Jacob Gartenhaus: The Southern Baptists’ Jew
Walker Robins is a Lecturer in History at the University of Oklahoma, in affiliation with the Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies.
Cite this Article
Walker Robins, "Jacob Gartenhaus: The Southern Baptists’ Jew," Journal of Southern Religion (19) (2017): jreligion.org/vol19/robins.
In May of 1921, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Home Mission Board hired Jacob Gartenhaus as its first missionary to the Jews of the American South. He was an ideal hire. Himself a convert, the young missionary had been raised in a traditional Jewish home in Galicia and had immigrated to New York in 1913, where he was soon led to Christianity by his older brother, Zev, and the missionaries of the Williamsburg Mission to the Jews. He had trained at three of the day’s leading institutions of Jewish evangelism—the Williamsburg Mission in Brooklyn, the Chicago Hebrew Mission, and the Moody Bible Institute—and had connections to the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America, an organization of evangelistic Jewish converts who sought to maintain a Jewish national identity within their new faith. Gartenhaus had completed his education at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where his ability to rally his fellow seminarians around evangelizing Louisville’s Jews had drawn the attention of his professors and, soon thereafter, the Home Mission Board.
Not only was Gartenhaus the SBC’s first missionary to Jews, but for the next twenty-eight years he would remain effectively its only missionary to southern Jewry. This presented him with a unique challenge. The South’s Jews, though somewhat numerous in cities like Louisville and St. Louis, were dispersed across the region in far smaller concentrations than were found in the northern industrial centers. The missionary methods Gartenhaus had learned in the northern missions, which focused on developing neighborhood mission centers, were “neither practicable nor desirable” in the South. Instead, Gartenhaus developed a congregational approach that sought to make local churches the locus of Jewish evangelism and make Baptist laypeople his field workers. For this to work, he needed to convince local congregations that Jewish evangelism was necessary, important, and effective, and to train them for the task. Gartenhaus’s mission to Jews thus became, in effect, a mission to Southern Baptists.
In a denomination defined by its commitment to evangelism, missionaries often provided crucial channels through which Southern Baptists encountered other faiths and peoples. Gartenhaus’s congregational approach to Jewish evangelism only reinforced this aspect of his mission. As the Home Mission Board’s sole missionary to Jews from 1921 to 1949, he became Southern Baptists’ leading spokesperson on issues relating to Jews and Judaism during pivotal decades in Jewish history—years that included the Holocaust, rising domestic antisemitism, and the founding of the State of Israel. Because of this, Gartenhaus has garnered some scholarly attention as a representative of broader Southern Baptist attitudes and approaches towards Jews. However, these existing studies overlook that, in practice and purpose, Gartenhaus was less a spokesman for Southern Baptists than a spokesman to them. More specifically, they overlook that Gartenhaus spent his twenty-eight years working to spread a distinctly Hebrew Christian understanding of Jews, Judaism, and Jewish evangelism throughout the South.
Although the scope of his southern mission made church engagement a particularly urgent priority, Gartenhaus was not the only Hebrew Christian or Jewish missionary spending time winning the support and attention of gentile churchgoers. Even the northern neighborhood missions depended on gentile churches for material and spiritual support. While scholars like Yaakov Ariel, David Rausch, and Michael Darby have given some attention to these connections, they have tended to focus on what these associations meant for the missions or, in the case of Hebrew Christians, how the convert community fit into the larger church body. Scholars have fixed less attention, though, on what it meant for the broader church to have streams of Jewish missionaries and, in particular, Hebrew Christians visiting congregations to win support, preach Jewish evangelism, and teach about Jewish life and religion. So ubiquitous were these itinerants that church periodicals regularly issued warnings against scam artists posing as Jewish converts or missionaries—even in the South. If Gartenhaus was not completely atypical in his work among gentiles, however, his singular place and peculiar mission within the United States’ largest Protestant denomination nonetheless offer an exceptional look at the role that Hebrew Christians played in shaping evangelical understandings of Jews and Judaism.
This essay explores that role in three sections. The first examines the northern urban missionary environment in which Gartenhaus learned the techniques and ideas of Jewish evangelism, grew in his Hebrew Christian identity, and built connections to other Hebrew Christians. It also highlights the vastly different environment he confronted in the South. The second section focuses on Gartenhaus’s unique congregational approach, demonstrating the extent to which his mission to the South’s Jews was actually oriented towards educating Southern Baptists on Jews, Judaism, and Jewish evangelism. The third section explores how Gartenhaus’s Hebrew Christianity shaped four interrelated elements of his message—his presentation of Jews as a race or nation, his criticism of Judaism as an inadequate faith, his call for evangelism as a matter of respect for converts, and his prophetic understanding of the Jewish people’s role in history—as well as his approach to antisemitism, the Holocaust, and the Zionist movement. Taken together, these sections reveal the extent to which evangelical understandings of Jews and Judaism in the first half of the twentieth century were not abstract, but often defined, embodied, and promoted by those who populated the boundaries between evangelical Protestantism, Judaism, and Jewishness—the Hebrew Christians.
Gartenhaus’s Northern Training and Southern Challenge
In many ways, Jacob Gartenhaus’s conversion to Christianity was typical of Jewish converts to evangelical Protestantism in the early twentieth-century United States. He was young, culturally and socially dislocated, and had been guided to Christianity by an authority figure, his elder brother. He uttered his first prayer in the name of Jesus “one bright Sunday morning” in 1916, a moment he recognized as his culminating salvation experience. Filled with a convert’s zeal, Gartenhaus soon dedicated his life to the evangelization of his people. He began his training at the Williamsburg mission that had helped guide him to conversion but quickly moved on to the Chicago Hebrew Mission (CHM) that same year. He worked with the CHM from 1916 until 1921, serving at its local mission centers while attending Moody Bible Institute and continuing as a member of the mission’s “Extension Service” after leaving for Louisville in 1919. These institutions served three important functions in the development of Gartenhaus’s identity as a convert and approach as a missionary—training him in the techniques of Jewish evangelism, immersing him in its intellectual underpinnings, and binding him to the growing Hebrew Christian community then emerging from the missions.
At the time of Gartenhaus’s conversion, a movement among evangelical churches to evangelize the Jews was expanding and taking hold in the urban centers of the United States. While American Protestants had sought the conversion of Jews since the early republic, the number of mission societies had exploded near the turn of the twentieth century. Three circumstances fueled the explosion. The first was demographic: between 1881 and 1924 nearly two and a half million Eastern European Jews (including Gartenhaus) migrated to the United States, most to escape increasing persecution in Russia or find economic opportunity. Almost overnight, densely packed Jewish neighborhoods had sprouted in northern cities like New York and Chicago. Neighborhood missions had followed. Pioneering Christian Zionist William Blackstone had helped found the Chicago Hebrew Mission in 1887, which offered a variety of services to potential converts and needy immigrants in hopes of drawing them to the gospel. During Gartenhaus’s time at the mission, its three locations hosted an industrial school, boys’ and girls’ clubs, and sewing classes, among other activities. Convert Leopold Cohn, an immigrant from Hungary, founded the Williamsburg Mission (later the American Board of Missions to the Jews, then Chosen People Ministries) in 1894. Begun as a storefront operation, by the 1910s it had grown into a community center much like the CHM. The mission included an auditorium, a medical clinic, and a reading room where it offered English lessons, citizenship classes, and evening education for working adults, all in attempt to increase Jewish exposure to the Gospel.
As historian Yaakov Ariel has shown, these missions were not solely motivated by a desire to convert or aid Jewish immigrants, but by the Judeo-centric biblical hermeneutic and eschatological system called premillennial dispensationalism. Developed and popularized by John Nelson Darby of the English Plymouth Brethren sect, dispensationalism had gained adherents in the northern U.S. from the 1870s onward through prophetic conferences, popular publications, and the proliferation of Bible institutes (especially Moody Bible Institute, which Gartenhaus attended while with the CHM). Among the early American popularizers of Darby’s system was the CHM’s William Blackstone, who had penned the first edition of his popular dispensationalist book Jesus is Coming in 1878. Contra the dominant “replacement theology” that had guided Christian hermeneutics for centuries, dispensationalists held that the biblical covenants between God and Israel applied to Jews rather than the church. Relatedly, dispensationalists viewed the restoration of Jews to Palestine and the conversion of a “faithful remnant” as key features of their eschatological schema, views that helped inspire Christian support for Zionism as well as the missions.
Also important in the explosive growth of Jewish missions was the development of an American Hebrew Christian movement. As mentioned, Hebrew Christians sought to maintain varying degrees of Jewish national distinctiveness within their new faith. The movement had its origins in nineteenth-century Britain, where a string of fraternal convert and mission associations had maintained fitful existences since at least 1813. By 1903, Hebrew Christianity had spread to the American missions, resulting in the formation of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America (HCAA) in 1915. While the HCAA did keep small numbers of missionaries on staff and publish periodicals, it primarily served as a meeting ground where converts worked to define the meaning of their corporate witness. Its members generally shared three main priorities—promoting Jewish evangelism, caring for converts within the church, and advocating on behalf of Jews—and tended to favor dispensationalism, which offered a biblical hermeneutic that affirmed their national distinctiveness. Gartenhaus likely became involved in the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America during his time with the Chicago Hebrew Mission. There, he worked alongside several missionaries who became leaders in the movement, among them Jacob Peltz (later secretary of the HCAA), Elias Newman (later on the HCAA Executive Committee), and Aaron Kligerman (later President of the IHCA). 
