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Po'ntius Pila'tus

was the sixth procurator of Judaea, and the successor of Valerius Gratus. He held the office for ten years in the reign of Tiberius, and it was during his government that Christ taught, suffered, and died. By his tyrannical conduct he excited an insurrection at Jerusalem, and at a later period commotions in Samaria also, which were not put down without the loss of life. The Samaritans complained of his conduct to Vitellius, the governor of Syria, who deprived him of his office, and sent him to Rome to answer before the emperor the accusations that were brought against him. As Pilatus reached Rome shortly after the death of Tiberius, which took place on the 15th of March, A. D. 37, he was probably deposed in the preceding year A. D. 36, and would therefore have entered upon his duties as procurator in A. D. 26. Eusebius states that Pilatus put an end to his own life at the commencement of the reign of Caligula, worn out by the many misfortunes he had experienced. (Tac. Ann. 15.44 ; Matthew, xxvii; Mark, xv; Luke, 3.1, xxiii. ; John, xviii. xix.; J. AJ 18.3. § l, &c., 18.4.1, &c., B. Jud. 2.9.2; Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 2.7.) The early Christian writers refer frequently to an official report, made by Pilatus to the emperor Tiberius, of the condemnation and death of Christ. (Just. Mart. Apol. i. pp. 76, 84; Tertull. Apol. 5; Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 2.2; Oros. 7.4; Chrysost. Homil. VIII. in Pasch.) It is not at all improbable that such a report was made; but considering, on the one hand, the frequency of forgeries in the early Christian Church, and on the other, that it was no part of the policy of the imperial government to publish such reports, we may reasonably question the genuineness of the document. At all events there can be no doubt that the acts of Pilate, as they are called, which are extant in Greek (Fabric. Apocr. vol. i pp. 237, 239, vol. iii. p. 456, &c.), as well as his two Latin letters to the emperor (Fabric. Apocr. vol. i. p. 298, &c.), are the productions of a later age. (Comp. Winer, Biblisches Realwöurterbuch, art. Pilatus.

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37 AD (1)
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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.3
    • Tacitus, Annales, 15.44
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