Jerome on Matthew 27:25

While looking for information on the textual tradition of Origen’s Commentary on Matthew, I stumbled across a Google books preview of Jerome’s Commentary on Matthew, in the Fathers of the Church series, vol. 117 (2008), ably translated by Thomas Scheck.  This work in four books also references Matthew 27:25 (His blood be upon us and on our children).

Here’s what it says, from book 4, on 27:25.  FoC p.312-313:

27:24. So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the people, saying: “I am innocent of the blood of this just man; see to it yourselves.”Pilate took water in accordance with the following prophecy: “I will wash my hands among the innocent.” Thus, in the washing of his hands, the works of the Gentiles are cleansed, and in some manner he estranges us from the impiety of the Jews who shouted: “Crucify him.” For he contested this and said: I certainly wanted to set the innocent man free, but because a sedition is arising and the crime of treason against Caesar is being attached to me: “I am innocent of the blood of this man.” The judge who is compelled to bring a verdict against the Lord does not condemn the one offered, but exposes those who offered him; he pronounces that he who is to be crucified is just. “See to it yourselves,” he says; I am a minister of the laws; it is your voice that is shedding his blood.

27:25. And all the people answered and said: “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”This imprecation upon the Jews continues until the present day. The Lord’s blood will not be removed from them. This is why it says through Isaiah: “If you wash your hands before me, I will not listen; for your hands are full of blood.” The Jews have left the best heritage to their children, saying: “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

27:26. Then he released for them Barabbas; but he had Jesus scourged, and handed him over to them to be crucified. Barabbas the thief, who made seditions among the crowds, who was the author of murders, was released to the people of the Jews. He stands for the devil, who reigns in them until today. It is for this reason that they are unable to have peace. But Jesus, having been handed over by the Jews, is absolved by the wife of Pilate, and is called a just man by the governor himself. …

This is useful for our current project into the use of Matthew 27:25 in the Fathers.  But paging idly back a little, I came across another interesting passage on p.310:

27:9-10. Then was fulfilled what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by the sons of Israel, and they gave them for a potter’s field, just as the Lord appointed for me.”This testimony is not found in Jeremiah. Something similar is recorded in Zechariah, who is nearly the last of the twelve prophets. Yet both the order and the wording are different, although the sense is not that discordant. Recently I read something in a certain little Hebrew book that a Hebrew from the Nazarene sect brought to me. It was an apocryphon of Jeremiah in which I found this text written word for word. Yet it still seems more likely to me that the testimony was taken from Zechariah by a common practice of the evangelists and apostles. In citation they bring out only the sense from the Old Testament. They tend to neglect the order of the words.

Interesting indeed, although I learn from the footnote that apparently G. Bardy supposed in a paper in 1934 that Jerome invented the story of finding an apocryphon. But we need not worry about such a speculation.


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