Though brief, Gartenhaus’s years in the northern missions and Moody Bible Institute were crucial in shaping both his identity as a convert and approach as a missionary, instilling in him a prophetic understanding of the Jews’ and converts’ roles in history and binding him to the Hebrew Christian movement. In 1919, he agreed to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he made the connections that led to his appointment to the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board in 1921. In the South, Gartenhaus would find that the factors shaping the movement to evangelize Jews in the North were essentially missing as of 1921. Though he grew fond of noting that St. Louis had twice as many Jews as Jerusalem, St. Louis was the exception that proved the rule—there were far fewer Jews in the South and in far greater dispersion. The waves of Eastern European Jews that had come to the US between 1881 and 1924 had remained concentrated in the North. The massive immigrant neighborhoods in which the Williamsburg and Chicago Hebrew missions operated simply had no southern analogue. Lacking concentrated Jewish populations, the South lacked Jewish missions. Lacking missions, it lacked a Hebrew Christian community.
The religious environment was different, too. Dispensationalism, which had gathered a respectable following (in terms of both numbers and individuals) in the North around the turn of the century, was not yet a widely-held hermeneutical or eschatological system among Southern Baptists. There were, of course, exceptions, though these had often been at the margins of Baptist life. The father of Baptist Landmarkism, James Robinson Graves, promoted a system of biblical interpretation very similar to Darby’s in the pages of the Tennessee Baptist (later Baptist and Reflector) as early as the 1850s. In the first decade of the twentieth century, Baptist Leonard Broughton had put on a series of prophetic conferences at his Tabernacle in Atlanta that included lectures by noted dispensationalist Cyrus Scofield. Throughout the 1920s, the influential and bellicose J. Frank Norris of First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, raised the hackles of Southern Baptists by insisting dispensationalism be made a test for orthodoxy. (He was soon pushed out of the Convention, albeit for different reasons.) These figures, though, were exceptional. As of Gartenhaus’s hiring, dispensationalism had no great presence within the Southern Baptist Convention, especially among the “mainstream” Baptists in charge of the SBC’s budding denominational institutions. The major denominational leaders of the early twentieth century—figures like E.Y. Mullins, George Truett, and W.T. Conner—all favored amillennial or postmillennial eschatological systems and certainly avoided the Judeo-centric tendencies of dispensational biblical interpretation. Though it gained in popularity over the following decades, dispensationalism, when recognized, was considered marginal at the time of Gartenhaus’s hiring. In 1920, the editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger could even call it “unBaptistic.”
Gartenhaus was not hired, then, because of a dispensationalist turn among Southern Baptist leadership. Indeed, it was W.O. Carver, Professor of Missiology at SBTS and an active opponent of dispensationalism within the SBC, who recommended the young missionary to the Home Mission Board. Typical of evangelicals, Southern Baptists had long expressed an essentially passive interest in evangelizing Jews. At the very first Triennial Convention of the Southern Baptists in 1846, C.D. Mallary of the Committee on New Fields of Labor for Foreign Missions had suggested that the SBC look into sending a missionary to Palestine to labor amongst its Jews. Nothing had come of it. In 1873, after hearing an address by convert and former rabbi Abraham Jaeger, one M.B. Wharton had called on the Convention to hire Jaeger as a missionary. His motion died in committee. Only with Gartenhaus’s opportunistic appearance in Louisville decades later did the SBC finally act on the stillborn notion of hiring a missionary to the South’s Jews.
Gartenhaus’s Southern Mission
Over the next 28 years, Gartenhaus brought the ideas and concerns guiding Jewish evangelism and Hebrew Christianity in the North to Southern Baptists. Before exploring these specific ideas and concerns, though, it is important to understand Gartenhaus’s congregational approach, which sought in theory to make every local Baptist church a Jewish mission center. Developed in response to his southern circumstance, Gartenhaus’s approach was unique among Hebrew Christian missionaries. He even presented a paper on the subject at the inaugural meeting of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance in 1925. “Ours was a double task,” he later noted, “to win Israel for Christ and to awaken Christians to their responsibility.” For this to be effective, Gartenhaus needed to convince local congregations of the need for Jewish evangelism and train them for the task. Though based with the Home Mission Board in Atlanta, Gartenhaus spent the bulk of his time on the road giving guest sermons and clinics in churches or lecturing at associational meetings and conventions. He also composed numerous tracts, articles, and books aimed at Baptist audiences—and a far lesser number aimed at Jews. The Southern Baptists’ missionary to the Jews spent most of his time trying to convert Baptists to his cause.
For almost three decades, Gartenhaus was a ubiquitous itinerant. In a 1966 article commemorating Gartenhaus’s conversion, Pastor Roy Mason claimed the missionary knew “more Baptist preachers and Baptist churches than anybody that I have ever met, for he has preached Christ and has pleaded for Jewish evangelism all over this nation.” Within seven years of his appointment, Gartenhaus had spoken to audiences in thirty-eight states, though mostly in the heart of SBC territory. He kept an exhausting pace on his sermon tours, making multiple stops in multiple cities sometimes in the span of a single day. In 1925 he reported having given 203 sermons the previous year. Ten years later, he reported giving 240. On a 1938 trip to New Mexico under the sponsorship of the Woman's Missionary Union, he held nine clinics on Jewish evangelism in nine different cities across the state. Gartenhaus also drummed up support for Jewish evangelism at statewide conferences and associational meetings throughout the South. In 1935, for example, he taught at six mission schools, spoke at thirty divisional and district meetings, and addressed three state conventions. At one convention of the Florida Baptist Assembly, Gartenhaus served as a guest instructor for the Assembly’s “mission study hour,” giving a nine-day course titled “A Tale of Two Peoples—Gentile and Jew” to 162 attendees.
Beginning in 1925, Gartenhaus began planning and implementing “city-wide” or “good-will” meetings, really weekend mass meetings followed by a weeklong seminar on Jews and Jewish evangelism. As the name suggests, these meetings were typically hosted through the cooperation of several Baptist churches within a given city and were designed to cultivate positive relations between the community’s Christians and Jews, all while preparing Baptist laypeople for evangelism. Though the weekday training sessions were held in churches, the mass meetings often took place in theaters or other large venues. One South Carolina paper noted, “Few cities of the South have had auditoriums sufficiently large to accommodate the crowds which are attracted to these meetings.” The gatherings themselves were a mixture of entertainment, lecture, and dialogue in the form of question-and-answer sessions. Hebrew Christian violinist Alexander Kaminsky, who had served as a performer at the Russian imperial court, often received top-billing in advertisements for the meetings. Much of the evening, though, was set aside for lectures by local Baptist preachers and dignitaries. At a 1931 meeting in Nashville, for example, Tennessee governor Henry Horton gave a talk on the necessity of “a better feeling of brotherhood between Jews and Christians” and “paid a tribute to the Jewish people” by noting Jews made up a disproportionately small number of the prison population, a figure he attributed to the “fine moral training in the Jewish homes.” The bulk of the speakers were Gartenhaus’s colleagues from the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America, convert missionaries like Aaron Kligerman, Henry Singer, and Elias Newman. These mass meetings were followed by a week of evening training sessions and prayer meetings. Though the prayer services were open to the public, training sessions were reserved for “Christian workers.” Each night, Gartenhaus or his Hebrew Christian colleagues would speak on a different topic related to Jews, Judaism, or Jewish-Christian relations while maintaining an emphasis on evangelism. Topics covered in the 1930 Columbia, SC, seminar included “Zionism or the Jew’s Right to Palestine,” “A Positive Basis for a Better Understanding Between Jews and Christians,” “Israel’s Two-Fold Awakening,” and “Christianity’s Debt to Judaism,” among others.
In addition to being a prolific speaker, Gartenhaus was a prolific writer. He produced scores of short pamphlets during his tenure with the SBC on topics ranging from The Virgin Birth of the Messiah to The Jews’ Contribution to the South. While some of these tracts were aimed at Jews (among them Who is HE? and An Open Letter to the Jewish People of the South), the vast majority targeted Christians, urging them to support and involve themselves in Jewish evangelism. Gartenhaus also published countless articles in Baptist periodicals informing Baptists of developments in Jewish life, updating them on progress in the mission, and again urging their support for his work and their concern for Israel. He also published four books while with the Home Mission Board: The Jew and Jesus, a brief study of Jewish attitudes towards Jesus, Rebirth of a Nation, a primer on the prophetic and practical implications of Zionism, The Influence of the Jews Upon Civilization, a look at how Jews (and Jewish converts to Christianity) had made beneficial contributions to western civilization, and What of the Jews?, a mission study manual. Gartenhaus aimed all four at Christians.
