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October 3, 2023

Religious Studies Professor Publishes Latest Book

J. Christopher Edwards

Today, Fortress Press released Crucified: The Christian Invention of the Jewish Executioners of Jesus, by J. Christopher Edwards (pictured above), professor of religious studies at St. Francis College.

Historians of early Christianity unanimously agree that Jesus was executed by Roman soldiers. For early Christians, however, the detail that Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers under the direction of a Roman governor threatened their desire for a stable existence in the Roman world. Early Christians sought to rewrite their history and shift the blame for Jesus’s crucifixion away from Pilate and his soldiers and onto Jews.

In Crucified, Edwards argues that there still exists a significant degree of ignorance regarding the pervasiveness of the claim among ancient Christians that Jesus was executed by Jews. According to Edwards, “This ignorance is deeply problematic, because, among other things, it excuses from blame the venerated ancient Christian authors who constructed and perpetuated the claim that Jews executed Jesus. Moreover, it may still influence Christians’ understanding of Jews and Judaism.”

Edwards’s research focuses on the New Testament and early Christianity. He is the author of The Gospel According to the Epistle of Barnabas: Jesus Traditions in an Early Christian Polemic and The Ransom Logion in Mark and Matthew, both published by Mohr Siebeck.

Select Praise for Crucified
“A thoughtful history of the first four centuries of perhaps the most destructive slur in the history of Christian anti-Semitism, Edwards’s magisterial study — profoundly researched, precisely conceived, judicious, and written with exemplary clarity — is a must-read for students of the history of anti-Semitism, early Christianity and the reception of the Bible in antiquity. Highly recommended.” —Kevin Madigan, Harvard Divinity School

“Rome killed Jesus, but the Jews were blamed. Why did this happen, and when, and how? Step by step, text by text, J. Christopher Edwards traces the development of this terrible tradition, while summoning his readers to reflect on its consequences, moral and theological, for Christianity. This is a haunting story, compellingly told.” —Paula Fredriksen, Boston University / The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

“Who killed Jesus? The historical reality — that the Romans crucified Jesus — was abandoned shortly after his death. In this very readable, engaging book, J. Christopher Edwards carefully walks us through the evidence. He shows us the rise of the myth blaming the Jews and how it functioned among the early Jesus followers to justify Christianity’s split with Judaism and falsely accuse Jews of the very worst crime: deicide. His book is a crucial effort to correct this ‘sacred error.’” —Susannah Heschel, author of The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany


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