Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
THE WAR BETWEEN THE BIBLE AND THE JEWS
I — The Issue
There has been no bigger hoax put forward in the name of religion than the current propaganda which proposes that Jews and Catholics are sharers of a common Biblical faith — that Jews have the Old Testament, and Catholics have the New.
The truth of the matter, as preserved by the guardian of Holy Scripture, the Catholic Church, is, of course, that the Bible stands as one integral book, the treasured property of those who believe in that One, True Faith of which the Bible is the revelation and the record. For just as God is One, and the Faith which He has revealed is One, so God’s Book is inviolably One. And the refutation of those who would split the Bible in two, giving one part to present-day Jews and the other to Catholics, is contained within the Bible itself.
Back in 1898, His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII, granted an indulgence of 300 days to anyone of the faithful who would simply sit down with the Bible and read it for fifteen minutes. Our proposal this month is that Catholics do just that. We guarantee that it will take very few sittings to discover what God wants men to know about the religious relationship of Jews and Christians. All of the Old and New Testament is concerned with precisely this relationship, as it figures in the story of God’s plan to become man, to “dwell amongst us” as the Christ, the Anointed Savior.
It was promised to the people of the Jews that the Christ would be born from a virginal mother of their own blood, in the city of David their king. Thus, it happened that the Jews came so rightly to be called the people whom God had “chosen.” But how did the Jews accept this favored status? The Church’s illustrious martyr-bishop, Saint Cyprian, has tersely summarized for us the Bible’s story of the Jewish people as they awaited the birth of the Savior. He wrote:
“Moses the Jews cursed because he proclaimed Christ. Dathan they loved because he did not proclaim Him. Aaron they rejected because he offered the image of Christ. Abiron they set up because he opposed Him. David they hated because he sang of Christ. Saul they magnified because he did not speak of Him. Samuel they cast out because he foretold of Christ. Cham they served because he said nothing of Christ. Jeremias they stoned because he was praising Christ. Ananias they loved while he was opposing Him. Isaias they sawed asunder shouting Christ’s glories. Manasses they glorified persecuting Christ. John they slew revealing Christ. Zachary they slaughtered loving Christ. And Judas they loved betraying Him.”
To Saint Cyprian’s summary of the Old-Testament Jews, we need add only this: that God, all the while the Jews were violating His law and killing His prophets, kept warning the “chosen people” that they were headed toward a fearful perdition, that a divine curse would descend upon them and their children, and that God’s blessing and election would pass to a new and faithful people which He would call out of the nations of the Gentiles. Isaias told them this over and over again; so did Jeremias, and Baruch, and Ezechiel, and Daniel; so did Osee and all the lesser prophets. The warning of this curse overshadows every page of the Old Testament, and when the Messias, the promised Christ, finally arrives, He tells them quite as plainly that there will come upon the ungrateful Jews, “all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the Just, even to the blood of Zacharias, the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee … behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate.”
This judgment of Our Lord is announced to the Jews in the very first book of the New Testament. And throughout the remainder of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse, the Jews are revealed, in all their spiritual desolation, as the universal enemy of the Christians; they call down upon their heads the Blood of Christ. They crucify Him. They kill Saint Stephen and Saint James, persecute Saint Paul in every city where he preaches, obstruct the Gospel message by every means, and are at last identified by Saint John in the final book of the Bible as those, “that say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
In this way does the Bible complete the story of God’s rejection of the Jewish people. The True Faith in the Christ to come was scorned by the Jews, and that same True Faith, fulfilled now in the Christ Who has arrived, is given over in its entirety, root and flower, Old Testament and New, to another chosen people, gathered out of the lands of the Gentiles, nourished at the altars of Christendom, and guarded by the one who is the Vicar of Christ.
