His genealogies are posted in the books of Matthew and Luke. These alone are sufficient to corroborate the authenticity of Jesus’s Jewish lineage.
Archeology and historical geography confirm that the regions of Judea and Samaria are the ancient stomping grounds of Jewish heroes. The Romans plowed under the city of Jerusalem, which Hadrian renamed Aelia Capitolina in 135 CE. He subsequently renamed the entire region Syria Palestina. For the following 1,800 years until the end of the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1918, the land was overrun by marauding armies, Islamic hoards or Christian crusaders of various flavors. There is nothing new here.
However, something new does crop up when someone like the Reverend Dr. Naim Stifan Ateek attempts to revise history. Dr. Ateek is an Arab Palestinian Anglican priest and the founder of Sabeel International Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. He has rewritten the whole story book in the same manner that Catholic, Anglican and Reformed theologies have claimed that the Christian Church is “The New Israel” also called “The Israel of God.” Rewriting history and inventing theology is a popular vocation. Revisionist historians take liberties with facts until they cease to have meaning. Prime examples are the Holocaust denial polemics or current trends to rewrite American history texts.
Ateek has an axe to grind; he needs to advance his Palestinian agenda by displacing Israel. In an effort to push his version of Christian dogma, he rewrites the Bible and fabricates a formidable sounding contemporary social justice ideology. His personal fish story is born fully formed from the caverns of his own vivid imagination. If it weren’t so dangerous, it would be ludicrous.
This new religious credo, which Ateek terms “Palestinian Liberation Theology,” claims Jesus to be a Palestinian. Ateek asserts nothing of Jesus’s Jewish heritage but rather advances his claim to a Palestinian identity. Ateek’s Jesus is born in “Palestine” as a purebred suffering Arab Palestinian. Today’s Arab Christians can henceforth profess their own national redeemer and savior.
Ateek doesn’t seem to get it that there were no “Palestinians” roaming around when Jesus was doing his work. Until 130 CE, when Emperor Hadrian renamed the region, the term “Palestine” did not even exist. Then into the 1930s and ’40s, the term “Palestinians” referred not to Arabs but to Jews living under British rule in Mandate Palestine. The Palestinian Post and The Palestinian Symphony are Jewish organizations.
Never mind. These insignificant historical indiscretions should not interfere with a compelling theology.
Most distressing, this fiction is now a popular trend in mainline Anglican, Presbyterian, Episcopalian and even a substantial number of evangelical churches in the USA and throughout Europe. The biblical narratives described in the Gospel books are twisted and manipulated to suit Ateek’s bogus claims. He promotes a “Palestinian” Jesus to whom he attributes all of the “universal” sufferings of the contemporary Palestinians. Of course, he conveniently omits acknowledging the “universal” sufferings of the Jews. This fabricated Jesus, whose story is nowhere to be found in any ancient secular or biblical records, is a figment of Ateek’s politicized imagination.
His harangues about Israel’s “illegal occupation of Palestinian” are all based on his twisted theology. Unrelenting in his polemics against Israel, he conveniently ignores the Jordanian illegal occupation of “Palestine” from 1948 to 1967, or the occupation of the British after World War I, or the Ottoman Turks for 500 years before that. Were the Ottomans legal or illegal occupiers of “Palestinian” land?
Ateek and his minions have brought name calling, fakery and falsehood to a new level. When it comes to assaulting Israel, or when it comes to demonizing Jews, no excuse, reason, rationale or justification is required; there is a virtual encyclopedia of low hanging fruit out there ready for Israel’s enemies to pluck.
Three examples: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (the most popular book on the Jihadi shelves today). There is a Jewish “conspiracy” to take over the banking system and the world; Now, listen to the Danish Ambassador who recently asserted in a Jerusalem Post Conference panel that the reason for the EU’s endless assault on Israel is “because the EU holds Israel to a higher standard”; finally, Soda Stream has been pressured by the international anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) to move their manufacturing plant, once located in Ma’ale Adumim. The company was found guilty as charged for their evil activities in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), ironically for employing some 600 Palestinians who seem to have been working peacefully and profitably side by side with 600 Jews.
These false narratives, fact inversions, geographic and historical fictions are gaining a lot of traction in the Christian West. Sabeel and its various anti-Zionist Christian colleagues are leading the way in activating the “Big Lie” based on their twisted adaptations of Christian theology, which are designed to defraud the Jews of any claim to a historic birthright in the land.
The Palestinian Ecumenical Liberation Movement embraces the secular international press which regularly incriminates Israel for the disproportionate number of “suffering Palestinians” who have died in the Gaza conflicts. The Jews then, according to some insane logic, must stand guilty as charged to balance the equation. The increasing cliques of anti-Zionists, Muslim and Christian Palestinian avengers are committed to demonstrating that whatever the circumstances, whatever the crime, the Jews are destined to be perpetually indictable for crimes against humanity.
To borrow from a recent inspired blog quoting Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:
“Let the jury consider their verdict,” the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
“No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first–verdict afterward.”
“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first!”
“Hold your tongue!” said the Queen, turning purple.
“I won’t!” said Alice.
“Off with her head!” the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
“Who cares for you?” said Alice. (She had grown to her full size by this time.) “You’re nothing but a pack of cards!”
Anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism in the ancient libraries of Church history embody more substance but no less insanity than the Red Queen’s pack of cards. Hair-curling stories that line the annals of Medieval and Renaissance Europe start with intent to convert all Jews to Christianity, spying on them to be sure their conversions were real; torturing them to be absolutely sure they weren’t lying and finally burning them at the stake just because they could.
Sadly, Christian demonization of Jews starts not in Medieval Europe but hundreds of years earlier over the breadth of the Holy Roman Empire. The Early Church Fathers, all authors and theologians, started vilifying the Jews less than 100 years after the death of Paul, the Jewish Apostle to the gentiles. Calls of “Christ killer” and “children of the devil” coined by the venerated John Chrysostom easily merged into a hybridized Christian thesis.
Many Christians of today who are in agreement with Sabeel and associates seem happy to stoke those ancient fires of anti-Semitism, even if they are compelled to kidnap Jesus from the arms of his Jewish mother.
Susan Warner, along with her husband David, are the founders of a pro-Israel Christian group in Delaware. She has been writing and teaching about Israel and the Middle East for many years and recently has developed an interest in Christian anti-Semitism as a foundational theological issue. She is currently working on a book called The Yoke of Constantine ©. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their web site at www.israelolivetree.org
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