The Jesus-Pilate-Scene in Mk 15 - just an illogical Fairy Tale?

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
12,538
#31
Here's a list of eight possible explanations for Jesus' statements about some people of "this generation" being able to see Him return, off the top of my head:
- Jesus was referring to the apostles who were given visions of His second coming (we know that John had one and wrote about it in Revelation; there might have been others who had visions and whose writings were lost)
- Jesus might have used the word "generation" as a synonym of "genos" ("race,'' "stock,'' "nation,'' "people''), referring to the Jewish people
- Jesus might have used the word "generation" as a means to refer to humanity in its fallen state, as opposed to the generation of people with glorified bodies that God will create
- Jesus' second coming might have actually happened in the days of the apostles and what we are currently experiencing is hell or Purgatory
- God might have a different understanding of time and he sees everything as happening and having happened simultaneously in a matter that our minds cannot (currently) understand
- there might be two types of deaths (the physical one, which Paul kind of describes as a changing of location for our souls; and the erasure from existence, which might be what will happen to all the damned souls who refuse to accept God), and Jesus does allude to the fact that physical death is not the same as ceasing from existence (He says that The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not a God of the dead), so when he says that the people from that generation will not pass, He might actually mean that they (and everyone else who is saved) will continue to be alive until His second coming, when they will be given new (glorified) physical bodies
- Jesus might have granted some of his apostles the ability to remain alive until His second coming, and they might still be alive, keeping a low profile either by periodically assuming new identities and blending in various societies, or by living secluded in places that humanity hasn't explored yet (fed by animals like Elijah was)
- Jesus might have referred to His resurrection, not to His second coming
Possible explanations ? really ? We "possibly" have 2000+ years old apostles in hiding ???
 
Dec 2014
556
United States
#32
Are there logical errors in the NT passion story that lead its credibility ad absurdum?

First the scene in Mk 15:

6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged[a] Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

(1)
The historically unproven custom of the release of a prisoner mentioned in v.6 is, in the opinion of most historians, to be regarded as Mark's invention, the deeper meaning of which is subsequently discussed in the Barabbas context.

(2)
On Pilatus´ conciliatory behaviour towards Jesus: It is unlikely that the procurator will not sentence to death someone who, seemlingly with a rebellious intent, claims the title ´King of the Jews´ (Mk 15:2), and is to be seen as an attempt by the evangelist to morally exonerate the Roman authorities. Not quite as implausible is Pilatus´'s soft behavior towards the Jewish crowd. In one case Pilate gave in to the pressure of a crowd, even if this contradicted his violent nature (Ant. 18,55f.). However, this case is not really comparable to the Mark scene and thus is by no means sufficient to support the authenticity of the Jesus-Pilate scene; I already mentioned two reasons: the unhistorical custom of the release and Pilatus´ unbelievable conciliatoriness towards Jesus.

(3)
Another indication of the fictionality of Mk 15:6-15 is the behavior of the Jewish crowd. According to 15:11 the "chief priests" have instigated the crowd, which then repeatedly demands the crucifixion of Jesus.

Mk 11 says about the first entry of Jesus into Jerusalem:

8 And many spread out their clothes in the way, and others cut branches from the trees, and scattered them in the way. 9 And they that went before and followed called and said: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! (...)

The question arises as to why the people switch 180 degrees from enthusiasm for Jesus to hatred of Jesus and, screaming twice, demand of Pilate to have Jesus crucified, and, despite Pilate's question, do not even provide an explanation for this (see below point 4).

One could object that for some reason the crowd has been convinced that a release of Barabbas would be preferable to the release of Jesus, and therefore urges Jesus´ death. But that doesn't explain the intensity of the new death wish.

(4)
Moreover, the objection contains a logical error of reasoning:

In order to obtain the release of Barabbas, the people do not have to demand the execution of Jesus. The latter is not a condition for the former. The (unhistorical) release custom does not consist in a decision for the release of one prisoner at the expense of another, but in the release of one prisoner independently of the fate of another. Also in Matthew (Mt 27:21) the release of Barabbas does not presuppose the execution of Jesus, there Pilate merely asks which of the two he should release.

Within the framework of this constellation, however, the procurator would be free to surrender the Barabbas to the crowd and then also release Jesus, whom he does not consider sufficiently guilty according to Mk 15. This (unhistorical) custom does not allow the crowd the right to demand the execution of one (other) prisoner. Nevertheless, after releasing Barabbas, Pilate asks the crowd what to do with Jesus. His question as to what Jesus did "evil" (15:14) is not answered by the multitude who demand the crucifixion without any reason.

This construct is illogical and undoubtedly serves only to blame the Jews for the death of Jesus.