II — Counter-attack
If copies of the Old Testament — even expurgated ones — are occasionally to be found lying on lecterns in Jewish synagogues, they are being preserved there only as a kind of racial heirloom. For plainly this is not the Jews’ book. Its prophecies concerning the Messias are too plentiful and detailed, its history of Jewish infidelity is too vivid, its foretelling of God’s rejection of the Jews in favor of the Gentiles is too insistent a theme for the Jews to read more than a few scattered verses of the Bible in comfort.
Still, that title by which the Jews like to be known — “the people of the book” — is a fitting one. For they do have a book of their own: one perfectly tuned to their temperament and aspirations: one which they cannot merely read, but revel in. That book is the Talmud.
Unlike the Old Testament, the Talmud meets the initial requirement for being the book of modern Jewry, by having been composed in post-Crucifixion times. The Palestinian Talmud was completed about the year 300 A. D., and the Babylonian Talmud (the longer, more used version), about 200 years later. Both editions are built on the same scheme. There is a text, called “Mishna,” consisting of non-Biblical maxims and regulations, embracing in minutest detail every aspect of Jewish life. Enlarging upon the Mishna, interpreting and illustrating it, is the “Gemara,” the commentaries of the rabbis.
Concerning the place which this strange, contrived work has in their affections, the Jews have a saying: “The Bible is like water, the Mishna like wine, the Gemara like aromatic liqueur.” And another: “Jehovah himself studies the Talmud, standing out of respect.”
The full significance of such statements strikes home only when one realizes what the Talmud is. For in its fourteen folio volumes and 6,000 crowded pages, this monument of Judaism is compounded of three principal elements: stark, shrieking anti-Christian blasphemy; rank obscenity; and a driving, irrepressible contempt for the people and customs of the Gentile world.
Thus is constructed the world’s most characteristically, quintessentially Jewish hook. No Christian — no matter how far he had strayed from grace — could ever have conceived it. It belongs to the Jews and to no other people. The Jews belong to it and to no other book. They have made it, and it in turn has nurtured and sustained them. For 1,500 years they have been steeped in it — in its foul vocabulary, its sordid, blasphemous anecdotes, its depraved, anti-social principles. And it belongs not just to one faction or sect of Jews but to all the race. Even those Jews who do not regard the Talmud as “divine,” as the Orthodox Jews do, consider it “the supreme guide.” In a recent article published by the American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Simon Federbush declared, “The Talmud is unique among the classics of world literature. No other book has exercised such an over-whelming influence upon the spirit of men as the Talmud upon the Jewish people.”
Yet, it must not be thought that the Jews derive their perfidy simply from perusal of the Talmud, or that destruction of the Talmud would put an end to the Jewish problem. For the Talmud is more than just the molder of the Jewish mind. It is its mirror.
Perhaps the most striking way to indicate the horror of the Talmud, to show that it is “really that bad,” is to cite some of Christendom’s reactions to it. On May 3, 1240, Pope Gregory IX gave orders that while the Jews of France were in their synagogues, their homes were to be searched and all copies of the Talmud confiscated. Additional copies were rounded up and burned in Paris, by order of King Saint Louis IX in 1244 and 1248, and, after his death, in 1299 and again in 1309. Rome had a public Talmud burning, at the direction of Pope Innocent IV, in 1244, and Spain held one, at Barcelona, in 1263. Pope Honorius IV, in 1286, wrote to the Archbishops of England, calling the Talmud “that damnable book” and enjoining them “vehemently to see that it be not read by anyone, since all evils flow from it.”
Pope Clement IV decreed death for any Jew in the Papal States found with a Talmud in his house, and during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries such Popes as John XXII, Martin V, Julius III, and Saint Pius V added their own particular condemnations to the lengthy canon of anti-Talmudic legislation.
Volume III of the Jewish Encyclopedia contains a “black-list” of sixty-nine censors of the Roman Inquisition who at various times have been assigned to delete from the Talmud its immoral and blasphemous passages. Such censorship came to be regulated by the Church’s Index Expurgatorius, and for several years after its initial appearance, this Index was aimed exclusively at Talmudic and related texts.
