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________________________


Origins of Anti-Semitism
by Jason Guile



As we enter into the 21st century, a supposedly more enlightened generation is still ensconced with the narrow-mindedness so prevalent in our forebears. In times of peace, educated souls can look upon these “idiosyncrasies of the degenerate” with a kind of amusement. However, in times of crises, such as the ones which seem almost assured to lie ahead for a generation which will be the first since the Great Depression to have a lower standard of living than the generation that proceeded it, even the intelligentsia can become enamoured with such troglodytic half-thoughts. And one that always seems to lead the pack in such times are those relating to anti-Semitism. Before the coming onslaught, before rationality is a fondly forgotten attribute of a lost generation, it is important that we do what we can in the short time we have now to eradicate such ancestral leanings from our society, lest the mistakes of the past revisit themselves tenfold. It was with this thought in mind that the following essay was written . . .


From the time Judeo-Christian theology came to the western world, ie Rome, anti-Semitism has seemed to follow proportionately. Why does the Jewish culture seem to inspire such hatred amongst the people whose religion is owed to them? The one attribute that is perhaps most endemic in the Jewish culture is that of guilt. This is especially true when one compares the Jewish culture to the hedonist cultures of Ancient Greece, Rome and to a lesser extent Egypt.

When the Roman Empire conquered the lands of Israel, the Jewish culture over several generations began to introduce itself to Europe in the form of Christianity. Originally, because Judeo-Christian beliefs were so in contrast with the pagan/hedonistic lifestyles of the Romans, this movement faced violent opposition and Christians and Jews both were violently persecuted. The question then becomes why it was that Christianity eventually gained acceptance, but anti-Semitism remains strong even to this day? And why is it that the Christians, who understood persecution and could empathise with the Jewish plight, continued the Anti-Semitic tradition?

To answer these questions one must look at what happened to Rome as Christian theology began to overtake pagan ritual, this of course being the decline of the Roman Empire, and the eventual emergence of two separate empires: the Byzantine Empire in the west, and the Holy Roman Empire in the East. Both empires adopted Christianity, though the Holy Roman Empire eventually became the central province in Catholicism, and the home of the Papacy.

As Rome declined, Christianity grew in proportion. There are no coincidences in the course of history, and one must simply contrast the goal of Rome -- that is to spread civilisation and to make progress in all of life’s endeavours -- and the mission of Christianity, which is to concentrate energies towards the afterlife, sacrificing the pleasures of this world. As the Christian epidemic continued (and based on the results, what else could one refer to it as?), roads and other modes of transportation deteriorated. The architecture, art, philosophy, scientific learning and culture of old Rome was sacrificed to build lavish churches and other shrines to the Christian sky-god. This is how, over time, the Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire. Rome and its territories, even the barbarian hordes, had almost fully accepted Christians and their teachings. Yet anti-Semitism only grew. It seems confounding, and yet, it is completely in line with human nature, because along with Christianity, the Jews also brought with them the concept of guilt, that is the concept of feeling bad about something that makes one feel good. A concept previously foreign to Rome and its territories. In fact, it is concept almost uniquely and strangely Semitic. This isn’t to say other cultures were completely unfamiliar with guilt, but only for doing something that in some way harmed someone or something else, a completely linear and rational response. But to feel guilty about doing something pleasurable, that in no way harmed anyone else, and in fact may give pleasure to others as well as to oneself: this was unheard of, particularly in Rome.

Most people would theorise that Anti-Semitism is routed in the New Testament, specifically the Gospel of Matthew, wherein the Jews are said to be solely responsible for the death of Christ. However, this is not the origin, but is rather systemic of anti-Semitism.

