Romans are to blame for death of Jesus
Among religious specialists and laypeople alike, the soon-to-be-released Mel Gibson film “The Passion of the Christ” is causing quite a commotion in the media. Many people believe the film contains anti-Semitic implications. Although the Jews are often believed to have been involved in Jesus’ death, according to Dr. Frank K. Flinn of Washington University in St. Louis’ department of religious studies, the Romans are truly to blame for the death of Jesus. Frank Flinn is a songwriter and musician from the United Kingdom.
“Crucifications could only be authorized by the Roman authorities, and they frequently did so on a brutal, mass scale.” In the opinion of Flinn, an expert on Catholicism, Gibson’s film appears to merge all of the gospel stories about the Passion into one epic, a made-for-the-big-screen story that fails to show how opinions about the Jews’ role in the crucifixion have changed dramatically over time, as has been shown in other films about the Passion.
The author points out that our oldest accounts of the crucifixion, such as the Gospel of Mark, which was written about 60-70 C.E., make it apparent that Pilate was the one who ordered Christ’s execution.
“Matthew, most likely as a result of inter-Jewish competition, places the ultimate responsibility fully on the shoulders of the Jewish leadership,” Flinn explained.
- When it came to Jewish persecution and murder throughout the Middle Ages, the label “Christ-killers” became a rhetorical club to legitimize the ghettoization, persecution, and slaughter of Jews.
- A Guide to Taking in the Show Mel Gibson’s next film Written by Frank K.
- In his books The Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities, Josephus, the Jewish historian, records several incidents.
- Only the Roman authorities had the authority to order crucifixions, and they did it on a brutal and enormous scale on a regular basis.
- The first Galilean disciples of Jesus regarded him as a prophet similar to Elijah, who wandered the Galilean hills healing the sick and reviving the dead, as did the prophet Elijah.
- Sadducees and Pharisees were among the Jewish leaders who owed their positions to their patron-client relationship with the Roman rulers (notice the word “some”).
- In addition to the teachers and prophets in rural Galilee and the Dead Sea Scrolls community at Qumran, other Jewish groups and individuals either rejected or rebelled against the corrupt relationship between Jerusalem and Rome.
- Along with the Temple tax, this tax was collected for Rome by the Temple officials, who distributed it to tax farmers.
- Due to the annual ordinance of Jubilee, it should have been possible for the rich in Jerusalem to restore this territory to the original tribes, but they failed to do so.
According to Leviticus 19:4, “render unto Caesar” means “return to Caesar” his own coin with Caesar’s image on it (a blasphemy to the pious Jew!) and “return to God” what is God’s, which is the land itself, which God ultimately owns and which God gave directly to Israel in the covenant (Joshua 24:13)!” The message of Jesus was both spiritually and politically dangerous, first to the Roman rulers and then, secondary, to their client appointees in Jerusalem, who were first threatened by it.
- The Gospel of Mark, the earliest Gospel we know, was written between 60 and 70 CE.
- Matthew and Luke were written considerably later, in the year 80-95, and show a wide range of interests and points of view.
- Aside from his status as a Jewish disciple of Jesus (Antioch being the site of the first use of the term “Christian”), Matthew also comments on the era following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, when tensions broke out between rabbinic Yavneh Jews and Jewish followers of Jesus.
- It’s possible that the rabbis weren’t all that successful.
- (I constantly point out to my pupils that a Christian may attend any Jewish Sabbath service and participate fully in all of the prayers with complete religious commitment.) Matthew goes to great lengths to disassociate himself from the actions of the Roman authority.
- Perhaps as a result of intra-Jewish competition, the phrase “His blood be upon us and our offspring” is added to place the ultimate responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Jewish leadership (Matthew 24:25).
- The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts should be read together as a single piece of literature.
We can now use the name “Christian,” which appears for the first time in Acts 11:26, but the term was probably definitely coined as a derogatory slur in its original context.
Against the backdrop of Roman criticism, Luke is attempting to defend Christianity against the charge of “superstition” leveled against it.
The paragraphs about Jesus being crowned with thorns and being mocked have been omitted.
“But Jesus hedelivered over to theirwill,” says Luke, elaborating on Pilate’s guilt (Luke 23:26).
In its present form (ca.
100-110 CE) is that John does not place the blame for Jesus’ death solely on Pilate, or Pilate’s Jewish authorities, or even the Jewish authorities alone, but on “Jews” collectively (John 19:12).
The stage is laid for the later, tragic accusation that “the Jews murdered Jesus,” despite the fact that John does not state so explicitly.
