Guest Post: Anti-Semitism in Holy Week

Addressing Anti-Judaism in Holy Week Scripture Texts: A Guest Post from the Rev. Devon Anderson, Trinity Excelsior

In a recent interview with Christian Century, Amy-Jill Levine, a New Testament and Jewish Studies professor at Vanderbilt, said this: If to get a good message you need to make Judaism look bad, then you don’t have a good message. Levine pursues this compelling thought in her new book, “Entering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week,” which, like all of her books, is an excellent read.

It’s that time of year when many of us are designing our liturgical offerings for Holy Week. And it’s about this time every year when I re-engage the Johannine Passion narrative on Good Friday and, in parts, cringe. While the scripture designated by our lectionary for that day is set in a particular historical context, to the modern ear casting “the Jews” and “the rabbis” as the villians cuts deep and, left uncommented-upon, has the power to perpetuate “Jews killed Christ” hate speech. What are self-respecting worship communities to do?

The best resource is an article by Philip Cunningham, which does offer alternative options for the reading. Trinity Excelsior has used, with bishop permission, option #5 put forth in Cunningham’s article.

While Minnesota is blessed with a bishop that trusts local worship communities to make their own liturgical decisions, it still needs to be said that technically using any of the alternatives proposed in the article would require the permission of the bishop.

Additional recommended resources include: