Textual Variants You Never See in Bibles


#1

I should first say that this is a really geeky subject. But then again, I mostly only seem to make threads about geeky subjects anyway. :smiley:

I’m talking about those textual variants that are almost never (or totally never) included or even mentioned in popular Bibles, specifically those in the New Testament - the gospels in particular.

It’s popular knowledge that the New Testament in particular has many textual variants. We don’t know the exact number, but it’s somewhere around 200,000 at the very least; it might even be as high as 400,000 to 750,000. A good deal of these textual variants are really differences in spelling and grammar - not exactly translatable. Out of the ‘meaningful’ textual variants, some of these get noted in the footnotes of Bibles (or at times even included in the text): the doxology at the end of the Our Father in Matthew 6 (“For thine is the kingdom…”) is a good example of this.

However, many more are not included (to be fair, some of these variants you can only find in one or two manuscripts), and so are usually not really ‘public knowledge’: you’d have to crack open a Greek New Testament to find them. (And even then, said Greek NT does not necessarily list all the available variants of the text out there: just the more interesting ones. ;))

I’d like to introduce a few of the more interesting / ‘juicy’ less-known textual variants.


#2

1.) "Father, yield to them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34)

Nowadays, many of us often think that the famous prayer of Luke’s Jesus on the cross (“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”) refers to the Roman soldiers who actually nailed Jesus to the cross. But this wasn’t always the case.

In early Christianity, it was usually assumed that the “they” / “them” referred to those Jews who handed Jesus over to death: in effect, Jesus was asking God to forgive what they had done due to their ignorance (of who Jesus is?) Occasionally, some authors do universalize the sin of the crucifixion (the whole “We put Jesus to the cross” thing), but when a specific culprit is to be named, early Christians usually pointed to “the Jews.” (We only have a single exception to this rule, and even then, the author of this exception had his own motives for doing so.) This was how the verse was generally read by authors such as St. Hippolytus and Origen to St. Ambrose.

So the question is: did God actually answer Jesus’ prayer? Now early Christians ran into a problem, because it was a common trope in early Christianity that the aftermath of the two Jewish-Roman Wars (AD 66-70, 132-136) - the destruction of Jerusalem in 70, the majority of the Jewish population of Judea being killed or exiled or sold into slavery in 136 - were a sign of God’s displeasure against “the Jews” for their rejection of Jesus. To them it was a sign that they (the Christians) were right all along.

Now if God did forgive the Jews who did not believe in Jesus, then these events should not have happened in the first place. But if God did not forgive “the Jews,” does that mean that Jesus’ prayer failed? As the 6th-century bishop Hypatius of Ephesus said it, if the Jews were not forgiven, then either “the Christ, though he prayed earnestly, did not receive an answer, or he did not really pray.”

This was where early Christians tried to square in their interpretation of the prayer with this thinking (at times admittedly in a rather forced/contrived way).

  • In one interpretation, God did forgive the Jewish people, but they continued to be recalcitrant by not accepting Jesus and so were punished anyway.
  • In another interpretation (which could go hand-in-hand with the first one), Jesus’ prayer secured not so much true forgiveness but a forty-year ‘waiting period’ during which the Jews could have repented. At the end of that period, the majority of Jews still failed to accept Jesus, and Jerusalem was destroyed as a result.
  • In yet another interpretation, Jesus simply said those words because He was just feeling a sort of pity and sorrow for the Jews, who will suffer as a result of their rejection of Him (a la Moses’ pity for the Egyptians and Isaac’s pity of the cheated Esau)
  • A few writers even went so far as to interpret the prayer as a declaration that the ignorant Jews had been superseded (so St. Ambrose) or even to juxtapose it with Psalm 59:5 (“And you, Lord God of hosts, God of Israel, pay attention to visiting all the nations; pity none of those who practice lawlessness”), which was interpreted as a plea to not forgive the “lawless” Jews for what they did to Jesus and to “pay attention” to “the nations” instead (so Theodoret)

Some other Christians had more clever tactics of how to deal with the prayer.

In a number of manuscripts (including a couple of early ones), the whole prayer is essentially omitted, which leads into a debate as to whether the prayer is even authentically Lukan or not. (“It’s not in a couple of earlier, reliable manuscripts, so Luke couldn’t have written it.” “But it’s very consistent with the rest of the gospel, and most of the other witnesses apparently do know it, so what if those early manuscripts simply happened to omit it?”) Assuming that the text is original and that the manuscripts which omit it were secondary, why was the prayer deleted? Who knows, maybe some Christians found the saying too hard?

