In his great article in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal (“History Can Be an Antidote to Antisemitism”), Professor Nirenberg mentions several murderous antisemites who quote the Bible and Jesus as their basis for their evil acts. It is very common for nonbelievers to use individual Bible verses to support a variety of points of view ranging from politics to money, sexual preferences, antisemitism, etc. One verse Nirenberg mentions is Jesus speaking to the Pharisees, John 8:44 (...You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires...), which is a verse that Robert Bowers used on social media to explain his murder of 11 Jews at The Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018. The rich context for that verse is all about Jesus confronting the Pharisees about their corruption of God’s word with politics and power over the common Jewish population. Jesus was not referring at all to Jews or the Jewish faith. The Bible is full of warnings about false teachers of the faith. This was a perfect example of God himself calling out how evil and devilish this practice was and remains. Context is important.
In Response to: David Nirenberg *92 Is Leading the Institute for Advanced Study