Where do we begin with this one?
If we are erudite in our search for knowledge and wisdom, then we come to the ultimate conclusion that this never happened in recorded history. Just because the text of the Bible says certain things a certain way, doesn’t mean that those things are historically and factually accurate. We have to be willing to walk away from the herd sometimes to actually get to the truth of well, anything. This is no different.
One thing to know about the image above, there aren’t any records of Pontius Pilate ever turning over a prisoner or prisoners to an angry mob once a year. Pilate wasn’t a prolific writer but he did document happenings within the Roman Empire that pertained to him as well as many other things. There is abundant proof of that.
Before diving in, let’s define what exactly Yom Kippur is. To begin with, it’s important to note that it’s the single most holy day in all of Judaism. It’s the day of atonement for a year’s worth of sin. This sin, in olden days via the Temple Cult, is atoned by the sacrificing of two goats, one for Yahweh/Jehovah, and one for receiving the sins of the past year. The belief being that the blood of the one pure goat will appease Yahweh/Jehovah enough to stop him from being angry at the Jews and incurring his wrath in some way. That’s it in a nutshell but you can dig deeper here if that’s your thing.
Anyway, one of the goats would be lucky enough to receive all of the intentional sins of the Israelites and forced into the wilderness and chased off a cliff to die a gruesome death to atone for these sins – the origin of the word “scapegoat“. This poor goat would “take away” the sin and “destroy it”. The other goat would be sacrificed on an alter and the blood sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant. Next year, we do it all again! Thankfully, Judaism did eventually modernize itself and move away from this practice. Christianity gained momentum in that Jesus was seen as the ultimate sacrifice to God. It did away for the need to sacrifice and replaced it with the repentant individual asking for forgiveness, and that’s, for the most part, all that was required. That’s one of the reasons for the rise of Christianity – it was just easier to attain salvation this way than to have to deal with all of the abundant requirements of being Torah (Old Testament) observant.
Now that you have a basic knowledge of what Yom Kippur is, you should be able to begin to see what the Biblical narrative surrounding Bar Abbas and Jesus is really all about, which is really just Yom Kippur 2.0. You see, many people were getting tired of Judaism for many reasons, some of which I listed above. The religion needed to be updated to gain followers. That’s where Christianity comes in, essentially Judaism 2.0, new and improved!
Let’s talk about Bar Abbas for a moment. Did you know that some of the earliest texts actually say “Jesus Bar Abbas” instead of “Bar Abbas”? Origen Adamantius, an early Christian scholar and theologian, actually corroborates this. That makes a lot more sense now and we can see how this evolved from Yom Kippur to this scene in the Bible. We now have two Jesus characters just like we have two goats. Jesus Bar Abbas is the goat “chased off the cliff” that receives the sins of the Israelites, and the other Jesus becomes the blood sacrifice that is acceptable to God. The Gospel writers, whomever they were, did a nice job of converting Jews to Christianity with this scene depicted in Gospel of Matthew.
Now, with newfound eyes, you can make sense of the Biblical narrative that follows.
Matthew 27:15-26 KJV
15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Always remember that this isn’t actual history, just classic mythmaking with a high degree of skill that was used to manipulate those people that didn’t know any better and had no way during this era of fact checking any of it.
There you have it, folks. See you in the next article!