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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Zionist paper asks, “is the Pope Catholic?"

New pope’s favorite work of art is reputed to be Chagall's Talmudic mockery of Christ 

Michael Hoffman’s Afterword follows this report:

Understanding Pope Francis's Surprising Affinity For Jewish Art
World's Top Catholic Worships Marc Chagall

By Menachem Wecker
The Jewish Daily Forward (excerpt) | April 8, 2013

Gallery 395A is tucked away in a corner on the third floor of the Art Institute of Chicago’s modern wing...which contains...Marc Chagall’s “White Crucifixion” (1938)...the Chagall painting has been making international news. In interviews with Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin for the 2010 biography El Jesuita, Pope Francis identified “White Crucifixion,” which depicts a Jewish Jesus, wearing a tallit instead of a loincloth, as his favorite work of art. “He likes us, he really does,” Tweeted Miriam Shaviv, a columnist for Britain’s Jewish Chronicle, about the pope.

But there’s more to the painting than “owning” Jesus as a Jew. Surrounding Jesus, we see a synagogue, a Torah scroll and a shtetl burning, as armed men march carrying red flags. And in the bottom-right corner, the Wandering Jew, donning a blue cap and a green coat, lugs a sack as he trudges past the smoking Torah.

That the chief executive of the Catholic Church has an affinity for a painting that was created by a Russian-Jewish artist and also includes the symbol of the eternal wanderer, who was punished for abusing Jesus and became the pretext for centuries of anti-Semitism, is drawing a range of reactions.

"...“I know nothing of the pope’s taste, so I have no idea why he likes that painting,” said Matthew Baigell, who is professor emeritus of art history at Rutgers University and has published extensively on Jewish artists.

Marc Michael Epstein, professor of religion at Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., sees things differently. The notion of a Jewish Jesus and its reference to Jews and other marginalized groups is very appealing post-Vatican II, he said....

Chicago’s (Jesuit) Loyola University Museum of Art is exhibiting some of Chagall’s work in “Graven Images: Marc Chagall’s Bible Illustrations” through June 16.... Jonathan Canning, senior curator at the Loyola museum...declined to comment specifically on the pope’s aesthetic preferences...Canning says that Chagall was clearly introducing a new interpretation of the crucifixion..."

(End quote)
Afterword by Michael Hoffman

Tedious, strait-jacketed thinking is the signifier in this report (“He likes us, he really does,” Tweeted Miriam Shaviv, a columnist for Britain’s Jewish Chronicle, about the pope.)

Actually Miriam, if the 2010 biography of the pope is accurate, he doesn't like you, or the Judaic people collectively. The assumption that because someone, in this case Pope Francis, is a shill for the Pharisees, he is thereby "pro-Jewish," is platitudinous rubbish.

Artist Marc Chagall depicts Christ being crucified while dressed in the garb of a Pharisee. What would the world think of the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem if he admired a painting of a "Jew" being "gassed in Auschwitz" wearing the uniform of a Nazi?

Chagall, in his delirium, portrays the victim of the Pharisees dressed as a Pharisee. Chagall's depiction is a familiar Talmudic trope. It constitutes a disfigurement of Jesus Christ, who stated (in Matthew 23:5-7), that the long tassels (tzitzit) extending from the bottom of the prayer shawl (tallit), were a fixture of prideful display by the Pharisees. In "White Crucifixion" Chagall depicts Jesus garbed in this very attire, with long fringes hanging from the bottom of the garment clearly visible.

If this is a favorite painting of Pope Francis —  Rome's "Peter Romanus” — then he has some explaining to do. For now it appears he is pandering to political correctness of the most virulent type, in order to be seen as hip, kosher and in tune with the world. Someone needs to remind His Holiness that the man on the Cross was none of those things.

Hoffman is the author of Judaism’s Strange Gods.



Preterist James S said...

Mr. Hoffman, I would like to hear your take on "Messianic Judaism" and "Messianic Jews"?

Michael Hoffman said...

