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German Biblical Interpretation and the Jews, from Herder and Semler to Kittel and Bultmann
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As Adolf Hitler strategised his way to power, he knew that it was necessary to gain the support of theology and the Church. This study begins two hundred years earlier, however, looking at roots of theological anti-Semitism and how Jews and Judaism were constructed, positively and negatively, in the biblical interpretation of German Protestant theology. Following the two main streams of German theology, the salvation-historical and the Enlightenment-oriented traditions, it examines leading exegetes from the 1750s to the 1950s and explores how theology legitimises or delegitimises oppression of Jews, in part through still-prevailing paradigms. This is the first comprehensive analysis of its kind, and the result of the analysis of the interplay between biblical exegesis and attitudes to Jews and Judaism is a fascinating and often frightening portrait of theology as a servant of power.
The Image of Jews and Judaism in Biblical Interpretation, from Anti-Jewish Exegesis to Eliminationist Antisemitism
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“Unheil,” curse, disaster: according to German scholar Gerhard Kittel, this is the Jewish destiny attested to in scripture. Such interpretations of biblical texts provided Adolf Hitler with the theological legitimatization necessary to realizing his “final solution.”

But theological antisemitism did not begin with the Third Reich. Ferdinand Baur’s nineteenth-century Judaism-Hellenism dichotomy empowered National Socialist scholars to construct an Aryan Jesus cleansed of his Jewish identity, building on Baur’s Enlightenment prejudices. Anders Gerdmar takes a fresh look at the dangers of the politicization of biblical scholarship and the ways our unrecognized interpretive filters may generate someone else’s apocalypse.