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. myway

    The pope's debunking didn't go far enough.

    There was no Jewish ethnic group as we know it during the Jesus era and Christianity has not been thought of yet. However, there were temple priests in Jerusalem who belonged to the political and wealthy elite of the time. Based on excavated homes ofpriests in Jerusalem they iived the good life just like any elite group throughout the ages. According to the scriptures Jesus directly challenged the authority of the priests with his temple rampage during his fatal visit to Jerusalem. This would be seen as if some provincial Italian preacher visited St Peter's church, started yelling at the clerics challenging their setup and demanding changes to various traditions. I think we wouldn't question if such a person were arrested and tried in court. Therefore it's plausible the temple priest of Jerusalem collaborated with the Romans having Jesus tried and executed for his daring challenge to their livelyhood. The Romans were put in the hot seat. They wanted to make sure they wouldn't upset the local public too much by following through with the execution. Therefore they staged a public hearing where Jesus was being ridiculed as a borderline insane religious outsider with extreme views. The Jerusalem public, who hadn't been exposed to Jesus much, went along with the propoganda. This shows, not much has changed in the past 2000 years when it comes to prejudging certain villified individuals.

    The more controversial debunking is the reference to Jesus as the son of God. Jesus may have used that reference to illustrate the idea we all carry a piece of divinity allowing us direct access to the divine if we open ourselves up by following the path of rightousness, rejection of worldly possessions and intense meditation. This is similar in concept to the teachings of Buddhism predating Jesus by 500 years. I doubt Jesus meant he was the only son of God. He meant to convey he reached a stage of enlightenment where he experienced the meaning of this idea. The official divinity attributed to Jesus wasn't established until the 4th century a.d. when the gospels were edited into their current form. Prior to that Jesus was mostly seen as the last of a long line of prophets captured in the old testament. Jesus is still seen as such in Jewish scriptures. Islam has Jesus a prophet in a line that ends with Muhammed.

    The one major difference in Christian beliefs is the attempt to establish Jesus as the prophezised messiah, having him resurrected and living forever, a familiar concept in mythologies during antiquity. How all this evolved into a religion we now call Christianity should also be debunked, which would surely undermine the authority of current Christian churches.

    November 24, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Jesus was the firstborn of many brethern. The firstfruits. We cannot become His brethern; however, except through his work of atonement. He was the Second Adam. We are not the third and fourth Adam. We are the Bride of Christ. He is th eHead and we are the Body. Nevertheless, throughHim, we become sons of God. Very true.

      November 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  2. Lizard Lance

    Unless Pope Benedict has access to Biblical writings that have been kept from the rest of us, his book cannot be taken too seriously.

    November 24, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • coffeebean02

      Thank you! This man is one of the "strangest" Pope's in my lifetime. Personally, I don't have much respect for him or his "truths".

      November 24, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • was blind, but now I see

      There are many many many things in church tradition that have nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible. A great deal of the traditions actually have more pagan roots in them than Biblical.

      Easter = Ishtar (replaced Passover to apease the pagan masses)
      Christmas = Saturnalia (same basic manipluation as above)

      “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the
      most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a
      time and times and the dividing of time.” (Daniel 7:25, KJV)

      November 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  3. Sherry Diesel

    I learned as a child, about the manger scene, and the birth of Christ. When I finally fished the old and new testaments, I was surprised more people don't read it. I t was interesting, and yet I have realized these have been translated over the eras. To be exact is premature,as ever so the scientists do not know the truth, not about simple things in our bodies, nor how to control their own lives. Take transcripts from some, & I was able to look up marriage, and the meanings they used for words were different than now days, yes 30 yrs ago, also. The reality, it is believed Jesus was Jewish, himself, and the result was taught that he died for our sins, and we should ask forgiveness...even the most intelligent believe due to the ignorance of not believing, vs. believing. If you do not, well your loosing a lot more happiness than you could know. Some people don't want to be nice and understanding. Everyone sins, and it isn't whether you have a new or another faith, but it is your life, and it effects otherrs. Others have the right to use their beliefs spiritually, so long as they do not harm nor infringe apon another.
    It has been so long for adults to act like dopes. How foolish to blame today's generations for history of thousands of years ago.
    We are not responsible for another person, or groups in a country, that has hate or not eras ago.
    What human is so good to think that we are here out of nothing but our imagination, as much as how dumb were males when they believed women that said a fetus was not life...
    men cut grass when they mow it..
    Do you put a duck to its end when it is aimed at for supper? We all are from a relation, in the line anyway, most of us..are.
    Get along..the Pope I did not hear that speech, but I don't think he is God, anyway.