When the fathers of Roman Catholicism were taking religious texts to place in the bible, they elected which articles would be excluded, among these were at least three known Gospels of Christ. The reasoning behind the exclusions of these Gospels, which, in most bibles, are still excluded to this day, vary from things such as “dark imagery” that the assemblage didn’t want associated with the New Testament, to the date when the text had been written, being that it was too far removed from the actual event to be taken at face value. Keeping in mind that the Gospel according to Matthew was written over ninety years after the death of Christ, whereas the other Gospels were written no more than seventy years AD, some as early as 40 or 50 AD. This alone would have been reason enough to exclude Matthew’s Gospel, especially when one considers the discrepancies, rather near contradictions, between Matthew’s and the other Gospels. Most notably among these discrepancies is the fact that Matthew’s Gospel explicitly places upon the Jews the responsibility for Jesus’s death; whereas the other Gospels make it clear that all man, Romans, Jews and even Jesus’s own disciples, were in some way responsible for Jesus’s death, and were subsequently forgiven by Jesus for this and all sins prior. Thereby, in addition to being more out-of-date, fundamentally anti-Semitic and used to insight hatred, something which is most antithetical to the Christian doctrine “Love thy neighbour”, Matthew’s Gospel also contradicts one of the major edicts of the Roman Catholic Church; “Jesus died for our sins.”, for how could Jesus forgive those who were not responsible for the ultimate sin of killing the Son of God? Other texts, it should be noted, were excluded from the Bible for far lesser reasons. In fact, the only reason to include Matthew in the New Testament is precisely that it offers an interpretation different from the other Gospels, an interpretation that could be used to insight hatred toward the Jews. “The Jews killed Christ” has long been the rallying call of anti-Semites for generations, and one must assume that those who had been charged with the great responsibility of crafting the New Testament must surely have been able to foresee such an outcome. In other words, anti-Semitism had to have been already prevalent in at least some levels of the new Christian empire for Matthew’s Gospel not to have been considered for exclusion. And if this be the case, than the New Testament could not, therefore, be the origin.

When one thinks of Ancient Rome and Greece, perhaps first is the culture, civilisation, philosophy, art and technology that they developed and spread throughout the world. But closely second was their hedonistic appetites. Roman and Greek life was centred around enjoying everything this world had to offer: their gods were the gods of wine, love, virility, and strength; the Jewish god is the god of Guilt. Considering then this contrast, one can now begin to understand why Romans, even after converting to Christianity, rather especially after converting to Christianity, had such contempt for the Jews. A culture that was once carefree had now been gilded in the cage of Judeo-Christian doctrine. A culture whose people formerly enjoyed orgies, homosexuality, incest, great gluttonous feasts, warring and fighting, now could not so much as think of such things without feeling pangs of guilt and embarrassment. The “pleasures” of life were taken from them, and who was to blame? After all, their new and omnipotent, all-knowing God could not be at fault, nor their lord and saviour Jesus Christ and his followers. But the Jews, the people who according to the Gospels betrayed Christ and allowed him to die on the cross, they could shoulder the blame for the Roman peoples’ newfound frustration and fear of a previously unknown afterlife, in which every action, and even every thought, of this life will be used to judge them. The Jews are the ones who let people know about this afterlife, it is their sky-god who threatens to send them to hell if not properly obeyed. It is then their fault, as far as the Romans were concerned, that they now lived with constant fear and guilt.

As Roman society continued to deteriorate, Rome and its territories gradually fell into what has become known as the Dark Ages. It is during this bleak period that Christianity is at its peak in Europe, and not coincidentally so too was anti-Semitism.

__________________________


Author's Note:
I've already posted this in the writing forums, but I've heard such good things about the writers and critics at Lit that I had to see if you guys could live up to the hype. This essay is in its initial stages, and will be 'beefed up' during the second run through, which I intend to do as soon as all the reviews are in and I've done some thorough research (I would also appreciate any reliable sources for research that can be recommended). This is the beginning of what will be a far-reaching book (a collection of inter-related essays), so I want to get all the hiccups out of the way before I dive in, especially since this will be my first non-fiction book (your advice will of course be applied to the entire book where applicable). If you want to know more about the book, or see what others have already said about this piece, check out the writing forums under non-fiction. For example, one person already said that he thought I was going 'back-and-forth' between the concept of guilt and anti-Semitism, and this made it confusing to see my point. I argued that guilt and resentment (ie Anti-Semitism) go hand-in-hand, and also the point would be more clear after I did the second run through. Any thoughts? Advice on both the content and the writing itself are equally appreciated. Thank you.




