Barabbas and The Bible

Is Barabbas a fictional character in the Bible?The Bible indicates that the apostles headed for tall timber when Jesus was arrested, and even Peter denied he ever knew him three different times according to all accounts. So who witnessed these confrontations between Jesus and Pilate. Had there been ANY records kept of the incident the would of provided some evidence that Barabbas was a real person. No such evidence exists

.Also at that period of time there was not any tradition of prisoner exchange .This was the passover and had nothing to do with any kind of prisoner getting a free from jail card.It wasnt a Roman tradition either.

To conclude it seems to me that Barabbas was a fictional sort of character.What do we do with it?Why does the bible mentions him if he wasnt even real?Did he played some purpose that the writter though it needed to create a fictional character?Those are important questions and are really challenging i think

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No, I don’t think Barabbas is a fictional character … why would he be? He is mentioned in all four of the gospels (even John). One would have to run through a lot of complicated and far-fetched mental gymnastics to explain his presence in the story if that wasn’t historical.

I did learn something interesting about him in looking him up just now, though. We apparently slur the name together, but should instead think of it as Bar Abbas. As in … “son of”. And then we all know that “Abba” means father. So that does make it interesting that somebody literally referred to as a son of a father was chosen in exchange for the true Son of the Father. We also hear his name referred to in some places as Jesus Barabbas. Maybe Jesus was something of a common name back then - I don’t know. But the name does come up, I think a couple of times in the New Testament for figures other than Jesus himself. And Barabbas is one of them.

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Even then the two questions above still remain.Although i could argue that maybe some Jesus follower was there and heard the talk with Pilate the fact that there wasnt any custom of prisoners getting free at passover says a lot dont you think?

That is true

What makes you think there was never any custom of prisoner release? I would call four separate gospel accounts better record or evidence of an event than we have of most anything else that happened back then.

The question of how we know of Christ’s private conversations is always an interesting one. The same question applies to his exchanges with Satan out in the desert too (which really were much more private). You’re only assuming privacy in the situation with Pilate. Who knows what other attendants were lingering about. Pilate’s wife seemed to have some insight about it. It is interesting to wonder how or through whom Peter or then Mark and the others heard about it though. We don’t know. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. These first-century eye witnesses and those who later put their words in writing were apparently convinced about it, though.

We need extra-biblical evidence though to be assure of it no?

Those who are perpetually in the game-playing need of fact-checking the Bible do, I guess. On anything else from that long ago - having several different sources handy would probably be considered about as rock-solid as it gets by most historians.

Besides - isn’t this a curious thing for which to feel a sudden need of “fact-checking”? I mean … most people will go that extra mile, expend all their scholarly energies bolstering incredible miracle accounts - right on up to the king of all miracles: the resurrection. But to suddenly have doubts about a relatively plausible custom and an irrational, angry crowd? Isn’t that sorta like me telling you “While wearing my green shoes today, I was able to jump fifty feet straight up in the air!” … and then you come back to me with … “You have green shoes?!!”


I dont know.Im seeking answers with the hope ill get eventually a reasuring “Yes we do have extra evidence for that”.I really want to believe in some things the bible says.But when theres no evidence i cant ingore it and say “Well ill believe evyrthing the bible says” i simply cant.Thas blind faith to me.These questions keep me awake at nights (like today).Its like this feeling of “reassurance” i need to feed

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Well, maybe somebody does actually know of some extra-biblical sources that may have bearing on that. I don’t know of any - but it isn’t like I am a scholar on this or spent a lot of time looking. Sorry - I shouldn’t make light of your struggle in these regards.

That said, I do seriously advise you to prayerfully consider where you place your faith, because you already do have faith in something. And that something may be empirical science or historical authority or scholars or …? And not that those things can’t many times be trustworthy for many types of questions, but I would take care in thinking that you must always be looking “behind the Bible” as it were for corroboration. That very often is a warning sign that one has uncritically imbibed the modernist attitude that only values certain (very literal) forms of truth. The more you can lay that burden down, and just let scriptures and the Spirit speak to you on their own terms, the more you may find yourself in the presence of One who will transform and answer your needs, and indeed your very life. But meanwhile, for those who are caught up with litanies of facts and questions of trustworthiness, Christ can patiently open those doors too. My prayers are for you.


