Friday, April 30, 2004

Stuart Miller on the "Who killed Jesus?" question

It is good to see the SBL Forum continuing to publish Letters to the Editor -- this brings alive the SBL pages as indeed a kind of "forum" for debate and discussion, adding a degree of diversity and interaction for the first time. The latest to be added is this interesting contribution:

The Question, Not the Answer, Is the Problem
Stuart S. Miller
The tendency to regard the defining moment in Jewish-Christian relations as the rejection by the "Jews" (as if the original followers of Jesus weren't Jews!) of Jesus at Golgotha rather than the rejection by Christians, subsequent to the crucifixion, of the halakhah, only serves to further deflect attention from Christianity's roots in Judaism. All the attention given to answering the question, "Who killed Jesus?" further misleads the adherents of both Christianity and Judaism from the truth. Christians continue to skirt the implications of their Jewish heritage for their faith and their relationship with the Jews. Jews, by responding defensively, only legitimize the falsifying of history that has allowed Christians for so long to regard them as the "Other." . . . .

. . . . New Passion plays, such as Mel Gibson's movie, only further mask the historical truth and do nothing positive for relations between Christians and Jews. The Church and Christian leaders need to set their own history and relationship with the Jews straight, not by readdressing, or compelling Jews to readdress, "Who killed Jesus?" but by finally teaching their adherents the undeniable truth about Christian origins. Empathy for the suffering of Jesus the Jew might then be transformed into a truly meaningful lesson.
Stuart S. Miller is Associate Professor of Hebrew, History, and Judaic Studies at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.

Update (7 January 2006): thanks to Stuart Miller for notifying me of the revised URLs for the above: access "article" and letter (PDF).