Category Archives: midrash

Propheciezed or Derived?

So was Jesus’ life really predicted according to Jewish scripture? Or was his life derived from Jewish scripture?

The first line of evidence for this is the fact that the Hebrew Bible is split into three types of writings: Torah (Law), Neviim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). Prophecy ended in Israel on the deaths of the last prophets; Zechariah, Malachi, etc. Daniel, who is considered a prophet according to Christians, was not considered a prophet in Judaism since he lived after the time period that prophecy had ended.

Accordingly, the psalms are not prophetic. They are simply the hopes and dreams of Jews written to songs. The word “psalm” comes from the Greek word ψαλμος (psalmos) which was derived from the verb ψάλλω (psallo). When I fingerpick my guitar, I ψάλλω it. Psalms are songs to be sung, usually accompanied by a stringed instrument which is plucked with fingers. So the psalms are listed among the Ketuvim, along with Daniel. Though in John, Jesus fubs and calls the Psalms “Torah”:

Psalm 82:6

I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’

John 10:34

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’

(Why does Jesus say “your law”? Isn’t it his law too, being Jewish?) Jesus’ entire crucifixion scene, according to Christians, was “predicted” by the 22nd psalm. But this makes no sense since the psalms aren’t prophetic. Therefore, Jesus’ crucifixion scene must have been derived from the 22nd psalm!

Psalm 22:1

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Matthew 27:46

the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, […] “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Psalm 22:18

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture

Matthew 27:35

When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots

Psalm 22:7

All they that saw me laugh me to scorn, they shoot out the lip, they shake their heads

Matthew 27:39

And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads

Psalm 22:8

He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him

Matthew 27:43

He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if He will have him

Though Luke changes Jesus’ last words, they are still derived from a psalm:

Luke 23:46

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father into thy hands I commend My Sprit…

Psalm 31:5

Into thine hand I commend my spirit

Other aspects of the crucifixion are derived from other psalms:

Matthew 27:24

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Psalm 26:6

I will wash mine hands in innocency

Matthew 27:34

And they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall…

Psalm 69:21

They gave me also gall for my meat, ……and they gave me vinegar to drink

John 13:18

He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.

Psalm 41:9

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me

Mark 15:28 says “and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “He was counted with the lawless ones” (Isaiah 53:12)”. But Mark 15:28 doesn’t show up in some earlier manuscripts, so some Bibles either leave it out, or have a little annotation to denote this. So it means this “prophecy” was inserted into the text at a later time period. But what if that was endemic to the entire text? That an original author wrote a narrative gospel and another author realized that there were “similarities” between Tanakh texts and the gospels?

Also, the name “Barabbas” literally means “son of the father” or “descendent of the father” (Bar Abba). The reason why it’s “Barabbas” in the text is the same reason why it’s “Jesus” in the text. These stories were originally written in Greek and so the ending of a noun in Greek depends on its grammatical context. So for example, if I said “They crucify Barabbas” in Greek it would be αυτοι σταυρώνει Βαραββαν. Notice the ending – it’s a “ν” which is “n” in Greek – it literally says “Barabban”. If I wanted to say “Barabbas writes the good news” it would be Βαραββας γραφει τα ευαγγελια. Barabbas ends with a sigma – “s”. If I wanted to write “What does your father want, Barabbas?”, in Greek it would be τι κανει ο πατερας σου θελει, Βαραββα; which would literally be “What does your father want, Barabba?”

So that entire sequence is really between Jesus, who is supposed to be the actual “Son of the Father” and his polar opposite – a violent insurrectionist – who is literally named “Son of the Father”. Some manuscripts of Matthew even have Barabbas named “Jesus Barabbas”. So one “barabba” is sacrified for sin while the other “barabba” is released. This seems to mimic the scapegoat ceremony in Leviticus 16. Or, seems to be derived from Leviticus 16. Of course, this probably slipped passed the overzealous redactor who inserted “prophecies fulfilled” in the text, or that entire scene might have said at the end “and so they released Barabbas to fulfill Leviticus 16” which doesn’t really make sense.

Of course, there’s also the derived virgin birth (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14), the derived “slaughter of the innocents” (Matthew 2:18, Jer. 31:15), the derived “flight from Egypt” (Matthew 2:15, Hosea 11:1). What if the entire narrative itself was derived from the Hebrew Bible? This process is called “Midrash” – no wonder Christians are so zealous that Jesus “fulfilled” so many “prophecies”. But it seems like it was the other way around. Jesus didn’t fulfill any prophecies, the “prophecies” gave life to Jesus.

Another idea is that the original gospel Mark was written as a play. What if the reason that so much of the Passion sequence is derived from the psalms is because the Passion sequence, also, was supposed to be played to music?

And of course, keeping with Gnostic tradition, Mark ends his midrash of the Hebrew Bible at 16:8; which Matthew and Luke didn’t like:

The terms “Abrupt Ending” [Mark 16:8] carry with them a begging of the question.

It is only abrupt if you assume a longer ending. There is nothing incomplete, nothing rushed, nothing out of place – it ends, and moreover it ends with what is decisive historically: nobody knows. Jesus slips through un-noticed so the scriptures may be fulfilled and those of us in on the secret can inherit everlasting life.

As you add in the specious material after 16:8 the problems start to mount. In the original ending you had to explain the historical silence regarding Jesus. It is done so effectively with stupid, fearful disciples, and an ignorant Jewish church.

So when you re-introduce the spectactular appearance before multitudes after death, now you are back to explaining why nobody noticed him.


Jerome tells us in his 120th epistle that the long ending of Mark “is met with in only a few copies, almost all the codices of Greece being without the passage”. (The earliest manuscript we have with the ending is the Codex Washingtonianus (5th c.) which itself has a large interpolation after v.14, attesting to the volatility of the Markan ending (as do the variations in many other manuscripts).

Either the vast majority of manuscripts of Greece (in the late 4th c.) were an aberration or Irenaeus’s source (in the late 2nd c.) was. We have earlier sources again as non-witnesses, both Matthew and Luke, neither of which support the long ending, a strange occurrence for they usually follow Mark.


The gospels of Matthew and Luke diverge wildly after more or less following Mark’s [Passion Narrative] through 16:8. That was the end of Mark’s gospel.

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Posted by on August 26, 2009 in gnosticism, jesus, midrash

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