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Christ Killers: The Jews and the Passion from the Bible to the Big Screen

by Jeremy Cohen

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262739,893 (3.83)None
Christians believe that Christ's death redeems and forgives. Yet the same blood shed on the cross has been used to stain Jews with lasting, incomparable guilt. The gospel narratives of the Passion cast the Jews as responsible, directly and indirectly, for the death of the Son of God. Thestigma of "Christ killer"-the notion that all Jews, at all times and in all places, share in the collective responsibility for the Crucifixion-has plagued Jews ever since and is the source of much Christian anti-Semitism. Jeremy Cohen traces the Christ-killer myth from ancient times to the present day, touching on the Gospels and their roots in Hebrew Scripture, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, and much in between. The greatest of the church fathers, the Crusades, the notorious blood libels of the MiddleAges, the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Christian mysticism, art, and popular piety, Passion plays, and modern film all have a place in this well-documented, richly illustrated volume. Cohen seeks neither to explain Jesus' death nor to pass judgment on anyone for it, but rather to understand how the identification of Jews as Christ killers has functioned as an edifying "myth" for the Christian community. His insightful analysis reveals the deep spiritual truth believers find inthis aspect of the Passion story while simultaneously uncovering the remarkably far-reaching impact it has exercised on the Western world.Cohen combines religious, historical, and political perspectives to understand how the Christ-killer myth has become a dominant factor in the way Christians and Jews perceive each other. While a great deal has been written about Christian anti-Semitism, its roots, and its horrific consequences,this is the first volume to provide an in-depth examination of the powerful story that has fueled the fires behind the hatred.… (more)
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This is a scholarly work that traces the evolution of the image of the Jews as Christ-killers, and discusses the legacy of violence that accompanied that legacy. The author does not spend any time on the burning question of who actually killed Jesus, and to his credit, he does not begin with the a priori assumption that the Gospels present accurate history exactly as it happened; in fact, he is well aware of the late date of composition of the gospels, and operates on the idea that they are story and polemic more than historical fact. He is more interested, however, in how the image of the Jew has developed over time, and does a good job tracing the history through the evolving nature of the Catholic church, and on into Protestantism, ending with Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. He spends a good deal of time on Vatican II, and explores the implications of the changes that occurred in the face of Catholicism, as well as the backlash against the reforms. Overall, a good treatise that is lucid and concise, without a lot of jargon that would leave the interested lay person face down in the mud by the side of the road. Highly recommended. ( )
  Devil_llama | Jul 24, 2012 |
A scholarly yet highly readable looks into centuries of blaming the Jews for Christ's death from the beginnings to Mel Gibson's Passion. Interesting, compelling, provacative.
Echos something I've noticed: anti-semiticism is embedded in the very building blocks of Christianity.
Excellent book.

BUY, BORROW, or BURN?
BUY ( )
  spacegod | Mar 27, 2009 |
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Christians believe that Christ's death redeems and forgives. Yet the same blood shed on the cross has been used to stain Jews with lasting, incomparable guilt. The gospel narratives of the Passion cast the Jews as responsible, directly and indirectly, for the death of the Son of God. Thestigma of "Christ killer"-the notion that all Jews, at all times and in all places, share in the collective responsibility for the Crucifixion-has plagued Jews ever since and is the source of much Christian anti-Semitism. Jeremy Cohen traces the Christ-killer myth from ancient times to the present day, touching on the Gospels and their roots in Hebrew Scripture, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, and much in between. The greatest of the church fathers, the Crusades, the notorious blood libels of the MiddleAges, the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Christian mysticism, art, and popular piety, Passion plays, and modern film all have a place in this well-documented, richly illustrated volume. Cohen seeks neither to explain Jesus' death nor to pass judgment on anyone for it, but rather to understand how the identification of Jews as Christ killers has functioned as an edifying "myth" for the Christian community. His insightful analysis reveals the deep spiritual truth believers find inthis aspect of the Passion story while simultaneously uncovering the remarkably far-reaching impact it has exercised on the Western world.Cohen combines religious, historical, and political perspectives to understand how the Christ-killer myth has become a dominant factor in the way Christians and Jews perceive each other. While a great deal has been written about Christian anti-Semitism, its roots, and its horrific consequences,this is the first volume to provide an in-depth examination of the powerful story that has fueled the fires behind the hatred.

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