Book Review – Gathered in One, by Bradley J. Kramer

Book Review: Gathered in One – How the Bookof Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism in the New Testament, by Bradley J. Kramer

Gathered in One: How the Book of Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism in the New Testament

Ever since the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, Jews have been a hiss and a by-word of the nations.With the temple destroyed and Jews scattered throughout the Empire, there was not much hope for them to recover. In hopes of completely eliminating the Jews from memory, the Romans eventually renamed the city and repopulated it with other peoples.

Jews faced pogroms in Russia and Poland. We all remember the look on Tevye’s face (played by Topol) in Fiddler on the Roof, as his oldest daughter’s marriage feast is ransacked by Russian soldiers, or when they were forced to leave their village, Anatevka. In reality, this forced pilgrimage occurred in hundreds of villages throughout Russia.

The Spanish Inquisition tortured Jews into converting into Christianity, dying, or fleeing into yet another exile. Hitler blamed Germany’s problems on the Jews, who were treated as chattel and marched into gas chambers by the millions. To this very day, anti-semitism threatens Jews throughout much of the world.

This anti-semitism comes to us, in part, from the New Testament. In his book, “Gathered in One,” Bradley J. Kramer discusses how the New Testament, and especially the Gospels and Acts put full blame on the Jews for the death of Jesus. He doesn’t stop there. He then explains how the Book of Mormon counters that anti-semitism, not by trying to smooth it over, but by addressing it directly.

“Gathered in One” is about 150 pages long, and contains the following chapters:

  1. Gathered in One
  2. A Book Proceeded Forth
  3. A Record to Establish the Truth of the First
  4. We Did Observe to Keep the Commandments
  5. “Think Not That I Am Come to Destroy the Law”
  6. That the Last May Be First, and the First May Be Last
  7. I Will Gather Them In

“The Book of Mormon is unique. Simply as literature, it stands alone.”

So begins the first chapter. Throughout the rest of the book, Kramer shows us one important way in which it is such a valued volume. The first chapters discuss the New Testament’s hatred towards Jews, and in a very convincing manner. Kramer quotes various scholars on how they attempt to manage the more difficult passages: from trying to take the Bible as a whole, to totally dismissing those verses and stories as later additions to the story.

For Kramer, the Book of Mormon takes a different approach. It engages anti-semitism “at its New Testament source.”  Nowhere does the Book of Mormon explicitly discuss anti-semitism, but throughout its teachings and stories, it shows a love for the scriptures (Brass Plates), the Law of Moses, and the dispersed of Israel.

While the Book of Mormon never names any specific Jewish holiday, Kramer shows from inferences inside the tome how each major holy day (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) was instituted by Lehi and the Nephites. Interestingly, he also engages the concept of the Sabbath, explaining that the Jubilee was a year long Sabbath, where even the land rested. This was a time when slaves were freed, debts forgiven, and the people focused on and rejoiced in their God. Then, from the Book of Mormon, he noted that during the period of 4 Nephi, the Nephites enjoyed a “centuries long” Sabbath. This expanded the idea of the holy Sabbath, extending it longer than the Bible does, in anticipation for the millennial Sabbath when the Savior comes again.

Where Paul left the Jews for the Gentiles and the known world, Nephites dealt with “near-Gentiles” or Lamanites. Kramer shows that as Paul and his companions had a big vision that turned them from destroying the Church to being its greatest missionaries, so the Book of Mormon has a similar story. Alma, Ammon and his brethren were also changed through an angelic vision. After preaching among the Nephites to repair their wrong-doings, they went out to the Lamanites to bring them from their pagan beliefs back to Christ. Just as Paul was persecuted, yet had great success, so Ammon and his brethren struggled but gained many converts.

Kramer uses many such analogies to show how the Book of Mormon focuses on bringing people to Christ, that they are not cast off forever. In fact, the Book of Mormon frequently speaks of the return of the Jews, and Kramer carefully covers this area. It isn’t the Gentile Christians who will bring them back (though they will carry them on their shoulders), but the Lord who will prepare them.

The Book of Mormon IS unique. It has the fullness of the gospel. It deftly handles many modern issues of faith within its pages. Bradley J. Kramer shows us another key way in which the book deals with such an important issue. Our modern world has often revolved around hating Jews, frequently based upon their reading of the New Testament. The Book of Mormon teaches us to love the Jews and thank them for providing us the Bible in the first place. Kramer’s book helps us to see the many facets of that respect found within the Book of Mormon.

Available at:

Greg Kofford Books:  https://gregkofford.com/products/gathered-in-one

Amazon Books: https://www.amazon.com/Gathered-One-Anti-Semitism-Testament-Contemporary/dp/158958709X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=kramer+gathered+in+one&qid=1571654310&sr=8-1

11 thoughts on “Book Review – Gathered in One, by Bradley J. Kramer

  1. 1) Just so we’re clear, the Jews didn’t march into the furnaces, which were physically impossible to march into. They were marched into gas chambers, and their lifeless corpses were cremated in the furnaces. A minor distinction, perhaps, but Holocaust deniers thrive on minor discrepancies.