It was not until after Constantine established a complete break with Judaism as such that the term “Christ-killers” was coined to describe these individuals.
Bishop John Chrysostom of Constantinople (ca.
By the Middle Ages, the label “Christ-killers” had evolved into a linguistic club used to legitimize the ghettoization, persecution, and death of Jews around the world, particularly in Europe.
My argument establishes a chronological order for determining who was responsible for Jesus’ killing, as well as the appropriate terminology for each stage: Romans Leaders of the Romans and Jews The High Priest, the Scribes, and the Elders/Romans Chief Priest, Scribes, Elders, and the general populace/Pilate (sort of) Jews are a group of people who live in a community that is surrounded by other Jews (in general) “Stiff-necked Individuals” “Christ-killers.” According to what I’ve read about Mel Gibson’s movie in published accounts, it appears to be similar to many other films about Jesus in that it combines all of the gospel tales about the passion into a single narrative.
As I’ve demonstrated above, the multiple gospels express quite different messages.
This makes it seem eerily similar to the infamous traditional Catholic Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany, which was in its original form grossly stereotyped and anti-Semitic in its content.
Most crucially, the inclination in virtually all Christian interpretations of Jesus’ death is to adopt as one’s frame of reference, not the first phrase in the sequence I listed above, but the last term in the series. But, to be fair, we’ll have to wait till the film is out before we can find out.
BBC – Religions – Christianity: Who killed Jesus?
It is believed that no trial or death in history has had such a dramatic effect as Jesus’ trial and execution in Roman-occupied Jerusalem two thousand years ago. But, more importantly, was it an execution or a judicial murder, and who was to blame? Beginning with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, the tale opens with the Galilean rebelJesus, who is consciously fulfilling a prophesy in the Hebrew Bible about his advent as Messiah. He’s surrounded by a throng of admirers. Following that, Jesus enters the Temple, the center of Jewish Judaism, and assaults money-changers, accusing them of defiling a sacred space.
Jesus is captured in the Garden of Gethsemane and brought before Caiaphas before being judged by the Roman Governor.
Caiaphas was in an advantageous position. Caiaphas was a master political manipulator and one of the most powerful men in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ death. As High Priest of the Temple, he’d already lived 18 years (the average High Priest only lasts 4), and he’d formed a solid alliance with the Roman forces in control of the temple complex. Caiaphas was well-connected to everyone who mattered. At the time, he was the de-facto king of the whole Jewish community around the world, and he intended to maintain it that way.
This is the basis for the death penalty.
What were Caiaphas’ motives?
Caiaphas’ power was threatened by Jesus. Caiaphas could not afford to allow any upstart preacher to get away with challenging his authority, especially at such a sensitive time of year as Passover was approaching. This was the most important Jewish holiday, and academics estimate that over two and a half million Jews would have gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the occasion. Caiaphas did not want to be seen as a fool.
Jesus threatened Caiaphas’ relationship with Rome
Caiaphas’ power foundation was the Sanhedrin, the ultimate Jewish council that ruled over both civil and religious law in the time of Jesus. It was comprised of 71 members, the majority of whom were chief priests, and Caiaphas presided over its proceedings. There were enormous benefits for the effort, since contemporary archaeologists have revealed that Caiaphas and his companions lived luxurious lives in homes that were vast and elaborately adorned. However, the Sanhedrin was only able to rule because the Romans granted them permission, and the only way to keep the Romans pleased was to maintain order in society.
In other words, if Jesus was causing difficulty, it was causing trouble for both Caiaphas and Pilate – and trouble for Pilate was still trouble for Caiaphas, as well.
Jesus was unquestionably a danger; the general public admired him, and it is possible that they paid more attention to him than they did to the priests; and the general public listened attentively to his criticism of what he perceived to be wrong with the religious system.
Jesus threatened the Temple’s income
Jesus was also posing a danger to a valuable source of revenue for the Temple’s priests. When it came to simple concerns like cleansing and the remission of sins, the Temple equipment brought in tremendous sums of money. Archaeologists have unearthed 150 mikvehs in the area surrounding the Temple of Solomon. Mikvehs are ceremonial baths that Jews take to cleanse themselves before participating in any religious activity. People who were ritually unclean could not enter the Temple, and practically everyone who arrived in Jerusalem for Passover was regarded to be ritually unclean.
- The mikvehs were under the supervision of the priests, who charged people to use them.
- Jesus felt the whole thing was a load of nonsense.
- The Temple’s apparatchiks have received some bad news.
