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Millions Still Believe ‘The Jews’ Killed Jesus

December 16, 2013 12:33 am 33 comments

A painting of Jesus teaching in the Temple. Photo: Photobucket.

Just when I thought that society had gotten over the bizarre charge that Jews were collectively responsible for the death of Jesus, an equally bizarre missive has come along to challenge my complacency. A newsletter from one of America’s most prestigious universities has revived the accusation. Here’s what the “anonymous” author, reportedly a Jewish convert to Christianity, wrote in Ichthus, the Harvard Christian undergraduate newsletter: “We, the Jews, collectively rejected God and hung Him up on a cross to die, and thus we deserved the punishments that were heaped on our heads over the last 2000 years.”

Stunned by the critical media response, Aaron Gyde, editor-in-chief of Ichthus, offered a lame apology for statements that were explicit: “…it was not the intent of the writer, nor of Ichthus, to present a piece that is anti-Semitic in nature or in interpretation.”

This incident should not have surprised me considering that 26 percent of Americans still believe that the Jews Killed Jesus, according to a 2013 survey by the Anti-Defamation League. And the actual figure is surely higher because people are often reluctant to admit they hold politically incorrect views. How many would admit to disliking black people or distrusting all Muslims even if those were their views?

Nevertheless, it’s puzzling why the indictment of Jews persists – defying facts, logic, and the consensus of bible experts and researchers. The charge only appears to make sense if you read it as: “The Jews killed Jesus — facts to follow.” But there never are any credible supportive facts. That’s because the accusation is a code for hatred – and hatred stands alone.

Even if one Jew, Judas Iscariot, was a turncoat (although the recently deciphered Gospel of Judas disputes that), that doesn’t mean the Jewish people were collectively responsible. Indeed, the single fact that all of Jesus’ devotees were Jewish should be enough to quash the accusation.

Other details are similarly suspicious. Why did the Jewish authorities pay an informer to locate Jesus? The Gospels tell us that the Sanhedrin could have seized Jesus at one of his outdoor gatherings or in a synagogue, where he regularly prayed and taught Torah. Jesus makes that very point to the arresting party in Gethsemane Garden: “Everyday I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me.” Matthew. 26:55

The Gospel of Matthew explains that they feared a riot if they dared to arrest Jesus at a public gathering — that the “multitude” of Jews would rise up to defend him. (Matt. 26:3-5 ) And the Jews were against him?

I’ve often wondered how many Jews were actually clamoring for Jesus to be crucified. Popular belief says it was a huge mob. Hollywood films like The Passion of the Christ reinforce that notion. It’s hard to believe that every Jew in the land gathered around, chanting “crucify him, crucify him.”

In poring over the Gospels for an answer, I was surprised to discover that few if any Jews were present at the trial and condemnation of Jesus, other than the Jewish officials: “And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.” (Mark 14:53; also in Luke 22:54; Matthew 26:57; and John 18:13) There were so few bystanders present (who may have been part of the arresting officials) that the disciple Peter was promptly identified by one of the maids, who asked him if he was a follower of Jesus (Peter’s first denial of Jesus).

Why would ordinary Jews be in attendance? Jesus’ arrest was a clandestine operation. Only the Jewish officials knew about it. Also, it was Passover eve, and Jews were busy with purification and other preparations for the festival.

The next morning, according to the Gospels, Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate at his palace. Again, there’s no indication of any Jews present other than the Jewish officials. This makes sense. The populace still didn’t know that Jesus was in custody, and even if they had known, crowds were unlikely to have swooped down on the palace on the holy day of Passover.

