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. anonymous

    Jews used the Romans to Kill Jesus.....

    .....and bullies don't actually kills their victims, they just make them kill themselves, but everyone seems to be picking on the bullies today.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  2. Adam

    jesus didn't die on the cross...he moved to france

    March 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  3. Slim

    God "killed" Jesus.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  4. Julia

    Okay, are we all forgetting that the old testiment said that the Savior would be from the lineage of the House of King David and the prophecy would be that he would be "sacrificed" for us? So what does it matter who killed him? Somebody had to do it because the prophecy had to be fullfilled.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  5. Your Friend

    Why do think we are here. God the creator of the Universe desires to see His Creation renewed in mind and in spirit. For if the sacrifice of Goat and Lambs in the holy jewish tradition brough forth the covering of sin of all israel, how much more is the precious and holy life of our Lord Jesus Christ bring forth the forgiveness of all mankind. Let me assure you that prophet mohamed was simply a man seeking a way to God. In his mind he draw many conclusion of which today many follow. BUT neglecting the only source of truth, which is Jesus Christ. Christ was not a prophet, He was and is God incarnated as a man. HIs return is very soon, and declare it plainly. Are you ready?

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

      ...a little more fire and brimstone, please?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  6. Phil The Engineer

    I checked my Blackberry calendar and I was no where near Jerusalem in 32 AD. So it's not my fault.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  7. Faisal

    From their own bible, Mark 11:18 "The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching."

    they were supposedly Jewish, but obviously the true Jew, Jesus Christ, made them *afraid*, and they "began seeking how to destroy Him".

    It's very clear in the bible.

    Again, the NASB Translation which is what the Catholics read from- Mark 15:9-11
    "Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead."

    So take the Popes words carefully, as I am not sure what he is trying to do. Bring peace? that would also go in contradiction of his supposed Lord, Jesus Christ, which I am not sure if the pope is truly serving humbly.

    Understand the context of "peace" from Jesus own mouth:

    Matthew 10:34; Luke 2:14; 22:36 and Mark 9:50; John 14:27; 16:33; Acts 10:36

    -No Peace
    (Matthew 10:34-36) – "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35"For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household."
    (Luke 12:51,52) – "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; 52for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two, and two against three..."
    (Luke 22:36) – "And He said to them, "But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one."

    (Mark 9:50) – "Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."
    (John 14:27) – "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
    (John 16:33) – "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace..."
    (Acts 10:36) – "The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)."

    March 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  8. cworthee

    @ Jehu

    He was a descendent of Abraham – prophecy: Genesis 12:3 and fulfilled Matthew 1:1.

    Matthew 1:1 traces the lineage of Joseph. Since Joseph is not Jesus' "real father" how is Jesus a descendent of Abraham?

    He would only be a descendent by marriage. I am therefore a descendent of Abraham as well. Hmmmm

    Just a question.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Jehu

      1. Luke’s genealogy gives us evidence that Mary and Joseph are relatives
      and truly of the line of Judah and David, lines through which the
      Messiah had to come.

      2. Luke lists all 74 generations. Matthew lists one generation in fourteen.

      3. Luke tells us that Joseph was the son of Heli, and it is conjectured
      with much probability that Mary was the daughter of Jacob. If it is
      assumed that Jacob, having no son, adopted Joseph, his nephew
      and heir, we see that Mary married a relation, and that she, as well
      as Joseph, was descended from David, Joseph in the line of Solomon,
      and Mary, his wife in the line of Nathan.

      4. Both genealogies show the descent of Joseph: Matthew shows his
      real descent and Luke his legal descent. Matthew shows Joseph’s
      legal descent to the throne of David. Luke shows his real parentage.

      5. Both were needed to prove that redemption was no after thought on
      God’s part, but designed from the beginning.

      6. In Matthew’s list, Abraham and David are singled out to prove the
      fulfillment of the promises and prophecies to Abraham 2,000 years
      before, and to David 1,000 years before. Luke takes us back to Adam,
      the father of the human race and brings the first Adam and the last
      Adam together – the two federal heads—Adam, of the human race;
      Christ, the Head of a redeemed people, His Church. In Adam we die,
      in Christ we are made alive. "So also it is written, ‘The first man,
      Adam, was created a living soul.’ The last Adam into a life giving
      Spirit." (1 Cor 15:45)

      7. The period from Abraham to David is that of the patriarchs; from
      David to the Babylonian captivity, that of kings; and from the captivity
      to Christ, that of private individuals. The first and second periods
      have notable beginnings, but the third does not. It is the period of
      captivity because of sin and rebellion; yet it ends with the Messiah
      who came to set prisoners free. During the third period the people
      were a hierarchy with priests as mediators.

