Saturday, January 15, 2011

Public Service Announcement

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

The governor answered and said unto them, "Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?"

They said, "Barabbas".

Pilate saith unto them, "What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?"

They all say unto him, "Let him be crucified."

And the governor said, "Why, what evil hath he done?"

But they cried out the more, saying, "Let him be crucified."

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."

Then answered all the people, and said, "His blood be on us, and on our children."

Matthew 27 15-25

When St Matthew says that "all the people" cired out "Let (Jesus) blood be on us and on our children" he presumably means "all the people who were gathered outside Pilate's residence" -- "the multitude" who the Priests have persuaded to vote for Barabas and against Jesus. 

He doesn't, so far as I can see mean "all the people in the middle- east" or "all the people in the whole wide world."

If we read this dispassionately, we would infer that Matthew thought that the responsibility for Jesus death lay with the mob who actually called for his death, not with the magistrate who sentenced him to death or the soldiers who executed him. We would take him to be saying that the consequences of this guilt would fall either on them (the people who actually called for Jesus to be killed) or on the next generation (their children).

We would also note that in the preceeding chapter, Jesus warned of an earth-shaking apocalypse which would occur within the lifetimes of those who had actually heard him preach. We would conclude  that Matthew thought that Jesus thought that something very terrible was going to happen in Jerusalem within thirty or forty years of the death of Jesus. Say, around AD 70 or so.


Mario NC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mario NC said...

Say Andrew, what do you think about Freud's "Moses and Monotheism"?

Salisbury said...

He doesn't, so far as I can see mean "all the people in the middle- east" or "all the people in the whole wide world."

Given that Matthew, it appears, is writing poetically, I can easily see how that latter conclusion might be drawn.

I'd like to take you up on the revelatory accuracy of Matthew 24 et al, but I'm not exactly sure where to pitch the debate, and fear it turning into a pointless exercise in meta-exegesis.

Kevin Cowtan said...

Well, it all depends on whether Matthew was writing before or after AD70, doesn't it? Which is why Mark 13 is potentially more interesting.

Is this all apropos of anything?

Andrew Rilstone said...

A lot of newspapers seem to be talking about "blood libels" right about now, for some reason.

Kevin Cowtan said...

Oh. I've been avoiding that story. It's too depressing.

Andrew Stevens said...

What does blood libel have to do with this post? Your post is about refuting the claim of deicide which has been used to oppress Jews over the centuries. Blood libel is a considerably different matter. Of course, it's pretty clear that Sarah Palin didn't know what it meant either, so you're in fine company.

Andrew Rilstone said...

The English newspapers have certainly been saying "Blood Libel means the bit in Matthews gospel where all the Jews are said to be to blame for the death of Jesus; and the medieval idea that Jews mixed the blood of infants with their sacrifices."

Andrew Stevens said...

Stephen Bates is simply and clearly mistaken (so the list of people who don't know what blood libel means continues to grow). The term "blood libel" refers only to the latter charge - the claim that Jews ritually sacrifice children and use their blood for their own rituals (to make matzo for Passover or some other purpose). It doesn't even necessarily have anything to do with Christianity - the first blood libels against Jews were made by pagans before the birth of Christ. (Not all blood libels are made against Jews, either, though they've been the favorite target for the last 2000 years.) The charge of deicide is completely separate.

Andrew Rilstone said...


Sorry to have wasted your bandwidth.