Jewish responsibility for the cross in Luke-Acts
The current state of Lukan scholarship suggests that the question of Luke's view of Jewish responsibility for the cross should be reopened. Analysis of the Lukan text indicates that Luke regards the leaders and people of Jerusalem and certain Gentiles as responsible for Jesus' death. In Luke's Gospel the leaders of Jerusalem are implicated, as is a crowd of Jewish people. Acts clearly identifies the crowd as Jerusalemite. Pilate, Herod, and Roman soldiers are implicated as well. Further analysis demonstrates that Luke stresses Israel's division in response to the gospel. Thus, he does not indict Jerusalem for the crucifixion as a symbol of all Israel. How did this Lukan emphasis on Jerusalem's responsibility arise? Analysis of 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 shows that this text and the tradition underlying it implicated a specific group of Jews for the crucifixion. Its origin as a tradition before AD50 suggests that it arose in Jewish-Christian circles, probably in response to persecution, not as a Gentile-Christian anti-Jewish polemic. Analysis of Matthew and Mark indicates that the pre-Lukan synoptic tradition specified Jerusalem as responsible for the cross. The leaders of Jerusalem are particularly prominent. A crowd of Jewish people is also implicated, but their specific identity is uncertain. The specification in Acts of the people of Jerusalem appears to have been based on a tradition distinct from but consistent with the synoptic passion material. Statements about popular responsibility appear in context which give evidence of traditional origin. Neither Lukan creation nor extension of the synoptic tradition account for the specification. Analysis of other ancient texts dealing with the death of innocent victims suggests that those responsible for the deaths were usually specified. Hence, the proclamation of Jesus as one unjustly crucified was probably accompanied by specification of those responsible.