Thank you Mervin.Lets indeed hope that this “habit” will worn out as time passes.From the one hand it makes me rational and not a person who will believe anything they see or read.From the other hand its really a bad habit since our society is entirely based on

as you said

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Hold on to that too! You don’t want to lose your healthy skepticism in today’s world. I think God honors the work of our intellectual sweat too - even and especially when you apply it to scripture. If anything is worthy of such appraisal - scripture certainly is. Just don’t think that the scrutiny should stop with such ‘surfacy’ things as “how historical is this.” The questions actually get much more interesting, relevant, and profound as you start engaging what scriptures have to offer for real.

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Well that told me!

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This is an interesting question, because the story of Barabbas is an interesting story, which appears in all four gospels, which is unusual. So if Barabbas had not existed does this cast doubt on the crucifixion of Jesus? I don’t think so, but that does not mean that the story is true.

So we can still ask the question, did someone make up this story from whole cloth between 30 C.E. when we think Jesus died and 70 C.E when we think Mark was written. During that time the story of Jesus was codified as an oral tradition shared by the disciples and the converts like Paul who took the gospel throughout the ancient world. It was apparently written down in a collection of parables and anecdotes that we call Q for the Greek word for Source.

We do not know for sure if the biblical person, Mark, wrote the gospel, which bares his name. In the modern times it seems that scholars assumed that he did not, but it is plausible. Since he was not an Apostle Mark was not an eyewitness to the events in the ministry of Jesus, but he knew those who were. This was not a individualistic task, but a process collecting and sharing information.

Luke and John make a point of saying that they are trying to paint an accurate picture of the life of Jesus. Non-believers say that they biased but that does mean that what they say is not true. In fact it might mean that they take extra pains to make sure it is true.

Did someone make up the story of Barabbas out of whole cloth and get it accepted by Christians, some of whom should have known better? Did someone make up a story which could have easily been debunked by the Jewish rabbis of that day as false? I don’t think so. Conspiracy theorists like Dan Brown grow rich over pointing the church in negative terms. I am not a conspiracy theorist. I prefer to believe in the church unless I have good reason to do otherwise and in this case there is not.

um, Jesus…?

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Highly doubtfull Jesus narrated the whole thing to the disciples after the ressurection

I can see the reasonig but why we dont have records kept of the custom then?None ,zero.We only have the four gospels which mentioned it.Also what about Barabbas?Not even one source.We have for Jesus ,Pilate the Sanhedrin but not for him

It does seem awkward in some instances - but not impossible. He would be the only physical source mentioned, though we shouldn’t discount Spiritual inspiration of later writers either. I have trouble imagining Jesus later relaying to his disciples about his temptations in the desert as if the devil was standing beside him like a person: “Yeah - the devil offered this to me; and then I told him off with this …”. That doesn’t mean he didn’t share, though. And they probably gathered enough about his temptations (and temptations such as would be common to anybody with such opportunities) that disciples and their writers were able to fill in the blanks under the supervisory aegis of the Spirit. Probably a similar thing would have happened regarding Pilate’s involvements with Barabbus and Christ - though we don’t actually know who all might have been present to those conversations.

Perhaps, but your argument rests on the assumption that Jesus shared no details whatsoever of these events during the 40 days with his disciples. that would be a bit too shaky of a foundation for me to want to build a significant argument on.

not to mention, the whole Barabbas incident itself did occur in front of a crowd, of course…

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Why awkward? For whom? God in Christ resurrected? A glorified physical source. The ultimate theophany so far. I have no trouble imagining Jesus perfectly recalling and interpreting all of His experiences, before His death as well as after. I can’t imagine Him finding it awkward before either. As for before Pilate, there were guards, civil servants, as before Herod. I certainly doubt that the Holy Ghost dictated decades later.

I don’t see a difficulty here… especially given that Jesus did seem to have a habit of relaying events and discussing their significance…

Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.”

and it sounds like “after action reports” were pretty routine to recount events that the rest of the ministry team had missed…

On their return the apostles told him all that they had done.

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Neither do I, because faith. Even if Jesus was not God incarnate. Because conspiracies don’t work if you make up devilish details, paradoxically. In fraud, lie - self deceive - once, lie - self deceive - big. But, to critique, how many sources is Barabbas in? Two not four, conservatively. The synoptics are a single source in this regard until proven otherwise.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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