Steve, do you remember that thread about the Gospel of Peter? It’s really near worthless as a historical source, but like many apocryphal literature, it’s a record to certain segments of Christian thought.
And then they drew the nails out of the Lord’s hands and laid him on the earth; and the whole earth was shaken, and there came a great fear. Then the sun shone and it was found to be the ninth hour. And the Jews rejoiced and gave his body to Joseph that he might bury it, since he had seen what good things he did. Now taking the Lord, he washed and bound him with a linen shroud and brought him into his own burial place called ‘Joseph’s Garden’. Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, knowing what evil they had done to themselves, began to beat in mourning and say, “Woe to our sins! The judgment and the end of Jerusalem are at hand!”
Pay attention to the dialogue the author puts into the mouth of “the Jews and the elders and the priests:” they realized that ‘the judgment and the end of Jerusalem are at hand’ after they crucify Jesus (in the Gospel of Peter, the Jews - “the people” - are literally the ones who crucify Jesus; it so whitewashes the Romans that it’s not even Pilate who sentences Him to death, but Herod). Of course historically you had to wait four decades before the literal ‘end of Jerusalem’ actually came, but there was a tendency in early Christian thought to link the two events together.
This motif becomes more clearer in later apocryphal works, where it is made to appear that the destruction of Jerusalem occurred as a direct consequence of Jesus. In these retellings, accurate history is sacrificed for the sake of theology. (Historically of course, Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews were expelled for quite different reasons.) In those works, the emperor Tiberius (an amalgamation of the historical Tiberius, Vespasian and Titus; sometimes Titus and/or Vespasian are reimagined as client kings subordinate to Tiberius, or some or all of them are co-rulers) becomes convinced that Jesus is God, converts to Christianity and then immediately orders Jerusalem destroyed and the Jews killed or exiled because of what he had heard they had done to Jesus. :shrug:
Also remember that other thread?
You’re all familiar with Jesus’ prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” right? The funny thing is, in some manuscripts of Luke, including a number of early ones (such as Papyrus 75, ca. 175-225), this saying is absent. In fact, a few manuscripts, instead of saying “forgive them,” (aphes autois) says instead “yield to them” (synchōrēson autois).
Early Christians generally interpreted Jesus’ plea for forgiveness as referring to the Jews, but this interpretation put them at a conundrum: they also believed that that the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70 was, in a sense, a divine act of justice against the Jews for Jesus’ death. So the problem is, why would the Jews be punished if Jesus had already asked God to forgive them? Did God not then listen to Jesus’ prayer? If Jesus predicted that judgment will fall upon Jerusalem (cf. Luke 19:41-44; 23:29-31), why would He choose to avert that judgment?
That may explain the reason why this saying of Jesus was absent in some manuscripts and reworded in others: it’s likely because the implication that Jesus forgave the Jews would have been unthinkable, offensive even, to some Christians at that time in light of the strong anti-Jewish sentiments prevalent in many segments of early Christianity. So their solution to this is either explain away this hard saying, or just delete the passage from their copies of Scripture or reword it.
(For the interested, Nathan Eubank’s A Disconcerting Prayer: On the Originality of Luke 23:34a goes into more detailed information about the passage and arguments for its authenticity.)