Book Review: Gathered in One – How the Bookof Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism in the New Testament, by Bradley J. Kramer
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:
- Gathered in One
- A Book Proceeded Forth
- A Record to Establish the Truth of the First
- We Did Observe to Keep the Commandments
- “Think Not That I Am Come to Destroy the Law”
- That the Last May Be First, and the First May Be Last
- 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.
Greg Kofford Books: https://gregkofford.com/products/gathered-in-one