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Catechism of the Catholic Church

Divisions among the Jewish authorities concerning Jesus

595 Among the religious authorities of Jerusalem, not only were the Pharisee Nicodemus and the prominent Joseph of Arimathea both secret disciples of Jesus, but there was also long-standing dissension about him, so much so that St. John says of these authorities on the very eve of Christ's Passion, "many.. . believed in him", though very imperfectly. 378 This is not surprising, if one recalls that on the day after Pentecost "a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith" and "some believers. . . belonged to the party of the Pharisees", to the point that St. James could tell St. Paul, "How many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; and they are all zealous for the Law." 379

596 The religious authorities in Jerusalem were not unanimous about what stance to take towards Jesus. 380 The Pharisees threatened to excommunicate his followers. 381 To those who feared that "everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation", the high priest Caiaphas replied by prophesying: "It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish." 382 The Sanhedrin, having declared Jesus deserving of death as a blasphemer but having lost the right to put anyone to death, hands him over to the Romans, accusing him of political revolt, a charge that puts him in the same category as Barabbas who had been accused of sedition. 383 The chief priests also threatened Pilate politically so that he would condemn Jesus to death. 384

Notes:

378 Jn 12:42; cf. 7:50; 9:16-17; 10:19-21; 19:38-39.

379 Acts 6:7; 15:5; 21:20.

380 Cf. Jn 9:16; 10:19.

381 Cf. Jn 9:22.

382 Jn 11:48-50.

383 Cf. Mt 26:66; Jn 18:31; Lk 23:2, 19.

384 Cf. Jn 19:12, 15, 21.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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