    November 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  4. albert

    when the Jews face the truth then we will become closer ,as long as they live they're lie and this fool can try to change history we can only get far apart , i am american who believe that if someone came up to me and told me he is the son of god or the lord at that time of history jew or not i would have kill him using god name or said, he is the son of god is crime against god .i grow up in new york and have different kind of friends jew and non jews but i dont ask , it good to find the truth with out fighting or pointing fingers ,what happen was a test we as people fail

    November 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  5. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    Truth is..exclusive

    November 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  6. albert

    he is German and feel bad for what his people did to the Jews so now he want to said it wasn't the Jews who pointed the finger and had him arrested ,leave it for long and he will tell us he wasn't Hitler who kill the Jews but the German people

    November 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm |

    Christianity has always and only is a way to control the mass population along side with some other religions through history.

    It gives a variably simple origin, so ridiculous it must be true back story, and rules to live by. (Even though people break these rules constantly and feel good about knowing that all guilt can be shoved away by simply asking their god for forgiveness so that they can go back to their wrongful doing in bliss)

    It amazes me that christians have always suspected and proven the Vatican of hiding truth. Including entire books intentionally not allowed into the bible and why?

    Because some of those genuine "gospels" defraud the religon. Too many people are under the insane belief that Jesus is the son of a God that created everything.

    Of course, these people that make up half the worlds population, that prefer this explanation instead of reality will inevitably lose control if they suddenly found out that the story is bogus.

    If only these people were more interested in the real truth of existence and leave these old world mythologies to rest.

    November 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  8. Megan

    sorry, but plz understand that I really don't care. Not like- i do not want to know more about Christ. More like I understand but there are too many people who create their own ideas. I belive only in the Bible and the rest I will ask Jesus when I get to Heaven. Reply if you agree! 🙂

    November 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  9. eyesalve

    The Pope obviously isn't familiar with Peter's message in Acts 2 : 22 – 24 - " “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."
    And again in Acts 2 : 36 - “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

    November 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  10. 14all

    So let me get this straight: Catholics would prefer that Jesus had NOT been killed, and then therefore remain dead in their sins??
    "Damn you Jews for being responsible for my salvation!!!!"

    November 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  11. Phyllis

    Who gave this pope so much power? There is only ONE God and he does not live at the Vatican!

    November 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  12. Smart Potato

    Religion is just a crux for war, and the death of innocent women and children. It should just die a quick death itself, as none of this c**p even matters anymore, especially since all of these spoiled men-children cannot agree on what really happened (which no longer matters; we have too many real-life problems to be arguing about this garbage).

    November 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  13. Francisco DeCastro

    Well, Obviously it was not ALL Jews that wanted Jesus dead. Many Jews believed in Jesus like, his apostles for example. They were jews. However, the pharasees were definitely the ones who in fact the ones who killed Jesus. The Pharasees brought Jesus to the Romans to persecute Jesus. So did they work together? Yes they did. But if the pharasees had never brought Jesus to the Romans would have Jesus been persecuted? I'm sure they would have found a way. Maybe stone him to death. But in my conclusion, yes, it was in fact the Jews who wanted Jesus dead, and since they wanted Jesus dead, that was the reason that Jesus died. Plain and simple.

