The Whore of Babylon and the Book of Revelation



Dr. Scott Hahn in his tapes THE END on the book of Revelation argues for the position, that the Whore of Babylon is not Rome, which persecuted the Catholic Church, but instead is the apostate, worldly Jerusalem which rejected the Messiah and persecuted the early Christians. He concedes that this is the minority position but the Biblical evidence that he gives is overwhelming.




DISCLAIMER by John Hellmann The words that Jesus used to condemn the Jewish leaders of his day apply to those specific individuals. Jesus did not reject the Jewish people as a whole, and this can in no way justify anti-Semitism. Jesus was Jewish, His Mother was Jewish, as were all his disciples. The Jews, as the God’s first born son, represent to all of us how God will deal with us individually. The Israelites, and especially city of Jerusalem, represents all mankind. This is because they are God’s firstborn. They were called by God to be the light to the nations to reveal God’s plan of salvation. Their history represents the two paths, both the good and the bad. So, in Revelation you find the Heavenly Jerusalem, and Babylon Jerusalem, the two paths for mankind. In the Jewish Scriptures [the First, or Old Testament in the Christian Bible] we find the theme of two sons, one good and one bad, e.g. Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, etc. It is the job of the good son, the one that is blessed by God, to go help the other one be reconciled back to the family. Cf. Luke 15: 11-31. If we look at a crucifix and say, “If I was alive at the time of Christ, I would never have cooperated with his Crucifixion, we then are guilty of the very sin that Christ condemned in Matthew 23:29-31 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.” RSV Mark 2:17 “Jesus heard this and said to them (that), ‘Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.’ ” NAB The proper Catholic response is one of humility. One that responds, “If I had been there, and unless God aided me to do better with His grace, then I would have done just as bad if not worse than those who killed Christ.” Christ died because of our sins and the Crucifix is to remind ourselves of the price of our sin and how very deeply God loves us even though we are sinners. By acknowledging our sinfulness and our dependence on God we can humbly open ourselves up to His Grace, the gift of Himself. If we are proud like the Devil then we close off the channel of grace. Catholicism teaches that anti-Semitism is a sin. If a Jew accepts Christianity he does not stop being a Jew, rather he becomes a completed Jew, one who has found his Jewish Messiah. ——————————————————————————– Most of the Scripture verses below were taken from Dr. Scott Hahn’s tapes. Listening to Dr. Hahn’s tapes, and trying to catch all the deep truths that he brings out of Sacred Scripture, can be like standing under a waterfall on a hot summer day – a lot of it will pass a person by, but he still gets very wet and refreshed. If you want to hear all the beautiful insights you will have to buy the tapes. They can be ordered from Saint Joseph Communications Phone : 1-800-526-2151. (Oh, how the virtue of humility and a love for the Truth have moved me to love playing his tapes over and over. The joy of Christ is certainly communicated to those who have faith by means of these tapes.) ——————————————————————————– Babylon – Jerusalem In Revelation we find references to both Heavenly Jerusalem, and Babylon Jerusalem, which represent the two paths for mankind. The Book of Revelation is highly symbolic. So, it is best for a person to familiarize oneself with the rest of Sacred Scriptures, the Bible, because it is there that Saint John would be able to draw upon meanings that he knew his readers would be able to pick up on. These clues clearly point to Babylon as being a code name for the corrupt city of Jerusalem, possibly just before 70 AD. Those who contend that Babylon is Rome must ignore all the Biblical evidence to the contrary and interject non-biblical suppositions which are usually based on preconceived notions. ——————————————————————————– SEVEN HILLS Revelation 17:9-10 “Here is a clue for one who has wisdom. The seven heads represent seven hills upon which the woman sits. They also represent seven kings: five have already fallen, one still lives, and the last has not yet come, and when he comes he must remain only a short while.” Some have tried to claim that the Roman Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon by pointing out that Rome has been referred to as a city on seven hills. The Seven Hills of Rome are; the Palatine, Aventine, Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, and the Caelian Hill. However, Saint Peter’s Basilica was built on Vatican Hill, Collis Vaticanus, which is on the other side of the Tiber River and is not one of these Seven Hills. St. Peter Basilica’s high altar was built directly on top of Saint Peter’s grave which was outside of the city and across the river. [See the book The Bones of St. Peter by John Evangelist Walsh] The reference to the seven hills does fit in regards to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a large city spreading beyond the walls of the fort and onto the seven hills there during the time of Jesus and the Apostles. It’s seven hills are; 1.) Mount Gared; 2.) Mount Goath; 3.) Mount Acra; 4.) Mount Bezetha; 5.) Mount Moriah; 6.) Mount Ophel; 7.) Mount Zion. Sometimes, some will substitute the first four with the Mount of Olives, Mount of Offence, Mount of Evil Counsel, and Mount Calvary. Mount Calvary is presently leveled for the most part. It was a major quarry that was used for the building of the city. As the quarrymen cut into the stone layer by layer they discovered a section that was flawed. A crack in that section made it unusable so they cut around it. As they cut and cleared away the stone slabs from around the flawed section it left an outcropping rising thirty feet from the floor of the quarry to where the top of the hill had once been. It was into this flawed crack that the Roman’s placed the upright beam of the cross of the criminals that they crucified to place fear into their subjects. And it was here that our Savior gave his life for our salvation. ——————————————————————————– CODE NAME Revelation 17:5-6 “On her forehead was written a name, which is a mystery, ‘Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.’ I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus. When I saw her I was greatly amazed.” Babylon was a code name, a “mystery.” Compare how Jerusalem is referred to similar code names such as Sodom, Gomorrah, and Egypt. All of these, Sodom, Gomorrah, Egypt, and Babylon are all notorious enemies of God’s people. Isaiah 1: 1, 9-10 “The vision which Isaiah, son of Amoz, had concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. …9 Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a scanty remnant, We had become as Sodom, we should be like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah !” Moses warns the Jews how God will punish them and destroy their land if they forsake the covenant. Deuteronomy 29: 22-24 “…all its soil being nothing but sulphur and salt, a burnt-out waste, unsown and unfruitful, without a blade of grass, destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his furious wrath— they and all the nations will ask, ‘Why has the LORD dealt thus with this land? Why this fierce outburst of wrath?’ And the answer will be, ‘Because they forsook the covenant which the LORD, the God of their fathers, had made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt…” Jeremiah 23:14 “But among Jerusalem’s prophets I saw deeds still more shocking: Adultery, living in lies, siding with the wicked, so that no one turns from evil; To me they are all like Sodom, its citizens like Gomorrah.” Romans 9:27-29 “And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, ‘Though the number of the Israelites were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant will be saved; for decisively and quickly will the Lord execute sentence upon the earth.’ And as Isaiah predicted: ‘Unless the Lord of hosts had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom and have been made like Gomorrah.’ ” NAB John in his Book of Revelation continues this use of code names for the “great city.” He is using symbolism to refer to people who had betrayed God’s people. Revelation 11:8 “Their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city, which has the symbolic names ‘Sodom’ and ‘Egypt,’ where indeed their Lord was crucified.” This passage in Revelation 11: 8 is most important because it clues us in as to where this “great city” is. It is “where indeed their Lord was crucified.” It is Jerusalem. ——————————————————————————– “BABYLON” IS CALLED THE GREAT CITY Revelation 18:10 “They will keep their distance for fear of the torment inflicted on her, and they will say: ‘Alas, alas, great city, Babylon, mighty city. In one hour your judgment has come.’ ” NAB Jerusalem is also called the great city. Jeremiah 22:4-8 “If you carry out these commands, kings who succeed to the throne of David will continue to enter the gates of this palace, riding in chariots or mounted on horses, with their ministers, and their people. But if you do not obey these commands, I swear by myself, says the LORD: this palace shall become rubble. For thus says the LORD concerning the palace of the king of Judah: Though you be to me like Gilead, like the peak of Lebanon, I will turn you into a waste, a city uninhabited. Against you I will send destroyers, each with his axe: They shall cut down your choice cedars, and cast them into the fire. Many people will pass by this city and ask one another: ‘Why has the LORD done this to so great a city ?’ ” ——————————————————————————– “BABYLON” AND THE DEATHS OF THE PROPHETS Revelation 17:5-6 “On her forehead was written a name, which is a mystery, ‘Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.’ I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus. When I saw her I was greatly amazed.” Revelation 18:24 24 In her was found the blood of prophets and holy ones and all who have been slain on the earth.” NAB Compare them with these statements about Jerusalem Luke 11:47-51 “Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood !” Luke 13:31-34 “At that time some Pharisees came to him and said, ‘Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.’ … Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem.’ ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling !’ ” Matthew 23:29-36; ” ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.” Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out ! You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna ? Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Amen, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.’ ” 24:34 “Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” ——————————————————————————– A CITY WITH FINE CLOTHING AND PRECIOUS STONES Revelation 18:16-17 “…Alas, alas, great city, wearing fine linen, purple and scarlet, adorned (in) gold, precious stones, and pearls. In one hour this great wealth has been ruined.” Exodus 35: 30 – 36: 1 “Moses said to the Israelites, ‘See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel… of the tribe of Judah, and has filled him with a divine spirit of skill and understanding and knowledge in every craft: in the production of embroidery, in making things of gold, silver or bronze, in cutting and mounting precious stones, in carving wood, and in every other craft. …He has endowed them with skill to execute all types of work: engraving, embroidering, the making of variegated cloth of violet, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen thread, weaving, and all other arts and crafts. ‘Bezalel, therefore, will set to work with Oholiab and with all the experts whom the LORD has endowed with skill and understanding in knowing how to execute all the work for the service of the sanctuary, just as the LORD has commanded.’ ” Exodus 39: 1-2, 8-14 “With violet, purple and scarlet yarn were woven the service cloths for use in the sanctuary, as well as the sacred vestments for Aaron, as the LORD had commanded Moses. The ephod was woven of gold thread and of violet, purple and scarlet yarn and of fine linen twined… (8) The breastpiece was embroidered like the ephod, with gold thread and violet, purple and scarlet yarn on cloth of fine linen twined. … Four rows of precious stones were mounted on it: in the first row a carnelian, a topaz and an emerald; in the second row, a garnet, a sapphire and a beryl; in the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. They were mounted in gold filigree work. These stones were twelve, to match the names of the sons of Israel, and each stone was engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.” ——————————————————————————– DESTROYED WITH FIRE God had promised blessings to the Jews if they obeyed, Deut 28: 8 and seven curses if they disobeyed, verses 15 -20. God’s Covenant is effected by His Oath. The word “oath” is based on the word “seven.” And so the number “seven” represents the Covenant. In Leviticus he threatens to punish the Jews with fire if they break the Covenant. Leviticus 26: 15-16, 27- 28 “…if you reject my precepts and spurn my decrees, refusing to obey all my commandments and breaking my covenant, then I… (27) If, despite all this, you still persist in disobeying and defying me, I, also, will meet you with fiery defiance and will chastise you with sevenfold fiercer punishment for your sins…” (emphasis added) It also had been prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed by fire in the following passages. Ezekiel 16: 2-3, 35, 38, 41 ” Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations. Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem … 35 Therefore, harlot, hear the word of the LORD! … 38 I will inflict on you the sentence of adulteresses and murderesses; I will wreak fury and jealousy upon you. … 41 They shall burn your apartments with fire and inflict punishments on you while many women look on. Thus I will put an end to your harlotry, and you shall never again give payment.” NAB (emphasis added) Ezekiel 23: 2-4, 17-19, 22-25, 44-47 ” Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother, who even as young girls played the harlot in Egypt. … (As for their names: Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah.) … 22 Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: … 25 … They shall take away your sons and daughters, and what is left of you shall be devoured by fire. … 44 And indeed they did come to her as men come to a harlot. Thus they came to Oholah and Oholibah, the lewd women. 45 But just men shall punish them with the sentence meted out to adulteresses and murderesses, for they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. … 47 The assembly shall stone them and hack them to pieces with their swords. They shall slay their sons and daughters, and burn their houses with fire.” NAB (emphasis added) Also see Lamentations 2:4, and 4:11. Ezekiel 19:12, 21:2-3, 22:19-21, In John’s prophetic vision “Babylon” is also to be destroyed by fire. Revelation 18: 8, 17 “Therefore, her plagues will come in one day, pestilence, grief, and famine;… she will be consumed by fire. For mighty is the Lord God who judges her… (17) In one hour this great wealth has been ruined.” Every captain of a ship, every traveler at sea, sailors, and seafaring merchants stood at a distance…” Jerusalem had been a center for commercial trade. Jewish maps even depict it as the center of the world, but true to prophecy it had been completely destroyed by fire in 70 AD, whereas, Rome was only partially burned by Nero. The burning of Jerusalem by fire also had theological significance. The City of Jerusalem is often referred to as a daughter. Lamentations 2:15-18 ” … They hiss and wag their heads over daughter Jerusalem: ‘Is this the all-beautiful city, the joy of the whole earth?’ …The LORD has done as he decreed: he has fulfilled the threat He set forth from days of old; he has destroyed and had no pity, …Cry out to the Lord; moan, O daughter Zion!” NAB Unfaithfulness to God is frequently compared to sexual immorality. The penalty for fornication by the daughter of the priest called for a special punishment. It was to be burned to death. Leviticus 21:9 “A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death.” NAB So, when Jerusalem was offered the grace to accept Christ, but instead rejected Him, she is referred to as the “Whore of Babylon” who is subsequently burnt to death. ——————————————————————————– HARLOT Just as “Babylon” is referred to as a whore, a harlot. Jerusalem is also called a harlot. Revelation 17:1 “Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot…” Ezekiel 16: 1-3, 26 “Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations. Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: By origin and birth you are of the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite… (26) You played the harlot with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, so many times that I was provoked to anger.” Jeremiah 2:1-2, 17-20 “This word of the LORD came to me: Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear! … (17) Has not the forsaking of the LORD, your God, done this to you ? And now, why go to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Nile? Why go to Assyria, to drink the waters of the Euphrates ? Your own wickedness chastises you, your own infidelities punish you. Know then, and see, how evil and bitter is your forsaking the LORD, your God, And showing no fear of me, says the Lord, the GOD of hosts. Long ago you broke your yoke, you tore off your bonds. ‘I will not serve,’ you said. On every high hill, under every green tree, you gave yourself to harlotry.” Isaiah 1:1, 21 “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah… (21) How the faithful city has become a harlot, she that was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.” RSV Jeremiah 3:1-2,6-8 ” ‘If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her ? Would not that land be greatly polluted ? You have played the harlot with many lovers; and would you return to me ? says the Lord. Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see ! Where have you not been lain with ? By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers like an Arab in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your vile harlotry…’ (6) The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: ‘Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the harlot ? And I thought, “After she has done all this she will return to me;” but she did not return, and her false sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the harlot.’ ” RSV Jeremiah 5:1, 5-7 “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note ! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth; that I may pardon her… (5) I will go to the great, and will speak to them; for they know the way of the Lord, the law of their God.” But they all alike had broken the yoke, they had burst the bonds. Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, a wolf from the desert shall destroy them. A leopard is watching against their cities, every one who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces; because their transgressions are many, their apostasies are great. ‘How can I pardon you ? Your children have forsaken me, and have sworn by those who are no gods. When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the houses of harlots.’ ” RSV Ezekiel 23:1-5, 11, 17-19 “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother… Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem. Oholah played the harlot while she was mine; and she doted on her lovers the Assyrians… (11) Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet she was more corrupt than she in her doting and in her harlotry, which was worse than that of her sister… (17) And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their lust; and after she was polluted by them, she turned from them in disgust. When she carried on her harlotry so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned from her sister. Yet she increased her harlotry, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the harlot in the land of Egypt.’ ” RSV ——————————————————————————– ASSOCIATED WITH THE SCARLET BEAST Compare the following verses. King Herod the Edomite, had falsely claimed to be King David’s successor. “Edom” means red, [ it referred to Esau’s successors. ] And not so coincidentally the beast in Revelation 17 is scarlet. Revelation 17:1-3 “Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot … Then he carried me away in spirit to a deserted place where I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns.” We see an evil relationship between the harlot, apostate Jerusalem, and the scarlet beast, King Herod, on whom she is seated. This evil alliance is confirmed in the Book of Acts. Acts 4:26-28 ” ‘The kings of the earth took their stand and the princes gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed.’ Indeed they gathered in this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do what your hand and (your) will had long ago planned to take place.” Acts 12:1-3, 19, 21-23 “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (It was (the) feast of Unleavened Bread.) … (19) Herod, after instituting a search but not finding him, ordered the guards tried and executed. Then he left Judea to spend some time in Caesarea… (21) On an appointed day, Herod, attired in royal robes, (and) seated on the rostrum, addressed them publicly. The assembled crowd cried out, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’ At once the angel of the Lord struck him down because he did not ascribe the honor to God, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.” A reading of the Book of Acts will show many examples of the particular Jewish leaders of that time attacking the Christians. For example, Acts 7: 54 -60, 14: 4-6, 19 and 17: 5 -7. Jesus had prophesied in John 16:2 that His followers would be kicked out of the synagogue. ——————————————————————————– LIVED NEAR THE MANY WATERS The harlot is said to live near the many waters. Revelation 17:1-3 “Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot who lives near the many waters. The kings of the earth have had intercourse with her, and the inhabitants of the earth became drunk on the wine of her harlotry.’ Then he carried me away in spirit to a deserted place where I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns.” First Figurative Meaning: Revelation 17:15 “And he said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the harlot is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.” Second Figurative Meaning: Jesus had been crucified just outside the city of Jerusalem. When His side was pierced with the sword out flowed water and blood. The water represents the waters of Baptism, through which God gives us saving grace and eternal life. The blood which flowed from His side is a reference to the Blood that He offered at the Last Supper, the Eucharist. Cf. John 6: 54 John 7:37-38 “… Jesus stood up and exclaimed, ‘Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: “Rivers of living water will flow from within him.” ’ ” Literal meaning: Some individuals try to associate the phrase, “lives near the many waters” in Revelation 17 with the city of Rome by pointing out that Jerusalem was not on the coast. However, neither is the city of Rome on the coast. The “lives near the many waters” could also have a literal reference to the fact that within Palestine, and not to far from Jerusalem, Herod had built the man made port of Caesarea and dedicated it to the Caesar. ——————————————————————————– “BABYLON” HAS SOVEREIGNTY OVER THE NATIONS Revelation 17:18 “The woman whom you saw represents the great city that has sovereignty over the kings of the earth.” Jerusalem, who had the role to bring God’s law to the rest of the nations, had a spiritual sovereignty over all the nations. Psalm 2:6-9 ” ‘I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’ I will proclaim the decree of the LORD, who said to me, ‘You are my son; today I am your father. Only ask it of me, and I will make your inheritance the nations, your possession the ends of the earth. With an iron rod you shall shepherd them, like a clay pot you will shatter them.’ ” ——————————————————————————– MY PEOPLE And a very important verse is Revelation 18: 4 Revelation 18:4 “Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues …’ ” God said, “Come out of her, my people …” Who does “my people” refer to and where are they at ? These are the important questions. The term “my people” is the key. Jeremiah 31:31-33 The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. .. .. .. I will be their God, and they shall be my people. The term “my people” is covenant language. It is a reference of people who were in a covenant relationship with God. This becomes even more evident when we examine just what it means to be in a covenant. A covenant is very different than a contract. A covenant is as different from a contract as marriage is different from prostitution. In a contract two people exchanges goods and services. “This becomes yours and that becomes mine,” or “I will do this for you and you will do that for me.” However, contracts can be broken. A covenant is an exchange of persons. “I will become yours and you will become mine.” Ezekiel 37: 26-27 “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The important question here is, where were many of God’s people when John wrote this Book ? They were still in the Old Covenant, in old worldly Jerusalem and God wanted them to leave that and come into the New Covenant. God could refer to them as “my people” because they were in His Old Covenant. The good becomes the enemy of the best if it causes you to reject the best. Hebrews 13:12-14 “Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that he bore. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come.” NAB ——————————————————————————– CONCLUSION The descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob [Israel] are God’s chosen people. He has chosen to reveal Himself through them and through the Jewish Messiah that was born to Mary, Jesus. By the covenants that God has made with this chosen race He has made them His “firstborn,” and through them God’s plan for salvation is made known. [Cf. Psalm 89:28, John 4:22] They illustrate the two paths that mankind can choose, good and evil. There are many examples in this chosen race of holy faith and virtuous living made possible by the grace of God that are revealed for us to emulate. And there are examples of mankind at his worst that are also revealed to us as a warning. One such example is the Jewish leaders of 33 – 70 AD who rejected Truth, Beauty, Love, that is, God Himself. And so, the Whore of Babylon is a code name for the corrupt Jerusalem of the 33 – 70 AD time period, upon whom God’s judgment fell. As a side note: a significant number of the Jews in Jerusalem had converted to Christianity. However, when 2.1 million Jews were slaughtered in Jerusalem in 70 AD none of the Christians that had lived there were killed. They had escaped by leaving Jerusalem before the Romans came. They had been forewarned in the Bible to get out of there.

… Taken from:

Profiling Barabbas


Damien F. Mackey

Barabbas was born Simon (or Simeon) Bar Abbas. He was the son of a Samaritan convert to Judaism, whose non-Hebrew name was Antonius. His mother was Rachel. Simon Barabbas was thus known as ‘Simon Son of the Proselyte’, or Simon Bar Giora (Bar Piora). The family was somewhat eclectic: Samaritan, Jew.

Hence, Simon – like so many ‘Jews’ of the time – was influenced by the great John the Baptist. He was baptised with water.

But, again like many in Israel at that time, he held a view of messiahship that was radically unlike that being heralded by the Baptist (although it would become properly manifest only in Jesus), leading to a “Lamb of God”. So Barabbas, as a young man – approximately during the ministry of John and the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth – became involved, as a leader, in a popularist uprising against the secular powers (Rome and the Herods), hoping to restore to Israel the glorious Davidic era. In the course of his military actions, Barabbas robbed and murdered.  But he was well-known and well-received amongst many of the Jews. Perhaps he was then something of a Robin Hood type, favouring the poor – though also quite murderous. Anyway, the revolt was quashed by the Romans who imprisoned him, only for Pilate famously to release Barabbas during the Trial of Jesus and unjustly to condemn the Nazarene.

Barabbas then grew in fame and popularity and was considered the people’s hero. This charismatic rebel was as if a Messiah to them. And this began to go to his head.

We next meet him as Simon the Magus, the famous magician, who had (Acts 8:9-10) “previously practised magic in the city [of Samaria] and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, ‘This man is the power of God that is called Great’.” Nonetheless, our eclectic subject was highly impressed by the Pentecostal Apostles, just as he had formerly been by John the Baptist. And so he asked for, and received, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, apparently at the hands of Philip. It was then, too, that he received the further name of Bar-Jesus, here meaning a ‘Disciple of Jesus’.

Unfortunately, however, Barabbas was – like Judas Iscariot – a self-serving type of Christian, who sought to make gain out of his discipleship. He was now akin to the seemingly pious Christian who sets himself up as a visionary and gains a large following as a seer and wonderworker. So was this Simon. He was the classical example of those of whom the Lord had spoken who had once been set free from “the unclean spirit”, but whose clean and swept house was later to be re-occupied by the same spirit bringing with it “seven other spirits more evil than itself” (Matthew 12:43, 44, 45).

According to Tradition, also, Simon had “studied Greek literature in Alexandria, and, having in addition to this great power in magic, [he] became so ambitious that he wished to be considered a highest power, higher even than the God who created the world. And sometimes he “darkly hinted” that he himself was Christ, calling himself the Standing One, which name he used to indicate that he would stand for ever, and had no cause in him for bodily decay.

We recall that the magician was highly charismatic and popular, but only through the agency of the Devil. Saint Peter had Simon well worked out and warned him (Acts 8:21-23); “… your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness”. It was a warning that seemed to shake the magician (v. 24): “Pray for me to the Lord that nothing of what you have said may happen to me”. Saint Paul was even stronger, straight out calling the magician “You Son of the Devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy”, no stronger term being imaginable (Acts 13:10). For the magician, now in Paphos, was attempting to lure away from the Gospel the Roman proconsul, Sergius Paulus (vv. 7-8). As Paul had once been, the magician was struck blind for a while (v. 11). But Paul had been a sincere apologist against Christianity. Simon was not sincere.  Simon had now become a full scale heresiarch, preaching an eclectic Judaeo-Christian-pagan Syro-Babylonian from of syncretic religious mysticism. Some say that he was the first Gnostic. I would agree with this. Much of his thought, as explained by the Church Fathers, strikes me as Platonic ethereal. It probably had a heavy dose of Samaritanism, too, which would not be surprising given Simon’s Samarian background.  In fact, Simon Magus is said to have exalted Mount Gerizim in Samaria over Mount Zion, as the Samaritans did. I think that discerning scholars might also discover roots of Islamic thinking here, since the Hagarists have argued for a profound Samaritan influence in Islam.