Suddenly, though, Pilate “asks the multitudes” (the Jews) whether he should free Barabbas or Jesus, and they unanimously vote to free Barabbas and condemn Jesus. But who are the multitudes and where did they come from? Is this scenario thrown in to please a growing audience of pagan converts to Christianity (by blaming the Jews rather than the Romans for the death of Jesus) many decades after the crucifixion, when the Gospels were written? Otherwise,the narratives make no sense unless “multitudes” in this instance refers to the large assembly of Jewish officials presiding at the interrogation of Jesus, as indicated in Luke 23:1 (seventy-one members of the Sanhedrin, plus elders, rabbis, and other officials). New Testament scholarCandida Moss noted that “Flash mobs of thousands of people do not miraculously assemble and offer complicated answers in unison without the assistance of smartphones.” She goes on to add that there’s even Papal agreement: “In Jesus of Nazareth: Part Two, Benedict XVI asked, ‘How could the whole people [Jews] have been present at that moment to clamor for Jesus’ death’?”

According to the descriptions in the Gospels, it’s likely that the number of Jews who sided with the Sanhedrin and other Jewish officials who were present and called for crucifixion numbered zero or at most a scant few, who, no doubt would have been lackeys of the Sanhedrin; hardly a “multitude” or mob. Contrast this with Jesus’ Jewish followers, which at times swelled to fifteen thousand Jews or more.

Even if the number of Jews who opposed Jesus was greater than I’ve estimated, it still would be insignificant in the context of the Jewish population of Judea, Galilee, and surrounding areas in Jesus’ time. Estimates run between 500,000 and 600,000, with some as high as a million. Add to that another million Jews in Egypt at the time, according to Jewish Hellenic philosopher Philo. These Jews most likely knew nothing about Jesus, and therefore could not have been against him. Jesus’ ministry spanned only three years and news traveled slowly in the ancient world.

How mind boggling the lethal consequences for Jews over the centuries for the charge “Christ Killers” if indeed only a scant number of Jews called for the crucifixion, while far more embraced him, and most never heard of him. Only if you read the Gospels through the eyes of hatred can you conclude that the Jews killed Jesus.

So how can the code for hatred be broken? Only when we all fully grasp the Jewish foundations of Christianity.

That’s why I’ve organized an art exhibit, “Putting Judaism Back in the Picture:Toward Healing the Christian/Jewish Divide.” The massive number of Medieval and Renaissance artworks conditioned the way Christians and others perceived Jesus and Jews over the centuries. Moreover, they have placed a wedge between Christians and Jews by depicting Jesus as exclusively Christian, without a hint of his Jewish origin. Their legacy continues to reverberate today, as in the Harvard newsletter.

In vaporizing Jesus’ Jewish identity these artworks have falsified biblical history. Jesus and his family typically appear as blond fair-skinned Northern Europeans living in palatial Romanesque settings surrounded by Medieval and Renaissance Christian saints and other anachronisms. This imagery has fed the illusion that Jesus and Jews were of different religions and ethnicity – and were in conflict. These false implications run counter to the depiction of the thoroughly Jewish Jesus in the Gospels.

For this exhibit, artists are invited to submit artworks that restore Jesus’ Jewish identity and introduce balance by presenting the two sides of the Jesus story: Jesus the faithful Jew and Jesus whose life and teachings inspired a new religion that developed after the crucifixion. The premise of the exhibit is that the historic alienation of Christianity and Judaism will not be healed until Jews look at Jesus and see a faithful Jew (even if not accepted as the Messiah) and Christians look at an orthodox Jew and see Jesus.

Bernard Starr is a psychologist, college professor, and journalist. He is the author of Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew. Website: click here.

33 Comments

  • I defended That the Jews did not killed Rabbi Jesus it was the Romans. Now explain to me why Jews are not converting People the way Abraham and Sarah did? Abraham did not fail his mission and that was bringing all People He could to the Torah

    • Edward Boothe

      The Romans did not want anything to do with the death of Christ. It was the Jews who were screaming “Crucify Him”

      • Edward Boothe

        “Awaiting Moderation” my butt. How about “awaiting removal” you do not want any truth in your forum.

  • I seriously wonder what part of the Bible this writer consulted. Can it be possibly be plainer?