The missionary’s efforts to cultivate interest in Jews and Jewish evangelism found greatest reception among Southern Baptist women. Woman’s Missionary Unions (WMUs), auxiliary societies devoted to supporting and promoting the SBC’s missions, were especially important. By the mid-1920s, the national WMU had begun supplementing Gartenhaus’s literature budget. In 1926, the WMU report to the Convention noted, “The hearts of the women have been moved, and their wills touched to action in the extension of their evangelistic efforts to the Jews, through the ministry among them of our missionary, Rev. Jacob Gartenhaus.” That year, the women elected to give $3000 of their “self-denial offering” towards Gartenhaus’s work. Local WMUs were also crucial in supporting Gartenhaus’s mission. They often sponsored his visits and helped fund and organize his city-wide meetings. Gartenhaus’s reports note that local WMUs gathered the addresses of their Jewish neighbors so the missionary could send them literature. By the mid-1930s, he had begun actively cultivating “Friends of Israel” societies among local Unions. In 1937, the national WMU reported that 383 local societies were involved in some way with Jewish work. It noted, too, in its reports that local chapters were circulating among themselves and their communities’ Jews a Hebrew Christian periodical co-edited by Gartenhaus called The Mediator. In 1939, the Illinois, Florida, and Texas WMUs each began sponsoring female Jewish workers in their territories.
Gartenhaus also reached Southern Baptist women through Royal Service, the national WMU’s monthly mission study periodical. Each issue of the magazine centered on a thematic monthly mission study curriculum that included plans of study for different age groups, lessons, group projects, book suggestions, and book reviews. Thousands of affiliate societies and Sunday schools across the South followed the Royal Service curricula, with participation actually enforced through a national WMU rating system. The magazine devoted six separate issues to Jewish evangelism during Gartenhaus’s tenure. Because each issue was designed to be taught in a month-long program, this corresponded to six months of focused programming on Jews guided by Gartenhaus’s materials. Besides these issues, Gartenhaus also figured prominently in six additional issues focused on Palestine. Probably no better evidence of Gartenhaus’s influence on the WMU’s Jewish material can be found than a 1947 group activity plan for Business Woman’s Circles. The plan called for a group member to impersonate the missionary in making the case for Jewish evangelism.
Of course, the ultimate goal of Gartenhaus’s mission was the conversion of Jews. While he sought to delegate personal evangelism to local churches and bodies like the WMU, Gartenhaus himself did meet with rabbis in various southern communities and visit Jewish homes. Several of his annual reports quantify his “personal visits” to Jews, which numbered between 750 and 1,500, depending on the year. Despite all his efforts, though, conversions were few and far between. In 1922 he reported three conversions. The following year he reported two. In 1935 he reported ten, though the figure came by way of “indirect report.” For the most part Gartenhaus avoided quantifying conversions altogether, opting instead for anecdotes that tended towards the vague. In 1925 he noted, “Reports have come that many Jews have been baptized into our churches, but we have no way to tell the exact number.” A 1936 note was typical: “Recently a pastor in a certain city introduced us to a Jewess who had accepted Christ. The first thing she asked was if I remembered visiting and having dinner in her father’s home years ago. What a lesson in patience!” Unable to demonstrate hard progress, Gartenhaus sought to convey a sense of it, continuously asserting an ongoing sea change in Jewish attitudes towards Christ. “There was a time when it was almost impossible to approach the Jews with the gospel,” he reported in 1930 before adding that “vast changes have and are taking place.” He repeated similar lines year in and year out. If Gartenhaus was not successful in winning converts, though, this did not mean his mission was insignificant. Far more impactful than his message to Jews was his message to Baptists.
Gartenhaus’s Hebrew Christian Message
Gartenhaus was thus active on many fronts in shaping Southern Baptist attitudes towards Jews, Judaism, and Jewish evangelism. What, then, was his message? As noted above, Gartenhaus’s years in the northern institutions of Jewish evangelism were crucial in shaping his identity as a convert, his approach as a missionary, his interpretation of the Bible, and his understanding of the Jews’ place in history. He came to the South a missionary, a Hebrew Christian, and a dispensationalist. While these labels are accurate and informative, they do not wholly explain Gartenhaus’s message. There is a meaningful difference, after all, between presenting Zionism on dispensationalist terms and presenting dispensationalism. Relatedly, it is important to avoid making assumptions based on his identity as a convert and his role as a missionary. Gartenhaus, like other Hebrew Christians working among gentiles, taught to his audiences and readers specific ideas about Jewish identity, Judaism, and Jewish evangelism that merit examination on their own terms. This section examines four interrelated elements of Gartenhaus’s message—his presentation of Jewishness, his presentation of Judaism, his approach to evangelism, and his prophetic understanding of the Jews’ role in history—as well as their implications for how he presented the Holocaust and Zionism to gentile audiences.
Gartenhaus presented Jews as a nation or race, not simply a religious community. This view evolved directly out of his Hebrew Christianity. Hebrew Christians, after all, did not see their conversion as immolating their Jewishness; the very term “Hebrew Christian” suggested as much. In the tract Who is He?, Gartenhaus noted, “To many a Jew it would seem that we call him to become a Gentile…We want nothing of the kind.” In another tract addressed to Jews, An Open Letter to the Jews of the South, Gartenhaus referred to himself as “a member of your race, flesh of your flesh, blood of your blood.” Although such assertions served evangelistic ends, the Jewishness of Hebrew Christianity was not solely a missionary tactic, as some scholars have argued. It was, rather, both an actual expression of converts’ self-identity and a legitimate attempt to answer the question of whether Jews comprised a religious community or a nation. This much can be seen in the varieties of Jewish identity Gartenhaus included in his 1936 tract How to Win the Jews for Christ, which included the religious categories of “Orthodox” and “Reformed” as well as the more secular categories of “Zionist” and “Socialistic.” That most Jews—secular or religious—rejected his own Jewishness greatly rankled Gartenhaus (and other Hebrew Christians), who in 1932 complained to the American Israelite that “a Jew may deny the God of Israel, disassociate himself entirely from his people, be an atheist, guilty of every imaginable crime and still be recognized among his people,” while the convert to Christianity was considered “an enemy, a traitor, hated, shunned and abused.”
While Jews were unwilling to accept Gartenhaus’s claims to Jewish nationality, Southern Baptists accepted them. Baptist periodicals variously referred to the missionary as a “Christian Jew,” a “Christianized Austrian Jew,” or a member of the “Chosen People” concerned with the salvation of his “brethren according to the flesh” or “racial kinsmen.” An unpublished article sent to Gartenhaus by Helen Parker of Fort Lauderdale, Florida expressed Parker’s joy that converts “can always remain Jewish with their wonderful heritage, even after they become Christian.” In a 1931 editorial prompted by a discussion with Gartenhaus, F.M. McConnell of the Texas Baptist Standard argued,
Every national tie should hold with Jews who accept Christ as their Messiah, just the same as with those who reject him and look for another, or reject the Messianic hope entirely. Gentiles should not expect the Christian Jews to be any the less Jews as to their national ties and ideals. It is God’s purpose to preserve them as a separate nation forever.
Converts like Gartenhaus, in other words, remained Jews.
Southern Baptists understood Gartenhaus’s own Jewishness—both in terms of nationality and religious upbringing—as granting him a special teaching authority on matters related to Jews and Judaism. Ellis Fuller’s foreword to Gartenhaus’s The Rebirth of a Nation, for instance, declared the missionary “well prepared by birth, by training, and by Christian experience” to compose his work on Zionism. The foreword to his brief tract The Jew and Jesus noted that Baptists were “fortunate to have in our author the cultured Jew and the consecrated Christian.” Pastor W.B. Harvey of Knoxville emphasized Gartenhaus’s continued conversance with his former religion in recounting a dinner they had shared with a local rabbi, noting, “It was a thrill to hear [the rabbi] and Brother Gartenhaus carry on their conservation in Hebrew. Brother Gartenhaus accused him of breaking no less than six commandments while we were at dinner.” For Harvey, Gartenhaus was not only Jewish, but a better Jew than the rabbi. This not only confirmed Gartenhaus’s expertise with regard to Judaism, but affirmed his conversion—the better Jew had chosen Christianity.
Besides arguing that Jews comprised a nation, Gartenhaus held that they possessed particular national characteristics. This is seen most clearly in his 1943 work The Influence of the Jews Upon Civilization, which sought to counter antisemitism by demonstrating the many contributions Jews and Hebrew Christians alike had made to western civilization (and southern life). In the chapter “Jewish Character,” Gartenhaus identified several Jewish virtues—a love of learning, an emphasis on cleanliness, a powerful impulse towards self-control, a particular regard for justice and the value of life—while countering common antisemitic charges that Jews were particularly materialistic or criminal. Though Jews had faults, he acknowledged, they had no more than the gentiles around them. Likely because of his increasing concern over rising antisemitism, the work left out some negative national traits that Gartenhaus had identified in earlier works. It most notably omitted Gartenhaus’s concern over “racial pride that has become a mania” he had identified in The Rebirth of a Nation (1936). In explaining these national characteristics, Gartenhaus leaned on a mix of racial determinism and environmental adaptation. He could note that “God has blessed the Jewish people with certain qualities to be used for certain purposes” while arguing elsewhere that the religious laws of the Jews “become ingrained in their blood” and “developed in them a mastery of self and a reverence of temperance.” He never appeared concerned with reconciling the two views.
