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. Dan

    Who the hell cares what PIus did? Do we really need to kow-tow to another relgiion's idelogy or blame game? If they didn't like Pius, screw 'em.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  2. k

    I question if this Jesus guy really existed, if he did exist he was a glorified David Koresh

    March 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  3. mark

    The Scepter of Judah, Shiloh and the Messiah
    The text of Genesis 49:10, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him shall be the obedience of peoples," appears to say that a Jewish sovereign authority will end, following the coming of the Messiah. Since the termination of Jewish self-government occurred in 70 C.E. does this imply that the Messiah came prior to this time?
    Answer: Christians often use this verse as a prooftext for their messianic claims. But if this text is taken to mean that the scepter shall not depart from Judah until the Messiah comes, as the Christians assert, we are faced with an insoluble historical inaccuracy. The last king from the tribe of Judah, Zedekiah, was taken captive about 586 B.C.E. Following the return to Zion from the Babylonian exile, the Jews were continually subject to foreign domination–Persian, Greek, Roman–with only a brief interlude of independence during the Maccabean period (165 B.C.E. to 63 B.C.E.), whose rulers were members of the tribe of Levi. Thus, there was a period of some six hundred years, prior to the birth of Jesus, during which the scepter of leadership had departed from the tribe of Judah.

    In view of this incontrovertible fact, we are compelled to interpret the verse under discussion somewhat differently from the reinterpretation imposed upon it by Christian theology. What is meant by the phrase "the scepter shall not depart" is that the right to the scepter of leadership shall always remain within the tribe of Judah, regardless of who is actually exercising authority over Israel at any given time. What is meant by the phrase "until Shiloh comes" is not that at this time the scepter of leadership will depart from Judah, but, on the contrary, from that time on, the scepter will remain in actuality within the tribe of Judah.

    The adverb 'ad ("until") is used in a similar sense in a number of instances; for example: "For I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken to you" (Genesis 28:15), and "No man shall be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them" (Deuteronomy 7:24). Did God leave Jacob after doing all that He promised him? Were the enemies of Israel who were killed able to stand after they were destroyed?

    Even after the Messiah comes the scepter will still belong to Judah. The right to the scepter will never depart from Judah until the Messiah comes, at which time his scepter will be wielded over all nations (Isaiah 11); up to that time it was wielded over Israel alone. That this Messiah is not Jesus can best be seen from the investigation of the various messianic claims made by Christians on his behalf. As for Genesis 49:10, there is nothing in it to suggest that it applies to Jesus.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  4. Muslimah

    Jesus like Adam, Abraham, Moses and Muhammad, God's peace and mercy be upon all of them was a prophet of Islam, and the Quran says about him " That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
    Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-
    —Qur'an, sura 4 (An-Nisa) ayat 157-158[1]"
    And he will come back to earth to fight the Antichrist towards the end of times–

    March 2, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  5. Ramon F. Herrera

    Even if the Jews killed Jesus, THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO!! Otherwise there would be no Christianity.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  6. mark

    Isn't it true that the Gospel of Luke says that Mary is a descendant of King David?

    There is no verse in the Gospel of Luke that makes the claim that Mary is a descendant of King David. In fact, there is no New Testament verse that makes this claim.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  7. KidCanada

    Who cares who killed your invisible friend!

    March 2, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  8. mark

    Christian Bibles render Isaiah 7:14 as, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel." Isn't a virgin being with child an outstanding "sign"?
    On the contrary! It is no "sign" at all. Mary's alleged virginity was not something that could be openly displayed as a proof that something out of the ordinary happened. People would only scoff at such a claim no matter how virtuous the girl was thought to be. A "sign" must be something all can see. An alleged "sign" that would require a gynecological examination of Mary is simply not what is meant by a "sign" in the Jewish Scriptures.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  9. Colin

    How many gods to Catholics worship anyway? It's a regular Greek Pantheon of greater and lesser Saints, Angels, and mystical Spirits. How they get away with claiming belief in "One" god is beyond me.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  10. mark

    Who is the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus?

