Alan T. Davies, "Aryan Christ: A Motif in Christian Anti-Semitism," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 12 (Fall 1975) 569-579

Abstract by Jerry Darring


Already in the early centuries of the church, the theologian Marcion sought to separate Christianity from its Jewish roots and make Jesus into a non-Jew. Then in the late 15th and 16th centuries, Catholic Spain adopted a series of statutes aimed at Jewish converts and devoted to the cause of racial purity in the church. Archbishop Juan Martinez Siliceo led the struggle, accepting Jesus as a Jew only because of Jewish perversity, since Jews, more than other humans, required a spiritual physician.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, relying on the gospel of John, suggested that Jesus may not have been of Jewish origin. John supplies no genealogy, and he presents Jesus in ways that appear German rather then Jewish. He was followed in France by Ernest Renan and in Germany by Paul de Lagarde. Renan contrasted the moral sublimity of the gospel with the moral squalor of the Talmud, and he presented Jesus as a Jew who was exempt from the faults of his race. Lagarde repudiated Christianity as a religion corrupted by Judaism. Contrary to the distorted Christian image of Jesus, the true Jesus was in no sense a Jew. The reason why he chose the designation "Son of Man" was to show that he was not a Jew but a rebel against Judaism and its precepts.

Louis Jacolliot composed an "aryan bible" for a universal aryan religion superior to Christianity, and Edmond Picard concluded that Jesus must have been aryan because of his antipathy to capitalism. The most influential author was H. S. Chamberlain, who deplored the "Semitic-Asiatic" spell cast by the Jews over the Indo-European peoples. For Chamberlain, it is almost certain that Jesus did not have a drop of genuinely Jewish blood in his veins. A Galilean (aryan) by origin, Jesus spent his life negating Judaism, counteracting Jewish formalism and rationalism, Jewish dreariness and incapacity for art, philosophy, and science, Jewish materialism and utilitarianism.

The theme of the aryan Christ flowered in the twentieth century, but Christianity presented a dilemma to the antisemitic mind: should it be reconstructed or rejected? Christian faith must be purged of its Jewish elements, and the more the antisemites worked at it, the harder it became to retain Christianity in any form. Indeed, the German Christians are a study in confusion. Emanuel Hirsch succumbed to pure racism. Walter Grundman tried to establish Jesus' aryan ancestry so as to remove all traces of Judaism from German Christianity. "The hour of the aryan Christ had indeed arrived. Jesus, clothed in aryan dress, was the perfect religious symbol of a narcissistic church in a totalitarian state" (578).