Until the middle of the 20th century most Christian churches included references to deicide in their hymns and liturgy. The following, for example, is a verse from a hymn written in 1892 for use in the Church of England to call upon God to convert the Jews to Christianity:

Though the Blood betrayed and spilt,

On the race entailed a doom,

Let its virtue cleanse the guilt,

Melt the hardness, chase the gloom;

Lift the veil from off their heart,

Make them Israelites indeed,

Meet once more for lot and part

With Thy household’s genuine seed.4

The author of the first Gospel goes out of his way to portray Roman leaders at the time of the crucifixion as patsies of the Jews, wanting no part in Jesus’ death. Matthew casts Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Iudaea Province (the Roman combination of Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea), as a reluctant accomplice to Jesus’ death, and he symbolically washes his hands of the gruesome affair.5

In spite of the numerous contradictions contained in the four Gospels of the Passion Narratives, the New Testament unanimously casts Pilate as a thoughtful Roman leader, hopelessly trying to reason with the lynch-mob mentality of the Jewish crowd, arguing for Jesus’ vindication. The Jews, on the other hand, are consistently portrayed as bloodthirsty, maniacal, and a debased rabble, demanding that Jesus is put to death. The benign caricature of Pontius Pilate in the Gospels, on the other hand, is one of a melancholy, weak leader who finally relents to the murderous demands of the Jews, and reluctantly hands Jesus over to be crucified.



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