So Mark 15:9:
And so Matthew 27:17 :
I am persuaded, by this article of Couchoud/Sthal, that the Barabbas episode's function is a polemic against some Christian rivals - not necessarily Gnostics - who adored yes a Jesus Son of Father, but not one identified with the (Jewish) Christ.
But while this is particularly true for Matthew 27:17, since the Jesus opposed to Barabbas is explicitly shown as the one "called Christ'' (while Barabbas is named explicitly ''Jesus Barabbas'' to emphasize even more the contrast between the two), I am going to doubt that ''Mark'' (author) had a similar intention about the function of the Barabbas episode, insofar the Jesus opposed to Barabbas is in Mark 15:9 introduced as ''the king of the Jews'' and not as ''called Christ".
In particular, I think that ''Matthew'' (editor) deliberately changed the markan ''king of the Jews'' in ''called Christ'', for the more obvious anti-marcionite function: the crucified Jesus was the Jewish Christ, period.
The question thus is raised for Mark:against whom was "Mark" polemizing, by inventing the first time the Barabbas episode?
Surely the reasonable premise is that ''Mark'' was polemizing against Christians who didn't like to identify Jesus with ''the king of the Jews'', even if they identified Jesus with the Jewish Christ.
So, ''the king of the Jews" ≠ ''Christ''.
The answer, I think, is to be found in the famous inscription:
The irony of the passage, when read in the light of Mark 1, is evident:
For Mark, the "Kingdom of God" (on the Jews themselves) is realized by the crucifixion of the Son of God. But the basic feature of this ''Kingdom of God'' is that it was preached in advance by an itinerant Jesus. The itinerant Jesus was invented by ''Mark'' for the first time.
Therefore, who wanted free Barabbas had to allegorize predictably, in the real History, these Christians who would have rejected immediately as blasphemy the ''kingdom of God'' preached on the earth by the same ''king of the Jews''.
These Christians adored a Jesus Son of Father who was guilty of murder. This Jesus Son of Father was not crucified.
We know which Jesus, in all the NT books, was particularly (in)famous for both the his Zealot ferocity and anti-Romanism. And famous also for not being notoriously a crucified Christ. And in surprising addition, a Jesus who was connected someway with the Jewish Passover.
So, invented originally by ''Mark'' as polemical episode against the celestial not-crucified Christ-Lamb of the Apocalypse (not a historical figure), the Barabbas episode was transformed by ''Matthew'' in an anti-marcionite episode.
Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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