Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pontius Pilate

Christ before Pilate : Artist TINTORETTO, 1566-67, Oil on canvas, 515 x 380 cm, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.Pontius Pilate (Latin: Pontius Pilatus') was the governor of the Roman Iudaea Province from 26 until 36. In modern times he is best known as the man who, according to the canonical Christian Gospels, presided over the trial of Jesus and ordered his crucifixion, instigating the Passion.

Pilate's biographical details before and after his appointment to Iudaea are unknown, but have been supplied by tradition, which include the detail that his wife's name was Procula (she is canonized as a saint in Orthodox Christianity) and competing legends of his birthplace.

The famous Pilate Inscription found at Caesarea Palaestina refers to Pilate as prefect, while Tacitus speaks of him as procurator of the province. The explanation of the differences in title is fairly straightforward.

In the first historical period in which the setting of the New Testament became the Roman Iudaea Province (a compound of Samaria, Judea and Idumea), from 6 to the outbreak of the Great Jewish Revolt in 66, officials of the equestrian order (the lower rank of governors) governed. They held the Roman title of prefect until Herod Agrippa I was named King of the Jews by Claudius.


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