Though Gartenhaus had much positive to say about the Jews as a nation, he was critical of Judaism as a religion. Having himself grown up in a traditional Jewish home in Galicia, he was most aggressive in criticizing Orthodox Judaism and the Rabbinate in particular. His 1934 The Jew and Jesus, an overview of Jewish attitudes towards Jesus, presented the Rabbinate as analogous to the papacy in its unquestioned exercise of religious authority. Echoing centuries of anti-Jewish polemic, he claimed the rabbis had “succeeded in blinding the eyes of a whole people” to Christ’s true identity as the messiah. Particularly irksome to Gartenhaus was the rabbinic emphasis on the Talmud. He often claimed, “The Bible is a sealed book to Israel.” In An Urgent Call on Behalf of the Jews of the South, he claimed that Orthodox Jews thought the Bible “too holy to be handled and read by common people” and that the rabbis rightfully worried that reading it without guidance might “Mislead [common people] to believe in Jesus.” The “unbelieving Jew,” on the other hand, “thinks of this book less than he thinks of a cheap novel.” Gartenhaus considered Reform Jews to be close to unbelief, noting in How to Win the Jews for Christ they have “practically no religion at all” and were primarily concerned with trying to “imitate [their Gentile] neighbors in speech, habits, and also in religious conduct.” Beyond its spiritual shortcomings, Gartenhaus argued that Reform Judaism’s assimilationist tendencies had failed in preventing antisemitism: “To the anti-Semites they were still despised Jews and had to be dealt with accordingly.”
It is in this Hebrew Christian context—emphasizing ethnic or national Jewishness while criticizing Judaism—that Gartenhaus’s call for Southern Baptists to evangelize their Jewish neighbors should be understood. Gartenhaus argued that Christians had a specific and pressing duty to give the gospel to Jews. Though he trafficked in more general appeals—that Jews were sinners and so in need of salvation, that Christians owed a religious debt to Jews, that the Bible commanded “To the Jew first”—his most emotionally potent argument for evangelism was in presenting it as a matter of respect for the convert. In his 1948 mission study manual What of the Jews? Gartenhaus recorded his response to a Baptist’s query on whether the Jews truly needed Christ: “‘Do you believe[…]that were the Jewish religion without Christ able to save a man’s soul, I, or any other Jew, would have paid such a price to confess Him as Messiah and Saviour?’” For a Jew to become a Christian was to become “an outcast from his nation, family, home, and friends” and meant “the sacrifice of all that a man prizes.” In an address titled “The Tragedy of the Jewish Christian” Gartenhaus called out gentile Christians on this account:
Christian, will you allow the Jew to consider Christianity inferior to his own religion[?] for by your silence you are leading the Jew to believe that he is actually right in thus thinking. Is it not a command to preach the Gospel to all? Defend your faith, tell the Jew that you do not accept unreasonableness, as he claims, Tell him what faith in Jesus means to you and the Hebrew Christian.
Not to evangelize was to abandon the convert to his critics. This was more than just a jab at the apathetic; it was a salvo aimed at Christians more interested in dialogue than evangelism. In a 1931 article, Gartenhaus attacked a “Fellowship of the Faiths” meeting in New York City as unscriptural, claiming “its chief purpose apparently is to place all religions on the same basis.” To place all religions on the “same basis,” as Gartenhaus put it, was to delegitimize the many personal sacrifices Jews made when converting to Christianity.
Though Jewish critics often saw missions as attacks on their religious freedoms, Gartenhaus viewed evangelism and conversion as the essence of that freedom. In this he combined the Hebrew Christian concern for a fair hearing of Christianity amongst Jews with the Baptist emphasis on religious liberty. In a 1929 article for Baptist periodicals, Gartenhaus criticized on these grounds Dr. Edward Hunt of America’s Good Will Union, who had attacked Jewish evangelism as un-American and a “stumbling block” to Jewish-Christian relations:
…let Dr. Hunt tell why all cults and classes may preach and propagate their opinions except missionaries to the Jews. Does the Constitution grant free speech to everyone except the missionary? You may speak for or against slavery, for or against the saloon, for or against chiropractic, vivisection, Christian Science, theosophy, anarchism, capitalism, Mormonism, for or against everything; BUT IF ONE WANTS TO TELL OF CHRISTIANITY TO SUCH AS DO NOT YET BELIEVE, DR. HUNT WOULD SAY, “STOP! IT IS UN-AMERICAN!”
More “un-American,” according to Gartenhaus, were those who sought to suppress missionary work, particularly those who “become violent, or express their ‘bitterness’ in vile language, or rotten eggs, or other missiles when they hear the name of Jesus praised, as sometimes happens.” In the aforementioned 1932 letter to the American Israelite, Gartenhaus wrote that his purpose was to call upon Jews “to carefully, without bias, examine the claims of Jesus of Nazareth,” adding that he believed “that every intelligent and fair-minded person, especially the Jew, should be willing to do this, and whatever conclusion he reaches, should be free, without molestation, to choose his own faith.”
Though Gartenhaus was critical of Christians who sacrificed evangelism for dialogue, he did see fostering good will between Baptists and Jews as essential to any success his mission might enjoy. This, of course, was the impetus behind the “good will” meetings noted above. “If the seeds of kindness and love have been sown,” Gartenhaus noted in The Jew Within Our Gates, “the missionary’s visit will prove very successful, the Jews will listen to his message and will receive him as one of their own.” Though Gartenhaus certainly emphasized good will and organized his good will meetings with an evangelistic intent, he also believed it was the duty of the Christian to pursue love and understanding even to their own ends. The Birmingham Age-Herald noted of him, “…whether or not he can lead his fellow Jews to believe in the Christ he follows, if he can but bring about a greater understanding and sympathy between the two races he believes his efforts have borne fruit.”
A major emphasis of Gartenhaus’s good will approach was his acknowledgement and condemnation of the long history of Christian persecution of Jews, often in overtly anti-Catholic terms. Having grown up Jewish in Galicia, Gartenhaus’s relationship to the Catholicism of Eastern Europe was informed both by personal experience and Jewish collective memory. In an address titled “The Tragedy of the Jewish Christian,” he remarked that the Jew was justifiably skeptical towards converts since “For the greater part of his life in Europe, perhaps, the Jew has lived in an atmosphere of nominal Christianity” and “has been bitterly persecuted by those who named Christ as their Lord.” In What of the Jews? Gartenhaus looked to the past, emphasizing “that the ‘Church’ was perhaps the most potent cause for widespread rancor against the Jew” and that converting to Catholicism in the Middle Ages “meant worshipping images and relics, and denouncing his brethren as the most horrible monsters, who drank Christian blood, poisoned wells, and spread contagious diseases.” For Gartenhaus, though, Jew-hating and true Christianity were mutually exclusive. Those who did persecute Jews could not in actuality be Christians “because anybody who hates any human being, Jew or otherwise, has no right to claim to be a Christian.” Christians should only approach Jews in a spirit of love. “God is love,” Gartenhaus urged in How to Win the Jews for Christ, “So when you approach a Jew, see that your heart is filled with it.”
The Jewish response to Gartenhaus’s good-will approach was mixed. As noted above, the editors of the American Israelite and The Sentinel refused to look past Gartenhaus’s proselytizing as they pilloried his Open Letter to the Jews of the South. A letter sent to Gartenhaus by a recipient of some of his tracts likewise castigated his evangelism and conversion, saying the “idea of you, a X ‘Jew’ [sic] trying to persuade a fellow ‘Jew’ whose forefathers died with their ‘God’s’ name on their lips…is not only absurd, but contemptible.” Other Jews, though, actually appreciated Gartenhaus’s approach. William Silva, a Jewish contributor to the News-Sentinel out of Knoxville, Tennessee published an editorial lavishing praise on Gartenhaus' work after seeing him speak. “It was a revelation to me,” he wrote, “to find a complete change in the attitude, a new approach to the subject, a different interpretation of the ‘Christian mission to the Jews.’” In Silva’s eyes, Gartenhaus was “rendering a wonderful and most noble service in pointing the way to a better human understanding between Jew and Christian.”
Framing Gartenhaus’s presentation of Jewishness, Judaism, and Jewish evangelism was his prophetic understanding of the Jews’ role in history, itself intimately tied up with his Hebrew Christianity. “The Jew is the central figure of prophecy,” he asserted, “Without him it would be meaningless.” While Gartenhaus understood Jewishness in a descriptive sense on national terms, he nonetheless held that Jews had a particular religious destiny. God had chosen the Jews and preserved them as a nation “for one purpose only—to proclaim Christ’s name to the world.” In service of this national mission, God had inaugurated a covenantal relationship with the ancient Israelites. Reflecting his dispensationalist interpretation of the Bible, Gartenhaus held that these ancient covenants still applied to contemporary Jews rather than the church. Jews remained God’s chosen people. Their “promised land” remained promised to them. Their national mission—“to proclaim Christ’s name to the world”—remained their mission, even if they hitherto had failed in it.
