RSS

Category Archives: gospel of matthew

Was "Jesus Barabbas" Invented By Matthew?

According to some footnotes in some bibles, the man that the Jews want Pilate to release in exchange for Jesus (Christ) is called Jesus Barabbas (Matt 27:16-17). These instances of “Jesus Barabbas” only appear in some Greek manuscripts of Matthew. Since Matthew is basically an expanded version of Mark, does this mean that Mark also originally had Jesus Barabbas? This makes sense of Pilate’s contrast: To release Jesus called Barabbas or Jesus called Christ (ιησουν τον λεγομενον βαραββαν η ιησουν τον λεγομενον χριστον). In our current texts, he just asks to release Barabbas or the Jesus called Christ.

“Bar Abba[s]” literally means “son of the father” in Aramaic.

I argued in an earlier post that Mark 1:9 probably didn’t have “from Nazareth” in the original since its Synoptic equivalent, Matthew 3:13, doesn’t have that phrase. It only has “from Galilee”. Meaning that when Matthew was writing his edition of Mark 1, his version of Mark probably didn’t have “from Nazareth” or he would have included it, since Matt likes to insert the words now translated as “Nazareth” in parts of his narrative that are unique to Matthew (Mark 11:1-11 vs Matt 27:1-11).

Along those lines, I can see why Matthew would add the name “Jesus” to “Barabbas” if he understood Mark’s theological point. On the other hand, Matthew removes Mark’s Aramaisms (like “talitha koumen” in Mark 5:41; cf Matt 9:23-25) so he might not have known Aramaic. On the other hand, Matt knew what the name “Jesus” meant. But then again he’s writing in Greek. The name “Jesus” has no meaning in Greek but the name that it’s derived from – Joshua – does have meaning so he must have been told what the name meant by someone else. Another possible reason would be that because Matt seems to be writing to Hellenized Jewish-Christians, the Aramaisms might have seemed either redundant, offensive, or useless.

But I’m thinking Matt didn’t know Aramaic. So if Matt didn’t know Aramaic, then he wouldn’t have known what “Barabbas” meant and would have had no reason to add the name “Jesus” to his name. But Mark does seem to know Aramaic (Mark 14:36 vs Matt 26:42), and having a constrast between an insurrectionist Jesus Son of the Father and a peaceful Jesus Son of the Father does seem to fit Mark’s style of writing; his ironic contrast.

So “Jesus Barabbas” is more than likely an invention of Mark, and Matthew probably just copied what Mark wrote. Since it’s only in some manuscripts of Matthew, it must have been systematically left out of subsequent copies of Matthew. Mark, on the other hand, was never a popular gospel. At least until the forged resurrection sighting was added to the end.

Or then again, Jesus Barabbas might have been the historical Jesus!

 

Are the Gospels Historically Reliable?

1. None of the gospels were written by eyewitnesses (they were written in third person). This is the conclusion of a vast majority of NT scholars. The earliest witness to gospels with names attached to them comes from Irenaeus c. 175 CE. The earliest witness to any gospel narrative period is Marcion c. 135. No one prior to Irenaeus says “the gospel according to Matthew” or any other such similar phrase.

Even if they were written by eyewitnesses, eyewitness testimony is dishearteningly unreliable.

2. Matthew and Luke are not independent accounts. They are reimaged versions of Mark, since the authors did not like Mark’s low (adoptionist/separatist) Christology. Why would an eyewitness (supposedly Matthew) copy almost verbatim huge swaths of a non-eyewitness (Mark) in his gospel? (for Luke, “Theophilus” was also the name of a Christian in the late 2nd century who appears to not know about the Jesus story – so it makes sense that it would be addressed to him [Theophilus, to Autolycus]).

3. Mark has John the Baptist doing baptisms specifically for the cleansing of sin. Josephus has John the Baptist specifically not doing baptisms to cleanse someone of sin, “but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.2).

4. Mark has Jesus being insanely popular, drawing insane crowds everywhere he goes and renowned all throughout Galilee and Judea. Jesus’ popularity of this magnitude is not corroborated by any other contemporary Jewish writer (Photius, Bibliotheca 33). Jesus’ popularity seems to be a plot device.

5. Mark has Jesus being stalked by the Pharisees everywhere he goes, implying that the Pharisees were the ruling class of Jews prior to 70 CE. The ruling class of Jews during Jesus’ lifetime were the Sadducees, the Pharisees didn’t gain power until the fall of the temple. Meaning that this is a post-70 conflict between Christians and Jews projected into the past.

6. Mark has Jesus go to Gerasa to evict the demon “Legion” from someone and into a herd of pigs, where they stampede into the sea. Gerasa is about 30 miles from the Sea of Galilee so it would have taken over an hour for them to run that far.

7. Mark says that the Pharisees and “all the Jews” had to wash their hands before eating. This only applied to priests.

8. Mark has Jesus clear out the temple of the money changers and singlehandedly preventing anyone from bringing any merchandise through the temple court. The temple wasn’t just some run of the mill temple, it was also a military fortress. There’s no way he would have been able to do this singlehandedly without being immediately arrested (or without a lot help, which would have looked like an insurrection).