Another way was to simply reword the passage: changing the verb ἄφες aphes “forgive” into συγχώρησον synchōrēson “yield to,” “permit,” “grant.” While both words share the same semantic range and could mean to ‘forgive’ someone or ‘leave him alone’ or ‘permit’ him to do something, the default word for ‘to forgive’ in early Christianity was aphiēmi rather than synchōrēō. This variant manages to keep some of the semantics of aphiēmi while explicitly avoiding using the word for ‘forgive’, thus avoiding the difficulty (for early Christians) that God forgave “the Jews.” In other words, instead of “Forgive them for their ignorance,” Jesus is pretty much made to say, “Let them have their way because they’re ignorant.”

We have no extant manuscripts with this reading right now, but writers like St. Epiphanius of Salamis, St. Gregory of Nyssa (using this textual variant, Gregory praises Jesus’ patience rather than His forgiveness on the cross) and Philagathus of Cerami (10th century) all quote the prayer with the “yield” variant, suggesting that there were manuscripts which contained this text once.

For more about the whole colorful history behind the early Christian struggle with Jesus’ prayer, here’s Nathan Eubank’s article about it.

A Disconcerting Prayer: On the Originality of Luke 23:34a


#3

There is one thing I never quite understood about all of this. According to Christian belief, wasn’t the death of Jesus required by G-d for the atonement of the sins of humanity? If this is the case, then whoever was responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion, the Jews and/or the Romans, were not really guilty of anything, in a sense, but instead were acting in keeping with G-d’s plan? IOW, if Jesus had not been crucified, would there have been an atonement in some other manner?


#4

The satisfaction theory of atonement is only one of several that developed over the centuries. As a theory, it is relatively new (~1000 years, while competing theories are far older) and is not currently in favor among most Catholic theologians. Other, quite vocal, Christian groups do espouse it, however, making it seem to be the dominant thought, but that would be imprecise. Wikipedia actually has a decent introductory article on atonement theories.

As for the other part, we could suppose that atonement could have involved anything, no matter how simple or complex. Naaman’s servant said as much when his master was commanded to bathe in the Jordan for his healing (2 Kings 5). From the Christian perspective, we see the Son give up his life for us. It’s perplexing, given the prohibition on human sacrifice. Yet, that is what it done and we are left to ponder it.


#5

That Jesus died by crucifixion was a sort of liability for the early Christians (a ‘stumbling block’), because obviously crucifixion was the most shameful form of death. That’s why they kind of reconfigured it and turned it into something that one should be proud of.

One way the early Christians dealt with Jesus’ crucifixion was to present it of course as something foretold in the Scriptures: in other words it was God’s plan all along. A side effect of that ‘scripturalization’ of Jesus’ death is that Jesus is cast in the mold of the OT prophets who condemned the misdeeds of old Israel and were in turn rejected by their fellow Israelites. So when early Christians were condemning “the Jews” for rejecting Jesus, it was a sort of adoption of the OT trope of condemning “Israel” as a whole for rejecting God’s message and persecuting His messengers. The death of Jesus is presented as the last and greatest of the sins Israel had perpetrated against God’s prophets throughout its history.

That’s why early Christians tended to focus more on the Jewish responsibility for the crucifixion than the Roman one, because of that heavy influence of OT language. (That, and because of course the early Christians would not have wanted to get into further trouble with the Romans. Which explains why Pilate sort of became Christian, even a saint, in later Christian imagination: the more Christians were persecuted by the Romans, the more generous their portrait of Pilate became. Conversely, once the Roman Empire became Christian, Christians no longer needed Pilate to legitimize them in the eyes of Romans, and so positive depictions of him lessened from the 4th century onwards. That’s essentially why you have stories of Pilate being martyred for his new Christian faith existing side-by-side with stories of Pilate being disgraced and committing suicide.)

This Christian anti-Jewish rhetoric had its roots of course among the Jewish followers of Jesus. (You’d notice that the two most anti-Jewish gospels, Matthew and John, are also the most Jewish of the four gospels.) In other words, they’re calling out their own people for rejecting Jesus. Now when Christianity became more and more predominantly gentile, these gentile Christians inherited the rhetoric. But this time, it’s not quite the same anymore, coming from their lips. The words “You rejected/killed Jesus” just doesn’t have the same import when spoken by a Jew towards fellow Jews (which was the case at first), and when spoken by a non-Jew towards Jews (which was generally the case among later generations of Christians). You might say that this was when religious anti-Judaism started to overlap with ethnic anti-Semitism.


