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Jews did not kill Jesus, pope writes in new book
Pope Benedict XVI on March 2, 2011.
March 2nd, 2011
12:47 PM ET

Jews did not kill Jesus, pope writes in new book

The Jewish people are not collectively responsible for the death of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI writes a book to be published next week.

Many Catholics and other Christians blamed Jews for Jesus' death for hundreds of years, but the Catholic Church formally repudiated that assertion in the 1960s.

Benedict underlines the new position in his book "Jesus of Nazareth."

"Who has insisted on the condemnation of Jesus to death?" he asks in the book, referring to scenes in the Gospels where the people of Jerusalem demand that Roman governor Pontius Pilate have Jesus crucified.

The Gospel of John says the people in question were "the Judeans," but the pope says the term "does not refer to - unlike the modern reader may tend to interpret - the people of Israel as such, and it doesn't even have a 'racist' connotation."

Far from meaning all Jewish people, Benedict writes, "the circle of prosecutors pursuing the death of Jesus" is the "aristocracy of the Temple," or the priesthood.

"Even that is not without exception," he adds in the book, excerpts of which were obtained by CNN.

Benedict has had a difficult relationship with Jews during his six-year papacy.

He infuriated many by welcoming back into the church a rebel bishop who is on record as saying that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler did not have a systematic plan to murder Europe's Jews. The rebel bishop also minimized the role of the Auschwitz death camp in the Holocaust.

Benedict later ordered the bishop, Richard Williamson, to recant his views, saying the Vatican was not aware of them when it decided to lift his excommunication.

Benedict also put his predecessor, Pius XII, on the path to sainthood, further antagonizing many Jews, who believe the World War II-era pope did little to save Jews from Hitler.

But Benedict also last year became the first pope to visit Rome's main synagogue since 1986, trying to smooth feathers on an annual "Day of Dialogue" with the Jewish community.

The Jewish community "believes that Benedict's desire to continue dialogue is sincere," said Lisa Palmieri-Billig, the American Jewish Committee's liaison to the Holy See, just before the January 2010 meeting. "They believe the dialogue and the relationship are very important."

CNN's Gisella Deputato contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Judaism • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (1,434 Responses)
  1. JimW

    It was the one-armed man who killed Jesus.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  2. Reality

    B16, like many, suffers from the Three B Syndrome i.e. he was Bred, Born and Brainwashed in his religion. For this reason, he is unable to think past the shackles put upon him by the likes of Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

    The wishful thinking done by these five scribes approximately 2000 years ago continued the embellishment and fiction tradition of the Jewish scribes. The locals paid for a good story of myth and imminent second coming. There was no money in the truth but now we know the truth and it boils down to two simple statements, Do No Harm and Love Thy Neighbor as yourself.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • 6 Foot Irish Man

      I cannot guarantee that I will be able to fulfill either of those 'truths' because my neighbor is a ho bag and when I look at someone with a smile they take it the wrong way.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  3. Reality

    Again, going beyond Benedict and the bible trap:

    (from Professor Crossan's book, "Who is Jesus" co-authored with Richard Watts)

    "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."

    "Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."

    "In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life."

    March 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • 6 Foot Irish Man

      They would prob be Zombies if Jesus did bring them back, that explains mankind. My question is why did God make humans so stupid and if God did make humans which in itself is physically impossible how do they doubt things such as the resurrection and someone please tell me that in the book of Luke when God is talking to Zachariah's and told him that the coming of Christ was chosen to be Joshua from the old Testament, basically reincarnation, Jesus is the reincarnation of Joshua yet most people in this world don't believe in reincarnation?

      March 2, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  4. Toufik

    Being a Muslim who was employed by a Jew, when i first came to the U.S, once had a discussion with that Jew about the "death" of Jesus, son of Mary. Well, that Jew was boasting about the killing of Jesus, and stated clearely that it was the Jews who killed him.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • 6 Foot Irish Man

      Well there you go!

      March 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • rapturegirl

      In a nutshell, the Jews had Jesus killed by the Romans. Jesus' blood could not be on their hands because it was Passover.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  5. Reality

    Getting past Benedict and to those who look outside the bible box for the truth:

    From Professors Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.