Whereas true religion has the New Adam and the New Eve, the eclectic mystery religion instituted by Simon (or, rather, the Devil) also had a notable woman as a consort to the notorious Simon. This was Helena. She would be a good candidate for Saint John’s “that woman Jezebel” (Revelation 2:20). In the ancient accounts of Simon there is a large portion common to almost all forms of Gnostic myths, together with something special to this form. They have in common the place in the work of creation assigned to the female principle, the conception of the Deity; the ignorance of the rulers of this lower world with regard to the Supreme Power; the descent of the female (Sophia) into the lower regions, and her inability to return. Special to the Simonian tale is the identification of Simon himself with the Supreme, and of his consort Helena with the female principle. Hippolytus says the free love doctrine was held by [the Simonians] in its purest form, and speaks in language similar to that of Irenaeus about the variety of magic arts practiced by the Simonians, and also of their having images of Simon and Helen under the forms of Zeus and Athena. But he also adds, “if any one, on seeing the images either of Simon or Helen, shall call them by those names, he is cast out, as showing ignorance of the mysteries.”

So Simon even apparently made his mark in Rome. In other words, he had now become a famous world figure and wonderworker. As Roman oppression increased, though, and the Jews became ever more restless, they fomented the so-called First Jewish Revolt during which Simon was a – if not the – key figure. And he was for a while spectacularly successful. He was obviously a military leader of some considerable talent. No doubt he had learned much from the Romans themselves. As Simon Bar Giora he must have assumed some sort of governance in Israel, having minted his own coins depicting “The Redemption of Zion”, exactly as did Simon Bar Kochba, a captain who also had his own magical tricks, ostensibly blowing away his enemies with fire spewing from his mouth. One of his many magician’s tricks!

Simon was by now a King-Messiah, a pseudo-christ.

Every dog has his day. Simon Superstar prevailed against the Romans for three and a half years. Then he lost everything: his dream; his City; his Temple; his powers; and his life. He was one of those fire-spewing leaders whom the true Christ had publicly paraded in his triumphal procession, slaying him with the breath of his mouth – God’s little Lamb prevailing over the mighty dragon.

Such is ever to be the fate of the false christ.

Verbum Domini and the ‘Recovery of an Adequate Scriptural Hermeneutic’

Edmund Mackey: 

A critical essay on:

An aspect of recent biblical scholarship that challenges current practice in the teaching of the Bible in a school context.


Edmund, a high school teacher in Hobart (Tasmania), wrote this article focussing “only on the interpretational section” of the document for a Grad. Certificate course.


Introduction and Preliminary Comments

This essay examines Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation, Verbum Domini, released on September 30 2010, the Feast of St Jerome (patron saint of scripture scholars). The document synthesizes and enlarges on the findings of the 2008 Synod of Catholic Bishops. The release of the 200 page Verbum Domini marks an historic moment, being the first major papal Biblical document  in 58 years, and named as ‘the most important [Church] document on Scripture’ since the Second Vatican Council’s Dei Verbum 45 years ago (Rosica, 2010, online).

Although it is a Catholic document, composed by the first Bible theologian to be elected a pope, a perusal of websites of non-Catholic Christian denominations reveals Verbum Domini to have been overwhelmingly well received and welcomed—although with reservations towards such distinctively Catholic elements as the tri-partite foundation of Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium, and to definitions of the Eucharist. Fr Rosica, press attaché at the Synod, contends that the Exhortation ‘offers a deep sense of unity, urgency, relevance and spirituality to the Church today, and not only to the Roman Catholic Church’. ‘It is a document that will be of great assistance to Christian Churches who have the Word of God at the center of their life’ (ibid.). Verbum Domini includes a section entitled The Bible and Ecumenism [46][1] and the Pope addresses numerous themes of a non-denominational nature. He also appeals beyond the Catholic fold: ‘I remind all Christians that our personal and communal relationship with God depends on our growing familiarity with the word of God’. [124].

Moreover, the aforementioned Synod also included the first ever address to such a gathering by a Jew—Chief Rabbi Cohen, who explained the role of Scripture in the Jewish faith. Verbum Domini continues this dialogue by acknowledging Jews and Christians as brothers and sisters ‘in the faith of Abraham, our Patriarch’ and includes sections that examine The Relationship Between the Old and the New Testaments [40-41] and Christians, Jews and the Sacred Scriptures [43]. Elsewhere, it affirms that the roots of Christianity (and its continual nourishment) are found in the Old Testament and denounces any tendencies to Marcionism (the rejection of the Hebrew Bible and the God of Israel). While not disregarding ‘…the instances of discontinuity which the New Testament asserts with regard to the institutions of the Old Testament, much less the fulfilment of the Scriptures in the mystery of Jesus Christ’, Verbum Domini warns against setting the Old Testament in opposition to the New.


Verbum Domini is a comprehensive and complex document. Its quintessentially Catholic themes are not the direct concern of the present study (although they are central to the very thrust of the document). Rather, the aim here is to highlight general principles that will hopefully be of interest and use to teachers and students of the Bible —whatever their denomination or belief. Specifically, the primary focus of this study will be on the section entitled The Interpretation of Sacred Scripture in the Church in connection with the Pope’s stated intention ‘to point out certain fundamental approaches to a rediscovery of God’s word’.

The title of this paper borrows a phrase from Verbum Domini that encapsulates the central thesis of Part 1: the ‘Recovery of an Adequate Scriptural Hermeneutic’. The phrase contains two inferences: firstly, the existence of other inadequate biblical hermeneutical (or interpretational) methods; secondly, the capability of realising an approach that is viewed as representing a more comprehensive correspondence between the letter and spirit of the Biblical text and its interpretation. The task will be to identify these various elements and to examine their ramifications for Biblical studies.


The Pope names a major theme of the Biblical Synod as being ‘to confront the new challenges which the present time sets before Christian believers’ [3]. Two synod participants have enlarged upon this point.

Regarding the evangelization of today’s world, Rosica writes, ‘…we are fully aware of the innumerable obstacles we face in this work due to the extraordinary changes happening at a personal and social level and, above all, to a postmodern culture in serious crisis’ (ibid.).

Synod relator, Cardinal Ouellet, adds that the Church itself is not immune to this very same crisis: ‘The relativization of the Bible, which denies the value of the Word of God, constitutes a genuine crisis that is both external and internal to the Church…It would seem that, in the name of secularism, the Bible must be relativized, to be dissolved in a religious pluralism and disappear as a normative cultural reference’ (2011, online).

In the context of ‘the secularization of the Christian West and of Christianity’s identity crisis in pluralist environments’, the Cardinal explains that the 2008 Synod of Bishops was held precisely ‘to confirm the Church’s answer’ to the ‘disturbing questions’ that arise from these circumstances: ‘Is Sacred Scripture no more than a human word? Isn’t it true that the results of the historical sciences invalidate the biblical testimony and, hence, the credibility of the Church? How can we continue to believe? And, finally, whom should we listen to?’ (ibid.)

A Theological Response

Verbum Domini’s initial movement is a theological, poetic and almost mystical invocation of the Prologue to St John’s Gospel. Part One entitled Verbum Dei: The God who Speaks cites various analogical expressions of ‘the word of God’. These are likened to a symphony of many voices that raise a polyphonic hymn consisting of one word.

‘In the beginning was the word the word was with God, and the word was God.’ Here is described the inner life of the Trinity before creation. The Logos, the eternal Word, is first revealed as ‘begotten of the Father before all ages and consubstantial with him’. Then follows the beginning of history, by the power of that same Word, ‘through whom all things were made’. Creation itself is ‘the liber naturae: the book of nature. God also speaks his word in salvation history; he has made his voice heard; by the power of his Spirit ‘he has spoken through the prophets’’ [18].

But John also relates that the word ‘became flesh’: Jesus Christ, made man. ‘God’s word is thus spoken throughout the history of salvation, and most fully in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son of God’. The culmination of Jesus’ mission in the paschal mystery brings us to the ‘word of the cross’ (1 Cor 1:18). ‘The word is muted; it becomes mortal silence, for it has “spoken” exhaustively, holding back nothing of what it had to tell us; God’s silence prolongs his earlier words’ [37]. The final note of the symphony, which marks the definitive and complete revelation, is Christ’s command to the apostles to preach his word throughout the earth.2

Next, the inspiration of the scriptures is considered in terms of God speaking in a unique way through the instrument of a fully free human author:

2  Such is the culmination of the “new and everlasting covenant”: Verbum Domini hereby rejects current notions of new or ongoing revelation.

Although the word of God precedes and exceeds sacred Scripture, nonetheless Scripture, as inspired by God, contains the divine word (cf. 2 Tim 3:16) “in an altogether singular way” Sacred Scripture is “the word of God set down in writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit”. In this way one recognizes the full importance of the human author who wrote the inspired texts and, at the same time, God himself as the true author. [19]

The Interpretation of Scripture

This brings us to the section that critiques models of scriptural interpretation. God’s Word is not a monologue, but rather a dialogue with humanity which is invited to respond.3 Faith is named as the first requirement in our personal dialogue with the Word: ‘… without faith there is no key to throw open the sacred text’ [84].

But there exist other types of human responses. Among the more specialised of these is theology. Theologians guide others by translating, so to speak, the Word of scripture within the context of the faith. ‘The study of the sacred page should be, as it were, the very soul of theology’ [95]. Detrimental to this theological approach are other exegetical forms that pose new challenges to an adequate interpretation of scripture.

3  Sin is seen as a refusal to hear and respond to this dialogue.

Historical Criticism

The Development of Biblical Studies section addresses two such challenges. In the first place the discussion considers historical-critical exegesis, acknowledging the benefits that this and other recently-developed methods of textual analysis have brought to the life of the Church. The great merit of historical-criticism is cited as being its correspondence with that ‘love for the study of the “letter”’. Hitchcock expounds this ‘crucial scholarly insight’:

One of the great achievements of modern scholarship, now trivialized to the point of caricature by Deconstructionism, has been the realization that it cannot simply be assumed that the texts of the past are immediately accessible to modern minds and that a certain effort is necessary to retrieve authentic meanings. (2005, online)

The historical-critical school is a progressive movement that traces its philosophical roots to the Enlightenment’s exultation of reason over tradition and religious belief. Its first application to the Bible was instanced in the enormously influential Graf-Wellhausen Documentary Hypothesis, whereby the Pentateuch was analysed in terms of the fourfold JEDP theory. This theory has multiplied into a series of related methods which have become firmly entrenched academic norms. Basically, the scheme amounts to a deconstruction of data followed by a reconstruction along highly prescribed guidelines.4

Kugler and Hartin describe the many outcomes of the documentist methodology as ‘daunting in their complexity’ to the lay person.5 The same authors define the theory precisely as an ‘…overarching concern’ to treat texts with attention to ‘two basic angles of vision from which to make sense of the Bible’: those of its “implied and actual authors” and “implied and actual readers” as well as the narrative voices in them’ (2009, cf. pp. 2 & 37).

The Pope welcomes the findings of scientific criticism insofar as it remains within the legitimate limits of its own discipline, but is wary of ‘preconceived opinions that claim to be based on science, but which in reality surreptitiously cause science to depart from its domain’.[102]

It is argued that, when this theory operates without reference to a hermeneutic of faith, there results another secular hermeneutic that impoverishes understanding of the scriptures: ‘According to this hermeneutic, whenever a divine element seems present, it has to be explained in some other way, reducing everything to the human element. This leads to interpretations that deny the historicity of the divine elements’.6 Ouellet elaborates:

…a certain rationalist exegesis has seized the Bible to dissect the different stages and forms of its human composition, eliminating the prodigies and miracles, multiplying the theories and, not infrequently, sowing confusion among the faithful. (, 2005, online)

Consequently, Scripture ends up being a text belonging only to the past: ‘One can draw moral consequences from it, one can learn history, but the Book as such speaks only of the past, and exegesis is no longer truly theological, but becomes pure historiography, history of literature’.

Therefore, the document calls for investigations of the historical elements present in the Bible to be marked by an openness which does not reject a priori anything beyond its own terms of reference. This call is especially valid to critical scholarship, its characteristic philosophy or epistemology being the Kantian tendency to apriorise (Mackey, 2000, p. 29).


4 Wellhausen himself in fact acknowledged that the result of all of this dissecting was ‘an  agglomeration of fragments’ (quoted in Wiseman, P.J.,’Clues to Creation in Genesis’, 144).

5  The complexity of the theories creates a domain for “experts” but alienates and confuses the uninitiated. Although modern education stresses the tenets of criticism, few students would be able to articulate the fundamentals of a critical approach, and fewer still would dare to question its premises. Even ‘a lack of clarity in the preparation of homilies’ is attributed to the profound gulf that can arise between scientific exegesis and lectio divina.[112].

6 One need only consider the undermining, devastating and discrediting of Genesis of possibly the most contentious part of the Bible Genesis.


The fundamentalist approach is a counter-reaction to the extreme scientism of critical scholarship. Verbum Domini critiques Biblical fundamentalism as faith which has lost its proper relationship with right reason and has degenerated into fideism. Therefore, this spiritualist position is presented as a second main challenge to a comprehensive hermeneutic. Fundamentalism is inadequate: while it is a faith response, it fails to fulfil the incarnational paradigm of the Word made flesh whereby the spiritual is manifest in the material and the rational.

Due to its subjective and individualistic nature, fundamentalism has also been classified as an aspect of secularism. Echoing St Paul’s dictum that the letter kills but the Spirit gives life, Synod participant, Cardinal Ouellet explains that, ‘With Biblical fundamentalism material fidelity becomes infidelity to the content’ (2005, online)

Fundamentalism is grounded on the doctrine of sola scriptura (by scripture alone). Yet the Pope makes the quite arresting statement that, “The Christian faith is not a ‘religion of the book’: Christianity is the ‘religion of the word of God,’ not of a ‘written and mute word, but of the incarnate and living Word’” [7]. The logic of this position is exemplified by the fact that fundamentalism relies on a dogma that is itself non-Biblical. (Similarly, the definition of an agreed Biblical canon itself depends on a non-scriptural authority.) Because apparently focused on the spiritual or mystical, the term fundamentalist is often mistakenly applied to those who seek traditional theological interpretations or foundations.


The above sections of Verbum Domini both delineate and reject the human but characteristically modern tendency to compartmentalise reason and science as against faith, theology and religion. ‘Dualism’ is Verbum Domini’s designation of this dichotomist, exclusivist and essentially subjectivist attitude. An exaggerated attempt to interpret all things in terms of a single extreme position tends to the destruction of its opposite. As one summary states: ‘The one group uses reason to destroy faith. The other group uses faith to destroy reason’ (Sammons, 2005, online).

By contrast, Verbum Domini closely follows philosopher Jacques Maritain’s principle of complementarity: distinguish in order to unite.7 Such an inclusivist ideal harmonises disparate elements and holds the entirety in a delicate but comprehensive balance, without rejecting any legitimate contributions:

In this regard we should mention the serious risk nowadays of a dualistic approach to sacred Scripture. To distinguish two levels of approach to the Bible does not in any way mean to separate or oppose them, nor simply to juxtapose them. They exist only in reciprocity. [109]

Unfortunately, a sterile separation sometimes creates a barrier between exegesis and theology, and this ‘occurs even at the highest academic levels’ (ibid.).

7 This is not to be confused with Syncretism (the attempt to unify or reconcile differing schools of thought: Concise Oxford Dictionary) ‘…which would dilute the uniqueness of the Gospel in an attempt to make it more easily accepted’.[368]

Elsewhere, Pope Benedict explained:

“Religion contributes by ‘purifying’ reason, helping it not to fall prey to distortions, such as manipulation by ideology or partial application that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. At the same time, religion likewise recognizes its need for the corrective of reason in order to avoid excesses, such as fundamentalism or sectarianism.” (2011, Online)

Finally, the document proposes the methodology of the Church Fathers as a pre-eminent exemplification of the ideals which it has elaborated:

A significant contribution to the recovery of an adequate scriptural hermeneutic, as the synodal assembly stated, can also come from renewed attention to the Fathers of the Church and their exegetical approach. The Church Fathers present a theology that still has great value today because at its heart is the study of sacred Scripture as a whole. [117]

Verbum Domini is more than a restatement of traditional themes. It offers a critique of current positions and a dynamic synthesis of old and new in aspiring to present an exegesis worthy of the Bible. This ambitious work of modern scholarship is deserving of serious attention for its clear exposition of the present state of biblical study. Where it takes issue, it also points the way forward, while focused not on the divisions but on the unity of the Bible.



Benedict XVI. (2010). Verbum Domini: The word of the Lord abides forever. Retrieved from

Hitchcock, J. (2005). The Divine Authority of Scripture vs. the “Hermeneutic of Suspicion”.

Retrieved from

Kugler, R., and Hartin, P. (2009). An introduction to the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Erdmans.

Mackey, D (2000). Moses as compiler of Genesis. Sydney: unpublished.

Sammons, E. (2010). Verbum Domini.

Retrieved from

Zenit. (2011). Cardinal Ouellet warns against Bible crisis: Decries threats from inside and outside Church. Retrieved from

Zenit. (2011). Pope highlights religion’s need for reason: Encourages journalists in search for“daily truth”. Retrieved from

Zenit. (2010). From the Synod to the Exhoration, Part 1: Interview with Father Rosica on“Verbum Domini”. Retrieved from

Wiseman, P.J. (1977). Clues to creation in Genesis. London : Morgan & Scott.

[1] Disclaimer: Square-bracketed references  correspond to the  numerous section numbers in Verbum Domini. Unacknowledged single quotation marks also relate to quotes or paraphrases from this document.

‘God’s Word Like A Fire’

‘God’s Word Like A Fire’

With electrical repairs recently being done at St. Benedict’s (Notre Dame University, The Broadway, Sydney), an abundance of candles was employed to illuminate the sanctuary and the altar. Unfortunately, one was placed too close to the Missal, setting its pages alight. During the quick scramble to extinguish the flames, a voice was heard from the back of the church proclaiming: “The Word of God is a fire!”     

Perhaps the inspired member of the congregation had in mind a text like this one:

 ‘Is not my Word like a fire?’, says the LORD,

‘And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?’ (Jer. 23:29).

Estimate of Matt McClellan’s “Ancient Egyptian Chronology and the Book of Genesis”

From: Claude Eon (
Sent: Sunday, 4 September 2011 8:25:02 PM
To: Damien Mackey (

What does my preferred expert think of this ?

Ancient Egyptian Chronology and the Book of Genesis by Matt McClellan August 24, 2011


One of the most popular topics among young earth creationists and apologists is the relationship of the Bible with Ancient Egyptian chronology. Whether it concerns who the pharaoh of the Exodus was, the background of Joseph, or the identity of Shishak, many Christians (and non-Christians) have wondered how these two topics fit together. This paper deals with the question, “How does ancient Egyptian chronology correlate with the book of Genesis?” In answering this question it begins with an analysis of every Egyptian dynasty starting with the 12th Dynasty (this is where David Down places Moses) and goes back all the way to the so called “Dynasty 0.” After all the data is presented, this paper will look at the different possibilities that can be constructed concerning how long each of these dynasties lasted and how they relate to the biblical dates of the Great Flood, the Tower of Babel, and the Patriarchs.


Damien Mackey’s Response

Dear Claude
That’s a terrible article and I gave up on it. It just stretches out all of Egyptian history in Indian file order, instead of realising that dynasties can be concurrent.
Though it locates Joseph to the 11th Dynasty and Moses to the 12th, and I agree with that much, it then stretches out all of the preceding history in conventional history sequence. We are already in 2300 BC (around the biblical time of the Flood) in the 6th dynasty, where the author locates Abraham. And there are still five dynasties and prehistory to go before all that. Egyptian history would already be thriving while Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden. 
It is amazing that AIG chose to publish such a lengthy and unimaginative article.
God bless
Damien Mackey.

Barabbas “Son of Perdition”

“Give us Barabbas!”, from The Bible and its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons, 1910



Damien F. Mackey


So, who was Barabbas? Where did He come from? Where did He go?

These three questions that we read at:

will engage our interest in this article, in which I try to imagine Barabbas beyond the little that we know about him from the Gospels. I shall endeavour to paint a much vaster portrait of Barabbas from other parts of the New Testament that I think could just possibly be referring to him. And also from history. I shall be concluding that Barabbas, far from being the uncouth and dirty oaf as he is often depicted (e.g. Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ), was a strong and charismatic revolutionary leader and a highly religious man, who sided with the common people and the poor. Hence he was a most worthy choice for the type of Messiah that the Jewish people were anticipating to free them from Roman dominance. Jesus Christ on the other hand, whose view of Messiahship was of the Suffering Servant type (of Isaiah 53), as explained by Pope Benedict XVI in his book on Jesus of Nazareth, was not the kind of Messiah that the majority expected (even in the case of St. Peter), or wanted, and hence the loud clamour for the release of the popular Barabbas.

  1. A.    As an Insurrectionist Leader and False Messiah



What we already know of Barabbas

Essentially this Barabbas was an insurrectionist and it may be in this context that he had murdered. Let us return to the above blog account of Barabbas for more information about him, firstly from the Scriptures:

All four of the gospels refer to Jesus’ fellow prisoner, Barabbas, by name. First, I’ll present the four accounts and then some commentary:

Matthew 17:15-26:

Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered  together, Pilate said unto them, “Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, “Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?” They said, “Barabbas.” Pilate saith unto them, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” They all say unto him, “Let him be crucified.” And the governor said, “Why, what evil hath he done?” But they cried out the more, saying, “Let him be crucified.” When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.” Then answered all the people, and said, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Mark similarly provides an account. Mark 15:6-15:

Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them, saying, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, “What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” Then Pilate said unto them, “Why, what evil hath he done?” And they cried out the more exceedingly, “Crucify him.” And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

Luke also has an account. Luke 23:13-25:

And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, said unto them, “Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: no, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him.” (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) And they cried out all at once, saying, “Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:” (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they cried, saying, “Crucify him, crucify him.” And he said unto them the third time, “Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.” And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

Finally, John also has the account. John 18:38-19:16 Pilate saith unto him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, “I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” Then cried they all again, saying, “Not this man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber. ….

There are no further references to Barabbas in the text of the New Testament.

Then follows a summary of this:

[Barabbas] was a robber (John’s account), a notable prisoner (Matthew’s account), someone who had (with others who were also imprisoned) made an insurrection/ sedition and committed murder in the insurrection (Mark’s and Luke’s accounts). So, this man was a true brigand and a captain of them. His name appears to be taken from “bar abba” meaning “son of the father” (although some have suggested “bar rabbi” meaning “son of the teacher.”

Supposedly, He participated in the ‘insurrection’, – what “insurrection”? The “insurrection” wherein fanatically ‘religious’ Jews sought to overthrow Herod’s Roman supported ‘secular’ governance -in an unsuccessful attempt to re-establish the ancient ‘theocratic’ form of governance as was instituted by David’ (after the Lord rebuked the ‘anointed’ king Saul and replaced him with David?

Already this provides us with a broader possible view of Barabbas as a man who had led an insurrection against the pro-Roman government of the land in the hope of restoring a more theocratic type of rule as in the halçyon days of King David. Many Jews, especially the sicarii and those associated with them, would have thrilled to this idea.

Barabbas the brigand, yes; Jesus of Nazareth, no.

But the days of King David were long gone. And now Jesus the Son of David had arrived. And it was his form of Messiahship, and his form of governance and kingdom that God favoured. This meant that a revivified old Davidic form was no longer relevant, making of Barabbas a false messiah. Had not Jesus himself warned of the arrival of false Christs?

“For false messiahs [christs] and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Mathew 24:24; cf. Mark 13:22).

Indeed Barabbas was, as we shall find, the very epitome of one of these.

Our source tells of a view proposed by some today that Jesus and Barabbas – far from being true and false Messiahs, respectively – were actually one and the same person. Here is the outlandish argument followed by, thankfully, the rejection of it:

…. I was a little surprised to see a rather bizarre comment in my comment box attempting to promote a novel view:

The argument (Roland’s)

“Anathema” continues even unto this very day… to wit, ‘Christian’s’ regard towards “Jesus Barabbas” (originally written in the Greek Gospel according or attributed to Matthew (27:17). But is such regard justified?

Is the depiction, contained only in the Holy Gospels, of “Jesus Barabbas” accurate or true?