#6

Thank you for the information and link, which I will check out.


#7

Thank you for the information on the evolution and contrast of thought on this topic.


#8

Here’s another one.

2.) The Ascending Jesus (Mark 16:4)

There is a 4th-5th century Latin manuscript of Mark and Matthew known as Codex Bobbiensis (named after the town of Bobbio in Italy, where it was originally kept since the 7th century; now the manuscript is in Turin).

Bobbiensis contains a so-called Vetus Latina translation of the gospels (for those who don’t know, Vetus Latina or ‘Old Latin’ refers to a group of Latin translations of biblical books - it isn’t a single translation - made before St. Jerome’s late-4th-early 5th century translations, what later became the Vulgate). According to Bobbio tradition, the manuscript was originally owned by the founder of the monastery, the Irish missionary St. Columban. However, the text itself is found to show similarities to the biblical quotations found in the writings of St. Cyprian of Carthage (died AD 258). Because of this, scholars think that this manuscript may represent a translation close to the one Cyprian used and so point to a North African origin for the manuscript.

The manuscript itself is rather badly-written (words are often misspelled, in some cases the wrong words are even used; since the manuscript is usually regarded as having been copied from an earlier papyrus scroll, this was probably the fault of the copyist trying to decipher the manuscript). As for the text, well, to put it simply, it’s rather unique.

The most obvious one is its inclusion of the so-called “shorter (or intermediate) ending” added directly to Mark 16:8 (“but they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And afterwards Jesus himself (appeared to them and), through them, sent out from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation”): Greek manuscripts either have the so-called “longer ending” (verses 9-20), omit this longer ending, or contain this “shorter/intermediate ending” after the longer one. Bobbiensis is unique in that it weaves the shorter ending directly to the text, even to the point of deleting the last part of 16:8 (“and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” - which would obviously contradict the very first words of this ending).

But this isn’t the only interesting variant in the manuscript: a few verses just before this one you have an interpolation between 16:3 and 16:4 which presents a sort of ascension by the resurrected Jesus. To give folks some idea of how the text runs, I’ll quote the entirety of Mark 16 as it appears in the manuscript.

(Next post)


#9

[fol.40] et sabba-
to exacto abierunt et adtule-
runt aromata ut eum ungue-
rent et uenerunt prima sab-
bati mane dicentes quis nobis
reuoluet lapidem ab osteo su-
bito · autem ad horam tertiam
tenebrae diei factae sunt per
totum orbem terrae et des-
cenderunt de caelis angeli

[fol.40b] et surgent in claritate uiui dī
simul ascenderunt cum eo
et continuo lux facta est
Tunc illae accesserunt ad mo-
nimentum et uident reuo-
lutum lapidem fuit enim
magnus nimis et cum intro
introissent uiderunt iuue-
nem in dextra sedentem in
dutum stolam albam et hebe-
tes factae sunt ille autem di-
dit ad illas quit stupetis īhs illū
crucifixum . . . . nazorae
um quaeritis surrexit . . . . . .

[fol. 41] CATA MARC.

ecce locus illius ubi fuit positus ·
Sed ite et dicite discipulis ·et petro
praecedo uos in galileam illic me
uidebitis ·sicut uobis dixi illae au-
tem ċụṁ cum exirent a monumē-
to fugerunt·tenebat enim illas·
tremor·et pauor·propter timorē
Omnia autem quaecumque prae-
cepta erant et qui cum puero erant
breuiter exposuerunt posthaec
et ipse hīs adparuit·et ab orientē·
usque·usque in orientem · misit
per illos·sanctam·incorruptam·ha·
salutis aeternae· amen ·

praedicationis

===

(1) And the sabbath having been finished, they went out and brought spices to anoint him. (2-3) And early on the first day of the week, they came, saying, “Who will roll away for us the stone?” *But suddenly, there was darkness over the whole earth at the third hour of the day, and angels descended from the heavens. And as he was rising [reading surgente eo for the MSS’s surgent ‘they arose’] in the glory of the living God, at the same time they ascended with him; and immediately there was light.

(4) Then they went to the tomb and saw the stone rolled away (for it was very great), (5) and going in, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they became weakened. (6) Then he said to them, “Why are you astonished? You seek Jesus the Nazorean who was crucified …] he is risen …] Behold the place where he was laid. (7) But go tell his disciples and Peter, ‘I go before you to Galilee; there you will see me’, just as he told you.”

