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"To the revolutionaries, the execution of Louis XVI was a regicide, to royalists, it was deicide."--Sholem Stein

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Deicide is the killing of a god. The term deicide was coined in the 17th century from medieval Latin *deicidium, from de-us "god" and -cidium "cutting, killing")

The concept is applied to the Crucifixion of Jesus specifically, but may be used with to any life-death-rebirth deity who is killed and then resurrected.

In Christianity, the concept was notably used in the question of guilt associated with a responsibility for the death of Jesus.



Historical sources

The primary sources for both inquiries are the Gospel accounts of the events leading up to the Crucifixion of Jesus, commonly called The Passion. In the Gospel accounts, Jesus is critical of the Pharisees, and causes a disturbance in the Temple, and is eventually arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. There he is charged and convicted of blasphemy, and they decided to take him to the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, asking him for Jesus' death. Pilate, after some debate, rejects their religious justifications, but accepts the political ones, see INRI, and sentences Jesus to death by crucifixion.

The historical inquiry is aided by other sources from antiquity which explain the cultural and political environment in which Jesus lived. Historical analyses of Jesus' death generally assigned responsibility to either:

  1. The Roman-appointed government of the Roman province of Judaea;
  2. Judean (Jewish) leadership in Jerusalem at the time.

The theological question can be understood in the light of other New Testament writings such as the Letters of Paul.

Theological analyses of who is responsible for Jesus' death have included:

  1. All humanity through their sinfulness;
  2. Jews (Judeans) in particular through their manipulation of the Roman authorities;
  3. God, for the benefit of people in general;
  4. God, for the benefit of the Elect in particular;
  5. The Roman authorities in Judaea.

Jewish authorities and Roman government

According to the New Testament accounts, the Judean (Jewish) authorities in Jerusalem charged Jesus with blasphemy, a capital crime under biblical law, and sought his execution, see Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus. However, the Judean (Jewish) authorities lacked the authority to have Jesus put to death, according to Template:Bibleverse yet Template:Bibleverse records them asking Jesus about stoning the adulteress and Template:Bibleverse records them ordering the stoning of Saint Stephen and also James the Just according to Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1. The Jesus Seminar's Scholars Version translation notes for John 18:31: "it's illegal for us: The accuracy of this claim is doubtful." However, Template:Bibleverse, Template:Bibleverse and Template:Bibleverse has Jesus predicting how he was to be killed and it was not by stoning. They brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Iudaea Province (the Roman combination of Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea), who "consented" to Jesus' execution. According to the Bible, Pontius Pilate ordered Jesus to be flogged. Washing his hands, Pilate said he would not take the blame for Jesus' death. The crowd replied, "His blood be upon us and upon our children." However, Jesus forgives them all in Template:Bibleverse and those locally responsible in Jerusalem come to repentance in Template:Bibleverse.

Pilate is portrayed in the Gospel accounts as a reluctant accomplice to Jesus' death. Critical scholars have questioned the historical accuracy of such a portrayal. Pilate was cruel against Galileans in Template:Bibleverse and according to Philo and Josephus his rule was not peaceful and he was deposed for being excessive against the Samaritans, see Pilate in Jewish literature. Modern scholars note that a Roman Governor such as Pilate would not have hesitated to execute any leader whose followers posed a potential threat to Roman rule. However, the Gospel accounts indicate that there could be hesitation on the part of both (Judean) Jewish and Roman authorities to act immediately or needlessly in the face of potential popular opposition (Matt 26:4-5; Mk 15:12-15; Lk 22:1-2). These scholars also suggest that the Gospel accounts may have downplayed the role of the Romans in Jesus' death during a time when Christianity was struggling to gain acceptance in the Roman world. Pilate was cruel to Galileans and Jesus became aware of this (Template:Bibleverse). Jesus was considered by Pilate (and others) to be a Galilean and he sent him to Herod (Template:Bibleverse). Herod had been upset with Pilate up until then because of his bad treatment of Galileans (Template:Bibleverse).

Jesus's death

Until the middle of the 20th century most Christian churches included references to deicide in their hymns and liturgy.Template:Citation needed The following, for example, is a verse from a hymn written in 1892 for use in the Church of England to call upon God to convert the Jews to Christianity:

Though the Blood betrayed and spilt,
On the race entailed a doom,
Let its virtue cleanse the guilt,
Melt the hardness, chase the gloom;
Lift the veil from off their heart,
Make them Israelites indeed,
Meet once more for lot and part
With Thy household's genuine seed.

Several theological explanations have been offered. These explanations are not all mutually exclusive. Various Christian denominations have taught that God is ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus, as part of the divine plan of salvation (cf. Template:Bibleverse).

The Catholic Church and other Protestant denominations' dogmata suggests that Jesus' death was necessary to take away the collective sin of the human race (see Substitutionary atonement). The crucifixion is seen as an example of Christ's eternal love for mankind and as a self-sacrifice on the part of God for his children (humanity). Alternatively, the Gnostic "gospel of Judas" discovered in the 1970s contends that Jesus Christ commanded Judas Iscariot to set in motion the chain of events that would lead to his death.

Popular Culture

The God of War series involves the Deicide of the Greek Pantheon.

The video game Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn involves the killing of the god "Ashera".

In the comic book series Preacher, the Saint of Killers commits Deicide when he kills God, having already killed The Devil, all of the Angels, and an untold number of Humans.

The term is used as the title for a series of chapters (399 to 421) released for the Bleach manga series. "Deicide" was employed in reference to Gin Ichimaru, who reveals a stronger version of his weapon named Kamishini no Yari or "God-Slaying Spear" during this arc. It was also used in reference to Sōsuke Aizen's newly acquired godhood and the protagonists' attempts to kill him, and Aizen's own plans to kill the Spirit King.

Deicide is discussed extensively in Terry Pratchetts "Discworld" series. Many of the gods are very human in appearance and nature and most are often ignored or even treated with contempt, making deicide decidedly easy and unsurprising.

In the web comic Order of the Stick, the titular order is after magic gates that seal in The Snarl, a monster created by conflict between the gods. It slew the Eastern Gods (the Greek Pantheon), and is theorized to be even more potent against deities than mortals. Odin even refers to it as a "deicidal maniac" when the surviving pantheons seal it away.

In the Final Crisis comic book, the Green Lantern Corps refer to the assassination of the character Orion, one of the Gods of New Genesis as a "Code 10-1-11," Deicide.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Deicide" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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