In Jn 19, this strategy is further enhanced by the author (known for pushing the break with Judaism even further than the synoptists) portraying the Jews in a way that is now completely unbelievable:

12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

(5)
On the name of Barabbas:

In some Gospel manuscripts he is not simply called ´Barabbas´, but ´Jesus Barabbas´, in nine manuscripts from Greece, Syria and Armenia. In his commentary on Matthew, section 121, Origenes praises the erasure of the first name because it wouldn´t fit in with a "culprit". The Latin translation of the Greek version of Mt available to him reads:

(...) quem vultis dimittam vobis, Iesum Barabbam, aut Iesum qui dicitur Christ?

(= Who shall I release according to your will: the Jesus Barabbas or the Jesus called Christ?)

One can therefore assume that in the earliest versions of the Gospels the term ´Jesus Barabbas´ was mentioned throughout, since a subsequent insertion of the first name is less likely than a subsequent redemption. The current Edition XXVIII of the Gospel of Matthew of Nestle-Aland also reads ´Jesus Barabbas´.

´Barabbas´ means ´Son of the Father´, what corresponds to a Christological attribute of Jesus.

(6)
On the basis of the identity of the first names of both prisoners and the correspondence of the surname of Barabbas with a Christological attribute of Jesus, theories have emerged according to which both figures were originally a single figure (the Christian Jesus), which for certain reasons was subsequently doubled.

One of those theories is:

In the earliest Christian tradition, the legend circulated that the Jewish people in Jerusalem, admiring Jesus, called in vain for the release of Jesus, who was nicknamed ´Son of the Father´ (Barabbas). This demand was not made in connection with an annual amnesty, as described in Mk, but happened spontaneously. When, as Christianity spread into the Roman Empire, it became necessary to adapt its original legend to a Roman public, the Roman Pilate, who was responsible for the execution of Jesus, had to be exonerated and the blame shifted to a third party, the Jews. The Jewish demand for the release of Jesus Barabbas was not completely eradicated. Rather, this figure was split into a good and an evil Jesus Barabbas (robber). The evil Barabbas is wished free from captivity by the now likewise ´evil´ Jews and the good one is killed at their request. Pilate thus looks innocent.

This also explains the invention of the release custom, without which the construct does not function, and the reversal of the crowd from worship of Jesus to hatred of Jesus, which is also necessary for the construct.
https://beginningandend.com/how-many-times-has-the-bible-been-translated-can-the-bible-be-trusted/
Another astounding proof from the Dead Sea Scrolls is its validation that the over 100 prophecies about the Jewish Messiah, fulfilled by Jesus Christ, were written centuries before His birth. Some of these prophecies were very specific, such as the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, spending time in Egypt, He would be a descendant of both Abraham and David (the tribe of Judah), that the Messiah would be the Passover lamb (Exodus 12, John 1:29, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, 1 Peter 1:19 – and the fact that Jesus was crucified during Passover), that the Messiah would be hated, beaten and pierced (which specifically happened to Christ on the cross – Psalm 22, Matthew 27:39-46, Mark 15:34, John 19:24) and many other very detailed prophecies. Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, many Bible critics alleged that these prophetic portions of the Old Testament were added after the life of Christ on Earth, to help support and fraudulently “prove” the Bible’s accuracy. However all of those questions and doubts were permanently erased with the manuscripts from the caves of Qumran.

Isaiah 53, for example, predicted that rather than being a conquering warrior, the Messiah would be meek, humble and suffer physical torture for all of humanity:

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” – Isaiah 53:1-9.



Jesus Christ was indeed rejected and despised at the end of His earthly ministry. Falsely accused of crimes, He was sentenced to death by the Roman government and like a “lamb to the slaughter” was crucified offering no opposition to the charge or the punishment. Jesus Christ chose to lay His life down as a sacrifice for our sins – precisely what Isaiah 53 prophesied over 500 years before Christ’s incarnation on Earth – stating:
 
Feb 2012
3,834
Portugal
#33
In order to obtain the release of Barabbas, the people do not have to demand the execution of Jesus. The latter is not a condition for the former. The (unhistorical) release custom does not consist in a decision for the release of one prisoner at the expense of another, but in the release of one prisoner independently of the fate of another. Also in Matthew (Mt 27:21) the release of Barabbas does not presuppose the execution of Jesus, there Pilate merely asks which of the two he should release.
I'm not sure to have understood the point here, if the two were waiting execution and one was to be chosen to be released the choice would imply the execution of the other.
About the change in crowd behaviour and people acting in a way inconsistent with their image it seems to be a common thing. Hitler saved a Jew from the holocaust and was sending him paintings made by himself and calling him "noble Jew", yet does this seem credible by the image we have of him? I doubt anyone would believe it if it was not documented.
 
