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
The belief that Jews assassinated Jesus is parodied in this 1896 cartoon, which substitutes Uncle Sam for the titular character. Wikimedia Commons has a collection of images. “The Jews who slaughtered the Lord, Jesus,” Paul writes in his writings, which are considered by historians to be the first works of the New Testament (written 10 to 20 years after Jesus’ death), and he does so almost casually (I Thessalonians 2:14-15). This idea that Jews bear primary responsibility for Jesus’ death does not appear to have been central to Paul’s understanding of the events surrounding Jesus’ life and death; however, it does appear prominently in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all of which give somewhat differing accounts of Jesus’ life.
- Matthew is the most widely read gospel in the world.
- “They responded by saying, ‘He deserves to die.’ ” Afterwards, they spat in his face and hit him” (Matthew 26:57-68).
- Each of the four gospels makes the argument, either tacitly or expressly, that because Jews were not permitted to punish fellow Jews who committed blasphemy, they had to persuade the hesitant Romans to execute Jesus.
- Throughout the gospel of John, we see this concept represented most clearly: “Pilate responded, ‘Take him yourself and judge him according to your own law.'” “We are not authorized to put anyone to death,” the Jews said.
- The gathering members of the Jewish community tell Pilate, “His blood be on us and on our children,” which is the most contentious verse in all of the Passion tales (Matthew 27:25).
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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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 editor of theHarperCollins Bible Dictionaryand author ofIntroducing the New Testament(Baker, 2009) andJesus as a Figure in History(Westminster 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. a person who does not identify as Jewish A gospel is a written narrative of Jesus of Nazareth’s life that is written in the New Testament.
Helping others via service or a religious vocation is important.
Along with the Old Testament, the Christian Bible is comprised of a collection of works from the first century that were written by Jews and Christians.
The third part of the Jewish canon is known by the Hebrew term Ketuvim, which means “three divisions.” The Torah (Pentateuch) and Nevi’im (Prophets) are the other two parts; when all three divisions are added together, the acronym Tanakh is formed, which is the Jewish word for the Hebrew Bible.
- Observe further information 7:1 (John 7:1) The Unbelief of Jesus’ Brothers in the Gospels 1 After that, Jesus went about his business in Galilee.
- Observe further information 8:3737 (John 8:3737) I am aware that you are descended from Abraham; nonetheless, you are on the lookout for a chance to assassinate me since my words have no place in your hearts.
- Observe further information Philippians 3:5-65 I am a Pharisee in regard to the law;6I am a Pharisee in regard to zeal; I am a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, and I was circumcised on the eighth day of the month of Adar.
- Is it not my responsibility to drink from the cup that the Father has given me?” Paul’s letter to the Romans (5:8-98).
- 9 Now that we have been justified by his blood, we will be able to act much more confidently.
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!”
Romans are to blame for death of Jesus
Trinity Lutheran Seminary’s Mark Allan Powell is a professor of New Testament (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. In 2012, John Knox published an article entitled There is a congregation of individuals who are worshiping at a religious service. Bringing “the good news” of Jesus Christ to the public attention.
- A gospel is a written narrative of Jesus of Nazareth’s life that is passed down from generation to generation.
- A narrative told orally, in writing, or on tape or disc Along with the Old Testament, the Christian Bible is comprised of a collection of works from the first century by Jews and Christians.
- Known in Hebrew as Ketuvim, this portion of the Jewish canon is the third division.
- When all three divisions are combined, the acronym Tanakh is formed.
- A mob of people erupted in support of them, and he was forced to release Barabbas instead.
The Bible says in Matthew 27:2525 that Following that, the entire populace responded, “May his blood be on us and on our children!”
John 5:1818 (New International Version) 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, which was against the law of the land. Obtain further information In the book of John, verse one says, One of Jesus’ brothers does not believe in him. When Jesus returned to Galilee, he did not stop there. As a result, he did not want to travel across Judea since the Jews were searching for an opening.
1 2:14-1514 (Thessaloniki) In this way, brothers and sisters, you became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are located in Judea, since you experienced the same things that the churches of God in Christ Jesus experienced from their own compa Obtain further information From Philippians 3:5 to 65, the Bible says Pharisee, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew who was born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;6 as to zeal, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a Pharisee Obtain further information Timings are 10:45 and 45.
- The Son of Man, after all, did not come to be served but to serve, and to sacrifice his life as a ransom for many.
- Is it not my responsibility to drink from the cup that the Father has given me?
- Although we were still sinners at the time, God demonstrates his compassion by sending his Son to die in our place.
- More details are available at 1 Tim 1:515 (in the morning) When it comes to Christ Jesus coming into the world to help sinners—of which I am the foremost—there is no doubt and no reason not to believe what is being spoken.
