I have been reading Bishop Spong’s new book. What follows is best described as “thoughts arising.”
Spong writes about the place of miracles in the gospels. My own understanding is that “miracle workers” were two a penny back then, as they are in rural Africa. Jesus “had” to do miracles to get his foot in the door so to speak. We today see his miracles as proof of his divinity, but Mark 2 is quite clear that the really astonishing thing was not the healing of the paralytic, but Jesus’ forgiveness of the man. We tend to write off the fact that Jesus forgave his sins as the easy part. It is one proof that we cannot understand the Bible unless we understand the times.
Spong makes the point that Barabbas actually should be written Bar Abbas and means Son of the Father, which is very close to titles given to Jesus. What Spong fails to add is that Barabbas had a first name and that first name was Jesus. The Revised English Bible actually now has Pilate asking in Matthew’s gospel whether they want Jesus Bar-Abbas, that is Jesus Son of the Father, or Jesus called the Messiah. This strengthens the point that Spong was making and casts a slightly different light on the crowd scene.
. . . more to follow