Standing on the stage of ecclesiastical history’s most dramatic and celebrated hour, like a potted plant of poison ivy, Jesus Barabbas said nothing whatsoever to anybody (nobody said anything to Him), -yet He is incongruently released (because Pontius Pilate honored a Jewish ‘custom’ -of releasing one prisoner during the Passover, -never before or since exercised).

Nevertheless, He is described as being “notorious”… to whom?

I’m sure young Saul of Tarsus had something to say (and do) when ‘the messiah’ came riding on an ass into Jerusalem that fateful day…

It certainly wasn’t “Jesus Barabbas”, -which, by the way, “Jesus” was His ‘name’, -”Barabbas” is what He was ‘called’. ‘Barabbas’ is not a surname (any more than is “Christ”), it is, rather, an Aramaic appellation, the meaning of which is: Bar = Son + Abba = Father (as in the Father of us all or ‘God’).


[Signed] Roland, a reluctant iconoclast.


Rejection of it

There are numerous errors in this comment. First, the name is just Barabbas (not “Jesus Barabbas”). Second, the fact that we don’t have any historical record to which to tie this particular notorious criminal is hardly surprising: we don’t have any significant records of the crimes of the day – so treating historical silence as significant is an error. Third, the whole comment is riddled with misplaced sarcasm and innuendo, compounding those errors through what seems to be some sort of iconoclastic pride. I have no idea who Roland is (or why he was using the handle “Barabbas126″ to post the comment), but I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has encountered this same deviant view anywhere else. Actually, we are going to consider later (in B.) that Barabbas did in fact also have a ‘Jesus’ name – though it was an adopted name, not how he was originally called.

Pitiful little is known about our character under the identity of Barabbas. Our source has come up with just these bits and pieces from further research: I scanned through the early church writers to see if there were any interesting legends about him. I mostly came up empty. Tertullian describes him as “the most abandoned criminal” (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book 4, Chapter 42) Cyril of Alexandria describes him as “a notorious robber” and “a dangerous and brutal criminal, [who was] not free from blood-guiltiness” (Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, at John 18:40) Augustine calls him “the robber,” “the murderer,” and “the destroyer [of life]“(Augustine, Tractate 116 on John’s Gospel, at John 19:1) Even Faustus (whom Augustine opposed) called him “the notorious robber” (Faustus quoted in Augustine’s Reply to Faustus, Book 14, Section 1) Chrysostom provides a characteristically colorful description:

“For which was right? to let go the acknowledged criminal, or Him about whose guilt there was a question? For, if in the case of acknowledged offenders it was fit there should be a liberation, much more in those of whom there was a doubt. For surely this man did not seem to them worse than acknowledged murderers. For on this account, it is not merely said they had a robber; but one noted, that is, who was infamous in wickedness, who had perpetrated countless murders”.

- Chrysostom, Homily 86 on Matthew, Section 2, at Matthew 27:11-12

On the whole, though, the early church basically leaves Barabbas alone. A couple (Origen and Rabanius) describe him as figuring the Devil, while Pseudo-Jerome goes so far as to associate him with the scapegoat which was freed. I’m told the “Gospel According to the Hebrews” is an apocryphal work that takes the “son of the teacher” interpretation as opposed to “son of the father,” but generally the apocryphal works also pretty much leave him alone or simply parrot the canonical accounts. Gill provides similar comments, and adds:

“The Ethiopic version adds, “the prince”, or “chief of robbers, and all knew him”; and the Arabic, instead of a “prisoner”, reads, a “thief”, as he was”.

He also points out that this name was a common name among the Jews, providing various citations to folks by that name. There does not seem to be much more out there on him.

[End of quotes]

Now, supplementing this with Wikipedia’s  article, “Barabbas”

we read that:

Barabbas is a figure in the Christian narrative of the Passion of Jesus, in which he is the insurrectionary whom Pontius Pilate freed at the Passover feast in Jerusalem.

The penalty for Barabbas’ crime was death by crucifixion, but according to the four canonical gospels and the non-canonical Gospel of Peter there was a prevailing Passover custom in Jerusalem that allowed or required Pilate, the praefectus or governor of Judaea, to commute one prisoner’s death sentence by popular acclaim, and the “crowd” (ochlos) — which has become “the Jews” and “the multitude” in some translations — were offered a choice of whether to have Barabbas or Jesus Christ released from Roman custody. According to the closely parallel gospels of Matthew (27:15-26), Mark (15:6-15), and Luke (23:13–25), and the more divergent accounts in John (18:38-19:16) and the Gospel of Peter, the crowd chose Barabbas to be released and Jesus of Nazareth to be crucified. A passage found only in the Gospel of Matthew has the crowd saying, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children”.[1]

The story of Barabbas has special social significances, because it has historically been used to lay the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus on the Jews, and to justify anti-Semitism—an interpretation dismissed by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2011 book … [2][3]

Biblical record

Matthew refers to Barabbas only as a “notorious prisoner.”[4] Mark and Luke further refer to Barabbas as one involved in a stasis, a riot.[5] John 18:40 refers to Barabbas as a lēstēs (“bandit”), “the word Josephus always employs when talking about Revolutionaries”, Robert Eisenman observes.[6]

Three gospels state that there was a custom at Passover during which the Roman governor would release a prisoner of the crowd’s choice: Mark 15:6; Matthew 27:15; and John 18:39. Later copies of Luke contain a corresponding verse (Luke 23:17), though it is not present in the earliest manuscripts, and may be a later gloss to bring Luke into conformity.[7] The gospels differ on whether the custom was a Roman one or a Jewish one, as part of the Jubilee.[8]

No custom of releasing prisoners in Jerusalem is recorded in any historical document other than the gospels. An Ancient Roman celebration called Lectisternium involved feasting and sometimes included a temporary removal of the chains from all prisoners.[9] However, J. Blinzler associates Barabbas’ release with a passage in the Mishna Peshahim 8,6 which says that the Passover lamb may be offered ‘for one whom they have promised to bring out of prison’. (J. Blinzler, The Trial of Jesus, 1959, pp218ff.)


Barabbas’ name appears as bar-Abbas in the Greek texts. It is derived ultimately from the Aramaic בר-אבא, Bar-abbâ, “son of the father”. According to early Greek texts, Barabbas’ full name was Jesus Barabbas.[10] Later texts shorten his name to just Barabbas.

Abba has been found as a personal name in a 1st-century burial at Giv’at ja-Mivtar, and Abba also appears as a personal name frequently in the Gemara section of the Talmud, dating from AD 200–400.[11] These findings support “Barabbas” being used to indicate the son of a person named Abba or Abbas (a patronymic).

….Bar-Abbas is a well intentioned believer whose actions in a Jewish resistance movement make him a kind of Dietrich Bonhoeffer figure. His heroics, and the type of resistance he sought, are what led the crowds to call for his release over the more passive resistance offered by Yeshua of Nazareth.[12]


Benjamin Urrutia, co-author of The Logia of Yeshua: The Sayings of Jesus … opposes the notion that Jesus may have either led or planned a violent insurrection. Jesus was a strong advocate of “turning the other cheek” – which means not submission but strong and courageous, though nonviolent, defiance and resistance. Jesus, in this view, must have been the planner and leader of the Jewish nonviolent resistance to Pilate’s plan to set up Roman Eagle standards on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. The story of this successful resistance is told by Josephus — who does not say who the leader was ….

[End of quote]

Now there is a very strange story that we read in Flaccus’ account of the writings of Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of the Apostles, about a certain Carabbas, that seems to be a confusion of Barabbas (the name) and the mistreatment and mockery of Jesus and his kingship. The whole thing is wrongly taken as being totally unrelated to the incident recorded in the Gospels – but I would consider it to be a later reference (albeit grossly distorted) to the trial and mistreatment of Jesus Christ:

Writings of Philo of Alexandria, Flaccus, VI:36-39:

36: There was a certain madman named Carabbas … this man spent all his days and nights naked in the roads, minding neither cold nor heat, the sport of idle children and wanton youths; 37: and they, driving the poor wretch as far as the public gymnasium, and setting him up there on high that he might be seen by everybody, flattened out a leaf of papyrus and put it on his head instead of a diadem, and clothed the rest of his body with a common door mat instead of a cloak and instead of a sceptre they put in his hand a small stick of the native papyrus which they found lying by the wayside and gave to him; 38: and when, like actors in theatrical spectacles, he had received all the insignia of royal authority, and had been dressed and adorned like a king, the young men bearing sticks on their shoulders stood on each side of him instead of spear-bearers, in imitation of the bodyguards of the king, and then others came up, some as if to salute him, and others pretending to wish to consult with him about the affairs of the state. 39: Then from the multitude of those who were standing around there arose a wonderful shout of men calling out Maris!; and this is the name by which it is said that they call the king of the Syrians; for they knew that Agrippa was by birth a Syrian, and also that he was possessed of a great district of Syria of which he was the sovereign ….

Cf. Matthew 17:

26: Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. 27: Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28: And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29: And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!


Finally, I should like to recall a tradition – most important for this article – that: “Some sources also say that [Barabbas] was later killed while taking part in another revolt against the Romans”.

referred to in various places on the Net according to which Barabbas later fell into the hands of the Romans again (


Conclusion 1. A More Complete Barabbas

Buzz words for Barabbas: He was notable or notorious, an insurrectionist/murderer, a leader or captain, a fanatically religious Jew, a believer, who resisted the Romans and the Herods, and who wished to return to a theocratic state as of old. He was imprisoned by the Romans, but set free by Pontius Pilate. Later he fell into the hands of the Romans again. He was also designated a prince and a false messiah figuring the Devil.

We now pass from traditions relating to Barabbas – presumably more or less true – to speculation as to who else he may have been based largely on the descriptions offered by these buzz words.

What may have been Barabbas’s alter egos in the New Testament and in history?

I am going to propose that the rebel’s name was actually Simon, Simon Barabbas (‘Simon Son of Abbas’). In so doing, we can align him with various supposedly individual characters of the name Simon (albeit a most common Jewish name) who figure in the New Testament and in Jewish history; colourful characters indeed who fit the above buzz words.

Our first match will be with the notorious Simon Bar Giora, who led the insurrection against Rome in 66-69 AD (conventional dating). Simon Bar Giora immediately fits our Simon Barabbas as to (a) name structure; (b) chronological range; as a (c) charismatic revolutionary leader; (d) a possible or would-be “prince”, (e) fiercely religious, who (f) resisted the Romans. Another key factor, as we shall read, is that Simon Bar Giora had previous ‘form’ as a bandit, “already apparently known as a partisan leader”. So, we can imagine him as a young man, as Barabbas, and later as a fully mature Bar Giora, now of vast experience (and wickedness).

Now, previously, I had in various articles identified this Simon Bar Giora with the even more famous Simon Bar Kochba (‘Son of the Star’). Though history separates Bar Giora (First Jewish Revolt) from Bar Kochba (Second Jewish Revolt) by some six decades or so, I have argued that there was in fact only the one major Jewish revolt. The 66-70 AD revolt had been so devastating for the land of Israel and its people, and for Jerusalem, that it is hard to imagine that there could have arisen such another major revolt merely a generation and a half later – and still with reference to the Temple. (We shall read below: “Despite the devastation wrought by the Romans during the First Jewish-Roman War … which left the population and countryside in ruins …”). Common to the two (supposedly) revolts that history books describe, the Jews against Rome, was (i) a leader, Simon; (ii) an Eleazer; and (iii) an approximately 3 years duration. Above all, it is apparent from Bar Kochba’s coins that the Temple was still standing in his day and that the Ark of the Covenant was still in it! (“These coins tell us more. In the first place, they show us the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant inside it”. See below).

Moreover, my previous argument was that St. John’s Roman persecutor, some say Nero, some say Domitian, was one and the same emperor, Nero Domitianus. Domitian is frequently referred to as Nero Redivivus. In this way, I have historically ‘folded’ Bar Giora’s 66 AD revolt with Bar Kochba’s 132 AD revolt. Elsewhere I have tentatively put a case for Nero’s also being the emperor Hadrian (both Grecophiles, great builders, homosexual, and vicious). Both sent their best general, who had experience in Britain, to crush a Jewish revolt.

This composite scenario that I am envisaging now lands us with a plethora of Simon Bartype names (Bar Abbas; Bar Giora and Bar Kochba) for our leading character. I tentatively suggest that the character’s original name was Simon Bar Abbas (Barabbas), that Bar Giora, variously Bar Piora (‘Son of a Proselyte’), was how he was sometimes described, and we know (and shall read below) that Bar Kochba was the messianic name given to him by his great admirer, Rabbi Akiba.

Simon bar Giora

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (“)

Simon bar Giora (alternatively known as Simeon bar Giora or Simon ben Giora or Shimon bar Giora) d. 70 CE, was a leader of revolutionary forces during the First Jewish-Roman War in the 1st century Judea.


Simon bar Giora first became notable in the First Jewish-Roman War, when Roman troops marched towards Jerusalem in 66. Simon helped in defeating the advance by attacking from the north.[1] He put the hindmost of the army into disorder, and carried off many of the beasts that carried the weapons of war, and led them into the city. However, he was rejected a commanding position by the Jerusalem authorities, for they did not want a popular leader of a rebellious peasantry if they were to moderate the revolt and negotiate with the Romans.[2] As a result, Simon gathered a large number of revolutionaries and started robbing houses of wealthy people in the district of Acrabbene:

But as for the Acrabbene toparchy, Simon, the son of Gioras, got a great number of those that were fond of innovations together, and betook himself to ravage the country; nor did he only harass the rich men’s houses, but tormented their bodies, and appeared openly and beforehand to affect tyranny in his government. And when an army was sent against him by Artanus, and the other rulers, he and his band retired to the robbers that were at Masada.[2]

Simon stayed safe from the Jewish authorities in Masada until Ananus ben Ananus was killed in the Zealot Temple Siege, after which he left the fortress for the hill country and proclaimed liberty for those in slavery, and a reward to those already free. He gathered power quickly as more people and influential men joined him. He soon dared to venture into the flatlands, constructed a fort in a village called Nain, and stored food and booty in caves. It was obvious that he prepared to attack Jerusalem.[3] However, Simon ben Giora first attacked Idumea and his intimidating army met no real resistance. He marched into Hebron, robbed the grain stores of towns and villages, and plundered the countryside in order to feed his vast troops. By this time, he was followed by forty thousand people not including his soldiers.[3] Simon’s success began worrying the Zealots in Jerusalem. Since they did not dare fight in open battle, they lay an ambush, capturing his wife and some of her entourage. They expected Simon to lay down his weapons in exchange for her freedom. However, Simon grew very angry, went to Jerusalem and took everybody leaving the city captive. Some he tortured, some he killed and he cut of the hands of others, sending them back into the city with the message that he would do likewise to all Jerusalem if his wife was not released. This frightened the Zealots so immensely that they eventually let her go.[3]

In spring 69 the advancing Roman army forced Simon ben Giora to retreat to Jerusalem,[4] where he camped outside the city walls and once again began harassing people. Within Jerusalem, John of Giscala had set himself up as a despotic ruler after overthrowing lawful authority in the Zealot Temple Siege. In order to get rid of him, the Jerusalem authorities decided to ask Simon to enter the city and drive John away. Acclaimed by the people as their savior and guardian, Simon was admitted.[5] With fifteen thousand soldiers at hand Simon soon controlled the whole upper city and some of the lower city. John held parts of the lower city and the temple’s outer court with six thousand men and a third splinter group of twenty-four hundred men controlled the temple’s inner court.[6] Factions fought vigorously over the control of Jerusalem, always trying to destroy each other’s grain stores to starve each other into submission.[4] This internal fighting later proved disastrous: not only was this a sabbatical year (with less grain available), but the city was under siege by the time the harvest began.[6] Nevertheless, of the leaders of the rebellion, Simon in particular was regarded with reverence and awe.[7] By his authority, coins were minted declaring the redemption of Zion.[8]

Just before Passover in 70 CE Titus began the siege of Jerusalem. He quickly took down the first and second wall, but then met fierce resistance[4] as the factions within Jerusalem realized the necessity of joining forces.[9] However, Simon and John both upheld their reigns of terror over the citizens, causing many to flee to the Romans. To counteract these desertions, Simon put every potential betrayer, including some of his previous friends, to death.[4] In August 70, five months after the siege began, Jerusalem fell to Titus. Simon escaped into the subterranean passages of the city. By means of stonecutters he tried to dig away into freedom, but ran out of food before he could finish. Clothed in the garments of a Jewish king he rose out of the ground at the very spot where the temple had stood,[10] was taken prisoner and brought to Rome.[11]


Like kings of other countries Simon was displayed during the triumphal procession and put to death near the Temple of Jupiter at the Tarpeian Rock.[12]

To supplement this, here now is a Jewish account of Simon Bar Giora

BAR GIORA, SIMEON, Jewish military leader in the war against Rome (66–70 C.E.). Simeon was born, according to Josephus, in *Gerasa, a large Hellenistic city in Transjordan, where the Jews lived in peace with the city’s non-Jewish population. Some scholars, however, identify his birthplace with the village of Jerash in the neighborhood of Hartuv (Press, Ereẓ, 1 (19512), 174, S.V. Geresh), others with Kefar Jorish near Shechem on the grounds that Simeon’s activity began in its vicinity, i.e., in the province of Acrabatene. Since the word giora means proselyte in Aramaic, many scholars hold that his father was a convert to Judaism. The main source of information about Simeon is Josephus who is to be treated with circumspection, especially where an appraisal of the man and his activities are concerned, since Josephus entertained feelings of intense animosity toward him. Simeon, already apparently known as a partisan leader, first distinguished himself in the battle at Beth-Horon against *Cestius Gallus (66 C.E.), in which the Jews inflicted a crushing defeat on the Roman army. Despite this achievement, however, Simeon was relegated to the background, since in Jerusalem the moderate party in control was disposed to come to terms with Rome. Simeon gathered around him a band of ardent patriots and, according to Josephus, engaged in brigandage. It is obvious, however, even from Josephus’ own biased account, that these acts of “brigandage” were military operations conducted by the rebels under the leadership of Simeon against their internal enemies, opponents of the revolt, and sympathizers with Rome. In retaliation for these operations, the forces of the moderate government in Jerusalem compelled Simeon to take refuge among the *Sicarii who, under the command of *Eleazar b. Jair, had captured *Masada. For a time Simeon remained with them, taking part in their raids. Subsequently leaving them, he parted company, and “terrorized” the southern part of Ereẓ Israel. Although growing increasingly stronger, he was unable to capture Jerusalem. The Zealots in Jerusalem, who were fearful of him, seized his wife but released her because of his threats. In addition to his continuous war against the party in control in Jerusalem, Simeon also fought against the Idumeans and succeeded in occupying Idumea with the help of supporters among the Idumeans themselves. Hebron, too, fell into his hands. In April 69 C.E. he entered Jerusalem, the gates of the city having been opened to him by the enemies of *John of Giscala, who had called on Simeon to come to their aid. Simeon thus gained control of the larger part of Jerusalem, both of the Upper and a considerable section of the Lower City. The struggle between Simeon and John of Giscala continued. Constant hostilities were waged between them in the city, and came to an end only when Titus’ forces reached the outskirts of Jerusalem (April 70 C.E.). Although all the rebels joined together during the siege to fight against the Romans and performed deeds of astounding bravery, the advantage enjoyed by the Roman army proved decisive. The Temple was burned and the devastated city captured by the enemy. Simeon and several of his most loyal friends hid in an underground passage among the ruins, but, unable to escape, Simeon finally surrendered to the Romans and was taken prisoner. The circumstances of his surrender were extremely strange. Josephus relates that Simeon suddenly appeared among the Temple ruins, as though out of the bowels of the earth, dressed in white and covered with a purple mantle. At the sight of him the Romans were terrified, but after recovering from their fear, bound him in chains. His strange appearance was probably connected with messianic expectations on his part; or by submitting to the victorious enemy he may have deliberately invited martyrdom. Simeon was led as a prisoner in the triumphal procession held in Rome by Vespasian and his sons to celebrate their victory over the Jews. Scourged all the way, he was taken to the Mamertine prison, at the northeast end of the Forum, and executed at the moment of the culmination of the triumph. That he and not John of Giscala played this part in the triumphal procession shows that the Romans regarded him as the most important leader in Jerusalem and as the rebel commander. This is evident from other extant information as well. His army was far larger than that of his rivals, having numbered about 15,000 at the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem. His soldiers were also the best organized and disciplined. The fact that he was invited to Jerusalem by the priests and the people may have provided him with some legal basis for his leadership, although not all the patriot elements recognized his authority. Since information about them is very sparse, it is difficult to comprehend and explain the basis of the conflict between their different parties. At times it is even difficult to distinguish between the parties themselves. Nevertheless, from extant information it would appear that Simeon b. Giora was the leader of a clear eschatological trend in the movement of rebellion against Rome, and possibly filled the role of “king messiah” within the complex of eschatological beliefs held by his followers. His exceptional bravery and daring, mentioned by Josephus, undoubtedly attracted many to him, and won him preeminence among the rebel leaders. In contrast to the bitter hostility that existed between him and John of Giscala, there was a measure of understanding between him and the Sicarii at Masada. Conspicuous among Simeon’s characteristics was the enmity he bore toward the rich and the sympathy he showed to the poor, even to the extent of freeing slaves. This approach of his doubtless had its origin in his party’s social outlook, opposed as it was to the existing order also in regard to the economic system and social justice.

Conclusion 2. Barabbas was Simon Bar Giora

Buzz words for Simon Bar Giora: These descriptions are perfect for Barabbas, a popular leader of a rebellious peasantry; already apparently known as a partisan leader; robber; people’s savior and guardian.

Perhaps even regarded with reverence and awe; torturer; and, ultimately, slain by Romans.

Added to this, we get these loftier elements government; significant army; coin minting re ‘Redemption of Zion’; Jewish king; messianic expectations on his part.

Now we pass on to who I believe was Simon Bar Giora’s alter ego in the Jewish Revolt against Rome:

Simon bar Kokhba

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (

Shimon bar Kokhba (Hebrew: שמעון בר כוכבא‎, also transliterated as Bar Kochba) was the Jewish leader of what is known as the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE, establishing an independent Jewish state of Israel which he ruled for three years as Nasi (“Ruler”). His state was conquered by the Romans in 135 following a two-year war.

Documents discovered in the modern era … give us his original name, Simon ben Kosiba, (Hebrew: שמעון בן כוסבא‎) he was given the surname Bar Kokhba, (Aramaic for “Son of a Star”, referring to the Star Prophecy of Numbers 24:17, “A star has shot off Jacob”) by his contemporary, the Jewish sage Rabbi Akiva.

After the failure of the revolt, the rabbinical writers referred to bar Kokhba as “Simon bar Kozeba” (Hebrew: בר כוזיבא‎, “Son of lies” or “Son of deception”).

Third Jewish revolt

Bar Kochba silver Shekel/tetradrachm. Obverse: the Jewish Temple facade with the rising star, surrounded by “Shimon”. Reverse: A lulav, the text reads: “to the freedom of Jerusalem”

Bar Kochba silver Zuz/denarius. Obverse: trumpets surrounded by “To the freedom of Jerusalem“. Reverse: A lyre surrounded by “Year two to the freedom of Israel

Despite the devastation wrought by the Romans during the First Jewish-Roman War … which left the population and countryside in ruins, a series of laws passed by Roman Emperors provided the incentive for the second rebellion. The last straw was a series of laws enacted by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, including an attempt to prevent Jews from living in Jerusalem; a new Roman city, Aelia Capitolina, was to be built in its place. The second Jewish rebellion took place 60 years after the first and re-established an independent state lasting three years. For many Jews of the time, this turn of events was heralded as the long hoped for Messianic Age. The excitement was short-lived, however; after a brief span of glory, the revolt was eventually crushed by the Roman legions.

The state minted its own coins, known today as Bar Kochba Revolt coinage. These were inscribed “the first (or second) year of the redemption of Israel”. Bar Kokhba ruled with the title of “Nasi”. The Romans fared very poorly during the initial revolt facing a completely unified Jewish force (unlike during the First Jewish-Roman War, where Flavius Josephus records three separate Jewish armies fighting each other for control of the Temple Mount during the three weeks time after the Romans had breached Jerusalem’s walls and were fighting their way to the center).

A complete Roman legion with auxiliaries was annihilated. The new state knew only one year of peace. The Romans committed no fewer than twelve legions, amounting to one third to one half of the entire Roman army, to reconquer this now independent state. Being outnumbered and taking heavy casualties, the Romans refused to engage in an open battle and instead adopted a scorched earth policy which reduced and demoralized the Judean populace, slowly grinding away at the will of the Judeans to sustain the war.

