Cover image for Pontius Pilate in history and interpretation
Pontius Pilate in history and interpretation
Bond, Helen K. (Helen Katharine)
Publication Information:
Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xxvi, 249 pages : map ; 22 cm.
General Note:
Based on the author's thesis (doctoral)--Durham University.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS122 .B66 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This study reconstructs the historical Pontius Pilate and looks at the way in which he is used as a literary character in the works of six first century authors: Philo, Josephus and the four evangelists. The first chapter provides an introduction to the history and formation of the imperial Roman province of Judaea. The following two chapters examine the references to Pilate in Philo and Josephus, looking at each author's biases before going on to assess the historicity of their accounts. The next four chapters look at the portrayal of Pilate in each gospel, asking how a first century reader would have interpreted his actions. Each chapter asks what this portrayal shows about the author's attitude towards the Roman state, and what kind of community found this useful. The conclusion distinguishes between the 'historical Pilate' and the different 'Pilate of interpretation' preserved in our first century literary sources.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Bond (Univ. of Aberdeen) offers a first-rate quest for the historical Pontius Pilate, the prefect of the imperial Roman province of Judea from 26 to 37 CE who sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion. The quest examines biblical and nonbiblical sources: Philo, Josephus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It concludes with a brief assessment of the historicity of the pertinent events represented by the Gospel narratives, particularly the trial of Jesus. Bond argues that the first-century writers on Pilate allowed their own social and political situations to influence their portraits of Pilate, and that the historical evidence from the relevant sources does not support a theory of a "progressively friendlier" Pilate. Bond concludes that Pilate was confronted with the trial of Jesus because the latter was accused of claiming to be King of the Jews, and that Pilate handled the matter in terms of a routine crucifixion of a political agitator. The book is thoroughly researched, lucidly written, and well organized; it will be a standard historical work on Pilate. Recommended for any library supporting Greco-Roman history and New Testament studies. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and researchers. P. K. Moser Loyola University of Chicago

Table of Contents

1 Pontius Pilate and the Roman Province of Judaea
2 Pilate in Philo
3 Pilate in Josephus
4 Pilate in Mark's Gospel
5 Pilate in Matthew's Gospel
6 Pilate in Luke/Acts
7 Pilate in John's Gospel
8 Historical events behind the gospel narratives