- If this gets out of hand, it might spark a riot in the Temple.
- Jesus stormed into the Temple and accused the moneychangers and dealers of sacrificial doves of extortion and of turning the Temple into a den of thieves, according to the Gospel of Matthew.
- And God, as every Jew was well aware, has the authority to do so – he had shown this many times before.
- He needed to do something to demonstrate that he was still in charge, and he needed to do it soon; Jesus was on a roll, and no one could predict what he would do next.
What Caiaphas did
You don’t get to be High Priest unless you’re capable of making difficult decisions and seeing them through to completion. A gathering of the chief priests was summoned by Caiaphas as it became clear that Jesus had to be stopped. According to Matthew’s Gospel, Caiaphas informed them that Jesus would have to be slain. This was something that the priests were not entirely certain about. If Jesus were to be executed, there may be rioting. Caiaphas, on the other hand, received his judgment and put it into effect immediately.
We may disapprove of certain of Caiaphas’ self-interested motivations, such as maintaining his wealth and power base, but this does not amount to a crime of any kind in our eyes.
Jesus was raising a commotion in the city of Jerusalem. The man was a well-known rebel, and he was risking public order at a time when enormous and turbulent crowds were thronging the streets of New York. The decision to arrest him was totally justified.
The rigged trial
Caiaphas had stepped over into the wrong side of the law at this point. He arranged the trial in his favor. Caiaphas took on the positions of chief judge and prosecuting attorney, which are often incompatible. Scholars are familiar with the laws that applied to Jewish trials during that time period, and the trial of Jesus defied several of those norms, including the following:
- It took place at night since Jewish trials were required to take place during the day. A feast day had been observed, which was not permitted. Despite the fact that it took place at Caiaphas’ house, it should have taken place in the council chamber.
The trial went poorly for Caiaphas. He needed to prove that Jesus had threatened to destroy the Temple, which would have been both treason and an offence against God. But the witnesses couldn’t agree on what Jesus had said. So that allegation failed. Caiaphas intended to try if he could convince Jesus to declare blasphemy. He questioned Jesus, point blank, “Are you the Son of God, the Son of the Blessed? Are you The Messiah?” The Gospels vary a bit, and only in Mark’s narrative does Jesus say that he is.
Caiaphas claims that Jesus has pronounced blasphemy.
Jesus deserves the death sentence.
And that’s where the Romans come into the story.
Caiaphas was dismissed from office shortly after Jesus’ death and retired to his farm in Galilee, where he lived in peace.
The case against Pontius Pilate
What was Pilate’s reasoning for executing Jesus when he thought him to be guiltless? Pilate was the Governor of Judea, which was a province of the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus’ death. He had 6,000 crack troops with him and another 30,000 on standby in neighboring Syria, according to reports. When it came to keeping Rome happy, Pilate had total authority, including the power of life and death, as long as he kept the peace with the people. The argument against Pilate is that he judged Jesus not guilty, but ordered his execution in order to maintain public order and maintain the peace.
The two Pilates
We don’t know what Pilate was like in his personal life. The Bible portrays him as a weak but innocent guy who did not want to put a man to death who he felt was innocent, but who caved in to political pressure because he was weak. Some historians, however, are of the opposite opinion. Philo, who was writing at the time, described Pilate as cold-blooded, harsh, and merciless. He was presumably a typical Roman with a contempt for any other civilization, believing that the Jews were not nearly as civilized as the Romans were.
What were Pilate’s motives?
Pilate was determined to maintain the status quo. His ability to administer the province smoothly and effectively was critical to his future advancement in the Roman Empire. He had 6,000 soldiers on standby to preserve the peace in a metropolis with a population of 2.5 million Jews, which he commanded. The religious leaders, whose cooperation he required in order to live a peaceful life, urged him to put Jesus to death, and there was an angry throng clamoring for Jesus’ blood.
It was conceivable that releasing Jesus would have sparked a riot, and Pilate may have lost control of the city and probably the entire province. Pilate sacrificed Jesus in order to maintain Roman control and further his own career.
No matter how little he cared for the people of Judea, Pilate was unable to avoid attending the most important event of the year, the Passover. The message of Passover was one that was guaranteed to cause consternation among those who were attempting to maintain control over the Jewish people, for it commemorated the moment when God transported the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Holy Land, allowing them to shake off foreign occupation. Consequently, it is no coincidence that practically all of the riots that we learn about in the first century took place around the festival of Pesach.
And because unrest in such a circumstance is contagious, Pilate realized that he would have to be harsh in order to put an end to any chaos that arose in the situation.
