This thread is a branch of the Minor, Trivial Stuff thread with a specific theme: the minor details of the events of the Passion of Jesus. As with the other thread, comments and contributions are welcome!
Here’s something to start up the thread (taken from the other thread):
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.
Matthew 27:15-18 (ESV)
Many commentators note the irony in the name Barabbas, noting the similarity of -abbas with 'abba ‘father’, thus yielding ‘son of [the] father’. This irony becomes much more stronger when we note that several Greek manuscripts of Matthew’s Gospel have Iēsous Barabbas, “Jesus Barabbas” - which is believed by a number of scholars to be more likely the original reading, with Iēsous being deleted either accidentally or on purpose:
Although the external evidence for the inclusion of “Jesus” before “Barabbas” (in vv. 16 and 17) is rather sparse, being restricted virtually to the Caesarean text (Θ Ë1 700* pc sys), the omission of the Lord’s name in apposition to “Barabbas” is such a strongly motivated reading that it can hardly be original. There is no good explanation for a scribe unintentionally adding ᾿Ιησοῦν (Iēsoun) before Βαραββᾶν (Barabban), especially since Barabbas is mentioned first in each verse (thus dittography is ruled out). Further, the addition of τὸν λεγόμενον Χριστόν (ton legomenon Christon, “who is called Christ”) to ᾿Ιησοῦν in v. 17 makes better sense if Barabbas is also called “Jesus” (otherwise, a mere “Jesus” would have been a sufficient appellation to distinguish the two).
- NET footnote for Matthew 27:19
Some controversial authors like Hyam Maccoby, Richard Carrier, and Benjamin Urrutia think that ‘Jesus Barabbas’ was a mere invention of the early Christian Church, perhaps as part of an agenda to shift the blame for the death of Jesus away from the Romans and more to Jews and that it originally referred to Jesus Himself. The term Barabbas, according to Maccoby, from his custom of addressing God as Abba in his prayers, or else as a form of the rabbinic honorific Berab.
The original scenario, according to Maccoby, was that the group gathered in Pilate’s praetorium originally wanted Jesus to be set free, but Pilate would have none of this and sentenced Him to death anyway. Anti-Semitic elements in the Christian church, the argument goes, altered the narrative to make it appear that the demand was for the freedom of somebody else named “Barabbas”.
Even so, the name or the person himself need not be invented, as the use of 'Abba as a proper name is attested in 6th- or 5th-century B.C. texts, in one near-contemporary funerary inscription from near Jerusalem (ca. 110 BC - AD 100) and in rabbinic literature*. Some believe, meanwhile, that Barabbas should be reconstructed as bar-Rabban, ‘son of the teacher’ or ‘son of the master’. Nor is Iēsous (probably derived from Late Hebrew/Aramaic Yeshua, in turn from Yehoshua, whence came our ‘Joshua’) a unique name; Josephus lists nearly a dozen men named Iēsous, and the name Yeshua appears in at least 99 tombs and on 22 ossuaries dating from the 1st century.
- For example, the 3rd century Talmudist Rabbi 'Abba Arika, Samuel of Nehardea (aka Samuel bar-'Abba), Nathan bar-'Abba, and Hiyya and Simeon bar-'Abba.
There was in fact a story in the Babylonian Talmud (Berakoth 18b) which goes:
Come and hear: the father of Samuel had some money belonging to orphans deposited with him. When he died, Samuel was not with him, and they called him, ‘The son who consumes the money of orphans’.
So he went after his father to the cemetery, and said to them [the dead], “I am looking for Abba.” They said to him, “There are many Abbas here.”
“I want Abba bar-Abba,” he said. They replied, “There are also several Abbas bar-Abba here.”
He then said to them, “I want Abba bar-Abba the father of Samuel; where is he?”
They replied: "He has gone up to the Academy of the Sky." …]