TORONTO (Sep. 9)
The American publishers of Protestant Sunday School textbooks were asked today to delete unnecessarily offensive and unusually inaccurate references to Jews in lessons based on the New Testament. Gerald S. Strober, of New York, director of a textbook project sponsored jointly by the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the American Jewish Committee, said that his own investigation and that of Dr. Bernhard Olson, of the Yale University Divinity School, indicated that Protestant books often assign motives and roles to Jews that are historically incorrect. He said he is studying the books of 12 American Protestant groups, denominational and independent, but declined to identify them. Mr. Strober attended the International Conference of Christians and Jews held here under the sponsorship of the National Conference and its affiliate, the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews.
Mr. Strober said that his study, and a much broader seven-year investigation by Dr. Olson of 120,000 Protestant Sunday School lessons, were undertaken to see how Jewish life and religion were treated. He said the studies were designed as an aid to Protestant groups, not as a criticism of them. An example of what the studies found was the New Testament portrayal of Pontius Pilate as a man “with good instincts who couldn’t make a decision.” That shortcoming allowed him to be pressured by Jewish fanatics into sentencing Jesus to die on the cross. “However,” Mr. Strober said, “history describes a different kind of Pilate — a Roman functionary who had little compunction about putting people to death.” Because of the historic evidence, “it was hard to tell who bore the greater responsibility for Christ’s death and it was therefore irrational to place all the blame on the Jews as some Christians tended to do,” Mr. Strober said.