Who Was Pontius Pilate? Benevolent Pawn, Bloodthirsty Tyrant or Misunderstood Hunk?
The answer, according to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's Kosher Jesus, "has been used time and again to justify the worst Christian atrocities against Jews. It remains a crucial point of contention between the two religions even today."
August 18, 2013 - 2:00 pm
In the clip above the historical accounts of Pilate are much more grave than that of a handsome, yet arrogant Roman soldier in over his head. The author explains that Tiberius was forced to recall Pilate from the governor’s post in 36 AD, because of Pilate’s extreme cruelty, and inhumanity.
Let’s think about this for a minute.
The Romans were a culture that later would light Christians on fire as torches to burn in Nero’s palace. They watched Christian men, women and children be eaten alive by lions as a spectator sport. And Pilate was too cruel for these people?
Just a week before Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem, with shouts “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord!” These were not Romans shouting; they were Jews.
Then, when Jesus is brought before Pilate, he asks the Jews what to do with him?
This is where the author believes that the New Testament must have been later edited for political reasons — to slander the Jews and separate Jesus from Judaism. Pilate would not ask, what he considered to be an inferior people, what to do with a prisoner.
Boteach makes a compelling point and contrasts it with Matthew’s account:
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why?” What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
Why would a man that is so entrenched in bloodshed bother to wash his hands and claim innocence? Why would a people go from complete adoration to incomprehensible cruelty in just five days? All roles seem reversed.
I’ve never been one to question the accuracy of scripture. Nor have I understood, how the two faiths could become such enemies. Could the whitewashing of Pilate be the answer? Boteach certainly thinks so, claiming this passage from Matthew has been used throughout history to justify Christian antisemitism at best, atrocities at worse.
Who else but the Romans could have carried out such a torturous death? Both Christians and Jews have suffered the most severe cruelty under Roman rule. Yet the two faiths blame one another. Are we still going to buy into the fantasy that Pilate was just a sensitive son of a Roman knight? Nothing more than an ambitious man in over is head, unwittingly thrown into history?
After 2000 years, its time we stop blaming religion and putting a pretty face on evil.