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May 14, 1965 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1965-05-14

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incorporating The Detroit Jewish Chronicle commencing with issue

of July 20, 1951

Member American Association of English—Jewish Newspapers, Michigan Press Association, National Editorial
Published every Friday by The Jewish News Publishing Co., 17100 West Seven Mile Road, Detroit 48235 Mich.,
VE 8-9364. Subscription $6 a year. Foreign $7.
Second Class Postage Paid at Detroit, Michigan


Editor and Publisher



Business Manager

Advertising Manager


City Editor

Sabbath Scriptural Selections
This Sabbath, the 13th day of Iyar, 5725, the following scriptural selections will
be read in our synagogues:
Pentateuchal portion: Le-vit. 21:1-24:23; prophetical portion: Ezek. 44:15-31.

Licht benshen, -Friday, May 14, 7:26 p.m.

VOL. XLVII, No. 12

Page 4

May 14, 1965

Begging the Issue on the Crucifixion

What could have developed into a great
gesture of good will was marred by a blun-
dering statement by the Bishop of Rome.
It was an unfortunate error which might
have been corrected, except that the Vatican
apparently is not prepared completely to
wipe out the sin against Israel inherent in
the deicide charge. And it is apparent that
the Catholic laity still labors under the mis-
apprehensions related to the crucifixion which
we reject as being contrary to historic facts.
Thus, writing under the heading "The
Pope and the Jews," in Commonweal, the
progressive and liberal Catholic weekly,
Michael D. Zeik, conceding that the Pope
"slipped," adding that "in an unguarded
moment, a careless phrase stirred up a hor-
net's nest of rebuke and recrimination," en-
tered into a discussion of the issue that be-
come more philosophical than theological or
The Commonweal analyst stated in his
article that Pope Paul's help was "in a highly
delicate area of human relations, where pre-
cision, justice and charity are called for. Was
there, perhaps, a reason why this and many
similar embarrasing incidents have occurred
in Christian-Jewish relations? I think such a
reason exists." He then proceeds to give "the
reason" and declares:

There are several Sundays throughout the
liturgical year when good prists everywhere find
themselves ill-at-ease with present translations
of the Gospel—particularly the Gospel of St.
John. When the Gospel speaks of "the Jews"
doing this, and "the Jews" doing that, educated
Catholics are aware that the term, "the Jews,"
is being used in an editorial, collective sense.
Educated people understand that when our news-
papers say, "the Russians" did this, and "the
Chinese" did that, they really mean that Brezh-
nev, Mao Tse-tung, together with the ruling party
members, did this and did that. The trouble is
that not all people are sufficiently educated—
particularly with regard to the Jews. If the priest
does not laboriously explain the usage of words
on these occasions, a distinct impression of anti-
Semitism can be picked up.
Beyond any question, it is the consensus of
Scripture scholars today that when the Evange-
lists used the word "Jews" in the Gospel, they
meant a particular sect, a ruling clique, or an
assembled crowd. Indeed, they could hardly have
meant otherwise. The best historical sources
available indicate that, at the time of Our Lord,
the population of Jerusalem numbered about
100,000 people, as compared with a world Jewish
population of about 8,000,000. Supposing every
citizen of Jerusalem to have been involved in the
tragic events of Holy Week (an absurdity in it-
self), it would follow even then that but a tiny
fraction of the Jews (one-eightieth) bore any
As a matter of fact, since roughly six of those
eight million Jews already lived outside of Pales-
tine, in the diaspora, it can now be historically
ascertained that about three-fourths of the Jews
living at that time never even heard of Christ
until sometime after His death and resurrection.
It is also clear that when the Evangelists use the
term, "Jews," they refer neither to the Jewess
who bore Christ, the carpenter who raised him,
the Apostles who followed him, nor the five thou-
sand who joined themselves to him shortly after
Pentecost. In short, the Church at its origin was
so entirely Jewish that Peter needed a revelation
from heaven before he would admit Gentiles to
it. As noted above, Scripture scholars and edu-
cated Catholics know these facts. Do the mass of
the faithful?
The Church is already engaged in the praise-
worthy effort of expunging from the textbooks
and her official prayers all remarks which could
foster anti-Semitism. Why not go to the root of
the problem? Do not the Gospels themselves
stand in need of more careful translation?
It may be objected that the "editorial-collec-
tive noun" has gained common acceptance in
modern times. Under ordinary circumstances it is
probably true that it can be used without fear of
deception or injustice. But the treatment of the
Jews by Christendom in past centuries, and by
the racists in the present century, does not argue
the existence of "ordinary circumstances." Com-

petent scripture scholars, therefore, should be
given the task of preparing a translation of the
Gospels more faithful to the real mind of the
Apostles, more faithful to the mind of David's
Son. At a time when the vernacular is replacing
the more obscure Latin texts, this is more im-
portant than ever.

