wouldn’t dare say anything that would offend the Jewish powers-that-be in the U.K. who control academia and the media where he’s made his successful and comfortable living.
In a couple of recent podcasts, Tom Holland uncritically discusses the “eye witness” testimony of “Holocaust survivor” Rudolph Vrba — who has been shown by revisionist historians to be one of the most unreliable, inconsistent, and dishonest “witnesses” used by Jewish propagandists to “prove” the “Holocaust.”
However, Holland’s preference to refer to Jesus Christ as a “Judean” instead of a “Jew” is somewhat more accurate — although completely inaccurate in the context of the New Testament.
Jesus Christ was not a Judean — he was a Judahite born in Galilee, as were many of the apostles — making Him a Galilean, not a Judean.
Traditionally Galilee was inhabited not by Judahites but rather by Israelite tribes of the northern kingdom — such as Dan, Asher, Naphtali, and Issachar — which is why Isaiah refers to this region as “Galilee of the Nations” — or often mistranslated as “Galilee of the Gentiles.”
That the Judahite Christ was born and raised in Galilee among the so-called “lost tribes of Israel” is very significant considering one of His stated missions was to regather all of the Israelite tribes unto Himself — as He stated unequivocally in Matthew 15:24.
And it’s also very significant that Isaiah refers to these northern Israelite tribes in Galilee as “the nations” or “gentiles” — which clearly shows that “gentiles” in the Gospels didn’t refer to non-Israelites necessarily but rather to dispersed Israelites outside of Judea — a subject that we have previously written about here and here.
When the English word “Jew” is used in the New Testament, it doesn’t necessarily mean, as Tom Holland contends, anyone living in Judea at that time — rather it refers to Israelites of the southern kingdom — from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi — who were residing in Judea — and that would most certainly include Jesus Christ, a Judahite.
And most certainly, the term “Jew” in the New Testament cannot possibly refer to that modern ethnic group who today call themselves “Jews” — by their own admission.
According to the 1980 Jewish Almanac — in a chapter aptly entitled “Identity Crisis” — we read,
“Strictly speaking, it is incorrect to call an ancient Israelite a Jew or to call a contemporary Jew an Israelite or a Hebrew.”
Rarely will you ever read Jews tell the truth about who they are — their power derives from being as vague and pliable as possible — so it is rather astonishing that they would have allowed this damning sentence to make its way into such a prominent Jewish publication.
If today’s Jews are neither Israelites or Hebrews, then Jesus Christ mostly certainly was not a “Jew” in the sense that David Baddiel and his fellow contemporary Jews use the word.
The term “Jewish” does not appear anywhere in the Bible for good reason — it was a 16th century contrivance — and “Judaism” didn’t enter the English language until the 15th century — which is odd, considering that Christians are misled to believe that “Judaism” is the faith of the Old Testament.
Jesus Christ’s “jewishness” hasn’t been “erased” — it simply never existed.
The very first chapter of the New Testament shows us Christ’s genealogy for two reasons — to demonstrate His legitimacy to inherit the throne of King David — and to show his — gasp — racial purity — He had to be racially pure and an unblemished “lamb” to be an acceptable blood sacrifice to His Father.
Today’s Jews — by their own admission — are racial mongrels whose “identity” is determined through their mothers not fathers — another fact that disproves they could possibly claim to be real Israelites or Hebrews.
A 1956 article in the New York Times raised the question of whether or not Jews were a racially identifiable group, and Rabbi Samuel Silver — editor of American Judaism and director of information of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations — emphatically denied that “race” was of any consequence as to what Jews are:
“Racial characteristics are secondary to moral and spiritual values which are acquired through education and religious heritage. The notion that all Jews are racially alike is contrary to accounts in the Bible which tell of intermingling of Jews with many other strains.”
And Dr. Camille Honig — editor of the California Jewish Voice — concluded the following about the racial makeup of Jews based on Patai’s work,
“If you studied Jewish types and communities in five continents, as this writer [Patai] had the opportunity of doing, you would have realized that it is sheer nonsense, and very dangerous nonsense, as well as unscientific to a speak about a Jewish race.”
Thus from a modern Jewish perspective, the racial purity laws of the ancient Israelites are “very dangerous nonsense” — and those ancient Israelites had much more in common with the German National Socialists than they do with modern so-called Jews.
So casting Jesus as the blue-eyed British actor Robert Powell is not, as Baddiel claims, an obvious “retrofit” — as recent DNA studies have confirmed — but depicting Him as a modern-day racially ambiguous Jewish-looking mongrel like actor Cliff Curtis most certainly is.