The Barabbas Event Revisited: A Review

“The Release of Barabbas Revisited” by Roger David Aus. Pages 135-170 in “Caught in the Act,” Walking on the Sea, and the Release of Barabbas Revisited. South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism No. 157. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998.

In chapter three of his book “Caught in the Act,” Roger David Aus revisits the Barabbas episode appearing in Mark 15:6-15//Matt 27:15-26//Luke 23:18-25//John 18:39-40. (Aus previously searched for the background to this incident in the Biblical book of Esther in Barabbas and Esther and Other Studies in the Judaic Illumination of Earliest Christianity, South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism No. 54, Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992.) The author makes a compelling case for tracing the origins of this enigmatic episode to passages from Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews and Jewish War. The War, as Aus notes, was originally composed in Aramaic, a version now lost. It was recompiled in Greek with the help of King Herod Agrippa II and published 75-79 C.E.  The Antiquities was later composed 93-94 C.E. Both volumes recount numerous events in Israel’s history and serve as our only source for certain events of the second temple period and the Jewish Revolt.

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