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. Iqbal Khan

    Check this...English translation of Quran


    March 2, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  2. Joe

    Who cares? Get a life people!

    March 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  3. frewt

    Have you ever seen a famour Rabbi? no because jewdism is wrong and not accepted anywhere except in occupied Palestine.

    March 2, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • PGelsman

      Occupied Palestine? Where exactly is that?

      March 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Israelite

      @pegelsman..in (the land owned by) Israel.

      March 2, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  4. pope 1

    This is the pope speaking, I have read all your comments and I feel sad for humanity today, this is a disgrace beyond belief.
    I know who you are.....

    March 2, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  5. wonderly

    I think the Pope tries to convey a message it was not through a particular race that killed the Christ. It is the heart that hates Christ. With a hateful heart, anyone can kill even the Messiah. Probably, a strong message specially for priests with hating hearts, arrogant hearts who could shut down the Humble Jesus in them.

    March 2, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  6. JEF

    Well all this sounds like to me is one old NAZI helping out another old NAZI buddy back into the fold

    March 2, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  7. Ted

    Jesus didn't even die!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      that's right. chances are that Jesus actually survived the crucifixion alive and was whisked away and hidden in a nearby tomb by his secret disciple Joesph of Arameia. Even the jewish priests who got him killed at the time were skeptical that he was actually dead after such a short period of time on the cross. They were out looking for his body to make sure he was dead. Why? Because there had been virtually NO EYEWITNESSES to his death! 100s of people were not "going about in Jerusalem having seen his dead body brought down from the cross", virtually no one actually saw the dead body of Jesus. It was all ASSUMED that the body that came down, and was quickly whisked away and buried without more than a handful of people seeing it, was a DEAD BODY.

      March 3, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • freewords

      And they sent the soldier to guard the tomb and the women were longing that someone move the stone to enter the tomb. But the stone were rolled and the women went in the tomb to search for the body.... they went to inform the disciples... Jesus has risen from the dead...

      March 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  8. Iqbal Khan

    Increase Ur knowledge check and down load..... "WHAT JESUS REALLY SAY?"

    March 2, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  9. magnus

    A Jew betrayed Jesus and the Romans killed him. No one can rewrite history, not even the Pope.

    March 2, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Steve J

      ANYONE can rewrite a history that was made-up to begin with.

      March 2, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • PGelsman

      Jesus never lived. He was invented by the Catholic church to control the people.

      March 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  10. matt

    Funny because all these years I could have sworn it was the Romans who killed Jesus. Crucifixion = Roman, Guards who marched Jesus to Golgatha = Romans, Guard who pierced Jesus' side with a spear = Roman. All these centuries and never a trace of Anti-Romanism in Europe. Guess it pays to get the editing rights to the Holy Bible. Come to think of it, maybe we should change the name of the New Testament to "The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ According to the Folks Who KIlled Him". If a biography of Anne Frank was written by a Nazi sympathizer, would we blindly trust its veracity?

    March 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  11. mark

    What are the implications of the author of Matthew using Hosea 11:1 to describe Mary, Joseph, and Jesus being called out of Egypt?
    Answer: Matthew 2:13-15 makes the claim that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus fled to Egypt until recalled by an angel. This is supposedly in fulfillment of a prophecy: "Out of Egypt did I call My son." The source of the so-called prophecy is Hosea 11:1. However, in the context of the verse as found in Hosea there is no prophecy, but simply a restating of Israelite history.

    What is more, the following verse in Hosea is a continuation of the prophet's statement. It says of those called out of Egypt that they sinned against God: "The more they [the prophets] called them, the more they went from them; they sacrificed to Baalim, and offered to graven images" (Hosea 11:2). The application of Hosea 11:1 to Jesus would, on the basis of verse 2, describe him, as well as Mary and Joseph, as sinners. If one reads Matthew's so-called fulfillment of prophecy within the context of that "prophecy" then one must consider that Jesus was a sinner.

    March 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  12. raynotpaul

    Hey pope-y! Tryin' to sell some books?