9. Mark has Jesus call Daniel a prophet. Daniel is not a prophet according to Judaism, as he wrote (c. 165 BCE) after the time period that prophecy had ended.

10. Mark has the Sanhedrin giving Jesus a trial on a Friday night, during Passover. Trials could only be held on Mondays or Thursdays, not at night, and definitely not on high holy days like Passover. Mark also has the Sanhedrin convicting Jesus for claiming to be the messiah. Claiming to be the christ is in no way blasphemy. There were multiple characters with the title “christ” in the LXX.

11. Mark has Pilate give Jesus a fair trial. Pilate was actually known for executing troublemakers without trial, as he was impatient and hot-headed (Philo, Embassy of Gaius 38.301-303). Not only that, but Pilate presumably gave Barabbas a fair trial as well. Pilate then releases one prisoner because it was a Jewish holiday. Pilate actually had no respect for Jewish customs and almost started a rebellion due to his disrespect. Mark then has Pilate being afraid of the Jewish mob (who for some reason have done a complete 180 in how they view Jesus), when in actuality Pilate had no qualms about assassinating a mob of complaining Jews (Josephus, Antiquities… 18.3.2). Pilate was eventually recalled back to Rome for massacring a bunch of unarmed Samaritans who were following a messiah claimant on Mt. Gerizim.

12. Barabbas is Aramaic for “son of the father”. It just so happens that Jesus — the supposedly real son of the father — meets his polar opposite and his opposite is released, which seems to mimic the scapegoat ceremony of Leviticus 16, where one goat is released and the other goat is sacrificed for sin (some manuscripts of Matthew actually have Barabbas’ given name as “Jesus”).

13. The entire crucifixion scene quotes numerous times from Psalm 22. The Psalms are not prophetic, thus these lines must have been purposefully lifted from that Psalm.

14. All four canonical gospels have emphatically conflicting Easter narratives; consider the Easter Challenge. There’s also no tradition of any “empty tomb” prior to Mark’s gospel. And most common tombs did not have circular stones in front of them that could be “rolled away” (16:3) prior to 70 CE.

15. For some reason all throughout Mark, only demons, the reader, and people who are not named know that Jesus is the messiah. Everyone who is “known” doesn’t know. This makese sense as literature or entertainment, not history.

16. John, who according to tradition, was the son of Zebedee and apostle, was a fisherman. Fishermen in antiquity weren’t widely known for their literacy. John calls Jesus “the Word”:

(205)[…]And the Father who created the universe has given to his archangelic and most ancient Word a pre-eminent gift, to stand on the confines of both, and separated that which had been created from the Creator. And this same Word is continually a paraclete to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race, which is exposed to affliction and misery; and is also the ambassador, sent by the Ruler of all, to the subject race.

(206) And the Word rejoices in the gift, and, exulting in it, announces it and boasts of it, saying, “And I stood in the midst, between the Lord and You; neither being uncreated as God, nor yet created as you, but being in the midst between these two extremities, like a hostage, as it were, to both parties: a hostage to the Creator, as a pledge and security that the whole race would never fly off and revolt entirely, choosing disorder rather than order; and to the creature, to lead it to entertain a confident hope that the merciful God would not overlook his own work. For I will proclaim peaceful intelligence to the creation from him who has determined to destroy wars, namely God, who is ever the guardian of peace.”

Oh wait, that’s not from John’s gospel… that’s from Philo’s (20 BCE – 50 CE) “Who is the Heir of Divine Things”. How could an illiterate Aramaic speaking fisherman from the first century read Philo’s work (in Greek, not Aramaic), and say that Jesus was Philo’s “Logos”, who Philo himself reappropriated from the Stoics?

17. John has Christians being kicked out of synagoges during Jesus’ lifetime. This doesn’t actually happen until after the council of Jamnia c. 90 CE.

18. John has Jesus being seen as “the messiah” for a group of Samaritans on Mt. Gerizim. The Samaritans reject Davidic authority and thus would not have seen a Jew as their messiah (Jews destroyed their temple on Mt. Gerizim c. 110 BCE).

19. John has Jesus philosophizing about his own awesomeness in long winded discourses throughout this gospel, which is contrary to the shorter speeches in the synoptics. There’s no way anyone who was a witness to any historical Jesus c. 33 would have remembered these long speeches for nearly 70 years. Thus they must be an invention of the author.

20. John has Jesus claim to be god himself, and the only way towards salvation. This would have gotten Jesus arrested and stoned immediately for claiming equality with YHWH. The Jews almost went to war with Rome c. 41 because Caligula declared himself a god in the flesh and wanted a statue of himself erected in the temple. And Jesus claiming that he’s the only way towards salvation would have been nonsense to Jews while the sacrificial system was still functioning.

21. John has Jesus say “your law” when refering to the laws of Moses as though he’s not Jewish.

 

Does παρθενος mean "virgin" in Greek?