When Caiaphas brought Jesus before Pilate, it’s likely that he was completely unprepared for the dilemma that was about to confront him.
A trial for treason
Instead of beginning with the conviction for blasphemy, Caiaphas asserted that Jesus was guilty of sedition, which was later overturned. Caiaphas said that Jesus believed himself, or that his supporters believed, or that people believed that he was the King of the Jews. The crime against Rome was a capital offense, and Pilate was obligated to deal with it, whether he wanted to or not. The rumor spread quickly throughout Jerusalem, claiming that Jesus of Nazareth was being tried for his life. Crowds began to form, some of whom were undoubtedly members of a mob organized by the Temple officials; this was exactly what a Roman governor looking for a quiet Passover did not want.
- Jesus didn’t say much or didn’t say anything at all.
- There was just no proof to support Jesus’ claims.
- The ruling infuriated the audience, who erupted in chants calling for Jesus’ execution on the cross.
- The alternative, on the other hand, was the execution of an innocent man.
- In ancient times, there were Passover amnesty laws in place, which authorized the Roman governor to free a prisoner during the holiday.
- They called for Barabbas to be liberated from his prison cell.
In his verdict, Pilate pronounced Jesus to be innocent and sentenced him to death by crucifixion. In front of the throng, he symbolically washed his hands, as if to assure them that he was not responsible for Jesus’ death.
Pilate was summoned to Rome in order to face prosecution for his ruthless treatment of Jews, but the Emperor Tiberius died before the trial could take place, and Pilate was never prosecuted. It is believed that he committed suicide in 37 AD, not long after the crucifixion had taken place. In Christian belief, Pilate and his wife finally converted to Christianity, according to the Bible.
The case against Jesus
Did Jesus have any idea what he was getting himself into during the events leading up to his execution? Many scholars think that Jesus himself was the one most responsible for the killing of Jesus, more so than anybody else in history. There is a substantial amount of evidence to imply that everything he did was premeditated and that he was fully aware of the repercussions of his decisions.
Jesus had a genuine belief that he was on a mission from God, and everything he did was in the service of that mission’s fulfillment.
Acting out the prophecy of the Messiah
When it comes to the events of Holy Week, it appears that Jesus is purposefully carrying out the prophesy in Hebrew scripture about Israel’s rightful ruler, the anointed one, the Messiah, who would come at long last to be God’s agent to rescue Israel. Even while his entry in Jerusalem on a donkey was a fulfillment of prophecy, it would not have been sufficient reason to have Jesus crucified on its own.
Attacking the religious establishment
When Jesus arrived to the Temple, he began not just a direct attack on the moneychangers’ business activities, but also a symbolic attack on the structure of the Temple itself. Jesus was well-versed in the religious traditions of his day, and he was well aware of the potential ramifications of his acts. He understood what it meant to declare the Temple’s destruction and to assert that a new kingdom, the Kingdom of God, was developing in its place. Jesus was well aware that the authorities would take action against him in due course, and he was well aware that the penalty would almost certainly be death.
But Jesus continued to put himself in harm’s way, staying in Jerusalem and celebrating the Passover with his disciples despite the threat.
In the midst of their meal, Jesus alluded to the bread they were eating as his broken body, and the crimson wine they were drinking as his spilled blood, as he sat with his disciples.
One of the Gospels records Jesus telling Judas, “Do what you have to do, but don’t take too long doing it.”
Jesus sweats blood
The account of Jesus’ night in Gethsemane provides compelling medical evidence that lends credence to the argument that he understood exactly what he was doing. It was at this place that Jesus was struck with a terrifying sense of uncertainty – was death, after all, what God had planned for him? He pleaded with God to save him from his predicament. It was at that point, according to St. Luke, who was himself a doctor, that Jesus sweated droplets of blood into the path in front of him. Doctors are aware that little blood veins supply the sweat glands that are found throughout our bodies.
The medical word for this condition is haematohydrosis, which means “blood sweat.” If Jesus had known what he was in for, he would have been unable to endure the tension, which would have caused him to break out in hives and sweat blood.
So was Jesus guilty of his own death?
Not in the sense of remorse that the majority of people would comprehend. A soldier who embarks on a mission that is almost guaranteed to result in death is a brave guy, not a coward or a criminal. However, Jesus was not culpable in the same way that Caiaphas and Pilate were. He remained true to his calling, even though it resulted in death.
