Theology Thursdays: The Duality Of Jesus And The Barrabas Syndrome by Ausar Ma’at
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that “of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward all research." An examination of the most recent historical and archeological references will help to establish that the numerous prophecies, myths, controversies, contradictions and ambiguities converging around the person of Jesus, are inextricably interrelated with a highly complex set of social, political and especially religious circumstances present during his life and his Ministry as a Prophet of God.
These circumstances, as history has shown, have a lot more to do with the various Divine Titles, Positions and Attributes ascribed to Jesus, then the factual reality of his existence. In corroboration to this statement, the quasi-complete absence of extra-biblical information on his subject, from contemporary writers such as Petronius, Plutarch, Tacitus and Josephus Flavius, as well as the many conflicting scriptural accounts of his mission, from both canonical and non-canonical sources, will bare witness to this conclusion.
The reality is that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, as told by the four Books of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, are to be understood as parabolic stories rather then factual biographical narratives, as each of them extricates the nature of one aspect of the Messianic Archetype. Every parable helps you to understand the aim and purpose of the Messiah’s work, but it is conveyed through the persona of one who represented the Messianic hope of his day: Jesus son of Mary. As such, each part of his life, as they were reported to us in those books, are symbolic in character and are directly rooted in key specific prophecies about Another Figure in the scriptures of the Old Testament, as foreseen progressively through the ages by the Prophets of Israel: The Son of Man.
One of the clearest demonstrations of this truth is the new knowledge theologians now have about the story of Jesus and Barrabas, as obtained from the oldest texts of the New Testament. It is most interesting to observe, that in the oldest existing Greek manuscripts of the book of Mathew 27:16, the name of Barrabas is really a last name. A common misconception about Barrabas is that he was a criminal. However, he was actually a political nationalist and a freedom fighter, who was accused of murder during a Jewish insurrection against the Romans. Strangely, in Hebrew his name means ‘the Son of God or Son of the Father.' What is even stranger, or rather more shocking, is to discover the first name of Barrabas, which is actually, and astonishingly, Jesus.
In other words, this would indicate that there were two Jesus’ held captive at the same time, and left for the people to choose which one would be saved from execution. The removal of Barrabas’ first name in the text was done by the Roman Church at a much later date, for obvious reasons. Although this may come as faith shattering information to some, it is matter of irrefutable truth, for this fact is absolutely verifiable in the older Greek manuscripts of the Gospel.
In light of this information, unless these original passages are understood in their intended parabolic or pesher meaning, it is completely impossible to reconcile this story with reality or to ascribe to it any sort of historical validity. To have two Jesus’ with identical last names or titles and accused of nearly the same thing at the same time is beyond the reasonable laws of mathematical probability. Not to mention that the tradition to release a Jewish prisoner during Passover was not, at any recorded point in history, a Roman practice at all. This is a pure invention. Furthermore, the Dead Sea Scrolls have revealed that Pilates’ action of washing his hands from Jesus’ blood is a symbol of innocence for the community called Qumran, who was constituted, according to scholars, of some of the earliest followers of Jesus. It can be traced back to Deuteronomy 21:7 to be exact.
But when we understand the dualistic nature of the Messiah, as Minister Jabril Muhammad has so clearly demonstrated in his Farrakhan The Traveler article series (from the Final Call Newspaper), a fact that is rooted in the Dead Sea scrolls and Ancient Hebrew culture (as well as Ancient Egypt though it is beyond the scope of this article to cover this particular aspect), according to the principles called mishpat and tsedeq, the two pillars of the Temple of Solomon, all becomes clearer.
The story pertains to the two sides of the Jesus, one political, one spiritual. However, most people chose to follow and cling to the political nationalist side of the message of Jesus, at the expanse of the spiritual Teachings he brought. This can lead people, in an hour of great decision, to make the wrong choice due to the wrong perception they have of the Christ, and in a moment of doubt, they can make the fatal mistake of crucifying the man of God in their zeal to protect the ‘cause.' So this anecdote is in fact, an extended portrayal of the Judas-type, as it relates to the people’s relationship to the Messiah in general. Because most times, as it was in the time of Jesus, people want political freedom without making the effort of undergoing real spiritual change. But in fact, the latter is inherently vital to the former. Without righteous spiritual elevation, the slave is bound to reproduce the cycle of tyranny and injustice of the master. As a contemporary example, Haïti and several corrupt African regimes would serve as a good case in point.
We can also see this ‘Barrabas syndrome’ clearly manifesting itself during the great split between the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. When Malcolm left the Messenger, he took on a more political and nationalist path. The people, our people, saw this as progress. So many of them sided with Malcolm and turned against the Messenger and his more spiritually based program, which required great personal discipline to follow.
So when Malcolm was finally murdered at the end of a plot executed by the government, many of our people literally sought the crucifixion of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, and automatically raised a condemning finger of accusation. All the while, Pontius Pilates, or the American government, washed his hands from the whole incident, leaving Black people profoundly hurt and divided.
Today, we also see this manifested among our people in regards to the Honorable Louis Farrakhan. For so many of us delight in his strong political stand, but wish to remain distant from the spiritual message of the Minister. Through these practical examples, we can see how the life of Jesus has such powerful symbolic meaning, but that shouldn’t be confused with recorded history.
In that way, the story in the Gospels is more then just history, it is prophecy, or more specifically a sign, as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us from the Holy Qur’an. It draws a beautiful comprehensive picture that showed the world what will be the ‘essence’ of the work of Christ when he comes at the end of this world, again, to reemphasize, through meaningful and prophetically rooted parables the early Roman Church wrongfully attributed to his historical existence. This ‘picture’, or prophetic storyboard if you may, revolves completely around a process called ‘Resurrection’, initiated by God through His Messiah(s) at the ‘end of the age’, to usher in a New Government called the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem,’ consecrated in the Scriptures by the spiritual rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon, which stands upon the two Divine Pillars of tsedeq’ (Priestly Messiah) and mishpat’ (Kingly Messiah) and that can only be completed by the finding of the cornerstone’ (The Lost Sheep and Chosen People: Virgin of the Word), rejected by the builders (nations of the world), destined to became the headstone of the corner. Or, as the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us, it is the sign of “…two men and a people." This is the Secret of The Ages. You are that secret!
Ausar Ma'at is a writer and a researcher. He is currently completing a book in French called "La Résurrection", as a French introduction to the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, January 26, 2006