    Mat 27:24 And Pilate seeing that he prevailed nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, taking water washed his hands before the people, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this just man. Look you to it.
    Mat 27:25 And the whole people answering, said: His blood be upon us and upon our children.

    • I say is made like that so You can think for a moment Pilate was a good man Jewish history says he was a murderer who had no compasion He killed a person called Bejamin the Egptian, He killed Gamaliel and athey know he was a brutual man with no compassion, Jewish People says it really will be a big sin if the stories of the new testament were true but there always be the other side of the story G-D Bless You.

  • Wulfrano Ruiz Sainz

    You are missing the point. The point is that even today Jews mock Christ. That is a continuation of the Crucifixion.

  • Patti Edwards

    I am a Christian with Jewish ancestral roots. I have never been able to understand how any “Christian” who has a relationship with the risen Lord Jesus could ever “Blame the Jews” for Jesus’ Crucifixion and Death. Jesus came to “Give his Life” a ransom for many, and “Died for the sins of the world”. His death was Voluntary, and that is what he agonized over in the garden where Judas found Him. No one took His life. He gave it. The righteous for the unrighteous. The only logical explanation I can find as to this ridiculous notion that ANYONE killed Jesus, is that the Jewish leaders stated to the Roman leaders that they would take responsibility for His “Jesus’ blood, Stating, “let his blood be on our heads”. I’m afraid, in that statement, they may have brought this hostility upon themselves. It was not G-ds intention to Blame, but to save.

    • Your position is beneficent, but you can’t play the ostrich here. Check out the situation of the Jew, Oswald Rufeisen. He was a Holocaust hero – saved hundreds of Jews during WWII. But then he erred grievously. He converted to Catholicism and became a priest. He applied for Israeli citizenship and was denied – a Holocaust hero. So don’t think the game ended 2,000 years ago. Any Jew who becomes Christian is still “put out of the synagogue”. (John 9:22)

      • If you bother to read further, he still obtained Israeli citizenship through naturalisation, and lives there in a Carmelite monastery.Leave it up to Israel and the Jews to determine who is a Jew and what constitutes that.

    • Albert Nygren

      Almost no one understands this and it is because no one reads all of the Bible. In 2nd Corinthians Paul said that God placed a veil over the mind or eyes of the Jews so that they would not recognize that Jesus was the Messiah. This veil also prevented the Jews from realizing the scriptures in the Tanach that refer to Jesus. In another scripture Paul said that the “veil would be lifted from the mind of the Jews when the full number of Christians come in.” Regarding this, Paul had said somewhere else that the Christians were “wild olive branches grafted on to the cultivated olive tree.” Obviously the cultivated olive tree was Judaism. To me, the reason that God kept the Jews from recognizing Jesus was so that Jesus and the essence of Judaism could be given to the Gentiles. The first followers of Jesus were Jews and judging by the hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles then, if all of the Jews had accepted Jesus, all of the Gentiles would have to have become Jews and they would have refused to do that. To me this neither down grades the Jew or the Christian. Jesus gives us the answer that He did not have to come to Earth and be killed but did because He loved all of us so much. I see no reason why it would not have been possible that the souls of the Jews volunteered for their mission before their physical bodies were born. Also if you compare the relationship between the Jews and the Christians to Jesus parable of the younger brother who took his inheritance and spent it and the older brother who stayed and always obeyed their Father, one can see the Jews in the position of the older Brother and the wild son in the position of the younger Son. When the older Son complained to their Father, He said, all that I have is yours but your Brother has come home and now my Son who was dead is alive again.

  • There is no way that a real believer can participate in any argument as to who killed Yeshua. The answer is always that the believer’s sin required a sacrifice. I killed Jesus. There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. He had the power to lay down His life and take it up again. He was offensive to all who believed they were good and justified before God by their own hand (their works) or the Law. All have sinned and fall short of The Glory of G-d. All need a covering before G-d’s glory, a sacrifice. In this sense all of humanity killed Yeshua.