και προσεσχεν τη ψυχη δινας της θυγατρος ιακωβ και ηγαπησεν την παρθενον και ελαλησεν κατα την διανοιαν της παρθενου αυτη

μετάφραση μου – translation

His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her

– Gen. 34:3

According to the LXX, Genesis 34:3 also defeats the claim that παρθενος (parthenos) is used exclusivly for “a virgin”. Dinah, who was raped by Shechem, is referred to as a παρθενος after being raped, which is contrary to the claim on the exclusivity of παρθενος for identifying “a virgin”

http://www.messiahtruth.com/isa714b.html

Quite possibly, the meaning of the word changed. The LXX, at least the Torah portion of it, was composed because the Greek king Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who reigned 285–246 BCE, wanted to read Hebrew scriptures. So in the span of about 400 years, the meaning of the word παρθενος might have changed from simply a young woman (like Dinah) to mean specifically “virgin” in Matthew’s lifetime.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 28, 2009 in gospel of matthew, isaiah 7:14, parthenos, virgin

 

Isaiah 7:14

This is the huge mistranslation that Matthew quotes at the beginning of his gospel – the one that speaks about a virgin birth. However, this is the entire thing taken from here in context:

י וַיּוֹסֶף יְהוָה, דַּבֵּר אֶל-אָחָז לֵאמֹר. 10 And YHWH spoke again unto Ahaz, saying:
יא שְׁאַל-לְךָ אוֹת, מֵעִם יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ; הַעְמֵק שְׁאָלָה, אוֹ הַגְבֵּהַּ לְמָעְלָה. 11 ‘Ask thee a sign of YHWH thy God: ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.’
יב וַיֹּאמֶר, אָחָז: לֹא-אֶשְׁאַל וְלֹא-אֲנַסֶּה, אֶת-יְהוָה. 12 But Ahaz said: ‘I will not ask, neither will I try YHWH.’
יג וַיֹּאמֶר, שִׁמְעוּ-נָא בֵּית דָּוִד: הַמְעַט מִכֶּם הַלְאוֹת אֲנָשִׁים, כִּי תַלְאוּ גַּם אֶת-אֱלֹהָי. 13 And he said: ‘Hear ye now, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to weary men, that ye will weary my God also?
יד לָכֵן יִתֵּן אֲדֹנָי הוּא, לָכֶם–אוֹת: הִנֵּה הָעַלְמָה, הָרָה וְיֹלֶדֶת בֵּן, וְקָרָאת שְׁמוֹ, עִמָּנוּ אֵל. 14 Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
טו חֶמְאָה וּדְבַשׁ, יֹאכֵל–לְדַעְתּוֹ מָאוֹס בָּרָע, וּבָחוֹר בַּטּוֹב. 15 Curd and honey shall he eat, when he knoweth to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
טז כִּי בְּטֶרֶם יֵדַע הַנַּעַר, מָאֹס בָּרָע–וּבָחֹר בַּטּוֹב: תֵּעָזֵב הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה קָץ, מִפְּנֵי שְׁנֵי מְלָכֶיהָ. 16 Yea, before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou hast a horror of shall be forsaken.

Now I’ll put it into plain English:
10: And God spoke to Ahaz and said

11: “Come on and test men, man”

12: “I ain’t gonna do it, God.”

13: Then he said “Come on, King Ahaz. You’re quick to not trust people, but you’re not going to trust God as well?”

14:”God’s gonna give you a sign. Check out this chick right here. The kid she’s bearing is going to be named “Immanuel”

15: “He’s going to eat the finest crap and be a really good kid”

16: “But before he gets hair on his nuts, your enemies will be defeated”

Interestingly, the “lord” in Is. 7:14 isn’t written as YHWH, but is actually ADNY (אֲדֹנָי) – “lord”, possibly implying that it’s a human being that’s providing the sign (getting the woman pregnant) and not YHWH…

Edit: Well I read it again, and it does seem that the “lord” here is YHWH. There are two versions of ADNY, which depend on the vowel points associated with it. (אדֹנִי) is pronounced as “adoni” due to, among others, the vowel point underneath the N that looks like a little dot. (אֲדֹנָי) is pronounced as “adonai” due to, among others, the vowel point under the N that looks like a little “T” or a plus sign.

 
Comments Off on Isaiah 7:14

Posted by on August 28, 2008 in Adonai, adoni, gospel of matthew, isaiah 7:14

 
 
NeuroLogica Blog

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Slate Star Codex

The Schelling Point for being on the #slatestarcodex IRC channel (see sidebar) is Wednesdays at 10 PM EST

Κέλσος

Matthew Ferguson Blogs

The Wandering Scientist

Just another WordPress.com site

NT Blog

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Euangelion Kata Markon

A blog dedicated to the academic study of the "Gospel According to Mark"

PsyPost

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

PsyBlog

Understand your mind with the science of psychology -

Vridar

Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science

Maximum Entropy

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

atheist, polyamorous skeptics

Criticism is not uncivil

Say..

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Research Digest

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Disrupting Dinner Parties

Feminism is for everyone!

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

The New Oxonian

Religion and Culture for the Intellectually Impatient

The Musings of Thomas Verenna

A Biblioblog about imitation, the Biblical Narratives, and the figure of Jesus