Mur des Lamentations Kotel

“The murderers of God, the lawness nation of jews …”

Icone du Christ en Croix

Coming to Grips with Some of Our Holy Week Hymns

This article draws on a larger study, “Anti-Jewish Rhetoric in Byzantine Hymnography: Exegetical and Theo logical Contextualization” in St. Vladimir’s Theo logical Quarterly 62 (2017).

A discussion of the anti-jewish rhetoric in orthodox hymnography is especially difficult today – in the after math of anti-jewish pogroms, in the sinister shadow of Auschwitz, and at a time when there are continuing tensions between palestinian christians in the holy land, on the one hand, and the modern-day jewish state of Israel and their own greek hierarchy, on the other. Such a discussion is necessary, however. The words in the title are from one of the stichera at the beatitudes chanted on holy thursday evening.1 similar references to “arrogant Israel, people guilty of blood,” “bloodthirsty people, jealous and vengeful,” and “the perverse and crooked people of the hebrews” occur in the un ab bre viated english translation of the lamentations service printed in the lenten triodion. (in contrast, these stanzas are omitted in the antiochian book of services for holy week and pascha.)