Crucifixion of the Jews: Book 2

Barabbas the Convenient


According to closely parallel vignettes in the gospels of Mathew and Mark, the ‘crowd’ (which has magically morphed from a small anonymous crowd to a “howling Jewish mob” over the course of the gospels) [in the early morning post–Last Supper] chose the criminal Barabbas to be released from Roman death row, and Jesus to be crucified.

According to this rendering of events, Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate was ambivalent about crucifying Jesus and threw the decision of which of the two prisoners to be killed, up to the crowd. For, according to Peter (the non–canonical Gospel of Peter), there was a Passover custom for the praefectus (governor) of Judea to commute the death sentence of one prisoner.

However, scholars aggressively challenge this entire saga on several inter–related grounds.

First, there are no contemporaneous historical accounts – in either Jewish or non–Jewish texts – of this supposed Passover pardon practice. (The asserted “Passover privilege” is ‘fictional’ – Maccoby, Revolution in Judaea – p. 19)

Second, the astute political survivor Pilate was unlikely to leave his political fortunes at the hands of a [Jewish] crowd.

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