    "That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

    “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

    “While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "

    “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

    I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."

    See also Professor Crossan's reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

    Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.-–

    March 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Priscilla N.

      Very well said. Bless you

      March 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  6. Thomas Hanson

    The Pope is way off base here. He claims "the circle of prosecutors pursuing the death of Jesus" is the "aristocracy of the Temple," or the priesthood. What. Has he even read the Hebrew Bible? The Phariasees were jews who were considered separatists. They priided themselves on strict observance to the law. Yes, they held the Priesthood. The Sadducees were a caste among the jews and they formed the Jewish aristocracy. They refused the doctrine of immortality and opposed the doctrine of the Apostles because of their preaching of the resurrection. Even Paul, a jew, a Phariasee, tried to get it through to the thick skulls of the jews that the law was a schoolmaster to bring them unto Christ. Christ's atonement replaced the blood sadrifices in the temple, now for the jews and gentiles to be adopted into the Abrahamic covenant to have offer instead a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Oh yes the Jews did kill one of their own. But their pride blinded them. Some day in the future the Jews will realize their fatal error. Many Jews have realized due to the influence of the Holy Ghost that Jesus was the very Christ and Saviour. The Pope doesn't need to succor up to the Jews for anything but his pride and keeping an already corrupted church from crumbling down. So, do like any hypocrite would do – cater to what they want to hear. How sad. Well, for those who understand the scriptures, every knee shall bow and every tounge shall confess that Jesus is the Christ and the Light and The Way. Even the Pope will have to concede.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Beth

      Spot on more succor to the Jews.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • rapturegirl

      You are right on the money, from your first sentence, to the last.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Why would you believe anything that you read in the scriptures? They contradict themselves in numerous places and are really not a credible reference for anything. See skepticsannotatedbible dot com/contra/by_name.html

      March 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • rapturegirl

      I need to add that Christians must pray for Israel. In Genesis, God created the boundaries of Israel and said no man shall undo them. God said "Bless Israel and I will bless you." I'm a Christian, my best friend is a Jew. As the United States of America turns its back more and more on Israel, God turns His back on us. Interestingly, the Jews, Christians and Muslims believe in the same God. However, the Jews denounced Christ and Muslims believe that Ishmael, not Isaac was Abraham's chosen son. And the last war–will be fought because of what happened in the first book of The Old Testament–Genesis. It's all about Isaac and Ishmael.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • rapturegirl

      You are SO misinformed, PeterVN. There are no contradictions. You can't isolate a verse and determine its meaning. The verses before and after are important. For example, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" comes from a verse where God was talking to the lawmakers. When He speaks to us, He says 'leave vengence to me'. You tell me all the 'contradictions' and I'll show you that you're wrong every single time.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Marc

      beth, you're a simple moron

      March 2, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Priscilla N.

      The Roman Courts ordered the death of Jesus, the Roman soldiers carried out the "flogging and torture" before HE was forced to carry HIS own cross. The Romans also arrested any and all "Christians" they could find, and fed them to the lions in games at the Collessium . The Jews thought Jesus was not the Messiaha but was a "good teacher" (Rabbi) Before he had his "Road to Damascus" experience, Paul of Tarsus, was actively searching for Christians for an "all expense paid trip" to the Colleseum .And he also was a Roman citizen. You are correct in saying, "every knee shall bow,every tongue confess.." and as for Mr.Pope, he needs to read the original Bible in Aramaic/Greek rather than re write the one translated so erroniously from Latin!!!! Leave the Jews alone, they have suffered enough.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • rapturegirl

      Priscilla, like it or not, the Jews had a hand in the crucifixion of Jesus. It was prophecied, and it came to pass. His people denied Him. The truth is the truth. The Romans ruled, and it was their job to carry out the law. The Jews insisted Jesus must die and although the Romans waffled on whether there was sufficient reason to follow through with it, they acquiesced. You can't get around the truth. Early Roman history will tell it the same way as The Bible does.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • rapturegirl

      Geez, Priscilla. Saul of Tarsus was a JEW.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Something

      Priscilla,

      The only 'prophecy' which could possibly pertain to 'crucifixion' is in Psalms... and that's a stretch.