From a Catholic point of view, this is a
most honorable approach to an issue that re-
mains aggravated, to a charge that has been
followed by bloodshed during the centuries
when the crucifixion libel branded Jews as
"Christ-killers." There is no doubt that Mr.
Zeik's sentiments are based on a desire to
see the enactment of new scholarly approaches
to the Jesus subject.
But it cannot be tackled in the form
suggested. He is begging the issue and is per-
petuating the confusion. We reject any effort
to ascribe the crucifixion to a sect or a clique
that could have been considered acceptably
Jewish in the traditional sense of Jewish ob-
servers or legalists. If there was a gangster
or gangsters who were Jewish, they were not
a sect that approved capital punishment or
murder in the name of Jewry in any sense
Crucifixion was a Roman method of pun-
ishment, not a Jewish one, and as long as
there are Christians who adhere to the charge
that Jews as Jews, as an established sect —
apply to them the misnomer clique, if you
will, the principle remains the same — there
is the perpetuation of the sin against Jewry.
The slip was a blunder. How long does
one condone blunders, even when the blun-
derer was the high authority of the church?
There is no doubt, as Dore Schary, nation-
al chairman of the Bnai Brith Anti-Defama-
tion League, has stated, that it would have
been impossible to reach the stage of the
"pace and spirit" of present-day Catholic-
Jewish discussions 20 years ago. Leadership
in the movement toward liberalism had been
taken by American bishops. We thoroughly
agree with Mr. Schary in his acknowledge-
ment of the activities of our Catholic. fellow-
Americans in the task of removing the deicide
charge from theological teachings, and it is
our conviction that the negative steps now
in evidence are more a rebuke to them than
to anyone else.
Perhaps it is not yet too late to correct
all errors of the past. But all actions must be
by and on behalf of the Vatican. The sin of
anti-Semitism is not ours. Let the sinners act.

Fiction or Fact?

Allegro Revives 'Shapira Affair,'
Denies Documents Were Forged

The sensations created by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls
also aroused renewed interest in a famous claim dating back to 1883
which is now described in "The Shapira Affair," by John Marco
Allegro, published by Doubleday.
Moses Wilhelm Shapira was a collector of books and manuscripts.
His shop was in Jerusalem and from there he brought parchment
strips which he claimed to have been ancient versions of the Book
of Deuteronomy.
Shapira had offered his 15 strips of parchment to the British
Museum for a million pounds. A study was then made of the
offered scrolls and they were declared to be a forgery. The verdict
of Charles Clermont-Ganneau, French archaeologist, was that
the strips were from a lower margin of a modern scroll only
200 or 300 years old. Shapira also was exposed by David Ginsburg,
a convert to Christianity. Soon after the ensuing scandal,
Shapira committed suicide in Rotterdam, having left England
during the furor.

Allegro, who has written several books on archaeology of the
Middle East and on the Dead Sea Scrolls, revives the case with the
intention of giving the Shapira parchments credence toward lending them
respectability. He definitely believes that they may have been ancient
discoveries and that they should be recognized as genuine.
But he had not seen the originals, and the mystery remains.
However, Allegro makes much of the stories told him by Shapira's
surviving daughter, My-rian Harry, who had written a fictional account
of her father's parchments.
He goes into detail in describing the incidents relating to the
alleged discoveries and to the exposes. "The Shapira Affair" is in
itself a charming story. It is like a detective tale.
Allegro quotes at length, in parallel columns, from the
Shapira manuscripts and the Authorized 1611 Version of the
Bible. Because of the Dead Sea Scrolls discoveries, Allegro
attaches reality to the Shapira scrolls.
Allegro contends there is evidence that "the east side of the
Dead Sea was inhabited by Jews in the first Christian centuries";
that "the Shapira Deuteronomy could have been part of a Jewish
sectarian work, composed perhaps for some catechetic purpose in a
religious community," and adds: "That it should have been written
on strips of parchment cut from the bottom of an older manuscript
need occasion us no surprise, if its owners were refugees without
ready access to fresh supplies of writing material . . . It was not
Citizens in all walks of life are partic- necessary with such religious documents that each should be in the `1
ipating in the sponsorship of 1965 Michigan nature of a complete scroll."
Errors in grammar are not taken seriously by Allegro who
Having for its slogan "Michigan—Dyna- contends that in a forgery the forgers would have corrected errors. —\ r


1965 Michigan Week

mic in World Progress," the objectives of
this year's observance are to draw attention
to the state's industries, to promote the cul-
tural and higher educational efforts, to en-
courage interest in art, science and literature
and to enroll the population's concern in the
health of our people and in the advancement
of efforts in behalf of the less fortunate and
the mentally afflicted.
To raise the standards of living, to as-
sure concern over the welfare of all citizens,
it is necessary that every aspect of life should
be drawn into the blueprint that may be
planned for progress. When we speak of
Michigan's dynamism in world progress, we
cannot think merely of machines—of indus-
tries and factories. Into account must be
taken the high values inherent in culture and
in the need to aid the less affluent and the
weaker in our midst.
With this in view, the slogan "Michigan
—Dynamic in World Progress" can be made
an inspiration for much good for all of our

Allegro goes to great length to prove his point and he makes
these claims in support of his argument that the Shapira scrolls c
"To believe that a work of forgery was perpetrated by another,
virtually unrewarded hand, is even more difficult to believe. To have
composed such a work of genuis only to release it to the world clothed
in such an unlikely form through the hands of at least two semi-literate
scribal accomplices and an antiquities dealer blackened in reputation
already through association with forgers, is the action of a madman.
The author of the Shapira Deuteronomy was never that.
"Treated seriously, I believe that the Shapira Deuteronomy opens
a window on sectarian Judaism and early Christianity that the 19th-
century critics all too precipitantly slammed shut again. And at the
same time, we should perhaps beware of too easily judging the actions
of motives of those scholars. It is more rewarding that we should /
learn from their mistakes and keep our minds open to possibilities c
and ideas that our present imperfect understanding cannot yet
encompass . . .
"If a consideration of the whole tragic affair of Shapira's manu-
script has induced us to examine afresh the motives underlying our
own scholarship, and thrown even a little light on our own cultural
heritage, Moses Wilhelm Shapira will not have died in vain."
Thus, a great effort is made to give credence to a repudiated
document. But the facts dating back to the 1880s and the exposure
hardly uphold Allegro's hands. At best, he has treated us to a good
archaeological- detective story. : -

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