In Contemporary English Version we see at Matt 27:17 :

"So when the crowd came together, Pilate asked them, “Which prisoner do you want me to set free? Do you want Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”.

Not many versions of the Bible give us the idea that the first name of Barabbas (literally,son of the father) was Jesus.

My question is : What does the Catholic tradition say about the first name of Barabbas whom Pilate let off from the prison ?


Jesus as Barrabas' first name does not appear in any Latin manuscripts. The reason it appears in the Critical Greek text - from which the CEV seems to have been derived - is explained in Bruce Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament:

The reading preserved today in several Greek manuscripts and early versions was known to Origen, who declares in his commentary on the passage, “In many copies it is not stated that Barabbas was also called Jesus, and perhaps [the omission is] right.” (Origen discloses in what follows his reason for disapproving of the reading Jesus Barabbas; it cannot be right, he implies, because “in the whole range of the scriptures we know that no one who is a sinner [is called] Jesus.”)

In a tenth century uncial manuscript S 028 and in about twenty minuscule manuscripts a marginal comment states: “In many ancient copies which I have met with I found Barabbas himself likewise called ‘Jesus’; that is, the question of Pilate stood there as follows, Τίνα θέλετε ἀπὸ τῶν δύο ἀπολύσω ὑμῖν, Ἰησοῦν τὸν Βαραββᾶν ἢ Ἰησοῦν τὸν λεγόμενον Χριστόν; for apparently the paternal name of the robber was ‘Barabbas,’ which is interpreted ‘Son of the teacher.’ ” This scholium, which is usually assigned in the manuscripts either to Anastasius bishop of Antioch (perhaps latter part of the sixth century) or to Chrysostom, is in one manuscript attributed to Origen, who may indeed be its ultimate source.

Although the CT committee admitted the phrase Ἰησοῦν and Ἰησοῦν τὸν before Βαραββᾶν in Matthew 27:16 and 27:17, respectively, the Greek text was enclosed in square brackets. The reading was assigned certainty category "C", indicating that "the Committee had difficulty in deciding which variant to place in the text."

Augustine seems to have been the only Latin (pre-schism) Church Father to have commented specifically on these verses (On the Harmony of the Gospels, III.VIII.32) and he makes no mention of Barrabas' first name possibly being "Jesus".

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .