12. A canticle for the lost amputees of Aelia Capitolina who have been trampled under the iron shod hooves of salivating hell rams and impaled on the shimmering tusks of salvation within the abandoned tabernacle of a Bronze Age myth.
The title is a lengthy weave of words that reflects the burning misery of a nation cast asunder into an unforgiving world. The iron shod hooves are the Roman legions and the tusks of salvation reveal the Jewish Gods apparent silence and eventual desertion of his people as the final words imply.
The lyrics to this song are in an ancient tongue and deal with the very modern reality of Anti Semitism. It is a poison exemplified by the very era Jesus preceded. He existed in an age of imminent disaster for the Jewish nation. It was only 30 years after his death that the Temple was destroyed, and a further 60 years before the whole of Jerusalem was raised to the ground and its people expelled. Jerusalem was re named Aelia Capitolina and the Jewish occupants ostracized.
It was the Flavian dynasty that ultimately used the War against the Jews to cement their legacy in Rome. Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70AD, and set in motion the events that would drag the Jesus cult out of a decimated Jerusalem and into the vile corrupt pagan world of Rome. To survive this transition it would befall upon Paul to secure the new faith in its new environment. The true strain of James and the Judaism that embraces would be ultimately corrupted beyond all recognition. One of the many insertions to the Gospels by future writers was his prediction that the Temple would be destroyed. [Mark 13: 1-4] Some would have you believe it was a prediction [although it was not hard to predict given the Roman occupation at the time]
The Eschatological hope imbued in the Jewish Psyche ultimately led to their destruction in 70CE. Much of the apocalyptic literature arose from the period with a nations hopes seemingly lost under the rod of Roman Iron. Rome was identified by the Jews as Edom, [a natural enemy of past times] . The Book of Revelation is a prime example of Jewish hope against the oppressive might of Rome]
By the time of the revolt in 66, there were very few followers of Jesus. To most Jews his teachings were as maverick, as many of the other idiosyncratic movements with Judaism. The transition of the teachings of Jesus from Jewish to Gentile Greek was accomplished by Paul [once a persecutor of Christians] With the destruction of the Temple in 70CE, it was and has always been an ingrained hope that this edifice to the God of Moses would one day be rebuilt.
The Revolt in 66ADWhile Christians and Jews were thrown to the wild animals by the emperor Nero in Rome, violence flared in Judea. In Caesarea, a conflict between Jews and Gentiles over activities next to the synagogue had been brewing for some time. In AD 66, on the Sabbath day, a Gentile offered a pagan sacrifice next to the entrance to the synagogue. There was an outcry from the citizens of Caesarea. The authorities in Jerusalem decided to end all foreign sacrifices, including the one for Caesar himself, in the Temple. Florus the governor, who lived in Caesarea, came to Jerusalem with troops, entered the Temple treasury, and took a large amount of gold. When people gathered to protest, Florus unleashed his legionnaires on innocent civilians of the city. Hundreds of women were raped, whipped, and crucified. More than 3,500 people were killed, including women and children. The reaction was outrage. Mobs swarmed the streets, driving the outnumbered soldiers out of the city. The people stormed the Antonia (the Roman fort) and burned the archives, destroying records of debts. The revolt spread. The Zealots surprised the Roman garrison and occupied the fortress of Masada. From this fortress, huge supplies of weapons were distributed. Though there were voices urging calm, even the nonpolitical Pharisees joined the Zealot movement in droves.
