It has become common among NT scholars to insist that Jesus was crucified by the Romans. This is certainly true in the sense that crucifixion was a Roman form of execution, and also highlights the important political dimension of Jesus’ death. It is also true, as the hymn expresses it, “I crucified Thee.”
But the apostles were not squeamish about blaming the Jews, specifically the Jewish leaders, for Jesus’ death:
Preaching to gathered Jews and God-fearers at Pentecost, Peter declared “you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:23).
To the Sanhedrin, he announced, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you (pl) had put to death by hanging Him on a cross” (Acts 5:30).
Speaking in the house of Cornelius, Peter says, “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on wood” (Acts 10:39).
In his first recorded sermon, Paul talks about what “those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers” did: “When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb” (13:29).
These passages do not at all justify the horrors of anti-Semitic racism that have sometimes infected the church. But we miss a key dimension of the NT teaching of the death of Jesus if we blunt these statements. We miss the fact that Jesus “came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Friday, April 14, 2006 at 3:27 pm
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