Excerpts from a long letter from Benjamin Freedman to David Goldstein, LL.D. dated October 10, 1954. Freedman (1890-1984) had been part of the American Zionist inner circle but, like Goldstein, converted to Christianity. The complete letter appeared in a pamphlet entitled “Facts are Facts.”
The utterance by the Christian clergy which confuses Christians the most is the constantly repeated utterance that “Jesus was a Jew.” … That misrepresentation and distortion of an incontestable historic fact is uttered by the Christian clergy upon the slightest pretext….
Jesus Christ was not a so-called or self-styled “Jew”. During His lifetime Jesus was known as a “Judean” by His contemporaries and not as a “Jew”, and Jesus referred to Himself as a “Judean” and not as a “Jew”.
…Except for His few followers at that time in Judea, all other Judeans abhorred Jesus and detested His teachings and the things for which He stood.
At the time of the Crucifixion of Jesus Pontius Pilate was the administrator in Judea for the Roman Empire. As far as he was concerned officially or personally, the inhabitants of Judea were “Judeans” and not so- called “Jews” as they have been styled since the 18th century. In the time of Pontius Pilate, there was no religious, racial or national group in Judea known as “Jews” nor had there been any group so identified anywhere else in the world prior to that time.
Pontius Pilate expressed little interest as the administrator of the Roman Empire officially or personally in the wide variety of forms of religious worship then practiced in Judea. These forms of religious worship extended from phallic worship and other forms of idolatry to the emerging spiritual philosophy of an eternal, omnipotent and invisible Divine deity, the emerging Yahve (Jehovah) concept which predated Abraham of Bible fame by approximately 2000 years. …
As I have explained, when the word “Jew” was first introduced into the English language in the 18th century, its one and only implication, inference and innuendo was “Judean”. However during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries a well-organized and well- financed international “pressure group” created a so-called “secondary meaning” for the word “Jew” among the English- speaking peoples of the world. This so-called “secondary meaning” for the word “Jew” bears no relation whatsoever to the 18th century original connotation of the word “Jew”. It is a misrepresentation.
… The United States Supreme Court has recognized the “secondary meaning” of words. The highest court in the land has established as basic law that “secondary meanings” can acquire priority rights to the use of any dictionary word. Well-planned and well-financed world-wide publicity through every available media by well-organized groups of so-called or self-styled “Jews” for three centuries has created a “secondary meaning” for the word “Jew” which has completely “blacked out” the original and correct meaning of the word “Jew”. There can be no doubt about that.
There is not a person in the whole English-speaking world today who regards a “Jew” as a “Judean” in the literal sense of the word. That was the correct and only meaning in the 18th century. The generally accepted “secondary meaning” of the word “Jew” today with practically no exceptions is made up of four almost universally-believed theories. These four theories are that a so- called or self-styled “Jew” is (1) a person who today professes the form of religious worship known as “Judaism”, (2) a person who claims to belong to a racial group associated with the ancient Semites, (3) a person directly the descendant of an ancient nation which thrived in Palestine in Bible history, (4) a person blessed by Divine intentional design with certain superior cultural characteristics denied to other racial, religious or national groups, all rolled into one.
The present generally accepted “secondary meaning” of the word “Jew” is fundamentally responsible for the confusion in the minds of Christians regarding elementary tenets of the Christian faith. It is likewise responsible today to a very great extent for the dilution of the devotion of countless Christians for their Christian faith. The implications, inferences and innuendos of the word “Jew” today, to the preponderant majority of intelligent and informed Christians, is contradictory and in complete conflict with incontestable historic fact. Christians who cannot be fooled any longer are suspect of the Christian clergy who continue to repeat, and repeat, and repeat ad nauseam their pet theme song “Jesus was a Jew”. It actually now approaches a psychosis.
Countless Christians know today that they were “brainwashed” by the Christian clergy on the subject “Jesus was a Jew”. ..
Countless intelligent and informed Christians no longer accept unchallenged assertions by the Christian clergy that Jesus in His lifetime was a Member of a group in Judea which practiced a religious form of worship then which is today called “Judaism”, or that Jesus in His lifetime here on earth was a Member of the racial group which today includes the preponderant majority of all so- called or self-styled “Jews” in the world, or that the so-called or self-styled “Jews” throughout the world today are the lineal descendants of the nation in Judea of which Jesus was a national in His lifetime here on earth, or that the cultural characteristics of so- called or self-styled “Jews” throughout the world today correspond with the cultural characteristics of Jesus during His lifetime here on earth and His teachings while He was here on earth for a brief stay. Christians will no longer believe that the race, religion, nationality and culture of Jesus and the race, religion, nationality and culture of so-called or self-styled “Jews” today or their ancestors have a common origin or character.
The resentment by Christians is more ominous than the Christian clergy suspect. Under existing conditions the Christian clergy will find that ignorance is not bliss, nor wisdom folly. Christians everywhere today are seeking to learn the authentic relationship between the so-called or self-styled “Jews” through-out the world today and the “Judeans” who populated “Judea” before, during and after the time of Jesus. Christians now insist that they be told correctly by the Christian clergy about the racial, religious, national and cultural background of the so-called or self-styled “Jews” throughout the world today and the basis for associating these backgrounds with the racial, religious, national and cultural background of Jesus in His lifetime in Judea. The intelligent and informed Christian are alerted to the exploded myth that the so- called or self-styled “Jews” throughout the world today are the direct descendants of the “Judeans” amongst whom Jesus lived during His lifetime here on earth.
Christians are becoming more and more aware day by day of all the economic and political advantages accruing to the so-called or self- styled “Jews” as a direct result of their success in making Christians believe that “Jesus was a Jew” in the “secondary meaning” they have created for the 18th century word “Jew”. The so-called or self-styled “Jews” throughout the world today represent themselves to Christians as “Jews” only in the “secondary meaning” of the word “Jew”. They seek to thereby prove their kinship with Jesus. They emphasize this fiction to Christians constantly. That fable is fast fading and losing its former grip upon the imaginations of Christians.
To allege that “Jesus was a Jew” in the sense that during His lifetime Jesus professed and practiced the form of religious worship known and practiced under the modern name of “Judaism” is false and fiction of the most blasphemous nature.
If to be a so- called or self-styled “Jew” then or now the practice of “Judaism” was a requirement, then Jesus certainly was not a so-called “Jew”. Jesus abhorred and denounced the form of religious worship practiced in Judea in His lifetime and which is known and practiced today under its new name “Judaism”. That religious belief was then known as “Pharisaism”. The Christian clergy learned that in their theological seminary days but they have never made any attempt to make that clear to Christians.