Gartenhaus preached that God remained constantly involved in Jewish history. However, his interpretation of that involvement could be ambiguous. On the one hand, he frequently claimed that Jewish suffering was tragic (“As a people, they have worn the crown of thorns”) and that God actively punished those who persecuted Jews (“If the present-day anti-Semites love their native countries as they claim they do, they should learn the historic lesson to take their hands off the Jews”). In 1948 in What of the Jews? he suggested that Czarist Russia and Nazi Germany had brought on their own demise through their persecution of Jews. On the other hand, Gartenhaus also often presented God as the author of Jewish suffering. Just following his explanation of the fall of the Czars and Nazis in What of the Jews?, Gartenhaus added, “Over and over again God has permitted Israel to suffer at the hands of her enemies, but His promise to Abraham remains intact.” At times, this slipped into a functional view of Jewish suffering. In the 1930s, for example, he asserted God was using Nazi Germany to weld the Jews into a nation. Gartenhaus never attempted to reconcile these seemingly contradictory views. If there is an explanation to be had, it likely lies in his dependence on the biblical model of national judgment and deliverance. Beyond that, depicting Jewish suffering as tragic and wrong allowed Gartenhaus to condemn the persecution of his people. Depicting Jewish suffering as necessary, on the other hand, allowed him to find meaning in that suffering.
Gartenhaus also urged that God was bringing history to its climax through the Jews. His dispensationalist reading of prophecy, paired with his Hebrew Christian connections, led him to anticipate a two-fold national and religious awakening. This, he believed and preached, was already happening in his day. “The eyes of the world today are focused upon the Jew,” Gartenhaus claimed in an address he gave repeatedly across the South in the 1920s, “Never were days so fraught with historical significance.” The Zionist movement—“one of the most remarkable of all fulfilled prophecies”—represented the prophesied national awakening. The Hebrew Christian movement, characterized as an “unparalleled spiritual revival,” represented the spiritual. In an article reflecting on the inaugural conference of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance in 1925, Gartenhaus noted, “The student of Bible prophecies needs only to hear reports of the marvelous happenings in Palestine and of the inward awakening and acceptance of Christ in large numbers—then such prophecy at once becomes history.”
Gartenhaus’s national sympathies, paired with his belief that God was guiding the Jews towards this two-fold climax, shaped his approach to both the Holocaust and the Zionist movement. Gartenhaus was quite aware of increasing persecution of European Jews in the 1930s. He had witnessed the early years of Hitler's reign firsthand as one of the SBC’s delegates to the 1934 Baptist World Alliance meeting in Berlin. According to a letter from fellow Hebrew Christian and Southern Baptist Hyman Appelman (later a famed evangelist himself), the Home Mission Board had feared Gartenhaus “might get in trouble, even physically, by raising some disputation concerning the Hitler-Jewish proposition.” Immediately after his return to Georgia, Gartenhaus began publicly speaking out against Nazism. In a 1934 address to the Central Baptist Church of Atlanta, Gartenhaus squarely asserted “Jews are being killed every day in Germany.” He also spoke of meeting several Baptist Hebrew Christians while in Europe who “had been exiled from Germany not because they were Baptists but because Jewish blood coursed through their veins.” Gartenhaus’s early, strong stand against Hitler stood in stark contrast to Southern Baptists more sympathetic to the Nazi leader. SBC President M.E. Dodd, who had also traveled to the Baptist World Alliance meeting in Berlin, praised the dictator and suggested the rumors of Jewish persecution were misunderstood. Ben Bridges, Secretary-Treasurer of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, likewise argued in 1934 that Baptists “may wisely raise the question whether or not the Jew is really persecuted in Germany at all,” while also offering that “Herr Hitler might be 99.44–100% right in his attitude toward the Jews in Germany.”
Gartenhaus continued to raise awareness as the crisis deepened. In a 1938 Hebrew Christian Alliance Quarterly article he called attention to the growing Nazi persecutions and urged, “The plight of these hopeless millions is more than a Jewish problem.” That same year, he wrote Una Roberts Lawrence, the HMB’s mission study editor, “Our Baptist people have been lagging in their expressions of sympathy when other Christian bodies have publicly voiced theirs.” He also for the first time raised the issue of Nazi persecution in his annual report to the Convention, declaring that Jews “are passing through one of the greatest tragedies in their history.” With the strikingly odd exception of 1939, Gartenhaus used his annual Convention report to publicize the sufferings of Europe’s Jews until the end of his SBC tenure. A 1940 Associated Press article on the Home Mission Board’s annual meeting foregrounded Gartenhaus’s efforts to raise awareness, noting especially his lament that “practically all doors are shut” to the growing numbers of Jewish refugees. As mentioned above, concern for escalating antisemitism at home and abroad also led the missionary to publish The Influence of the Jews Upon Civilization. As he wrote to Lawrence, “I know of nothing that will better check the wide-spread anti-semitism than the information contained in my book.” After the war, Gartenhaus worked to bring attention to the plight of the hundreds of thousands of displaced Jews who had fled or been pushed from Europe. In 1947, he again served as a delegate to the Baptist World Alliance, where he presented a resolution calling on Baptists to do “everything in their power to alleviate the sufferings of the Jews.” The resolution also called for continued evangelization.
Gartenhaus offered two seemingly contradictory explanations of the Holocaust that extended out of his ambiguous interpretations of Jewish history. One the one hand, he presented it as a product of human evil and “Satanic fury,” something that Christians could and should take a stand against. On the other, he presented it as God’s doing. These attitudes can be seen side-by-side in the 1938 convention report mentioned above. Gartenhaus devoted part of the report to reading and endorsing a manifesto signed by 170 Protestant pastors in the New York area condemning antisemitism as a sin and pledging to strive “continuously for the realization of that brotherhood which humanity needs, democracy requires and Christianity demands.” In the same breath, though, he identified a teleological “ray of light” in the “dark sky.” “Through all this suffering,” he claimed, “the Lord is bringing his people closer to himself and they are beginning to wonder if after all their only hope does not lie in the Messiah, Jesus.” Shortly after Hitler’s annexation of Austria, Gartenhaus contended to New Mexico Baptists that God was using Hitler as he had used Pharaoh before to weld the Jewish people into a nation and lead them to Palestine. In 1944, in the depths of the war and amidst growing knowledge of the Nazis’ extermination campaign, Gartenhaus asked the Convention, “In all their four thousand year history has God ever dealt with Israel as He is now dealing with them?”
Such a mix of advocacy and prophetic speculation also characterized Gartenhaus’s approach to the Zionist movement. His tenure with the SBC roughly coincided with the British Mandate in Palestine, beginning four years after the British conquest of the region and ending about one year after the establishment of the State of Israel. As with the other Hebrew Christians he frequently worked with, a mixture of national pride and prophetic interest led Gartenhaus to be an outspoken supporter of Zionism. He lectured and sermonized on the topic frequently, even making it the subject of his first full-length book with the Sunday School Board, The Rebirth of a Nation: Zionism in History and Prophecy (1936).
Zionism was far from a settled issue among Southern Baptists during the missionary’s tenure. The most well-known Southern Baptist supporter of Zionism was radical fundamentalist J. Frank Norris, who supported the movement on basis of prophecy, humanitarian interest, and international law. As mentioned, though, Norris was run out of institutional Southern Baptist life in the 1920s. Leading faculty members at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary like J. McKee Adams, H.C. Goerner, and W.O. Carver argued against the movement in the 1930s and 1940s. It is worth noting, too, that in Gartenhaus’s home base of Atlanta, Zionism had a mixed following among Jews. While Dr. Harry Epstein, rabbi of the Orthodox Ahavath Achim synagogue from 1928 to 1982, supported the movement, Dr. David Marx, rabbi of the Reform Temple from 1895 to 1947, helped found the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism in 1942.
In The Rebirth of a Nation, Gartenhaus offered an interpretation of both the prophetic and practical implications of the Zionist movement. His second chapter, “God’s Covenant with Israel,” used a dispensationalist reading of the Hebrew Bible in arguing that the biblical covenants between God and ancient Israel were still active, noting “God’s ancient covenant still stands.” Borrowing from the wording of the Balfour Declaration (in which Great Britain had promised to facilitate the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine), he declared that the “covenant which God made with Abraham, which was renewed to Isaac, and again to Jacob, states definitely the geographical boundaries of this national home.” Gartenhaus also laid out his approach to prophecies concerning the restoration of the Jewish people to Palestine, arguing that a plain reading of scripture inevitably showed that such prophecies had yet to be fulfilled. Further, he claimed they were “being fulfilled before our very eyes.” The success of the Zionist movement was assured: “Zionism is going to win whether anybody likes it or not…To oppose it is to oppose God’s plan.”