    Now, this Answer depends on whether a Christian prefers the Gospel of Matthew or the Gospel of Luke. Matthew and Luke differ in their respective accounts of Jesus' genealogy (Matthew 1:1-16, Luke 3:23-38). Luke states: "And Jesus began to be about thirty years old . . . the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi . . . the son of Nathan, the son of David. . . ." In Matthew, the origin of Joseph is traced back to Solomon, the son of David: ". . . and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born . . ." (Matthew 1:15-16). As a result, Christians have a choice. They can choose Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, as Luke proposes or Joseph, the son of Jacob, the son of Matthan, as Matthew supposes.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  11. mark

    Who's genealogy is given by Luke?
    Doesn't it make sense to say that the Gospel of Luke gives Mary's genealogy, since it would be nonsense to go through Joseph's line if he is not the biological father of Jesus?
    It should be noted that the Gospel of Matthew sets the precedent for presenting a genealogy of Jesus that goes through Joseph. Incidentally, this genealogy goes through a line (Jehoiakim) that is disqualified for kingship. Therefore, it is not surprising that Luke's genealogical list also gives a genealogy (much different from that given by Matthew), which is supposedly that of Joseph.

    The Gospel of Luke provides a variant tradition concerning Jesus' ancestry. In the literal Greek of its genealogical listing "Joseph of the Heli" (Luke 3:23) is just another way of saying "Joseph son of Heli."

    Some Christian commentators have claimed that Luke gives Mary's genealogy. Accordingly, it is proposed that Heli is the father-in-law of Joseph, that is, Heli is the name of Mary's father. There is no genealogical record, in either the Jewish Bible or the New Testament, which refers to a man as the son of his father-in-law. There is no verse in the New Testament that says Mary is the daughter of Heli.

    To presume that Mary was of Davidic descent presents the problem that Mary could not pass on what she did not possess: (1) Maternal connection does not enter into consideration for succession to the throne of David which is passed on only through a continuous male line: "There shall not be cut off from David a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel" (Jeremiah 33:17); (2) Biblically, the right of lineal privilege, that is, kingship and priesthood, are exclusively passed on through the male line. The incident regarding the inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers, chapters 27 and 36) does not apply here since it concerns the transference of physical property and not privileges of lineage.

    Considering Luke's genealogical list, neither Joseph nor Mary could claim an inheritance to the throne of David through Heli. Heli and his progeny would be disqualified in regard to the Davidic kingship if he were a descendant of Nathan. Of all the son's of David, God chose Solomon to sit on the throne of Israel (1 Chronicles 29:1, 1 Kings 2:24).

    Whether through Joseph or Mary, Jesus is disqualified from the messianic office.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  12. Salma

    Honestly, who cares??????

    March 2, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • freewords

      Yes we do

      March 2, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  13. mark

    Is there a missing prophecy of the Nazarene?
    Matthew 2:23 states: And he [Joseph, along with Mary and Jesus] came and resided in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: "He will be called a Nazarene." I don't find any such prophecy in my Bible. Am I missing parts of the Bible?
    Answer: At no point in the Jewish Scriptures is the Messiah referred to as a Nazarene. Despite Matthew's statement, there is no prophecy, which mentions that the Messiah will be an inhabitant of Nazareth. In fact, the town of Nazareth is never mentioned in the Jewish Bible.

    It has been speculated that what Matthew is referring to is the description of the Messiah as a netser ("shoot"), i.e., a new, flourishing growth from the Davidic line. This term first appears in Isaiah: "And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit" (Isaiah 11:1). But despite Isaiah's use of the term, it is nowhere indicated that the Messiah would actually be called netser. An alternate suggestion connects Matthew's usage with the word natsar, "guard," "keep."

    It cannot be that Matthew is referring to the Messiah as being a Nazarite, for nowhere in the Jewish Scriptures is it stated that the Messiah will ever take the Nazarite vow. Furthermore, the spelling of the words Nazarite, nazir (from the Hebrew root N-Z-R), and Nazarene, notsri (from the Hebrew root N-TZ- R), are not the same in Hebrew.

