Procopius of Gaza and Matthew 27:25 (part 2)

Let’s continue looking at the references to Matthew 27:25 – “His blood be upon us, and upon our children” in the 6th century writer Procopius of Gaza.  Earlier I translated a number of passages here.  We’re looking at this reference in BiblIndex:

  • Procopius of Gaza, Commentarii in Octateuchum, PG 87.1, 21-1220. (p.252); (p.491, l.46); (p.919); (p.923); § 1 (p.41)

The “pages” are actually column numbers.  We dealt with col. 252 in the last post.

Col.491 is next.  This is from the commentary on Genesis, dealing with chapter 49, verses 1-2, but the commentary seems to have little or nothing to do with the passage.  This quickly turns into a list of the crimes of Israel.

On looking at the text of “column 491” in the PG, I find pages of Latin, for some unknown reason.  Migne is reprinting an old edition, as usual.  Most Greek texts were printed first in a Latin translation, and the Greek text was printed later.  So I hypothesise that the Greek text of the Commentary on the Octateuch was not printed in its entirety, forcing Migne to print the full Latin version, and whatever Greek he could find.

The text reads as follows:

Nor was it held back by its weakest part.  While the Jews were fleeing the limits of their homeland and were dispersed in Israel, God was sifting the gentiles who lacked his enlightenment.  In fact we can say this about those who assailed the knees of the bull [=Christ], not about all of them.  For we can say about them, that they didn’t make themselves companions in this most awful but necessary murder, as it is read in Deuteronomy, “Our hands are not covered with this blood, nor did our eyes see it.”  God orders that those who have not committed murder must say these words, washing their hands in the valley above a slaughtered cow: i.e. those who are near the town within whose boundaries the murder was committed and near where the body was found.  The others [commentators] suppose that this cow is a type of Christ.  To this statement the Jews emit a contrary statement, clamouring, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”  But Moses withdrew the curse from the Levites, when they took up arms with the Rephidim on account of the dereliction of the people and the making of the [golden] calf, and did not spare brothers or sons.  This curse, which they needed to be dispersed, was converted into a blessing, and the Levites accepted offerings from the other tribes of the city: in which they lived as strangers and pilgrims.  Not otherwise do perfect Christians and true worshippers of the divinity abide in this world.[1]

This seems to be suggesting that it is wrong to hold all the Jews blameworthy for the murder of Christ, even though the Jews said, “His blood be upon us and our children”.

Next up is column 919.  This is commenting on Deuteronomy 18:11.  Interestingly Migne does not signal the reference to Matt.27:25:

And as God illustrated the dignity of the laws of this prophet, he says, “Whoever will not hear what was said in my name by the prophet, I shall lay a penalty on him,” in the same way a penalty was taken from this people on account of the blood which was shed from Abel to Zachariah, and last of all, of Christ himself, whose blood they had blamed on their heads and those of their children, and still they receive the penalty of that impiety.[2]

Next col. 923, on Deut.21:1.  This is about Jewish conversions to Christianity.  I apologise for the poor translation – the general sense is obvious but I could not follow the syntax very well.

Indeed far away they recede from the impiety of the Jews, in that city in which He was wounded and tortured, found far away by a strong order, they submit however first in a rustic church, and at that instant wash their hands in Christ himself, stained with his blood.  And they certainly receive remission of sins, hiding themselves no part of the impiety of the Jews who said, “His blood be upon us and upon our children”.  Thereafter, purged by baptism, they say, “Our hands have not shed hus blood.”  And although they were from the Jews, they have renounced however all community with them.[3]


The final reference “§ 1 (p.41)” unfortunately doesn’t seem to mean anything.  There is certainly nothing in col. 41.

I don’t know that we learned a lot from Procopius, did we?  He expresses the same views as earlier writers.  The main point of interest is the reference to legal restrictions on Jews, which may be lifted by baptism.  This is probably a Byzantine thing.

  1. [1]Nec tamen a molle est retentus. At Judaei patriae fugerunt fines, et dispersi sunt in Israel, gentibus cernentibus Deum, cujus alma luce ipsi carent. Hoc vero dicitur de iis, qui poplites tauri inciderunt, nec de omnibus. Possumus enim de his dicere, qui non se dedere socios ad hanc iniquissimam caedem perpetrandam, quod legitur in Deuteronomio : “Manus nostrae non fuderunt sanguinem hunc, nec oculi nostri viderunt”. Haec verba jussit Deus dicere illos, qui non caedem commisissem, in valle lavantes manus super mactata juvenca : nempe illos, qui proximi essent oppido, in cujus finibus homicidium esset perpetratum, et cui proximum jaceret cadaver. Caeterum juvenca illa quoque Christi typus censetur. Judaei huic voci emisere vocem contrariam, clamitantes : “Sanguis ejus super nos, et super liberos nostros”. Verum Moses ademit Levitis maledictionem, cum in Raphidim ob derectionem populi et formationem vituli ceperunt arma, et nec fratribus nec filiis pepercerunt. Hinc maledictio, qua dispergendi erant, conversa est in benedictionem, accipiuntque Levitae ab aliis tribubus urbium primitias : quas inhabitabant ceu hospites et peregrini, non secus ac in hoc mundo commorantur perfecti Christiani et veri adoratores Numinis.
  2. [2]Atque ut dignitatem legum prophetae hujus Deus illustret, inquit : “Quicunque non audierit omnia quacunque locutus fuerit propheta in nomine meo, ab eo poenam exigam,” quemadmodum poena de hoc populo sumpta est propter sanguinem qui ab Abel effusus est usque ad Zachariam, et postremo omnium ipsum Christum, cujus sanguinem cum in caput suum liberorumque devovissent, etiamnum impietatis illius poenam sustinent.
  3. [3]Quotquot vero procul a Judaeorum impietate recesserint, urbe ea in qua vulneratus est, et excruciatus est inventus procul valere jussa, concedunt quidem in Ecclesiam prius incultam, ibidem manus in ipso Christo in mortem ejus tincti, abluunt. Ac reportant certe peccatorum remissionem, se latentes nullam parte in habere cum impietate Judaeorum qui dixerunt: “Sanguis ejus super nos, et super liberos nostros”. Caeterum baptismo repurgati, aiunt : Manus nostrae sanguinem hunc non effuderunt. Ac etsi ex Judaeis fuerint, omni communitati eorum tamen renuntiaverunt. Quod sane discipuli, et qui ipsis crediderunt, fecerunt.

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