The violence mounted within the rebel movement. Another Zealot leader, Eleazar, who then ordered the slaughter of the Roman prisoners remaining in the city, assassinated zealot leader Menahem. There was no turning back. The Gentiles in Caesarea, hearing of the violence against fellow Romans in Jerusalem, rose against the Jews of that town. Within a day, 20,OOO Jews were killed. This slaughter of men, women, and children, young and old, was repeated in many places in the country and throughout the empire, including Syria and Egypt. Fifty thousand were killed in Alexandria alone. The land ran with blood
It is important we get a perspective on the events unfolding here. The Gospels had yet to be solidified so the story of Jesus was still very much locked in the memory or written in sparse documents only relevant to a few Jews. The name of Jerusalem had already ceased to exist officially in 130. The whole province was also renamed to Syria Palastina, referring to an ancient Greek designation for the area, and pointed to a Philistine province and not the former Jewish region. In 201 CE, Aelia Capitolina [as Jerusalem was then called] was free from Jews and this helped the Roman strain of the Jesus cult to flourish without Jewish interference.
According to Cassius Dio, 580,000 Jews were killed, and 50 fortified towns and 985 villages razed. Cassius Dio claimed that “Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war. Therefore, Hadrian, in writing to the Senate, did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors: ‘If you and your children are in health, it is well; I and the army are in health.'”
Hadrian attempted to root out Judaism, which he saw as the cause of continuous rebellions. He prohibited the Torah law and the Hebrew calendar, and executed Judaic scholars. The sacred scroll was ceremonially burned on the Temple Mount. At the former Temple sanctuary, he installed two statues, one of Jupiter, another of himself. In an attempt to erase any memory of Judea or Ancient Israel, he wiped the name off the map and replaced it with Syria Palaestina, after the Philistines, the ancient enemies of the Jews; Until the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, the land was referred to as “Palestine,” which supplanted earlier terms such as “Judaea” (Judaea) and Israel. Similarly, he re-established Jerusalem as the Roman pagan polis of Aelia Capitolina, and Jews were forbidden from entering it. Unfortunately for Hadrian, Rabbinic Judaism had already become a portable religion, centered around synagogues, and the Jews themselves kept books and dispersed throughout the Roman world and beyond.
By 200CE, the Jews were becoming a persecuted minority in a hostile empire. The Jesus cult had spread from Jerusalem and was now a growing force. Christians presented themselves to the world as unconnected to the Jews. The destruction of the Temple in 135 had alienated the Jews from mainstream Roman society, so it was crucial for the new Christian sect to cut themselves away from their own origins. The Jews were slowly ostracized. Paul in his letter to Thessalonians decries the wickedness of the Jews, [ they] killed the Lord Jesus. In the Gospel of Mathew [composed in the last quarter of the first century] there is a clear distinction between the Synagogue and the new church. The Jews were also implicated in the first recorded martyrdom, of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna in 155 CE.
In Rome imperial hostility toward Christianity continued to crystallize; after Decius, the empire was at war with it. An unequal power relationship between Jews and Christians in the context of the Greco-Roman world “generated anti-Jewish feelings among the early Christians. Feelings of mutual hatred arose, driven in part by Judaism’s legality in the Roman Empire; in Antioch, where the rivalry was most bitter, Jews most likely demanded the execution of Polycarp. [a Christian martyr]
In the battle of steadfast Judaism and the breakaway Christian movement, the Jews were in their rejection of what must have seemed a Blasphemous were unwittingly sowing the seed for their own rejection from Roman society as a whole. The deliberate rejection of the laws of Judaism [even though the whole foundation of Jesus’ teachings grew from their dogma] was firmly asserted by a certain Marcion, [later excommunicated] who preached that the Demiurge, the creator of the world and the God of the Jews, was wicked, despotic and cruel, that the whole Old Testament, the product of the law of the Demiurge, should be rejected. He stated that the Christian savior God was an entirely different divinity. The very name Jew evoked hostility in the Roman world by 200 CE. During the hostilities between Roman and Jews, the Christian by necessity] aligned them selves with Rome.
By the second century hostility towards the Jews had been ingrained in Rome, after the revolts under Trajan and Hadrian. The Christians further erased the Jewish connection to their faith by applying the name Israel to the Old Testament and this created a completely different perspective for a gentile audience. It seems ridiculous to believe that the term Jew and Israel could be separated so convincingly with no connection being apparent.
