Sigmund Freud has an interesting theory on the reason for anti-Semitism. Preston Harold mentions that Freud pointed out that Christianity became a cultural regression, a step away from strict monotheism. In Christianity’s formulation of God as Trinity (1 God in three persons), and in it’s overtaking of many pagan sacred sites and traditions, including substituting devotion to Mary for the goddess traditions, Christianity was able to make great progress in expanding and mark a distinct progress in the history of religion. Over the centuries, this has worked itself out in a particularly interesting way. Harold explains…
Freud recognizes the jealousy the Jews evoked in maintaining that they were the first-born, chosen people of God, and takes into account the rite of circumcision that reminds humanity of the dreaded castration idea, but points out there is a more recent motive for anti-Semitism:
“We must not forget that all the peoples who now excel in the practice of anti-Semitism became Christians only in relatively recent times….under the thin veneer of Christianity they have remained what their ancestors were, barbarically polytheistic. They have not yet overcome their grudge against the new religion which was forced on them, and they have projected it onto the source….The facts that the Gospels tell a story which is enacted among Jews, and in truth treats only of Jews, has facilitated such a projection. The hatred for Judaism is at bottom hatred for Christianity….”
Freud appears to have put his finger on the neurosis of the Western world: it stems from an ambivalent acceptance of, if not outright hatred for, Pauline doctrine.
So according to Freud, anti-Semitism comes by way of Christianity (with it’s Jewish heart and soul) via Paul’s doctrine and the usurpation of local culture and traditions by the Roman empire via the Roman Catholic Church. In other words, an anti-Semite would contend (if they were aware of their unconscious process [chuckle]), “You Christians forced your religion upon me, you Christians worship Jesus, Jesus was a Jew, so I don’t like anyone Jewish!” It’s an interesting theory, but not one that totally convinces me. It does make sense from a Freudian perspective, though.
So what do we do with the reality of anti-Semitism, not to mention the reality of all types of prejudice? As always, Harold leads us to Jesus:
As one appraises Freud’s thesis and his diagnosis that anti-Semitism is at bottom hatred for Christianity, he must consider that there is a law of history which says: error must grow until it reaches its outermost limits. Jesus revealed His understanding of this law by saying that the good seed and tares must grow together unto the harvest, and by speaking of the enlargement of conflict that must precede comprehension of the Christ in man (Matt 13:30, 24:6-7). He knew that before the Judaic Messianic mold and any like unto it could be obliterated all men would come to hate the Jew and to hate Him, His name, Son of man, and all it implies:
You will be hated by all on account of my name…. (Luke 21:17)
Until next time, peace…