    • Without the shedding of blood is not true if any can’t afford an animal He could it bring flour to atone for his sins We saw that Niniveh repented and blood was not mention for their repentance to be accepted G-D by Prophet Samuel said I want You to repent instead of bringing me a sacrifice specially Human for G-D sake!!! Even if Jesus would it be a sacrifice He then have to sacrifice in The Temple his blood needed to sprikle in the Holy of Holies but instead he was he was cricified in a way that G-D never said anything about.

  • okay lets be honest Romans and a few Jewish renegade priest put Yeshua (Jesus) on the cross, in other words the whole human race!!! Only makes sense he died for our sins the sins of the whole world

    • I did not ask him to die for me. I am responsible for my sins in the entire Jewish Bible I never read that the Messiah will atone for someones sins and to save anyone from Hell I read the entire Jewish Bible I never found anything that says that.

      • Albert Nygren

        Read Isaiah 53:4 through 5 and actually all of Isaiah 53 and you will read about someone suffering for us. I relate it to Jesus because of certain similarities but even if you don’t it is still someone suffering for someone else.

  • Michael Woerl

    “Jesus and his family typically appear as blond fair-skinned Northern Europeans living in palatial Romanesque settings surrounded by Medieval and Renaissance Christian saints and other anachronisms.”
    in Western Europe in past times, yes. Western Europe is not “Christianity,” nor does it represent all “Christianity.”

  • If Jesus Himself asked His Father to forgive them for what they had done, then who am I to question who God has forgiven. All men sin, including Jews and Gentials alike, and that includes the high preists that saw Jesus as they did. Jesus’ life was as God had planned as was his death, no man had control of that. If we are to believe in Gods plan we must except that Gods will was done through man.

    I am a Christian and my Lord Jesus Christ is my Savior. I will, to my death, stand with Israel as they are the children of God.

  • Jews invented Christianity to destroy Europe

    • what a ridiculous statement christianity was invented by romans in Europe. Get your facts straight

    • If Jews rejected Christinianity and later they again were try to be convince Jesus was the Jewish Messiah by the Moslems uhmm. I don’t Think They invented such a think that is the Opposite to G-D Who says if some one will try to take You away from The Torah, Don’t believe him Says G-D I indeed have send them to test You faith to see if You are faithfull to me. G-D said that person will be put to death. And all this was use to manipulate the World About a new way of salvation which G-D did not say anything about as Jesus will never be found in a Jewish bible only in a Christian bible Why Rome use the Greek language to Write this way of salvation I just Don’t know how evil this was made to make You believe Christianity was made by Jews Shalom.

  • let the whole world get lost the god made the earth for jewish . see the old-testament . that explain every things the god will stood stand to our side that why we are the highest rice on earth .

  • The whole issue is a paradox. If, as all the Christians believe and propagate, Jesus came to die, why then accuse and blame Judas for betraying and the Jews for killing him???? Shouldn’t they instead receive some regognition for the heroic deed for killing the Messiah, so that he could fulfill his mission he came for????

  • To solve these problem read the book The Exposition of the Divine Principle.Then decide after reading the whole book.

  • what did cheese ass write?

  • Jesus was a political threat to the Jewish religious elite and their ‘self-imposed’ keepers of all things ‘Jewish’. He threatened their authority.

    The Romans in cahoots with Jewish authorities put him to death. It was a carefully crafted snare by the Jews to trump up charges against him, namely blasphemy and as many historians have pointed out, the last thing Pilate wanted was unrest in his province during Passover and him looking weak in the eyes of Caesar. But let’s be clear, Jesus ‘gave’ himself up. He wasn’t brought down by any one group. How many times in the Gospels did he tell his disciples, “We are going to Jerusalem and they will crucify me.” Doesn’t sound like a guy who doesn’t understand his mission.

    I see the authors point.