    March 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  13. mark

    The Roman Census in Luke – actually carried out?
    The author of Luke writes: "Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was pregnant" (Luke 2:1-5).
    Why has it been said that if the Roman census described in the Gospel of Luke was actually carried out as described it would have caused chaos and unprecedented danger to the Roman Empire?
    Answer: In Matthew, Mary and Joseph appear to live in Bethlehem and did not need to travel there prior to Jesus' birth. The author of Luke had to get Mary to Bethlehem to have her baby in order to have what he believed was prophetic fulfillment of Micah 5:1. For this he devised a census using as his basis an actual census that took place around the time when Jesus was born.

    It is not plausible that the Romans conducted a census in the manner described by Luke. There would have been no reason for them to demand that the people being enumerated return to the towns of their ancestors rather than register in the towns in which they actually resided. There would have been no need to make a difficult situation worse. It was obviously unnecessary for people to have to travel to a place often hundreds of miles away which they probably had never seen before.

    According to Luke, everyone residing in the Empire who was not in "his own city" had to leave his place of residence to go to register in his ancestral town. The use of the phrase "to his own town," as found in Luke, does not mean the city of one's birth or official permanent residence, for we see that, in Joseph's case these were not the reasons given for his going to Bethlehem. He went there because, Luke says, he was of Davidic descent. Luke writes that it was not one's own birthplace or official permanent residence that governed what was one's destination, but the earliest place of residence of one's most distant ancestors.

    The alleged Roman demand presumes that the people all knew their ancestral origins and that their ancestors lived with the Empire. This census was sure to cause the disruption of normal family, social, and economic life.

    What Luke describes has the makings of a chaotic situation of unprecedented magnitude. The people involved would have had to travel throughout the length and breath of the Roman Empire, clogging the roads and disrupting the smooth running of the imperial system in every province of the Empire. In the course of their journey, they would be traveling, for the most part, over extremely poor roads once they left the major Roman highways. Available services to travelers would be strained to the breaking point. Certainly in the eastern provinces, of which Judea was part, such a census would present a serious military danger, for the Parthians, then Rome's strongest antagonist in the area, would have had an excellent opportunity to attack. Roman troops on the march would find it extremely difficult to compete with the tremendous mass of civilians on their way to or from registration. It is hard to imagine the Romans so incompetent or unrealistic as to throw the entire Empire into such a chaotic state by carrying out the census described by the evangelist.

    It is unusual that an event of this magnitude should go unnoticed. Yet no contemporary writer mentions this disruptive census or the turmoil it would have engendered. Indeed, if this census took place in Judea it is strange that Josephus never mentioned it in any of his writings. It is obvious that Luke introduced the tale to explain still another legendary tale, that is, how it came about that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem at this time.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  14. tony

    Pope says priesthood justified murder of Jesus. Same thing as would happen today. And that's news?

    March 2, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  15. mark

    If 'almah means "young woman" in Hebrew why did the Jewish scholar who translated the Book of Isaiah into Greek use a Greek word for "virgin," parthenos?

    Answer: The Septuagint is not necessarily a literal translation. Therefore, the use of parthenos by the Septuagint translator of the Book of Isaiah may have best represented his interpretive understanding of the physical state of the young woman of Isaiah 7:14 at the time of the annunciation of the sign. Thus, its use does not naturally lead to the conclusion that he was also speaking of virginal conception. In fact, the presence of parthenos as the rendering of 'almah, did not give rise in any Jewish community of the pre-Christian era to a belief in the virginal conception of Immanuel.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  16. AP

    There are many migrations of Jews after the expulsion by the Romans. There have been Jews in Eastern Europe well before the expulsion from Spain. The common thread is following the Torah/Talmud/Mishna teachings of the Rabbis after the diaspora.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  17. Jack sheet

    At least he didn't blame the Palestinians!

    March 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • freewords

      You mean the gentiles

      March 2, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  18. mark

    Luke 2:4,5 -Was Mary a descendant of David?
    According to the author of Luke, Joseph came to Bethlehem "because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child" (Luke 2:4-5). Does this verse show that Mary was a descendant of David?

    Answer: There is nothing in these verses to show that Joseph and Mary were both of Davidic ancestry and, therefore, going to the same town to register. As his future spouse, one might stretch credulity to the maximum and presume that Mary, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, accompanied Joseph on the journey, but are we to believe that she went to Bethlehem because she too had to register as a descendant of David? This would suggest that married and unmarried women, not fortunate enough to have a spouse or fiancé traveling in the same direction, were out on the road with no one to protect them.

