Re: Is this true about luther?

Robin Mandell (
Thu, 25 Feb 1999 10:29:30 -0600

>Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 10:28:19 -0600
>To: Tom Pearson <>
>From: Robin Mandell <>
>Subject: Re: Is this true about luther?
>As a Jew I would advise you to drop the "was he anti-semitic or not bit"
in any public voice representing Jesus Christ. The Jewish community sees
this as very offensive. His words were vile and inexcusable. I realize you
were not defending him. Only a complete rejection and total about face from
such poor shades of Christ will mean anything to the Jewish people.
>At 09:48 AM 2/25/99 -0600, you wrote:
>>At 06:47 AM 02/25/1999 -0800, E G M wrote:
>>>Is this true about luther?
>>>The Protestant Reformation, which split Christianity into different
>>>in the 16th
>>>Century, did little to reduce anti-Semitism. For much of his life the
>>>Reformation leader Martin Luther expressed moderate views toward Jews.
>>>Believing the
>>>Jews would become converts to the faith, Luther urged humane treatment.
>>>However when
>>>the Jews failed to convert, he turned against them.
>>Speaking as a Lutheran, I must admit that this is a fair assessment of
>>Luther's attitude toward the Jews of his time. However, it is worth noting
>>that there is still controversy over whether Luther's attitude is properly
>>designated "anti-Semitic." Insofar as the term "anti-Semitic" denotes an
>>attitude of hostility toward the Jews on the basis of their ethnic or
>>racial identity, Luther apparently doesn't qualify as "anti-Semitic." He
>>demonstrates no interest in the racial identity or characteristics of Jews.
>> They are unbelievers. He uses very similar language with regard to the
>>"Turks and Huns" as that which he directs toward the Jews (and he extends,
>>on more than one occasion, the same language to express his animosity
>>toward the "Papists"). For Luther, none of these peoples have any inherent
>>moral worth in themselves, as members of a certain race or culture, but
>>only as objects of conversion. If they do not accept Christ, then they are
>>to be rejected as all heathen are to be rejected.
>>Of course, given the events of the twentieth century, we may be inclined to
>>treat this effort to get Luther off the "anti-Semitic" hook as nothing more
>>than semantic dishonesty. Certainly, Luther did have harsh and violent
>>things to say about the Jews. Nonethless, to call this "anti-Semitic" may
>>be deploying a modern term anachronistically to cover rather different
>>attitudes on the part of figures from our own religious past.
>>Tom Pearson
>>Thomas D. Pearson
>>Department of History & Philosophy
>>The University of Texas-Pan American
>>Edinburg, Texas