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,

Orozco's Jesus

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.

5 responses to “Jesus and Barabbas: A Real Mystery”

  1. Wayne Ferguson says :

    Here’s a response from a Jesus Mythicist that might be of interest:

    With regard to the temptations of Christ, Letter VI of “Meditations on the Tarot” is worth a look:

    • Scott Preston says :

      Interesting. I was originally looking into the symbolism of the mountain, because one of the “pitches” of the ad industry is called “Top of the Mountain” pitch (which I’ll probably get to in due course) and it brought to mind the third temptation, in the course of looking into I came upon the “Barabbas” thing, which knocked me for a loop, I have to say, because then I made the connection between this “Jesus Barabbas” and Orozco’s portrayal of the insurgent Christ.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Thinking about this further… I suppose if we want to think of this episode of the two Jesuses as an historical and logical event, and not a mythic event, that there could have been two men presented to the people both named Jesus. It was probably a common enough name at the time.

      And it could well be that both claimed to be “son of the Father” — the messiah foretold to deliver Israel — because there were, in fact, a lot of messiahs around Israel at the time of the Roman occupation.

      And it could be that one Jesus “son of the Father” and the other Jesus “son of the Father” were pacifist and militant, respectively, and that this was the choice put to the assembled throng, who chose the militant Jesus — the resistance leader — over the pacifist Jesus, who may have well been seen as a collaborator with the occupation. In any case, by the third century, apparently, the confusion over the name “Jesus Barabbas” had become too much, and they church truncated it to just “Barabbas”.

      What I don’t know is whether, by that truncation, they really confused things, or clarified things. The issue here is whether we’re in the midst of a “both/and” logic typical of the mythical or an “either/or” logic typical of the mental.

  2. mikemackd says :

    Another interesting aspect is that over a billion people (Muslims) are taught that Jesus was not crucified.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Well… the Barabbas surprise sent me back to the Seth books, because Seth speaks at some length (somewhere I’ll eventually get to) about Three Christs — Jesus of Nazareth, Saul, and a third (possibly the Baptist) as all connected. And Seth also states that the Jesus that was condemned and crucified wasn’t Jesus of Nazareth, but another Messianic figure among many common at the time which, if true, certainly throws a wrench in the works — in fact, a VERY BIG wrench, if true. But if true, could well be linked to the mystery of the “two Jesuses”. Seth also states somewhere that the Christ event was an intersection of the historic with the mythic — a “bleed through event” I think he called it. I never paid much attention to that, but now I feel drawn back to it.

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