Blood curse

The blood curse refers to a New Testament passage from the Gospel of Matthew, which describes events taking place in Pilate's court before the crucifixion of Jesus and specifically the apparent willingness of the Jews to accept liability for Jesus' death.[1]

Matthew 27:24–25 reads:

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. 'I am innocent of this man’s blood,' he said. 'It is your responsibility!' All the people answered, 'His blood is on us and on our children!' (Greek: Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν)

This passage has no counterpart in the other Gospels and is probably related to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE.[2] Theologian Ulrich Luz describes it as "redactional fiction" invented by the author of the Matthew Gospel.[3] Some writers, viewing it as part of Matthew's anti-Jewish polemic, see in it the seeds of later Christian antisemitism.[4] Pope Benedict XVI writes of this incident:

"When in Matthew's account the "whole people" say: "His blood be upon us and on our children" (27:25), the Christian will remember that Jesus' blood speaks a different language from the blood of Abel (Heb 12:24): it does not cry out for vengeance and punishment; it brings reconciliation. It is not poured out against anyone; it is poured out for many, for all." [5]

St. John Chrysostom wrote of this incident:

"Observe here the infatuation of the Jews; their headlong haste, and destructive passions will not let them see what they ought to see, and they curse themselves, saying, “His blood be upon us,” and even entail the curse upon their children. Yet a merciful God did not ratify this sentence, but accepted such of them and of their children as repented; for Paul was of them, and many thousands of those who in Jerusalem believed".[6]

See also


  1. The Historical Jesus Through Catholic and Jewish Eyes by Bryan F. Le Beau, Leonard J. Greenspoon and Dennis Hamm (Nov 1, 2000) ISBN 1563383225. pp.105-106
  2. Craig Evans, Matthew (Cambridge University Press, 2012) page 455.
  3. Ulrich Luz, Studies in Matthew (William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005) page 58.
  4. Graham Stanton, A Gospel for a New People, (Westminster John Knox Press, 1993) page 148.
  5. 1927-, Benedict XVI, Pope,. Jesus of Nazareth. Part two, Holy week : from the entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. San Francisco, Calif. p. 187. ISBN 9781586175009. OCLC 664668492.
  6. Quoted in Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) on Matthew, translated by John Henry Parker, v. I, J.G.F. and J. Rivington, London 1842, accessed 16 December 2015
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