Pope in new book: Don't blame Jews for Jesus' death

Book describes last week of Jesus' life, contradicts Gospel's claim that Jews collaborated with Roman authorities.

Pope Benedict XVI reiterated that the Jewish people are not responsible for Jesus' death in a new book released on Wednesday.

The Pope also denies the Gospel writers' claim that Jews working in the Temple collaborated with the Roman authorities, leading to Jesus' execution.

"Many readers will find this section of the book particularly interesting as the Pope reviews the historical positions taken about this," said Father Joseph Fessio, founder and publisher of Ignatius Press, the primary publisher of the Pope's books in the US. "He discusses some very controversial claims that have been made, and draws on some contemporary scholarly resources to reach a conclusion that I am certain will generate a lot of discussion."

The book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week - From the Entrance Into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, a sequel to a previous book on Jesus' life, the Pope describes "the final week of Jesus' earthly life."



  • Can anyone directly quote the writings in question? That's pretty dumb of the Pope to contradict the Bible. I'm more inclined to think this is rather shoddy/sensational reporting.
  • Better explanation.

    VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Jewish people as a whole were not responsible for Jesus' crucifixion, and their descendants have not inherited blame for his death, Pope Benedict XVI writes in a new book to be published on March 10.
    The statements appear in excerpts, which were released Wednesday (March 2), from Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection, the sequel to Benedict's 2007 best-seller, Jesus of Nazareth.
    "Who insisted that Jesus be condemned to death?" Benedict writes in the new book. Noting that the Gospel of John says simply, "the Jews," Benedict explains that this expression "does not at all indicate -- as the modern reader might tend to interpret it -- the people of Israel as such, and even less does it have a 'racist' character."
    Noting that Jesus and all his original followers were Jews, Benedict writes that the term refers in this case specifically to the "aristocracy of the temple," or the leading priests who called for Jesus' death.
    Benedict also explains the statement, "may his blood be on us and on our children," attributed to the Jews in the Gospel of Matthew, is not a curse but actually a kind of blessing.
    "The Christian will remember that the blood of Christ ... is not spilled against anyone but ... for many, for all," Benedict writes. "Read from the point of view of the faith, this means that we all need the purifying force of love, and that force is his blood. These words are not a curse, but redemption, salvation."
    The book, while not bearing the weight of official church teaching or dogma, is nonetheless likely to help Benedict's relations with Jews. Critics have questioned his moves to approve a Good Friday prayer that calls for Jews' salvation, and also to readmit a schismatic bishop who turned out to be a vocal denier of the Holocaust.
    Benedict's statement is consistent with official Catholic teaching on the subject that was overhauled in the 1960s, when the Second Vatican Council declared Jesus' passion "cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today."
    Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Benedict's new book an "important and historic moment for Catholic-Jewish relations" that will help transmit longstanding church teaching "down to the pews."
    - Francis X. Rocca, Religion News Service

    Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/news/2011/03/pope-says-jews-not-to-blame-fo.php#ixzz1FTu4kMYz

  • Honestly, it never occured to me to blame the Jews for Jesus' death.

    Most of Jesus' efforts were geared against the Roman authority. He was destined for the cross because of it.
  • In a very theologically technical sense, the Pope is correct. Jesus, Himself, laid down His life. No one "took" it from Him, but that is not what the Pope is actually arguing from the snippet of text presented above. He is arguing that the Jews actually had not stake in the death sentence of Christ -- a blatant mis-reading and setting aside (or eisegesis -- reading into) the text of Holy Scripture, which says otherwise.

    The Pope is treading on dangerous theological and doctrinal ground here. In the end, by alienating the whole of Christendom to gain favor with Israel, he will do a great disservice to all Christians.

    Back to my first statement... Because in that tight theological sense, Israel is not to blame for the death of Christ, neither should the church persecute God's chosen people. A lot of biblically-centered Christians see the Scriptures and their relationship with Israel in exactly this light (I need to make the distinction between "biblically-centered" and so-named Christians in this case, because great atrocities have been carried against the Jews over the millennia since Christ walked the earth, but none of that persecution was ordained in or through the Scriptures).
  • edited March 2011
    Good comments, Guy.

    To add, everybody crucified Jesus because the same root sin that caused his crucifixion we are guilty of too: rebellion against God. Really, every day people do not accept Jesus as their Messiah, they crucify him again and again.

    That includes the Jews specifically. As Peter said:

    Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

    Understanding that it is you who nailed Jesus to the cross, and that, despite that, Jesus took your sins on the cross, this is foundational to understanding the Gospel. I ran across this picture last weekend:
    Note the holes in Jesus' hands, the nail and hammer in the guy's hands, and the total inability of the man to walk, Jesus supporting him fully.

    Waving away peoples' guilt of the crucifixion of Jesus undermines the Gospel.

    What do you think, Bill?
  • said:


    Is that Henry Rollins?
  • said:

    The Pope is treading on dangerous theological and doctrinal ground here.

    What about Papal infallibility, to say nothing of Matthew 16:18-19?
  • said:


    The Pope is treading on dangerous theological and doctrinal ground here.

    What about Papal infallibility, to say nothing of Matthew 16:18-19?
    the Pope just demonstrated why that is a purely human-driven sentiment. Roman Catholics invented "Sacred Tradition" to cover all the areas where they've gone extra-biblical, and papal infallibility is just one of those areas.

    Interestingly, papal infallibility was not declared "officially" by the Church until 1870 during Vatican I. But, of course, this book is not spoken "ex cathedra" so infallibility is not invoked.
  • said:

    Roman Catholics invented "Sacred Tradition" to cover all the areas where they've gone extra-biblical, ...

    Difficult not to be extra-biblical if your religion pre-dates the Bible.
  • And Matthew 16:18-19?
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