(8) But going out, they fled from the tomb, for tremor and dread astonishment had seized them. And they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus appeared to them and sent out through them, from east to west, the holy and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.


#10

Quick comment on your first question, is that Catholics do not believe Jesus’ sacrifice was a substitution for our own sins. It was his obedience (to death, even death on a cross (Phi 2:8), this may be contrasted with Adam’s disobedience) and love of God and his fellow man that redeemed mankind. His love is also an image of G-d’s love. Since Christians share in Jesus’ sonship (Catholics see this sharing most intimately in the Eucharist), we are co-heirs and able to share in his glory (provided we share in his suffering (Rom 8:17)). You didn’t mention substitution, I know, but such line of thought is common in many Christian circles and seeps into people’s perspectives, so I thought I’d mention it. There’s this image of God taking out his wrath for sin on Jesus, which is not what Catholics believe. I don’t wish to undermine the image of what happened as a sacrifice and atonement, though, for that’s certainly important too. Regarding accountability, was Pharoah accountable for refusing to let the Israelites go to worship? There’s probably different traditions on that… and it’s probably too off-topic to discuss here.

Now back on topic for me. I’m excited to read through these variants.


#11

I apologize for the above post. It’s more irrelevant than I realized, and the edit time limit (not something I’m used to yet) has expired.


#12

Once you’re done with this, Patrick–you should take on the Hebrew Bible :), for which no one has even ever bothered to compase a critical edition!


#13

No need to apologize; I appreciate the information.


#14

You’ve got to be my favorite writer of geeky threads.:thumbsup:


#15

(4) Then they went to the tomb and saw the stone rolled away (for it was very great), (5) and going in, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they became weakened. (6) Then he said to them, “Why are you astonished? You seek Jesus the Nazorean who was crucified …] he is risen …] Behold the place where he was laid. (7) But go tell his disciples and Peter, ‘I go before you to Galilee; there you will see me’, just as he told you.”

(8) But going out, they fled from the tomb, for tremor and dread astonishment had seized them. And they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus appeared to them and sent out through them, from east to west, the holy and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.

If you compare this to the text of Mark 16 in your Bible, you might notice first of all that the text here tends to be quite shorter. (This is actually a thing you find in a few manuscripts: their scribes made the text more concise by dropping out dispensable words. A famous example of this is the 3rd century Papyrus 45.) And as mentioned earlier, the so-called shorter/intermediate ending of Mark is woven into the text, to the point that verse 8b (“And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”) - which sort of contradicts this ending (“And they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told”) - is deleted.

What really caught the eye of people though was the interpolation between 16:3 and 16:4, which seems to describe an ascension of the resurrected Jesus. (AFAIK this is the only manuscript where this interpolation is found.) The Latin text is a bit corrupt, but we can still get the main gist of the passage:

  • Darkness covers the land “at the third hour of the day”
  • Angels descend from heaven
  • Jesus ascends to heaven accompanied by said angels
  • The light returns

Many scholars have noticed that this interpolation is somewhat similar in tone to the account of the resurrection found in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, where angels also come down from heaven to assist the resurrected Jesus.

But in the night in which the Lord’s day dawned, when the soldiers were safeguarding [the tomb] two by two in every watch, there was a loud voice in heaven; and they saw that the heavens were opened and that two males who had much radiance had come down from there and come near the sepulcher. But that stone which had been thrust against the door, having rolled by itself, went a distance off the side; and the sepulcher opened, and both the young men entered. And so those soldiers, having seen, awakened the centurion and the elders (for they too were present, safeguarding). And while they were relating what they had seen, again they see three males who have come out from they sepulcher, with the two supporting the other one, and a cross following them, and the head of the two reaching unto heaven, but that of the one being led out by a hand by them going beyond the heavens. And they were hearing a voice from the heavens saying, ‘Have you made proclamation to the fallen-asleep?’ And an obeisance was heard from the cross, ‘Yes.’

We can find a similar idea of angels going down in another early (2nd century) Christian work, the Ascension of Isaiah (3.13-17). Here the angels Gabriel and Michael are identified as ones who will fetch the resurrected Jesus.