Bar Kokhba took up refuge in the fortress of Betar. The Romans eventually captured it and killed all the defenders. According to Cassius Dio, 580,000 Jews were killed, 50 fortified towns and 985 villages razed. Yet so costly was the Roman victory that the Emperor Hadrian, when reporting to the Roman Senate, did not see fit to begin with the customary greeting “If you and your children are well, all is well. For I and the army are all in good health.” [1] He was the only Roman general known to have refused to celebrate his victory with a triumphal entrance into his capital.

In the aftermath of the war, Hadrian consolidated the older political units of Judaea, Galilee and Samaria into the new province of Syria Palaestina, which is commonly interpreted as an attempt to complete the disassociation with Judaea[2][3][4]

Over the past few decades, new information about the revolt has come to light, from the discovery of several collections of letters, some possibly by Bar Kokhba himself, in the Cave of Letters overlooking the Dead Sea.[5][6] These letters can now be seen at the Israel Museum.[7]

Let us now supplement this with a piece about Simon Bar Kochba under the heading of “Messianic claimaints” (

 Coin of Simon ben Kosiba, showing the Temple with the Messianic star on the roof and the Ark of the Covenant inside (British Museum)

Simon ben Kosiba (132-135 CE)

Sources: ‘Abot de Rabbi Nathan A 38.3; Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 57a-58b; Genesis Rabbah 65.21 (on 27.22); Lamentations Rabbah 1.16 §45 and 2.2 §4; Palestinian Talmud, Ta’anit 4.5 (commenting on Mishna, Ta’anit 4.6); Palestinian Talmud, Nedarim 3.8 (commenting on Mishna, Nedarim 3.10-11a); Seder Elijah Rabbah 151; letters from Wadi Murabba`at (ed. P. Benoit, J.T. Milik and R. de Vaux); fifteen letters from Nahal Hever (ed. Yigael Yadin); Appian of Alexandria, Syrian war 50; Cassius Dio, Roman history 69.12.1-14.3; Eusebius, History of the church 4.5.2 and 4.6.1-4; Fronto, Letter to Marcus Aurelius; Historia Augusta, “Hadrian“, 14.2; Hieronymus, Commentary on Isaiah 2.15; Justin the Martyr, First apology 31.5-6 and Dialogue with the Jew Trypho 108.1-3 …. .   Comment: Jesus of Nazareth and Simon ben Kosiba are the only Jewish leaders who are positively identified as Messiahs in the Jewish sources: Jesus is explicitly called ‘Messiah’ by Flavius Josephus, Ben Kosiba in several rabbinical treatises. In order to understand the following text, it must be remembered that Ben Kosiba was known under two other names: his adherents called him Bar Kochba, ‘son of the star’ (a reference to Balaam’s prophecy); and his enemies called him Bar Kozeba, ‘son of the disappointment’ or ‘son of the lie’. The editor of the Palestinian Talmud clearly belonged to the second group. He tells: Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai taught: ‘Aqiba, my master, used to interpret a star goes forth from Jacob as a Kozeba goes forth from Jacob.‘ Rabbi Aqiba, when he saw Ben Kozeba, said: ‘This is the King Messiah.’ Rabbi Yohanan ben Torta said to him: ‘Aqiba! Grass will grow on your cheeks and still the Son of David does not come!’ (Palestinian Talmud, Ta`anit 4.5) This text contradicts itself. In the first line, rabbi Aqiba (the president of the rabbinical academy at Yavne and the official religious leader of the Judaean Jews) expresses that he is disappointed in Simon ben Kosiba, but in the second line he is very enthusiastic. The only way to solve this inconsistency, is to accept that the editor of the Palestinian Talmud has changed the text on two places. Because there are parallel texts (e.g., Lamentations Rabbah 2.2 §4), we may assume that the text originally ran like this: Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai taught: ‘Aqiba, my master, used to interpret a star goes forth from Jacob as a Kochba goes forth from Jacob.‘ Rabbi Aqiba, when he saw Ben Kosiba, said: ‘This is the King Messiah.’ Rabbi Yohanan ben Torta said to him: ‘Aqiba! Grass will grow on your cheeks and still the Son of David does not come!’ The editor of the Palestinian Talmud changed all references into ‘son of the disappointment’ (Kozeba), but, however the precise wording of this testimony, it is clear that Aqiba said that Simon ben Kosiba was the Messiah and was corrected by rabbi Yohanan ben Torta. If our reconstruction is sound, we know that he proposed to call him ‘son of the star’ (Bar Kochba). This nickname must have been very popular, because it is also used by the contemporary Christian authors Justin Martyr and Ariston of Pella: Barchochebas, the leader of the revolt of the Jews, gave orders that Christians alone should be led away to cruel punishments, unless they should deny Jesus as the Christ and blaspheme. [Justin, First apology 31.6] The Jews were lead by a certain Bar Chochebas, which means Star. [Ariston of Pella,  quoted by Eusebius, History of the Church 4.6.2]

A star is also what we see on the roof of the Temple, depicted on the coins which Simon ben Kosiba struck. All this can only mean that Simon ben Kosiba was indeed regarded as the man to whom Balaam’s prophecy was applied, the Messiah.

These coins tell us more. In the first place, they show us the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant inside it. This shows that the restoration of the Temple [sic] was one of the aims of the rebellion. This is not necessarily a messianic aim, but it was a popular theme in the decades preceding the war of 132-136. For instance, an Aramaic translation (a ‘targum’) of Isaiah53.5 written about 100 CE, adds the words ‘and the Messiah will build the sanctuary’.  Another point that deserves attention is the legend, which reads on the obverse ‘Simon, prince of Israel‘ and on the reverse ‘Year one of the redemption of Israel’. From the Amidah or Eighteen prayer, we know that the word ‘redemption’ had a very strong eschatological meaning. But it is not strictly messianic. On the other hand, the obverse legend can only be understood in a messianic sense, because the word ‘prince’ (Nasi) is a common synonym for Messiah. It is therefore very difficult not to interpret Simon’s coins as the coins of a Messiah.

Simon ben Kosiba wrote letters to his fellow rebels, several of which have been found by archaeologists. Again, he calls himself ‘prince’ (e.g, ‘On the twenty-eighth marhesvan of the third year of Simon ben Kosiba, prince of Israel…’).

Another aspect of Ben Kosiba’s career that becomes understandable when we know that he was recognized as the Messiah, is the description of a miracle fraud:

That famed Barchochebas, the instigator of the Jewish uprising, kept fanning a lighted blade of straw in his mouth with puffs of breath so as to give the impression that he was spewing out flames.

[Jerome, Against Rufinus 3.31]

This is of course a rationalization of a miracle story. The interesting point is that this type of miracle is exactly what the Messiah was expected to do:

Behold, when he saw the onrush of the approaching multitude, he neither lifted his hand nor held a spear or any weapon of war; but I saw how he sent forth from his mouth as it were a stream of fire, and from his lips a flaming breath, and from his tongue he shot forth a storm of sparks. All these were mingled together, the stream of fire and the flaming breath and the great storm, and fell on the onrushing multitide which was prepared to fight, and burnt them all up, so that suddenly nothing was seen of the innumerable multitude but only the dust of ashes and the smell of smoke.

[4 Ezra 13.9-11]

One final piece of evidence may be introduced. As we saw above, the contemporary Christian author Justin stated that Simon ben Kosiba ordered Christians to be ‘led away to cruel punishments, unless they should deny Jesus as the Christ and blaspheme’. This only makes sense when Ben Kosiba feared a rival Messiah.

Conclusion 3. Simon Bar Giora was Simon Bar Kochba

Buzz words for Simon Bar Kochba: These descriptions are perfect for Simon Bar Giora (Barabbas?), Jewish leader of a revolt against the Romans; government; significant army; coin minting re ‘Redemption of Zion’; even Jewish king and ruler; regarded with reverence; torturer; and, ultimately, slain by Romans. Most significantly, the Messianic element, hinted at in Bar Giora, becomes overt with Bar Kochba, as a messiah. New element here, opposed to Christ, cruel persecutor of Christians.

Note that the Temple and the Ark, supposedly obsolete, are depicted in Bar Kochba’s coinage.

In common with Barabbas, Bar Giora, Bar Kochba, is the trait of a popular and charismatic leader of rebellion against Rome, notoriety, theft, violence and murder. The progression from a small time bandit and revolutionary (Barabbas) to a strong leader of an armed force with priestly or messianic and even kingly pretensions, a minter of coins and controller of economy (Bar Giora), may actually represent the development and career of Barabbas from a young man to a hardened opponent of the Herods and Rome. And basically the description here of Bar Giora applies also to Bar Kochba, with even more emphasis on the governance and messianic aspects. But now, in the case of Bar Kochba, we encounter a new element as well: that of a miraculous wonder worker, perhaps a magician with a heavy dose of fake and charlatanism.

  1. B.    As a Magician with Roman Influence and False Messiah

This leads us inevitably to an evil magician and wonderworker of the New Testament of lofty ambition worthy of a Simon Bar Kochba, namely Simon Magus of the Acts of the Apostles. I shall also be double identifying the latter, by connecting him with the magician Bar Jesus (also given as Elymas) also of Acts. But, before we proceed with accounts of the New Testament magician and wonder worker, here is my basic explanation for the plethora of names for our leading character:

Original Names: Simon and Barabbas (Bar-Abbas).

Descriptions: Bar Giora (Piora), ‘Son of the Proselyte’; Magus (magician).

As a baptised Christian: Bar Jesus (can also mean Disciple of Jesus).

Greek name: Elymas [Atomas]

As a messiah figure: Bar Kosiba, Bar Kochba (‘Son of the Star’).

Derogatory Name: Bar Kozeba (‘Son of Deception’, ‘Son of Lies’).

If Simon Magus is also our composite Simon (beginning with Barabbas and ending with Bar Kochba), then he would serve to fill in the large gap (some 35 years?) between Barabbas and the Trial of Jesus on the one hand – when Barabbas first emerges in the Gospels – and, on the other hand, the rise of Simon Bar Giora in the 66 AD Jewish Revolt against Rome.

Here, then, is Wikipedia’s sometimes quite fanciful account of:

Simon Magus


Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus, (Greek Σίμων ὁ μάγος) was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in Acts 8:9-24. The sin of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is named for Simon. The Apostolic Constitutions also accuses him of lawlessness.[1]

Surviving traditions about Simon appear in anti-heretical texts, such as those of Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius, where he is often regarded as the source of all heresies. Justin wrote that nearly all the Samaritans in his time were adherents of a certain Simon of Gitta, a village not far from Flavia Neapolis. Irenaeus held him as being one of the founders of Gnosticism and the sect of the Simonians.[2][3][4][5] Hippolytus quotes from a work he attributes to Simon or his followers the Simonians, Apophasis Megale, or Great Declaration. According to the early church heresiologists Simon is also supposed to have written several lost treatises, two of which bear the titles The Four Quarters of the World and The Sermons of the Refuter.

In apocryphal works including the Acts of Peter, Pseudo-Clementines, and the Epistle of the Apostles, Simon also appears as a formidable sorcerer with the ability to levitate and fly at will.


Acts of the Apostles


The different sources for information on Simon contain quite different pictures of him, so much so that it has been questioned whether they all refer to the same person. Assuming all references are to the same person, as some (but by no means all) of the Church fathers did, the earliest reference to him is the canonical Acts of the Apostles, this is his only appearance in the New Testament.

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” 11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16(for as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” 20But Peter said unto him, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee, 23for I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” 24Then answered Simon, and said, “Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.”[6]

Acts tells of a person named Simōn practicing magic in the city of Sebaste in Samaria, meeting with Philip the Evangelist, and then trying to offer money to the Apostles in exchange for miraculous abilities, specifically the power of laying on of hands. In Acts 8:20, Peter denounces Simon’s attitude, and declares, “May your money perish with you!”


Josephus mentions a magician named Simon[7] as being involved with the procurator Felix, King Agrippa II and his sister Drusilla, where Felix has Simon convince Drusilla to marry him instead of the man she was engaged to. Some scholars have considered the two to be identical,[8] although this is not generally accepted, as the Simon of Josephus is a Jew rather than a Samaritan.

Wikipedia now proceeds to introduce the notorious woman with whom Simon was so deeply involved. Could she be the wicked “Jezebel” about whom John warns the Christians in the Book of Revelation? I shall come back to this idea later:

Justin Martyr and Irenaeus

Justin Martyr (in his Apologies, and in a lost work against heresies, which Irenaeus used as his main source) and Irenaeus (Adversus Haereses) record that after being cast out by the Apostles he came to Rome where, having joined to himself a profligate woman of the name of Helen, he gave out that it was he who appeared among the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father and among other nations as the Holy Spirit. He performed such miracles by magic acts during the reign of Claudius that he was regarded as a god and honored with a statue on the island in the Tiber which the two bridges cross, with the inscription Simoni Deo Sancto, “To Simon the Holy God”. However, in the 16th century, a statue was unearthed on the island in question, inscribed to Semo Sancus, a Sabine deity,[9] leading most scholars to believe that Justin Martyr confused Semoni Sancus with Simon.

Myth of Simon and Helen

Justin and Irenaeus are the first to recount the myth of Simon and Helen, which became the center of Simonian doctrine. Epiphanius of Salamis also makes Simon speak in the first person in several places in his Panarion, and the inference is that he is quoting from a version of it, though perhaps not verbatim.

In the beginning God had his first thought, his Ennoia, which was female, and that thought was to create the angels. The First Thought then descended into the lower regions and created the angels. But the angels rebelled against her out of jealousy and created the world as her prison, imprisoning her in a female body. Thereafter, she was reincarnated many times, each time being shamed. Her many reincarnations included Helen of Troy; among others, and she finally was reincarnated as Helen, a slave and prostitute in the Phoenician city of Tyre. God then descended in the form of Simon Magus, to rescue his Ennoia, and to confer salvation upon men through knowledge of himself.

“And on her account,” he says, “did I come down; for this is that which is written in the Gospel ‘the lost sheep‘.”[10]

For as the angels were mismanaging the world, owing to their individual lust for rule, he had come to set things straight, and had descended under a changed form, likening himself to the Principalities and Powers through whom he passed, so that among men he appeared as a man, though he was not a man, and was thought to have suffered in Judaea, though he had not suffered.

“But in each heaven I changed my form,” says he, “in accordance with the form of those who were in each heaven, that I might escape the notice of my angelic powers and come down to the Thought, who is none other than her who is also called Prunikos and Holy Ghost, through whom I created the angels, while the angels created the world and men.”[11]

But the prophets had delivered their prophecies under the inspiration of the world-creating angels: wherefore those who had their hope in him and in Helen minded them no more, and, as being free, did what they pleased; for men were saved according to his grace, but not according to just works. For works were not just by nature, but only by convention, in accordance with the enactments of the world-creating angels, who by precepts of this kind sought to bring men into slavery. Wherefore he promised that the world should be dissolved, and that those who were his should be freed from the dominion of the world-creators.

In this account of Simon there is a large portion common to almost all forms of Gnostic myths, together with something special to this form. They have in common the place in the work of creation assigned to the female principle, the conception of the Deity; the ignorance of the rulers of this lower world with regard to the Supreme Power; the descent of the female (Sophia) into the lower regions, and her inability to return. Special to the Simonian tale is the identification of Simon himself with the Supreme, and of his consort Helena with the female principle.


Upon the story of “the lost sheep,” Hippolytus (in his Philosophumena) comments as follows.

But the liar was enamoured of this wench, whose name was Helen, and had bought her and had her to wife, and it was out of respect for his disciples that he invented this fairy-tale.[12]

Reduced to despair, he says, by the curse laid upon him by Peter, Simon embarked on the career that has been described:

Until he came to Rome also and fell foul of the Apostles. Peter withstood him on many occasions. At last he came [...] and began to teach sitting under a plane tree. When he was on the point of being shown up, he said, in order to gain time, that if he were buried alive he would rise again on the third day. So he bade that a tomb should be dug by his disciples and that he should be buried in it. Now they did what they were ordered, but he remained there until now: for he was not the Christ.[13]


Hippolytus gives a much more doctrinally detailed account of Simonianism, including a system of divine emanations and interpretations of the Old Testament, with extensive quotations from the Apophasis Megale. Some believe that Hippolytus’ account is of a later, more developed form of Simonianism, and that the original doctrines of the group were simpler, close to the account given by Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (this account however is also included in Hippolytus’ work).

Hippolytus says the free love doctrine was held by them in its purest form, and speaks in language similar to that of Irenaeus about the variety of magic arts practiced by the Simonians, and also of their having images of Simon and Helen under the forms of Zeus and Athena. But he also adds, “if any one, on seeing the images either of Simon or Helen, shall call them by those names, he is cast out, as showing ignorance of the mysteries.”


Epiphanius writes that there were some Simonians still in existence in his day (c. AD 367), but he speaks of them as almost extinct. Gitta, he says, had sunk from a town into a village. Epiphanius further charges Simon with having tried to wrest the words of St. Paul about the armour of God (Ephesians 6:14-16) into agreement with his own identification of the Ennoia with Athena. He tells us also that he gave barbaric names to the “principalities and powers,” and that he was the beginning of the Gnostics. The Law, according to him, was not of God, but of “the sinister power.” The same was the case with the prophets, and it was death to believe in the Old Testament.

Cyril of Jerusalem

Cyril of Jerusalem (346 AD) in the sixth of his Catechetical Lectures prefaces his history of the Manichaeans by a brief account of earlier heresies: Simon Magus, he says, had given out that he was going to be translated to heaven, and was actually careening through the air in a chariot drawn by demons when Peter and Paul knelt down and prayed, and their prayers brought him to earth a mangled corpse.


Acts of Peter

The apocryphal Acts of Peter gives a more elaborate tale of Simon Magus’ death. Simon is performing magic in the Forum, and in order to prove himself to be a god, he levitates up into the air above the Forum. The apostle Peter prays to God to stop his flying, and he stops mid-air and falls into a place called the Sacra Via (meaning, Holy Way), breaking his legs “in three parts”. The previously non-hostile crowd then stones him. Now gravely injured, he had some people carry him on a bed at night from Rome to Ariccia, and was brought from there to Terracina to a person named Castor, who on accusations of sorcery was banished from Rome. The Acts then continue to say that he died “while being sorely cut by two physicians”.[14]

Acts of Peter and Paul

Another apocryphal document, the Acts of Peter and Paul gives a slightly different version of the above incident, which was shown in the context of a debate in front of the Emperor Nero. In this version, Paul the Apostle is present along with Peter, Simon levitates from a high wooden tower made upon his request, and dies “divided into four parts” due to the fall. Peter and Paul were then put in prison by Nero while ordering Simon’s body be kept carefully for three days (thinking he would rise again).[15]

Pseudo-Clementine literature

The Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions and Homilies give an account of Simon Magus and some of his teachings in regards to the Simonians. They are of uncertain date and authorship, and seem to have been worked over by several hands in the interest of diverse forms of belief.

Simon was a Samaritan, and a native of Gitta. The name of his father was Antonius, that of his mother Rachel. He studied Greek literature in Alexandria, and, having in addition to this great power in magic, became so ambitious that he wished to be considered a highest power, higher even than the God who created the world. And sometimes he “darkly hinted” that he himself was Christ, calling himself the Standing One. Which name he used to indicate that he would stand for ever, and had no cause in him for bodily decay. He did not believe that the God who created the world was the highest, nor that the dead would rise. He denied Jerusalem, and introduced Mount Gerizim in its stead. In place of the Christ of the Christians he proclaimed himself; and the Law he allegorized in accordance with his own preconceptions. He did indeed preach righteousness and judgment to come: but this was merely a bait for the unwary.

There was one John the Baptist, who was the forerunner of Jesus in accordance with the law of parity; and as Jesus had twelve Apostles, bearing the number of the twelve solar months, so had he thirty leading men, making up the monthly tale of the moon. One of these thirty leading men was a woman called Helen, and the first and most esteemed by John was Simon. But on the death of John he was away in Egypt for the practice of magic, and one Dositheus, by spreading a false report of Simon’s death, succeeded in installing himself as head of the sect. Simon on coming back thought it better to dissemble, and, pretending friendship for Dositheus, accepted the second place. Soon, however, he began to hint to the thirty that Dositheus was not as well acquainted as he might be with the doctrines of the school.[16]

Dositheus, when he perceived that Simon was depreciating him, fearing lest his reputation among men might be obscured (for he himself was supposed to be the Standing One), moved with rage, when they met as usual at the school, seized a rod, and began to beat Simon; but suddenly the rod seemed to pass through his body, as if it had been smoke. On which Dositheus, being astonished, says to him, ‘Tell me if thou art the Standing One, that I may adore thee.’ And when Simon answered that he was, then Dositheus, perceiving that he himself was not the Standing One, fell down and worshipped him, and gave up his own place as chief to Simon, ordering all the rank of thirty men to obey him; himself taking the inferior place which Simon formerly occupied. Not long after this he died.[17]

The encounter between both Dositheus and Simon Magus was the beginnings of the sect of Simonians. The narrative goes on to say that Simon, having fallen in love with Helen, took her about with him, saying that she had come down into the world from the highest heavens, and was his mistress, inasmuch as she was Sophia, the Mother of All. It was for her sake, he said, that the Greeks and Barbarians fought the Trojan War, deluding themselves with an image of truth, for the real being was then present with the First God. By such specious allegories and Greek myths Simon deceived many, while at the same time he astounded them by his magic. A description is given of how he made a familiar spirit for himself by conjuring the soul out of a boy and keeping his image in his bedroom, and many instances of his feats of magic are given.

“Simon Magus” as a cipher

The Pseudo-Clementine writings were used in the 4th century by members of the Ebionite sect, one characteristic of which was hostility to Paul, whom they refused to recognize as an apostle.[18] Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792–1860), founder of the Tübingen School, drew attention to the anti-Pauline characteristic in the Pseudo-Clementines, and pointed out that in the disputations between Simon and Peter, some of the claims Simon is represented as making (e.g. that of having seen the Lord, though not in his lifetime, yet subsequently in vision) were really the claims of Paul; and urged that Peter’s refutation of Simon was in some places intended as a polemic against Paul. The enmity between Peter and Simon is clearly shown. Simon’s magical powers are juxtaposed with Peter’s powers in order to express Peter’s authority over Simon through the power of prayer, and in the 17th Homily, the identification of Paul with Simon Magus is effected. Simon is there made to maintain that he has a better knowledge of the mind of Jesus than the disciples, who had seen and conversed with Him in person. His reason for this strange assertion is that visions are superior to waking reality, as divine is superior to human.[19] Peter has much to say in reply to this, but the passage which mainly concerns us is as follows:

But can any one be educated for teaching by vision? And if you shall say, “It is possible,” why did the Teacher remain and converse with waking men for a whole year? And how can we believe you even as to the fact that he appeared to you? And how can he have appeared to you seeing that your sentiments are opposed to his teaching? But if you were seen and taught by him for a single hour, and so became an apostle, then preach his words, expound his meaning, love his apostles, fight not with me who had converse with him. For it is against a solid rock, the foundation-stone of the Church, that you have opposed yourself in opposing me. If you were not an adversary, you would not be slandering me and reviling the preaching that is given through me, in order that, as I heard myself in person from the Lord, when I speak I may not be believed, as though forsooth it were I who was condemned and I who was reprobate. Or, if you call me condemned, you are accusing God who revealed the Christ to me, and are inveighing against Him who called me blessed on the ground of the revelation. But if indeed you truly wish to work along with the truth, learn first from us what we learnt from Him, and when you have become a disciple of truth, become our fellow-workman.



There are other features in the portrait which remind us strongly of Marcion. For the first thing which we learn from the Homilies about Simon’s opinions is that he denied that God was just.[23] By “God” he meant the Creator. But he undertakes to prove from Scripture that there is a higher God, who really possesses the perfections which are falsely ascribed to the lower.[24] On these grounds Peter complains that, when he was setting out for the Gentiles to convert them from their worship of many gods upon earth, the Evil Power had sent Simon before him to make them believe that there were many gods in heaven.[25]

And now from:


1. In the Book of Acts.

One of the most difficult and interesting problems of apostolic and post-apostolic history is presented by Simon Magus, a Samaritan, who is described at once as a Christian, a Jew, and a pagan, a magician and a sorcerer, a Christian religious philosopher and an archheretic, a pseudo-apostle and a pseudo-Messiah, the founder of a religion and an incarnation of God. The earliest source concerning him is Acts viii. 5-24, where he appears as a sorcerer who had “bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one,” yet becoming an adherent of the Apostle Philip and marveling at “the miracles and signs which were done” (verses 5-13). In verses 14-19, on the other hand, he seeks from Peter and John, not (as one would expect in the case of a sorcerer) the power of working miracles like Philip’s, but the gift of conferring the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, only to have his request refused because of the unworthy motives which had prompted it. It is held by some critics that this entire account was based by a redactor of Acts on some “Acts of Peter,” this redactor substituting Philip for Peter in verses 5, 6, 12, 13; adding allusions to John in verses 18b, 19a, 24, interpolating verse 10, and adding verses 14-18a and 19b. It should also be noted, in this connection, that neither the extant Acts of Peter nor the Church Fathers mention Philip and John in their accounts of Simon Magus.