Better known than the Index Expurgatorius is the Church’s more inclusive Index of Prohibited Books, whose very first listing condemned not only the Talmud, but also all of its “glosses, annotations, interpretations, and expositions.” So thorough and emphatic was the Church’s ban of the Talmud that in 1939 the Jews complained that only one original copy from the High Middle Ages was known to be still in existence.
The invention of printing in the fifteenth century eventually brought more wide-spread distribution of the Talmud, causing such a furor that in 1631 the Jewish Synod of Poland, in an effort to take the heat off, sent the following decree to all synagogues: “We order you in all future editions (of the Talmud) to leave blank the passages treating of Jesus of Nazareth and to put in place of them a circle like this: 9675;. This will be an indication to the rabbis and teachers to acquaint their pupils with these passages only orally. By this precaution the learned among the Nazarenes will have no excuse for attacking us on this point.”
On October 4, 1890 some of the “learned among the Nazarenes” — the Jesuit priests at Rome — published in their magazine, Civilta Cattolica, the following: “That the sinister Talmudic code, in addition to horribly immoral rules of conduct, enjoins hatred of all who are not of Jewish blood, and especially of Christians, and allows them to be plundered and maltreated as noxious brutes, are no longer matters of controversy.” And the late Bishop Landrieux of Dijon, France, in agreement with the Jesuit fathers, had this shrewd observation to make: “In our day the Talmud does not provoke either astonishment or anger among Catholics, because it is no longer known.”
The following excerpts from the Talmud, and its summary, the Shulkan Aruk, are representative of the many passages which the Church has explicitly complained about in condemnations of Talmudic literature:
“The world was created only for Israel; none are called children of God but Israel; none are beloved before God but Israel.”
“If an ox of an Israelite bruise an ox of a Gentile, the Israelite is exempt from paying damages.”
“A Jew may rob a Gentile, that is, he may cheat him in a bill — provided he is unlikely to be perceived; otherwise the name of God might be dishonored.”
“To communicate anything to a Gentile about our religious relations would be equal to killing all the Jews; for if the Gentiles knew what we teach about them, they would kill us all openly.”
“If you must go to war, then do not march in the front ranks, but rather in the rear ranks, that you may be the first to return.”
“Cursed be those who calculate the time of the Messias.”
The most vile of all the Talmud’s passages are those which deal with Our Lord Himself and His Ever-Virginal Mother. We could never reprint the filthy allegations leveled against the spotless Mother of God, but we will leave our readers with a very real impression of just how bitterly foul the Talmud is in this matter. Commenting on the Jewish teaching concerning the birth of Jesus, the Jewish Encyclopedia (Funk & Wagnalls, N. Y., 1906), in its article on “Jesus,” boldly justifies the Talmud’s unprintable details by saying, “For polemical purposes it was necessary for the Jews to insist on the illegitimacy of Jesus as against the Davidic descent claimed by the Christian Church.”
There is a saying popular among Catholics which goes: “The poor Jews are like expectant travelers waiting in a railroad station for a train which went by 2,000 years ago.”
The saying is, assuredly, some sort of tribute to the dogmatic fact that the Incarnation, and the birth of Our Lady’s Divine Child, have long since occurred. But the patronizing naivete of such a remark is a further argument for the proposal we made at the outset of this issue: that Catholics should take to heart what the Old and New Testaments have to say about the present condition of the Jews.
When Our Lord, in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, wanted to indicate the rejected and dejected status of New Testament Jewry, He gave us a much more astringent picture than the above “railroad station” scene. Emphasizing that the Gentiles would become the children and heirs of the Old Testament patriarchs, and that the Jews would be disowned and cursed, Our Lord said, “Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This is Our Lord’s own summary of the “Judaeo-Christian” situation. We could hardly presume to add to it.