For Beliar was in great wrath against Isaiah by reason of the vision, and because of the exposure wherewith he had exposed Sammael, and because through him the going forth of the Beloved from the seventh heaven had been made known, and His transformation and His descent and the likeness into which He should be transformed (that is) the likeness of man, and the persecution wherewith he should be persecuted, and the torturers wherewith the children of Israel should torture Him, and the coming of His twelve disciples, and the teaching, and that He should before the sabbath be crucified upon the tree, and should be crucified together with wicked men, and that He should be buried in the sepulchre, and the twelve who were with Him should be offended because of Him: and the watch of those who watched the sepulchre: and the descent of the angel of the Christian Church, which is in the heavens, whom He will summon in the last days. And that (Gabriel) the angel of the Holy Spirit, and Michael, the chief of the holy angels, on the third day will open the sepulchre: and the Beloved sitting on their shoulders will come forth and send out His twelve disciples …]

While it’s hardly likely that the Bobbiensis interpolation is directly based on either of these two works, it is probable that all three works derive from the same tradition.


#16

(Continuing from the last post)

What makes the interpolation even more curious is its reference to “the third hour of the day” - which isn’t consistent with a dawn visit to the tomb. So at one least scholar, D.W. Palmer, wondered: what if this interpolation actually originally described an ‘ascension’ by the crucified Jesus, which was later changed into an ascension by the resurrected Jesus? (Note that in Mark 15:25, Jesus was crucified at “the third hour.”)

You can find a few references which portray Jesus as ‘ascending’ from the cross. Depending on the source, it could either be in a docetic way (either Jesus was spared death by being taken up bodily - it was but an illusion that was hanging on the cross - or the divine ‘Christ’ left its bodily shell, the human Jesus, to die while it ascended back to heaven) or as a metaphor for death / soul ascent (i.e. the soul leaving its body).

The Gospel of Peter in its description of Jesus’ death uses such ascension language (which does leave it open to a docetic interpretation):

Now it was noontime, and darkness held all Judaea fast, and they were troubled and agonized lest the sun had set while he was still alive. (It is written for them: ‘the sun must not set on one who has been murdered.’) And one of them said, “Give him gall with sour wine to drink.” And having mixed it, they gave it to drink: and they fulfilled all things and completed their sins on their own head. Now many, having went about with lamps (assuming that it was night), fell down. And the Lord shouted, saying: “My Power, O Power, you have abandoned me!” And having said this, he was taken up.

In the more docetic Acts of John, John flees the crucifixion to hide in the Mount of Olives, where Jesus - who was at the same time being crucified, or so it seemed to the people - appears to him to give him a special revelation:

And when he was hung upon the cross on Friday, at the sixth hour of the day, darkness came upon all the earth. And my Lord stood in the middle of the cave and lit it up, and said, “John, to the multitude down below in Jerusalem I am being crucified, and pierced with lances and reeds, and gall and vinegar is given me to drink. But to you I speak, and pay attention to what I say. I put it into your mind to come up to this mountain, so that you might hear matters needful for a disciple to learn from his teacher, and for a man to learn from his God.” …]

When he had spoken to me these things and others which I know not how to say as he would have me, he was taken up, without any of the multitude having seen him. And when I went down I laughed them all to scorn, inasmuch as he had told me the things which they have said about him.

A 5th century work called The Questions of Bartholomew (aka ‘Gospel of Bartholomew’) unambiguously describes a (temporary) physical disappearance of Jesus from the cross. The work chalks this disappearance (something which apparently only Bartholomew witnessed) up to His descent into hell (a la the Apostles’ Creed).

And Bartholomew said, “Lord, when you went to be hanged on the cross, I followed you afar off and saw you hung upon the cross, and the angels coming down from heaven and worshiping you. And when there came darkness, I looked and I saw that you vanished away from the cross, and I heard only a voice in the parts under the earth, and great wailing and gnashing of teeth all of a sudden. Tell me, Lord where did you go to from the cross?”

And Jesus answered and said, “Blessed are you, Bartholomew, my beloved, because you saw this mystery; and now I will tell you all things whatsoever you ask me. For when I vanished from the cross, then I went down into Hades that I might bring up Adam and all those who were with him, according to the supplication of Michael the archangel.”

Jesus continues describing how Hades personified and Beliar (= Belial, i.e. Satan) sensed His coming, and how He eventually managed to break into Hades, free all the righteous souls (binding Beliar for good measure) and then return to the cross.

You might notice that all three works share some similarities with the interpolation: the darkness tied in with an ‘ascension’/disappearance of Jesus, and a reference to angels descending (and ascending).