2. In the Apocrypha and Justin Martyr.

The record of Acts is continued by the various recensions of the apocryphal Acts of Peter and kin dred literature (cf. Clement of Alexandria, Strom., vii. 17; Hippolytus, Philosophumena, vi. 20; Eusebius, Hist. eccl., ii. 14-15; Arnobius, Adv. gentes ii. 12; Philostorgius, Haer., xxix.; Epiphanius, Haer., xxi. 4; etc.), all of which deal with the conflict between Simon Peter and Simon Magus. The scene is Samaria in the Acta Vercellenses only, the other sources and Justin substituting Judea (or Jerusalem and Caesarea) and, most frequently, Rome. The time is the reign of Nero or (in the Acta Vercellenses) Claudius, but the only new trait ascribed to the characters is the pseudo-Messiahship of Simon Magus, which is shown, for instance,


in his attempted ascension (frustrated by the prayer of Peter) and in the epithet: “He that hath stood.” An entirely different picture is given by the heresiologists of the early Church. The fragments of Justin Martyr’s lost work on heresies state that Simon Magus was born in the Samaritan village of Gitta, and went to Rome in the reign of Claudius. There he is described as honored by a statue on an island in the Tiber, this statue bearing the inscription Simoni sancto deo (“To Simon, the holy god”). This latter statement seems, however, to be due to confusion with a statue actually set up on the island in question in honor of the Sabine deity Semo Sancus, with an inscription including the words Semoni Sanco deo. At the same time, the tradition of Simon’s residence at Rome in the reign of Claudius was evidently wide-spread, and Justin also states that nearly all the Samaritans honored Simon Magus “as the first god, above all power, authority, and might,” and as accompanied by a certain ex-courtezan Helena, designated “the first understanding from himself” (Apol., i. 26; Trypho, cxx.).

3. His System According to Later Heresiologists.

A valuable supplement to this information is given by a Roman heresiology written before 175 and incorporated by Irenaeus in his Haer., i. 23, also being used, in all probability, by Celsus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and the pseudo-Tertullian. Here Simon Magus appears in an essentially Gnostic garb, being, on the one hand, the “highest God ” (or “Father”), and, on the other, “the most sublime power of God”; while Helena (here brought into connection with Tyre) is represented as “the first conception of his [Simon's] mind,” “the mother of all,” “wisdom,” “the Holy Spirit,” etc. Emanating from the Father, she descended to the realms beneath, where, in conformity to his will, she created the angelic powers which, without knowing the Father, created the world and man. Unwilling to be considered creatures, the angels imprisoned her in a female body, and she is the lost sheep for whose salvation the Father (Simon) appeared, to rescue both her and mankind from the slavery of the cosmic angelic powers. To deceive these powers, he was manifested to mankind as man, as the Father to the Samaritans and the Son to the Jews, suffering docetic passion. To this Irenaeus erroneously adds that Simon was supposed to have appeared as the Holy Ghost to the gentiles; and both he and Epiphanius give a number of further details which, while not impossible, cannot definitely be ascribed to the system. An entirely different presentation of Simon’s teaching is implied by Clement and Origen, and is further developed in the Philosophumena (vi. 7-18, x. 12; ANF, v. 74-81, 143). Here Helena (“Mind “) is unknown, and Simon is given his self-designation-”He that hath stood”; but Clement adds practically no new material, and Origen little beyond the statement that Simon regarded idolatry as a matter of no concern (Contra Celsum, vi. 11). A similar ignorance of Helena and a like emphasis on Simon as “He that hath stood” are shown by the Philosophumena. Here the center of all being is “boundless power,” which is both supramundane (inconceivable holy Silence) and intramundane (the “Father,” “He that hath stood, that standeth, and is to stand,” an androgynous power with neither beginning nor end, and essentially unitary). While remaining distinct as a seventh power, the Father causes to emanate three syzygies of cosmic powers, which in their spiritual aspect are “Mind,” “Intelligence,” “Voice,” “Name,” “Ratiocination,” and “Reflection,” and in their physical aspect are “Heaven,” “Earth,” “Sun,” “Moon,” “Air,” and “Water.” The Father is, moreover, “He that hath stood” in relation to premundane existence; “He that standeth” in relation to present being; and “He that shall stand” in relation to the final consummation. Man is simply the realization of “boundless power,” the ultimate end of the cosmic process in which the godhead attains self-consciousness. All this material is recapitulated, with some additional data, by the pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitions. Simon Magus is here described as a necromancer driven by Peter from Caesarea to Antioch, and finally to Rome, everywhere shown to be an impostor, though declaring himself to be Christ, and overcome by divine miracles. Helena again appears, this time as “Wisdom,” “the All-Mother,” and “Lady,” sending forth two angels (who seize power over her), one to create the world, and the other to give the Law. The pseudo-Clementine sources also add that Simon Magus was the son of Antonius and Rachel, that he was educated in Greek learning at Alexandria, and that, after being received among the thirty disciples of John the Baptist, he became head of the sect after the death of his teacher. He is likewise described, though without plausibility, as the representative of Samaritan worship on Mount Gerizim who expounded the Law allegorically and denied the resurrection of the dead, as the representative of pagan philosophy (especially of astrological fatalism), and even as the defender of Marcion’s antithesis of the good and righteous God.

4. Untenable Theories Concerning Simon Magus.

In some passages in these writings Simon Magus wears the mask of Paul, and attacks are made on Pauline teachings under the guise of polemics in favor of the Petrine theology against the tenets of Simon Magus. There is, however, no basis for the theory that the picture of Simon Magus in the Clementine literature is deliberately designed to be a caricature of Paul inspired by the hatred of the Judaizing school, or for seeing in the struggle between Peter and Simon the victory of Petrine over Pauline Christianity. All the traits of Simon in this literature reveal him as only a magician or pseudo-Messiah, later given not merely Pauline, but also pagan and Marcionistic, characteristics; so that both in the apocryphal Acts and in the pseudo-Clementine literature Simon Magus was primarily not a pseudo-Paul, but a pseudo-Christ, and therefore the antithesis of Peter. Equally improbable is the hypothesis which identifies Simon Magus with the beast of Rev. xiii. 11-17, although it is not impossible that the Beliar which the Sibylline Books, iii. 63 sqq., describe as destined to come “from the Sebastenes” (Samaritans) represented Simon. It


has likewise been maintained that Simon Magus is to be identified with the heresiarch Simon of Gitta, who should, on this hypothesis, be dated in the early part of the second century, but for this theory there is not the slightest ground, especially in view of the testimony of Acts, Clement of Alexandria, and Justin. It is, on the other hand, not improbable that Simon Magus is to be identified with a Jewish magician named Simon who acted as a go-between for the procurator Felix of Judea. This Simon is described by Josephus (Ant., XX., vii. 2) as a Cypriot, but this statement probably rests upon a confusion of the Cyprian capital, Cittium (Hebr. Kittim), with the obscure Samaritan village of Gitta (Hebr. Gittim).

5. A Sorcerer Syncretized with the Sun.

All evidence goes to prove that Simon was what his epithet Magus implies-a sorcerer. This was the motive for his association with the apostles in Samaria, but while it would seem that he pretended to be, in the pagan sense, a god in human form (cf. Justin, Apol., i. 26), there is no indication that either Acts or Justin regarded him as a pseudo-Messiah; and even the apocryphal Acts and the pseudo-Clementine literature characterize him as a false Christ merely on the ground that he was the first-born of Satan (cf. Ignatius, Epist. ad Trallenses, longer version, xi.). It is true that the heresiologists describe him as the supreme God and even as the Redeemer, but a careful study of the sources, particularly of the extant fragments of his “Great Announcement” (preserved by Hippolytus, Philosophumena, vi. 6 sqq.), shows that Simon himself made no claim to Messiahship, this being attributed to him by his disciples. With this falls the theory that Simon Magus was the founder of a universal religion intended to rival Christianity; and he was not even the founder of a sect in the sense that such heresiarchs as Marcion were. The very fact that Simon himself became the subject of Gnostic speculation shows that he was not the founder of Gnosticism, nor do the earlier sources so represent him; it was only his followers who made this claim for him. Historically, then, Simon was but a sorcerer who asserted that he was a god. This assertion, aided by the high fame which he enjoyed throughout Samaria (cf. Acts viii.), reached its culmination in his identification with the Semitic sun-god Shamash, whose cult was united with that of the moon-goddess Astarte. This is confirmed by Simon’s companion, Helena, who is unknown to Acts, the apocryphal Acts, the Alexandrine heresiologists, or the “Great Announcement,” but whose name (“Moon”), combined with the immoral past ascribed her and her Tyrian home, obviously points to the Tyrian moon-goddess with her licentious rites. How long this cult of Simon Magus, which had evidently arisen long before the time of Justin, persisted in Samaria and other regions is unknown, but in the days of Origen the “Simonians” were exceedingly few in number in Palestine and the neighboring countries (Contra Celsum, i. 57), and by the time of Epiphanius (Haer., xxii. 2) they had become extinct. On the other hand, they had spread widely in the West before 200, and there long maintained themselves, (cf. Hippolytus, Philosophumena, vi. 15). They seem to have developed a sect essentially occult and libertine in character, worshiping Simon (cf. Irenaeus, Haer., I. xxiii. 4), and finally giving rise to two systems, that of the “Great Announcement” and that described by the heresiologists who based their writings upon Justin.

6. The Twofold Simonian System.

The authenticity of the “Great Announcement” has been assailed both because of its similarity to other Gnostic systems recorded by Hippolytus and on account of its divergence from Simon’s teachings as described by other heresiologigts. Neither of these arguments, however, is sufficient to prove the document spurious, especially in view of the confirmation of Hippolytus by other heresiologists; and the true explanation of the divergencies between the Philosophumena and Justin lies in the fact that there were two Simonian systems, one influenced by Alexandria and the other by Syria. The former influence is especially evident in the doctrine of the Godhead as “He that hath stood,” which finds a close parallelism in the Philonian system, and is also perceptible in the purely allegorical method of Biblical exegesis adopted by the “Great Announcement” (cf. also the account in the pseudo-Clementine Homilies, ii. 22 sqq.). It is uncertain whether the “Great Announcement” was written in Alexandria, but at all events its citation of non-Samaritan prophets and of Proverbs shows that it was composed neither by Simon nor by any of his Samaritan followers. The account given by Justin and those who drew upon him, on the other hand, indicates that the second Simonian system was evolved in Syria, its elements being a syncretism of Babylonian mythology and Hellenistic allegory (for the latter cf. Irenaeus, Haer., I. xxiii. 4; Epiphanius, Haer., xxi.). Both the Alexandrine and the Syrian form of Simonianism are unique in the history of Gnosticism in that they make a historic personage the supreme God, and, although destitute of any real Christian spirit, both show Christian influence, the Alexandrian “Great Announcement” using written Gospels and the Petrine and Pauline epistles, and the Syrian system comparing Helena with the lost sheep of Matt. xviii. 12 and Luke xv. 6. (HANS WAITZ.)

Bar Jesus

Whilst Peter and James encounter the wicked magician, Simon Magus, Paul encounters the wicked magician, Bar Jesus. It may be one and the same magician, with Bar Jesus being his name when baptised as a Christian (see below). Bar (‘Son of’) in Hebrew can have a wider meaning than just ‘son’, and might here mean a ‘follower of Jesus’. Here is a description of this character who even has high Roman connections (just as the magician Simon Magus reputedly had an enormous reputation in the city of Rome) (

(Atomus) Elymas Bar-Jesus

“When they had gone though the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now listen – the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind for a while, unable to see the sun. Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he went about groping for someone to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:6-11)

The name “Elymas”

Commentators have long been puzzled about how the name “Elymas” can be interpreted to mean “magician” in the passage above. However, Rick Strelan appears to have resolved the problem.(1) In a recent article he suggests that the magician had taken the name of Elam, the eldest son of Shem, the son of Noah, and that Elam was considered an archetypal magician. The name “Elymas” would then have signified “magician” and this would explain Acts 13:8. In support of his proposal Strelan quotes Josephus:

“For Elymos left behind him the Elamites, the ancestors of the Persians” (Ant 1.6.4), and notes that the magoi were commonly associated with the Persians. There is also evidence, not mentioned by Strelan, that Shem was considered a magician. Firstly, in the Book of Jubilees a book of healing arts is given by Noah to his eldest son, Shem:

“And we explained to Noah all the medicines of their diseases, together with their seductions, how he might heal them with herbs of the earth. And Noah wrote down all things in a book as we instructed him concerning every kind of medicine. Thus the evil spirits were precluded from (hurting) the sons of Noah. And he gave all that he had written to Shem, his eldest son; for he loved him exceedingly above all his sons.”

The Treatise of Shem is a Pseudepigraphic work, written in the name of Shem, probably in the first century BC. It is an astrological treatise and therefore shows that Shem was associated with astrology.

To sum up: Noah’s eldest son was Shem, whose eldest son was Elam, whose name was written “Elymos” by Josephus in the first century. The evidence suggests that there was a tradition that the magical arts of astrology and perhaps healing passed down the Noah-Shem-Elam line. Therefore, by accepting the name “Elymas”, Bar-Jesus was identifying himself as a magician in an ancient Jewish tradition.

The name “Bar-Jesus”

Strelan argues that Elymas was, like Simon Magus, a follower of Jesus, of sorts. He suggests that Elymas took the name “Bar-Jesus” because he considered himself to be a disciple of Jesus. Strelan cites several cases where the term “Bar” or “Son of” is used to mean “disciple of”. While “Jesus” was a common name for Jews, Strelan is probably right. Someone who had named himself after Elam and had then started to perform his magic in the name of Jesus, might well have taken the name “Son of Jesus” to reflect the new source of his power or inspiration.



It is clear that “Elymas” was not his birth name. The name “Bar-Jesus”, on any hypothesis, cannot have been his only name in infancy, so he must have had another name. Josephus describes a Jewish magician from Cyprus:

“At the time when Felix was procurator of Judaea, he beheld her; and, inasmuch as she surpassed all other women in beauty, he conceived a passion for the lady. He sent to her one of his friends, a Cyprian Jew named Atomus, who pretended to be a magician, in an effort to persuade her to leave her husband and to marry Felix.” (Josephus Ant.20.142)

Both Atomus and Elymas were Jewish magicians from Cyprus who associated with high Roman officials. Felix was procurator from A.D. 52-59 so Atomus incident was only about a decade later than the Elymas incident. It is therefore chronologically possible that they were one and the same person. If, as seems likely, Elymas was employed by Sergius Paulus, he might well have lost his job after the encounter with Paul. If his other name, Bar-Jesus, indicates that he had been in contact with the Jesus movement, he may have had Judean connections. Thus it would not be surprising if Elymas left the employment of Sergius Paulus and attached himself to Felix in Judea.

The similarity in sound between “Atomus” and “Elymas” makes the identity more likely.

The western text of Acts has “Etoimos”, which may be a form of the name “Atomus”.

There are many examples of cases where a new name is chosen, in part, because of its phonetic resemblance to the original name (BarKosiba/BarKokhba/BarKoziba, Titus-Timothy, Mary-Magdalene, Saul-Paul, Silvanus-Silas etc.).

[(1) Strelan "Who Was Bar Jesus (Acts 13, 6-12)?" Biblica 85 (2004) 65-81].



Conclusion 4. Our Composite Simon was Simon Magus Bar Jesus

Buzz words for Simon Magus Bar Jesus. These descriptions are perfect for our composite Simon, Samaritan from region of Shechem (Flavia Neapolis); convert; lawlessness; wickedness; miracle wonder worker; aspirations to greatness, even a messianic God-likeness (‘ambition to be highest power’); pseudo-Messiah, devil-like; pseudo-Christ and distorter (opponent) of Christianity.


Finally, for Catholic readers, there is this brief reference to Simon Magus from the vision of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, in

James the Greater and one of the disciples were sent to the pagan regions north of Capharnaum. Thomas and Matthew were dispatched to Ephesus, in order to prepare the country where at a future day Jesus’ Mother and many of those that believed in Him were to dwell. They wondered greatly at the fact of Mary’s going to live there. Thaddeus and Simon were to go first to Samaria, though none cared to go there. All preferred cities entirely pagan. Jesus told them that they would all meet twice in Jerusalem before going to preach the Gospel in distant pagan lands. He spoke of a man between Samaria and Jericho, who would, like Himself, perform many miracles, though by the power of the devil. He would manifest a desire of conversion, and they must kindly receive him, for even the devil should contribute to His glory. Simon Magus was meant by these words of Jesus. During this instruction the Apostles, as in a familiar conference, questioned Jesus upon whatever they could not understand, and He explained to them as far as was necessary. Everything was perfectly natural. Three years after the Crucifixion all the Apostles met in Jerusalem, after which Peter and John left the city and Mary accompanied the latter to Ephesus. Then arose in Jerusalem the persecution against Lazarus, Martha, and Magdalen. The last named had up to that time been doing penance in the desert, in the cave to which Elizabeth had escaped with John during the massacre of the Innocents. The Apostles, in that first reunion, brought together all that belonged to the body of the Church. When half of the time of Mary’s life after Christ’s Ascension had flown, about the sixth year after that event, the Apostles were again assembled in Jerusalem. It was then they drew up the Creed, made rules, relinquished all that they possessed, distributed it to the poor, and divided the Church into dioceses, after which they separated and went into far-off heathen countries. At Mary’s death they all met again for the last time. When they again separated for distant countries, it was until death. When Jesus left the Temple after this discourse, the enraged Pharisees lay in wait for Him both at the gate and on the way, for they intended to stone Him. But Jesus avoided them, proceeded to Bethania, and for three days went no more to the Temple. He wanted to give the Apostles and disciples time to think over what they had heard. Meantime they referred to Him for further explanation upon many points. Jesus ordered them to commit to writing what He had said relative to the future. I saw that Nathanael the Bridegroom, who was very skillful with the pen, did it, and I wondered the predictions. Nathanael at that time had no other name. it was only at Baptism that he received a second.

[End of quote]

“Son of Perdition”

To complete our essay, we need to consider whether our composite Simon can also be the apocalyptical “Son of perdition” as spoken of by St. Paul. (This title is also used by John for the betrayer, Judas: 17:12). Certainly Paul in particular has harsh words for the evil magician, as Bar-Jesus, calling him “Son of the Devil”.

And many commentators have even suggested (or at least mentioned what is common) that Simon Magus could have been the Beast of the Apocalypse, or the False Prophet who served the Beast. Here is just one very brief example, relating to the 666 number of the Beast



  • The answer is that it is a play on the numerical values of Hebrew letters, together with the grades in the initiation process. It is simply intended to say: “Simon Magus’ monasteries are evil”. There is no relevance to us!The “Beast” was Simon Magus, who in the Book of Revelation was the great enemy of Christians, for he was conducting a rival mission to theirs. He controlled monasteries that used the Qumran system of grades, naming them by Hebrew letters. Certain grades marked significant stages. These were called Taw, Resh and Samekh. At Taw, a man was at the very top and was equal to the highest priest. At Resh he entered the sanctuary and could act like a lesser priest. At Samekh, he became an initiate, beginning the studies that would lead him higher. Below is the list of grade letters and numbers. Since Hebrew letters were also used for numbers, Taw could be read as 400. Resh could be read as 200, and Samekh as 60. That totals 660. Further, when initial letters alone were used, they were accompanied by the letter Waw, as is illustrated in the Scrolls (CD 4:19). The numerical value of Waw is 6. Total, 666. The writers of Revelation (one of the early parties in the Church) were very interested in numbers, following their Pythagorean studies, but were too attached to magic-sounding numbers. They knew that semi-educated people would read significance into them, and used 666 as a way of describing evil. Before the present information became available, scholars used to think that 666 in meant the Roman emperor, but they could not account for the actual number. Now it is explained by the Qumran grade numbers, which account for many details of the pesher. Here is the system of Hebrew letters, numbers, and grades from initiation upwards For the significance of all the grades, Taw —400 — High Priest Michael Shin 300 Deputy Priest Gabriel Resh 200 Sanctuary Priest Sariel Qof 100 Levite Raphael Sadhe 90 PE 80 Ayin 70 Samekh 60 Initiate         [End of quote]

Concluding Note

There is much more needing to be written about all of this.

If Simon Bar Giora (Bar Kochba) (our Simon Magus Bar Jesus) was minting his own coins, then he might well have been (to some degree at least) in control of the economy, “so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name” (Apocalypse 13:17).

Our composite Simon Barabbas, a mere mortal man, had aspired to divinity. He, having been defeated, ended up being paraded by the Romans in a triumphal procession and then executed.

On the contrary, Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, a Divine person, emptied himself … “forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross”.[b] [Colossians 2:13-15]

In this way we can understand the stark contrast between the false and the true Messiah.


From Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

From the Visions of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich.INDEX
30. Jesus Before Pilate.31. Origin of the Devotion of the “Holy Way of The Cross”.32. Pilate and His Wife.33. Jesus Before Herod.34. Jesus Taken from Herod to Pilate.35. The Scourging of Jesus.36. Mary During The Scourging of Jesus.37. Interuption of the visions of the Passion by the apparition
of St. Joseph under the form of a child.
38. Personal appearance of Mary and of Magdalen.39. Jesus Crowned with Thorns and mocked.40. Ecce Homo.41. Jesus condemned to the Death of the Cross.42. Jesus Carries His Cross to Golgotha.



According to our reckoning of time, it was about six in the morning when the procession of the High priests and Pharisees, with the frightfully maltreated Saviour, reached the palace of Pilate. Annas, Caiaphas, and the chiefs of the Sanhedrim stopped at a part between the forum and the entrance to the Praetorium, where some stone seats were placed for them. The brutal guards dragged Jesus to the foot of the flight of stairs which led to the judgment-seat of Pilate. Pilate was reposing in a comfortable chair, on a terrace which overlooked the forum, and a small three-legged table stood by his side, on which was placed the insignia of his office, and a few other things. He was surrounded by officers and soldiers dressed with the magnificence usual in the Roman army. The Jews and the priests did not enter the Praetorium, for fear of defiling themselves, but remained outside. When Pilate saw the tumultuous procession enter, and perceived how shamefully the cruel Jews had treated their prisoner, he arose, and addressed them in a tone as contemptuous as could have been assumed by a victorious general towards the vanquished chief of some insignificant village: ‘What are you come about so early? Why have you ill-treated this prisoner so shamefully? Is it not possible to refrain from thus tearing to pieces and beginning to execute your criminals even before they are judged?’ They made no answer, but shouted out to the guards, ‘Bring him on; bring him to be judged!’ and then, turning to Pilate, they said, ‘Listen to our accusations against this malefactor; for we cannot enter the tribunal lest we defile ourselves.’ Scarcely had they finished these words, when a voice was heard to issue from the midst of the dense multitude; it proceeded from a venerable-looking old man, of imposing stature, who exclaimed, ‘You are right in not entering the Praetorium, for it has been sanctified by the blood of Innocents; there is but one Person who has a right to enter, and who alone can enter, because he alone is pure as the Innocents who were massacred there.’ The person who uttered these words in a loud voice, and then disappeared among the crowd, was a rich man of the name of Zadoc, first-cousin to Obed, the husband of Veronica; two of his children were among the Innocents whom Herod had caused to be butchered at the birth of our Saviour. Since that dreadful moment he had given up the world, and, together with his wife, followed the rules of the Essenians. He had once seen our Saviour at the house of Lazarus, and there heard him discourse, and the sight of the barbarous manner in which he was dragged before Pilate recalled to his mind all he himself had suffered when his babes were so cruelly murdered before his eyes, and he determined to give this public testimony of his belief in the innocence of Jesus. The persecutors of our Lord were far too provoked at the haughty manner which Pilate assumed towards them, and at the humble position they were obliged to occupy, to take any notice of the words of a stranger.