Beyond articulating his biblically based support for the movement, Gartenhaus presented Zionism as an attempt to solve the “Jewish problem” (or problem of antisemitism) in Europe. Though the missionary was firm in arguing that Christ was the ultimate solution to that problem, he often celebrated Zionist successes on secular terms. In his 1948 What of the Jews? Gartenhaus noted, “More than a half million victims of prejudice and intolerance have been enabled, without infringing on the rights of any other people or religious group, to remake their lives in dignity and self-reliance on their ancestral soil.” Not only had Zionism proven successful for Jews, but it had become “a boon to the Arabs,” who received “more employment, better sanitation and health, and more education, without which they would have remained in the uncivilized state in which they had lived for centuries.” Still, Gartenhaus recognized a growing crisis in the wake of the White Paper of 1939, which had enacted severe immigration restrictions on Jews (the manuscript for What of the Jews? must have been submitted in early 1947; it shows no knowledge of the U.N. plan to partition Palestine). He criticized the White Paper on Zionist terms, arguing that it meant “the complete reversal of British policy toward the Jew in Palestine.” Tying the issue of Jewish immigration to the Holocaust, Gartenhaus argued, “Unless THE WHITE PAPER is abolished, there is no hope left for the stricken and homeless Jews who may survive the greatest persecution in their history, and new rivers of Jewish blood may flow in Europe.” He added his hope that Jews and “their friends in the United States and in the rest of the world” would bring pressure “to keep the doors of Palestine open.” Of course, Gartenhaus paired this largely secular appraisal with a confirmation of the prophetic implications of the movement, concluding “The Jew will have Palestine with or without the help of Britain or any other nation on the earth!”
In reacting to both the Holocaust and the Zionist movement, Gartenhaus never moved beyond efforts to raise awareness into anything that could be called activism. There are several possible explanations for this—that Gartenhaus’s job was evangelism, that the Home Mission Board did not want its missionaries engaging in political activism, or that Gartenhaus’s prophetic worldview could trend towards political quietism. If Gartenhaus was something less than an activist, though, he nonetheless worked to build southern evangelical constituencies against antisemitism and for Zionism, his ambivalences notwithstanding. Even as he could see God’s hand in the Holocaust, after all, he argued vehemently that antisemitism was un-Christian and sinful. Even as he believed the Zionist movement could not ultimately solve the “Jewish question,” he argued that Christians should support it. The seeming inconsistencies—the seeming tensions—of these viewpoints simply did not exist for the Hebrew Christian.
The End of the Gartenhaus Era
In Gartenhaus’s autobiography, written decades after his tenure with the Home Mission Board, the missionary implied that his departure from denominational mission work in 1949 had been tied to his agitation over the lack of a strong Baptist stance on the Holocaust. He suggested, too, that his denominational superiors had long been antagonistic to his work and had “tried on several occasions to do away with the Department of Jewish Evangelism.” In truth, the Home Mission Board had only increased its support of Gartenhaus’s mission in the years leading up to his dismissal, attempting to enlarge the work through the hiring of a secretary and an additional field worker. Gartenhaus was fired in March 1949 over allegations of misconduct made by the newly hired field worker, Lucille McKinney. It was the second time he had faced such accusations. Though McKinney retracted her allegations four years later, Gartenhaus was never brought back to the Home Mission Board.
The mission continued, albeit on different terms. Though Gartenhaus later claimed in his autobiography that “the Jewish Department was effectively done away with through a merger with other departments,” the Home Mission Board actually increased its number of missionaries to Jews over the next decade. Some of Gartenhaus’s priorities carried over—the emphasis on cultivating good will and the focus on the local church—but Gartenhaus’s distinct Hebrew Christian dispensationalism disappeared. The missionary literature produced by successors like Frank Halbeck and Jase Jones, for example, depicted Jewishness in terms of religion and eschewed any discussion of the Jews’ place in prophecy or the significance of the State of Israel. Gartenhaus himself moved on quickly. He continued to serve as president of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America until 1951 (he had begun in 1948) and founded the International Board of Jewish Missions (IBJM) in Atlanta in 1949, which still operates to this day (its headquarters were moved to Chattanooga in 1971). He died in 1984.
In many ways, Gartenhaus had been a typical product of the Jewish missions that proliferated in the first decades of the twentieth century. He was typical in his background, in his Hebrew Christianity, in his dispensationalist interpretation of scripture, and in his desire to evangelize other Jews. Atypical, however, was Gartenhaus’s position within the Southern Baptist Convention, which granted him outsized influence within the United States’ largest Protestant denomination. The singularity of his southern mission, paired with the typicality of his Hebrew Christian identity and beliefs, makes clear several lessons about American evangelical Protestantism and the broader Jewish-Christian encounter. First and foremost, it shows how evangelical approaches to Jews were not inherent to evangelicalism, but were conceived, articulated, and spread by a motivated class of missionaries and converts. Evangelical missions to Jews, in other words, reached into the churches that supported their work as much as they reached out to their evangelistic targets. Indeed, this is where they had their greatest impact.
Gartenhaus’s mission also highlights the central role that members of the Hebrew Christian movement played in defining evangelical approaches to Jews and Judaism during years that included the Holocaust and the birth of modern Israel. The boundary between evangelical Protestantism and Judaism was never abstract—it was populated, or perhaps embodied, by converts like Gartenhaus. Understanding this, the seeming paradoxical pairing of evangelicalism and advocacy that has often confused observers of the evangelical-Jewish encounter was no paradox at all. For converts, the pairing was a natural, even inevitable outgrowth of their ethnic affinities and religious commitments. The presence of Hebrew Christians in the churches likewise rendered unintelligible to many Christians the arguments that efforts to convert Jews were ultimately efforts to destroy the Jewish people. Jewishness and Judaism were not the same thing. In both arguing this and demonstrating it in their persons, converts like Gartenhaus not only made the case for evangelism, but for the ideological assumptions that undergirded Zionism. For Baptists, Gartenhaus was simply a Jew—their Jew—talking about Jews.
 I say “effectively” because of a few months-long exceptions, such as the hiring of Mollie Cohen in 1939 and Lucille McKinney in 1948.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, What of the Jews? (Atlanta: Home Mission Board, 1948), 78.
 Eliza McGraw’s “How to Win the Jews for Christ: Jewishness and the Southern Baptist Convention,” gives some attention to Gartenhaus’s rhetorical representations of Jewishness in his writings but does not plumb the sources of Gartenhaus’s teaching. In The Mississippi Quarterly 53, no. 2 (Spring 2000): 209–223. Daniel Goodman places Gartenhaus within a broader context of Baptist engagement with Jews, but does not explore the missionary’s background and teaching on their own terms. See “Strangers, Neighbors, and Strangers Again: The History of Southern Baptist Approaches to Jews and Judaism,” Review and Expositor 103 (Winter 2006): 63–89. Robert Ross uses Gartenhaus’s annual reports to the SBC to gauge Southern Baptist awareness of the Holocaust. See “Baptists, Jews, Nazis: 1933–1947,” in Bearing Witness to the Holocaust, 1939–1989, ed. Alan Berger (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991), 207–226.
 The former can be found scattered throughout Yaakov Ariel, Evangelizing the Chosen People (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), especially 22–37, which examines how several of the missions found funding and support among conservative Protestants. Ariel also addresses the latter on 47–54. On the struggle of American Hebrew Christians to find a place within American Protestantism, see David Rausch, Messianic Judaism: Its History, Theology, and Polity (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1982); on the place of Hebrew Christians within the English church, see Michael Darby, The Emergence of the Hebrew Christian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Leiden: Brill, 2010).
 See, e.g., R.E. Brickhouse, “Beware of Imposters,” Biblical Recorder (April 16, 1930), 11.
 Ariel, Chosen People, 38–54.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, Traitor? (Chattanooga, TN: International Board of Jewish Missions, 1980), 110.
 On the impact of nineteenth-century efforts and Jewish responses, see Jonathan Sarna, “The Impact of Nineteenth Century Christian Missions on American Jews,” in Jewish Apostasy in the Modern World, ed. Todd Endelman (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1987), 232–254. For a survey of American and British efforts, see Max Eisen, “Christian Missions to the Jews in North America and Great Britain,” Jewish Social Studies 10, no. 1 (January, 1948): 31–66; see also Eichhorn, David Max, Evangelizing the American Jew (Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David Publishers, 1978). On the involvement of Hannah Adams in Jewish evangelism, see Gary Schmidt, A Passionate Usefulness: The Life and Literary Labors of Hannah Adams (University of Virginia, 2004), 337–342.
 The Jewish Era (Chicago) 28, no. 1 (Jan. 1919), 23.
 On the details of the Williamsburg and Chicago missions, see Ariel, Chosen People, 22–37, 101–113, 135–142.