    2) Does Kramer believe that the authors of the New Testament were bigots, or does he believe that all the relevant texts were later corrupted by bigots?

    3) What does Kramer say about 2 Nephi 10:3?

  2. 1) True
    2) No, the authors of the Gospels were not bigots. However, as the devoted Christian ministers and scholars I quote in my book point out, they were presenting their material in connection with the issues of the time (Christians separating from Jews) and their fairly benign presentation turned malicious when Christianity became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire and it was connected to the military and political might of that empire and the kingdoms that replaced it.
    3) I treat this thoroughly in Chapter 3 and there attempt to show how this and the verses around it actually absolve the vast majority of Jews of any involvement in Jesus’ death. Since you are asking such important questions as this, I am sure you will find my book intriguing, perhaps even helpful.

  3. The title bugs me as too much like clickbait.

    There is no antisemitism in the NT, full stop. There has been antisemitism justified by the NT due to eisegesis rather than exegesis, but the subtitle is not “How the Book of Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism” or “How the Book of Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism that has been justified by the New Testament.”

    No matter what the text of the book says, the subtitle is flat out false, and thus I am very hesitant to read the book. Mr. Kramer’s comment above indicates he doesn’t actually claim the NT itself is antisemitic, but if that’s the case, why such a false/misleading subtitle? It gives the impression the NT itself (and thus the authors, who were, for the most part, Jewish) is antisemitic. It’s a clear mis-step that could have easily been avoided.

  4. Nat, noted the typo and changed furnaces to gas chambers. Thanks.

    Ivan, the book shows how the gospels and Acts blame all Jews for Christ’s death. Pilate and the Romans are made blameless in some accounts, while Jews are called the children of Satan (still quoted by neo Nazis and radical Muslims).

    The gospels, as we have them were written after the destruction of the temple. There was huge conflict between Christians and Jews. Paul called the Jewish Christians, who taught circumcision, demons and apostates.

    It didn’t require much to read anti-Semitic views into the NT. Given the factions involved in that era, I Do believe the final authors of the gospels were anti-Semitic. They added their political views to the oral traditions, when they transcribed them.

    The book shows many examples of anti-Semitism in the NT. History shows that many Christians and others also saw this element in their scripture.

  5. “It didn’t require much to read anti-Semitic views into the NT.”

    That is not the same thing as saying there really is antisemtisim in the NT. “Reading into” is eisegesis, not exegesis.

    “I Do believe the final authors of the gospels were anti-Semitic.”

    Well, I am sorry for you. But you are wrong. Just flat out wrong.

    Let me quote a few sources I trust more than you or Mr. Kramer:

    “The groups here attacked by Jesus are the exact historical representatives of the Judaism Matthew’s church confronted in its life. The polemic is not, consequently, an attack by Jesus on the Jewish people generally, much less an expression of anti-Semitism. It is, rather, an attack on the Jewish leaders of Matthew’s own day. The polemic thus establishes distance and distinction between rivals who claim to be the authentic realization of Judaism, God’s people. Some of the polemic, furthermore, such as the charge of saying but not doing (23:3, 13), is standard for disputes between ancient philosophical schools.”

    Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Writings of the New Testament (pp. 175-176). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

    “This [tendency] reflects a further contemporary element: a horrified reaction to the Holocaust, and to anything reminiscent of the ideologies that led to it. Nobody wants to be anti-Jewish, still less anti-Semitic. This has generated its own distorting and moralizing rhetoric.”

    Wright, N. T.. Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978-2013 (p. 475). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

    “This, to repeat, does not make him anti-Jewish, still less anti-semitic – any more than Josephus was anti-Jewish for blaming the disaster of AD 70 on violent Judaean troublemakers.”

    “that is like accusing someone of anti-Americanism because they criticize the current President. This is an ‘inner-familial conflict”

    Wright, N. T.. Paul and the Faithfulness of God: Two Book Set (Christian Origins and the Question of God 4) Fortress Press.

    Well, this review and raemumpton’s response above has shown me this book is nothing more than part of the “distorting and moralizing rhetoric” NT Wright warned against. In an attempt to combat antisemitism that some have justified with the NT, you have gone too far and attacked the NT itself.

  6. Just a little more:

    “Part of our difficulty here is caused by the extremely low grade of much contemporary moral discourse, in which everything is reduced to being ‘pro-’ this or ‘anti-’ that, as though there were no more nuanced positions available, and as though, in particular, all ethical or theological judgments could be reduced to ‘prejudices’ and ‘attitudes’.”

    Wright, N. T.. Paul and the Faithfulness of God: Two Book Set (Christian Origins and the Question of God 4) (p. 1155). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

  7. “Believing that God had acted to remodel the covenant people necessarily and Jewishly meant believing that those who refused to join this remodeled people were missing out on God’s eschatological purpose. As post-Holocaust thinkers we will be careful how we say all this. As historians of the first century we will recognize that it must be said. As Pauline theologians we will recognize that it contains no shadow, no hint, of anything that can truly be called anti-Judaism, still less anti-Semitism.”

