The scourge of anti-Semitism has not departed from the Church. Though recently there have been encouraging signs, many Christians still harbor prejudice against Jews. The Synoptic Gospels may have helped spawn this prejudice. They may even play a continuing role in perpetuating it.
At the end of December, 1990, one of the most significant New Testament-related archaeological discoveries ever made came to light in Jerusalem: the tomb of Caiaphas, high priest in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ death. Some of the ossuaries found in the tomb were inscribed with the name “Caiaphas,” the most magnificently decorated of them was inscribed with the name “Joseph bar Caiaphas.”
The ossuaries Zvi Greenhut excavated from a burial cave in the south of Jerusalem bear several inscriptions. These are actually graffiti in the cursive style of Jewish script typical of ossuary inscriptions, and were incised with a sharp implement, probably by the relatives of those who were being buried. The language of the inscriptions is Aramaic which, together with Hebrew and Greek, was one of the three languages used by Jews in the Second Temple period.
The question of complicity in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus has been discussed since the early days of the church, and the misapplication of guilt has done much to generate Christian anti-Semitism. In the last twenty years, however, Jewish and Christian scholars have attempted to clarify the historical setting of these events and to correct traditional misunderstandings.
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