Why Was Christ Crucified?

A new book by a Catholic expert expounds on the complex reasons why Jewish leaders sought his death

Of all the trials in human history, none has had greater consequences. In Jerusalem, in April of either the year 30 or 33, Jesus of Nazareth was arrested, hauled before a religious court, tried by a Roman governor, sentenced to death and crucified. And what did that come to mean? That, explained the Apostle Paul, "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us . . . We are now justified by his blood." And thus it began.

The resulting visions of redemption would be tainted by the search for blame in the...

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