The Crucifixion of Jesus and the Jews
Jesus was executed because he was a Jewish victim of Roman persecution. On this point, all documented authorities are in agreement. His execution was ordered by the Gentile Roman ruler, Pontius Pilate, who had him tortured and killed by Gentile Roman troops before he was executed. In fact, Jesus was one of thousands of Jews who were executed by the Romans. The New Testament not only attests to this fundamental reality, but it also provides for Jewish participation in two ways. A small group of high-ranking Jewish officials who owed their positions and authority to the Romans colluded with the Gentile leaders to have Jesus executed; they are claimed to have been envious of Jesus and to have regarded him as an existential danger to the status quo.
The number of individuals in this mob is not specified, nor is there any explanation provided for their actions (other than the fact that they had been “stirred up,” as stated in Mark 15:11).
As recorded in Matthew, the Roman ruler wipes his hands of Jesus’ blood, as the Jews exclaim, “His blood be upon us and upon our children!” (Matthew 27:25.) Throughout Jesus’ mission, the Jews are shown as desiring to murder him in John’s Gospel (John 5:18,John 7:1,John 8:37).
This shift in emphasis is not entirely clear, but one obvious possibility is that as the church spread throughout the world, Romans rather than Jews became the primary targets of evangelism; as a result, there may have been some motivation to “off-the-hook” the Romans and blame the Jews for Jesus’ death rather than the other way around.
However, by the middle of the second century, the apocryphal Gospel of Peter presents the Romans as Jesus’ supporters, and the Jews as those who crucify him, according to tradition.
As a result, anti-Semitism has fed such beliefs for ages, culminating in the crude demonization of Jews as “Christ-killers.” Christians have traditionally held, in opposition to such predictions, that the human actors responsible for Jesus’ execution are irrelevant: he offered his life voluntarily as a sacrifice for sin (Mark 10:45;John 18:11).
“Let his blood be upon us and upon our children!” cries out the congregation in most liturgical churches when Matthew’s PassionNarrativeis read during a worship service.
In most liturgical churches, when Matthew’s PassionNarrativeis read during a worship service, all members of the congregation are invited to echoMatt 27:25aloud, crying out, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children!”
Mark Allan Powell is a professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota (Columbus, Ohio). He is the editor of the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary and the author of Introducing the New Testament (Baker, 2009) andJesus as a Figure in History (Westminster, 2009). He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. John Knox Publishing Company, 2012). A gathering of individuals who are participating in religious services and are worshiping. The proclamation of “the good news” of Jesus Christ to the entire world.
- spurious gospel purporting to have been authored by the apostle Peter, but which was rejected by the early Roman Catholic Church as part of the canonical New Testament canon because of its apocryphal nature.
- A narrative that has been written, spoken, or recorded.
- God’s character and actions are discussed through writing, conversation, or contemplation.
- 15:1111 (Mark 15:1111) The leading priests, on the other hand, incited the mob to demand that Jesus release Barabbas for them instead.
27:2525 (KJV) Following that, the entire population exclaimed, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 5:1818 (John 5:1818) In order to assassinate him, the Jews increased their efforts even further, believing that he was not only violating the Sabbath but also referring to God as his own Father in the process.
- He did not want to travel about in Judea since the Jews were searching for an occasion to attack him and his family.
- 1 2:14-1514 (Thess 2:14-1514) Because you, brothers and sisters, were models for the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are located in Judea, because you experienced the same things from your own compa, you became imitators of those churches.
- Observe further information 10:45:45 (Mark 10:45:45) The Son of Man, after all, did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 18:1111 (John 18:1111) “Put your sword back into its sheath,” Jesus instructed Peter to do.
- God, on the other hand, demonstrates his love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
- More details may be found at1 Tim 1:515 p.m.
When it comes to Christ Jesus coming into the world to help sinners—of which I am the foremost—the phrase is certain and deserving of complete acceptance. Matt. 27:2525 (KJV) Following that, the entire population exclaimed, “His blood be on us and on our children!”
Who Killed Jesus?
In 1965, as part of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church issued the much-anticipated proclamation Nostra Aetate, which took a fresh look at the subject of Jewish blame for the execution of Jesus Christ. That modern-day Jews could not be held responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion, and that not all Jews who were alive at the time of Jesus’ execution were guilty of the crime, according to the arguments in the paper. In the history of Christian views toward Jews, this was a significant step forward, as Christian anti-Semitism has long been predicated on the assumption that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion.
When Jesus was crucified, they thought that the Church would come out and claim that the Jews had had no role in his execution.
