Hugh Fogelman


Theological Anti-Semitism is rampant in the Fourth gospel; in other words the gospel of John is anti-Semitic.  No other New Testament writing has as great an anti-Jewish agenda as found in John. Its attack against the individual Jew, “the Jews” and the Jewish observance of Hebrew laws, all reflect the early church’s extreme anti-Semitic stance. When confronted with the question of John’s anti-Semitism Christians do not answer, but respond with a question; “How can the gospel of John be called anti-Semitic when Jesus and his disciples were all Jews?”

The Christian pulpit deliberately fails to inform their flocks of one important fact; No one knows who wrote who wrote any of the Gospels, nor when they were written. The gospel names were simply picked/chosen/assigned by the early church. Also, no one knows the religion of any New Testament writer.  Therefore, the Christian rebuttal question ― that Jesus’ disciples were all Jews and the gospel writers were all Jews ― is merely wishful speculation which can not be proven by any stretch of the imagination.  Also, when Christians make the false claim that the gospel writers were Jewish, seem to forget their own study bibles and clergy say that Luke was a Gentile, 1 not Jewish. Oops, so much for the Christian “question defense” to the rampant anti-Semitism in John.


 No one is able to explain the tremendous number of times (70) the term “the Jews” is used in John. This is especially astounding when one realizes that there are only 16 “the Jews” in all the rest of the synoptic gospels:

Mark, 6;

Matthew, 5; and

Luke, 5. 

When you study John’s use of the cry “the Jews,” one finds a horrible meaning/intent embedded in that refrain.  Let us take a closer look:

A careful reading of John shows that the unknown author has deliberately placed himself and those he favorably represents as separate from the Jews. Examples are:

1. The Passover of the Jews (John 2:13, 6:4, 11:55);

2.  The religious rules of the Jews about purification (John 2:6);

3.  A religious festival of the Jews (John 5:1);

4.  The Festival of Tabernacles of the Jews (John 7:2);

5.  The Day of Preparation of the Jews (John 19:42); and

6.  The way in which Jews prepare a body for burial (John 19:40).

The vast majority of the seventy instances of “the Jews” express a negative picture or attitude. When talking of Jesus dealing with the Jewish populous, the unknown author of John shows his distain by simply saying “the Jews.”  This usage lumps everyone Jewish into one word. To John “the Jews” can be:

1.  The Jewish people as a whole ― men, women or children;

2.  The inhabitants of Judea and/or Galilee; or

3.  The Jewish religious leaders ― the chief priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees.

For John’s purpose it makes no difference; all are equally bad, guilty and evil!

Remember, the unknown author of John separates Jesus and his disciples from “the Jews.” This tact encourages readers to see Jews as unfaithful and the Hebrew bible ― therefore Judaism ― as invalid. [This is the same tactic Paul used when speaking to his gentile audiences.] For example, When talking to “the Jews,” John’s Jesus separates himself from them by having Jesus speak of:

1.  ”Your Law” (John 7:19, 8:17, 10:34);

2.  ”Your circumcision” (John 7:22); and

3.  Abraham is “your father” (John 8:56).

When the Jews say, “Our ancestors ate manna in the desert” (John 6:31), John’s Jesus replies, “What Moses gave you (the Jews) (not “us”) was not the bread from heaven.” (John 6:32)  Later on, John had Jesus say, Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert” (John 6:49). Why didn’t John’s Jesus use the word “our” instead of “your”?  After all Jesus was supposed to be a Jew, so the proper usage would have been to say “OUR ancestors ate…”

The gospel of John may have been written after the year 80; three generations after Jesus’ death. 

“The dating of John’s gospel is somewhat more complex with plausible dates ranging from 65 to 95. 2 “…”... evangelical scholars such as Carson, Moo, and Morris argue for a later date in the range of 80-85.” 3

It was written after the destruction of the Second Temple and before the 2nd major Jewish uprising (in 135 C.E.) when tension was very high between the Romans and Jews because the Jews caused many Roman casualties and were not very popular during this period of time. They were also hated by the Romans authorities because of the drain of their treasury to put down the Jewish revolts. This was the atmosphere when the unknown author of John wrote his version of Jesus’ life. Therefore, this gospel was dripping with constant criticism directed against “the Jews,” ― the entire nation of Israel.

