From: Curtis Johnson
To: twunder@bu.edu
Date: Sep 21 1998 8:32:54 am
Subject: Evil God-Haters.
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>  LA> Pilate, or do you take the side of those who effectively
>  LA> forced Pilate to allow them to have Jesus put to death?
> I wasn't there, and cannot rely on the extant writings
> for the story. I don't even know if the man lived or not.

tw> It would be interesting to do a comparitive study between the
tw> historicity of Jesus and the historicity of Pilate; while I confess
I
tw> have not researched the latter much at all (as opposed to doing some
tw> research into the former), I agree at the moment with the consensus
tw> view (which is, of course, not correct _merely_ because it's the
tw> consensus view) that Pilate was a real historical person; I forget if
tw> I've seen any evidence for his existence (as it's not a contentious
tw> issue, ordinarily, I wouldn't have made it a priority to recall any
tw> such information), but the New Testament does not form the sole basis
tw> (or even a significant part, to my admittedly vague recollection) for
tw> the things historians will say about Pilate.

Pilate, of course, has no miracles directly associated with
him in the primary contemporary material (at best, one mention in
one of the Four Gospels of his wife having a precognitive-type but
otherwise undescribed dream).  Of course, later came the various
"Acts of Pilate" tales, all marvelously bogus.
An inscription bearing Pilate's name has been discovered
in the former Judaea.  But nobody had any real doubts.  Josephus
discusses him in both _Jewish War_ and _Antiquities_, aside from
the famous disputed paragraph about Jesus in _Antiquities_.
(Jesus isn't even mentioned in connection with Pilate in _Jewish
War_.)  Philo lived when Pilate ruled, and left us some paragraphs
on him.  Both give a quite different picture of Pilate than do the
Gospels--his recorded actions show no concern whatsoever for the
goodwill of Jews of any camp.  In fact, what was quite unusual
for the Roman power, his subjects succeessfully petitioned to
have him removed!  The occasion was him killing a *Samaritan*
messiah.
Philo apparently wrote an entire work dealing with Pilate.
It is very telling that Christians preserved his metaphysical
maunderings, but not this work.

tw> Are there any scholars who doubt the existence of Pilate in some
tw> sort of book or essay?

None that I know of.  I don't think even Barbara Thiering
does.

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