    Credulity is stretched to the limit by the intimation that young and old, the healthy and the invalid, married and unmarried took part in this mass movement of population and the historical records remain silent about its occurrence.

    The author of Luke utilized the historic fact that the Romans took a census about a decade after the birth of Jesus. He then connected this census to the time of the birth of Jesus and exaggerated its registration requirements in order to have Mary accompany Joseph to Bethlehem. Luke emphasizes what he believes to be Joseph ancestry, not Mary's.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  19. mark

    Will Messiah will be born in Bethlehem?
    Micah 5:1 states: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrath, who are little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of you shall come forth to Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from ancient days." Is it true that this is a prediction that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem?

    Answer: This verse refers to the Messiah, a descendant of David. Since David came from Bethlehem, Micah's prophecy speaks of Bethlehem as the Messiah's place of origin. Actually, the text does not necessarily mean the Messiah will be born in that town, but that his family originates from there. From the ancient family of the house of David will come forth the Messiah, whose eventual existence was known to God from the beginning of time.
    Christians allege that Jesus fulfilled Micah's prophecy in that he was supposedly born in Behlehem. Matthew's claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1) is supported by Luke 2:4-7. Mark is silent on the matter. John relates that some people believed the Messiah will come from Bethlehem (John 7:42), but does not take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate that Micah's prophecy was fulfilled by claiming that Jesus was actually born there. This is highly unusual and leads one to suspect that John did not agree with the assertion that Jesus was a Bethlehemite. He lets stand the opposing assertion that Jesus was really of Galilean origin (John 1:46, 7:41).

    Except for the birth references found in Matthew and Luke, all indications, even in the writings of these two evangelists, point to the fact that Jesus was from Nazareth. In any case, being born in Bethlehem is of dubious value in establishing messianic credentials for Jesus. Jesus did not fulfill so man essential messianic qualities, as found in the Prophets, that having been born in Bethlehem would be of no consequence whatsoever.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  20. mark

    Can you give a reason why Jews say Isaiah 9:6 does not refer to Jesus?
    Can you give a reason why Jews say Isaiah 9:6 does not refer to Jesus?

    Answer: Christian theologians argue that the name "A wonderful counselor is the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the ruler of peace" refers to Jesus, who they allege combined human and divine qualities. They mistakenly believe that such a name can only be applied to God Himself. Moreover, the Christians incorrectly translate the verbs in verse 5 in the future tense, instead of the past, as the Hebrew original reads. Thus, the Christians render verse 5 as: "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders; and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

    While admitting that "wonderful counselor" and "ruler of peace" can be applied to a man, Christian theologians argue that the phrases "mighty God" and "everlasting Father" cannot be incorporated as part of a man's name. Thus, they contend that Isaiah teaches that the Messiah has to be not only a man, but God as well. That this entire reasoning is incorrect may be seen from the name Elihu, "My God is He," which refers to an ordinary human being (Job 32:1, 1 Samuel 1:l, 1 Chronicles 12:21, 26:7, 27:18). A similar Christian misunderstanding of Scripture may be seen in their claims revolving around the name Immanuel, "God is with us." The simple fact is that it is quite common in the Bible for human beings to be given names that have the purpose of declaring or reflecting a particular attribute of God, e.g., Eliab, Eliada, Elzaphan, Eliakim, Elisha, Eleazar, Tavel, Gedaliah.

    The fact remains that Jesus did not literally or figuratively fulfill any of Isaiah's words. A wonderful counselor does not advise his followers that if they have faith they can be agents of destruction (Matthew 21:19-21; Mark 11:14, 20-23). A mighty God does not take orders from anyone (Luke2:51, Hebrews 5:8), for no one is greater than he is (Matthew 12:31-32; John 5:30, 14:28). Moreover, he does not ask or need to be saved by anyone (Matthew 26:39, Luke 22:42), for he cannot die by any means (Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30). He who is called the Son of God the Father (John 1:18, 3:16) cannot himself be called everlasting Father. One cannot play simultaneously the role of the son and the Father; it is an obvious self-contradiction. He who advocates family strife (Matthew 10:34-35, Luke 12:49-53) and killing enemies (Luke 19:27) cannot be called a ruler of peace

    March 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • freewords

      Jesus conquers death by death to be everlasting God and Son of the Holy Spirit. Son of Man will have everlasting life.

      March 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
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