Acclaimed Holocaust historian, Daniel Goldhagen, in his most recent book, The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism (Little, Brown & Co. 2013), claims the following about the New Testament:
The Christian bible contains four hundred fifty antisemitic verses just in the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, … (70)
He counts 80 antisemitic verses in Matthew alone, and 130 in John. Your mileage may vary in the way you count up the antisemitic verses, but it’s hard to quarrel with the basic thrust of Goldhagen’s observation: malicious rhetoric is directed at Jews throughout the New Testament, and that malicious rhetoric is pervasive and spawned the subsequent history of Christian antisemitism.
His number seems to be in the ballpark.
An obvious and notorious example: the multi-generational blood libel passage in Matthew: “His blood be on us and our children!” There is little doubt that throughout history the passage caused–and continues to cause–enormous damage to the Jewish people, implicating Jews not even alive at the time of Jesus with the murder of God. And here’s Jesus’s characterization of Jews in John: “You are of your father the devil.”
And in the last chapter of Matthew’s gospel, non-believing Jews are depicted in a stridently antisemitic manner. On Matthew’s account, the Jews supposedly sought to bribe the soldiers guarding Jesus’s tomb to lie about his resurrection. The implication is that no amount of evidence will ever satisfy a Jew, and that even in the teeth of knowing the truth directly and firsthand, Jews will still engage in the most despicable behavior against it. Matthew’s story is grotesque, libelous, defamatory, and offered up without the least sourcing or evidence of any kind whatsoever. It’s the kind of conspiracy theory that only an antisemite or a person committed to demonizing all resistance to his message could tell. It simply drips with hot hatred for the leadership of non-believing Jews–and therefore of the Jews as a distinct people themselves. (In the Book of Revelation Jews are referred to as belonging to the “synagogue of Satan.”)
Jews are thus the people with the dubious distinction, on Matthew’s account, of not only killing God (and being punished for it with a generational blood curse, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple, and exile into the nations), but of their leadership willfully denying–in the teeth of direct knowledge on their part–the resurrection of Jesus, conspiring to send forth falsehoods about it.
So the passages above are not innocent observations, simply pointing out the so-called “shortcomings” of Jews. Their cumulative effect is to dehumanize and demonize a class of people in a manner that we all recognize today as antisemitic. Such passages are found throughout the books of the New Testament. They are present across the genres (in its narratives, its epistles, and its apocalypse).
Put another way, Goldhagen’s 450 number doesn’t even count the antisemitic passages in Paul’s letters and the Book of Revelation.
Goldhagen writes the following at the end of his book: “Antisemitism, the real devil that Christianity spawned, has not died and shows no prospect of dying anytime soon” (458). Now that antisemitism has gone global, it surely must give one pause to call the New Testament divinely inspired.
Can a good tree really produce such bad fruit?