 This is Yaakov Ariel’s emphasis in Chosen People. Ernst Sandeen notably cited dispensationalism as the guiding force behind the development of the Christian fundamentalist movement in the United States in The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism, 1800–1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1970). George Marsden treats dispensationalism within fundamentalism in Fundamentalism and American Culture 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 48–71; see also Joel Carpenter, Revive Us Again (New York: Oxford, 1997), 89–109. Matthew Avery Sutton has argued for the centrality of millennialism to American evangelicalism in American Apocalypse (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).
 William Blackstone, Jesus is Coming (Chicago: F.H. Revell, 1878)
 On connections between dispensationalism, fundamentalism, and Christian Zionism, see Yona Malachy, American Fundamentalism and Israel (Jerusalem: Institute of Contemporary Jewry, 1978); Timothy Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming: American Premillennialism 1875–1982 (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie, 1983), 128–157; Rausch, David, Zionism Within Early American Fundamentalism, 1878–1918: A Convergence of Two Traditions (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1979); Yaakov Ariel, On Behalf of Israel: American Fundamentalist Attitudes Toward Jews, Judaism, and Zionism, 1865–1945 (Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing Inc., 1991); Timothy Weber, On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004); Victoria Clark, Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007); Robert Smith, More Desired than Our Owne Salvation: The Roots of Christian Zionism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). On prophecy and premillennialism in American culture, see Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1992).
 On Hebrew Christianity in Great Britain, see the aforementioned Darby, Emergence; on connections between British Hebrew Christianity and the American movement, see B.Z. Sobel, Hebrew Christianity: The Thirteenth Tribe (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1974), 127–224; see also Sobel, “Legitimation and Antisemitism as Factors in the Functioning of a Hebrew–Christian Mission,” Jewish Social Studies 23, no. 3 (July 1961): 170–186, and “Protestant Evangelists and the Formulation of a Jewish Racial Mystique: The Missionary Discovery of Sociology,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 5, no. 3 (Autumn, 1966): 343–356. On the development of American Hebrew Christianity and the subsequent Messianic Judaism movement see Rausch, Messianic Judaism; see also Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Messianic Judaism (New York: Continuum, 2000), 15–59; Ariel also touches on the movement in Chosen People, 47–50, 80–86, 94–99.
<s/up> S.B. Rohold, “First Conference of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America,” The Missionary Review of the World 28, no. 6 (June, 1915): 443–445.
 The Jewish Era (Chicago) 28, no. 1 (Jan. 1919): 23.
 There were a few individual Hebrew Christians in the South, such as A. Lichtenstein of Tulsa, OK. Elias Newman, too, would move to St. Louis in the late 1920s.
 James Robinson Graves, “The Scriptures – No. 13.” Tennessee Baptist 10 (March 11, 1854), 2.
 See William Glass, Strangers in Zion: Fundamentalists in the South, 1900–1950 (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2001), 45.
 On Norris’s fundamentalism and conflict with leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention and Baptist General Convention of Texas, see Barry Hankins, God’s Rascal: J. Frank Norris and the Beginnings of Southern Fundamentalism (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996), 19–44.
 Mullins had actually published a premillennialist tract early in his career, but later retreated from that position. E.Y. Mullins, “Christ’s Coming and the Millennium,” Biblical Recorder (February 16, 1921), 5; William Pitts, “Southern Baptists and Millennialism 1900–2000: Conceptual Patterns and Historical Expressions,” Baptist History and Heritage (Spring 1999): 7–27.
 “Building a Denomination – Our Organized Work,” Baptist Messenger (June 23, 1920).
 On Carver’s recommendation, see Gartenhaus, Traitor?, 142. On Carver’s opposition to dispensationalism, see Mark Wilson, William Owen Carver’s Controversies in the Baptist South (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2010), 108–118.
 Proceedings of the First Triennial Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (Richmond, VA: H.K. Ellyson, 1846), 18.
 Proceedings of the Eighteenth Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (Louisville: Bradley and Gilbert, 1873), 19–20, 35–36.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, A New Emphasis on Jewish Evangelization through the Local Church (Atlanta: Home Mission Board, n.d.), box 1, folder 14, Jacob Gartenhaus Collection (hereafter cited JG), Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives (hereafter cited SBHLA).
 Jacob Gartenhaus, “The Local Church and the Jews,” Report of the First International Hebrew Christian Conference (London: Marshall Brothers, 1925), 154–160.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, Pioneer Work Among Southern Jews (Birmingham, AL: Woman’s Missionary Union, n.d.), 2, box 13, folder 34, URL, SBHLA.
 Roy Mason, “World’s Greatest Jewish Christian Has Fiftieth Anniversary,” Grace and Life (Tampa, FL), January 1966: 1, 4, clipping in box 1, folder 2, JG, SBHLA.
 “Talks on Judaism and Christianity,” Palm Beach Post (December 14, 1928).
 Jacob Gartenhaus, “Work Among the Jews,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1925 (Nashville, TN: Marshall & Bruce Co., 1925), 343.
 “The Gospel to the Jews,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1935, 276. Though Gartenhaus did not give statistics in every annual report, it is possible to estimate the total number of sermons he gave throughout his 28 years. The mean for the five years he did report sermon statistics is 174. Multiplied out for 28 years, this adds up to an estimated 4,877 sermons over the course of his HMB career, not counting convention addresses and clinics.
 “Missionary Believes God Using Hitler As Tool to Weld New Jewish Nation,” The Daily Current-Argus, clipping in box 1, folder 2, JG, SBHLA. The cities included Albuquerque, Springer, Tucumcari, Portales, Hobbs, Tularosa, Carlsbad, Las Cruces, and Deming.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, “Gospel to the Jews,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1935, 276.
 Mrs. H.C. Peelman, “Rev. Jacob Gartenhaus and the Florida Assembly,” clipping in box 13, folder 31, Una Roberts Lawrence Collection (URL), SBHLA.
 “Series of Meetings Here This Week,” The State (April 27, 1930), clipping in box 1, folder 19, JG, SBHLA.
 “Jewish-Christian Meetings Begin” (Jan. 5, 1931), clipping in box 1, folder 19, JG, SBHLA.
 Kligerman: “Kligerman Tells His Life's Story, Gartenhaus Heard by Capacity Congregation,” The State (May 1, 1930); Singer: “Jewish Services Held Next Week”; Newman: “Jewish-Christian Meetings,” Tennessean (January 1931); all three clippings in box 1, folder 19, JG, SBHLA.
 “Series of Meetings Here This Week” in The State, Columbia, SC, (April 27, 1930), clipping in box 1, folder 19, JG, SBHLA.
 The Virgin Birth of the Messiah (Atlanta: Home Mission Board, n.d.), box 1, folder 14, JG, SBHLA; The Jew’s Contribution to the South in box 1, folder 13, JG, SBHLA.
 Who is HE? (Atlanta: Home Mission Board, n.d.), box 1, folder 14, JG, SBHLA; An Open Letter to the Jewish People of the South (Atlanta: Publicity Department, Home Mission Board, n.d.), box 1, folder 14, JG, SBHLA.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, The Jew and Jesus (Nashville, TN: Sunday School Board, 1934); The Rebirth of a Nation (Nashville, Broadman Press, 1936); The Influence of the Jews Upon Civilization (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1943); What of the Jews? (Atlanta: Home Mission Board, 1948).
 “Annual Report of Woman’s Missionary Union to Southern Baptist Convention,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1925, 106.
 “Annual Report on Work of Woman’s Missionary Union to Southern Baptist Convention,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1926, 76.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, “Report of Jacob Gartenhaus,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1927, 294.
 “Record of Personal Service,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1937, 392.
 “Woman’s Missionary Union,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1939, 414.
 Ibid., 414.
 Among nine other criteria, the convention-wide WMU would withhold its “A-1” rating from local societies if they did not have “two denominational periodicals in at least one-half of the homes represented in the society.” From “Annual Report on Work of Woman’s Missionary Union to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1926, 76. In 1922, it reported 573 A-1 societies (6,902 met four of the ten criteria). From “Annual Report of the Woman’s Missionary Union, Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1922, 80.
 Royal Service featured programming on Jews in November 1927, July 1932, February 1937, September 1940, August 1943, and October 1948.
 Royal Service featured programming on Palestine in November 1926, August 1933, January 1935, October 1938, April 1944, and February 1947.
 “Business Woman’s Circles.” Royal Service (February 1947), 16.
 In 1922 he reported 1,501 visits (“Work Among the Jews,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1922, 346); in 1923, 955 (Gartenhaus, “Report of Jacob Gartenhaus.” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1923, 191); in 1925, 1442 (Gartenhaus, “Report of Jacob Gartenhaus” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1925, 343); in 1935, 800 (“Gospel to the Jews,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1935, 276); in 1936, 750 (Gartenhaus, “He Came Unto His Own” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1936, 237).
/sup> “Work Among the Jews” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1922, 346.
 Gartenhaus, “Report of Jacob Gartenhaus.” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1923, 191.
 “Gospel to the Jews,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1935, 276.
 Gartenhaus, “Report of Jacob Gartenhaus,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1925, 340.
 Gartenhaus, “He Came Unto His Own,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1936, 236.