All Jews are indiscriminately attacked in John 5:15-18, John 6:41, John 7:10-13, John 10:31, John 11:53-54, John 19:12, John 20:19. It is passages such as these that show the true target of the Gospel’s malice is all the Jews. The immediate impression conveyed by ‘the Jews’ is one of unreceptively and hostility toward Jesus.  ‘The Jews’ question and misunderstand Jesus’ words (John 2.18, 20; 6.52; 7.35; 8.22), they murmur at him (6.41); they disbelieve him (9.18; 11.37); they desire to put Jesus to death (5.16, 18; 7.1) and even attempt to do so with their own hands (8.59; 10.31; 11.8). In the Gospel of John the enemies of Jesus are simply labeled ‘the Jews.’  This generalization ― “the Jews” ― shows a calculated effort by the author of John to condemn the entire Jewish people in the hearts and minds of his audience/readers.

John’s “the Jews” is part of the author’s vicious and unrelenting campaign to convince people that the Jews are followers of the Christian devil and therefore are against, not only Jesus, but also God Himself. Let’s read it directly from the horse’s mouth (John 8:44-47 King James Version):

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 

Indeed John’s objective was achieved; that is exactly how Christians throughout Europe have understood the contents of this gospel ― reinforced by the fire of the pulpit throughout the centuries.

Just who were these “Jews” whom John described; who were these people who hated Jesus so much that they put him to death?

 Raymond E. Brown answers; in the Anchor Bible Dictionary:

“In general, the Fourth Gospel uses ‘the Jews’ as almost a technical title for the religious authorities, particularly those in Jerusalem who are hostile to Jesus. The term ‘the Jews’ often functions in John the same as the religious authorities – the Pharisees, scribes, elders, chief priests and Sadducees. ‘The Jews’ is most often restricted to mean precisely those forces in authority inimical to Jesus.”

“Nearly all biblical scholars extend the historical meaning of ‘the Jews’ to include the Jewish authorities and populace of John’s own day.  Thus, they were the enemy of Jesus; just as they were also the enemy of Rome as the author of John knows.”

Christian apologists try to hide the Jew bashing theme of the Fourth Gospel by offering that  John did not “really” mean “the Jews” in general, therefore his references to all Jews was not really hostile. Yeah, uh huh!

Oh really? Was Martin Luther just addressing the Jewish leaders, the Jewish authorities when he viciously told his Protestant followers the method to use to get rid of “the Jews?” Read Luther’s own words and then answer this for yourself:

Luther asked his Protestant Germans;What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews?” 4

·       “What shall we do with...the Jews?

          I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings...are to be taken from them.”

·       “What shall we do with...the Jews?

          I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews.”

·       “What shall we do with...the Jews?

          I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach on pain of loss of life and limb.”

·       “What shall we do with...the Jews?

  Set fire to their synagogues or schools and bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again   see a stone or cinder of them.”

Hitler liked the teachings of Martin Luther so much that he incorporated all seven points set forth by Martin Luther.

These thoughts, expressions, ideas and hatred became deeply imbedded throughout the general populace of Europe ― as taught by “the church.” For example, a group of Jesuits in Rome wrote in their monthly publication (since 1850), La Civiltà Cattolica; “The Jew was created by God to act the traitor everywhere.” 5

Many Christian apologists ― turn a deaf ear/ignore to the actual words in John. Instead they claim that the gospel of John is not anti-Semitism because “the Jews” were just a “symbol.”  Thus they reason, “the Jews” do not represent “the Jews,” but is just a way to express all opposition to accepting Jesus. Do they think people are idiots who can not actually read what was written in the New Testament gospel of John? These apologists illogical conclusion is the heights of stupidity. They are saying: John’s words and term “the Jews” is not anti-Semitic because it does not mean “the Jews.” Tell that to Martin Luther; tell that to Hitler; tell that to the fundamentalist preachers; tell that to Mel Gibson; and tell that to the Klu Klux Klan!

Joseph Goebbels, German Nazi propaganda minister (1933–1945), learned the Christian anti-Semitism well. He said:

 “A Jew is for me an object of disgust. I feel like vomiting when I see one. Christ could not possibly have been a Jew. It is not necessary to prove that scientifically ― it is a fact.” 6

Using “the Jews” to denote an entire race of people has become a phase of bigotry. Calling a Jewish person “a Jew” is racism, a very derogative name, a name that Jew haters use to belittle, denigrate, and run down a person – a name designed to label a person.

John’s ‘the Jew’ perhaps is one of the roots of anti-Semitism in the Christian subconscious.”  Born out of the collective understanding of God’s Torah, “the Jews” soon embodies an independent life within the text of the Fourth Gospel - an independent life that rejected Jesus. Therefore, the author of John attacked them with vengeance as a whole – the Jews.

