The Sacred and the Strange: An Aryan Jesus?

By Kate Daley-Bailey

Alfred Rosenberg, sometimes referred to as ‘the philosopher of the Nazi party,’ was instrumental in the ideological construction of what might be called a Germanic Aryan ethic.  Rosenberg, an ardent anti-Semite, anti-Bolshevik, and anti-Catholic, presented the Nazi establishment with a disparate and staccato ‘history of the Aryan’ in his book, The Myth of the 20th Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual, which was used to philosophically support Nazi doctrines on race and religion.  While Nazi German elite often held a great disdain for Christianity, condemning it as a flawed ideology not compatible with the regime’s political and social aims, they were not, initially, opposed to using Christian theories about Jesus to promote their own cause.  Rosenberg is no exception. In his most prominent book, second only to Mein Kampf in Nazi circles, Rosenberg presents a rather unusual, and ahistorical, view of Jesus of Nazareth.

Rosenberg claims that Jesus was not a Jew (but that he might have been Aryan) and that it was in fact the Jew Saul/Paul that twisted Jesus’ words in order to use Jesus’ message as part of the conspiracy for Jewry to take over the world.

There is no proof for the often made claim that Jesus was a Jew.  Indeed, there is much to show the contrary.  Jesus possibly was Aryan, or partially so, showing the Nordic type strongly. (page 411)

Blaming Saul/Paul and the institutional church (especially the Catholic Church) for the gross distortion of Jesus’ message, Rosenberg’s Jesus was a master, a conqueror, and the antithesis of what he sees as the broken, humble, Jesus of the Christian Church:

The smiling blond child who often gazed at the world with unhesitant heroism was transformed into a broken down figure tortured by pain. (page 292)

Rosenberg hopes to return to the ‘real’ image of Jesus:     

From the dark Jesus on the cross comes a luminous, slim, blond, risen Christ. (page 293)

Heralding the Jesus of the Gospel of John as the best canonical example of what he will call ‘positive Christianity,’ Rosenberg condemns the current state of European Christianity:

The Gospel of Saint John, which still retains an aristocratic spirit, strove to defend Christianity against this collective bastradisation, orientalism, and Judaisation. (page 88)

So, how might a Nordic-blooded Jesus have ended up in 1st century Palestine? 

Rosenberg built upon the theology of his mentor, Houston Stewart Chamberlain (a British author who married Richard Wagner’s daughter and became a German citizen and a Nazi) and used Chamberlain’s book, The Foundations Of The Nineteenth Century, as a model for his book, The Myth of the 20th Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual. 

Rosenberg claims that thousands of years ago, Nordic races left their prehistoric homeland and carried the worship of their sun god from Europe to Mesopotamia.  Pulling from Chamberlain, Rosenberg envisions a Nordic people associated with the Assyrians of Ancient Mesopotamia. The Assyrians are thought to have invaded northern Israel (722 B.C.E) and to have displaced the original population.  For Rosenberg as well as Chamberlain, immigrants from Assyria (distant descendants of Aryan conquerors) were placed in the region that would later be referred to as the Galilee. 

How does Rosenberg explain the ‘Jewishness’ of Jesus in the New Testament?

Many of the subsequent  ‘Aryan Jesus’ arguments spawn out of this desire to place pure blooded Aryan-Assyrian (at least non-Jewish) communities in the Galilee.  Chamberlain emphasizes that these Jews in Galilee- were not Jews by blood but by faith (after years of cultural assimilation).  Chamberlain, like many of his colleagues, attributes the rebellious nature of the population of the Galilee to the natural consequence of link between blood and cultural character: 

the national character of the Galileans was essentially different from that of the Jews.  Open any history of the Jews that you will, that of Ewald or Graetz or Renan, everywhere you will find that in character the Galileans present a direct contrast to the rest of the inhabitants of Palestine they are described as hot-heads, energetic idealists, men of action. (Chamberlain page 207)

Needless to say, Rosenberg’s hypothesis troubles me as a reader but what is perhaps even more disturbing is how his ‘theory’ on Jesus is not an isolated incident among writers and intellectuals in Europe (going back even to the 1800s).

Further Reading:

  • Article: “The Nazi Quest for an Aryan Jesus” by Peter M. Head, Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, Jan2004, Vol. 2 Issue 1, p55-89, 35p
  • Book: The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany by Susannah Heschel
  • Book: The Myth of the 20th Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual by Alfred Rosenberg
  • Book: The Foundations of the 19th Century by Houston Stewart Chamberlain


Filed Under: ChristianityCulture & ArtFeaturedJudaismKate Daley-BaileySacred and StrangeWar


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