The brutal guards dragged our Lord up the marble staircase, and led him to the end of the terrace, from whence Pilate was conferring with the Jewish priests. The Roman governor had often heard of Jesus, although he had never seen him, and now he was perfectly astonished at the calm dignity of deportment of a man brought before him in so pitiable a condition. The inhuman behaviour of the priests and ancients both exasperated him and increased his contempt for them, and he informed them pretty quickly that he had not the slightest intention of condemning Jesus without satisfactory proofs of the truth of their accusations. ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ said he, addressing the priests in the most scornful tone possible. ‘If he were not a malefactor we would not have delivered him up to thee,’ replied the priests sullenly. ‘Take him,’ said Pilate, ‘and judge you him according to your law.’ ‘Thou knowest well,’ replied they, ‘that it is not lawful for us to condemn any man to death.’ The enemies of Jesus were furious—they wished to have the trial finished off, and their victim executed as quickly as possible, that they might be ready at the festival-day to sacrifice the Paschal lamb, not knowing, miserable wretches as they were, that he whom they had dragged before the tribunal of an idolatrous judge (into whose house they would not enter, for fear of defiling themselves before partaking of the figurative victim), that he, and he alone, was the true Paschal Lamb, of which the other was only the shadow.

Pilate, however, at last ordered them to produce their accusations. These accusations were three in number, and they brought forward ten witnesses to attest the truth of each. Their great aim was to make Pilate believe that Jesus was the leader of a conspiracy against the emperor, in order that he might condemn him to death as a rebel. They themselves were powerless in such matters, being allowed to judge none but religious offences. Their first endeavour was to convict him of seducing the people, exciting them to rebellion, and of being an enemy to public peace and tranquility. To prove these charges they brought forward some false witnesses, and declared likewise that he violated the Sabbath, and even profaned it by curing the sick upon that day. At this accusation Pilate interrupted them, and said in a jeering tone, ‘It is very evident you were none of you ill yourselves-had you been so you would not have complained of being cured on the Sabbath-day.’ ‘He seduces the people, and inculcates the most disgusting doctrines. He even says that no person can attain eternal life unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood.’ Pilate was quite provoked at the intense hatred which their words and countenances expressed, and, turning from them with a look of scorn, exclaimed, ‘You most certainly must wish to follow his doctrines and to attain eternal life, for you are thirsting for both his body and blood.’

The Jews then brought forward the second accusation against Jesus, which was that he forbad the people to pay tribute to the emperor. These words roused the indignation of Pilate, as it was his place to see that all the taxes were properly paid, and he exclaimed in an angry tone, ‘That is a lie! I must know more about it than you.’ This obliged the enemies of our Lord to proceed to the third accusation, which they did in words such as these: ‘Although this man is of obscure birth, he is the chief of a large party. When at their head, he denounces curses upon Jerusalem, and relates parables of double meaning concerning a king who is preparing a wedding feast for his son. The multitude whom he had gathered together on a mountain endeavoured once to make him their king; but it was sooner than he intended: his plans were not matured; therefore he fled and hid himself. Latterly he has come forward much more: it was but the other day that he entered Jerusalem at the head of a tumultuous assembly, who by his orders made the people rend the air with acclamations of “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed be the empire of our Father David, which is now beginning.” He obliges his partisans to pay him regal honours, and tells them that he is the Christ, the Anointed of the Lord, the Messiah, the king promised to the Jews, and he wishes to be addressed by these fine titles.’ Ten witnesses gave testimony concerning these things.

The last accusation, that of Jesus causing himself to be called king, made some impression upon Pilate; he became a little thoughtful, left the terrace and, casting a scrutinizing glance on Jesus, went into the adjoining apartment, and ordered the guards to bring him alone into his presence. Pilate was not only superstitious, but likewise extremely weak-minded and susceptible. He had often, during the course of his pagan education, heard mention made of sons of his gods who had dwelt for a time upon earth; he was likewise fully aware that the Jewish prophets had long foretold that one should appear in the midst of them who should be the Anointed of the Lord, their Saviour, and Deliverer from slavery; and that many among the people believed this firmly. He remembered likewise that kings from the east had come to Herod, the predecessor of the present monarch of that name, to pay homage to a newly-born king of the Jews, and that Herod had on this account given orders for the massacre of the Innocents. He had often heard of the traditions concerning the Messiah and the king of the Jews, and even examined them with some curiosity; although of course, being a pagan, without the slightest belief. Had he believed at all, he would probably have agreed with the Herodians, and with those Jews who expected a powerful and victorious king. With such impressions, the idea of the Jews accusing the poor miserable individual whom they had brought into his presence of setting himself up as the promised king and Messiah, of course appeared to him absurd; but as the enemies of Jesus brought forward these charges in proof of treason against the emperor, he thought it proper to interrogate him privately concerning them.
Art thou the king of the Jews?’ said Pilate, looking at our Lord, and unable to repress his astonishment at the divine expression of his countenance.
Jesus made answer, ‘Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me?’
Pilate was offended that Jesus should think it possible for him to believe such a thing, and answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Thy own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee up to me as deserving of death: what hast thou done?’
Jesus answered majestically, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from hence.’
Pilate was somewhat moved by these solemn words, and said to him in a more serious tone, ‘Art thou a king, then?’
Jesus answered, ‘Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this I came into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.’

Pilate looked at him, and rising from his seat said, ‘The truth! what is truth?’
They then exchanged a few more words, which I do not now remember, and Pilate returned to the terrace. The answers and deportment of Jesus were far beyond his comprehension; but he saw plainly that his assumption of royalty would not clash with that of the emperor, for that it was to no worldly kingdom that he laid claim; whereas the emperor cared for nothing beyond this world. He therefore again addressed the chief priests from the terrace, and said, ‘I find no cause in him.’ The enemies of Jesus became furious, and uttered a thousand different accusations against our Saviour. But he remained silent, solely occupied in praying for his base enemies, and replied not when Pilate addressed him in these words, ‘Answerest thou nothing? Behold in how many things they accuse thee!’ Pilate was filled with astonishment, and said, ‘I see plainly that all they allege is false.’ But his accusers, whose anger continued to increase, cried out, ‘You find no cause in him? Is it no crime to incite the people to revolt in all parts of the kingdom? To spread his false doctrines, not only here, but in Galilee likewise?’
The mention of Galilee made Pilate pause: he reflected for a moment, and then asked, ‘Is this man a Galilean, and a subject of Herod’s?’ They made answer, ‘He is; his parents lived at Nazareth, and his present dwelling is in Capharnaum.’
‘Since that is the case,’ replied Pilate, ‘take him before Herod; he is here for the festival, and can judge him at once, as he is his subject.’ Jesus was immediately led out of the tribunal, and Pilate dispatched an officer to Herod, to inform him that Jesus of Nazareth, who was his subject, was about to be brought to him to be judged. Pilate had two reasons for following this line of conduct; in the first place he was delighted to escape having to pass sentence himself, as he felt very uncomfortable about the whole affair; and in the second place he was glad of an opportunity of pleasing Herod, with whom he had had a disagreement, for he knew him to be very curious to see Jesus.

The enemies of our Lord were enraged at being thus dismissed by Pilate in the presence of the whole multitude, and gave vent to their anger by ill-treating him even more than before. They pinioned him afresh, and then ceased not overwhelming him with curses and blows as they led him hurriedly through the crowd, towards the palace of Herod, which was situated at no great distance from the forum. Some Roman soldiers had joined the procession.
Claudia Procla, the lawful wife of Pilate, had while Pilate was treating with the Jews sent a servant to speak with him. As Jesus was now being led to Herod, she stood concealed upon an elevated balcony, and with deep anxiety and trouble of mind watched Him being led across the forum.


The Blessed Virgin, standing with Magdalen and John in a corner of the forum hall, had with unspeakable pain beheld the whole of the dreadful scene just described, had heard the clamorous and cries, they were overwhelmed with the most bitter sorrow, which was but increased by all they heard and saw. When Jesus was taken before Herod, John led the Blessed Virgin and Magdalen over the parts which had been sanctified by his footsteps. They again looked at the house of Caiaphas, that of Annas, Ophel, Gethsemani, and the Garden of Olives; they stopped and contemplated each spot where he had fallen, or where he had suffered particularly; and they wept silently at the thought of all he had undergone. The Blessed Virgin knelt down frequently and kissed the ground where her Son had fallen, while Magdalen wrung her hands in bitter grief, and John, although he could not restrain his own tears, endeavoured to console his companions, supported, and led them on. Thus was the holy devotion of the ‘Way of the Cross’ first practiced; thus were the Mysteries of the Passion of Jesus first honoured, even before that Passion was accomplished, and the Blessed Virgin, that model of spotless purity, was the first to show forth the deep veneration felt by the Church for our dear Lord. How sweet and consoling to follow this Immaculate Mother, passing to and fro, and bedewing the sacred spots with her tears. But, ah! Who can describe the sharp, sharp sword of grief which then transfixed her tender soul? She who had once borne the Saviour of the world in her chaste womb, and suckled him for so long, she who had truly conceived him who was the Word of God, in God from all eternity, and truly God, she beneath whose heart, full of grace, he had deigned to dwell nine months, who had felt him living within her before he appeared among men to impart the blessing of salvation and teach them his heavenly doctrines; she suffered with Jesus, sharing with him not only the sufferings of his bitter Passion, but likewise that ardent desire of redeeming fallen man by an ignominious death, which consumed him.
In this touching manner did the most pure and holy Virgin lay the foundation of the devotion called the Way of the Cross; thus at each station, marked by the sufferings of her Son, did she lay up in her heart the inexhaustible merits of his Passion, and gather them up as precious stones or sweet-scented flowers to be presented as a choice offering to the Eternal Father in behalf of all true believers. The grief of Magdalen was so intense as to make her almost like an insane person. The holy and boundless love she felt for our Lord prompted her to cast herself at his feet, and there pour forth the feelings of her heart (as she once poured the precious Ointment on his head as he sat at table); but when on the point of following this impulse, a dark gulf appeared to intervene between herself and him. The repentance she felt for her faults was immense, and not less intense was her gratitude for their pardon; but when she longed to offer acts of love and thanksgiving as precious incense at the feet of Jesus, she beheld him betrayed, suffering, and about to die for the expiation of her offences which he had taken upon himself, and this sight filled her with horror, and almost rent her soul asunder with feelings of love, repentance, and gratitude. The sight of the ingratitude of those for whom he was about to die increased the bitterness of these feelings tenfold, and every step, word, or movement demonstrated the agony of her soul. The heart of John was filled with love, and he suffered intensely, but he uttered not a word. He supported the Mother of his beloved Master in this her first pilgrimage through the stations of the Way of the Cross, and assisted her in giving the example of that devotion which has since been practiced with so much fervour by the members of the Christian Church.


While Jesus was being taken to Herod and while He was enduring mockery at his tribunal, I saw Pilate going to his wife, Claudia Procla. She hastened to meet him, and they went together into a small garden-house which was on one of the terraces behind the palace. Claudia appeared to be much excited, and under the influence of fear. She was a tall, fine-looking woman, although extremely pale. Her hair was plaited and slightly ornamented, but partly covered by a long veil which fell gracefully over her shoulders. She wore earrings, a necklace, and her flowing dress was drawn together and held up by a species of clasp. She conversed with Pilate for a long time, and entreated him by all that he held sacred not to injure Jesus, that Prophet, that saint of saints; and she related the extraordinary dreams or visions which she had had on the previous night concerning him.

Whilst she was speaking I saw the greatest part of these visions: the following were the most striking. In the first place, the principal events in the life of our Lord —the annunciation, the nativity, the adoration of the shepherds and that of the kings, the prophecy of Simeon and that of Anna, the flight into Egypt, the massacre of the Innocents, and our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness. She had likewise been shown in her sleep the most striking features of the public life of Jesus. He always appeared to her environed with a resplendent light, but his malicious and cruel enemies were under the most horrible and disgusting forms imaginable. She saw his intense sufferings, his patience, and his inexhaustible love, likewise the anguish of his Mother, and her perfect resignation. These visions filled the wife of Pilate with the greatest anxiety and terror, particularly as they were accompanied by symbols which made her comprehend their meaning, and her tender feelings were harrowed by the sight of such dreadful scenes. She had suffered from them during the whole of the night; they were sometimes obscure, but more often clear and distinct; and when morning dawned and she was roused by the noise of the tumultuous mob who were dragging Jesus to be judged, she glanced at the procession and instantly saw that the unresisting victim in the midst of the crowd, bound, suffering, and so inhumanely treated as to be scarcely recognizable, was no other than that bright and glorious being who had been so often brought before her eyes in the visions of the past night. She was greatly affected by this sight, and immediately sent for Pilate, and gave him an account of all that had happened to her. She spoke with much vehemence and emotion; and although there was a great deal in what she had seen which she could not understand, much less express, yet she entreated and implored her husband in the most touching terms to grant her request.

Pilate was both astonished and troubled by the words of his wife. He compared the narration with all he had previously heard concerning Jesus; and reflected on the hatred of the Jews, the majestic silence of our Saviour, and the mysterious answers he had given to all his questions. He hesitated for some time, but was at last overcome by the entreaties of his wife, and told her that he had already declared his conviction of the innocence of Jesus, and that he would not condemn him, because he saw that the accusations were mere fabrications of his enemies. He spoke of the words of Jesus to himself, promised his wife that nothing should induce him to condemn this just man, and even gave her a ring before they parted as a pledge of his promise. The character of Pilate was debauched and undecided, but his worst qualities were an extreme pride and meanness which made him never hesitate in the performance of an unjust action, provided it answered his ends. He was excessively superstitious, and when in any difficulty had recourse to charms and spells. He was much puzzled and alarmed about the trial of Jesus; and I saw him running backwards and forwards, offering incense first to one god and then to another, and imploring them to assist him; but Satan filled his imagination with still greater confusion; he first instilled one false idea and then another into his mind. He then had recourse to one of his favourite superstitious practices, that of watching the sacred chickens eat, but in vain, his mind remained enveloped in darkness, and he became more and more undecided. He first thought that he would acquit our Saviour, whom he well knew to be innocent, but then he feared incurring the wrath of his false gods if he spared him, as he fancied he might be a species of demigod, and obnoxious to than. ‘It is possible,’ said he inwardly, ‘that this man may really be that king of the Jews concerning whose coming there are so many prophecies. It was a king of the Jews whom the Magi came from the East to adore. Perhaps he is a secret enemy both of our gods and of the emperor; it might be most imprudent in me to spare his life. Who knows whether his death would not be a triumph to my gods?’ Then he remembered the wonderful dreams described to him by his wife, who had never seen Jesus, and he again changed, and decided that it would be safer not to condemn him. He wanted to be just, but he attained not his aim for the same reason that he had not waited for an answer from Jesus to his own question, “what is truth?” His mind was filled with confusion, and he was quite at a loss how to act, as his sole desire was to entail no risk upon himself.


On the forum and in the streets through which Jesus was led to Herod, a constantly increasing crowd was gathered, composed of the inhabitants from the neighboring places and the whole country around, come up for the feast. The palace of the Tetrarch Herod was built on the north side of the forum, in the new town; not very far from that of Pilate. An escort of Roman soldiers, mostly from that part of the country which is situated between Switzerland and Italy, had joined the procession. The enemies of Jesus were perfectly furious at the trouble they were compelled to take in going backwards and forwards, and therefore vented their rage upon him. Pilate’s messenger had preceded the procession, consequently Herod was expecting them. He was seated on a pile of cushions, heaped together so as to form a species of throne, in a spacious hall, and surrounded by courtiers and warriors. The Chief Priests entered and placed themselves by his side, leaving Jesus at the entrance. Herod was much elated and pleased at Pilate’s having thus publicly acknowledged his right of judging the Galileans, and likewise rejoiced at seeing that Jesus who had never deigned to appear before him reduced to such a state of humiliation and degradation. His curiosity had been greatly excited by the high terms in which John the Baptist had announced the coming of Jesus, and he had likewise heard much about him from the Herodians, and through the many spies whom he had sent into different parts: he was therefore delighted at this opportunity of interrogating him in the presence of his courtiers and of the Jewish priests, hoping to make a grand display of his own knowledge and talents. Pilate having sent him word, ‘that he could find no cause in the man,’ he concluded that these words were intended as a hint that he (Pilate) wished the accusers to be treated with contempt and mistrust. He, therefore, addressed them in the most haughty distant manner possible, and thereby increased their rage and anger indescribably.

They all began at once to vociferate their accusations, to which Herod hardly listened, being intent solely on gratifying his curiosity by a close examination of Jesus, whom he had so often wished to see. But when he beheld him stripped of all clothing save the remnant of a mantle, scarcely able to stand, and his countenance totally disfigured from the blows he had received, and from the mud and missiles which the rabble had flung at his head, the luxurious and effeminate prince turned away in disgust, uttered the name of God, and said to the priests in a tone of mingled pity and contempt, ‘Take him hence, and bring him not back into my presence in such a deplorable state.’ The guards took Jesus into the outer court, and procured some water in a basin, with which they cleansed his soiled garments and disfigured countenance; but they could not restrain their brutality even while doing this, and paid no regard to the wounds with which he was covered. Herod meantime accosted the priests in much the same strain as Pilate had done. ‘Your behaviour vastly resembles that of butchers,’ he said, ‘and you commence your immolations pretty early in the morning.’ The Chief Priests produced their accusations at once. Herod, when Jesus was again brought into his presence, pretended to feel some compassion, and offered him a glass of wine to recruit his strength; but Jesus turned his head away and refused this alleviation.

Herod then began to expatiate with great volubility on all he had heard concerning our Lord. He asked a thousand questions, and exhorted him to work a miracle in his presence; but Jesus answered not a word, and stood before him with his eyes cast down, which conduct both irritated and disconcerted Herod, although he endeavoured to conceal his anger, and continued his interrogations. He at first expressed surprise, and made use of persuasive words. ‘Is it possible, Jesus of Nazareth,’ he exclaimed, ‘that it is thou thyself that appearest before me as a criminal? I have heard thy actions so much spoken of. Thou art not perhaps aware that thou didst offend me grievously by setting free the prisoners whom I had confined at Thirza, but possibly thy intentions were good. The Roman governor has now sent thee to me to be judged; what answer canst thou give to all these accusations? Thou art silent? I have heard much concerning thy wisdom, and the religion thou teachest, let me hear thee answer and confound thy enemies. Art thou the king of the Jews? Art thou the Son of God? Who art thou? Thou art said to have performed wonderful miracles; work one now in my presence. I have the power to release thee. Is it true that thou hast restored sight to the blind, raised up Lazarus from the dead, and fed two or three thousand persons with a few loaves? Why dost thou not answer? I recommend thee to work a miracle quickly before me; perhaps thou mayest rejoice afterwards at having complied with my wishes.’
Jesus still kept silence, and Herod continued to question him with even more volubility.
‘Who art thou?’ said he. ‘From whence hast thou thy power? How is it that thou dost no longer possess it? Art thou he whose birth was foretold in such a wonderful manner? Kings from the East came to my father to see a newly-born king of the Jews: is it true that thou wast that child? Didst thou escape when so many children were massacred, and how was thy escape managed? Why hast thou been for so many years unknown? Answer my questions! Art thou a king? Thy appearance certainly is not regal. I have been told that thou wast conducted to the Temple in triumph a short time ago. What was the meaning of such an exhibition? Speak out at once! Answer me!’

Herod continued to question Jesus in this rapid manner; but our Lord did not vouchsafe a reply. I was shown (as indeed I already knew) that Jesus was thus silent because Herod was m a state of excommunication, both on account of his adulterous marriage with Herodias, and of his having given orders for the execution of St. John the Baptist. Annas and Caiaphas, seeing how indignant Herod was at the silence of Jesus, immediately endeavoured to take advantage of his feelings of wrath, and recommenced their accusations, saying that he had called Herod himself a fox; that his great aim for many years had been the overthrow of Herod’s family; that he was endeavouring to establish a new religion, and had celebrated the Pasch on the previous day. Although Herod was extremely enraged at the conduct of Jesus, he did not lose sight of the political ends which he wished to forward. He was determined not to condemn our Lord, both because he experienced a secret and indefinable sensation of terror in his presence, and because he still felt remorse at the thought of having put John the Baptist to death, besides which he detested the High Priests for not having allowed him to take part in the sacrifices on account of his adulterous connection with Herodias.
But his principal reason for determining not to condemn Jesus was, that he wished to make some return to Pilate for his courtesy, and he thought the best return would be the compliment of showing deference to his decision and agreeing with him in opinion. But he spoke in the most contemptuous manner to Jesus, and turning to the guards and servants who surrounded him, and who were about two hundred in number, said: ‘Take away this fool, and pay him that homage which is his due; he is mad, rather than guilty of any crime.’
Our Lord was immediately taken into a large court, where every possible insult and indignity was heaped upon him. This court was between the two wings of the palace, and Herod stood a spectator on a platform for some time. Annas and Caiphas were by his side, endeavouring to persuade him to condemn our Saviour. But their efforts were fruitless, and Herod answered in a tone loud enough to be heard by the Roman soldiers: ‘No, I should act quite wrongly if I condemned him.’ His meaning was, that it would be wrong to condemn as guilty one whom Pilate had pronounced innocent, although he had been so courteous as to defer the final judgment to him.

When the High Priests and the other enemies of Jesus perceived that Herod was determined not to give in to their wishes, they dispatched emissaries to that division of the city called Acre, which was chiefly inhabited by Pharisees, to let them know that they must assemble in the neighbourhood of Pilate’s palace, gather together the rabble, and bribe them to make a tumult, and demand the condemnation of our Lord. They likewise sent forth secret agents to alarm the people by threats of the divine vengeance if they did not insist on the execution of Jesus, whom they termed a sacrilegious blasphemer. These agents were ordered likewise to alarm them by intimating that if Jesus were not put to death, he would go over to the Romans, and assist in the extermination of the Jewish nation, for that it was to this he referred when he spoke of his future kingdom. They endeavoured to spread a report in other parts of the city, that Herod had condemned him, but still that it was necessary for the people likewise to express their wishes, as his partisans were to be feared; for that if he were released he would join the Romans, make a disturbance on the festival day, and take the most inhuman revenge. Some among them circulated contradictory and alarming reports, in order to excite the people, and cause an insurrection; while others distributed money among the soldiers to bribe them to ill-treat Jesus, so as to cause his death, which they were most anxious should be brought about as quickly as possible, lest Pilate should acquit him.

Whilst the Pharisees were busying themselves in this manner, our Blessed Saviour was suffering the greatest outrages from the brutal soldiers to whom Herod had delivered him, that they might deride him as a fool. They dragged him into the court, and one of their number having procured a large white sack which had once been filled with cotton, they made a hole in its centre with a sword, and then tossed it over the head of Jesus, accompanying each action with bursts of the most contemptuous laughter. Another soldier brought the remnant of an old scarlet cloak, and passed it round his neck, while the rest bent their knee before him, shoved him, abused him, spat upon him, struck him on the cheek, because he had refused to answer their king, mocked him by pretending to pay homage, threw mud upon him, seized him by the waist, pretending to make him dance; then, having thrown him down, dragged him through a gutter which ran on the side of the court, thus causing his sacred head to strike against the columns and sides of the wall, and when at last they raised him up, it was only in order to recommence their insults. The soldiers and servants of Herod who were assembled in this court amounted to upwards of two hundred, and all thought to pay court to their monarch by torturing Jesus in some unheard-of way. Many were bribed by the enemies of our Lord to strike him on the head with their sticks, and they took advantage of the confusion and tumult to do so. Jesus looked upon them with compassion; excess of pain drew from him occasional moans and groans, but his enemies rejoiced in his sufferings, and mocked his moans, and not one among the whole assembly showed the slightest degree of compassion. I saw blood streaming from his head, and three times did the blows prostrate him, but angels were weeping at his side, and they anointed his head with heavenly balsam. It was revealed to me that had it not been for this, miraculous assistance he must have died from those wounds. The Philistines at Gaza, who gave vent to their wrath by tormenting poor blind Samson, were far less barbarous than these cruel executioners of our Lord.
But time pressed. The high priests must soon appear in the Temple and, as they had received the assurance that all their instructions would be attended to, they made one more effort to obtain Jesus’ condemnation from Herod. But he was deaf to their prayers. He still turned his thoughts toward Pilate alone, to whom he now sent back Jesus in His garment of derision.


