Replacement Theology or Historical Illiteracy?

Veteran Guardian reporter Giles Tremlett’s historical faux pas in his article  about a planned Christian theme park in Mallorca raises some interesting points. Describing a similar venue in Buenos Aires built by the same developer, Tremlett writes:

“With a cast of extras in the costumes of Romans and early Palestinians, the park advertises itself as “a place where everyone can learn about the origins of spirituality.”

Sharp-eyed bloggers Daled Amos and Melanie Phillips have both picked Tremlett up on the historical inaccuracy of the use of the phrase ‘early Palestinians’, as well as describing some of the ongoing attempts by some Palestinians and pro-Palestinian organizations (for example War on Want) to influence public opinion by engaging in a form of historical and theological supersessionism which has the political aim of delegitimizing Israel by denying historical Jewish links to the land of Israel.

No less interesting than the ‘early Palestinians’ gaffe was Tremlett’s rather strange choice of the term ‘Wall of Lamentations’ which of course could well be a translation from the Spanish ‘Muro de las Lamentaciones’, but surely Oxford educated Tremlett would remember that he is writing for an English-speaking audience and that the accepted term is ‘Western Wall’? Or is the connection between that and the Jewish Temple just a little too obvious when one is apparently attempting to write about biblical era issues whilst sanitizing the word ‘Jews’?

Of course we cannot hold Tremlett alone to account for these aberrations; an editor was presumably involved at some stage before the article was published. Whilst the sorry state of the teaching of history in British schools is not news – certainly to those of us who frequent the blogosphere – one would at least expect that – in the name of not being perceived as an organ of overt  propaganda – a newspaper’s editors would take the trouble to avoid historical inaccuracies, even if they do conveniently dove-tail with deeply held prejudices.

The good thing about Tremlett’s article is that it is unintentionally informative. His Harry Potter-style ‘he who must not be named’ approach to Christianity’s Jewish roots, together with the editor’s failure to correct his mistakes, provides us with a glimpse of the bigotry which litters the Guardian group-think to such a degree that no-one raised the alert on such an obvious gaffe.

On the other hand – and trying to look on the bright side – if the Guardian can persuade its readers that Jesus’ contemporaries were ‘early Palestinians’, then in theory we should finally have heard the last of the old anti-Semitic trope of Jews as Christ killers.

No; for some reason I don’t really believe it will work out that way either.

H/T Omri Ceren

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