Feb 2012
3,834
Portugal
#34
The persecution of Jesus in the gospel might be a portrait of the persecution against Chiristians in general and represents the feud between Christians and Jews that is also found in the events that led to Hipatia's death, and is consistent with those who claim the persecutions were more regional than imperial and moved by local religious conflicts with other denominations.
 
Nov 2016
400
Munich
#35
I'm not sure to have understood the point here, if the two were waiting execution and one was to be chosen to be released the choice would imply the execution of the other.
The thing is that (within the Mark story) not "the two were waiting for execution" but only Barrabas. As to Jesus, no decision is made until Pilate asks the Jewish crowd what to do with him. My point is that the alleged custom of releasing a prisoner (see Mk 15:6) does not involve or presuppose the execution of another prisoner. That Pilate asks the crowd what to do with Jesus has seemingly nothing to do with that custom and seems to be a mere construct by the author(s) in order to put the blame for the death of Jesus on the Jews.

About the change in crowd behaviour and people acting in a way inconsistent with their image it seems to be a common thing. Hitler saved a Jew from the holocaust and was sending him paintings made by himself and calling him "noble Jew", yet does this seem credible by the image we have of him? I doubt anyone would believe it if it was not documented.
I don´t think that there is the slightest comparability between the (narrated) inconsistent behavior of the crowd and Hitler´s behavior. As to the latter, this "noble Jew" was a man whom Hitler was acquainted with since his childhood, when the Jew, a doctor, claimed no payment for medical treatment of Hitler´s family.

I doubt that it is a "common thing" that the Jews of Jerusalem celebrate Jesus as Messiah and shout things like:

“Hosanna!” - “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” - “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” - “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

but unanimously (!) demand his cruel death one or two weeks later, only because some priests incite antipathy against him. This could have a certain plausibility IF there weren´t so many other implausible details in the story, what makes it likely that the change of the crowd´s mood is a mere construct by the author(s).
 
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Feb 2012
3,834
Portugal
#36
The thing is that (within the Mark story) not "the two were waiting for execution" but only Barrabas. As to Jesus, no decision is made until Pilate asks the Jewish crowd what to do with him. My point is that the alleged custom of releasing a prisoner (see Mk 15:6) does not involve or presuppose the execution of another prisoner. That Pilate asks the crowd what to do with Jesus has seemingly nothing to do with that custom and seems to be a mere construct by the author(s) in order to put the blame for the death of Jesus on the Jews.



I don´t think that there is the slightest comparability between the (narrated) inconsistent behavior of the crowd and Hitler´s behavior. As to the latter, this "noble Jew" was a man whom Hitler was acquainted with since his childhood, when the Jew, a doctor, claimed no payment for medical treatment of Hitler´s family.

I doubt that it is a "common thing" that the Jews of Jerusalem celebrate Jesus as Messiah and shout things like:

“Hosanna!” - “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” - “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” - “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

but unanimously (!) demand his cruel death one or two weeks later, only because some priests incite antipathy against him. This could have a certain plausibility IF there weren´t so many other implausible details in the story, what makes it likely that the change of the crowd´s mood is a mere construct by the author(s).
Hitler was meant to be a comparison with Pilate not the crowd. Crowds can change mind rather quickly and a lot of enthusiasm does not necessarily mean long time commitment, there was no Christian tradition at this point that could give more staying power to the followers.
 
Feb 2012
3,834
Portugal
#38
The thing is that (within the Mark story) not "the two were waiting for execution" but only Barrabas. As to Jesus, no decision is made until Pilate asks the Jewish crowd what to do with him. My point is that the alleged custom of releasing a prisoner (see Mk 15:6) does not involve or presuppose the execution of another prisoner. That Pilate asks the crowd what to do with Jesus has seemingly nothing to do with that custom and seems to be a mere construct by the author(s) in order to put the blame for the death of Jesus on the Jews.
There might be some hidden symbolism that is lost or poorly understood today. The blame of the Jewsh authorities is clear but it might reflect the relation between the two groups which untill WWII was most of the time strained. After all these are two highly intolerant and xenophobic groups who were at the beggining targeting the same population.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
6,866
#39
The thing is that (within the Mark story) not "the two were waiting for execution" but only Barrabas. As to Jesus, no decision is made until Pilate asks the Jewish crowd what to do with him. My point is that the alleged custom of releasing a prisoner (see Mk 15:6) does not involve or presuppose the execution of another prisoner.
But it doesn't presuppose the opposite either. Releasing one prisoner doesn't mean that the other prisoners wouldn't be executed or that it would.