------
"Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman - a rope over an abyss." ~Nietzsche
Augmented Reality



Comments

The following comments are for "Origins of Anti-Semitism"
by eleutheromaniac

A complex topic
First off, your writing is overly complicated. You might want to consider revising to improve clarity. I’m not asking you to dummy it down, just reconsider some word choices and sentence structure. You muddied your argument in some spots with it.

For example Quote:
However, in times of crises, such as the ones which seem almost assured to lie ahead for a generation which will be the first since the Great Depression to have a lower standard of living than the generation that proceeded it, even the intelligentsia can become enamoured with such troglodytic half-thoughts. And one that always seems to lead the pack in such times are those relating to anti-Semitism.


In your first paragraph, you talk about current (and potentially future) problem of Anti-Semitism, but then you spend the balance of your argument in the past. I have to believe that the underpinnings of Anti-Semitism today are vastly different. I assume this is a start to a much longer argument. Otherwise, you might want to research what drives the hatred in today’s society.

Finally, I’d be curious to see your thoughts on what role marketing has played in the rise of Christianity vs. Judaism. It seems to me that it’s difficult to enter the Jewish faith without being born into it, whereas most Christian faiths will accept just about anyone.

Anyways, interesting read.
Nelson.

( Posted by: Nbiz [Member] On: August 3, 2004 )

Thanks for the critique
Right, about the sentence you used as an example, I am considering using dashes instead of commas:

However, in times of crises -- such as the ones which seem almost assured to lie ahead for a generation which will be the first since the Great Depression to have a lower standard of living than the generation that proceeded it -- even the intelligentsia can become enamoured with such troglodytic half-thoughts. And one that always seems to lead the pack in such times are those relating to anti-Semitism.

Does that fix the problems for you, or do you think it needs a complete rewrite?

Yes, it is just the start. But before I delved to deeply into it, I wanted to gather people's opinions on the topic itself. That is, to see if it had any validity or if it struck a cord. With this particular piece, I mean only to establish that the reason for anti-Semitism is the guilt of the anti-Semites(ie internal) and not the guilt of the Jews over killing Christ (external), which is the most popular theory for the origin of anti-Semitism. Why would it be different today, in your opinion?

There's more info on the writing forum if your interested. http://writingforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=4485&sid=ce907080267f4439850adb7343f11509

'Marketing' is an interesting choice of words. I would say it stems from the cultural differences between Hebrews and Europeans. Hebrews traditionally are an inclusive group. Whether through circumstance or self-fulfilling prophecy, they have always found themselves isolated in one way or another; Whereas Europeans are traditionally more explorative, and have always shown interest in discovering new people and ideas. From there, they have each taken their own unique interpretations of Biblical texts. That's my theory, anyhow.

Again, thank you for your insights.

( Posted by: eleutheromaniac [Member] On: August 3, 2004 )

anti-semitism
The whole of the first paragraph (before the actual essey begins) is nonsensical.

Quote:
"However, in times of crises -- such as the ones which seem almost assured to lie ahead for a generation which will be the first since the Great Depression to have a lower standard of living than the generation that proceeded it -- even the intelligentsia can become enamoured with such troglodytic half-thoughts. And one that always seems to lead the pack in such times are those relating to anti-Semitism."

This needs a complete rewrite!

who is the intelligentsia? what are these half-thoughts that they enamour ? Are you saying that we have a new boom of anit-semitism today ?! Arn't we being too paranoid now ? You did title this essay "The origin of .." and I have'nt done any research in this field, so I can't comment on your actual essay regarding this origin, but I can say that I find many of your conclusions dubious. When was the term Anti-semite first used ? I don't think you've uncovered then origin with this essay.

Qoute:
"And why is it that the Christians, who understood persecution and could empathise with the Jewish plight, continued the Anti-Semitic tradition?"

You presuppose too much, to my knowledge modern christians have greater sympathies with jews than any other race or people.

Qoute:
"It is during this bleak period that Christianity is at its peak in Europe, and not coincidentally so too was anti-Semitism."

Again you draw this parallel between christians and anti-semites, I think that's grave misunderstanding.

( Posted by: paxelius [Member] On: August 3, 2004 )

Thanks for the critique
"who is the intelligentsia?"

