Trigger warnings continue to be a touchy subject in college classrooms, but could they be making their way to bible study groups?
The Daily Mail Reports that, following a conference this month in Vienna, the European Jewish Congress produced a series of guidelines that suggest adding introductions and disclaimers to anti-Semitic passages found in the Quran and the New Testament.
The document, titled “An End to Antisemitism! [sic] A Catalogue of Policies to Combat Antisemitism” was authored by academics including Dina Porat and Lawrence H. Schiffman and suggested, among other measures, supplementing new editions of Muslim and Christian holy books with “marginal glosses, and introductions that emphasize continuity with Jewish heritage of both Christianity and Islam and warn readers about antisemitic [sic] passages in them.”
While explanatory footnotes are common in religious texts, not least significantly Jewish ones, the proposed recommendations would mark a bold editorial step for combating hate. The offending passages in the Christian Gospels include ones that implicate Jews in the death of Jesus or lament their refusal to accept him as the messiah. In the past these sentiments have been disowned at the pulpit by Christian leaders or in books by the Pope – though never an official Papal encyclical.
“While some efforts have been made in this direction in the case of Christianity, these efforts need to be extended and made consistent in both religions,” the document read. The Quran is a text that is often sympathetic to the Jews, but also includes criticisms of the Jewish people. In April of this year the French paper Le Parisean ran a manifesto demanding that “verses of the Quran calling for murder and punishment of Jews, Christians, and nonbelievers be struck to obsolescence by religious authorities.”
Many French Muslims believed the manifesto, like those accused of committing acts of terror in the name of the prophet, misunderstood the spirit of the Quran and did not make sufficient allowances for the historical context of the passages mentioned. The document from the European Jewish Congress appears to want to remedy these misreads by enforcing those contexts. It also calls for the disavowal of other literature in the Christian and Islamic tradition that endorses anti-Semitic views.
The document makes a controversial claim that human error comes into play in the central books of Islam and Christianity. “God’s revelation is… marred by human fallibility,” the document reads. “Beginning with the New Testament, divine revelation expresses itself in Christian holy texts that also express a form of hatred.”
Many Christians and Muslims believe their guiding texts to be the direct word of God, though how that word may be interpreted is subject to the reader’s own prejudices. Providing a bit more background couldn’t hurt.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.