Vol. 4, No. 1
Summer 2022

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The Shoah and Jewish Faith: Voices from the Midst of Tragedy

Kenneth L. Hanson

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 1‒14

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1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.01

There has understandably been a good deal of emphasis on how Jewish faith has been affected in the wake of the genocidal catastrophe of the Shoah. Much less attention has been devoted, however, to how observant Jews were impacted, with regard to their faith, in the midst of the tragedy. Elie Wiesel, for his part, was said to have put God on trial at Auschwitz. It will also be instructive to consider two Jewish leaders, both ultra-orthodox rabbis, who were victims of the Nazi genocide. Their perspectives (unlike post-Holocaust theology) provide a window on Jewish thought while events were unfolding. The reflections of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, who was residing in Warsaw at the outbreak of the war, were published in Israel in 1960 under the title Esh Kodesh. The work elucidates what may be viewed as a normative theology of suffering. Another ultra-orthodox rabbi, Yissachar Teichtal, was living in Budapest during the Nazi era. His theology is even more dramatic, rejecting all exilic philosophies, and developing a religious Zionist philosophy. If there is a to be found a merging of the two approaches, it is in the idea of “reconstruction,” on the one hand of the individual, and on the other, of the Jewish nation – the uniquely Jewish concept of tikkun.

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The Danger of Cultural Erasure in Inter-Ethnic, Inter-Religious, Trans-National Rescue During Genocide: A Comparison of the Shoah and the Bosnian Civil War

Elyse Pierce

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 16‒28

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1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.02

International genocide intervention strategies that involve the extended evacuation and/or displacement of refugees often save the physical lives of would-be victims at the expense of psychological and social trauma and cultural erasure. Through a comparison of the international rescue efforts of the Kindertransport program in Great Britain prior to and during the Second World War and the refugee caravans organized by La Benevolencija in Sarajevo during the Bosnian Civil War, the benefits and dangers of inter-ethnic, inter-religious rescue in times of mass violence are examined, along with how the social dynamics of racialized religious identification influenced the occurrence of these intervention strategies. The implications gleaned from this comparison offer guidance for current and future genocide intervention programs, where great care should be taken, whenever possible, to keep family groups intact and together, provide necessary psychological and social services for refugees, and allow for the continued practice of communal cultural and religious traditions without forced assimilation. The moment of physical rescue is only the initial component of a successful intervention into religio-ethnic violence; to truly prevent the genocidal destruction of a people and culture, those people’s ability to identify with their traditions and maintain their way of life is of equal and vital importance.

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Nazi Decontextualization of the Bible

Jason Hensley

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 30‒44

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1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.03

When spreading antisemitic ideology, Hitler and his followers sometimes turned to the Bible to verify and support their hatred of the Jews. Passages such as “you are of your father the devil,” were used to encourage Bible-believing Christians that Jesus himself was antisemitic and that those who held antipathy towards the Jews were following Jesus’s legacy. However, many of these passages that the Nazis used to support their antisemitism were taken out of context and the original intent of the author was ignored. Anti-Jewish Christian expositors also ignored the contexts of Biblical passages––expositors both during the time of the Nazis and earlier. This article will consider this decontextualization of the Bible by the Nazis and anti-Jewish theologians. It suggests that if the original meaning of the text has been obscured by decontextualization, the solution is not to reject the text as anti-Jewish, but rather to reevaluate the anti-Jewish interpretation and recontextualize the passage.

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Shoah Education: The Indian Scenario

Mehak Burza

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 46‒58

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1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.04

India represents a country that was neither directly affected nor involved with the Holocaust. As the timeline of the Holocaust overlaps the timeline of the struggle for freedom for the Indian subcontinent, the later events overshadow the former. Holocaust education is neither mandatory nor prevalent in India. Equating the partition of India with the Holocaust and tagging the Holocaust as one of the genocides, represents one of the few misconceptions about the Holocaust in India that often strips off the uniqueness of the catastrophic event. My article describes the present status of Holocaust education in schools and universities. The survey stems from the standard books used in Indian schools and my personal experience as an educator. The article not only articulates the need of creating awareness regarding the Holocaust in India but also traces a few examples, which illuminate the fact that India proved a haven for Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. The need of the hour is to recognize such connections, which would serve as the appropriate entry wedges to create awareness regarding Holocaust education in India.

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Islamic Jihad and the Holocaust: From Hitler to Hamas

David Patterson

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 60‒79

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1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.05

This article examines Haj Amin al-Husseini’s involvement in the Holocaust, his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Brotherhood’s post-Holocaust influence on the spread of exterminationist Jew hatred. The article examines the connection between the Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood facilitated by al-Husseini, showing the pivotal nature of the Arab Revolt of 1936 – 1939 in these relationships. By then the Brotherhood was sending delegations to the Nuremberg rallies and distributing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Arabic-language selections from Mein Kampf. The article then explores al-Husseini’s direct collaboration with the Nazis and participation in the Holocaust. This begins with his instigation of a Nazi-backed coup in Iraq in April 1941, which was followed by the slaughter of hundreds of Jews in Baghdad. From there we go to al-Husseini’s first meeting with Hitler in November 1941 and his work with Himmler in organizing Muslim SS killing units in the Balkans. This section ends with al-Husseini’s hero’s welcome as a Nazi war criminal in July 1946, when he was once again embraced by the Muslim Brotherhood. Finally, the article moves to the post-war years, with al-Husseini’s recruitment and indoctrination of Yasser Arafat in the Brotherhood. This article considers the Brotherhood’s influence on the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hamas in the spread of an exterminationist agenda inspired by the Nazis.

