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Jesus the Jew: Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic constructions of Jesus in an age of anti -Semitism, 1890–1940Sonja Spear
Most historians regard the 1920s as a period of increasing anti-Semitism in the United States. In response to growing anti-Semitism, religious liberals created institutions to promote good will between Jews and Christians. The goodwill movement, which culminated in the National Conference of Christians and Jews, has received little scholarly attention. Jesus the Jew traces a tradition of liberal discourse concerning anti-Semitism from the goodwill movement through the Second World War. Since the nineteenth century, Jews and Christians had articulated their relationship to each other through the figure of Jesus, the crucified Jew. I trace a public discourse regarding Jesus the Jew and anti-Semitism through religious periodicals, including the American Hebrew and the Christian Century. I focus primarily on figures who met or who responded to each other's work. These include Kaufmann Kohler, Shailer Matthews, Stephen S. Wise, S. Parkes Cadman, Jacques Maritain, John Oesterreicher, and Sholem Asch. The argument is structured to avoid simple comparison between two religions. In a braided narrative, I describe a process by which Jews and Christians appropriated and transformed each other's rhetoric. Jesus, on the boundary of Judaism and Christianity, represented both the mutual attraction of Jews and Christians and the bitter history that divided them. In conclusion, I find that both Jews and Christians explained anti-Semitism as the consequence of Christian teachings that denied Jesus' Jewishness while blaming Jews for the crucifixion. They applied this explanation, however inappropriately, to Adolph Hitler's racist anti-Semitism. Both Jews and Christians, therefore, understood Nazism to constitute a crisis in Christendom, a Christian revolt against Christ. While Jewish promoted this analysis as a critique of Christianity, many Christians continued to understand nationalism as the Jewish spirit in the world. The convergence of these two interpretations reveals anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism as different faces of the same coin.
Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Anti-Semitism; Catholic; Interfaith; Jesus Christ; Jewish; Protestant; Religious history; History; 0582:History; 0320:Religious history
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