Deicide is the killing (or the killer) of a god. The concept may be used for any act of killing a god, including a life-death-rebirth deity who is killed and then resurrected.


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

New Testament accounts

According to the New Testament accounts, the Judean (or Jewish) authorities in Jerusalem, the Pharisees, charged Jesus with blasphemy, a capital crime under biblical law, and sought his execution. According to , the Judean (Jewish) authorities claimed to lack the authority to have Jesus put to death, though it is doubtful what legal basis such a claim would have had; the Jesus Seminar historicity project notes for : "it's illegal for us: The accuracy of this claim is doubtful." in their Scholars Version. Additionally, records them asking Jesus about stoning the adulteress and records them ordering the stoning of Saint Stephen.

They brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect of Judea, who was hesitant and let the people decide if Jesus were to be executed. According to the Bible, Pontius Pilate only ordered Jesus to be flogged. Washing his hands, Pilate said he would not take the blame for Jesus' death, to which the crowd replied, "His blood is upon us and our children."

Pilate is portrayed in the Gospel accounts as a reluctant accomplice to Jesus' death. Modern scholars say it is most likely that a Roman Governor such as Pilate would have no problem in executing any leader whose followers posed a potential threat to Roman rule. It has also been suggested 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.

Christian analysis

The Catholic Church and other Christian denominations suggest that Jesus' death was necessary to take away the collective sin of the human race. 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 humanity.

The Gnostic Gospel of Judas contends that Jesus commanded Judas Iscariot to set in motion the chain of events that would lead to his death.

The following 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.

Against certain Christian movements, some of which rejected the use of Hebrew Scripture, Augustine countered that God had chosen the Jews as a special people, and he considered the scattering of Jewish people by the Roman Empire to be a fulfillment of prophecy. He rejected homicidal attitudes, quoting part of the same prophecy, namely "Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law" (Psalm 59:11). Augustine, who believed Jewish people would be converted to Christianity at "the end of time", argued that God had allowed them to survive their dispersion as a warning to Christians; as such, he argued, they should be permitted to dwell in Christian lands. The sentiment sometimes attributed to Augustine that Christians should let the Jews "survive but not thrive" (it is repeated by author James Carroll in his book Constantine's Sword, for example) is apocryphal and is not found in any of his writings.

In other mythologies

  • Egyptian mythology
  • Set killed Osiris, who was later resurrected by Isis. In Greek sources, Typhon replaces Set as the murderer.
  • Greek mythology
  • Ophiotaurus was a creature whose entrails were said to grant the power to defeat the gods to whoever burned them. The Titans attempted to use them against the Olympians.
  • After learning that his children were destined to usurp him, Cronus devoured his children. However, his children were later freed by Zeus.
  • Norse mythology
  • Loki tricked Höðr into killing Baldr.
  • Váli avenged Baldr's death by killing Höðr.
  • Most of the major figures die in Ragnarök. According to the Gylfaginning, Jörmungandr kills Thor by poisoning him, Fenrir kills Odin, while Heimdallr and Loki kill each other.
  • Japanese mythology
  • Izanami died while giving birth to the fire god Kagutsuchi.
  • Kagutsuchi's father, Izanagi, beheaded Kagutsuchi out of grief.
  • Buddhism
  • The crimes listed in the Anantarika-karma include killing an Arhat and shedding the blood of a Buddha.
  • Devadatta and Ajatashatru attempted to kill the Gautama Buddha.
  • Hawaiian mythology
  • Lanikaula, a prophet, kills the followers of the trickster god Pahulu on Lanai.
  • Aztec mythology
  • Tezcatlipoca tricked his rival Quetzalcoatl into over-drinking and wantonry. Quetzalcoatl burns himself to death in shame.