Cover image for Memoirs of Pontius Pilate : a novel
Memoirs of Pontius Pilate : a novel
Mills, James R., 1927-
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Publication Information:
Grand Rapids, Mich. : Fleming H. Revell, 2000.
Physical Description:
222 pages ; 19 cm

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After extensive research, Mills presents this innovative, insightful novel, written in an engrossing style that reveals what Jesus faced from his political opponents. Pilate recounts what he knew of Jesus, writing in effect a fifth gospel, though full of ironies, sarcasm, and dry, detached observations.

Author Notes

James R. Mills has been a teacher, historian, and California State Assembly member and senator. As president pro tempore of the Senate, he served as acting governor when the governor and lieutenant governor were absent. Mills was described by John F. Kennedy as one of the finest young men in politics.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

n Blind Justice, Bell adopts the tough-but-wistful tone of gumshoe novels to tell the fast-moving story of Jake Denney, a boozing lawyer whose wife has divorced him and who is on the verge of being disbarred. He takes on the case of a childhood friend, Howie Patino, a slightly retarded fellow married to a vamp he's accused of murdering. The case seems open and shut against Howie, and Jake muddies the waters even more with his drinking, losing the case in the process. Odd events then add up to a plot involving devil worship and black magic, and Jake, with the help of Howie's sister, goes on the spiritual warpath, freeing Howie and redeeming himself. A fresh take on the California detective territory of Hammett and Chandler. One wouldn't have thought spiritual warfare could have its whimsical side, but Davis' God Bless Mr. Devil presents the devil as a grumpy fallen angel who sits around in his bathrobe in an air-conditioned central chamber of Hell, running the enterprise of sin with a bank of computers. Bored with his daily chores, the devil amuses himself by eating popcorn, smoking Cuban cigars, and marveling at the freedom of Ted Turner's herds of buffalo running across New Mexico. Satan has one weakness, the power of prayer, and is done in by the sincerity of an eight-year-old named Katie Hart, who prays for his salvation and sets off a chain of irresistible goodness, forcing Mr. Devil to repent. Davis acknowledges that the devil's conversion may be theologically unsound, but it's funny all the same. Prolific romance writer Hicks turns in a slight, sometimes comic performance with Loves Me, Loves Me Not, about the divorced owner of a gift shop, Bonny Van Hooten, who has given up on romance but whose employees run personal ads for her, convinced that she is full of "Denial. Fear. Probably unresolved anger." Meanwhile, reformed and contrite, Bonny's ex-shows up intent on wooing her. Bonny makes him suffer a little with the results of the personal ad, but the two get back together. Oke and Bunn offer a sequel to the best of their collaborations, The Meeting Place (1999), with The Sacred Shore, again featuring the conflict between the French and English in eighteenth-century Acadia, or Nova Scotia. Louisa Robichaud, who is French, and the young Englishwoman Catherine Harrow formed a friendship across cultural and political divides in the first book; here, almost a generation later, all flee to American shores seeking religious freedom. Ten years after the Crucifixion, history tells us, Pontius Pilate was accused of murder and found guilty by the emperor Caligula. What happened after that is less certain, but Mills has Pilate living out his final days in a relatively comfortable exile. Widowed and lonely, Pilate researches and writes The Memoirs of Pontius Pilate, quite effectively laying out the dilemmas of a Roman provincial ruler dealing with political strife and internecine battles among the Jews, but also offering an account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Mills is rigorous about staying inside Pilate's head as he relates a feisty, entertaining fifth gospel that is a kind of commentary on the other four. A first novel, Schalesky's Cry Freedom carves out a niche in a period seldom treated in Christian fiction: the prerevolutionary Pennsylvania frontier, where Indians ally themselves variously with French or English. Kwelik, a Christian Indian, survives a war party's raid only to be captured and placed on an auction block. Jonathan Grant, fleeing from religious and political upheavals in England, buys her, marries her, and the two stake out a homestead. Yet their troubles are far from over, as Kwelik is spirited away by yet another tribe of "savages." Jonathan must call upon his strained faith in God and go after her. First in the Freedom Quest series. Shapiro's Promise of God is a Jewish novel from a new imprint of Health Communications, publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. It's about a brilliant Brazilian cardinal, Isaac Benda Cortes, who learns through a series of divinely inspired events that he has Jewish ancestry reaching back to King David. Cardinal Cortes is renowned because of his scholarship and his courageous crusade against South American drug cartels, and he is the likely successor to the ailing Pope. But as he becomes Pope it also becomes clear that he is the Jewish Messiah, not, like Christ, divine but a holy man chosen by God to unite his farflung people. This is an interesting variant on the evangelical apocalyptic novel; unfortunately, Shapiro's publisher has appended a disclaimer to the text because of what the publisher views as Shapiro's negative portrait of Gentiles--or specifically, the Catholic Church--for their repression of Jews and Judaism during the Spanish Middle Ages and, more recently, their failure to speak out during the Holocaust. Shapiro's publisher does him wrong. He merely speaks the truth. The minimally fictional All God's Children, Snyder's life's work, is about Rome and the rise of Christianity after the Crucifixion, or from 31 to 71 A.D. Snyder uses an ex-slave become bookseller, Attalos, for his narrator and, at times, achieves the ironic power of perhaps the best-known novel of this period, Robert Graves' I, Claudius. For the most part, however, Snyder simply relates history, drawing upon the Bible, Josephus, Plino, and various Roman historians such as Tacitus and doing an admirable job of giving chronology and coherence to a shadowy period. Whitlow's List is superficially similar to Bell's Blind Justice in that it features a non-Christian lawyer reluctantly drawn into spiritual warfare, in part by the Christian woman with whom he falls in love. Josiah "Renny" Jacobsen is a greedy young lawyer whose rich father dies under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Renny has visions of expensive cars and fine houses, but his father bequeathed him only the membership in a mysterious "Covenant." The Covenant began at the end of the Civil War, when several aristocratic South Carolinian families jointly diverted their assets to the North. The money has been passed down ever since and has grown to several billion in a Swiss account. Unfortunately, the original pact was really a bargain with the devil. Renny, seduced at first, converts to Christianity, finds deliverance from his greed, and does battle with the devil. A terrific premise, though the action bogs down in the more conventional spiritual battle that Renny's girlfriend wages for his soul--the love story, in other words.

Library Journal Review

Thirty years after the death of Jesus of Nazareth, an exiled Pontius Pilate compiles his memoirs into a history of the Jewish faith and the rise of Christianity. He contemplates his role in sentencing Jesus to death by crucifixion and puzzles at the rapid spread of the teachings of that simple man. A true politician, he denies any blame for his part in Jesus' final hours. Instead, he lays the blame at the feet of the crowd who cried for Barabbas to be released and at the feet of the temple officials who called for his trial. Subtly, Pilate's fascination with Jesus and his teachings gives life to his recital, and glimpses of Pilate's own thoughts and feelings surface. Mills's (Gospel According to Pontius Pilate) expertise with his subject provides unexpected depth to this intriguing glimpse at a man vilified for his place in history. Recommended for all collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.