Jesus and Barabbas: A Real Mystery
I was doing some research this morning into the third temptation of Christ, as part of my investigation of “marketing 3.0”. And in the the course of that research — the purpose of which I’ll make clear later — I came across this curious and very mysterious issue connected with the trial of Jesus by Pontius Pilate.
I’m sure you are all familiar with the tale. The authorities submit the condemned men, Jesus and the “robber” Barabbas, to the judgement of the crowd and ask which they would have freed. It was, according to some records a custom during Passover known as the Paschal Pardon. The crowd yells “Give us Barabbas”, subsequently sealing the fate of Jesus.
Here things get very murky indeed, because up until the third century of the Christian Era, the full name of “Barabbas” was recorded and known as “Jesus Barabbas”, and the very name “Barabbas” means “son of the father” — bar Abba.
Whoa! What’s going on here? Jesus the Nazarene and Jesus Barabbas appear to be different avatars of one and the same Christ. And although Jesus Barabbas is referred to as a “robber” or a “bandit”, it was because it was customary for the authorities to refer to insurrectionists or the Zealots as “bandits”. That is still current propaganda practice, since the Sandanista revolutionaries in Nicarauga and the FMLN in El Salvador were officially portrayed as “bandits” and common criminals to delegitimise their political grievances.
It hardly makes sense that the Jewish throng would appeal for the release of a thief and a robber. It does make sense if this “Barabbas” was a hero of the Jewish resistance to Roman occupation, while the other Jesus had taught non-resistance: “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s” and to “resist not evil”, and had told his followers that if a Roman soldier compelled them to carry his pack a mile, they should carry it two miles. And it would account for why Pontius Pilate was aggrieved by the decision of the crowd — that he had to release a Jesus who was a threat to the Roman occupation, but condemn another to crucifixion who apparently was not a threat to the Roman occupation.
(Wikipedia, as I discovered, has an article on this issue of the two Jesuses which is inconclusive about whether it’s a parable, mythical, or an actual historical event).
As parable, we recognise here the issue of Gebser’s “polar” nature of the soul characteristic of Myth Time and mythical narrative. But as “history” and Historical Time (and that means, the mental-rational consciousness and Mental Time) we’re faced with conundrum. Jesus Barabbas appears to be the alter ego of Jesus of Nazareth or vice versa — one the more apolitical Jesus who teaches “seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all things shall be added unto you” and another Jesus, the political and insurrectionary Jesus, who seeks to establish the Kingdom of God on earth by force — expel the occupiers, toss out the kleptocrats! This “other Jesus”, Jesus Barabbas, brings to mind Jose Clemente Orozco’s famous mural, “The Modern Migration of the Spirit”, that depicts Jesus as revolutionary, chopping down the cross on which he was crucified, while the rubble of history lies behind him,
That’s Jesus Barabbas there. The mystery here is that one Jesus was sacrificed, but the other Jesus set free, and it is been largely the spirit of Jesus Barabbas that has marched down through history as the insurrectionary and revolutionary spirit, suggesting that this was the “plan” all along. For it is the spirit of Jesus Barabbas that speaks behind the words of Epheseus 6: 12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Of course, the Roman authorities and the ruling classes of the day would have looked upon that as just and legitimate cause to suppress and persecute the Christians. The early Christians were not as politically innocent as the mythology portrays. They were clearly insurrectionary. They weren’t going to put up with what we today would call “dark money” or “dark power”.
A tale of two Jesuses. It seems impossible. It’s mind-boggling. But nobody has yet managed to account for it and it has, in any case, escaped everyone’s attention until recently it seems.