» Review from British Church Newspaper
Review from British Church Newspaper
|May 23, 2010
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This review is posted with permission from the British Church Newspaper. If it ever becomes available online, we shall link to it.
The question of how a civilised and modern state in the heart of Europe could devise, organise and perpetrate a racial genocide of the scale and brutality of the Holocaust has, in the minds of many, defied rational analysis. Yet to simply disregard it as unthinkable or the work of a few psychopaths is intellectually unsound and deeply unsatisfactory. The Holocaust was not unthinkable for it was thought up by the Nazi elite and implemented by some of the most educated and sophisticated minds in Germany. The origins of the Holocaust and specifically of German antisemitism must be traceable at least in part to historical, cultural or philosophical influences.
In his book Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible, Joseph Keysor seeks to attack the notion that the path to Treblinka starts in the gospels and in the Pauline literature. The author shows the naivety of such a claim pointing to pre-Christian antisemitism, characterised by the Egyptian pharaohs and the machinations of the Amalekite Haman. Keysor also puts the alleged antisemitic passages of the New Testament within their axiomatically cultural, historical and undoubtedly theological context. Keysor also gives a much fairer analysis of the writings of Chrysostom and Luther. He is both moderate and thoughtful in his analysis. While not trying to justify their opinions on the Jews, he explains how in the light of their other writings, they would never have supported or condoned the treatment of the Jews under Nazi rule. In addition to this, the author draws an important distinction between nominal Christianity and Biblical Christianity showing a clear incongruence in Weimar and Nazi Germany. While his marginalising of Hitler’s popularity amongst the German people is perhaps slightly dubious, Keysor is balanced in his castigating of the church for its silence, acquiescence and toleration of many Nazi policies.
Keysor also discusses how historical factors alone cannot explain the plans and actions of the National Socialist regime. Only within a theological context of understanding man’s depravity and sinfulness can the true rationality of their crimes be explored in a meaningful way. This is couched within a discussion of the strong philosophical traditions of Germany, characterised by the likes of Kant, Wagner, Haeckel and Nietzsche. Strong evidence is put forward that these, rather than Christianity, form the basis of much of Nazi ideology.
Keysor’s book is thought-provoking in the extreme, extensively researched and referenced and written from a clearly intellectual, rather than polemical standpoint. It is a welcome addition to a wide and controversial historiography and is worthy of serious consideration.