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Pilate and Barabbas

I have received a number of interesting responses to my comments about Pontius Pilate, the Romans’ use of crucifixion, and the likelihood that, as a rule, Romans did not allow decent burials for the victims but left them to scavenging birds and animals — helpless, defenseless, and in agony.   A couple of people have suggested that since Pilate had the custom of releasing a prisoner to the crowds during the Passover, this would show a basic interest in placating the crowds and might suggest that he would indeed be willing to observe Jewish custom and law by removing the bodies and allowing for proper burial. This account of Pilate’s willingness is, of course, in all the Gospels (Matthew and Luke have picked it up from Mark) (it is not in the fragment of the Gospel of Peter that we have).

I appreciate this comment, and I realize that there was something going on in the back of my mind that I should have put up front even before I started talking about Pilate not caring twit about Jewish custom and law.  That is that I think the story of him releasing a prisoner is completely apocryphal, and the Gospel narrative about Barabbas being preferred by the crowds is not historical, but legendary.

I have several reasons for thinking so.  For one thing,….

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  1. Just Sayin'  October 22, 2012

    This sounds too much like “It’s counter-evidence to my main view, therefore it must be apocryphal.”

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  October 23, 2012

      Actually, I thought this long before I thought what I think about the empty tomb, Joseph of Arimathea, and the rest.

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