    The speculation as to whether the evangelist is comparing Nazarene and netser (or natsar) or Nazarene and Nazarite is inconsequential, for there is no basis in fact for either claim. Matthew 2:23 gives the reason for Jesus being called a Nazarene (Greek, "Nazoraios") is because he lived in Nazareth (Greek, "Nazaret"). It has nothing to do with netser, natsar, or nazir. At best, Matthew is indulging in a play on words. There is no reason for giving credence to this New Testament "fulfillment" of a non-existent prophecy.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  14. mark

    Did Mary and Joseph claim that Jesus was conceived in a supernatural way?

    Answer: Who more than Mary and Joseph should have remembered the "miraculous" events surrounding the birth of Jesus? One can reasonably expect that when a woman goes through a virginal conception, she would remember it, and that a man whose wife becomes pregnant while they are engaged, without any effort on his part, does not easily forget it. Yet, the evangelists relate several strange lapses of memory.

    According to Luke, Mary finds Jesus in the Temple teaching the teachers (Luke 2:42-50). She scolds him for causing so much trouble, whereupon he replies with the enigmatic

    Questions: "Why is it that you were looking for me? Did you not know that I must be concerned with the affairs of my Father?" Luke's Gospel adds: "And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them." Mary does not understand; Joseph does not understand. If Mary and Joseph were both visited by angels before their son's birth, how is it that they are so completely surprised only twelve years later? Does not Mary remember that Jesus was supernaturally conceived in a way never experienced by any other creature?

    It is inconceivable that Mary would forget Elizabeth saying to her: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why is this [granted] to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:42-43); and especially her own words: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has looked upon the humble state of His slave girl; for, behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; because the Mighty One has done great things to me; and holy is his name . . . (Luke 1:46-49). After all this, she still does not know what Jesus meant when he said that he must be concerned with his Fathers affairs!

    Mary and Joseph did not remember that the wise men (Magi: Members of the Zorastrian priestly caste variously associated with interpretation of dreams, astrology, and magic) worshiped Jesus and presented him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). They did not recall how an angel appeared to Joseph telling him to go to Egypt with Mary and Jesus (Matthew 2:13), and that Herod slew all the children two years of age and under in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). Besides the fact that it "fulfills" Scripture (Hosea 11:1), why did they have to flee to Egypt? According to Luke 2:39, they went to Nazareth and were not even in the dangerous vicinity of Bethlehem when Herod allegedly had the children slain. Perhaps Matthew's placing them in Egypt in order to fulfill Scripture was too quick for Joseph and Mary to remember, for Luke 2:22 has them in Jerusalem forty days after the birth (cf. Leviticus 12:1-8), and then in Luke 2:39 they return afterwards to Nazareth. Yes, they forgot how the shepherds "made known the saying which had been told to them about this child" (Luke 2:17). Mary and Joseph even forget how they marveled ten months after the angelic visitations, that is, only one month after the events surrounding Jesus' birth. At that time they already were surprised when Simeon and Anna, the daughter of Phanvel, spoke of Jesus' future while he was yet a mere infant (Luke 2:25-38).

    If these events are historical, why is it that later, during Jesus' active period, no one, not even his family, seems to know of his marvelous origins (Matthew 13:54-55)? If a virginal conception took place would it not carry for Mary some implications as to who Jesus was? Would she not convey this vital information to at least her nuclear family? Yet we find that Jesus' relatives, who come to seize him (Mark 3:21, 31), are not told by Mary who joins them) that, contrary to what they think, Jesus is not crazy. The Gospel of John explicitly states: "For neither did his brothers believe in him" (John 7:5). Did Mary not inform them of his divine origins? Is it conceivable that Mary would not have informed them that Jesus was the Messiah so that they too might believe in him and thereby enjoy salvation? And what of her own reaction toward Jesus?

    In the few appearances Mary herself makes in the Gospels, during Jesus' lifetime, there is no indication that she showed any understanding that Jesus was the "Son of God" by virtue of a unique conception (Mark 3:31-35, John 2:3-4). She certainly communicated no such understanding to his followers. In fact, Jesus' earliest followers proclaimed that Jesus had become Son of God through the resurrection and never mentioned a virginal conception. Paul declared Jesus to be "the son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4, see also Acts 13:33 where Psalms 2:7 is applied to the resurrection). The doctrine of a virginal conception seems to have had no effect upon Christian teachings prior to its appearance in the last third of the first century. On the basis of the New Testament record it is doubtful that Jesus' family, or the first Christians, and, most of all, Mary herself knew of the virginal conception she is alleged to have undergone. "Did you not know that I must be concerned with the affairs of my Father?" No, Mary and Joseph did not know it. They did not know it because they had never heard of their son's "miraculous" conception. There is no doubt that the story of the virginal conception came into circulation long after the deaths of the principal participants in this drama.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • pcmacha

      The original bible, before translation refers to Mary as a 'Young Woman', but the translation changes young woman to 'Virgin'. This is how the church justifys that the birth of Jesus was a miracle and (gives some credence to the DaVinci Code Theory).

