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Featured Open to anyone: Question about Barabbas in the gospels.

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Brickjectivity, Nov 25, 2021 at 7:27 AM.

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  1. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    I notice that 'Barabbas' is not a personal name like 'Peter' or 'John' but means 'Son of Rabbas'. It implies something, but I can't determine what it is. Why not just use the man's name? If his name is 'Jack' then just say 'Jack' not 'Son of Shakespeare' -- unless you are trying to shade your story with connotations from Shakespeare's name! I cannot translate 'Rabbas' and think Lexicons are insufficient to do so. Maybe it means Barrabas doesn't have a personal name, yet. Could it be he's not 13 years old, yet? Whatever the reason is, I'd like some ideas. His name supports one theme or another; but I just don't know yet. The answer is probably in a book somewhere. Anyways, 'Barrabas' appears in all four gospels. This means he is important, and the meaning of his name matters. Why don't I know the meaning?

    Clues? Comments? Treasures from the vault? Can the names of quantum particles spell out the name Barabbas? Have you ever met a horse named Barabbas? C'mon and brainstorm.

    [Mat 27:16 NIV] 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas.
    [Mar 15:7 NIV] 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising.
    [Luk 23:19 NIV] 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
    [Jhn 18:40 NIV] 40 They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.
     
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  2. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Please keep it friendly. Thank you.
     
  3. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    Wikipedia is always a good starting point for this kind of thing and does seem to have answers to several of your questions; Barabbas - Wikipedia
     
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  4. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    I believe that the use of 'Son of . . . can be considered a personal name as in Johnson.

    Though in Wiki "Barabbas' name appears as bar-Abbas in the Greek texts of the gospels. It is derived ultimately from the Aramaic בר-אבא, Bar-abbâ, "son of the father"

    All that can be concluded about Barabbas (important?) is as he is described in the Gospels; a rebel against Rome, and pardoned by Roman authorities as the choice when Jesus was convicted of treason against Rome for claiming to fulfill prophecy and being the King of the Jews.
     
    #4 shunyadragon, Nov 25, 2021 at 7:59 AM
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021 at 11:43 AM
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  5. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    "Barabbas": "Bar" (son) + "Abbas"/"Abba" (father)... "son of the father."

    I tend to assume that it isn't a coincidence that the story pits two "sons of the father" against each other. I think this is a deliberate rhetorical device... in fact, I think this entire passage is a complete fabrication (AFAIK, there's no sign in any extra-biblical source that "Passover pardons" were a thing), which implies that all of the details are deliberate attempts to express some sort of meaning.

    What the meaning of the two "sons of the father" is, though... I'm not sure.
     
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  6. Lain

    Lain An Intervallic Time Traveler

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    I've always thought his name meant "son of the father" and because the Israelites wanted him and not the actual Eternal Son of the Father the Church just reeled in the irony of it all so hard it became a huge inside-meme and so that's why we have it in all four Gospels.

    Perhaps also a play on "your father the devil" or the "snake-illegitimates" thing that comes up, because the Lord Jesus was called illegitimate and His Father was God Himself.

    Editing in Patristic comments which will be more helpful:

    St. Ambrose of Milan: "Not unreasonably do they seek the pardon of a murderer, who were themselves demanding the death of the innocent. Such are the laws of iniquity, that what innocence hates, guilt loves. And here the interpretation of the name affords a figurative resemblance, for Barabbas is in Latin, the son of a father. Those then to whom it is said, You are your father the Devil, are represented as about to prefer the true Son of God the son of their father, that is, Anti-Christ."

    St. Alcuin of York: "The name Barabbas signifies, The son of their master; i.e. the devil; his master in his wickedness, the Jews’ in their perfidy."

    St. Hilary of Poitier: "At the desire of the Priests the populace chose Barabbas, which is interpreted ‘the son of a Father,’ thus shadowing forth the unbelief to come when Antichrist the son of sin should be preferred to Christ."

    These are the main comments in St. Thomas' Catena Aurea on the Gospels which connect the name to the event and give an explanation of why it happened. Basically what I said but more clear/better. Irony and typology.

    All the above said in my opinion of course.
     
    #6 Lain, Nov 25, 2021 at 8:27 AM
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021 at 9:44 AM
  7. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    It's hard for me to accept an interpretation where "Barabbas" doesn't also refer to Jesus... i.e. some sort of meta-message about how trying to free Jesus aould actually condemn him, or something like that.
     