With renewed irritation, the high priests and the enemies of Jesus made their way back with Him from Herod to Pilate. They were mortified at being forced to return, without His condemnation, to a tribunal at which He had already been pronounced innocent. They led him round by a much longer road, in order in the first place to let the persons of that part of the town see him in the state of ignominy to which he was reduced, and in the second place to give their emissaries more time to stir up the populace. This road was extremely rough and uneven; and the soldiers, encouraged by the Pharisees, scarcely refrained a moment from tormenting Jesus. The long garment with which he was clothed impeded his steps, and caused him to fall heavily more than once; and his cruel guards, as also many among the brutal populace, instead of assisting him in his state of exhaustion, endeavoured by blows and kicks to force him to rise. To all these outrages Jesus offered not the smallest resistance; he prayed constantly to his Father for grace and strength that he might not sink under them, but accomplish the work of his Passion for our redemption. It was about eight o’clock when the procession reached the palace of Pilate. The crowd was dense, and the Pharisees might be seen walking to and fro, endeavouring to incite and infuriate them still more. Pilate, who remembered an insurrection which had taken place the year before at the Paschal time, had assembled upwards of a thousand soldiers, whom he posted around the Praetorium, the Forum, and his palace. The Blessed Virgin, her elder sister Mary (the daughter of Heli), Mary (the daughter of Cleophas), Magdalen, and about twenty of the holy women, were standing in a room from whence they could see all which took place, and at first John was with them.

The Pharisees led Jesus, still clothed in the fool’s garment, through the midst of the insolent mob, and had done all in their power to gather together the most vile and wicked of miscreants from among the dregs of the people. A servant sent by Herod had already reached Pilate, with a message to the effect that his master had fully appreciated his polite deference to his opinion, but that he looked upon the far-famed Galilean as no better than a fool, that he had treated him as such, and now sent him back. Pilate was quite satisfied at finding that Herod had come to the same conclusion as himself, and therefore returned a polite message. From that hour they became friends, having been enemies many years; in fact, ever since the falling-in of the aqueduct. Jesus was again led to the house of Pilate. The archers dragged him up the stairs with their usual brutality; his feet became entangled in his long robe, and he fell upon the white marble steps, which were stained with blood from his sacred head. His enemies had again taken their seats at the entrance of the forum; the mob laughed at his fall, and the archers struck their innocent victim, instead of assisting him to rise. Pilate was reclining on a species of easy-chair, with a little table before him, and surrounded with officers and persons who held strips of parchment covered with writing in their hands. He came forward and said to the accusers of Jesus: ‘You have presented unto me this man, as one that perverteth the people, and behold I having examined him before you, find no cause in this man in those things wherein you accuse him. No, nor Herod neither. For I sent you to him, and behold, nothing worthy of death is done to him. I will chastise him, therefore, and release him.’

When the Pharisees heard these words, they became furious, and endeavoured to the utmost of their power to persuade the people to revolt, distributing money among them to effect this purpose. Pilate looked around with contempt, and addressed them in scornful words. It happened to be the precise time when, according to an ancient custom, the people had the privilege of demanding the deliverance of one prisoner. The Pharisees had dispatched emissaries to persuade the people to demand the death, and not the life, of our Lord. Pilate hoped that they would ask for Jesus, and determined to give them to choose between him and a criminal called Barabbas, who had been convicted of a dreadful murder committed during a sedition, as also of many other crimes, and was, moreover, detested by the people. There was considerable excitement among the crowd; a certain portion came forward, and their orators, addressing Pilate in a loud voice, said: ‘Grant us the favour you have always granted on the festival day.’ Pilate made answer: ‘It is customary for me to deliver to you a criminal at the Paschal time; whom will you that I release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus that is called Christ?’

Although Pilate did not in his own mind feel at all certain that Jesus was the King of the Jews, yet he called him so, partly because his Roman pride made him take delight in humbling the Jews by calling such a despicable-looking person their king; and partly because he felt a kind of inward belief that Jesus might really be that miraculous king, that Messiah who had been promised. He saw plainly that the priests were incited by envy alone in their accusations against Jesus; this made him most anxious to disappoint them; and the desire was increased by that glimmering of the truth which partly enlightened his mind. There was some hesitation among the crowd when Pilate asked this question, and a few voices answered, ‘Barabbas.’ A servant sent by Pilate’s wife asked for him at this moment; he left the platform, and the messenger presented the pledge which he had given her, saying at the same time: ‘Claudia Procla begs you to remember your promise this morning.’ The Pharisees and the priests walked anxiously and hastily about among the crowd, threatening some and ordering others, although, in fact, little was required to incite the already infuriated multitude.

Mary, with Magdalen, John, and the holy women, stood in a corner of the forum, trembling and weeping; for although the Mother of Jesus was fully aware that the redemption of man could not be brought about by any other means than the death of her Son, yet she was filled with the anguish of a mother, and with a longing desire to save him from those tortures and from that death which he was about to suffer. She prayed God not to allow such a fearful crime to be perpetrated; she repeated the words of Jesus in the Garden of Olives: ‘If it is possible, let this chalice pass away.’ She still felt a glimmering of hope, because there was a report current that Pilate wished to acquit Jesus. Groups of persons, mostly inhabitants of Capharnaum, where Jesus had taught, and among whom he had wrought so many miraculous cures, were congregated in her vicinity; they pretended not to remember either her or her weeping companions; they simply cast a glance now and then, as if by chance, at their closely-veiled figures. Many thought, as did her companions likewise, that these persons at least would reject Barabbas, and beg for the life of their Saviour and Benefactor; but these hopes were, alas, fallacious. Pilate sent back the pledge to his wife, as an assurance of his intention to keep his promise. He again came forward on the platform, and seated himself at the little table. The Chief Priests took their seats likewise, and Pilate once more demanded: ‘Which of the two am I to deliver up to you?’ A general cry resounded through the hall: ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ ‘But what am I to do with Jesus, who is called Christ?’ replied Pilate. All exclaimed in a tumultuous manner: ‘Let him be crucified! let him be crucified!’ ‘But what evil has he done?’ asked Pilate for the third time. ‘I find no cause in him. I will scourge and then acquit him.’ But the cry, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ burst from the crowd like a roar from hell, while the high priests and Pharisees, frantic with rage, were vociferating violently. Then poor, irresolute Pilate freed the wretch Barabbas and condemmed Jesus to be scourged!


THAT most weak and undecided of all judges, Pilate, had several times repeated these dastardly words: ‘I find no crime in him: I will chastise him, therefore, and let him go;’ to which the Jews had continued to respond, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ but he determined to adhere to his resolution of not condemning our Lord to death, and ordered him to be scourged according to the manner of the Romans. The guards were therefore ordered to conduct him through the midst of the furious multitude to the forum, which they did with the utmost brutality, at the same time loading him with abuse, and striking him with their staffs. The pillar where criminals were scourged stood to the north of Pilate’s palace, near the guard-house, and the executioners soon arrived, carrying whips, rods, and ropes, which they tossed down at its base. They were six in number, dark, swarthy men, somewhat shorter than Jesus; their chests were covered with a piece of leather, or with some dirty stuff; their loins were girded, and their hairy, sinewy arms bare. They were malefactors from the frontiers of Egypt, who had been condemned for their crimes to hard labour, and were employed principally in making canals, and in erecting public buildings, the most criminal being selected to act as executioners in the Praetorium.

These cruel men had many times scourged poor criminals to death at this pillar. They resembled wild beasts or demons, and appeared to be half drunk. They struck our Lord with their fists, and dragged him by the cords with which he was pinioned, although he followed them without offering the least resistance, and, finally, they barbarously knocked him down against the pillar. This pillar, placed in the centre of the court, stood alone, and did not serve to sustain any part of the building; it was not very high, for a tall man could touch the summit by stretching out his arm; there was a large iron ring at the top, and both rings and hooks a little lower down. It is quite impossible to describe the cruelty shown by these ruffians towards Jesus: they tore off the mantle with which he had been clothed in derision at the court of Herod, and almost threw him prostrate again. Jesus trembled and shuddered as he stood before the pillar, and took off his garments as quickly as he could, but his hands were bloody and swollen. The only return he made when his brutal executioners struck and abused him was to pray for them in the most touching manner: he turned his face once towards his Mother, who was standing overcome with grief; this look quite unnerved her: she fainted, and would have fallen, had not the holy women who were there supported her. Jesus put his arms round the pillar, and when his hands were thus raised, the archers fastened them to the iron ring which was at the top of the pillar; they then dragged his arms to such a height that his feet, which were tightly bound to the base of the pillar, scarcely touched the ground. Thus was the Holy of holies violently stretched, without a particle of clothing, on a pillar used for the punishment of the greatest criminals; and then did two furious ruffians who were thirsting for his blood begin in the most barbarous manner to scourge his sacred body from head to foot. The whips or scourges which they first made use of appeared to me to be made of a species of flexible white wood, but perhaps they were composed of the sinews of the ox, or of strips of leather.

Our loving Lord, the Son of God, true God and true Man, writhed as a worm under the blows of these barbarians; his mild but deep groans might be heard from afar; they resounded through the air, fording a kind of touching accompaniment to the hissing of the instruments of torture. These groans resembled rather a touching cry of prayer and supplication, than moans of anguish. The clamour of the Pharisees and the people formed another species of accompaniment, which at times as a deafening thunder-storm deadened and smothered these sacred and mournful cries, and in their place might be heard the words, ‘Put him to death!’ ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate continued parleying with the people, and when he demanded silence in order to be able to speak, he was obliged to proclaim his wishes to the clamorous assembly by the sound of a trumpet, and at such moments you might again hear the noise of the scourges, the moans of Jesus, the imprecations of the soldiers, and the bleating of the Paschal lambs which were being washed in the Probatica pool, at no great distance from the forum. There was something peculiarly touching in the plaintive bleating of these lambs: they alone appeared to unite their lamentations with the suffering moans of our Lord. The Jewish mob was gathered together at some distance from the pillar at which the dreadful punishment was taking place, and Roman soldiers were stationed in different parts round about. Many persons were walking to and fro, some in silence, others speaking of Jesus in the most insulting terms possible, and a few appearing touched, and I thought I beheld rays of light issuing from our Lord and entering the hearts of the latter. I saw groups of infamous, bold-looking young men, who were for the most part busying themselves near the watch-house in preparing fresh scourges, while others went to seek branches of thorns. Several of the servants of the High Priests went up to the brutal executioners and gave them money; as also a large jug filled with a strong bright red liquid, which quite inebriated them, and increased their cruelty tenfold towards their innocent Victim. The two ruffians continued to strike our Lord with unremitting violence for a quarter of an hour, and were then succeeded by two others. His body was entirely covered with black, blue, and red marks; the blood was trickling down on the ground, and yet the furious cries which issued from among the assembled Jews showed that their cruelty was far from being satiated.

The night had been extremely cold, and the morning was dark and cloudy; a little hail had fallen, which surprised every one, but towards twelve o’clock the day became brighter, and the sun shone forth. The two fresh executioners commenced scourging Jesus with the greatest possible fury; they made use of a different kind of rod, a species of thorny stick, covered with knots and splinters. The blows from these sticks tore his flesh to pieces; his blood spouted out so as to stain their arms, and he groaned, prayed, and shuddered. At this moment, some strangers mounted on camels passed through the forum; they stopped for a moment, and were quite overcome with pity and horror at the scene before them, upon which some of the bystanders explained the cause of what they witnessed. Some of these travelers had been baptized by John, and others had heard the sermon of Jesus on the mountain. The noise and the tumult of the mob was even more deafening near the house of Pilate.
Two fresh executioners took the places of the last mentioned, who were beginning to flag; their scourges were composed of small chains, or straps covered with iron hooks, which penetrated to the bone, and tore off large pieces of flesh at every blow. What word, alas! could describe this terrible, this heartrending scene! The cruelty of these barbarians was nevertheless not yet satiated; they untied Jesus, and again fastened him up with his back turned towards the pillar. As he was totally unable to support himself in an upright position, they passed cords round his waist, under his arms, and above his knees, and having bound his hands tightly into the rings which were placed at the upper part of the pillar, they recommenced scourging him with even greater fury than before; and one among them struck him constantly on the face with a new rod. The body of our Lord was perfectly torn to shreds, it was but one wound. He looked at his torturers with his eyes filled with blood, as if entreating mercy; but their brutality appeared to increase, and his moans each moment became more feeble.

The dreadful scourging had been continued without intermission for three quarters of an hour, when a stranger of lowly birth, a relation to Ctesiphon, the blind man whom Jesus had cured, rushed from amidst the crowd, and approached the pillar with a knife shaped like a cutlass in his hand. ‘Cease!’ he exclaimed, in an indignant tone; ‘Cease! scourge not this innocent man unto death!’ The drunken miscreants, taken by surprise, stopped short, while he quickly severed the cords which bound Jesus to the pillar, and disappeared among the crowd. Jesus fell almost without consciousness on the ground, which was bathed with his blood. The executioners left him there, and rejoined their cruel companions, who were amusing themselves in the guard-house with drinking, and plaiting the crown of thorns. Our Lord remained for a short time on the ground, at the foot of the pillar, bathed in his own blood, and two or three bold-looking girls came up to gratify their curiosity by looking at him. They gave a glance, and were turning away in disgust, but at the moment the pain of the wounds of Jesus was so intense that he raised his bleeding head and looked at them. They retired quickly, and the soldiers and guards laughed and made game of them.

During the time of the scourging of our Lord, I saw weeping angels approach him many times; I likewise heard the prayers he constantly addressed to his Father for the pardon of our sins; prayers which never ceased during the whole time of the infliction of this cruel punishment. Whilst he lay bathed in his blood I saw an angel present to him a vase containing a bright looking beverage which appeared to reinvigorate him in a certain degree. The archers soon returned, and after giving him some blows with their sticks, bade him rise and follow them. He raised himself with the greatest difficulty, as his trembling limbs could scarcely support the weight of his body; they did not give him sufficient time to put on his clothes, but threw his upper garment over his naked shoulders and led him from the pillar to the guard-house, where he wiped the blood which trickled down his face with a corner of his garment. When he passed before the benches on which the High Priests were seated, they cried out, ‘Put him to death! Crucify him! Crucify him!’ and then turned away disdainfully. The executioners led him into the interior of the guard-house, which was filled with slaves, archers, hodmen, and the very dregs of the people, but there were no soldiers. As the mob had become so excited, Pilate had sent to the fortress Antonia for a reinforcement of roman guards, and these he now ordered to surround the guardhouse. They were permitted to talk and laugh and ridicule Jesus, though they had to keep their ranks. Pilate wanted thus to restrain the people and keep them in awe. There were upwards of a thousand men assembled.


I SAW the Blessed Virgin during the scourging of our Redeemer, in a state of uninterrupted ecstasy. She saw and suffered in an indescribable manner all that her Son was enduring. She groaned feebly, and her eyes were red with weeping. A large veil covered her person, and she leant upon Mary of Heli, her eldest sister,* who was old and extremely like their mother, Anne. Mary of Cleophas, the daughter of Mary of Heli, was there also. The friends of Jesus and Mary stood around the latter; they wore large veils, appeared overcome with grief and anxiety, and were weeping as if in the momentary expectation of death. The dress of Mary was blue; it was long, and partly covered by a cloak made of white wool, and her veil was of rather a yellow white. Magdalen was totally beside herself from grief and her hair was floating loosely under her veil. When Jesus fell down at the foot of the pillar, after the flagellation, I saw Claudia Procla, the wife of Pilate, send some large pieces of linen to the Mother of God. I know not whether she thought that Jesus would be set free, and that his Mother would then require linen to dress his wounds, or whether this compassionate lady was aware of the use which would be made of her present. At the termination of the scourging, Mary came to herself for a time, and saw her Divine Son all torn and mangled, being led away by the archers after the scourging: he wiped his eyes, which were filled with blood, that he might look at his Mother, and she stretched out her hands towards him, and continued to look at the bloody traces of his footsteps. I soon after saw Mary and Magdalen approach the pillar where Jesus had been scourged; the mob were at a distance, and they were partly concealed by the other holy women, and by a few kind-hearted persons who had joined them; they knelt down on the ground near the pillar, and wiped up the sacred blood with the linen which Claudia Procla had sent. John was not at that time with the holy women, who were about twenty in number. The sons of Simeon and of Obed, and Veronica, as also the two nephews of Joseph of Arimathea, Aram and Themni were in the Temple, and appeared to be overwhelmed with grief. It was not more than nine o’clock A.M. when the scourging terminated.

• Mary of Heli is often spoken of in this relation. According to Sister Eminerich, she was the daughter of St. Joachim and St. Anne, and was born nearly twenty years before the Blessed Virgin. She was not the child of promise, and is called Mary of Heli, by which she is distinguished from the other of the same name, because she was the daughter of Joachim, or Heliachim. Her husband bore the name of Cleophas. and her daughter that of Mary of Cleophas. This daughter was, however, older than her aunt, the Blessed Virgin, and had been married first to Alpheus. by whom she had three sons, afterwards the Apostles Simon, James the Less and Thaddeus. She had one son by her second husband, Sabat, and another called Simon, by her third husband, Jonas. Simon was afterwards Bishop of Jerusalem.


DURING the whole time of the visions of the passion just narrated, that is, from the evening of February 18, 1823 (Tuesday after the first Sunday in Lent) until the 8th of March (Saturday before Laetare Sunday), the Venerable Sister Emmerich was in continued ecstasy, sharing in the spiritual and corporal sufferings of the Lord. Being totally immersed in these meditations, and, as it were, dead to exterior objects, she wept and groaned like a person in the hands of an executioner, trembled, shuddered, and writhed on her couch, while her face resembled that of a man about to expire under torture, and a bloody sweat often trickled over her chest and shoulders. She generally perspired so profusely that her bed and clothes were saturated. Her sufferings from thirst were likewise fearful, and she might truly be compared to a person perishing in a desert from the want of water. Generally speaking, her mouth was so parched in the morning, and her tongue so contracted and dried up, that she could not speak, but was obliged by signs and inarticulate sounds to beg for relief. Her constant state of fever was probably brought on by the great pains she endured, added to which she likewise often took upon herself the illnesses and temporal calamities merited by others. It was always necessary for her to rest for a time before relating the different scenes of the Passion, nor was it always that she could speak of what she had seen, and she was even often obliged to discontinue her narrations for the day. She was in this state of suffering on Saturday the 8th of March, and with the greatest difficulty and suffering described the scourging of our Lord which she had seen in the vision of the previous night, and which appeared to be present to her mind during the greatest part of the following day. Towards evening, however, a change took place, and there was an interruption in the course of meditations on the Passion which had latterly followed one another so regularly. We will describe this interruption, in order, in the first place, to give our readers a more full comprehension of the interior life of this most extraordinary person; and, in the second, to enable them to pause for a time to rest their minds, as I well know that meditations on the Passion of our Lord exhaust the weak, even when they remember that it was for their salvation that he suffered and died.

The life of Sister Emmerich, both as regarded her spiritual and intellectual existence, invariably harmonized with the spirit of the Church at different seasons of the year. It harmonized even more strongly than man’s natural life does with the seasons, or with the hours of the day, and this caused her to be (if we may thus express ourselves) a realization of the existence and of the various intentions of the Church. Her union with its spirit was so complete, that no sooner did a festival day begin (that is to say, on the eve), than a perfect change took place within her, both intellectually and spiritually. As soon as the spiritual sun of these festival days of the Church was set, she directed all her thoughts towards that which would rise on the following day, and disposed all her prayers, good works, and sufferings for the attainment of the special graces attached to the feast about to commence, like a plant which absorbs the dew, and revels in the warmth and light of the first rays of the sun. These changes did not, as will readily be believed, always take place at the exact moment when the sound of the Angelus announced the commencement of a festival, and summoned the faithful to prayer; for this bell is often, either through ignorance or negligence, run at the wrong time; but they commenced at the time when the feast really began.

If the Church commemorated a sorrowful mystery, she appeared depressed, faint, and almost powerless; but the instant the celebration of a joyful feast commenced, both body and soul revived to a new life, as if refreshed by the dew of new graces, and she continued in this calm, quiet, and happy state, quite released from every kind of suffering, until the evening. These things took place in her soul quite independently of her will; but as she had had from infancy the most ardent desire of being obedient to Jesus and to his Church, God had bestowed upon her those special graces which give a natural facility for practicing obedience. Every faculty of her soul was directed towards the Church, in the same manner as a plant which, even if put into a dark cellar, naturally turns its leaves upwards, and appears to seek the light. On Saturday, 8th of March, 1823, after sunset, Sister Emmerich had, with the greatest difficulty, portrayed the different events of the scourging of our Lord, and the writer of these pages thought that her mind was occupied in the contemplation of the ‘crowning with thorns,’ when suddenly her countenance, which was previously pale and haggard, like that of a person on the point of death, became bright and serene, and she exclaimed in a coaxing tone, as if speaking to a child, ‘0, that dear little boy! Who is he? Stay, I will ask him. His name is Joseph. He has pushed his way through the crowd to come to me. Poor child, he is laughing; he knows nothing at all of what is going on. How light his clothing is! I fear he must be cold, the air is so sharp this morning. Wait, my child; let me put something more over you.’ After saying these words in such a natural tone of voice that it was almost impossible for those present not to turn round and expect to see the child, she held up a dress which was near her, as would be done by a kind-hearted person wishing to clothe a poor frozen child. The friend who was standing by her bedside had not sufficient time to ask her to explain the words she had spoken, for a sudden change took place, both in her whole appearance and manner, when her attendant pronounced the word obedience, one of the vows by which she had consecrated herself to our Lord. She instantly came to herself, and, like an obedient child awakening from a sound sleep and starting up at the voice of its mother, she stretched forth her hand, took the rosary and crucifix which were always at her side, arranged her dress, rubbed her eyes, and sat up. She was then carried from her bed to a chair, as she could neither stand nor walk; and it being the time for making her bed, her friend left the room in order to write out what he had heard during the day.

On Sunday, the 9th of March, the friend asked her attendant what Sister Emmerich meant the evening before when she spoke of a child called Joseph. The attendant answered, ‘She spoke of him again many times yesterday evening; he is the son of a cousin of mine, and a great favourite of hers. I fear that her talking so much about him is a sign that he is going to have an illness, for she said so many times that the poor child was almost without clothing, and that he must be cold.’ The friend remembered having often seen this little Joseph playing on the bed of Sister Emmerich, and he supposed that she was dreaming about him on the previous day. When the friend went to see her later in the day to endeavour to obtain a continuation of the narrations of the Passion, he found her, contrary to his expectation, more calm, and apparently better in health than on the previous day. She told him that she had seen nothing more after the scourging of our Lord; and when he questioned her concerning what she had said about little Joseph, she could not remember having spoken of the child at all. He then asked the reason of her being so calm, serene, and apparently well in health; and she answered, ‘I always feel thus when Mid-Lent comes, for then the Church sings with Isaias in the introit at Mass; “Rejoice, 0, Jerusalem, and come together all you that love her; rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow, that you may exult and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.” Mid-Lent Sunday is consequently a day of rejoicing; and you may likewise remember that, in the gospel of this day, the Church relates how our Lord fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, of which twelve baskets of fragments remained, consequently we ought to rejoice.’

She likewise added, that our Lord had deigned to visit her on that day in the Holy Communion, and that she always felt especial spiritual consolation when she received him on that particular day of the year. The friend cast his eyes on the calendar of the diocese of Munster, and saw that on that day they not only kept Mid-Lent Sunday, but likewise the Feast of St. Joseph, the foster-father of our Lord; he was not aware of this before, because in other places the feast of St. Joseph is kept on the 19th, and he remarked this circumstance to Sister Emmerich, and asked her whether she did not think that was the cause of her speaking about Joseph. She answered that she was perfectly aware of its being the feast of the foster-father of Jesus, but that she had not been thinking of the child of that name. However, a moment after, she suddenly remembered what her thoughts had been the day before, and explained to her friend that the moment the feast of St. Joseph began, her visions of the sorrowful mysteries of the Passion ceased, and were superseded by totally different scenes, in which St. Joseph appeared under the form of a child, and that it was to him that the words we have mentioned above were addressed. We found that when she received these communications the vision was often in the form of a child, especially in those cases when an artist would have made use of that simile to express his ideas. If, for instance, the accomplishment of some Scripture prophecy was being shown to her, she often saw by the side of the illustration a child, who clearly designated the characteristics of such or such a prophet, by his position, his dress, and the manner in which he held in his hand and waved to and fro and the prophetic roll appended to a staff.

