The PLO for many years claimed the Jesus revered by Christians as a "Palestinian." The Palestinian Authority that was set up in 1994 continues this tradition. Yet the Christian holy book, the New Testament, repeatedly makes clear that Jesus was a Jew. Indeed, there was no "palestine" on the ground at the time of Jesus. The Romans and Greeks called the whole co
, although the Jews themselves called it
the Land of Israel. Jews used Judea in a narrow sense [when writing or speaking Greek], referring to the territory of the former Kingdom of Judah wrecked by Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian forces.
What is relevant to the PLO/PA claim that Jesus was a "palestinian" is that the New Testament
itself says that the Bethlehem where Jesus is supposed to have been born is called Bethlehem of Judea
[book of Matthew 2:1]. Get that. The NT itself says that
Jesus was born in Judea. No mention of palestine. Apparently, this is a
usage of Judea in the narrow Jewish sense referring only to the former
kingdom of Judah, not the broad Greco-Roman usage of Judea which
referred to the whole country, all of the Land of Israel, roughly
speaking. I deduce that from the fact that the same chapter of Matthew calls
the country "Land of Israel" twice [2:20-21]. There appears to have been another Bethlehem in the country, Bethlehem of Galilee, although this point is of lesser importance. Be that as it may, in Jesus's time the country was not called "palestine" either by the Jews, the people of the land, or by the Roman Empire or by writers in Greek and Latin. In Jesus' time nobody knew about any so-called "palestinian people."
This is my introduction to an excellent article
by Evelyn Gordon on the historical revisionism of the PLO/PA and on the failure of the major Christian churches to object to this denial of their own Christian Scriptures:
Why Do Christians Tolerate Palestinian Historical Revisionism?
by Evelyn Gordon
Christmas this year brought the usual spate of Palestinian historical
revisionism, including the by-now routine claim that Jesus was a
Palestinian. This, as Jonathan Tobin noted
tells us a lot about the Palestinian mindset and prospects for peace.
But to me, the most striking aspect of this story is that objections to
such historical revision come almost exclusively from Jews, whereas many
Christian churches and organizations seem to have no problem with it.
After all, it’s not only Jewish history and the Jewish religion
Palestinians thereby erase; they are also erasing Christian history and
the Christian religion.
What, for instance, becomes of the famous scene of Jesus evicting
money-changers from the Temple if, as Palestinian officials claim, the
Temple never existed? (They refer to it strictly as “the alleged
Temple”; for examples, see here
Or what becomes of Mary’s husband Joseph, who was “of the house and
lineage of David” (Luke 2:4), if, as Palestinians claim, the Davidic
kingdom never existed?
Even if you want to claim, in defiance of all the evidence, that
Jesus himself wasn’t a Jew, his entire story as related in the Gospels
takes place in a Jewish state with a largely autonomous Jewish political
and religious leadership, albeit subject to some control from the Roman
Empire. According to the Gospels, it is this Jewish leadership that
arrests and tries Jesus, though the Romans ultimately crucify him. If no
Jewish state with the power to arrest and try ever existed (as
Palestinians, again, routinely claim; see here
, for instance), how did this most foundational of all Christian stories ever occur?
Granted, the Christians most
sympathetic to this Palestinian revisionism generally represent liberal
churches that aren’t wedded to a literal reading of the Bible.
Nevertheless, belief in Jesus is ostensibly fundamental even for liberal
Christians–and absent the historic Jewish kingdom of the Gospels, there
quite literally is no Jesus.
This ties in with a related issue: Many of these same liberal
Christian groups have also turned a blind eye to the ongoing slaughter
of Christians in Syria and Iraq, the worsening persecution of Christians
in Egypt and various other anti-Christian atrocities worldwide,
preferring to focus all their energies on vilifying the one Middle
Eastern country where, to quote
Israeli Arab priest Father Gabriel Nadaf, “We feel secure” as Christians. As I’ve noted before
this contrast between the terrible plight of other Middle Eastern
Christians and the safety they enjoy in Israel is increasingly leading
Israel’s Arab Christians to rethink their former identification with the
state’s opponents; one result is that the number of Arab Christians
volunteering for service in the IDF shot up
more than 60 percent this year (though given the minuscule starting
point, the absolute numbers remain small). But no such rethinking has
occurred among anti-Israel Christians in the West.
In short, the leadership of groups like the Church of Scotland
or the Presbyterian Church
seem prepared to sacrifice both historical Christianity and real live
Christians on the altar of their single-minded obsession with
undermining the Jewish state. The million-dollar question is how long
their rank-and-file memberships will continue tolerating this travesty.
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I differ with Evelyn Gordon on two points:
1-- The Christian New Testament is not part of the Jewish Bible, almost all of it written in Hebrew with much of the books of Daniel and Ezra and some other parts in Aramaic. The Jewish Scriptures are distinct from the Christian Scriptures although the NT repeats parts of the Jewish Scriptures. [The paragraph has been corrected in regard to the Aramaic in the Jewish Bible, 1-4-2014
2-- There was never a people called "palestinians." Nobody ever heard of such a people until the 1960s when the notion of a "palestinian people" was introduced to the world by British psychological warfare experts.
Labels: " PLO, "palestine"