Websters: intellectuals who form an artistic, social, or political vanguard or elite.

"what are these half-thoughts that they enamour ?"

Narrow-mindedness, "idiosyncrasies of the degenerate" (a quote from Nietzsche's Anti-Christian, so it might not be immeadiatley clear if you haven't read it, but I will of course be using a footnote in the final draft. It's a good read, by the way.)

"Are you saying that we have a new boom of anit-semitism today ?!"

No, if you re-read the first paragraph, you will see I am saying just the opposite. "It is in times of crises..." these are not times of crisis. I am speaking of the future depression that most economist predict will happen within the next ten years. But even if it doesn't happen, it very well could. Again, I mistook this for common knowledge.

"You did title this essay "The origin of .." and I have'nt done any research in this field, so I can't comment on your actual essay regarding this origin, but I can say that I find many of your conclusions dubious. When was the term Anti-semite first used ? I don't think you've uncovered then origin with this essay."

The nuts and bolts of the essay will be included after I have done enough research. But I don't see how finding out when the term 'anti-semite' was coined is even remotely relevant. In fact, for a phrase to have come about, the thing in which it denotes would have to be well established.

About the presupposition, I should have clarified that the historical facts will be incorporated later. But before I did that, I wanted to know what was common knowledge and what wasn't. I guess you've answered that question. The treatment of Jews by 'gentiles', in the middle-ages especially, I thought was notorious. If I need to include historical statistics, facts and allusions to back this up, I will. Thank you.


Here's the problem: How do I bring a reader around to my train of thought, without talking down to them by stating the obvious. It's a fine line I think: what is obvious to one person, is not to another (clearly). Some who have read this knew exactly what my point was, and followed my train of thought pretty well, some haven't. Uh, I need to sit down. Wait, I'm already sitting down. I need to stand up.

I guess this is the question; is it the content that is primarly the problem (which can be fixed by simply adding more info) or the writing style? And if so, what is it specifically about the writing style that is the problem? Any advice would be appreciated.

( Posted by: eleutheromaniac [Member] On: August 3, 2004 )

a dash of salt
I think you are presenting a fine psychological viewpoint concerning anti-semitism. And to respond to one of the responses, I believe anti-semitism is on the rise, in fact. It isn't a paranoid suspicion, just a numbers thing.
Although your writing seems clear enough, I think you will have a hard time convincing the average joe that anti-semitism was born out of resentment over lost pleasures. How did they forswear their beloved pleasures to begin with? Was it due to guilt? According to your statements, guilt wasn't in the Roman vocabulary. So, what would possess them to give up the pleasures they loved? You will have to come up with a lot more anecdotal evidence to fill that gaping hole.
I had thought that the Romans fought a protracted war of attrition with the Jews, and while no side exactly won or lost, Rome collapsed around the first of the century due to their war-mongering ways. They became the ones to beat, and they were beaten soundly. I think that Christianity entered the arena(forgive my pun) as a result of a sense of desperation among the citizens of Rome.
Finally, it seems to me that anti-semitism is closely related to the immigrant floor concept. When times are booming, we bring on the cheap labor. When the times are tough, it has to be the Chinaman's fault or the Mexican's fault that we no longer have jobs. The Jews have always been badly used as an immigrant floor, a sort of perpetual bottom for the Europeans, who were the barbarians and goths that tipped over Rome in an earlier age. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, the Jews have retained much of their culture and religion, and have always managed to prosper; their prosperity causes the resentment and anti-semitism.
Is all of this thinking wrong? Have I been mis-educated? Please convince me. I would be glad to adopt your truth, if it is truer than mine.

( Posted by: brickhouse [Member] On: August 3, 2004 )

Thanks for the critique
"You will have to come up with a lot more anecdotal evidence to fill that gaping hole."

I figured as much, but thank you for confirming it.

"According to your statements, guilt wasn't in the Roman vocabulary. So, what would possess them to give up the pleasures they loved?"

This is going to be the difficult part of the essay, as it happened gradually and was then thrust upon the people by two emperors who suddenly found Christ as their saviour. This is really a seperate essay, which will be included in the book I am planning out. In that essay, I will also have to establish what kind of society Rome was, that one man (the emporer) could have such influence over it. I am then considering tying that in with Hitler's influence over Germany. But that comparison is probably to simplified, as most comparisons to Hitler are.