That Pilate asks the crowd what to do with Jesus has seemingly nothing to do with that custom and seems to be a mere construct by the author(s) in order to put the blame for the death of Jesus on the Jews.
Sure it relates to the custom. It is clear that the custom of releasing a prisoner if it existed was likely to gain favor with the population, to show to show that he could be merciful. Letting the people chose which prisoner would be released would be logical, and the Gospels do not say what Pilate's method was that he used to chose what prisoner to release. Letting the crowd decide may have been Pilate's standard practice.

It is clear in all 4 Gospels did not want to execute Jesus. The Gospels suggest some reasons - the bad dreams of his wife would have been a reason, Romans were superstitious. Killing someone would could perform the deeds Jesus did would be bad mojo, maybe he would run a risk of a curse or something.

Or it could be Pilate's just didn't like doing the priests dirty work for them. Pilate didn't mind killing Jews, but for Roman reasons, not the reasons of the local rulers. He wasn't their servant.

Pilate spies would.have informed him.that Jesus said such things as "render unto Caesar have which is Caesar's", "turn the other cheek", and that crowds Jesus attracted included young children and old women, hardly a threat. So Pilate miyht have been reluctant to execute a popular teacher and create unnecessary ill will if he didn't have to. Better to make it seem the Jewish leaders were at fault.



I doubt that it is a "common thing" that the Jews of Jerusalem celebrate Jesus as Messiah and shout things like:

“Hosanna!” - “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” - “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” - “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

but unanimously (!) demand his cruel death one or two weeks later, only because some priests incite antipathy against him. This could have a certain plausibility IF there weren´t so many other implausible details in the story, what makes it likely that the change of the crowd´s mood is a mere construct by the author(s).

Why not? Not all Jews celebrated Jesus entry, the Jewish Priest certainly didn't. At Passover, Jews from all over came to Jerusalem, and the Jews that celebrated Jesus entry may have been from Galilee, while those demanding his death may have been more local. Indeed, after Jesus arrest, Peter was accused of being Jesus follower because Peter was from Galilee, no doubt due to his accent. Jesus supporters and opponents were among different sets of Jews, with Jesus popular among the hicks of Galilee, less so among the more urban Jews of Jerusalem.

While the Romans were not particularly worried about local feelings, a prudent govenor wouldn't go out of his way to antagonize the population either. Pilate wouldn't hesitate to execute a popular local teacher without good reason. And the Jewish leaders would much rather have the Romans take the blame for executing a popular figure.
 
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Mar 2018
41
USA
#40
Ooooof!! I read this completely differently than everyone else ... I think. I did not see this as an attack on the Jesus-figure, I did not see this as invalidation of a gospel. I saw it as a scholarly analysis of the text in regard to the culture of the time. I really don't believe divinity or existence is any part of the discussion.

I find the hypothesis interesting:
1) Romans crucified people at the drop of a hat. Caesar crucified quite a few in Gaul. Everyone knows what happened to Spartacus' friends. I can see an advantage to making Christianity more "palatable" to Romans by pushing the blame to Jews. Why not? Everyone's always blamed the Jews for everything. It was THEIR fault .. that Romans tortured him, that Romans nailed him, that Romans executed him.
2) I didn't know that there was no such thing a mob vote clemency. This does make it look like the narrative was "pumped up" to make a point ... the kind of thing Plutarch might do.
3) Since the Jews already had their own religious legal system to take care of heretics by stoning, it adds credence to the Romans deciding execution for whatever reason. Maybe I'm wrong here, but my understanding is that Romans typically didn't respond to mobs with civility.

The earliest gospel was written down sometime around 100 yrs after the death of the "author". I don't have a problem acknowledging that some facts may have been bent. Does every single word have to be true? I'm no biblical scholar, but I do know, if you compare the gospels, the number of people that show up at the empty tomb are different. I frankly don't think a detail like that matters. It's the big picture that counts. I don't think any ancient history is 100% accurate, but we have a pretty good idea of what actually happened.


This discussion really went in different directions:
I'm reminded of the movie "Life of Brian". The Pythons quickly abandoned involving Jesus: "the closer we got, it just wasn't funny." The only near instance was at the very fringe of the eight beatitudes where they couldn't hear clearly ... and quickly devolves into insulting a man with a big nose. The majority of the movie stabs at Roman rule, the multiplicity of prophets and willing followers, and the infighting among Jewish sects. That didn't stop picketing and protests ... from people that assumed it was an attack, somehow, on Christ.

I just didn't see the initial hypothesis as a religious issue. I saw it as a textual one.

Instructive though this is, it is merely an academic discussion, the right of imposing capital punishment having been taken from the Sanhedrin by the Romans a century before, "40 years before the Destruction of the Temple" (Sanh. 41a; TJ, Sanh. 1:18a).

Capital Punishment

Also Rome had to squash the civil war between Northern Israel and Judah. It was the head Jews who had Jesus the Christ killed , according to the scriptures.
 
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