Mrs Pilate (written by Lesley Shatwell)

What is it with these people?

Who do they think they are?

I mean, Caesar is our Emperor and just because the Jews have a king, they think they can just do what they like.

I’m sorry, I haven’t introduced myself, have I? I’m Claudia Procula, you might know me better as Mrs Pilate.

Yes, that’s right, Pontius Pilate the Procurator is my husband and my goodness, is he having a tough time at the moment.

We’re generally happy though, it’s nice in Caesarea, I’ve got a very comfortable villa, well I don’t like to boast – but it’s a palace really and it is well away from these Jews, I could almost imagine I were back in Rome. I wasn’t best happy when Pontius came to Judea, but I know what it means to him. He’s trying to get on, to impress Emperor Tiberius – not that the emperor cares much about us, he’s retired to his villa at Capri. Still I understand that and I support Pontius.

Sorry – I digress.
The Jews and their festivals. This one is Passover, they call it Pesach. Jerusalem is full, everyone from miles around has come – it’s the big one. And of course, that’s why Pontius had to come. We don’t want any trouble flaring up.

Well, it was nice to see all my Jerusalem friends again, and I was out shopping with my friend Augusta – she had one of the chi-chi villas out on the west side. We heard this kerfuffle coming from the Temple, so we had to go and see what was happening and just at that moment someone came running out yelling, “I can see, I can see!” We went a bit closer and I caught sight of the man in the midst of the throng, he just looked like a country rabbi, not a city dweller and then he saw me. I won’t forget his eyes. It was as though they through me to my very being and time stood still. Well, I turned away, straight away, but I sent our servant Marcia to find out who he was.

Marcia said, “His name’s Jesus, they are calling him the Son of David and he is healing people. He makes blind people see and the lame to walk again.” Just then, I spotted some of the city guard and Augusta and I bid a hasty retreat.

It’s strange though. I couldn’t get him out of my mind, I remember his eyes on me and it was as though he called my name. And then Pontius came home. He’s been aloof recently, not wanting to talk to me – we usually chat about my day and his, but he didn’t even want to see the new silk I’d bought.

The next morning he went off to work again, there had been a big to do in the night, Pontius said there’d been an arrest over in Gethsemane and he might be needed. You see, the Jews can try their own criminals, but they can’t execute them, they can’t crucify them and if there’s a real trouble-maker been caught, it’s sometimes best if he doesn’t ever get the chance to be a nuisance again.

I was daydreaming. Well, I’m not sure, everything seemed so real to me. A beautiful man, I saw him, he was sinuous, like a snake though – something not right about him. The next I knew, he was round behind me and he whispered in my ear, “Your husband holds sway over the life and death of a holy and saintly man. His name’s Jesus, who calls himself Christ. You must be sure your husband doesn’t pass sentence on him, for if he does you’ll both be utterly destroyed.” I came to screaming, there was no one there, but Marcia ran in to see what had happened. She’d seen no one, but it was all so real.

There was that name again, Jesus.
Was Jesus the man they’d arrested in Gethsemane?
Jesus, the one who’d healed blind people, lame people?
Jesus, the man with the eyes that look into people’s very being?

I must do something. I texted Pontius wait, I have it here:

‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’

Pontius came home at lunchtime.
At the moment he received my text, he was sitting in judgement on that very man.
He could find nothing against him.
But the Chief Priests and the Elders wanted him dead.
Pontius tried everything to save Jesus
Pontius asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
And all Jesus said was, “You say so.”
Well there was nothing Pontius could do, Jesus didn’t even try to help himself.
Pontius even offered the decision to the crowd, would they save Jesus, their king? At their festival?
But no, they would have Barabbas – well that’s borrowed time for that villain.
So Jesus was flogged, but still he wouldn’t say anything in his own defence.
Pontius would have let him go, but the Jews said, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”
Well, that set the cat among the pigeons.
At least Pontius knew why the Chief Priests and Elders were set against Jesus, it threated them you see.
Pontius just washed his hands of the matter, he knew he was sending an innocent man to his death, but what could he do, there would have been a riot?

And now, he’s had to go out again. There’s trouble.
I’ll say there’s trouble.
I’m scared
Well, it’s dark, pitch dark
And it’s daytime.
I can’t forget those eyes

Have we really just killed the Son of God?

Matt 21.14-17
14 The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard[d] the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, they became angry 16 and said to him, ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read,
“Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise for yourself”?’
17 He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

Matt 27.19 While he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’

medieval writers said Claudia dreamed of the devil, who whispered seductively in her ear, “Your husband holds sway over the life and death of a holy and saintly man. His name’s Jesus, who calls himself Christ. You must be sure your husband doesn’t pass sentence on him, for if he does you’ll both be utterly destroyed.”

23 02 14

In Caesarea, they also found a block of stone with a local Governor’s name carved on it. Tell us the story. What does that tell us about the society and the politics of that time?
Yes, this inscription that’s now been found at Caesarea Maritima, which refers to Pontius Pilate, is one of the most important discoveries made in the archeological work of the last two decades. Precisely because it’s the first piece of hard evidence of the existence of Pontius Pilate. Now, for Pilate, of course, we have a number of literary references, both in the Jewish historian, Josephus, and also among the Christian gospels. But this is the first piece of direct evidence from an archaeological source which actually gives us his name and tells us he was there as Governor. The city of Caesarea Maratima was actually the Governor’s residence. This was the capitol city, from the perspective of the Roman political administration. So, it would have been where Pontius Pilate would have lived, where he would have had his court.
And what does that tell us, because if Herod ruled the city, if Herod was the local client King, what was Pontius Pilate doing there?
Herod ruled from 37 B.C.E. to 4 B.C.E. Quite a long and impressive reign from just the political perspective. But, at his death, his kingdom, which was the largest extent for the Jewish state since the time, really, of David and Solomon, was subdivided among three of his sons. One son, Herod Antipas, took the northern territories of the Galilee and those on the east side of the Jordan River. Another son, Phillip, took the areas to the east of the Sea of Galilee … the area now thought of as the Golan Heights, and a good stretch of territory over in that direction. The third son, Archelaeus, took the major portion, and in fact the most important cities… Now this region, which we would probably call Judea, was really the most important of the three sub-divisions. But Archelaeus, in contrast to his two half-brothers, didn’t fare as well as his father. And within ten years, he was removed by the Roman overlords, and replaced with military governors … what we usually refer to as Procurators, or Prefects, posted there by the Roman administration to oversee the political activities of the state.
Pontius Pilate, is one of these first round of governors posted to the province of Judea, once it was given over to Roman military governorship. And the stone that we now have from Caesarea … is very important. It gives us three pieces of information. First, it tells us that Pontius Pilate was the Governor. Secondly, it calls him a Prefect. That’s what we see in line three of the text. Thirdly, and in some ways most interestingly, the first line tells us that Pilate had built a Tibereum. What that means is, a temple for the Emperor Tiberius, as part of the Imperial Cult. Thus, here we have, at Caesarea Maritima, a Roman Governor building a temple in honour of the Roman Emperor.
accessed 24 02 14

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