Christian apologists white-wash “the Jews” by simply acknowledging “anti-Judaic” sentiments within the “Fourth Gospel.” However, few will actually go so far as to honestly acknowledge the real sentiments of the gospel of John ― “anti-Semitism.” John’s terms/words/hatred of Jews is certainly one of the primary causes of two thousand years of venomous Christian anti-Semitism throughout Europe; ever building and growing until it erupted in the Holocaust.  

The author of John succeeded in making Jesus no longer a member of the Jewish people or its religion. And having succeeded in making Jesus a non-Jew, “The Fourth Gospel” freely expresses contempt for Jews and Judaism. 

When you apply the correct time frame to the author’s (of John) writings his objectives become clear. Apparently he wrote much after the fall of Jerusalem when the Roman government hated the Jewish people.  To portray the new religion of Christianity in a good light, the author separated Jesus from “the Jews” and “the Jews” from this new religion. The anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish position of the “Fourth Gospel/John” shines bright like a lighthouse at midnight as it describes the Jewish people/”the Jews”  as enemies of the truth, as devoid of spiritual insight (John 3.1-7) and, ultimately, as children of the Christian devil.  Examples are:

·       Non-believers in Jesus [Jews] are condemned to hell (John 3:18)

·       Did the Jews not persecute Jesus? Meaning ALL the Jews. (John 5:16)

·       Jews are of their father, the Devil (John 8:44)

·       You (Jews) are not of God (John 8:47)

·       The Jewish leaders picked up stones to kill him [Jesus] (John 8:59 & 31)

·       If a man abide not in me ... cast into fire. Throughout history, Christianity loved to cast non-believers into FIRE, burning them alive. (John 15:6)

·       They hated me without a cause. (John 15: 25)

·       He that hate me hates the father [God] (John 15:22-25)

Let me pose an important question that Christian apologists never tackle. Christian apologists conjecture that John was one of Jesus’ disciples. If ― yes if ― this was actually the case that would have made John an “eyewitness” to all the wonders that Jesus was alleged to have performed or been involved. If ― yes if ― this was so, why did the author of John wait so many, many, many years to record these events; to save them for all eternity?  Would you have waited for 50 years to write? NO! 

In other words, the work as known as John is fiction; a cruel hate filled fiction. As documented and valid as any Christian apologist conjecture, I offer a probable scenario of the “Fourth Gospel.”

The author’s own hatred of Jews was a catalyst to create fictitious events, craftily illustrated by and with anti-Semitic words and language. He put words into Jesus’ mouth and invented events to support doctrines desired by the newly emerging Christian Church. The author of John appears to have been enthralled with the idea of Jesus’ being God; a man-god like a dozen or so other pagan religion predecessors. Ergo, John, like a good fiction writer, put his own thoughts into the mind of the human-god character Jesus.  In his story, John hated the Jews for rejecting the Jesus man-god and felt that his prejudice and bias was justified, because the Romans also hated the Jews.  In his mind, all Jews were bad.

An interesting quotation appears in the Encyclopedia Britannica under ‘German Christians:’

“Protestants who attempted to subordinate church policy to the political exigencies of Nazi Germany. The German Christians’ Faith Movement, organized in 1932, was nationalistic and so anti-Semitic that extremists wished to repudiate the Old Testament and the Pauline Letters because of their Jewish authorship. In July 1933 the state territorial churches merged to form the German Evangelical Church, and in September the German Christian candidate, Ludwig Muller, became Reichsbishop. Muller’s efforts to make the church an instrument of Nazi policy were resisted by the Confessing Church, under the leadership of Martin Niemoller.  After World War II the German Christian Church party was banned.”

Little did the New testament writers know the terrible effect they would have on the Jewish people ― even then and throughout the ages, even now. Between Matthew and John, Hitler had no problem establishing who the villains were in Christian Europe.

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." -Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)



1.  Reverend Robert L. Brownlie; Rector, St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Winnipeg, MB, R3L 2H1, Canada []

2.  Reid Monaghan, The Gospel Tradition – A Case Study, p 7-8;

3.   Norman Baker Geisler, Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: MI, Baker Books, 1999); Dating of New Testament,  p 529.

4.  Martin Luther (1483 - 1546), On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543,  Chapter XI

5.  John Cornwell, Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII, September 30, 1999, Penguin Putnam

6.  Louis L. Snyder,  Hitler’s Elite, Shocking Profiles of the Reich’s Most Notorious Henchmen, 1990, Berkley Books



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