Where does it come from?
The belief that the Jews killed Jesus grew out of interpretations of the trial and crucifixion portions of the New Testament. The Gospels describe Jewish religious leaders delivering Jesus to Roman authorities with the request that they execute him for blasphemy and public menace. In the Gospel of Matthew (27:25), it is written that Jews cried out, “His blood be on us and our children,” as they demanded his crucifixion. As a result, Christians have historically held Jews collectively responsible for the death of Jesus.
What are the facts?
Crucifixion, the particular method used to execute Jesus, is forbidden by Jewish law. Moreover, Jesus did not commit any crime that is punishable by death according to Jewish law. It is widely agreed upon bycurrent scholars that Jesus was executed by the Roman rulers of Israel, the same Romans who also executed tens of thousands of other Jews by crucifixion, including two others on the day Jesus was executed.
The myth of Jewish responsibility for Jesus’ death is embedded in 2,000 years worth of Christian teaching and Western culture, starting with the gospels’ attempt to define who the true Jews were. While most people respect the rights of others to adhere to the tenets of their religion, therehas been a historic resentment against Jews by many Christians who cannot understand why Jesus has been so stubbornly rejected. Beginning in the Middle Ages, Christians believed that Jews desecrated communion wafers and killed Christian children to use their blood for matzah (the famous “blood libel”). Today, these issues come up in all sorts of ways, from history classes where the Crusades are taught as heroic times (thousands of Jews were slaughtered during this period) to literature and media that refer to Jewish responsibility for Jesus’ death. The most recent widespread example is Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.
After the advent of Christianity, a new anti-Judaism evolved. Initially, Christianity was seen as simply another Jewish sect since Jesus and his disciples were Jewish and were preaching a form of Judaism. During the first few hundred years after the crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans, adherents of both Judaism and Christianity co-existed –– sometimes peacefully, sometimes with animosity –– as they sought to proselytize their faith in the same lands.
With the conversion of the Roman emperors, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Early church fathers sought to establish Christianity as the successor of Judaism. Since both religions derived from the Old Testament, Christians sought to establish the validity of their new religion by claiming that it superseded Judaism. The unwillingness of Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah was viewed as a challenge both to the Roman rulers and to the Christian faith.
According to Christian theologian Carl Evans, “From the New Testament times to the present, it is difficult to find a single period when the Church has not acted shamefully toward the
Jews. I’m convinced that anti-Semitism has been such a powerful and persistent nemesis largely because of the Church’s false witness against the Jews.” To this day, some Christian children are still being taught that “Jews are Christ-killers” and “Jews drink the blood of Christians.” However persistent these myths may be, the Catholic Church has recently made significant steps to correct them. In 1965, the Vatican Council issued Nostra Aetate, which stated that Jesus’ death “cannot be charged against all Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today.” In 1992, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (a teaching guide) noted that no one is certain of what happened 2,000 years ago and that Jews as a collective group should not be considered responsible for the crucifixion.
How we should respond?
When someone labels you with something as loaded as “Christ Killer,” it is easy to react emotionally. It is best in such a situation to avoid taking the comment to heart and to respond with objectivity.
1. Jesus was a Jew
2. The Romans are responsible to the crucifixion of Jesus as they responsible to the crucifixion of over than 10,000 Jews.
3. The Roman Catholic church adopted Christianity, therefore, the Roman Catholic Christians are ashamed to take responsibility of the crucifixion of their prophet.