    If I grew up Jewish and had been told since day 1 that this ‘Jesus’ guy was just another false prophet, that would be my narrative and my slant in all situations! Jesus tried to tell the people of his day that the old law of do’s and don’ts were being abolished and replaced with something that could be for all nations and all people, Jews and Gentiles alike. What was that?

    Salvation by grace earned by faith in him and not by works or laws. The old law was a “DO” religion and still is to this day. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t eat that. Works…works…works. The Jewish elders added hundreds and hundreds of new restrictions all made up by them to control and wield their own power, both financially and politically.

    But in one perfect sacrifice…a blood sacrifice on Passover…in Jerusalem no less, the mission was accomplished. How the parallels are not recognized all the way back to Abraham being asked to sacrifice ‘his’ only son continues to baffle me as follower of Christ.

    But we close our eyes to what we don’t want to see. As C.S. Lewis points out, he was either a lunatic or was in fact exactly who he claimed himself to be which was the son of God. He left no room for other interpretations of who and what he was.

    Nobody practicing a religion wants to be told that policies and tenants of that religion were partly the reason that the creator of the universe had to step off his throne, be made a man and suffer and die on a cross to better close the old chapter and open a new and better one.

    Let’s just call him a ‘false prophet’ and be done with it. It’s easier to swallow.

    Because if Jesus, was in fact the messiah and not the political messianic figurehead the Jews were looking for along the likes of David who would restore Jerusalem and its power as a nation, to quote a Seinfeld episode, “That’s be a big Matzo ball hanging out there” for Judaism.

    So I would imagine as a practicing Jew, the amazing miracles of the old testament like the great flood,10 plagues, the parting of the red sea, manna from heaven, Mt Sinai and the 10 commandments, the fall of Jericho, Samson’s strength, tower of Babel and the languages, Jonah and the whale, pillars of fire raining down on Sodom and on and on and on.

    That this same God could not or would not show up big again but this time with “boots on the ground”.

    Healing lepers, walking on water, changing water to wine, raising Lazarus, feeding thousands and his biggest one…resurrecting! Oh he would NEVER do that!

    What? The old testament miracles are somehow more credible? Since when are miracles of any kind credible? That’s why they are INcredible. So to a Jew, Joshua who wrote that “The sun and the moon stand still” is more believable than say Peter or Paul writing about Jesus’s deity and all that he did and that they witnessed? They were Jews! I guess ‘those’ Jews were just “misguided”?

    Seems a little disingenuous to cherry pick and support those “Pre-Jesus” Jews and to completely discount all the writings from “Post-Jesus” Jews who actually walked with him and new him and claimed to have seen him after death. So convinced of these facts that they went to the ends of the earth telling this story and lost their lives doing so. Who does that?

    Someone who knows the truth, that’s who does that.

    • Just one thing Allan… thank you, that was broad and eye opening, having the jewish point of view in to consideration… ” if I was brought up jewish…” my mind set would be the way it is, but it’ll be nice to look for truth in spite of my preconceptions, and like Jesus said ” truth will set you free” once again Allan thank you.

    • Wolff Bachner

      You Say, “Jesus tried to tell the people of his day that the old law of do’s and don’ts were being abolished and replaced with something that could be for all nations and all people, Jews and Gentiles alike. What was that?”

      WRONG WRONG WRONG. HOW DO I KNOW?

      JESUS SAID SO!

      “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18″For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

  • We don’t even know if Jesus really existed, so why the does the belief that the Jews killed him persist? Because the world needs a scapegoat, and who better than Jews? There’s no proof that the prophet Moses ever existed, but no one is claiming that Moses was a deity incarnate, either.

    That said, most Christians believe that the Jews killed Jesus, which is why Jewish people have suffered throughout history – antisemitism is their supposed punishment. At the same time, Christians claim that Jesus had to die to atone for the sins of humanity. These Christians will also say that the bible is absolutely true, word for word.

