Cyril of Alexandria and Matthew 27:25 (part 2): the case of the vanishing passage!

Yesterday I discussed 5 passages from Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on the XII minor prophets, which according to a TLG search supposedly reference Matthew 27:25, “His blood be upon us all”.  Passage #1 was a glitch, and #3-5 are genuine and I gave the passages in translation using the Fathers of the Church translation.

But it is passage 2 that I want to discuss now.  For I was unable to see it, in the Google Books Preview of the commentary.  The TLG result is as follows:

  • Volume 1 page 530 line 13: γὰρ τῷ Πιλάτῳ σταυροῦν ἀναπείθοντες τὸν Χριστόν “Τὸ “αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.” τοιγάρτοι  πανοικὶ διολώλασι καὶ αὐτοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἡρπάσθησαν πόλεις,

As we can see, the Greek of Matthew 27:25 is right there.  Here is the page from the Pusey edition[1], volume 1, page 530 (click on the picture below for a larger image):


So … why did it not show up in my search of the Fathers of the Church translation?

The running header in Pusey tells me that this is from the Commentary on Amos, chapter 9:4, at the end.  If I look at the Fathers of the Church 116, Commentary on 12 Minor prophetsvolume 2, p.120 indicates the start of Pusey p.530, and p.121 shows the start of p.531.  But it is noticeable how much less text there is, than between “(531)” and “(532)”.


There’s only one conclusion to draw.  The translator, for whatever reason, has omitted this passage from his translation.

This may be an honest error. After all, similar passages do appear translated in the next volume of the same commentary.  But the passage might be considered anti-Semitic, and so politically controversial.  I have referred before to the atmosphere of fear in US universities these days.  It would be worrying if it was omitted for reasons of self-preservation: just as copies of the Talmud in medieval Europe omitted material about Jesus, out of fear of the inquisition.

I have asked a correspondent for a translation of the missing portion, which I will add here.  And I shall write to the editors of the FOC series, and draw their attention to the omission.

UPDATE: Two kind commenters have had a go at the passage (see below).  Bryson Sewell has sent in a version in PDF, with some notes on an unusual Greek usage, which I attach.  Comments are welcome!

“And the wretched crowd of the Jews has endured this, who transferred his righteous blood upon their own heads. For when they were persuading Pilate to crucify Christ, they said, ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children!’ Accordingly, they all perished with their whole households and their cities were plundered together with their men, so that no one was able to escape. As regards the sort and number of the things that they have suffered, the long history books of those who have written about such matters sing of them.”

In addition I have looked again at Pusey’s edition, and verified that there are four, and only four references to Matt.27:25 in the commentary on the 12 prophets:


  1. [1]P.E. Pusey, Sancti patris nostri Cyrilli archiepiscopi Alexandrini in xii prophetas, 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1868: 1:1-740; 2:1-626.  Volume 1; Volume 2.

8 thoughts on “Cyril of Alexandria and Matthew 27:25 (part 2): the case of the vanishing passage!

  1. General gist:
    And these and the wretched crowd of the Jews had persevered, the (crowd) inscribing the righteous blood on their own head; for they said to Pilate, convincing [him] to crucify Christ: ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children’….

  2. Oh wait there’s more. The next bit is a bit contorted and says something like this (but don’t quote me):
    Therefore, with all their households they utterly perished, and men and all, many were seized, as soon as they escaped anywhere. Not one prevailed. For whatever and however much they suffered, the long histories of the composers celebrated things such as this.

  3. Since there is another translation, I’ll give mine too:

    The wretched crowd of the Jews was awaiting this very thing, cursing onto their own head the righteous blood. For they were saying to Pilate to persuade him to crucify the Christ: “The blood of that one be upon ourselves and upon our children.” For that very reason their households were destroyed and the men themselves when their cities were pillaged, and perhaps none were so fast to prevail to escape. How that was and what they had suffered, the short writings sing of these sorts of things brought together.

    “The Lord, God of hosts,
    he who touches the earth and it melts**,
    and all who dwell in it mourn,
    and all of it rises like the Nile***,
    and sinks again, like the Nile*** of Egypt;”

    [Amos 9:5, RSV]

    * Manuscript A has “short” instead of “long.” I assume it’s referring to the Amos quote, and translate short.

    ** No doubt correct for the Hebrew, but in the Greek version quoted, “shake” or “vibrate.”

    *** River.

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