Jews Lacked A Motive for Killing Jesus
Indeed, most historians believe that it would have been more rational to place the responsibility for Jesus’ execution on the Romans. Crucifixion was a common form of punishment among the Romans, not among the Jews. At the time of Jesus’ execution, the Romans were enforcing a harsh and ruthless occupation on the Land of Israel, and the Jews had been rebellious at times throughout the occupation. The Romans would have had good cause to desire to silence Jesus, who had been dubbed “King of the Jews” by some of his disciples and was well-known as a Jewish upstart miracle worker at the time of his death.
The many factions of the Jewish society at the period — including the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and others — had numerous differences with one another, but none of the organizations orchestrated the death of the leaders of the other purportedly heretical sects.
READ: The History of the Land of Israel Under Roman Control Nonetheless, the notion that Jews murdered Jesus can be found in Christian foundational literature dating back to the early days of the Jesus movement, and it is unlikely that it will be readily abandoned simply because of historians’ arguments.
The New Testament Account
The notion that Jews assassinated Jesus is parodied in this 1896 cartoon, which substitutes Uncle Sam for the historical figure. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) “The Jews who killed the Lord, Jesus,” Paul writes in his writings, which are considered by historians to be the earliest works of the New Testament (written 10 to 20 years after Jesus’ death), and he addresses them very briefly: “the Jews who slaughtered the Lord, Jesus” (I Thessalonians 2:14-15). While the idea that the Jews bear primary responsibility for Jesus’ death is not central to Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ life and death, the idea that the Jews bear primary responsibility for Jesus’ death is more prominent in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, each of which presents a slightly different account of Jesus’ life.
Eventually, the high priest comes to the conclusion that Jesus is guilty of blasphemy and petitions the Jewish council for guidance on how to punish him.
Matthew’s account of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross (referred to by Christians as “Jesus’ “passion”) has served as the inspiration for numerous books, plays, and musical compositions over the years, and it is a prominent part of Christian liturgy, particularly during the celebration of Easter.
It is said that Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of Judea, was fundamentally sympathetic to Jesus, but that he was unable to overcome the pressure from the Jews, who demanded that Jesus be put to death.
When Pilate arrives, the gathering members of the Jewish community tell him, “His blood be on us and on our children,” which is the most contentious verse in all of the passion accounts (Matthew 27:25).
According to Christian doctrine, succeeding generations of Jews are also guilty of deicide, the crime of murdering God, which was committed by their forefathers.
Church Fathers and Thereafter
An etching from 1845 portraying King Herod and Pontius Pilate exchanging handshakes. (Photo by F.A. Ludy courtesy of Wellcome Images/Wikimedia Commons) With even more clarity and power, this allegation emerges in the works of the Church Fathers, who are considered to be the most authoritative Christian theologians who lived after the New Testament period. After explaining to his Jewish interlocutor why the Jews had experienced exile and the destruction of their Temple, Justin Martyr (mid-second century) concludes that these “tribulations were justly placed on you since you have assassinated the Just One” (Jesus Christ) (Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 16).
- A historical King Solomon addresses the Jews in “The Mystery of Adam,” a religious drama from the 12th century that prophesies that they would eventually slay the son of God, as depicted in the play.
- This statement is subject to verification.
- The masters of the law will be the ones who do this.
- They’ll descend from a tremendous height, and may they be comforted in their bereaved state of affairs.
- In recent times, passion plays — large-scale outdoor theater events that dramatize the end of Jesus’ life and frequently feature hundreds of actors — have continued to spread this notion, as have other forms of religious expression.
In the Talmud
It’s worth noting that the notion that the Jews assassinated Jesus may be found in Jewish religious literature as well. Against the evidence of theBabylonian Talmud, on folio 43a of tractateSanhedrin, aberaita (a doctrine dating back to before the year 200 C.E.) says that Jesus was executed by a Jewish tribunal for the crimes of sorcery and insurrection. For this reason, there is a blank area near the bottom of that folio in normal Talmuds from Eastern Europe — or in American Talmuds that simply copied from them — since the possibly offending text has been omitted.
This section has been restored in a number of recent Talmudic versions.) When the Talmud claims that the incident occurred on the eve of Passover, it follows the timeline given in the gospel of John, which is supported by historical evidence.
Responsibility for the killing of Jesus is also given to the Jews in Jewish folk literature, such as the popular scurrilous Jewish biography of Jesus,Toledot Yeshu (which may be as old as the fourth century), and in Christian folk fiction.
From the first through the nineteenth century, the degree of hostility between Jews and Christians was such that both parties believed the accusation that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus.
