Pilate Delivered Jesus to Them: Mark 15.15 in Ancient Versions and in Anti-Jewish Narratives

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
Tamás Visi Kurt and Ursula Schubert Center for Jewish Studies, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic

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Some of the ancient manuscripts and versions of Mark 15.15 add the phrase ‘to them’ after the verb ‘[Pilate] delivered [Jesus]’, suggesting that Pilate delivered Jesus to the Jewish crowd who subsequently crucified him. This textual variant was well-established in the Syriac and Ethiopic traditions while it remained marginal in the Greek, Latin, and Coptic traditions. This pattern suggests that those translators and readers of the gospels who lived on the Eastern fringes or outside of the territory of the Roman empire were more inclined to accept the idea that Jesus had been executed by the Jewish mob (and not by the Roman soldiers) than those translators and readers who lived in the core territories of the empire. The Diatessaron most likely played an important role in disseminating this anti-Jewish narrative. The obliteration of historical memories about crucifixion as a Roman method of execution in late antiquity contributed to the formation of one of the most devastating anti-Jewish narratives of the ensuing centuries.

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