      Luke & John (or whoever wrote those books) could simply have made their stories match what was told in those old-time stories, which they knew so well.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • PeterVN

      rapturegirl, here are 1800+ contradictions in the bible for you to respond to. Follow the link and get to work:
      http://www.project-reason.org/scripture_project/Annotations:contradiction/

      And by the way, do you think the earth is flat, or not? The buy-bull contradicts itself on that point. Care to tell us what you think?

      March 2, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  7. Joe

    "But Benedict also last year became the first pope to visit Rome's main synagogue since 1986"

    Does CNN realize that he is the ONLY pope since the 1986 pope?

    March 2, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  8. Jim

    Let me get this straight, the Jews killed Jesus? Didn't God tell adam not to eat of the tree of good and evil? That was before eve was even eve. God created eve from adam, adam told eve about the tree, the serpent lied to eve about the tree, eve ate from the tree, eve gave to adam and he eat, " Oh no I"m naked."
    SIN KILLED JESUS.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • 6 Foot Irish Man

      And God created the Devil before mankind was present your point is?

      March 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Jim

      MY POINT?
      READ MY LIPS
      SIN KILLED JESUS

      March 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  9. WVlady63

    Jesus WAS crucified by the Jews, Pope. I would say read your Bible but since you have your own "Bible" that would serve no purpose. If you don't believe, that is your prerogative, but, it would be interesting to see if all of the non believers in the world suddenly got religion on the Day of Judgment.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • humbug

      NPR reported they are updating the Bible for 2011 publication:
      Changing "Booty" to "profits of war"
      Changing "Virgin" to "young lady"

      March 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • 6 Foot Irish Man

      Hate to disappoint you but the Bible was written by the Jews to brainwash mankind, hence why they mention they are the chosen people and so on and so forth.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  10. humbug

    Catholic leadership lost all credibility on getting the facts right when they denied Capernicus's discovery about the Sun as the center of the universe. Don't start believing them now...

    March 2, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • humbug

      ...oh, and didn't the Catholics claim that earth was 6,000 years old until Darwin showed up?

      March 2, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Broken Hill

      Copernicus was a Catholic cleric.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Broken Hill

      No, the age of the Earth relates to matters of science, not faith.

      The common view was that the Earth was likely thousands of years old.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  11. OntheRoad

    Welcome to the New Generation, Religion is dying out. People are finally realizing they can think for themselves. All you have to do is be respectful to the Frantic religious people. I got my own beliefs therefore have to respect others.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  12. Cruzader

    Of course not. Were the Martians!

    March 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  13. humbug

    finally a step in the right direction. now admit that Constantine and Peter and Paul have more to do with Christianity than Jesus.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  14. Nate

    This is not even an issue with the majority of Christians these days. Most Christians believe that Jesus died to wash away the sins of mankind; past, present and future. Therefore, nobody, or I should say everybody, is responsible (if that's what you believe). I'm not saying anti-Semitism doesn't exist anymore but Jewish interest groups and the media do overstate it immensely, at least in the US.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • 6 Foot Irish Man

      AGREED! When was the last time a Jewish group knocked another Jewish group? They hear Jew and jump, yet they crack jokes against non-Jews all the time, but do we cry when we hear them? I feel so discriminated against.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  15. Brad Binkins

    I've never understood the problem. Isn't a *good* thing that he "died for our sins"? Isn't that the whole point of the story? So why be upset with *any* of the people who carried out this divine plan?

    March 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • stamper

      Brad, I've wondered this point for a long time.
      If he hadn't died, what would the end-game have been?
      Seems to me, Judas was just carrying out God's plan.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Jesus

      If I hadn't been killed, I think that I would retired to a beachfront cottage with James, my lover (not my brother as some think). We had made a fortune with those slight of hand trick "miracles". People were really really gullible back then (as they are now).

      March 2, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  16. fillcore

    Does the Pope know who killed Tupac and Biggie? My ears and eyes need someone to thank.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  17. mrgup2

    Jesus HAD to die!!! He offered himself as a sacrifice to the WORLD.

