by Christine Ege Response to Chapter 3 of Journey to the Holocaust:  Anti-Semitism, the Bible and History by Dr. Susanna Kokkonen

While playing a strategy card game with our family recently, I learned a pivotal life lesson!  This particular game involves purchasing cards that allow certain specific actions during one’s turn and that ultimately accrue benefits in the form of points to the purchaser.  Upon reading all the details on the different cards available for acquisition.  I immediately dismissed the “Garden” card, as it apparently only awarded one point for every ten “Victory” points accumulated in the game.   Since the highest number of “Victory” points on one property card was only ten, and those cards were expensive to buy, I failed to see any value in the “Garden” card.   However, I noticed our son was purchasing multiple copies of this card and privately wondered why he regarded it as so desirable.   At the end of the game, he counted up his points and soundly trounced us, mostly due to extra points awarded by these “Garden” cards.  Clearly, I had completely misunderstood the value of that card:  it awarded a point for every ten cards (of any type) one’s possession (NOT a point for every ten “Victory,” or property value, points).  Since our son had purchased five “Garden” cards and had around 70 cards in his deck, he gained 35 points to his total points just from the five “Garden” cards I had deemed worthless.

I suddenly remembered a section of Dr. Susanna Kokkonen’s book, Journey to the Holocaust:  Anti-Semitism, the Bible and History, and saw a direct connection with my costly misunderstanding of the value of the “Garden” card.   In her third chapter, Dr. Kokkonen traces the history of antisemitism in the Church.  “After Jesus and the original apostles died, one of the main intents of the church seems to have been the abandonment of its Jewish roots.  If we were to isolate only one historical development that had the most profound effect on the hatred and persecution of Jews, above all else, we would have to choose Christianity” (p. 58).  She explains that, in disconnecting themselves from their Jewish roots, Christians themselves became persecutors.  In essence, antisemitism involves “astonishment and outrage at the fact that the Messiah came into the world through David’s lineage, as a Jewish man. (p.76).”

The correlation of the Jewish roots of Christianity with the “Garden” card was not lost on me.   What impacted my heart was the fact that I actually had read the verbiage on that card more than once and had continued to consider it as worthless.  Isn’t that what we Christians have done with the Judaic roots of our faith?   We have misunderstood the message of salvation through the Jews, despite repeated readings of the Bible. We have considered God’s Covenant with the Jewish people as void and have forgotten that we were grafted into the chosen people – grafted into a plant with a Jewish root that has natural branches as well as grafted branches (cf. Romans 11:11-24).   If we fail to understand the value of that “Garden” card, we fail to understand the glorious benefits of the one new man (Jew & Gentile united in Messiah, cf. Eph. 2:15).  Perhaps it is time to re-read the Garden card (God’s Word that began at Creation with a garden) and ask Him for better insight on the holy Jewish Root of Messiah!