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Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of The Christ strongly hints the answer is ‘yes, it was the Jews’ and it would seem many apologists for a less anti-Semitic interpretation of history have joined together with modern day scholars of Roman Catholicism to move Christian thinking away from ‘blaming the Jews’ for the death of Christ.
In this article Rev James Martin puts the case forward for Jesus’ judgement and execution being squarely laid at the feet of other protagonists in the crucifixion drama, namely the fierce Pontius Pilate and the gullible activist Judas. A case for distributing blame more evenly across the canvas, rather than focussing on the Jews and Judaism, is coherently put.
Citing the traditional view about the Old Testament being the ‘Word of God’, James quotes from the Vatican Councils Dei Verbum document that states, “Sacred tradition and sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God… ” and goes on to develop his thinking on this foundation.
The fact of the matter is the Sanhedrin believed it was doing God’s will when it came together, for whatever judicial or political expediency, to plan Jesus’ death, taking a lead from Old Testament precedents set by ‘men of God’ who believed they had God’s approval to smite their enemies. They saw Jesus as a heretic and blasphemer, an enemy of the community. When they said they were not allowed by their law to execute Jesus, “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they were proclaiming his death before a proper trial, under Roman law, had taken place. The word execute is the give away. This is where the disturbing spiritual nature of a mind soaked in the Old Testament leaks venom and darkness.
What James has over looked is the bigger picture of the deeply disturbing psychological and spiritual state of people who live out of the Old Testament portrayal of God. Who for centuries, before and after Christ, have lived their lives believing in the literal image of God conveyed by the historical narrative of the Jews. An image that is not all holy, not all inspired by God and little to do with Jesus Christ’s image of God.
This bigger man-made ‘spiritual’ picture is of a nihilistic racist avenging God that can be seen in the way religious practices have evolved since ancient times in various cultures, including the Jewish one, into theocratic states governed by a twisted theology and imagery that uses the Old Testament as a canon to indemnify acts of mayhem and slaughter. The Constantinian Jesus.
Today’s Islamic, Jewish and Christian traditions, theologies, doctrines and beliefs are heavily influenced by the split personality of God found in the Old Testament. A story of God portrayed by a people who had never seen God in the flesh until He came as the incarnate Son. A story that cannot be trusted as a true portrayal of God’s character.
The consequence for the historical development of modern geopolitics and its religious foundations and societies that still rely on canonical texts like the Old Testament for maintaining national identity and cultural values, is a diabolical one.
The world is becoming increasingly militarised and increasingly violent as a result of believing in a false God. The Old Testament, as a picture of God, is an anathema to the picture that God gave to us in Jesus Christ.
Mel Gibson’s film picked up on this issue concerning how the imagined character, form and will of God was acted out by those who sincerely believed in the image they had of Him. He highlighted their actions, the physicality of the dark spiritual realm in which people with darkened minds portrayed their image of God, and he made it into a debate, which will continue until Jesus is recognised as Lord.
Who killed Jesus? The spirit of the Old Testament, the spirit of man?