Christian Persecution of Jews over the Centuries — United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Many contemporary Jews believe that the horrors of Hitler’s reign were just the culmination of generations of Judenhass persecution (“Jew Hate”). Is this, however, what happened? What if Hitler, Rosenberg, Göring, Himmler, and the rest of the Nazis had pounced on the baptized Christians of Europe when they were at their most vulnerable?
The Earliest Christians
The claim made by Jesus’ disciples that their Master was the one and only true interpretation of the Mosaic Law was not out of the ordinary at the time. The assertion that God had risen him from the dead was what distinguished his disciples from the rest. The majority of Jews were able to take this in humor and, in the early days, without retaliating violently. As Pharisee-oriented Jews were well aware, the resurrection of the just will take place on the Last Day once Elijah’s coming had been proclaimed by the angel Gabriel.
The Jesus Jews were certain that it had been predicted in their people’s sacred writings.
The writings in Greek by ethnic Jews, gathered around 135 AD and eventually known as the New Testament, are the only documented records of the disputes over Jesus that existed in various Jewish communities throughout history.
The Christian writings were produced between 50 and 125 years ago, and they came to be known by the name of the covenant to which they were believed to have testified: a “new” or, better yet, “renewed” covenant (in Latin, but a slightly inaccurate translation of B’rith: Novum Testamentum), which was believed to have been witnessed by them.
- He uses the term “faith” to refer to complete confidence in God as the One who resurrected Jesus from the grave.
- In the Gospel of John, “the Jews” are addressed in a manner that is similar to and much harsher than this.
- Religious discord among Jews after the Holocaust was not unfamiliar territory for hard fighting and harsh language.
- Over the course of a century, one of the two plaintiffs lost his or her Jewish ethnicity.
- Because many Judean Jews were unfamiliar with Jesus, and because most Jews living outside of Israel were unaware of the movement until more than a century had passed, the movement was mostly ignored.
Although this was true, it did not prevent the new, mostly gentile preachers of the Gospel from concluding that the Jews’ lack of reaction was a result of their failure to recognize what they should have learned from their scriptures.
The dramatic shift occurred in the year 380. At this point, Theodosius I declared Christianity to be the official state religion of the Roman Empire. Despite the fact that pagans outnumbered the preferred immigrant at the time, the prior disparity in population between Jews and Christians was a distant memory by that point. However, as a result of this pronouncement, the Jewish position became insecure. However, although no political steps against Jews were taken immediately, the situation did not augur well for Judaism or any other faith apart from Christianity in the long run.
The emperor was forced to back down by Ambrose after a public dispute in his cathedral.
Christ, whom they have crucified and denied, who do you worship?
Peaceful Coexistence and Papal Intervention
There is no existing popular writing that tells us what ordinary Christians in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa believed about Jews and how they behaved toward them throughout the first six hundred years of Christianity’s existence. Due to the fact that they had never rejected their actions, it is likely that it cemented in the common mind the belief that the Jews had crucified Jesus and that their descendants held inherited guilt for the atrocity. Given the fact that heathen worship was the shared adversary, it is reasonable to assume that Jews and Christians coexisted amicably on a local level during the Middle Ages.
- Unsurprisingly, he supports their conversion to Christianity, but he also insists that they be treated fairly under Roman law.
- The papal communication was, for the most part, supportive of Jewish rights, but still maintaining their subservient place in the society in which they lived.
- Meanwhile, the expulsion of Jews from Europe was underway; it began in France under King Dagobert (626) and continued under the Spanish monarchy—with church collaboration—when the Jews were forced to choose between baptism and servitude in 694.
- The one-of-a-kind aspect was that the Christians came to the incorrect conclusion early on that the Jews were being divinely punished for not having converted to their way of thinking.
- From 500 to 1500, the Jews were a religious and cultural minority who were frequently preyed upon by the Christian majority, following a well-known sociological pattern during the time of their persecution.
- Harsh infringements of Jewish rights are censured at the same time as limits are put on their full participation in society.
In spite of this, as many Jewish historians have pointed out, these infringements of civil and social liberty never reached the point of eradicating the Jewish people from the planet entirely—a scary first from the Nazi period, to say the least.
The Medieval Era
Once they had enjoyed a few decades of relative independence during the Carolingian period (800-1000), the Jews of western Europe began to experience fresh indignities as the Crusades progressed farther into history. In the attempted recovery of the holy sites in Palestine, the Muslims were designated as “infidels” by the Israelis. The looting and killing committed by Christian mobs against Jews along the road, on the other hand, will live on in Jewish memory for a long time. Several indignities were heaped upon the Jews of Germany following the Crusades, including charges of poisoning the wells and ritual murder, among other things.
