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Mark 15:6-15

Context
Jesus and Barabbas

15:6 During the feast it was customary to release one prisoner to the people, 1  whomever they requested. 15:7 A man named Barabbas was imprisoned with rebels who had committed murder during an insurrection. 15:8 Then the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to release a prisoner for them, as was his custom. 2  15:9 So Pilate asked them, 3  “Do you want me to release the king of the Jews for you?” 15:10 (For he knew that the chief priests had handed him over because of envy.) 4  15:11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release 5  Barabbas instead. 15:12 So Pilate spoke to them again, 6  “Then what do you want me to do 7  with the one you call king of the Jews?” 15:13 They shouted back, “Crucify 8  him!” 15:14 Pilate asked them, “Why? What has he done wrong?” But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!” 15:15 Because he wanted to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them. Then, 9  after he had Jesus flogged, 10  he handed him over 11  to be crucified.

1 tn Grk “them”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn The custom of Pilate to release one prisoner to them is unknown outside the gospels in Jewish writings, but it was a Roman custom at the time and thus probably used in Palestine as well (cf. Matt 27:15; John 18:39); see W. W. Wessel, “Mark,” EBC 8:773-74.

2 tn Grk “Coming up the crowd began to ask [him to do] as he was doing for them.”

3 tn Grk “Pilate answered them, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant and has not been translated.

4 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

5 tn Grk “to have him release for them.”

6 tn Grk “answering, Pilate spoke to them again.” The participle ἀποκριθείς (apokriqeis) is redundant and has not been translated.

7 tc Instead of “what do you want me to do” several witnesses, including the most important ones (א B C W Δ Ψ Ë1,13 33 892 2427 pc), lack θέλετε (qelete, “you want”), turning the question into the more abrupt “what should I do?” Although the witnesses for the longer reading are not as significant (A D Θ 0250 Ï latt sy), the reading without θέλετε conforms to Matt 27:22 and thus is suspected of being a scribal emendation. The known scribal tendency to assimilate one synoptic passage to another parallel, coupled with the lack of such assimilation in mss that are otherwise known to do this most frequently (the Western and Byzantine texts), suggests that θέλετε is authentic. Further, Mark’s known style of being generally more verbose and redundant than Matthew’s argues that θέλετε is authentic here. That this is the longer reading, however, and that a good variety of witnesses omit the word, gives one pause. Perhaps the wording without θέλετε would have been perceived as having greater homiletical value, motivating scribes to move in this direction. A decision is difficult, but on the whole internal evidence leads toward regarding θέλετε as authentic.

8 sn Crucifixion was the cruelest form of punishment practiced by the Romans. Roman citizens could not normally undergo it. It was reserved for the worst crimes, like treason and evasion of due process in a capital case. The Roman historian Cicero called it “a cruel and disgusting penalty” (Against Verres 2.5.63-66 §§163-70); Josephus (J. W. 7.6.4 [7.203]) called it the worst of deaths.

9 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

10 tn The Greek term φραγελλόω (fragellow) refers to flogging. BDAG 1064 s.v. states, “flog, scourge, a punishment inflicted on slaves and provincials after a sentence of death had been pronounced on them. So in the case of Jesus before the crucifixion…Mt 27:26; Mk 15:15.”

sn A Roman flogging (traditionally, “scourging”) was an excruciating punishment. The victim was stripped of his clothes and bound to a post with his hands fastened above him (or sometimes he was thrown to the ground). Guards standing on either side of the victim would incessantly beat him with a whip (flagellum) made out of leather with pieces of lead and bone inserted into its ends. While the Jews only allowed 39 lashes, the Romans had no such limit; many people who received such a beating died as a result. See C. Schneider, TDNT, 4:515-19.

11 tn Or “delivered him up.”



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