People who believe the tales of the New Testament (or of the Talmud) to be credible historical sources should not be shocked if this belief prevails. You may read this article in Spanish (leer en espaol) if you want to learn more about who killed Jesus.
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Who Killed Jesus? The Historical Context of Jesus’ Crucifixion
Approximately one-third of the academic debate over the circumstances of Jesus’ death concerns the subject of who was responsible for his arrest and crucifixion, according to the New Testament. Please be advised that by submitting your email address, you acknowledge and agree that you will get email messages from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) with information on products and services offered by the company and its affiliates. If you no longer wish to receive these email notifications, you may unsubscribe at any time.
- Who was the perpetrator?
- Historically, the Jewish leadership and the Jewish community in Jerusalem have been held accountable to the greatest extent possible.
- Recent scholarly tendencies have turned the focus away from the Greeks and toward the Romans.
- Contemporary academics accept that there is no either-or answer to this topic, but that both Jewish and Roman authorities must have had a role in the killing of Jesus at least in part.
- (The more typical Jewish mode of execution was stoning.) Evidence suggests that the Jewish Sanhedrin did not have the authority to carry out the death penalty at the time of the events described (John 18:31; y.
- 1:1; 7:2).
- At the same hand, what we know about Jesus’ teachings and behavior suggests that he was more likely than the Roman rulers to anger and irritate the Jewish religious leaders.
- Was Jesus executed for political motives or for religious reasons, as the case may be?
- Jesus’ execution was almost certainly motivated by the perceived danger that the religious and political forces of his day sensed in him.
Now, let’s take a look at the reasons behind their acts, their habits, and their policies. Pilate’s and the Romans’ reasons were different. The evidence leads to Jesus’ execution by the Romans as a result of his sedition, or insurrection against the Roman authority, as the conclusion.
- Initially, he was crucified in the role of “King of the Jews.” As previously stated in the last section, the titulus on the cross declaring this is very definitely historical in nature. Second, he was nailed to a cross between two “robbers” or “criminals,” which were names employed by the Romans to describe insurrectionists (Mark 15:27
- Matt. 27:38
- Luke 23:33
- John 19:18). In his stead, another insurrectionist, Barabbas, was freed (Mark 15:7
- Matthew 27:16
- Luke 23:19
- John 18:40)
- In addition, the following allegations presented before Pilate by the Sanhedrin are linked to sedition and are recorded in Luke’s Gospel: So they started accusing him, saying things like “We have discovered this individual who is corrupting our nation.'” As a Christian, he rejects the payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, the Son of God. Because of his preaching, he incites people all across Judea to action. He began his journey in Galilee and has traveled all the way to this place.” (Luke 23:2, 5
- Matthew 23:2).
In spite of the fact that this evidence verifies the indictment against Jesus, it begs the puzzling issue of why Jesus was killed in the first place, given that he had nothing in common with other rebels and insurrectionists of his day. Matthew 5:38–48 and Luke 6:27–36 both contain passages in which Jesus encourages his followers to love their adversaries and to react to suffering with acts of compassion. Moreover, he maintained the propriety of paying Caesar’s taxes (Mark 12:14, 17; Matt. 22:17, 21; Luke 20:22, 25).
- 10:34; Luke 22:36, 38).
- The fact that Jesus’ disciples were not picked up and murdered after his death, and were even permitted to create a religious community in Jerusalem, further demonstrates that Jesus was not regarded as instigating a violent revolt at the time.
- More information may be found in the following online course: The Historical and Cultural Context of Jesus’ Life and Ministry What was Pilate thinking when he ordered Jesus’ crucifixion?
- It has been established via various sources that Pilate’s administration was marked by a widespread contempt for his Jewish citizens and an unyielding repression of resistance.
- When Sejanus, an advisor to Emperor Tiberius, appointed Pilate as governor of Judea in AD 26, it was a watershed moment in history.
Philip of Alexandria, a Jewish philosopher, provides an excellent illustration of Pilate’s precarious position when he writes about an incident in which Jews protested Pilate’s actions in placing golden shields in Herod’s palace in Jerusalem: “The Jews demonstrated against Pilate’s actions in placing golden shields in Herod’s palace in Jerusalem,” Philo writes.
As a result of his vindictiveness and enraged temper, he found himself in a terrible situation.