      March 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  15. Bob

    I am always a little confused when I hear people talking about this subject. When those people are supposedly well versed in what the Bible says. And who God is. It was God's will that Jesus die on the cross. He was sent here by God for that purpose.
    Saying that the Jews are responsible for Jesus being hung of the cross is nonsense. If it was not God's plan for Him to die on the cross it would not have happened. The Jews were used by God in some what the same way that God used Ramses. He hardened his heart so he refused to let the jews leave Egypt. God sometimes uses people or groups of people for His glorification. It is a choice to believe or not to believe in God and who He is.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • freewords

      Without knowledge of His power and the miracles how can you be certain that God is with you to serve you to save you to give an eternal life. Otherwise if there is no Creator then there is no worry what man does on earth. Why you hold man accountable for his activities and man believed s/he is powerful...

      March 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  16. Fichts

    Ahh, both sides are peddling snake oil, why pay any attention?

    March 2, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  17. David

    It really is the most ridiculous argument of all time. Unfortunately for the historically challenged which is 99.9% of Christians the idiocracy is lost. First Jesus was a Jew, the crucifications took place while Jerusleam was under the rule of the Romans. The crucification like the other 50 or so that happened that day were because Rome was qualshing any uprising that threatened their power. The only reason that Jews were blamed in the death of Jesus was because Christianity needed to flourish in Rome if it had any chance of becoming a mega religion. Kind of a hard sell if you are trying to convert people while at the same time blaming them. The accounts in the New Testament are obviously written for a Roman audience. The fact that a repressed population would write the oppressor in favorable terms should call into question the motives and authenticity of the writers. Think of it in modern times. What would you think of a Jew that was supposedly in a Nazi internment camp writing about how the Nazis really weren't that bad. That they went out of their way to protect us and it was only after much begging by the Jewish prisoners that they were forced to be nasty at times. I think most of us today would dismiss that account as propaganda. Yet we willingly accept almost the same account in the Bible.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • johnpaul

      I would think that this would be the first and only honest jew that ever existed

      March 2, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • freewords

      The New Testament is written and is not changed and every Apostle Teacher (Writer) says blessed those who have not seen and yet have believed.

      March 2, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  18. I am YOUR Samurai Cowboy

    The Jews can't kill a character that did not exist. Jesus is a contrived character madup tp validate a phony, made of religion.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • losano

      And why years evolve around Him?? B.C. and A.D.??

      Jesus Chris is the Lord and the Savior of the whole humanity, like it or not.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • ttriple

      Don't stop there – maybe the Jews don't exist either. Furthermore, maybe you don't exist and are just a figment of your own imagination.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • jhendrix731

      Right on, the fact the bible is still taken seriously shows just how far man kind still is from its full potential

      PS: losano is a moron (add echo effect)
      haha how does A.D. & B.C. in regards to modern time referencing have any real relevance to the actual legitimacy of jesus existing. Intelligence is obviously not a trait all humans possess.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • freewords

      @ Cowboy You do not know anything when you learn open your heart and do not amuse yourself to deny...

      March 2, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  19. jasonbig

    this delusional old guy lived his whole fxxking life without contributing anything but loads of crap to the society.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • freewords

      To teach, you touch someone life forever, His job (The Pope) is teachers... yr worry about the crap you produce.

      March 2, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  20. E. St. Sinn

    Well, if you like this fiasco, check out my book at http://www.SwordoftheChrist.com or my blog at blogofthechrist.blogspot.com You'll never see Jesus the same way again.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • nomus

      Bolshy yarbles to all Jews!

      March 2, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
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