Good thief gone? Revolutionaries and saints rising from graves........confused.

I’m a revert and perhaps I’m missing something. But yesterday’s readings no longer included the good thief who believed in Jesus and was told that on that day he would be with Jesus in heaven. Instead two revolutionaries (not thieves as in the previous version) were mentioned and both were abusive to Jesus as they were all being crucified. Then too, there was mention of saints resurrecting from their graves and appearing to people. I didn’t think anyone resurrected before Jesus.
I miss the story I’m used to and am wondering how these revisions came about. :confused: Please enlighten me if you know the answers. Thanking you in advance.

The readings for Palm Sunday are from Matthew’s gospel. The story of the “good thief” is found in Luke’s gospel.

The word used in Matthew’s gospel is “revolutionaries”-- the same Greek word used to describe Barabbas.

The account of the opening of the graves is also found in Matthew’s gospel. Mt 27:53 says, “And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.”

There are no revisions. There are 4 gospels, and each recounts different aspects of the events.

On Good Friday we will hear the Gospel of John.

Different Gospels. In Year A, we read from Matthew on Palm Sunday. Last year, it was Luke, and the dialogue appears there.

I have a HUGE problem with the term “revolutionary” in the modern translation of Matthew.

There were no revolutionaries before 1776. The concept simply did not exist. The term revolution was invented by the American founders to describe the fact that they wanted to “revolve” back to the days of the Roman Republic (with its senate and people’s assembly) before inherited kingships became the norm for government. A rebel is one who wants to overthrow a government for any number of reasons, a revolutionary is one who wants to go back to a better form of government.

Calling the 2 thieves “revolutionaries” does a real dis-service to the people hearing the Passion Gospel. We often sympathize and even support revolutionaries. When it comes to the Gospel, it’s important to understand that the 2 criminals crucified with Christ deserved to be punished. It’s not only important, but essential, to see the contrast between the innocent Christ and the guilty criminals. That does not, and indeed cannot, happen when they’re called revolutionaries. We think of people like George Washington or Patrick Henry when we hear revolutionary. The translators’ use of words makes us doubt the unique position of Christ, being innocent but treated as guilty. Were the other 2 innocent as well? The translator leaves us wondering; and that causes serious problems.

In fairness, the original Greek word was not actually “thief” (literally, someone who steals) but more of a generic term for a criminal. So, they might have been thieves (or murderers or even rebels against Rome), or they might not—we don’t actually know. But what we do know is that they could not have been revolutionaries; not 1700+ years before the concept was even invented.

Perhaps insurrection would be a better term.

There were Jewish sects fomenting revolt against Rome during that time, and 60 years onward until they were put down.

I can appreciate the difficulty in choosing an appropriate modern English word.

Given the situation, it’s very likely that they were some kind of insurrectionists, that they somehow were trying to overthrow Roman rule; at least without excluding the possibility that they were being executed for some other crime such as thievery.

The problem is that the word “revolutionary” often has a very positive connotation in American language. Therefore, that word causes confusion as we read or hear the Passion Gospel. The translation leaves us with the impression that they were innocent victims of a repressive government, and they were just as much martyrs as the Christ crucified in the middle.

It’s just one more example of the awful translations we are forced to suffer.

Whew! Thank you all SO much – especially FrDavid – for your reassuring and erudite comments. I feel much better to know it is another gospel. :slight_smile:
It does seem that things get lost in translations at times and I should keep this in mind. God bless you.

Really ?

You need to extend your knowledge of history .

The account of the opening of the graves is only found in Matthew’s gospel. None of the other gospel authors – or anyone else in history – records it.

The opening of the graves is directly associated with the earthquake that happened when Jesus died, but the passage reads as though the “saints” didn’t rise out of them until after Jesus’s own resurrection a day and a half later. While I suppose that’s a possibility, I think the simpler explanation is that the original author intended to portray the saints as rising upon Jesus’s death, at the same time as the earthquake, but that a later redactor added the words “after his resurrection” when it was realized that it conflicted with Paul’s theology of Jesus being the “first fruits” of the new age.

Yes. Really.

I’m American, but I don’t get that connotation at all.

When was the revolutionary war? Not precisely (day/month), but roughly when?

Unfortunately, at my parish, the same word was used - revolutionary.

I came home and checked my St. Andrew’s Missal from the 1940s which contains the Passion according to St. Matthew for Palm Sunday. Back then, St. Dismas and his friend were referred to as “two thieves.”

Yes . Really .

In his work entitled “Politics” written in 350 B.C. Aristotle wrote : " In considering how dissensions and poltical revolutions arise, we must first of all ascertain the beginnings and causes of them which affect constitutions generally . "

That was a little before 1776 .

In Luke they are referred to as thieves. In Matthew, a different word is used-- the word is translated “revolutionary”, same word used for Barabbas.

It is not “unfortunate” that this word was used, since it is the approved translation.

I’ll say! When I hear that word, I think Sandinistas (spelling? :confused:) or SDSers etc. It is an inappropriate word to use and gives a political connotation to the Gospels, which is also inappropriate.

Not in the old translation from before Vatican II which is what I was referring to.

I don’t know why you are trying to say the concept of revolution does not predate the American revolution, or was somehow invented by the Americans, this simply isn’t true.

My point was that “revolutionary” does not connote “innocent victims of repressive government” in my mind.

I did not say otherwise.

The idea of changing government certainly existed.

The idea of a “revolution” as such meaning revolving to restore what existed in the past—meaning a restoration of the Roman Republic (and its origins in Greek democracy) began with the American revolution.

Aristotle did not write in English.

I’m drawing a distinction between a rebellion or an overthrow of government on the one hand with a “revolution” as a restoration (coming full circle) on the other.

My point was that “revolutionary” does not connote “innocent victims of repressive government” in my mind.

Would you agree (at least) that it could have such a connotation?

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