- Many German Jews fled eastward, carrying with them a specific dialect (Jüdisch, ergo Yiddish), which was perhaps derived from Bavarians, which they brought with them.
- Lower or elementary school (heder) and Talmudic academy (yeshiva) were located everywhere in Poland, and autonomous systems of Jewish communal administration (the kahal) thrived there as well.
- The preceding centuries were unquestionably the pinnacle of Jewish intellectual life in Europe, which only served to highlight the tragedy of more recent Polish anti-Semitism in the country.
- Catherine the Great, who was born in Germany, reigned from 1725 to 1796 and was known as the “Great Empress.” Nevertheless, she relocated them to a piece of land as a means of keeping them out of economic jobs and the professions.
- Many an older Jew in the United States has heard vivid stories from grandparents about harsh measures in the old country, including the necessity of locking oneself in one’s house on Good Friday to protect one’s family from marauding ruffians during Passover.
- When nothing of the kind occurred, he slammed them in a series of pamphlets written in a vituperative rage that he distributed.
The early, positive “That Christ Was Born a Jew” was published in 1523, but after turning against this so-called “damned, rejected race,” he composed the works Against the Sabbatarians (1538) and On the Jews and Their Lies (1539). (1543).
European antiSemitism after 1800
It is common to hear anti-Semitism described in terms of theological motivations, such as those of Poles, Germans, Russians, and others, against Jews in the patristic and medieval tradition. Nevertheless, anti-Jewish feeling in Catholic and Protestant Europe, which was itself becoming progressively secularized from the early nineteenth century onward, had other, no less mythological, origins. Anti-Semitism is the right phrase for this type of behavior. Its intended audience was people of Jewish descent.
- Demagogues, on the other hand, were only too delighted to use the old Christian language of anti-Judaism to further their own political objectives.
- It also inherited the same heinous legacy of anti-Jewish feeling as the rest of Christian Europe.
- Hitler took advantage of the fact that Jews had been prominent supporters of the Republic and that a number of them had been among the authors of its constitution, a fact that Hitler exploited.
- However, while some prominent capitalist families, both gentile and Jewish, were able to avoid the worst of the consequences, the angered people focused its attention on Jews rather than on gentiles.
It has been speculated that there was a direct link between anti-Semitic texts in the New Testament and the death chambers at Auschwitz. Most likely not. The route was a long and winding one, commencing about 150 with gentile misinterpretations of the intense intra-Jewish debate contained within those books. Theological anti-Judaism on the part of the Church fathers, which was repeated repeatedly in medieval and Renaissance-Reformation preaching, was the much bigger perpetrator in the persecution of Jews.
However, because the Church’s preaching and catechizing had long affected the common mentality, a new phenomena, contemporary anti-Semitism, was able to emerge as a result of this influence.
According to Catholics, statements such as Section 4 of the Vatican II statement on non-Christian religions (Nostra Aetate, October 1965), which exonerated Jews throughout history of the charge of deicide (“killing God”) and warned Catholics against believing that anything in their scriptures taught that Jews were a people cursed or rejected, are examples of what they mean.
Such documentation is necessary, but it is ineffectual unless it is communicated from the pulpit as well as included in church publications and educational resources.
Visitors to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other Nazi-era exhibitions frequently express surprise, asking, “Why hasn’t anybody told us about these things?” It is possible that decades of education and prayer will be required to undo the damage done by two millennia of human history.
At the very least, the Christian communions have made a start. The full text of Gerald S. Sloyan’s essay is available for download (PDF)
Antisemitism Uncovered: Myth – Jews Killed Jesus
For generations, the belief that Jews conspired to murder Jesus, sometimes known as “deicide,” has been used to justify violence against Jewish people. Historiologists, along with Christian leaders, all agree that the allegation is without foundation. Sometime in the year 30 CE, Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. 1 The following is an excerpt from Philip A. Cunningham’s chapter “Jews and Christians from the Time of Christ to Constantine’s Reign,” which appears in Albert S. Lindemann and Richard S.
- Also present at both the trial and the death of Jesus was Pontius Pilate, who at the time was serving as the prefect (or governor) of Judaea for the Roman province of Syria and Iraq.
- Bond, Pontius Pilate in History and Interpretation (Cambridge University Press, 1999).
- These events took place within a complex social environment in which religion and politics were inextricably intertwined.
- These conditions have been claimed as evidence of Jewish deicide on several occasions throughout history.
- When Pontius Pilate had second thoughts about his intention to crucify Jesus, the Jews are shown as a violent lynch mob.
- 1 (January 2008): 82.