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  8. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    I can't tell you about Barabbas specifically, but in the late Second Temple Era and the Talmudic Era, it was very common to refer to people by various sorts of nicknames, together with by their father's names. I mentioned nicknames because oftentimes people had nicknames that looked like it was the name of their father, but really wasn't. It signified a certain trait about them.
     
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  9. Lain

    Lain An Intervallic Time Traveler

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    That's a good one too.
     
  10. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    The Barrabas narrative makes little sense if taken literally, but can make sense if viewed from the perspective of the growing rift between Jews who became "Christian" [that label was not used by the Church itself until later] and the majority who stayed loyal to basic Judaism.
     
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  11. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    Barabbas’s given name was Jesus. Flip sides of the same coin? One Jesus who taught of the otherworldly kingdom, the other Jesus who thought only of the earthly kingdom? Just a thought.
     
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  12. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Why would both of them be described as "son of the father"?
     
  13. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    The story recounts a very sinister scenario. The Roman is mocking Judaism, because he is sacrificing a prisoner at Passover (Pesach). In a way he is claiming to have replaced the priests with a perverse priesthood that kills men. He's claiming that killing people is good and brings life, and he's making the public participate. He does it every year in the story, demanding that the people choose a man to live. He can force them to participate, I assume; because they must choose or both will die. But they only get to save one. To save a life they participate. This isn't spelled out in the story, but it seems to be the way things must work in that situation and explains what motivation a Roman might use to get the people to participate in a ritual which mocks their way of life.

    You won't see that in the movies. In the movies the Jews always participate willingly, even insanely. Its a black mark on us that this has been the case in several films about the crucifixion and in passion plays. We're so spiteful and ready to assume the worst.
     
  14. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    I think the whole story is metaphorical. Two different potential outcomes... an earthly messiah or a spiritual one depending on whom Pilate freed? Just thoughts.
     
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  15. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Good point. Perhaps it can be just a name.

    Yes, but it doesn't explain why two insurrectionists would be put forward instead of just two common thieves. Why let any insurrectionists go? I'd kill them both and use lesser criminals for my amusement.
     
  16. mangalavara

    mangalavara Verified Account ✔
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    His name in Greek is Βαραββάς (Barabbás) whereas in Aramaic it is בר אבא (Bar Abba).
     
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  17. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    The wikipedia article also said it could mean 'Son of the teacher'. I think if it is 'Son of the Teacher' then it is a slam against the master-student relationship; because that would fit in with other things Jesus has said and done. Uncircumcision is one of the major waypoints of catholicism. To be catholic you don't have to be circumcised, and this reverses a major practice of Jews that has to do with training people properly in the Torah. "Son of the teacher" is rejected even though his life is saved, so this could mean (I'm not saying it does) that its about circumcision. Saving him and killing Jesus is a kind of rejection, since he and Jesus Christ are put forward as two goats. Christ is the one to be consumed while Barabbas is the scape goat. The presence of Barabbas in all four gospels could be about allowing uncircumcised people into Jewish families in other words.

    I think the above idea sort of works with what you are talking about, with the scapegoats thing.
     
    #17 Brickjectivity, Nov 25, 2021 at 9:29 AM
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021 at 9:38 AM
  18. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    I assume there is a growing rift but am unfamiliar with the specifics. I'm terribly ignorant about much of History. I also don't know much about the Jewish process, and recently I conspired an idea that the Jewish councils may have decided to put the Christians on a multi-century trial. I don't know why, in the first place, there would be a growing rift as opposed to a complete rejection from the get-go. Why were Christians allowed into synagogues? Some have said that it takes centuries for the Jewish process to allow changes, and so maybe that is how it is. Maybe the councils decided they had to give Christianity a chance to prove itself, and so maybe instead of a growing rift there was more of a long trial period. I'd like to hear a learned person's objection to that idea.
     
  19. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Thanks! It is one of the options. Metaphorical is my favorite option, though I hope it would not be about an earthly versus spiritual. I'd prefer it to be something simple and something that would move all Christians towards being a more open and close family. Perhaps it might be something that lets us overlook faults in each other or that would show us that the passage is indeed metaphorical.
     
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  20. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Probably because Jesus' take on the Law was VERY liberal but not totally unheard of. Hillel the Elder got pretty close but stopped just short of where Jesus went.

    We don't know to the extent they were or weren't because there are no records that have been found as far as I know. We do know that followers of "the Way" [first name of the early Church] became increasingly unwelcome at the Temple though.

    Depends on which "changes" one may be referring to. The Law is the Law, so that cannot be changed, but interpretations [Jewish "commentary"] and applications can and sometimes do change.
     
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