The Roman prefect Pontius Pilate has been cloaked in rumor and myth since the first century, but what do we actually know of the man who condemned Jesus of Nazareth to the Cross? In this breakthrough, revisionist biography of one of the Bible's most controversial figures, Italian classicist Aldo Schiavone explains what might have happened in that brief meeting between the governor and Jesus, and why the Gospels--and history itself--have made Pilate a figure of immense ambiguity.Read more...
The Roman prefect Pontius Pilate has been cloaked in rumor and myth since the first century, but what do we actually know of the man who condemned Jesus of Nazareth to the Cross? In this breakthrough, revisionist biography of one of the Bible's most controversial figures, Italian classicist Aldo Schiavone explains what might have happened in that brief meeting between the governor and Jesus, and why the Gospels--and history itself--have made Pilate a figure of immense ambiguity.
Pontius Pilate lived during a turning point in both religious and Roman history. Though little is known of the his life before the Passion, two first-century intellectuals--Flavius Josephus and Philo of Alexandria--chronicled significant moments in Pilate's rule in Judaea, which shaped the principal elements that have come to define him. By carefully dissecting the complex politics of the Roman governor's Jewish critics, Schiavone suggests concerns and sensitivities among the people that may have informed their widely influential claims, especially as the beginnings of Christianity neared.
Against this historical backdrop, Schiavone offers a dramatic reexamination of Pilate and Jesus's moment of contact, indicating what was likely said between them and identifying lines of dialogue in the Gospels that are arguably fictive. Teasing out subtle but significant contradictions in details, Schiavone shows how certain gestures and utterances have had inestimable consequences over the years. What emerges is a humanizing portrait of Pilate that reveals how he reacted in the face of an almost impossible dilemma: on one hand wishing to spare Jesus's life and on the other hoping to satisfy the Jewish priests who demanded his execution. Simultaneously exploring Jesus's own thought process, the author reaches a stunning conclusion--one that has never previously been argued--about Pilate's intuitions regarding Jesus.
While we know almost nothing about what came before or after, for a few hours on the eve of the Passover Pilate deliberated over a fate that would spark an entirely new religion and lift up a weary prisoner forever as the Son of God. Groundbreaking in its analysis and evocative in its narrative exposition, Pontius Pilate is an absorbing portrait of a man who has been relegated to the borders of history and legend for over two thousand years.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-12-19
- Reviewer: Staff
Pontius Pilate is well known as the Roman prefect who presided over the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but much of what we know of him is more myth than fact, so Schiavone (Spartacus: Revealing Antiquity), a professor of Roman law at the Instituto Italiano di Scienze Umane, revisits the time and place of Christs crucifixion to bring a more historically sound picture to light. He takes a look at who Pilate was before he became governor of Judea and examines the culture, religion, and politics that led to the arrest of the King of the Jews. Using the Gospels as well as secular historical texts (which he finds more reliable), Schiavone delves into Pilates interrogation of Jesus to discover why the dialogue switches from vague amazement to theology, and then explores the tacit understanding between the prefect and the condemned regarding the inevitability of the trials outcome. Schiavone compares the information available from many sources to construct a comprehensive and thought-provoking explanation of what took place between Pilate and Jesus, expanding the narrow portrait of a man about which little is known beyond this one encounter. (Feb.)