To Preterist James S
Most of “Messianic Judaism” (perhaps not all of it) mocks the historic Church for its alleged paganism and superstition, while the “Messianic Jews” themselves often will not abandon Babylonian rabbinic superstitions and the racial self-worship that attends them.

The most distinguished modern missionary to Judaic people was Prof. Alexander McCaul. His book, “The Talmud Tested” helps to bring Judaic persons to a complete surrender to Christ, including unburdening them of their racial baggage.

In Christ there is neither Jew nor gentile. Messianic Judaism by it very name alone, would seem to suggest a clinging to a racial prestige which is opposed to the spirit of the New Testament.

Preterist James S said...

To Mr. Michael Hoffman,
Thank you sir for your quick reply.
I've been reading comments by "Messianic Jews" at "Christian" websites and they and their comments match your description.
And they have their followers (not me) and admirers (ditto).
I'll have to do more research on this.
But I still believe this is just another one of the Jews' manifold attacks on Christ and His Church that has been going on for 2,014 years and counting.
This particular one, "Messianic Judaism", has somewhat of an improvisational tone to it- don't you think? :^)

aferrismoon said...


a BBC article about 'The Jewish Fear of Intemarriage', in relation to Netanyahu's son dating a non-Jewish woman


Andrew E. Mathis said...

Wrong again, Mr. Hoffman.

In Matthew 23:5, Jesus is not criticizing the wearing of tzitzit per se; rather, he is criticizing the wearing of ostentatiously long tzitzit in an outward display of piety. We can tell this by reading contextually in the same verse, in which he criticizes not the wearing of tefillin but of wearing tefillin that is ostentatiously large or wide.

Moreover, the Pharisees could not have been responsible for crucifying Jesus because they were powerless as a sect during Jesus's life. The Sadduccees were the sect who held power in the Temple; thus, if any Jewish sect held responsibility, it was they.

Michael Hoffman said...

To Andrew E. Mathis

The charges against Christ were made by the chief priests and elders of the Jewish people. The notion that the Pharisees were not part of this collective, were largely powerless and therefore bore no culpability for the decide, is utterly without merit. You seem to forget that Pilate sought to release Jesus (Luke 23:14-22), but he was coerced into ordering his execution by the “turbulentas acclamationes popularium.”

To exempt the Pharisees from having taken part in that deicidal clamor is as willfully obtuse as insinuating that Chagall was correct to paint the crucified Jesus wearing the tzitzit which Our Savior regarded as the very signpost of pride and arrogance.

Andrew E. Mathis said...

Mr. Hoffman,

Clearly our positions with regard to the historicity of the biblical account differ. Nevertheless, you have not proved that Jesus saw tzitzit in and of themselves as being symbolic of pride and arrogance. I note that for the record.

Beyond the problem of the NT texts themselves, there is the historical fact of the Pharisaic opposition to dynastic rule by the Hasmoneans, enshrined in Sadduccee rule in the Temple. Given that only the Temple elite could have passed a death penalty or turned over any Jew to the Romans for execution, I'm unconvinced by your argument.

Finally, there is the matter of Jesus's execution itself. It would be incorrect to impute that he was executed for any charge other than sedition, for which crucifixion was the traditional punishment. If he claimed to be the King of the Jews, then from the standpoint of the Romans, this was an act of sedition. With regard to any mob of Jews calling for Jesus's death, the historical record doesn't bear it out -- in fact, the historical record indicates that Jesus was hardly known at all in Jerusalem, particularly given his provenance in the Galilee.

Michael Hoffman said...

Andrew E. Mathis wrote:

"With regard to any mob of Jews calling for Jesus's death, the historical record doesn't bear it out ...” (end quote).

Mr. Mathis: you are excluding from the “historical record” the witness of the New Testament.Your denial of the fact of the Jewish mob calling for the death of the Messiah of Israel depends for credibility on your arbitrary exclusion of the Christian scripture.

Andrew E. Mathis said...

