Professor Magnes tells us in today’s presentation that she is not a New Testament Scholar. She makes that very obvious when she discusses the anti-antisemitism of the Gospel of John.

John was written by Jewish Christians for other Jewish Christians. They were being self-critical. In the same way Paul could be considered antisemitic, which is ridiculous. Clearly the first Christians thought Jesus was the fulfillment of all God’s promises to Abraham. Paul was a critic of the Jewish “way of life” which was built around observance of the Torah.

On the other hand Luther was a disgraceful anti Semite. Who we should vigorously repudiate. He was equally reprehensible in his writings about peasants and of Nicholas Copernicus.

 He argued that the Jews were "devil's children"  He wrote that the synagogue was a "defiled bride ... an incorrigible whore and an evil slut"  and Jews were full of the "devil's feces ... which they wallow in like swine."He advocated setting synagogues on fire, destroying Jewish prayerbooks, forbidding rabbis from preaching, seizing Jews' property and money, smashing up their homes, and ensuring that these "poisonous envenomed worms" be forced into labor or expelled "for all time.”  He also seemed to sanction their murder, writing "We are at fault in not slaying them." His statements that Jews' homes should be destroyed, their synagogues burned, money confiscated and liberty curtailed were revived and used in propaganda by the Nazis in 1933–1945 The Lutheran Churches of Germany were great supporters of the Nazi’s. A notable exception to this is Dietrich Bonhoeffer who in addition to being a good person was a much better scholar than Luther. His interpretation of both the Old and New Testaments are way more accurate and legitimate. Luther was very wrong about a lot of things. I cringe when I tell someone I am a Lutheran not because of what I believe but because of our founder.

You can make up your own minds. Here is the preface to his book:

Luther on Anti-Semitism (from his book The Jews and their Lies)"

I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that these miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them. I would not have believed that a Christian could be duped by the Jews into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself. However, the devil is the god of the world, and wherever God's word is absent he has an easy task, not only with the weak but also with the strong. May God help us. Amen.

Luther on the Serfs keeping their place.

Luther’s Initial Reaction (May 1525) There should be no serfs, because Christ has freed us all! What is that we hear? That is to make Christian freedom wholly bodily. Did not Abraham and the other patriarchs and prophets have serfs? Read what St. Paul says of servants, who in all times have been serfs. So this article is straight against the gospel, and moreover it is robbery, since each man would take his person from his lord to whom it belongs. A serf can be a good Christian and enjoy Christian liberty, just as a prisoner or a sick man may be a Christian although he is not free. This article would make all men equal and convert the spiritual kingdom of Christ into an external worldly one; but that is impossible, for a worldly realm cannot stand where there is no inequality; some must be free, others bond; some rulers, others subjects. My counsel would be that a few counts and lords should be chosen from the nobles, and from the towns a few councilors, who should settle the matter peacefully. You lords should unbend your stiff minds a bit,—for you will have to do that sooner or later whether you will or no,—and give up a little of your oppression and tyranny, so that the poor man can have a little space and air. On the other hand, the peasants will have to let a few of their articles go, which are screwed up too high. In this way the matter, even if it cannot be treated in a Christian spirit, can at least be adjusted according to human laws and agreements. If you will not follow this advice, which God would approve, I must leave you to yourselves. But I am guiltless of your souls, your blood, and your goods. I have told you that you are both wrong and are fighting for the wrong. You nobles are not fighting against Christians, for Christians would not oppose you, but would suffer all. You are fighting against robbers and blasphemers of Christ’s name; those that die among them shall be eternally damned.

My personal belief is that this is disgraceful!! I know that we can’t judge another person in past history by today’s standards. But Luther is below any bar that could be set in any time. He is credited with being a great biblical interpretor. He was not. He twisted and used the scripture for his warped view of what the world should look like. He was a good translator from Hebrew and Greek into German. I will give him that. I also think that if they take down the Confederate General’s statues which I agree with that all the statues of him should come down too.

Her lecture is otherwise excellent. I think you will get a lot of good information about the concept of Israel’s god. Israel didn’t become monotheistic until the return from exile in 537 BC and the reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah. We did speak about this in the past. Email me with questions.