SYDNEY, Australia (Dec. 19)
An Australian textbook containing a passage that blames the death of Jesus on the Jews is being reprinted with the offending passage rewritten.
The publisher, Pearson Education, distributed some 6,000 copies of “Studies of Society and the Environment” in 1999. It was subsequently used by 11- and 12-year-olds throughout the state of Victoria.
The social studies text covers topics such as history and geography.
In a section dealing with Christianity, the book states that Jewish leaders convinced Roman Governor Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus.
The passage reads: “His followers claimed Jesus was the Messiah. However, the Jewish leadership did not believe these claims. They convinced the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate that Jesus was a danger. Pilate did not agree, but allowed the Jewish leaders to crucify Christ.”
The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission in Australia brought the passage to the attention of the publisher after receiving complaints, according to Benseon Apple, the group’s director of research and public affairs.
“We worked together with the Victorian Council of Christians and Jews to prepare a properly written account of that period in history clearly showing that the Romans had been responsible,” Apple said. “It was prepared by an academic member of the Australian Catholic University working in conjunction with us.”
The amended text describes Jesus as a Jew involved in teaching and healing who was crucified by Pontius Pilate.
Rina Leewenberg, Pearson’s managing publisher, said: “The book is currently being reprinted. We insisted that the paragraph was not dropped, but rewritten.
“It is already published in its new form on CD. We welcome constructive criticism.”
After right-wing newsletters reported that the text was to be changed, she added, “We received many calls from angry people insisting we leave the book the way it was. We ignored them.”