WASHINGTON (May. 3)
The White House had under advisement today the text of a widely distributed news report about President Carter’s remarks regarding Jesus and the Jews that have aroused incredulity and astonishment in many Jewish communities. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency obtained a copy of the original report of about 800 words and provided it to the White House yesterday.
The report was obtained from the writer, Casper Nannes who worked for the Washington Star for 25 years and now assists the First Baptist Church in Washington where the President made his remarks to the “Couples Bible Class” a month ago. The report under Nannes’ byline was circulated by the Associated Press.
According to the Nannes report, the President during his remarks to the class, asked for a reading of “the passage in John where Caiaphus, the high priest told the Pharisees ‘You do not realize that it is to your interest that one man should die for the people, instead of the whole nation being destroyed.”‘ The report says that “the President then pointed out there was a double meaning in the passage that Caiaphus himself did not understand,” the article continued.
“‘That was the turning point in Christ’s life, he explained. ‘He had directly challenged in a fatal way the existing church, and there was no possible way for the Jewish leaders to avoid the challenge. So they decided to kill Jesus.”‘
AGREES TRIAL WAS ILLEGAL
According to the Nannes report, the President later asked what one word would describe the trial and he was told “illegal.” The Nannes report added, “‘That’s right,’ Carter agreed. ‘The Jews had a rule that a trial had to be held in the daytime and in the open Christ’s trial was held at night in a home and no witnesses were called for the defense except one. Also, the Jewish rule was that you had to have two witnesses to agree. Caiaphus sent out to get false witnesses but could not get three witnesses to agree.
“‘Further, Caiaphus as the judge started to question the witness thereby serving as prosecuting attorney, which a judge was not supposed to be. In addition, only if Christ was not guilty could the trial be held in one day.’ Throughout the lesson,” Nannes further reported, “Carter frequently related the persons and ideas studied to our present day.”
He quoted Carter as saying: “Caiaphus represents an attitude that is part of all of us. There is a danger of the Church of Christ becoming anti-Christ because if we start to worship ourselves there is a great temptation for us to set up our own standards. There is a danger that we may become proud and consider ourselves exceptions in God’s eyes.”
The President also said, Nannes reported, “I would like every one of us to feel challenged by a recognition of our shortcomings and to serve as Christ did. We have a great blessing and a great love for God that we can precipitate even more that the message of Caiaphus through John and Mark and Matthew. Do not be like Caiaphus.”
In New York, Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, said that leaders of a number of Jewish communities around the country had called his office to express concern about the report. He said he had called the White House and offered to send Carter material dealing with Judaism and early Christianity so that the President would have unbiased sources for use in future Bible study classes. Tanenbaum said the White House reaction was positive.