    November 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Vadim

      answer the very simple question: What nationality were first Christians? The answer is: they were Jews.
      and by the way this small group of the first christians-jews, made christianaty possible. So let's blame them too

      November 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  14. roger

    The pope needs to read the Bible; the Jews were charged with Christ death-
    John 19:7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
    8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid,
    9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.
    10 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”
    11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

    November 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  15. DAVID

    The Jewish aristocracy and Levitical Priesthood which instigated the Crucifixion of Jesus represent the Jewish Nation as a whole, "He came to his own and his own knew him not" in fact they turned their back on him and denied his Kingship and relation as the Son of God. For what they called "Blasphemy" he was given over to the romans to be crucified with the blessings of the people... It is true that nothing happens without God's fore Knowledge... He knew what would happen to him before the seed was planted in Mary. He knew to choose a deceiver to put in his midst in the form of Judas... and there had to be a peoples in which the prophesy would fulfilled which would birth the savior into the world. What is key to understand is that through their initial denial the WHOLE WORLD, also as prophesied, would be blessed and because of their denial I AM SAVED who come from a totally different peoples than Israel. Should Christ's birth then be a reason for hatred and anti-Semitism or a cause to pray and BLESS the JEWISH PEOPLE... I would say we are all thankful to the JEWS and look for their redemption in JESUS CHRIST one day. Who cares about cows in the manger.. That's not the point.. And as per the Angels I'm quite sure they heralded the coming of the king into the world even though it might only have been heard in heaven.

    November 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  16. miriam

    Christ, oops, what would Christianity have been without the crucifixion? Their entire belief system is based around it. Can't have it two ways you know: saying Christ died for your sins, and then blaming people, the Jews specifically, for that. And then using that as an excuse for hatred and 2000 years of persecution and genocide.

    November 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Kay

      I've often wondered the same thing...why so many "Christians" get so upset at the people who were actually part of "God's plan" for the crucifixtion. I mean...it was their God's *WILL* to have Jesus crucified, wasn't it? So, if they truly want to be mad at anyone for Jesus' death, why not at God??

      On the other hand, I guess that you and I are being far too logical 🙂

      November 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Megan

      I agree Kay. It states that in the Bible so I believe it. 🙂

      November 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  17. chris

    i think we should just have fate in God and leave the story of jesus alone.Only God knows what happened then.
    as humans we dont have concrete proof of anything.

    November 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  18. Z_2K

    Well, I'm sure that Mel Gibson will have a few words to say to the Pope on this.

    November 23, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  19. JMorcan

    Only Catholics believe Jews killed Jesus. It allows them to justify their bigotry.

    November 23, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Z_2K

      And your misguided mis-understanding that Catholics believe Jews killed Jesus allows you to justify your hatred of
      Catholics, and I suspect ALL religion. Catholics know that Romans killed Jesus, but that they were 'put up to it' not be the average Jew-on-the-street but by the currupt elite of the Jewish priest of the Temple who viewed Jesus as seditious and a danger to their control over the general Jewish populace. Pilate also realized the threat to his position and decided to accomodate the Temple aristocracy to solve the threat to his governorship over Judea. Romans killed Christ to protect their own well-being.

      November 23, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Z_2K

      Let me add , to Mr . JMorcan, that I am a Catholic. I attended 12 years of Catholic schooling including in Florida, New Jersey, and Nebraska. I NEVER was taught that, as you say, "Jew's killed Jesus". I never heard that said in church, in the classroom, or by any Catholic priest, nun, lay minister, or parishoner that "Jews killed Christ".

      November 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • miriam

      z2K you are a young Catholic then. I"m in my mid 60's, and it was certainly standard fare when I was growing up.

      November 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  20. Mike in SA

    He's right, Jews did not kill Jesus, Italians did (Romans), the Jewish hierarchy just put all the pieces into motion and the crowds followed along at the time, just like many people blindly follow their religious leaders (or politicians) today.

    November 23, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • albert

      it was the Jews that condemn and vote to free the other person and cause Jesus his life

      November 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.