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Free Will, the Holocaust, and The Problem of Evil

David Kyle Johnson

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 81‒96

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1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.06

In this paper, I ask whether the occurrence of the Holocaust is good reason to doubt the existence of God. To do so, I will explore different varieties of the problem of evil to determine exactly what kind of argument the problem of the Holocaust is. I will then explore proposed solutions to the relevant varieties of the problem of evil to see if they can solve the problem of the Holocaust. The logical problem of the Holocaust, I will argue, can only be solved at the cost of embracing an unorthodox (heretical?) “open” view of God. The evidential problem of the Holocaust can be solved, but only at the cost of embracing a deistic view of God that would entail that he might as well not exist. What’s more, both solutions are rooted in the idea of free will. Consequently, either the theist will have to answer the myriad of arguments which suggest that libertarian free will doesn’t exist, or embrace a compatibilist notion of free will which renders the above solutions moot and turns the problem of the Holocaust into a version of the logical problem of natural evil—a problem which has not yet been satisfactorily solved.

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An “Italian Citizen of Jewish Race”: Primo Levi on Belief, Blasphemy and Becoming a Jew

Morgan Rempel

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 98‒112

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1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.07

While religious belief is not a dominant theme in Levi’s Holocaust writing, over the course of a forty-year writing career this longstanding nonbeliever offers a number of thoughtful reflections on God, faith, and the Holocaust. The first half of my paper examines the Jewish identity of the young Levi, as well as the isolated thoughts on God, faith, and religion found in Survival in Auschwitz (1947). While that early work deliberately focuses on day-to-day exigencies amidst the unrelenting struggle for existence at Auschwitz-Monovitz, it still raises provocative questions about prayer and belief in the context of the Holocaust. In his later writing and interviews, Levi digs deeper and with greater frequency into matters concerning God and the Holocaust. From the recurring charge of “blasphemy” to his career-long characterization of his unlikely survival as a matter of simple luck rather than Divine Providence, my paper goes on to examine the later Levi’s increasingly subtle reflections on matters related to God and the Holocaust. Finally, I look at the later Levi’s repeated insistence that the years of persecution brought with them a newfound understanding of himself as a Jew. By examining his thoughts on how his Auschwitz imprisonment simultaneously confirmed his nonbelief and inaugurated his self-conception as a Jew, my paper demonstrates that Levi’s scattered reflections on God, faith, and the Holocaust are both challenging and well worth our careful, continued study.

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A New Paradigm for the Study of Christian Origins: Replacing the Dendritic Model

Frank R. Zindler

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 114‒152

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2.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.08

This article argues that the dendritic (tree-like) or traditional model of Christian origins must be replaced with a plectic (braid-like) model. The dendritic model assumes that Christianity began at a specific point in both time and space—in the person of “Jesus of Nazareth”—and then branched out to form the various ancient sects of Christianity. This article asks: What if the numerous forms of “Christianity” did not all derive from a single historical figure? What if these earliest “Christianities” arose in the same way that the different forms and varieties of Egyptian, Indic, and Greco-Roman religions evolved? A new paradigm is proposed where the various forms of Christianity can be envisioned as forming by the coalescence of various threads (or trajectories) of religious tradition. Some of the threads may trace back into the mists of prehistory, others may trace to the turn of the current era, and still others may have begun in the second or third centuries CE. Not all early forms of Christianity contained the same threads. Not all threads stayed in the braid for long, and still others continued into the present. After entering the braid, threads of tradition evolved, bifurcated, branched off, or were absorbed into other traditions. Clearly, this is what we see happening today as multitudinous sects, cults, and denominations continue to arise and go extinct. As in historical geology, so too in religious history: The present is the key to the past.

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In the Synagogue, in the Streets, on the Aeropagus: Kerygma and Dialogue with Reference to Acts 17

Tommaso Manzon

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 154‒169

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1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.09

This paper seeks to examine the relationship between kerygma and dialogue, arguing that the proclamation of the Christian message can take the form of a dialogical practice, and indeed of an interreligious dialogical practice. There seems to be an underlying assumption that “dialoguing” necessarily requires the weakening of one’s religious convictions, insofar as to express these in their full-blown form would lead necessarily to conflict and/or the shutting down of the conversation. However, I shall argue that this conclusion is not demanded by the nature of dialogue per se but rather from a particular understanding of what dialoguing means. The latter is underpinned by the assumption that in the realm of religion and spirituality we have no objective access to truth. I shall then hark back to a different understanding of dialogue rooted in Socrates’ philosophizing by making reference to the episode of the Apostle Paul’s kerygmatic preaching of the Gospel in Athens. I will read such a scene as one where kerigma and interreligious dialogue intertwine. The Socratic model off dialogical practice makes room for truth and allows interreligious dialogue to take place without the need to set aside one’s own religious beliefs.

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Book Review: Varieties of Jesus Mythicism Edited by John W. Loftus and Robert M. Price

Richard Carrier

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 171‒192

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1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.10

The edited volume, Varieties of Jesus Mythicism, aims to present diverse approaches and theories to the debate on Jesus’ historical existence. While it includes several enlightening and worthwhile contributions, there are too many amateur contributions employing dubious claims and methodologies. The result is that, apart from the few worthy contributions, the book as a whole is only useful for comparing poor with genuine scholarship. And some advice on how to make such a comparison, so as to distinguish the one from the other, is here provided.