Editor MNH: 2/8/03
In his book “A Moral Reckoning” Daniel J. Goldhagen claims that Christians look upon Jews as Christ killers. That was not in my catechism; neither did Reverend Sondtheimer, in his sermons, nor during religious classes make such an association. While mass was celebrated in Latin the Epistle and Gospel were read in German. By the end of the church year we therefore had heard the whole New Testament, the drama of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The setting of the drama was Palestine under Roman occupation. The “players” with a few exception, were Jews. There was the hero, his antagonists, the supporting roles and many bit players. The theme is two fold: Jesus’ redemption of mankind, and Jesus’ attempt to make us into goodly people, thereby creating a goodly society. But man is encased in an armor of self righteousness and in my experience is more willing to sacrifice his well being than to have this armor dented, or willingly shed it. Jesus criticized the elite accusing it of hypocracy and selfrighteousness. The Sanhedrin did not like Jesus relentlessly banging on their armor and decided to have him killed. The death sentence had to be okayed by the Roman procurator. Pontius Pilate tried to save Jesus. This mild mannered preacher, a cipher in Roman eyes, did not seem a danger to Roman authority. “If you let this man go you are not Caesar’s friend” shouted the mob. This was blackmail. Pilate got his position under Sejanus, the executed usurper. He therefore could not afford any complaint reaching Tiberius. Using a mob is as ancient as history.
I greatly admire a bit player, Joseph of Arimathia, member of the Sanhedrin. It took courage to ask Pilate for the body of his disgraced and discredited friend.
Mr. Goldhagen look in your own eye!