      8. Israel’s history is exhibited through these three periods: growth,
      decline, ruin; her utter failure pointing to the need of redemption
      through Jesus Christ who heads each genealogy.

      9. Luke gives us 41 descendants from David whereas Matthew only
      gives us 27. Matthew is tracing only heirs to the throne and so only
      comments on descendants that are recognized since "the heir of my
      heir is my heir." Others are omitted for spiritual reasons. For example:
      Simeon is omitted in Moses’ blessing on account of his cruelty
      (Deut 33) and Dan is excluded because of his idolatry (Rev 7:4-8).

      10. A comparison of the two genealogies reveals the different standpoints
      of the genealogists. For instance:

      Matthew is writing for Jews and so gives Jesus’ legal descent and shows that He is the King of Israel. Luke is writing to Gentiles and therefore gives the natural descent.
      Matthew lists the descendents’ names downward from Abraham who is the father of the Jews, but also the spiritual father of the Gentiles (Gen 17:5, Rom 4:16-17). Luke, on the other hand, lists his names upward from Christ to Adam "who was the son of God" and both father of the Gentiles as well as the Jews who were all sinners alike (Rom 5:19).
      Luke writes of Christ as the Son of Man. Matthew presents Jesus as the legal and royal heir to the promises and prophecies given to Abraham and David.
      Luke shows the line of Mary which shows Jesus’ blood or physical descent as the "seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom 1:3). Matthew focuses on Jesus the King whereas Luke focuses on Jesus’ humanity. Both writers witness to the virgin birth of Jesus and His deity.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • cworthee

      @Jehu. so why use Matthew as your source in your original post.

      Mary and Joseph are blood relatives. (EWWW)

      So now you are stating Jesus' lineage is more valid through Mary's family. As stated in Luke.

      Since Matthew, Mark and Luke are all pretty much identical that kinda makes since. However, maybe they all were written to support previous prophecies from the OT.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  9. Bo

    "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

    John 10:17-18

    March 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  10. Seriously!

    Honestly, I never understood why anyone was concerned about who was involved in Jesus' death. It was after all preordained for him to die on the cross, and he was resurrected afterward. So why should it matter who holds the responsibility of that?

    March 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  11. commander

    prejudice needs no historical basis, nor does stupidity.
    decide who you will hate or love for your own reasons, not your parents' or the bible's.

    it's worked well for me and I'm happier because I know the reasons why I feel like I do.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  12. Robert L.

    And again, the Pope offered a sanitized fact...

    Jews of that Day did not Crucify Jesus; rather, their voices (for whatever reasons) were demonstrative of their complicity of crucifying (putting and end to life of Jesus). None of us should either judge or alter the (transcriptional chronicles) Holy Scriptures of the part of this, The Greatest Miracle. Especially leaders in high places who are lest ordained to teach than the Holy Spirit, who was sent by The Christ to provide These wisdoms, and The knowledge of Truth to whosoever ask of it.

    Not By Power, Not by Place; but By The Power of who Jesus taught... "To Thine Be The Power" .

    Let the congregations of His Church listen with hearing of GOD.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  13. SanityPlease - WeAreOne

    Jesus- was- a- Jewish rabbi himself. He probably knew more about the Torah than most religious scholars and modern day rabbis. He simply was trying to teach other Jews and Gentiles a "new way" (ie. forgiveness and unconditional love).

    Why this is so difficult for people to understand is beyond me. The "Jews" did not kill Jesus. A group of people in his own community whipped into a frenzy by the Pharisees and other religious elite fearing a possible loss of their grip on the power structure- killed Jesus.

    Their were many Jewish (and Roman) mourners. And obviously many, many people continued to learn his teachings and spread the word and intermix with Gentiles and other non-"new age" Jews. Christianity was simply "new age" Judaism after all. Their was not a point in Jesus time on earth where he denounced his Jewish religion and said that he was a "Christian". He merely said, I have a new way that builds upon existing Jewish tradition.

    Christianity (Catholicism esp.) shares a lot in common with Judaism (the altar, the inclusion of the Old Testament in liturgy)- this is not by coincidence. To fail to understand the roots of Christianity, is to turn a blind eye to our very common ground.