 Gartenhaus, “Jewish Work” Southern Baptist Convention, 1930, 278.
 Gartenhaus used “race” and “nation” interchangeably.
 Gartenhaus, Who is He?, 13, box 1, folder 14, JG, SBHLA.
 Gartenhaus, An Open Letter to the Jewish People of the South (Atlanta: Home Mission Board, n.d.), 2, box 1, folder 14, JG, SBHLA.
 Eliza McGraw’s aforementioned “How to Win the Jews for Christ: Jewishness and the Southern Baptist Convention,” presents this as a rhetorical device; B.Z. Sobel presents the maintenance of Jewish identity as a missionary tactic in Hebrew Christianity: The Thirteenth Tribe (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1974), 127–224.
 Gartenhaus, How to Win the Jews for Christ, 2–4, pamphlet in box 13, folder 26, URL, SBHLA.
 Gartenhaus, quoted in Joseph, Charles, “Random Thoughts,” The American Israelite (May 12,1932), 1; the letter was also printed in Baptist periodicals: “Gartenhaus Replies to Hebrew Critic,” Baptist Messenger (June 16, 1932) in box 13, folder 22, URL, SBHLA.
 “Christian Jew”: Gartenhaus, “New Opportunities for Winning the Jews for Christ,” The Monthly B.Y.P.U. Magazine (June, 1934), 7; “Christianized Austrian Jew”: “Christianized Austrian Jew Will Speak Sunday At The First Baptist Church,” box 1, folder 20, JG, SBHLA; “chosen people”: “The Chosen People,” in Baptist Home Missions, clipping in box 13, folder 22 URL, SBHLA; “brethren”: “Rev. Jacob Gartenhaus,” clipping, folder 13.22, URL, SBHLA; “racial kinsmen”: “Racial Faith Sticks: Victory for Jews Seen,” (May 1939), clipping in box 13, folder 25, URL, SBHLA.
 Helen Parker, “Why I am Interested in Giving the Gospel to the Jewish People,” box 1, folder 5, JG, SBHLA.
 F.M. McConnell, “The Conversion of Jews,” Baptist Standard (January 29, 1931), 4.
 Ellis Fuller, in Gartenhaus, The Rebirth of a Nation, 7‒8.
 Hill in Gartenhaus, The Jew and Jesus, 5.
 W.B. Harvey, “Gartenhaus Visits Knoxville,” Baptist and Reflector, clipping, box 13, folder 25, URL, SBHLA.
 Gartenhaus, The Influence of the Jews Upon Civilization, 15–20.
 Gartenhaus, The Rebirth of a Nation, 19.
 First quote from The Rebirth of a Nation, 21; Second from The Influence of the Jews Upon Civilization, 16.
 Gartenhaus, The Jew and Jesus, 12; the image of Jews as blind was common to both Christian literature and art from the medieval era onward: Helen Rosenau, “Ecclesia et Synagoga,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 6. (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007), 88. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 6 May 2015.
 Gartenhaus, An Urgent Call on Behalf of the Jews of the South, 3.
 Ibid., 4.
 Ibid., 4.
 Gartenhaus, How to Win the Jews for Christ, 4.
 Gartenhaus, What of the Jews?, 31.
 His chapter “Why Christ for the Jew?” lays out Gartenhaus’s case for Jewish evangelism in Gartenhaus, What of the Jews?, 56–75.
 Ibid., 57.
 Gartenhaus, “The Tragedy of the Jewish Christian,” 4, box 1, folder 20, JG, SBHLA.
 Gartenhaus, “The Fellowship of Faiths,” Western Recorder (Dec. 1931), box 13, folder 22, URL, SBHLA.
 For a brief expression of Southern Baptist conceptions of religious liberty, see E.Y. Mullins, “The Baptist Conception of Religious Liberty,” Baptist Standard (September 6, 1923), 7, 13. In a 1944 essay in the Review and Expositor (the SBC’s leading theological journal), J.M. Dawson emphasized that “religious liberty insists on freedom[…]to teach and evangelize.” Dawson, “Religious Liberty Restated,” The Review and Expositor 41, no. 4 (October, 1944), 343–344.
 Gartenhaus, “Shall Jewish Missionary Propaganda Cease?” Western Recorder 103 (May 9, 1929), 3, box 13, folder 22, URL, SBHLA.
 Ibid., 3–4.
 Gartenhaus, quoted in Joseph, Charles, “Random Thoughts,” The American Israelite (May 12,1932), 1.
 Gartenhaus, The Jew Within Our Gates, 12, pamphlet, box 1, folder 13, JG, SBHLA.
 “Jew Carries Gospel of Christ to His Race,” The Birmingham Age-Herald, clipping, box 1, folder 19, JG, SBHLA.
 Gartenhaus, “The Tragedy of the Jewish Christian,” 2.
 Gartenhaus, What of the Jews?, 18.
 Gartenhaus, An Open Letter to the Jews of the South, 6.
 Gartenhaus, How to Win the Jews for Christ, 16.
 Bersteni to Gartenhaus, 17 February 1927, box 1, folder 3, JG, SBHLA.
 William Silva, “Editorial,” The News - Sentinel (Knoxville, TN), June 30, 1935, reprinted in The Christian Index, December 26, 1935, 15.
 Ibid., 15.
 “Eyes of World on Jew Today,” The Lexington Herald, August 8, 1927, box 1, folder 19, JG, SBHLA.
 Gartenhaus, The Rebirth of a Nation, 22.
 Ibid., 22.
 First quotation from Gartenhaus, The Rebirth of a Nation, 33; second from What of the Jews?, 14.
 Gartenhaus, What of the Jews?, 21–22.
 Ibid., 22.
 “Missionary Believes God Using Hitler As Tool to Weld New Jewish Nation,” The Daily Current-Argus, clipping, box 1, folder 2, JG, SBHLA.
 “Eyes of World on Jew Today,” The Lexington Herald, August 8, 1927, box 1, folder 19, JG, SBHLA.
 Gartenhaus, “Thy People Israel,” clipping, box 1, folder 2, JG, SBHLA.
 Hyman Appelman to Jacob Gartenhaus, 2 May 1934, box 1, folder 4, JG, SBHLA.
 “World in Ignorance of Nazi Killing of Jews, Asserts Minister Here,” Atlanta Constitution, September 3, 1934, 5.
 Ibid., 5.
 Robert Ross’s “Baptists, Jews, Nazis: 1933–1947” mines the Northern and Southern Baptist Convention’s annual reports to examine Baptist responses to Nazism and the Holocaust.
 M.E. Dodd, Girdling the Globe for God (Shreveport, LA: John S. Ramond, 1935), 29–38.
 Ben Bridges, “Baptists, Hitler, and the Jews,” Arkansas Baptist, March 29,1934, 16.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, “Israel Needs Prayers,” Hebrew Christian Alliance Quarterly 23, no. 3 (Fall 1938), 14.
 Jacob Gartenhaus to Una Roberts Lawrence, October 10, 1938, box 13, folder 25, URL, SBHLA.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, “Praying for Jerusalem,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1938, 292.
 “Mission Board Leader Hails Baptist ‘Loyalty, Generosity’” The Washington Post, November 8, 1940, 19.
 Gartenhaus to Lawrence, October 29, 1945, box 3, folder 25, URL, SBHLA. Gartenhaus also authored a short pamphlet dealing specifically with the South: The Jew’s Contribution to the South (n.d.), box 1, folder 13, JG, SBHLA.
 “Resolution concerning the Jews.” Seventh Baptist World Congress: Official Report, ed. Walter Lewis (London: Baptist World Alliance, 1948), 99.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, “Jewish Work,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1942, 274.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, “Praying for Jerusalem,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1938, 292.
 Ibid., 293.
 “Missionary Believes God Using Hitler As Tool to Weld New Jewish Nation,” The Daily Current-Argus (Carlsbad, NM) 1938, clipping, box 1, folder 2, JG, SBHLA.
 Jacob Gartenhaus, “Jewish Work,” Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1944, 304.
 He did, however, have allies within the Convention.
 Gartenhaus, The Rebirth of a Nation, 39.
 Ibid., 31.
 Ibid., 39.
 Ibid., 128.
 Gartenhaus, What of the Jews?, 40.
 Ibid., 41.
 Ibid., 44.
 Ibid., 44.
 Ibid., 44.
 Ibid., 47.
 Traitor?, 211.
 “Minutes of the Executive Committee of the Home Mission Board,” March 3, 1949, 182, box 8, item 3, Home Mission Board Minutes, SBHLA;
 Rogers to J.B. Lawrence, May 26, 1938, box 3, folder 8, Home Mission Board Executive Office Files, SBHLA.
 “Minutes of the Executive Committee of the Home Mission Board,” November 28, 1952, 121, box 8, item 9, Home Mission Board Minutes, SBHLA.
 Gartenhaus, Traitor?, 8.
 Frank Halbeck, Our Jewish Neighbors (Atlanta: Home Mission Board, 1955); A. Jase Jones, Neighbors Yet Strangers (Nashville: Broadman, 1968).