    If this is the case, then why would God punish a people for carrying out the divine will? Throughout the bible we find that God punishes people for being disobedient. Yet, if Jesus had to die then someone had to be responsible for his death – whether it was the Jews, Romans, Greeks, whomever. If a group of people were responsible for “killing” Jesus, then why should they be punished if it was the divine will that Jesus be put to death? If the bible is true and is the word of God, then why punish a people for doing exactly what was pre-determined, especially if God is a just and righteous god? It makes no sense. Nowhere else in the bible do we find that God punishes people for following the divine plan. The myth that the Jews should be punished for the death of Jesus is just that, a myth. It persists because it gives antisemites a reason to openly hate Jews, and it makes those Jews who convert to Christianity feel less guilty about abandoning Judaism.

    • So Gloria under that assertion, did Caesar exist? Did Alexander the Great exist? Genghis Khan? Socrates? Shall I go on? I have 100 more.

      If Jesus Christ didn’t exist than neither did any of these people because the only way we know any of them existed is because people wrote about them. Don’t pick and chose what’s real and what’s not. Jesus was every bit as real as you are sitting and reading this post.

  • Nice try, but your skewed analysis cherry picks bits of information and ignores the big picture. Of course the Jewish leadership was against Jesus (and that is stated in the article)—he was persistently criticizing them for not representing the spirituality of the Torah. However, many noted biblical experts maintain, with some credible arguments, that the Romans wanted Jesus out of the way because his criticisms of the Roman occupation were inciting insurrection. Also, crucifixion was reserved by the Romans for escaped slaves and armed insurrectionists. Crucifixion was not a Jewish practice-it was a hated practice by the Jewish populace,since tens of thousands of Jews were crucified—thousands by Pilate(and Pilate was eventually recalled for cruelty by the Roman emperor). The notion that multitudes of Jews would be screaming “crucify him, crucify him” is preposterous.
    You also ignore what I pointed out.The Jewish population did not know about the seizure of Jesus and the “trial.”—it was a secret operation–secret because the Sanhedrin feared that Jesus’ Jewish followers would riot to protect him (and the Jews did it?. How could multitudes have spontaneously appeared—on Passover, no less? Add to that the fact that even Jesus close followers were in hiding for fear that they would be persecuted. So if any Jews other than the Jewish hierarchy were present they would have been lackeys of the Sanhedrin. There are other details that make the charge against the Jewish people silly (to use your word). Even Pope Benedict XVI, who is quoted in the article, ridiculed the notion that hordes of Jews swarmed on Pilate’s palace to condemn Jesus. All of Jesus followers were Jews. Without Jewish followers there would be no Christianity and Jesus would have faded into obscurity—as have other Jewish “Messiahs” who were contemporaneous with Jesus. Charging the Jewish people for the crucifixion–disguised by the argument that some Jews were against him–can only be understood through the code off hatred.

  • I find all this kind of silly, quoting scriptures and trying to point out “surely every jew wasn’t against Jesus,” when the fact remains that it was, indeed, JEWS that pushed forward Jesus’ “trial” and ultimate death. Jews are quick to shout that the whole lot didn’t “kill” Jesus…and that’s true…but nothing will change the fact that it was a group of jews who saw His death to fruition. Just admit that and stop trying to fight the truth. It wasnt the Romans. It wasnt Pilot….jewish priests ultimately did it. Period. Why’s that so hard to admit? No one’s saying ALL the jews got together on a Tuesday evening before lunch and stoned Him to death. Its not an anti-semetic slander to point out a group of jews made sure Jesus was killed.

    • Tell that to the untold numbers of Jews throughout history–that may add up to hundreds of thousands if not more–who were slaughtered on the belief and charge that “the Jews (collectively) killed Jesus. And that’s not silly!!

      • Joe Fonorkey

        An entire race in denial. Why can’t Jewish people just admit that history shows that their ancestors were primarily responsible for killing the man called Jesus?
        Does that have anything to do with their state of grace. I think not.
        My great grandfather may have been a murderer, but it has no effect on how I feel about myself.

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