• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 13 comments on Beauty and Anti-Semitism: The Gospel of John

  1. Anti-Semitic? Ridiculous! According to all the gospels, and as prophesied in Isaiah and other Old Testament Scriptures, the Jewish religious establishment of the day wanted to murder Jesus, and they found a way to do it by using the Romans’ brutal system of “justice.” Why? Because they refused to recognize him as their long-prophesied Messiah and future King of God’s Kingdom promised to Israel in the Davidic covenant. They perceived Jesus as a direct threat to their high standing in the Jewish community, and in their ignorance, they totally rejected him and plotted to kill him. They were in fact his enemies. Anti-Semitism had nothing to do with it. And as David Addison points out, Jesus and his apostles were all themselves Jews!

  2. If you postulate the Gospel according to John as being written by a non-Jew 200-300 years later, then it could be both anti-Semetic and more in line with a dashed expectation that Jesus was not coming again right away and Armaggedon (predicted ‘later’ by Paul) was not going to happen in the near future. – In this scenario, this gospel is less prescient and more revisionist.

  3. @Nathan, if you read Paul’s writings, which form the basis for much of the development of the Church over the next 2-300 years along with the writings of the early church fathers, I think you’ll find that if the Gospel of John were written as late as you are positing that you would expect to find it much much more revisionistic than it is. The Gospel of John still pretty fully embraces the Jewishness of the early church, where by 300 years later the church was pretty well gentilized.

  4. The body of Christ, since shortly after Jesus came, has been comprised of people of many ethnic/cultural/linguistic backgrounds, very much including Semites. I believe, as has been mentioned already, Semites (as I understand the term, and as I believe it is academically understood) comprised a large portion of Jesus’ early ministry and followers (including, I believe, most or all of the Disciples, as well as Paul). The gospel of John, however, depicts a battle between the light and the forces and principalities of this world. Jesus clearly says that no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Therefore, Semites, Europeans, Francs, East-Asians, Spanish-speakers etc. (however you would like to describe us) alike who are part of Christ’s body, having been called according to His purposes, have the light. It was not merely a small group of Semites that were at odds with Jesus and His followers, but an entire world/system that denied and rejected God’s only begotten Son (in modern times, I believe this stretches far past those who consider themselves Jewish and probably deep into what people consider “Christendom”). All of this being said, I love those who are Jewish, atheists, or deists, regardless of the fact that they do not have Christ (at least, not yet).

    1. This is a great post, thank you. I am saddened when my fellow Christians blindly defend the writing in the Bible without considering its cultural and social influences. Regardless of the anti-semetic language and other cultural, human blemishes hiding the Word of God, Christ is available to all, from all walks and from all walks of life and from all regions and cultures.
      Thank you for helping me to grow in my Faith!

  5. there is no good case to date the Gospel of John after 70 AD since if the intention was to bait the Jews surely the author would have used 70AD as his main witness and evidence…and yet the temple is still standing. JAT Robinson….a liberal..ended up dating John as the earliest of the four…I believe it’s entitled The Priority of John…easily googled

  6. To call Jesus ‘anti-semitic’ is the mother of all ridicule. Jesus was not a Jew as these ‘scholars’ keep trying to push on us. He was from Judae and a Judaen. Jew is a word that was added into the revised 18th Century KJV by cunning Khazarian convert Jews (to Pharisaic ‘law’ the Devil-inspired Talmud). John is right the Pharisees murdered Christ and the ‘Jews’ today have continued that ‘religion’ or ‘cult’ of Satanism.

  7. To my fellow Christians who are upset about this article, at ease! This article is in no way, shape, or form claiming that Jesus was anti-semetic. It is providing reasonable evidence that the gospel of John unjustly uses anti-semetic language to describe the Jews. To all my fellow Christians reading this, I highly recommend you read the full article! This man is a Christian himself, he loves Christ, as we all do. The Gospels were not written only by the apostles they are attributed to; they are collaborative pieces that reflect the influences and thoughts of their writers. Words cannot contain divinity, and sometimes the Bible does in fact contain the errors of the culture it was brought up in. Every culture has its flaws and prejudices; to say otherwise would be misleading.
    I believe in the Divinity of Christ, and I believe in the Gospels, but you cannot say that after 2,000 years of translation and interpretation with so many different versions that everything written in the Gospels is entirely accurate and correct. That does not in any way detract from your faith; if anything, it strengthens it, by removing the human cultural contaminants from the Living Word.

    1. To which I would add, regardless of how fallible Human transmission of the written word might be, or on the other hand, the infallibility of God’s word, we are all fallible humans attempting to interpret the words of the Bible. Therefore, logic dictates that we, as fallible humans, are prone to misinterpreting even the most infallible of statements.

      To suggest that one’s understanding of even perfect words are beyond reproach is to assume that most venal of sins, the sin of pride in the assumption that you are a perfect vehicle for God’s word.

  8. The assault on Jewish traditional festivals, the Torah, the religious leaders in John’s gospel was thoroughgoing and witnessed in each chapter, Jesus Messiahship was rejected by most Jews of the time. It is horrifying to know what the message of this gospel led to historically.

  9. As someone who was born to Jewish parents & have deeply explored mystical traditions, I have always found the Gospel of John to include what are, in my opinion, some of the most profound & yet misunderstood truths. The most important being John 14:12 –

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

    This is a clear statement attributed to Jesus where Jesus states that all that he has done may be accomplished by those who have faith in Jesus. I believe that what he is explicitly saying is that the difference between Jesus & those who “merely” have faith in Jesus (who are capable of the same works) are differences in degree rather than differences in kind. I find fault with those who worship Jesus rather than the instructions which Jesus has provided to us. My understanding is that Jesus instructions are to strive for “Christ Consciousness,” not to worship Jesus. Jesus has no need for our worship. Jesus’ desire is for us to strive for & ultimately attain unity in Christ (consciousness).

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