By the late third century the central role of Jerusalem in the Christian hierarchy had all but vanished along with the link to contemporary Jews. The link with James and the family of Jesus was also removed from Christian dogma thus making it free to construct its own agenda on their new Man-Gods past.
The link between Christian and Jew had virtually been erased by 200 CE. Christianity became the dominant religion in the roman world by the late fourth century and this was totally down to the Emperor Constantine own agenda. The very organization of the Christian movement is mirrored by the secular organization of the Roman.
With the conversion of Constantine., any allegiance to the Jews with regards to Christianity was rigorously opposed Hostility towards the Jews increased with the evolution of the Christian religion, not contorted into an ugly reflection of the Judaic truth that bore it.
The expression of the new faith carried with it a dark anti Judaic shadow .Although believing in the same Old Testament, Christians reinterpreted it in light of their own New Testament. With no animal sacrifices or any need to worship God in any Temple, the direct influence of Jerusalem as a centre of faith became of no interest.. This new faith would firmly be built in Rome and the Vatican. It has been observed that theological Christian anti-Judaism “emerged from the church’s efforts to resolve the contradictions inherent in its simultaneous appropriation and rejection of different elements of the Jewish tradition
Among the most common manifestations of anti-Semitism throughout history were pogroms, violent riots launched against Jews and frequently encouraged by government authorities. Pogroms were often incited by blood libels — false rumors that Jews used the blood of Christian children for ritual purposes
It is very clear why we are so ingrained to hate Jews. Like our hatred of other cultures is usually inherent. We generally hate a certain race because our parents have taught us to do so] The Christian movement and its allegiance of Rome is totally to blame for the root form of Anti Semitism.
See the ‘Apostle of the Uncircumcised to read more of the Church of Rome’s growth.
To summarize ; The New Testament has the following finger of blame, all the literature points towards the Jews as the instigators and sole perpetrators of deicide. Much of this can be attributed to later Roman Christian manipulation.
•Matt 27.1 – “all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death”. (Matthew)
•Lk 23.13-20 – “the chief priests, the rulers and the people,” (Luke)–obviously not ALL the people; just the ‘crowd’
•Acts 2.36(w 14) – “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem,” (the apostle Peter)
•Acts 10.39 – “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree (Peter)
•I Thess 2.14 – You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. (Paul)
•Acts 13.27 – The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. (Paul) Notice ‘people’ is restricted to those in Jerusalem who asked for the execution–the ‘crowd’ again.
•Mt 26.3 – Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. (Matthew)
•Mt 27.1,20 – But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. (Matthew)
•Acts 5.27 – Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead — whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. (Peter, accusing the Sanhedrin–a mixed priestly and lay aristocratic ruling body)
According to Rabbi Michael J. Cook, , there are ten themes in the New Testament that are the greatest sources of anxiety for Jews concerning Christian anti-Semitism:
- The Jews are culpable for crucifying Jesus – as such they are guilty of deicide
- The tribulations of the Jewish people throughout history constitute God’s punishment of them for killing Jesus
- Jesus originally came to preach only to the Jews, but when they rejected him, he abandoned them for Gentiles instead
- The Children of Israel were God’s original chosen people by virtue of an ancient covenant, but by rejecting Jesus they forfeited their chosenness – and now, by virtue of a new covenant (or “testament”), Christians have replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people, the Church having become the “People of God.”
- The Jewish Bible (“Old” Testament) repeatedly portrays the opaqueness and stubbornness of the Jewish people and their disloyalty to God.
- The Jewish Bible (“Old” Testament) contains many predictions of the coming of Jesus as the Messiah (or “Christ”), yet the Jews are blind to the meaning of their own Bible.
- By the time of Jesus’ ministry, Judaism had ceased to be a living faith.
- Judaism’s essence is a restrictive and burdonsome legalism.