Sometimes, when she was in extreme suffering, a beautiful child, dressed in green, with a calm and serene countenance, would approach, and seat himself in a posture of resignation at the side of her bed, allowing himself to be moved from one side to the other, or even put down on to the ground, without the smallest opposition and constantly looking at her affectionately and consoling her. If, when quite prostrate from illness and the sufferings of others which she had taken upon herself, she entered into communication with a saint, either by participation in the celebration of his feast, or from his relics being brought to her, she sometimes saw passages of the childhood of this saint, and at others the most terrible scenes of his martyrdom. In her greatest sufferings she was usually consoled, instructed, or reproved (whichever the occasion called for) by apparitions under the form of children. Sometimes, when totally overcome by trouble and distress, she would fall asleep, and be carried back in imagination to the scenes and perils of her childhood. She sometimes dreamed, as her exclamations and gestures demonstrated, that she was once more a little country girl of five years old, climbing over a hedge, caught in the briars, and weeping with fear.
These scenes of her childhood were always events which had really occurred, and the words which escaped her showed what was passing in her mind. She would exclaim (as if repeating the words of others): ‘Why do you call out so?’ ‘I will not hold the hedge back until you are quiet and ask me gently to do so.’ She had obeyed this injunction when she was a child and caught in the hedge, and she followed the same rule when grown up and suffering from the most terrible trials. She often spoke and joked about the thorn hedge, and the patience and prayer which had then been recommended to her, which admonition she, in after-life, had frequently neglected, but which had never failed her when she had recourse to it. This symbolical coincidence of the events of her childhood with those of her riper years shows that, in the individual no less than in humanity at large, prophetic types may be found. But, to the individual as well as to mankind in general, a Divine Type had been given in the person of our Redeemer, in order that both the one and the other, by walking in his footsteps and with his assistance, may surpass human nature and attain to perfect wisdom and grace with God and man. Thus it is that the will of God is done on earth as in heaven, and that his kingdom is attained by ‘men of good will.’

WHILE these sad events were taking place I was in Jerusalem, sometimes in one locality and sometimes in another; I was quite overcome, my sufferings were intense, and I felt as if about to expire. During the time of the scourging of my adorable Spouse, I sat in the vicinity, in a part which no Jew dared approach, for fear of defiling himself; but I did not fear defilement, I was only anxious for a drop of our Lord’s blood to fall upon me, to purify me. I felt so completely heartbroken that I thought I must die as I could not relieve Jesus, and each blow which he received drew from me such sobs and moans that I felt quite astonished at not being driven away. When the executioners took Jesus into the guardhouse, to crown him with thorns, I longed to follow that I might again contemplate him in his sufferings. Then it was that the Mother of Jesus, accompanied by the holy women, approached the pillar and wiped up the blood with which it and the ground around were saturated. The door of the guard-house was open, and I heard the brutal laughter of the heartless men who were busily employed in finishing off the crown of thorns which they had prepared for our Lord. I was too much affected to weep, but I endeavoured to drag myself near to the place where our Lord was to be crowned with thorns.
In this way did Sister Emmerich pass, on the vigil of St. Joseph’s feast, from the sufferings of the Passion into a consoling, childlike vision of the Saint.


I saw the Blessed Virgin with cheeks pale and haggard, her nose pinched and long, her eyes almost bloodshot from weeping, but the simple dignity of her demeanour cannot be described. Notwithstanding her grief and anguish, notwithstanding the fatigue which she had endured (for she had been wandering ever since the previous evening through the streets of Jerusalem, and across the Valley of Josaphat), her appearance was placid and modest, and not a fold of her dress out of place. She looked majestically around, and her veil fell gracefully over her shoulders. She moved quietly, and although her heart was a prey to the most bitter grief, her countenance was calm and resigned. Her dress was moistened by the dew which had fallen upon it during the night, and by the tears which she had shed in such abundance; otherwise it was totally unsoiled. Her beauty was great, but indescribable, for it was superhuman, a mixture of majesty, sanctity, simplicity, and purity. The appearance of Mary Magdalen was totally different; she was taller and more robust, the expression of her countenance showed greater determination, but its beauty was almost destroyed by the strong passions which she had so long indulged, and by the violent repentance and grief she had since felt. It was painful to look upon her; she was the very picture of despair, her long disheveled hair was partly covered by her torn and wet veil, and her appearance was that of one completely absorbed by woe, and almost beside herself from sorrow. Many of the inhabitants of Magdalum were standing near, gazing at her with surprise and curiosity, for they had known her in former days, first in prosperity and afterwards in degradation and consequent misery. They pointed, they even cast mud upon her, but she saw nothing, knew nothing, and felt nothing, save her agonizing grief.


No sooner did Sister Emmerich recommence the narrative of her visions on the Passion than she again became extremely ill, oppressed with fever, and so tormented by violent thirst that her tongue was perfectly parched and contracted; and on the Monday after Mid-Lent Sunday, she was so exhausted that it was not without great difficulty, and after many intervals of rest, that she narrated all which our Lord suffered in his crowning with thorns. She was scarcely able to speak, because she herself felt every sensation which she described in the following account: While Jesus was being scourged, Pilate had several times addressed the multitude, and again had the shout gone up: “He shall be executed, even if we die for it!” and when Jesus was led to the crowning, they cried again: “Away with Him! Away!” New bands of Jews were constantly arriving, and as they came, they were instigated by the runners of the High Priests to raise that cry. After this there was silence for a time. Pilate occupied himself in giving different orders to the soldiers, and the servants of the High Priests brought them some refreshments; after which Pilate, whose superstitious tendencies made him uneasy in mind, went into the inner part of his palace in order to consult his gods, and to offer them incense. When the Blessed Virgin and the holy women had gathered up the blood of Jesus, with which the pillar and the adjacent parts were saturated, they left the forum and went into a neighboring small house, the owner of which I do not know. John was not, I think, present at the scourging of Jesus. A gallery encircled the inner court of the guard-house where our Lord was crowned with thorns, and the doors were open. The cowardly ruffians, who were eagerly waiting to gratify their cruelty by torturing and insulting our Lord, were about fifty in number, and the greatest part slaves or servants of the jailers and soldiers. The mob gathered round the building, but were soon displaced by a thousand Roman soldiers, who were drawn up in good order and stationed there. Although forbidden to leave their ranks, these soldiers nevertheless did their utmost by laughter and applause to incite the cruel executioners to redouble their insults; and as public applause gives fresh energy to a comedian, so did their words of encouragement increase tenfold the cruelty of these men.

In the middle of the court there stood the fragment of a pillar, and on it was placed a very low stool which these cruel men maliciously covered with sharp flints and bits of broken potsherds. Then they tore off the garments of Jesus, thereby reopening all his wounds; threw over his shoulders an old scarlet mantle which barely reached his knees; dragged him to the seat prepared, and pushed him roughly down upon it, having first placed the crown of thorns upon his head. The crown of thorns was made of three branches plaited together, the greatest part of the thorns being purposely turned inwards so as to pierce our Lord’s head. Having first placed these twisted branches on his forehead, they tied them tightly together at the back of his head, and no sooner was this accomplished to their satisfaction than they put a large reed into his hand, doing all with derisive gravity as if they were really crowning him king. They then seized the reed, and struck his head so violently that his eyes were filled with blood; they knelt before him, derided him, spat in his face, and buffeted him, saying at the same time, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they threw down his stool, pulled him up again from the ground on which he had fallen, and reseated him with the greatest possible brutality. It is quite impossible to describe the cruel outrages which were thought of and perpetrated by these monsters under human form. The sufferings of Jesus from thirst, caused by the fever which his wounds and sufferings had brought on, were intense.* He trembled all over, his flesh was torn piecemeal, his tongue contracted, and the only refreshment he received was the blood which trickled from his head on to his parched lips. This shameful scene was protracted a full half-hour, and the Roman soldiers continued during the whole time to applaud and encourage the perpetration of still greater outrages.

This contemplation moved Sister Emmerich to such compassion that she begged to share her saviour’s thirst. She instantly became feverish and parched with thirst, and, by morning, was speechless from the contraction of her tongue and other lips. She was in this state when her friend came to her in the morning, and she looked like a victim which had just been sacrificed. Those around succeeded, with some difficulty, in moistening her mouth with a little water, but it was long before she could give any further details concerning her meditations on the Passion.


And now they again led Jesus, the crown of thorns upon His head, the mock scepter in His fettered hands, the purple mantle thrown around Him, into Pilate’s palace. He was perfectly unrecognizable, his eyes, mouth, and beard being covered with blood, his body but one wound, and his back bowed down as that of an aged man, while every limb trembled as he walked. When Pilate saw him standing at the entrance of his tribunal, even he (hard-hearted as he usually was) started, and shuddered with horror and compassion, whilst the barbarous priests and the populace, far from being moved to pity, continued their insults and mockery. When Jesus had ascended the stairs, Pilate came forward, the trumpet was sounded to announce that the governor was about to speak, and he addressed the Chief Priests and the bystanders in the following words: ‘Behold, I bring him forth to you, that you may know that I find no cause in him.’

The archers then led Jesus up to Pilate, that the people might again feast their cruel eyes on him, in the state of degradation to which he was reduced. Terrible and heartrending, indeed, was the spectacle he presented, and an exclamation of horror burst from the multitude, followed by a dead silence, when he with difficulty raised his wounded head, crowned as it was with thorns, and cast his exhausted glance on the excited throng. Pilate exclaimed, as he pointed him out to the people: ‘Ecce homo! Behold the man!’ The hatred of the High Priests and their followers was, if possible, increased at the sight of Jesus, and they cried out, ‘Put him to death; crucify him.’ ‘Are you not content?’ said Pilate. ‘The punishment he has received is, beyond question, sufficient to deprive him of all desire of making himself king.’ But they cried out the more, and the multitude joined in the cry, ‘Crucify him, crucify him!’ Pilate then sounded the trumpet to demand silence, and said: ‘Take you him and crucify him, for I find no cause in him.’ ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,’ replied the priests, ‘because he made himself the Son of God.’ These words, ‘he made himself the Son of God,’ revived the fears of Pilate; he took Jesus into another room, and asked him; ‘Whence art thou?’ But Jesus made no answer. ‘Speakest thou not to me?’ said Pilate; ‘knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and power to release thee?’ ‘Thou shouldst not have any power against me,’ replied Jesus, ‘unless it were given thee from above; therefore he that hath delivered me to thee hath the greater sin.’ The undecided, weak conduct of Pilate filled Claudia Procla with anxiety; she again sent him the pledge, to remind him of his promise, but he only returned a vague, superstitious answer, importing that he should leave the decision of the case to the gods. The enemies of Jesus, the High Priests and the Pharisees, having heard of the efforts which were being made by Claudia to save him, caused a report to be spread among the people, that the partisans of our Lord had seduced her, that he would be released, and then join the Romans and bring about the destruction of Jerusalem, and the extermination of the Jews.

Pilate was in such a state of indecision and uncertainty as to be perfectly beside himself; he did not know what step to take next, and again addressed himself to the enemies of Jesus, declaring that ‘he found no crime in him,’ but they demanded his death still more clamorously. He then remembered the contradictory accusations which had been brought against Jesus, the mysterious dreams of his wife, and the unaccountable impression which the words of Jesus had made on himself, and therefore determined to question him again in order thus to obtain some information which might enlighten him as to the course he ought to pursue; he therefore returned to the Praetorium, went alone into a room, and sent for our Saviour. He glanced at the mangled and bleeding Form before him, and exclaimed inwardly: ‘Is it possible that he can be God?’ Then he turned to Jesus, and adjured him to tell him if he was God, if he was that king who had been promised to the Jews, where his kingdom was, and to what class of gods he belonged. I can only give the sense of the words of Jesus, but they were solemn and severe. He told him ‘that his kingdom was not of this world,’ and he likewise spoke strongly of the many hidden crimes with which the conscience of Pilate was defiled; warned him of the dreadful fate which would be his, if he did not repent; and finally declared that he himself, the Son of Man, would come at the last day, to pronounce a just judgment upon him. Pilate was half frightened and half angry at the words of Jesus; he returned to the balcony, and again declared that he would release Jesus; but they cried out: ‘if thou release this man, thou art not Caesar’s friend. For whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.’ Others said that they would accuse him to the Emperor of having disturbed their festival; that he must make up his mind at once, because they were obliged to be in the Temple by ten o’clock at night. The cry, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ resounded on all sides; it re-echoed even from the flat roofs of the houses near the forum, where many persons were assembled. Pilate saw that all his efforts were vain, that he could make no impression on the infuriated mob; their yells and imprecations were deafening, and he began to fear an insurrection. Therefore he took water, and washed his hands before the people, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just man; look you to it.’ A frightful and unanimous cry then came from the dense multitude, who were assembled from all parts of Palestine, ‘His blood be upon us, and upon our children.

WHENEVER, during my meditations on the Passion of our Lord, I imagine I hear that frightful cry of the Jews, ‘His blood be upon us, and upon our children,’ visions of a wonderful and terrible description display before my eyes at the same moment the effect of that solemn curse. I fancy I see a gloomy sky covered with clouds, of the colour of blood, from which issue fiery swords and darts, lowering over the vociferating multitude; and this curse, which they have entailed upon themselves, appears to me to penetrate even to the very marrow of their bones, even to the unborn infants. They appear to me encompassed on all sides by darkness; the words they utter take, in my eyes, the form of black flames, which recoil upon them, penetrating the bodies of some, and only playing around others. The last-mentioned were those who were converted after the death of Jesus, and who were in considerable numbers, for neither Jesus nor Mary ever ceased praying, in the midst of their sufferings, for the salvation of these miserable beings.

When, during visions of this kind, I turn my thoughts to the holy souls of Jesus and Mary, and to those of the enemies of Christ, all that takes place within them is shown me under various forms. I see numerous devils among the crowd, exciting and encouraging the Jews, whispering in their ears, entering their mouths, inciting them still more against Jesus, but nevertheless trembling at the sight of his ineffable love and heavenly patience. Innumerable angels surrounded Jesus, Mary, and the small number of saints who were there. The exterior of these angels denotes the office they fill; some represent consolation, others prayer, or some of the works of mercy. I likewise often see consolatory, and at other times menacing voices, under the appearance of bright or coloured gleams of light, issuing from the mouths of these different apparitions; and I see the feelings of their souls, their interior sufferings, and in a word, their every thought, under the appearance of dark or bright rays. I then understand everything perfectly, but it is impossible for me to give an explanation to others; besides which, I am so ill, and so totally overcome by the grief which I feel for my own sins and for those of the world, I am so overpowered by the sight of the sufferings of our Lord, that I can hardly imagine how it is possible for me to relate events with the slightest coherency. Many of these things, but more especially the apparitions of devils and of angels, which are related by other persons who have had visions of the Passion of Jesus Christ, are fragments of symbolical interior perceptions of this species, which vary according to the state of the soul of the spectator. If therefore, the visions and meditations of many devout souls do not perfectly harmonize with one another, it is because those souls were not favored with similar graces of seeing, of facility of understanding and communicating.
Sister Emmerich sometimes spoke on these subjects, either during the time of her visions on the Passion, or before they commenced; but she more often refused to speak at all concerning them, for fear of causing confusion in the visions. It is easy to see how difficult it must have been for her, in the midst of such a variety of apparitions, to preserve any degree of connection in her narrations. Who can therefore be surprised at finding some omissions and confusion in her descriptions?


Pilate, who was not seeking the truth but a way out of difficulty, now became more undecided than ever. His conscience reproached him: “Jesus is innocent.” His wife said, ‘he is holy;’ his superstitious feelings made him fear that Jesus was the enemy of his gods; and his cowardice filled him with dread lest Jesus, if he was a god, should wreak his vengeance upon his judge. He was both irritated and alarmed at the last words of Jesus, and he made another attempt for his release; but the Jews instantly threatened to lay an accusation against him before the Emperor. This menace terrified him, and he determined to accede to their wishes, although firmly convinced in his own mind of the innocence of Jesus, and perfectly conscious that by pronouncing sentence of death upon him he should violate every law of justice, besides breaking the promise he had made to his wife in the morning. Thus did he sacrifice Jesus to the enmity of the Jews, and endeavour to stifle remorse by washing his hands before the people, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just man; look you to it.’ Vainly dost thou pronounce these words, 0 Pilate I for his blood is on thy head likewise; thou canst not wash his blood from thy soul, as thou dost from thy hands. Those fearful words, ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children,’ had scarcely ceased to resound, when Pilate commenced his preparations for passing sentence. He called for the dress which he wore on state occasions, put a species of diadem, set in precious stones, on his head, changed his mantle, and caused a staff to be carried before him. He was surrounded with soldiers, preceded by officers belonging to the tribunal, and followed by Scribes, who carried rolls of parchments and books used for inscribing names and dates. One man walked in front, who carried the trumpet. The procession marched in this order from Pilate’s palace to the forum, where an elevated seat, used on these particular occasions, was placed opposite to the pillar where Jesus was scourged. This tribunal was called Gabbatha; it was a kind of round terrace, ascended by means of staircases; on the top was a seat for Pilate, and behind this seat a bench for those in minor offices, while a number of soldiers were stationed round the terrace and upon the staircases. Many of the Pharisees had left the palace and were gone to the Temple, so that Annas; Caiaphas, and twenty-eight priests alone followed the Roman governor on to the forum, and the two thieves were taken there at the time that Pilate presented our Saviour to the people, saying: ‘Ecce homo!’

Our Lord was still clothed in his purple garment, his crown of thorns upon his head, and his hands manacled, when the archers brought him up to the tribunal, and placed him between the two malefactors. As soon as Pilate was seated, he again addressed the enemies of Jesus, in these words, ‘Behold your King!’
But the cries of ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ resounded on all sides.
‘Shall I crucify your King?’ said Pilate.
‘We have no King but Caesar!’ responded the High Priests.
Pilate found it was utterly hopeless to say anything more, and therefore commenced his preparations for passing sentence. The two thieves had received their sentence of crucifixion some time before; but the High Priests had obtained a respite for them, in order that our Lord might suffer the additional ignominy of being executed with two criminals of the most infamous description. The crosses of the two thieves were by their sides; that intended for our Lord was not brought, because he was not as yet sentenced to death.

The Blessed Virgin, who had retired to some distance after the scourging of Jesus, again approached to hear the sentence of death pronounced upon her Son and her God. Jesus stood in the midst of the archers, at the foot of the staircase leading up to the tribunal. The trumpet was sounded to demand silence, and then the cowardly, the base judge, in a tremulous undecided voice, pronounced the sentence of death on the Just Man. The sight of the cowardice and duplicity of this despicable being, who was nevertheless puffed up with pride at his important position, almost overcame me, and the ferocious joy of the executioners, the triumphant countenances of the High Priests, added to the deplorable condition to which our loving Saviour was reduced, and the agonizing grief of his beloved Mother, still further increased my pain. I looked up again, and saw the cruel Jews almost devouring their victim with their eyes, the soldiers standing coldly by, and multitudes of horrible demons passing to and fro and mixing in the crowd. I felt that I ought to have been in the place of Jesus, my beloved Spouse, for the sentence would not then have been unjust; but I was so overcome with anguish, and my sufferings were so intense, that I cannot exactly remember all that I did see. However, I will relate all as nearly as I can. After a long preamble, which was composed principally of the most pompous and exaggerated eulogy of the Emperor Tiberias, Pilate spoke of the accusations which had been brought against Jesus by the High Priests. He said that they had condemned him to death for having disturbed the public peace, and broken their laws by calling himself the Son of God and King of the Jews; and that the people had unanimously demanded that their decree should be carried out. Notwithstanding his oft repeated conviction of the innocence of Jesus, this mean and worthless judge was not ashamed of saying that he likewise considered their decision a just one, and that he should therefore pronounce sentence, which he did in these words: ‘I condemn Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, to be crucified;’ and he ordered the executioners to bring the cross. I think I remember likewise that he took a long stick in his hands, broke it, and threw the fragments at the feet of Jesus.

On hearing these words of Pilate the Mother of Jesus became for a few moments totally unconscious, for she was now certain that her beloved Son must die the most ignominious and the most painful of all deaths. John and the holy women carried her away, to prevent the heartless beings who surrounded them from adding crime to crime by jeering at her grief; but no sooner did she revive a little than she begged to be taken again to each spot which had been sanctified by the sufferings of her Son, in order to bedew them with her tears; and thus did the Mother of our Lord, in the name of the Church, take possession of those holy places. Pilate then wrote down the sentence, and those who stood behind him copied it out three times. The words which he wrote were quite different from those he had pronounced; I could see plainly that his mind was dreadfully agitated, an angel of wrath appeared to guide his hand. The substance of the written sentence was this: ‘I have been compelled, for fear of an insurrection, to yield to the wishes of the High Priests, the Sanhedrim, and the people, who tumultuously demanded the death of Jesus of Nazareth, whom they accused of having disturbed the public peace, and also of having blasphemed and broken their laws. I have given him up to them to be crucified, although their accusations appeared to be groundless. I have done so for fear of their alleging to the Emperor that I encourage insurrections, and cause dissatisfaction among the Jews by denying them the rights of justice.’ He then wrote the inscription for the cross, while his clerks copied out the sentence several times, that these copies might be sent to distant parts of the country. The High Priests were extremely dissatisfied at the words of the sentence, which they said were not true; and they clamorously surrounded the tribunal to endeavour to persuade him to alter the inscription, and not to put King of the Jews, but that he said, I am the King of the Jews.
Pilate was vexed, and answered impatiently, ‘What I have written I have written !’

They were likewise anxious that the cross of our Lord should not be higher than those of the two thieves, but it was necessary for it to be so, because there would otherwise not have been sufficient place for Pilate’s inscription; they therefore endeavoured to persuade him not to have this obnoxious inscription put up at all. But Pilate was determined, and their words made no impression upon him; the cross was therefore obliged to be lengthened by a fresh bit of wood. Consequently the form of the cross was peculiar, the two arms stood out like the branches of a tree growing from the stem, and the shape was very like that of the letter Y, with the lower part lengthened so as to rise between the arms, which had been put on separately, and were thinner than the body of the cross. A piece of wood was likewise nailed at the bottom of the cross for the feet to rest upon. During the time that Pilate was pronouncing the iniquitous sentence, I saw his wife, Claudia Procla, send him back the pledge which he had given her, and in the evening she left his palace and joined the friends of our Lord, who concealed her in a subterraneous vault in the house of Lazarus at Jerusalem. Later in the same day, I likewise saw a friend of our Lord engrave the words, Judex injustus, and the name of Claudia Procla, on a green-looking stone, which was behind the terrace called Gabbatha, this stone is still to be found in the foundations of a church or house at Jerusalem, which stands on the spot formerly called Gabbatha. Claudia Procla became a Christian, followed St. Paul, and became his particular friend. No sooner had Pilate pronounced sentence than Jesus was given up into the hands of the archers, and the clothes which he had taken off in the court of Caiaphas were brought for him to put on again. I think some charitable persons had washed them, for they looked clean. The ruffians who surrounded Jesus untied his hands for his dress to be changed, and roughly dragged off the scarlet mantle with which they had clothed him in mockery, thereby reopening all his wounds; he put on his own linen under-garment with trembling hands, and they threw his scapular over his shoulders. As the crown of thorns was too large and prevented the seamless robe, which his Mother had made for him, from going over his head, they pulled it off violently, heedless of the pain thus inflicted upon him. His white woolen dress was next thrown over his shoulders, and then his wide belt and cloak. After this, they again tied round his waist a ring covered with sharp iron points, and to it they fastened the cords by which he was led, doing all with their usual brutal cruelty.

The two thieves were standing, one on the right and the other on the left of Jesus, with their hands tied and a chain round their necks; they were covered with black and livid marks, the effects of the scourging of the previous day. The demeanour of the one who was afterwards converted was quiet and peaceable, while that of the other, on the contrary, was rough and insolent, and he joined the archers in abusing and insulting Jesus, who looked upon his two companions with love and compassion, and offered up his sufferings for their salvation. The archers gathered together all the implements necessary for the crucifixions, and prepared everything for the terrible and painful journey to Calvary. Annas and Caiaphas at last left off disputing with Pilate, and angrily retired, taking with them the sheets of parchment on which the sentence was written; they went away in haste, fearing that they should get to the Temple too late for the Paschal sacrifice. Thus did the High Priests, unknowingly to themselves, leave the true Paschal Lamb. They went to a temple made of stone, to immolate and to sacrifice that lamb which was but a symbol, and they left the true Paschal Lamb, who was being led to the Altar of the Cross by the cruel executioners; they were most careful not to contract exterior defilement, while their souls were completely defiled by anger, hatred, and envy. They had said, ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children!’ And by these words they had performed the ceremony, and had placed the hand of the sacrificer upon the head of the Victim. Thus were the two paths formed—the one leading to the altar belonging to the Jewish law, the other leading to the Altar of Grace: Pilate, that proud and irresolute pagan, that slave of the world, who trembled in the presence of the true God, and yet adored his false gods, took a middle path, and returned to his palace.
The unjust sentence was pronounced at about ten o’clock in the morning according to our time.

Conintued, Part 4 >>>

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