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What if?

studdard-james
James Studdard teaches metaphysics and metallurgy. He contributes to this news paper and others. He may be reached, if absolutely necessary, at studlaw2000@yahoo.com.

Flashback to about 30 C.E. (or A.D. for non-specialists). We are in the Jewish section of the Temple in Jerusalem. A small crowd has gathered, led by the high Priest Caiaphas who is clearly agitated by the heterodoxy of a young Jew named Yeshua. It appears from all the gossip, innuendo, and slanted accounts of the young Jew’s antics that he has been turning over tables in the temple, assaulting the merchants, criticizing an age old tradition of changing Roman coins into Jewish ones, and in general just being a royal pain in the Jewish hierarchy’s derriere. The trouble making Yeshua has been arrested in dramatic fashion in a place near the temple and is before the Roman Prefect, Pilate, who must make an important decision as to what is to become of the radical Jew.
Pilate, contrary to his known penchant for gratuitous violence, suddenly assumes a sympathetic amity for this unknown peasant from the backwoods village of Nazareth and says simply that he finds no fault with the au courant Jewish rebel. Still the high Priest, who threatens to squeal to Rome that Pilate has gone soft, convinces Pilate to turn over the Jew to Caiaphas and his cohorts. The rest, as they say, is history.
But, what if, just what if, Pilate had refused to turn over the rebellious Jew to Caiaphas? What if? Well, for starters, the Jews would not be branded with the “blood libel” moniker, of Christ killers. And, here are but few examples of the way Jew/Christian theatre may have played out if the Christian foundational slander against Jews as Christ killers was not extant in antiquity as well as today. The emperor Constantine, would not, yielding to political pressure and his so called vision of Christ at the battle of the Milvian bridge, have declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman empire (325 C.E.), thus unleashing unspeakable atrocities on non-Christians (Jews). Jews in Paris in 1096 would not have been given the choice of conversion to Christianity or death. Many Jews, by the way, committed suicide (after first killing their wives and children) rather than converting to Christianity.
And in 1242, in Paris, twenty-four carloads of books, all the known copies of the Talmud, (the Jewish biblical instructions) were burned in the streets; a monumental desecration that took several days to complete. As a telling extension of history, or a better analogy, how history repeats itself; consider that in 1942, in Paris, thirteen thousand Jews were taken away, four thousand of them children. There was no protest when more than half of the eighty five thousand Jews were deported from France to Nazi extermination camps.  Maybe if Pilate had given up Barabbas instead of Yeshua, the Jews would have been allowed to own property, to worship the God of Israel, or to peacefully exist. It was Saint Augustine (Christian Bishop in North Africa (b. November 13, 354 – d. August 28, 430) whose ambivalence toward Jews, echoed by most Catholics, said, “Let them survive, but not thrive.” If not for the New Testament passion narratives about Jesus’ death, written by the way, some 70 to 100 years after the crucifixion, not by eye witnesses but from memory stories, would Martin Luther have penned his infamous book, “The Jews and Their Lies” wherein he labeled the Jews with contumelies too scatological to mention in mixed company. The Lutheran church, in an effort to clean up Luther’s vitriol toward the Jews, attempted an exoneration of Luther by recanting the book’s anti-Semitic screeds. And Adolf Hitler would probably not have used Luther’s anti-Semitic ravings as a basis for the “Final Solution” in WW II.
It was his eminence, St. Thomas Aquinas, a giant in the art of esotericism. who introduced his brand of anti-Semitism. Of course we can always attribute his bigotry on his external influences of, say, Aristotle. It was Aquinas who posited that the Talmud was the reason Jews refused to convert and considered it a work of heresy, and as an interesting aside, he did not object to the burning of the Talmud in Paris. In fact, Augustine, who considered the Jews to be “invincibly ignorant,” did offer a salvivic, but not an overly encouraging, homily, “Do not slay them.” And maybe, just maybe, Jews would not have been blamed for the Black Plague.
In my next article I want to explore another “what if” subject: What if Noah’s ark had sunk?