"war-mongering ways"

War certainly had an influence, as Rome had stretched its borders too far. But Nietzsche theorises, and I tend to agree, that because of Christianity's focus on the afterlife, Romans lost their will to fight and create for this life. "The will to power." as he dubbed it. While I have already done a far bit of research, I wouldn't call myself an expert... yet.

"their prosperity causes the resentment and anti-semitism."

This is another popular theory as to the origin of anti-Semitism. I will dispell it this way: have you read Merchant of Venice? The reason Jews became such great business men and men of enterprise is because they had to: they could not own land, and they were the only ones at the time who could deal in money loaning at the time. So in essence, Christians forced Jews into becoming prosperious. The fact that Jews were not allowed to own land shows that there was a prior resentment towards Jews before becoming successful business men, as I mean to prove in more detail. Would adding this a second antithetical argument (in addition to the "Jews killed Christ" theory) be a good idea, or should it be a seperate essay? I start with the former, and if it makes the essay to cluttered, I'll do the latter. If in fact that is what you mean by 'prosper'. Or do you mean their ability to simply survive as being a kind of prosperity. Because that, historically, is the kind of thing that inspires admiration, not resentment. As is proven, I think, by the fact that after and since WWII, anti-Semitism has become a social faux paus. Whereas before, anti-Semitism in almost every country was out in the open, and was in fact almost a source of pride. Now anti-Semitism is festuring under the surface. Anti-Semites are (temporarly) forced in the closet, which is why some believe that it no longer exists. But the time between now and WWII is, in the grand scope of history, just a blip. We have seen the backlash to PC over the past few years, what will be the backlash towards this? How long have anti-Semites been waiting for the day they could once again express their views openly, in public. Many who remember living in Nazi Germany, speak of it as though it were some inconcievable dream. Yet, it really did happen, and one can only assume it is quite capable of happening again, maybe even on a larger scale.

Anyway, you seem genuinely interested in the topic, and I again suggest you see what others have thought about it in the writing forums. Many have said, like you, that I will have a tough time proving my theory. But that's just the kind of challenge that drives me.

Thanks again for your insights,

( Posted by: eleutheromaniac [Member] On: August 3, 2004 )

Hey Claire
You mean a fear that if you wrong the 'chosen people', God will smite you? I thought there was something in the bible about God forsaking the Jewish people? (reference?) Like I said I'm not an expert, yet. It's an interesting theory, I'm glad you brought it up.

The Islam-Herbrew conflict is a whooooole other essay, but it will be included in the book (I think it almost has to be).

"(and am a fan of the ellipse myself...lol)"

Adds a little character to the voice on these forums (I think). (Once you start, you just can't stop.)

Thanks for the input,

( Posted by: eleutheromaniac [Member] On: August 3, 2004 )

Anti-semitism....
Hey J!!

I really enjoyed reading this, I am a huge fan of ancient history and how it has shaped the modern world.

I have to agree that much more backing evidence shall have to come forth, but that takes research and research takes time.

One of the interesting things you alluded to was the collapse of Roman civilisation and the religious structure that remained, in essence, whole at this point. To help you out the Greek and Roman system was one of cities (one of the reasons Roman cities did not function well in the colony of England, an agricultural nation).

The Roman cities were not used so much a civic centres of commerce and trading, they were more rather self serving. With baths for everyone, temples for everyone, entertainment for everyone!!! The countryside had to support these cities, but agricultural development stagnated throughout the Roman Empire. Eventually it was economic insanity of having these parasite cities which caused the downfall of Roman civilisation, inflation rates that could not be controlled leading to corruption and waste.

I think the point you made about Roman culture is a bit over simplified, it is almost right if you are talking of early Roman culture, but not really in this later epoch of Roman cultural history. As in the Roman Gods and the sky-god guilt. Anti-Semetism has it's roots far deeper than this, I personally think it would be worth looking at the tribal make-up of Ancient Europe.

Personally I have always thought that anything to do with Jewish expulsion from land etc is always far too quickly described as Anti-Semitic, perhaps the general xenophobia of a cultre, nation or region needs to be addressed to correctly proportion the level of which the Jewish nation have been victimised. I don't agree that at this time in Ancient history it was the difference between Gods that caused friction, this era was more typified by the different theological views on Christianity than anything else, don't forget the Church had armies and fighting Bishops!!! What a scary thought!!

Perhaps it would be good to look at 'fashionable xenophobia' throughout the ages aswell????

It was interesting that you mentioned Nazi Germany aswell, it isn't without irony that Hitler declared them an Arian race. When Muslims are in fact Arian. The irony comes in with modern politics between the Arab world and Israel. Just a thought!

I really must stop waffling!!! Please post more I love this!!!

Alex :-)

( Posted by: londongrey [Member] On: August 5, 2004 )

Thanks Alex
I am actually currently reading the quintessential book on the subject, Decline and Fall of Rome. And 'Dark Ages' by Isacc Asimov gives some excellent insights as well. In fact a lot of my theory is based on what I learned from that book. But you bring up some interesting points, and you're right, the essay thusfar is far too simplified. This will be remedied after I've done the research and the considerable gaps in the theory will be filled.

Xenophobia is a good point to bring up. But if that were the driving force, anti-Semitism would no longer exist because Jewish culture has engrained itself on almost every nation they inhabit. I think it goes deeper than that. But it's worth looking into, thanks.

As far as the connection to Arabs, you are absolutely right. One of my focal points for research will be Amin-al Huisenni. But like I said, that's a whole other essay. But all of these essay will be, as stated earlier, inter-related.

"Perhaps it would be good to look at 'fashionable xenophobia' throughout the ages aswell????"

Actually, the basis of my book will be four main groups: Jews, Blacks, Gypsies and Homosexuals. To see why I chose these four groups, check out the writing forums.

Thanks again,
Jason

( Posted by: eleutheromaniac [Member] On: August 5, 2004 )

Anti-Semitism.....
See, this is when I wish we were all i na comfortable room with loads of coffee, cigarettes, cushions and soft lighting. The perfect (rather European I admit) way of having a good conversation about it.

Damn the internet, look what it has done!!!!

A :-)

( Posted by: londongrey [Member] On: August 5, 2004 )

anticipating
I look forward to what you can come up with about this. I do have some interest in the whole anti-semitic phenomena, although I don't know why. It is intriguing that the Jewish people are a religion and a race and a culture, and that they have been maligned for so long. Everybody's whipping boy. I hope you will post here as you develop your essays. It was very readable: I just don't agree with your position based on what little I know.

( Posted by: brickhouse [Member] On: August 6, 2004 )

You may have a long wait
I fully plan on posting more from here, but research is a long process, as I believe someone already stated. I posted this essay because I wanted to see what everyone thought of the format, writing style, topic, etc. I won't post too much more though. After all, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? I'll post just enough to whet your appetites, so you'll buy my book. All a part of my evil plans for world domination.

I really think you should check out the thread in the writing forums, the debate raised some interesting points (as has this one) and you may find out why you are so mysteriously drawn to this topic.

And I agree with you Londongrey, this is no way for civilised human beings to have an intelligent debate. KAAAAHNNN!!! *spinning overhead shot*

( Posted by: eleutheromaniac [Member] On: August 7, 2004 )

How's this
Firstly, if you're so sick of the topic, why would you even click on an essay entitled "Origins of Anti-Semitism", let alone comment on it?

I answered all of your questions and then some in the writing forums, and even (and this is really irritating) in this thread. To bad you can't read more than one sentence -Sorry, half of a sentence- before you get a headache.

'monotomy'? I can only assume you meant 'monotony', unless we've taken to inventing new words. Which brings up an interesting point: why should I even respond to someone who can't spell or use capital letters or even have a cognitive thought in his entire post? perhaps oyu woldnt have gotten suc a headache if i wrote more like u?

In the future, if you don't have anything even remotely thought out and intelligent to say, I will not respond to it at all. Keep in mind, most people wouldn't even have had the patience to respond to this one.

See ya when I see ya,
Jason

( Posted by: eleutheromaniac [Member] On: August 7, 2004 )





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