There's nothing arbitrary about it. We must exclude that which we cannot corroborate. Neither Josephus nor Tacitus mentions a mob. Josephus mentions "principal men." Tacitus pins the blame on Pilate alone.

Michael Hoffman said...

To Andrew E. Mathis

Of course it’s arbitrary. You have decided that Tacitus and Josephus are authorities and the Evangelists are not.

Andrew E. Mathis said...

No, I have decided that I accept the parts of the story that are corroborated in more than once source, i.e., a crucifixion conducted by the Romans at the head of the Jewish elite.

MaryC said...

I believe that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts in spite of the attempts by certain Biblical "scholars" to debunk the Scriptures. Neither Josephus or Tacitus were eyewitnesses.

Andrew E. Mathis said...

Nor were Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Mark, the earliest gospel and not even attributed to one of the original 12 disciples, dates from at least five years after Jesus's death. Luke and Matthew date from more like 25 years later. John could be as many as 100 years after Jesus's death.

MaryC said...

Mark is not the earliest Gospel. That idea was first muted in the 19th Century by German theologians, such as Bultmann, who were attempting to demythologize the Scriptures.

Andrew E. Mathis said...

If Mark is not the earliest gospel, then which is? Certainly you're aware that Mark served as a source for Matthew and Luke.

The Viking said...

Mr. Mathis,

Can you please provide proof to your assertion that none of the Evangelists were witnesses to the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ?

Andrew E. Mathis said...

You've provided your own response: None of the evangelists mentions himself as present at the Crucifixion. This is literally impossible for Mark and Luke, who are not enumerated among the original 12 disciples. For Matthew and John, they do not mention themselves as having been there.

But your response also, to some extent, begs the question. If you rely on the evangelists' accounts as proof of themselves, then you are advancing the question based on the assumption that the Gospel accounts are true.

The better question, to me at least, is to what extent can what is reported in the Gospels be corroborated by outside evidence. Those facts number precisely one: He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Less reliable reports indicate Jewish leadership playing a key role. Less reliable evidence than that reports him as a teacher and miracle worker.

Finally, what I know about the authorship of the Gospels was taught to me at an Augustinian university 25 years by a holder of a doctorate in sacred theology, which is to say that it is the normative position of the Catholic Church that the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses.

Andrew E. Mathis said...

Sorry, one addendum/correction after checking something: the author of John's gospel does mention the "disciple whom Jesus loved" as being present at the Crucifixion. If we accept the idea of the beloved disciple being John, then we can call John an eyewitness.

The problem is that the textual evidence doesn't bear out eyewitness authorship for the Gospel of John. In fact, it's commonly believed that it dates from the latest date, after 100 AD.

The Viking said...

Mr. Mathis,
You were not a rational witness at your own birth, and yet there are probably a multitude of documents that state that Mr. & Mrs. such and such and so forth are your parents. I assume you believe these documents without having known the witnesses to their creation or signing. Some things can most certainly be believed by what is found in writing and on this authority. In the case of the efficient cause of your existence, the state says so; it is your parents. Well, the infallible Church says that scripture is inerrant.

Apparently modernism is alive and well.

Andrew E. Mathis said...

Mr Viking,

There are several problems with your analogy:

(1) I am still alive, and no person was ever alive who was not born first. Based on that syllogism, I may assume I was born.

(2) There is a direct chain of evidence between the signer of my birth certificate, who was the obstetrician who delivered me, and myself, which is my mother, who is also still alive. There is no direct chain of evidence, at least that we can prove, between the death of Jesus and any of the Gospel accounts.

(3) Before making this third point, I should point out that I'm not Catholic. That being said, depending on how one defines the "infallible Church," your statement is debatable. If you're referring to the Roman Catholic Church, it most certainly does not teach that scripture is inerrant. In fact, it teaches not only that scripture is not inerrant, but that it is subordinate to dogma. Every Catholic, even a former one such as myself, knows that.

(4) Finally, matters of faith and matters of evidence are, by definition, not comparable, as faith relies on the absence of evidence.