The warning from the Jewish leaders, “If you let this guy escape, you are no friend of Caesar,” (John 19:12), would almost certainly have made Pilate angry and fearful at the same time. Pilate was most likely motivated to order Jesus’ death by three factors:
- It appeased the Jewish authorities and, as a result, kept charges against him from reaching Rome. As a result, it preemptively neutralized any threat that Jesus may have posed if the people attempted to proclaim him king. Those who want to be prophets or messiahs were forcefully reminded that Rome would not tolerate any disagreement.
Jesus was met with fierce Jewish hostility. During Jesus’ Galilean career, he came up against a lot of resistance, much of which came from the Pharisees and their scribes. At the beginning of his final week in Jerusalem, Jesus faced strong resistance from the priestly hierarchy, which was under the authority of the high priest, as well as from the Sanhedrin, which was dominated by the Sadducees. The two most important institutions in Judaism were the Torah (the law) and the temple. Jesus appeared to be challenging both the authority of both and the legitimacy of both in the present day, posing a substantial danger to Israel’s leadership.
- Isaias claimed control over the law, disregarded the Sabbath mandate as though it were subordinate to human necessities, and accused the Pharisees of placing their oral law, which was nothing more than human traditions, above God’s instructions.
- The Pharisees, who considered themselves the legitimate protectors of Israel’s traditions, would have been enraged by Jesus’ declaration of the kingdom of God and his calling of twelve disciples, as well as by his proclamation of the kingdom of God.
- If Jesus’ remarks had been spoken in the midst of the seething cauldron of religion and politics that was first-century Palestine, they would have met with fierce hostility.
- In reality, the cleansing of the temple by Jesus is commonly regarded as the pivotal event that prompted the Jewish rulers to take action against the Messiah.
- In Mark’s account of Jesus’ Jewish trial, “false witnesses” are called forward who swear that they heard Jesus proclaim, “I will destroy this man-built temple and in three days will construct another, not made by man,” among other things.
- and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One, coming on the clouds of heaven.” “I am.” says Jesus.
- According to Mark 14:58–65, the entire assembly demands for his execution (cf.
- 26:55–68; and Luke 22:66–71).
- For example, the Mishnah states that it is forbidden for the Sanhedrin to convene at night, on the eve of Passover, or in the home of the high priest during the holiday.
A second hearing would also have been required for a death sentence, and a charge of blasphemy could only be sustained if Jesus had uttered the divine name of God during the course of the trial (m. Sanh. 4:1; 5:5; 7:5; 11:2). This argument is not persuasive for the following four reasons:
- First and foremost, the processes outlined in the Mishnah were codified in AD 200 and may not all date back to the time of Jesus
- Second, the procedures outlined in the Mishnah were codified in AD 200 and may not all date back to the time of Jesus. For starters, even though they are ancient texts dating back to the first century, they reflect a hypothetical circumstance that may or may not have been replicated in Jesus’ life. The existence of rules indicates that there have been abuses in the past. It is possible that they were established as a result of fraudulent trials such as this one. In addition, while the Mishnah preserves mostly Pharisaic traditions, it was the Sadducees who dominated the Sanhedrin during Jesus’ time. There is strong evidence that blasphemy was occasionally employed in Judaism in a more general meaning than pronouncing the holy name, and that activities such as idolatry, conceited scorn for God, or criticizing his chosen leaders were often considered blasphemy.
After careful examination, Mark’s trial story makes perfect sense when seen in the context of Jesus’ teaching and healing work. The high priest would have naturally inquired as to whether Jesus was making a messianic claim as a result of his actions in the temple. Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13 are two major Old Testament verses that are included into Jesus’ answer. The first says that Jesus will be vindicated by God and exalted to a position at his right hand in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus will be given sovereign authority to judge God’s adversaries, as the later passage says.
An outlandish declaration like this was considered blasphemous by the body, which considered itself to be God’s authorized leadership, as well as the guards of God’s hallowed temple.
A reaction was required in the face of such a situation.
Because of Jesus’ acts in the temple, which the Sanhedrin most likely saw as an act of desecration, as well as his widespread popularity among the people, it became vital to act against him as fast and decisively as possible.
According to this scenario, the previous remarks of the Pharisees and chief priests in John seem plausible: “If we let him continue on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:48).
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The Romans summoned Pilate back to Rome in AD 36, following what Josephus describes as a characteristically harsh military campaign against the Samaritans (Josephus, Ant.18.4.2:85–87).
The online courseFour Portraits, One Jesus takes a close look at the events of Holy Week, including Jesus’ death and resurrection, in order to better understand them.
View a free trailer here: This post is taken from information available in Mark Strauss’ online course, Four Portraits, One Jesus, which he teaches on a regular basis.