    Wright, N. T.. Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978-2013 (p. 189). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

  8. And so Johnson and Wright (I’ve read both) use eisegesis to insist there is no anti-Semitic language in the New Testament?

    Can you show through exegesis that it doesn’t exist? That millions of people over the millennia have understood the Jews to be forever evil for killing Christ, is self evident. Call it eisegesis, if you wish, but it is something many scholars today agree is found in the final manuscripts of the gospels. A concern so easily found in the gospels, it has led to endless disaster for the Jews.
    Note: i do not think Christ nor his apostles were anti-Semitic. However, the final authors were. As i stated, they took the oral histories and molded them into a battle of Light (Jesus and his apostles) against Darkness (Jews). Over simplistic, but effective in dealing death and suffering to Jews across the centuries.

    Finally, you are judging an entire book by its subtitle, without reading it. That’s a rather rash rush to judgment.

  9. Because I said that I did not believe the original writers of the Gospels were bigoted does not mean that their writings did not contain anti-Semitic elements. As I wrote in my book’s preface: these writers “were simply attempting to spread the ‘good news’ of Jesus as best they could during a time when ‘Christianity’ (the term had not yet been coined) was still working out its relationship with what would become mainstream Judaism. These writers did not know how their works would eventually be arranged, nor did they foresee what effect their words would
    have cumulatively on their readers. Nonetheless, there can be no doubt that many readers of the New Testament, past and present, have found within its pages support for anti-Semitic agendas.”
    Also as I point out in my book, the Pauline epistles are often seen as an “antidote” for the anti-Semitic statements, portrayals, and other literary elements that accumulate in the Gospels–particularly by Wright, Stendahl, Sanders, and others. And if these letters could be read by themselves perhaps they could function in this way. However, in the end they cannot. Acts controls them just as it does the Gospels, creating a literary flow away from the Jews to the Gentiles that places the Pauline letters in a supersessionistic context. The simple fact that Paul writes just to Gentiles about Gentile matters makes it appear that not only has he rejected the Jews of Corinth but that God has rejected all Jews and given his covenant to the Gentiles instead. Mine is a literary treatment based on how the New Testament as a whole presents itself to modern readers, not a historical investigation as to what its individual books and letters may have meant to ancient listeners.

  10. BK: “Mine is a literary treatment based on how the New Testament as a whole presents itself to modern readers, not a historical investigation as to what its individual books and letters may have meant to ancient listeners.”

    And therein lies the problem. It renders the subtitle inaccurate/misleading at best. Perhaps “How the Book of Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism in New Testament Interpretation” would work, but the subtitle does not reflect what you just told me. The subtitle flat out states the NT is anti-semitic, full stop. It’s a terrible subtitle.

    I may seem to be hammering this point too much, but the subtitle is a real turn off, and packaging matters.

    What you and Rame are arguing is that because people can find something in a text, that means its really there. That’s very postmodern (sort of, but that would get into a very long tangent), but it’s not truth.

    It seems you have both fallen victim to the “the extremely low grade of much contemporary moral discourse, in which everything is reduced to being ‘pro-’ this or ‘anti-’ that, as though there were no more nuanced positions available, and as though, in particular, all ethical or theological judgments could be reduced to ‘prejudices’ and ‘attitudes’” that Wright warns against.

    You go looking for it in the text, and so – of course – you find it. That’s more a reflection of you than what’s actually there.

    Rame: “Finally, you are judging an entire book by its subtitle, without reading it. That’s a rather rash rush to judgment.”

    Well, my first comment was about how the subtitle was “problematic” but your comments seem to indicate it’s rather representative of the text. If someone had assured me the subtitle wasn’t really reflective of the content. There are far more nuanced approaches than the rather simplified approaches I’m seeing defended.

    Rame: “it is something many scholars today agree is found in the final manuscripts of the gospels. ”

    And many scholars disagree. I know which group of scholars I find more useful and enlightening.

  11. However, I will add that BK’s response, where he quotes from his book: ” “[they] were simply attempting to spread the ‘good news’ of Jesus as best they could during a time when ‘Christianity’ (the term had not yet been coined) was still working out its relationship with what would become mainstream Judaism. These writers did not know how their works would eventually be arranged, nor did they foresee what effect their words would have cumulatively on their readers. Nonetheless, there can be no doubt that many readers of the New Testament, past and present, have found within its pages support for anti-Semitic agendas”
    -that alleviates a lot of my concerns, and so I may actually read the book (at some point; still trying to get through “After Acts” by Bryan Liftin, “The Apocryphal New Testament” by JK Elliot, “Massacre at Mountain Meadows”, and NT Wright’s “The Day the Revolution Began” as well as 100 student essays that need grading).

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