    Again- stop perpetuating the lie Mel Gibson's "Passion" seemed to reignite. The "Jews" did not kill Jesus anymore than "Americans" killed JFK.

    Btw- I believe in interfaith. God speaks to us, the appointed caretakers of planet Earth in many ways, none of which are more superior or more "truthful" than another.

    *PS: for people who think Jesus had fair hair and blue eyes- that characature was developed by Western people to more easily identify with the Savior. Jesus was the Jewish son of a Jewish mother (Mary). He likely had thicker dark hair, brown eyes and bronze/darker skin.. owing to the fact that he lived in the Middle East (Israel- before the Diaspora).

    The Diaspora is precisely the reason modern day Jewish peoples (and many other caucasion people with some Jewish features who don't even realize they have Jewish roots- which again- (read above), for a Christian, is hardly something to be "ashamed" of as so many people are about this subject) in Europe and America have lighter skin than other Middle Eastern people's who never left the region due to persecution- they (Jewish tribes) moved to many different geographic areas across Europe and elsewhere, and many of them intermixed with people of a fairer skin color.

    Again, I don't understand why this is so hard for people to grasp- the information is pretty straightforward (and shouldn't be taken as offensive). Unless you are an Arian supremacist their is no shame in knowing that you may have roots that go all the way back to Middle Eastern regions.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Kris

      Because the world needs a scapegoat and they choose the Jews. Sanity, don't waste your breath on uneducated ignorant fools.
      People blame everything on the Jews and all they want from the world is to be left alone.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Chris

      A little long, but well said. People don't like to listen to common sense or read history, so they just feed on the ignorance of others.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • SMITH1279

      JESUS the Word became a man specifically to be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind. He is and was the only one who could do it because He is the sacrificial Lamb of God. Because of God's love of His creation, Jesus died as a man so all mankind could be saved from the eternal consequence of sin if they receive Jesus as Lord. Jesus' death has nothing to do with any particular group, because we all are involved. Now let us all repent and receive the Christ in our hearts, establishing a relationship with Him so we will be blessed with LIFE!

      March 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Sunshine

      Some rays of light finally. Halos for all. Now chill and get along with each other.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  14. K Brown

    Finally.......someone else has figured it out.......it was the Italians! Now let's ridicule them for a couple of centuries....oh...... wait.......we already have.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Meatballs for Brains

      Where else do you think that Flying Spaghetti Monster thing came from? Big Roman Animal House thing.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  15. Chas in Iowa

    I see, they decided in 1960,.............huh?
    Popes trying to pull a GWB and rewrite history.
    What a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  16. Bold Coffee

    If jesus had come to earth 75 yrs ago, we'd all be wearing little electric chairs around our necks.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Adam

      haha nice one

      March 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • The Serpent

      Adam, You better keep quiet or you'll never get back in that garden. Have you seen Eve lately?

      March 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  17. ScottK

    @sockpuppet – "He did not actually kill Himself but allowed Himself to a be a sacrifice."

    You make my point I'm afraid – "or by omitting to do what is necessary to escape death, as by refusing to leave a burning house."

    And as to him not being Catholic, touche!! But i'm pretty sure there are many Catholic's out there who believe he founded their religion, though they would of course be mistaken. The pagan Roman elite founded the "Holy" Roman Catholic Church to maintain control over their empire and it has fed off the blood of the innocent like a gluttonous vampire keeping itself alive for over 1500 years by reinventing itself every time it is caught red lipped.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  18. S.B. Stein

    Crusifixtion was a Roman form of execution. Jewish law would never have allowed that much pain in an execution. If people were to actually study what Jewish law demanded for a death sentance, then people would be hard pressed to believe that it was Jews had requested the execution.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • sadie

      Because stoning is painless? A

      March 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  19. Roger Wayne

    Don't think his highness has it quite right yet. God incarnate came here to die for all our sins. God put Jesus on the cross. It doesn't really matter who on earth he used to pound the nails.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Neeneko

      Well, just like management... praise travels up, blame travels down.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • God

      Oh so it's my fault?

      March 2, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • God

      Careful now. You know I did. You know its that split personality thing. If I could only remember to take my meds no one would ever believe in Satan more than me. Just keep talking. Eventually they'll understand that they're the ones who don't understand. That's why I'm me and they're just a part, not apart like the silly fools think.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  20. Jesus

    Please leave me out of this...

    March 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Please No

      That's pretty much what they've tried to do since you ascended. Turf wars, you know? We obviously don't.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
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