- Christianity emphasizes love, while Judaism stands for justice and a God of wrath.
- Judaism’s oppressiveness reflects the disposition of Jesus’ opponents called “Pharisees” (predecessors of the “rabbis“), who in their teachings and behavior were hypocrites (see Woes of the Pharisees).
The above list reveals the unease in which Christianity and Judaism find themselves. That Christianity grew from a Jewish foundation and finally shed its Judaic skin is clear to see. How it can justify this as divine intervention is unfathomable to me. These are two separate religions, one having its credibility intact as the first and therefore the original. The other is an adaptation that feeds from the former to give its embodiment sustenance. Judaism can exist without Christianity but Christianity cannot exist without Judaism.
The story of Jesus’ murder is dramatic enough in itself. But attempts to fix the blame for his death have led to horrible acts of spiritual depravity. The Jewish people have usually borne the brunt of the blame. Their implication in the death of Christ has resulted in an unchristian like persecution of the Jewish people down through the centuries. “Christ-killers!” was the epithet hurled at them, and the last words many a Jew heard just before his own brutal murder.
The Nazis cited this for the genocide of 6 million Jews just over half a century ago during World War II. With no real respect for the teachings of Christ, Hitler and his followers declared that the Jewish race was solely and collectively responsible for killing the Son of God. This poisonous doctrine brainwashed the führer’s followers into believing the Jews themselves should be exterminated.
The Holocaust, the state-sponsored persecution and murder of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945, is history’s most extreme example of anti-Semitism. With the Nazi rise to power in 1933, the party ordered anti-Jewish economic boycotts, staged book burnings, and enacted discriminatory anti-Jewish legislation. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws racially defined Jews by “blood” and ordered the total separation of so-called “Aryans” and “non-Aryans,” thereby legalizing a racist hierarchy. On the night of November 9, 1938, the Nazis destroyed synagogues and the shop windows of Jewish-owned stores throughout Germany and Austria (an event now known as the Kristallnacht pogrom or Night of Broken Glass). This event marked a transition to an era of destruction, in which genocide would become the singular focus of Nazi anti-Semitism. The events here need more space to elaborate on and maybe the next Meads album will embrace it more cohesively.
There are always two sides to a controversial coin and here is no exception. We can also cite the Jewish nation as wholly stubborn and nationalistic. They have terms for non Jews, Gentiles being one, and Goyim, [While the earlier books of the Hebrew Bible often use goy to describe the Israelites, the later ones tend to apply the term to other nations] being another. These stark non Jewish race words imply a very selective mind view on human cohabitation. This self preserving cultural stigma applied to the Jewish nation has also helped fuel the surrounding Arab states with an inbred distain for Israel. No doubt this fervent pride and unwavering belief in an ancient God has ensured the Jews survival against all the odds I might add. To have such a brazen pride in ones nation for many other countries is often deemed self indulgent. Flip the coin again and you can cite the Jews as being the most integrated people on Erath, always respectful of the indigenous laws and customs, always thoughtful of their own identity.
On a passing note, I would like to thank Richard Dawkins for his fantastic nook, The God Delusion’. I recommend it to anyone with a thirst for truth as it contains some harsh realities as well as his own perspective of religious tomfoolery. There is a great insight to irony that I would like to quote, imagine a God son being killed today by electric chair. Would it mean in two thousand years time people will be wearing little pendants with Electric Chairs on, looking serene and at peace?
I often look at people wearing crucifixes and gaze at the man hanging from it by nails. It is indeed the most ludicrous of images.
There are parts of Christianity that try to reconcile their past with the free thinking mind view of the present and the following statement reflects my own inner most feelings regarding humanity.
“All men are created in God’s image, and that it is contrary to the teaching of the Church to discriminate against, show hatred towards or harass any person or people on the basis of colour, race, religion, condition of life and so on.”
Now that is irony for you.