The Traditional Enemies of the Caesars of This World

Orthodox Jews and orthodox Christians

Excerpt from Gary North’s book “The Judeo-Christian Tradition” (1990), which can be downloaded for free here.

From the conclusion (pp. 160-162):

For the Sake of the Peace

I have done my best to honor Orthodox Judaism. When Orthodox Jews tell me that they honor the Talmud, I accept this statement as true. I do not attempt to argue that they really don’t accept it as true, that they really and truly take it only metaphorically, that “no rational person could believe such things in today’s world.” In short, I do not treat them as theological liberals treat me and those like me. If a man says that he believes something, and if he is a member of a group that has repeatedly been persecuted for adhering to certain ideas, then I assume that he is telling me the truth. He really does believe what he says he believes.

What the Orthodox Jews says that he believes is the Talmud. He also says that he believes in the Torah, what I call the Old Testament. I think that the Talmud is unfaithful to the Old Testament. The Orthodox Jew – or any Jew, for that matter – thinks that the New Testament is unfaithful to the Old Testament. What we have here is not a failure to communicate. This is not a debate over semantics. This is a debate over biblical hermeneutics, as formidable a disagreement as men can have in life, for its consequences extend to eternity.

Orthodox Jews and orthodox Christians disagree about many things, especially the theological integrity of their respective systems. The Talmud has some graphic things to say about Jesus and His followers. The New Testament has some graphic things to say about the Jews of that day: whited sepulchers, blind guides, gnat strainers, hypocrites, thieves, and dogs. Paul wrote: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision” (Philippians 3:2). The dog in those days was not a domesticated beast or “man’s best friend.” Dogs roamed in packs and devoured the weak.

What good does it do to cover this up? None. What good does it do to de-emphasize it? A great deal. Why? For the sake of the peace.

Both sides should be aware of the unbridgeable barrier between them. Both sides should also be aware of the equally unbridgeable barrier between them and the Caesars of this world. It has been the Caesars of this world, not the Christians, who have been the great enemy of the Jews. It is the Caesars who have been the great threat to the Christians, not the Jews.

Orthodox Jews and orthodox Christians are the traditional enemies of the Caesars of this world, because the Caesars are tied to time rather than eternity. Their efforts have meaning only in terms of time. But Jews and Christians are tied to eternity, and live or die in terms of this commitment. They are therefore the ultimate traitors to the time-bound systems of this world. This is why persecution always comes, especially after some crisis has called into question the survival of a particular world system. In this sense, both Jews and Christians are “a separate people among us” in the eyes of the humanists. What Rosenstock-Huessy wrote of this world’s leaders is equally true in every era: “The ruler who gives his name to an hour of history must be absorbed completely in that hour. He must dive into its waves and be lost in it more than any other man. For it is the ruler’s business to mark the epoch, to appear on the stamps or coins of his country. Rulership, because it personifies an epoch, always finds itself in a polarity to the workings of Eternity.” [Footnote: Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man (Norwich, Connecticut: Argo, [1938] 1969), p. 222.] What he wrote of the Jews applies equally well to orthodox Christians in history:

The pagan leader is the servant of time. The Jew can never “believe” in time. Since every Jewish leader or prophet thinks of Eternity or of innumerable generations, the star of Judah always shines most brilliantly in times when there are no pagan heroes. When a nation is despoiled of its governing class, when a national failure has brought a darkness without comfort or illumination, the nation is struck by the fact that the Jews are not leaderless in the absence of a king or emperor. Anti-Semitism always becomes especially violent in times of a lost war. The Jews must be guilty: this is the word that is quickly passed round. For are they not as ready to shoulder hard times without a complaint as they were to profit in the good? The star of Judah shines bright, and pogroms break out, whenever the Gentiles have just buried their Nebuchadnezzar or their Tiberius with disintegration. [Footnote: Ibid., pp. 222-23.]

As this becomes increasingly clear to both orthodox Christians and Orthodox Jews, I think the response of both groups will be to de-emphasize the words of mutual condemnation found in the Talmud and the New Testament. This is not to say that either group will deny the truth of its respective holy book, but it is to say that there is a time to emphasize differences and a time to emphasize similarities. To put it graphically, if you are in a foxhole with someone of a rival covenant, and the enemy’s shock troops are coming over the ridge, your immediate concern is not the precision of your partner’s theology; it is whether he can shoot straight and whether he can spare a few rounds of ammo.

I can see the enemy coming. Hand me that 30-round clip, Yitzhak, and we’ll discuss the fine points of our theology later.

Regarding that last remark, I think this is exactly what Jordan Peterson is doing while discussing and interpreting the whole book of Exodus with about 10 or so other scholars, some of which are Jews (e.g. Dennis Prager and Ben Shapiro).