    We ALL killed Jesus! Thank GOD for his death!!!

    Any christian who bemoans the death of Jesus CANNOT be a christian. Maybe a catholic.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • 6 Foot Irish Man

      Jesus committed suicide he said "to hell with this place!"

      March 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Christian

      You know that Catholics are christians right?

      March 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • dave

      then he rose from the dead. we all worship a zombie.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  18. Barney

    You are all missing the point SO badly. WE ALL killed him. He died for our sins. Literally, figuratively, in every way we all killed Jesus and we are lucky that God loved us enough to give us his son. And Jesus showed us the true God, the true love of the universe. We are adopted unto the Lord. And, we are so flawed. If you were God, would you want anything to do with our race? Are you kidding me? He cares that much. And we continue to kill him. But we are forgiven because He loves us, just as you forgive your children who continue to try to learn, and be close to God through Christ.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • answerman28

      c'mon dude.. get some help.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Jesus

      Nah, I died because I ticked off the Roman power elite. They didn't like my "power to the people" pitch.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • 2011

      Tell me, 1. Where did U read that Jesus was God? He never said it, claimed, mentioned, acted, wrote and even thought he was God or his son. 2. What makes U think he died for your (past, present and future) sins? Religions, life and civilization didn't start with the birth of Jesus, it hadn't ended after his passing. There were generations of humans who never had a single drop of clues about Jesus way, way before he was born, what about their sins. Jesus was born of Myriam of Nazaret, sent to the Jews (of that time, not the current Jews) to warn them to do good and be loyal to their God. He is a Prophet of God among many others.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  19. Andrew

    WOW Pope dude!!!!! Since you are just rewriting the whole bible I have some recomendations. These are a bit absurd for some people but just bear with me. I have been all over the middle east and this was my discovery... THERE ARE NO 6' TALL WHITE GUYS WITH RED HAIR NAMED JESUS ROAMING AROUND. For the most part they were in fact mostly 5' tall and had black hair. Please change that.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • 6 Foot Irish Man

      No man you are thinking of the Mormon Jesus that dude is a body builder!

      March 2, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Jesus

      Actually I was 5' 3" tall with a long hook nose, very dark complexion, balding, and like most folks back then, I rarely bathed. Hence, I really smelled terrible, but so did everyone else (Note: toilet paper and indoor plumbing had not been invented). I love how they remade me into some Viking God. Gosh I look great in those depictions!

      March 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  20. noname

    Jesus was a muslim and he was again them how didnt believe in GOD

    March 2, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • answerman28

      I cant believe there is even an article on religion taking up space in 2011.. get with it people..
      http://jesusneverexisted dot com/

      March 2, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Jesus

      Hey, I was a Jew! Some Roman soldier poked me in the ribs with a spear. That's what killed me. Gee, I don't think he was Jewish. He looked more Italian to me.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Horvath

      Really answerman? You are so naive as to believe Jesus never existed? All these reliable historians, Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, who all received their information second hand, all got it wrong but got everything else right?

      You, you are naive.

      cnncommentator at hotmail dot com

      March 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • CLW

      You might have an interesting argument if you could use the English language in some coherent way…..

      March 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • CLW

      I was addressing the above to noname

      March 2, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • CLW

      answerman28: What planet are you from man? We would not have art, architecture, literature, music, CULTURE, etc, etc, etc, if it were not for religion. One does not have to believe in a particular deity to at least admit that “religion” has shaped culture and history. To imply that religion is somehow outdated or not relevant is ignorance.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Daveid Johnson

      Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Something

      "We would not have art, architecture, literature, music, CULTURE, etc, etc, etc, if it were not for religion."

      These things all come from very creative minds... the same kind of minds that imagine all sorts of myth, fantasy and superst!tion. The products of these minds may be entertaining, inspiring or even mundanely useful. It does not in any way prove that these imaginings are facts.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • UseYourNoodle

      Epicurus said it best: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"
      Get over it people – it's iron age mythology. There is no direct historical evidence of Jesus' physical existence at all.

      March 2, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
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