The question of who is responsible for the death of Jesus has a long and vexatious history, with answers provided both in Christian writings and the Talmudic tradition. While the four New Testament accounts agree that the Roman governor Pontius Pilate carried out the crucifixion, they differ in the degree to which responsibility for the death sentence itself resides with a Jewish mob, the high priest, the Sadducees, or the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin.

The most explicit source is Matthew 27, where Pilate is described as desperately trying to avoid a death sentence until, threatened with a riot, he washes his hands and tells the assembled crowd: “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” To this the people answer: “His blood be on us and on our children!”

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