From the "Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two" blog:
At a critical point in the book (pg. 184) Benedict poses the questions simply, clearly, and without evasion: “Now we must ask: Who exactly were Jesus’ accusers? Who insisted that he be condemned to death?” And, with his customary directness, he answers the questions in the space of only three pages. He passes the Gospels in review in a way that beautifully exemplifies the fundamental purpose of the book: to present the “figure and message of Jesus” through the complementary use of scientific scholarship (a “historical hermeneutic”) and the vision of faith (“faith-hermeneutic”).
For John, the accusers were “simply ‘the Jews’”. But Benedict shows that in John’s Gospel that designation has a “precise and clearly defined meaning”, i.e. the Temple aristocracy, not the Jewish people as an undifferentiated whole.
In Mark, there is a widening of the circle of accusers: the “ochlos”, the crowd, “the masses”. But Benedict points out that the crowd was mainly comprised of sympathizers of Barabbas, who wanted the customary amnesty to be granted to him. The followers of Jesus “remained hidden out of fear”. This crowd, therefore, does not represent the attitude or the actions of the Jewish people with respect to Jesus.