Reading commentaries of most of the New Testament it is commonplace for the writer to say that aspects of the New Testament which may seem antisemitic to the reader are not really antisemitic because they were written by Jewish people in the first century. This was an internal argument, they remind us, Jew vs. Jewish-Christian, not Jew vs. Gentile-Christian, thus it is no basis for contemporary Christian antisemitism.
It is true, and good to remember, that early Christianity was one of many sub-groups born in that period from ancient Yahwism, or 2nd temple Judaism, or whatever your preferred terminology is. The religion that was formed in the synagogues shares the same ancestry as the religion that was formed in the ecclesia.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but think that this idea that the New Testament can’t be antisemitic because it was written by Jews is false. Feminism understands that women internalize the ideas and structures of patriarchy too. Being a woman doesn’t make you immune to misogyny. Many women are complicit in keeping other women, or even themselves, down.
Being a person of color doesn’t make you immune to racism. I’m not talking about that nonsense called “reverse racism.” I mean that plenty of black people have unwittingly absorbed and believe that their skin color makes them inferior.
The same is true of class. It isn’t only rich people that believe the lie that poor people are to blame for their poverty. Many people standing in the unemployment line internalize that shame and guilt and wonder why they are failing to grasp the American dream.
So why would the Jewishness of the authors of the New Testament be any protection from them holding and propagating antisemitic ideas?
What is important about this is that following the Holocaust Christians naturally had a lot of shame about our complicity in (total responsibility for?) that evil. Rather than recognize the roots of that evil all the way through our history, beliefs, and even in the bedrock texts of our faith, we instead seek to protect the Bible, to keep it innocent. We blame it on a specific subset of Christians, or even just specific individuals. We say to ourselves, “they weren’t real Christians” (in a variant of the No True Scotsman falacy) or “they didn’t truly understand the Bible.” In this way we preserve the seeds of evil in our beliefs without taking responsibility for the fruit.
Instead of doing that, lets freely point out evil in the Bible where we see it. Don’t take your scissors out, it’s good that the rot is found in scripture. Otherwise how would we ever recognize ourselves in its pages?