- In spite of the fact that certain leaders in the local Jewish community believed that Jesus’ teachings were politically disruptive, scholars have concluded that Jesus was not viewed as particularly threatening or enraging by the Jews in his immediate vicinity.
- The Romans were the only non-Jews who were present at the tale of Jesus’ crucifixion.
- A 15th-century German woodcut depicting Jews being burnt alive for alleged desecration of the host is available on Wikimedia Commons.
The Declaration of Independence declares unequivocally that the execution of Jesus “cannot be brought against all Jews, without distinction, who were then alive, nor against all Jews living today.” 5The Vatican’s “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” is a document that outlines the Church’s relationship with non-Christian religions.
Furthermore, it has spawned a number of derivative myths throughout the years, such as charges that Jews profane the Eucharist or poison wells in order to murder Christian peasants.
Only a few elements of Jesus’ crucifixion have been proven as historical truth, and even fewer remain to be validated.
The Passion of the Christ (2004), a billboard for Mel Gibson’s controversial film “The Passion of the Christ,” which some have hailed as a religious masterpiece, while others have argued it promotes antisemitism.
- Throughout Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ, Pontius Pilate is depicted as being completely apprehensive about sentencing Jesus. Only after being pressured into submission by Jewish officials does he carry out the sentence
- “It was the whole throng in front of Pilate, who were poised to riot.that forced Pilate to give way by bringing down upon themselves and their generations the burden for the deicide” (death of God in His human nature). As it turned out, the majority of the audience was Jewish, and the group declared themselves as such (“Us and our children” in Hebrew). Because of this, those descendants have responsibility for the deicide until and unless they recognize and worship their own genuine Messiah, which according to Scripture will only occur at the end of the world.” The Most Reverend Bishop Richard Williamson on April 13, 2019 6 “Eleison Comments,” a weekly email published by Bishop Williamson, states that “Catholics have lost every single fight in the cultural wars because they cannot bring themselves to pronounce the term Jew.” They are unable to identify the adversary because they are unable to utter the term Jew. Is it fair to declare that Jews are our adversaries? Yes, the Jews are the ones who assassinated Jesus Christ. It is true that they are the enemy of the entire human species.” A orthodox Catholic antisemitic ideologue by the name of E. Michael Jones 7 Culture Wars (vol. 37, no. 6), May 2018, p. 17
- E. Michael Jones, “Catholics and the Jewish Taboo,” Culture Wars (vol. 37, no. 6), May 2018, p. 17
- And E. Michael Jones, “Catholics and the Jewish Taboo,” Culture Wars (vol. 37, no. 6), May 2018, p. 17
Duccio’s 14th-century painting of Jesus before Pontius Pilate may be seen on an altarpiece at Siena, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Christ before Pilate (Duccio, 1308-1311), altarpiece, Musée du Luxembourg Photographs courtesy of Getty Images
In the lengthy history of Jewish scapegoating, deicide is the first and most damaging false allegation leveled against the Jewish people. It established the language for the most fundamental Christian theological condemnations of Jews and Judaism in circumstances dominated primarily by religious beliefs and practices. Despite the fact that the concept of Jewish deicide appears to be a harmless historical hypothesis, individuals who propagate the myth are typically less interested with historical facts than they are with minimizing and denigrating Jews.
An introduction to antisemitism, Antisemitism Uncovered is a resource to help you learn more about the history and present manifestations of antisemitism. What’s the next stage in this process? Participate in the battle against it! Here, in the Antisemitism Uncovered Toolkit, we’ve compiled all of our most practical resources—the skills and methods you’ll need to engage in that fight—in one convenient location: right here. Resources to Speak Out, Disseminate Information, and Demonstrate Your Strength Against Hate.
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.
The argument against Caiaphas is that he arrested Jesus, tried him in a kangaroo court, and condemned him on a religious charge that bore the death sentence. 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 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.
Jesus was doing this in the Temple, in front of a large audience, and with no regard for Caiaphas or his staff in the least. 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.
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 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.
Caiaphas’ trial did not go according to plan. To establish that Jesus had threatened to demolish the Temple, which would have been treason and an offense against God, he would have to produce evidence. The witnesses, on the other hand, couldn’t agree on what Jesus had said. As a result, the accusation was dismissed. Caiaphas made the decision to see if he could trick Jesus into saying something he shouldn’t have. He confronted Jesus with a direct question: “Are you the Son of God, the Son of the Most High, the Son of the Most Holy?
- It’s sufficient.
- The other members of the Court are in agreement.
- There was only one problem: the court lacked the authority to carry out executions.
- Actually, there are two issues: first, blasphemy against the God of the Jews was not considered a crime under Roman law, and second, unless Caiaphas can come up with anything better, it may not be enough to persuade the Romans to execute Jesus unless he can come up with something better.
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.
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.