#17

3.) The Two Robbers

If you’ve read your Bible, you know that the two robbers/brigands/revolutionaries crucified with Jesus are never named, which didn’t stop the early Christians from giving them a variety of names (which they often did for the biblical nameless) like ‘Gestas and Di(s)mas’ or ‘Titus and Dumachus’, to name two versions. In fact, in some Vetus Latina translations, the names are added into the text itself.

Codex Colbertinus is a 11th-12th century French New Testament manuscript in Latin. Much of it is the Vulgate NT, although the text of the gospels and Acts are Vetus Latina versions. In Matthew 27:38 and Mark 15:27, Colbertinus reads:

Tunc crucifixerunt cum eo duos latrones, unus a dextris nomine zoatham et unus a sinistris nomine camma.
“Then they crucified with him two robbers, one on the right named Zoatham, and one on the left named Camma.” (Matt. 27:38)

Et crucifixerunt cum eo duos latrones, unum a dextris nomine zoathā et alium a sinistris nomine chammatha.
“And they crucified with him two robbers, one on the right named Zoatha(m?) and another on the left named Chammatha.” (Mk. 15:27)

(Minor quibble: the Nestle-Aland NT (NA27) spells the names for the Markan passage as ‘Zoathan’ and ‘Chammata’. The spelling here is based on the critical edition by Adolf Jülicher.)

A 7th-8th century manuscript of the gospels, Codex Rehdigeranus, has the following in its version of Luke 23:32:

Ducebantur autem et alii duo latrones cum eo ioathas et maggatras ut crucifigerentur.
“And there were also two other robbers led with him, Ioathas and Maggatras, to be crucified.”

The 6th-7th century Codex Usserianus Primus also contains a similar interpolation in its text of Luke. Unfortunately, since the manuscript had suffered heavy damage, only the name of one of the robbers is preserved.

[duceba]ntur autem et alii duo m[aligni] cum illo ut crucifigere[ntur …] et capnatas.
“And there were also two other wicked men led with him to be crucified, (…) and Capnatas.

Similar names are given to the two robbers in three late / early medieval Latin works: Ioaras and Gamatras (Inventiones Nominum, 8th c.), Ionathas and Gomatras (Adrian and Epictus), Matha and Ioca (Pseudo-Bede, Excerpta et Collectanea).


Pseudo-Bede seems to have switched the two names.


#18

I don’t think it’s geeky but that’s just me

Gomatras has got a rather Indic/Mesopotamian feel about it


#19

Thanks. :smiley:

Gomatras has got a rather Indic/Mesopotamian feel about it

It’s still unclear where the names attributed to the two robbers really came from.

At least one early 20th-century scholar suggested that the Latin names may be corrupted versions of a misreading of inscriptions on depictions of the crucifixion. (You might note that many early images tend to have captions on them which identify who is being depicted: even today you can see it on icons.) He claimed that Ioathas (aka Zoatham, Ionathas, Ioaras) is a garbled version of the Latin phrase bonus latro ‘good thief’, while Maggatras (aka Chammatha, Capnatas, Gomatras) was from malus latro ‘evil thief’.

Another scholar suggested meanwhile that Zoatham is from the Syriac word za’tha or za’utha (‘dirt’, ‘impurity’; Ioatha(n) is explained as an alteration made to make it look more like a proper name) while Chammatha was from kamta ‘wrinkle’.

These two theories however are admittedly not convincing enough, so the question is still far from settled.


#20

Right, MB.
Which is why I’m always perplexed why Judas is thought of so negatively, when he was integral to “God’s Plan” and the whole sacrifice story, and Jesus expected him to do what he did.

Also, speaking of “forgiving them”…as we know, many top scholars believe that whole scene with the Jewish crowd calling out for Jesus to be crucified instead of Barabbas never happened.

This so-called custom of releasing a prisoner during Passover is not referenced anywhere else except in the bible–there is no historical source that suggests any Roman official ever did such a thing.
And…of what we know about Pilate…even if it was a custom, he was insensitive to local customs and laws and didn’t care about placating the people.

Philo describes him as having “vindictiveness and furious temper”, and as “naturally inflexible, a blend of self-will and relentlessness”.

And,so…during a time of such agitation, a Roman governor is going to release a dangerous criminal–an enemy of Rome–into the crowd!!!

Totally implausible.

It’s more than upsetting to think that this scene is probably legend, but it fueled very real anti-semitism for many, many centuries after that.

.


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