Easter Myth #2: Pilate was a kindly ditherer, open to persuasion

Ten Easter Myths

Most leading historians, archaeologists and linguists don’t believe that the four official Christian Gospels can be relied upon as accurate records of historical fact. The Christmas stories, for instance, are known to be complete fabrications based on stories passed down from other traditions, edited to make them appear consistent with ancient Hebrew prophecies. The Easter stories too are highly dubious as factual accounts.

Easter is unquestionably the most important day of the Christian calendar. On Easter Day Christians believe their saviour Yeshua came back to life and was seen in corporeal form for several weeks before ascending on a cloud to ‘heaven’. This is the very basis of their religion.

They believe it because the gospels say it happened, or so they think. But most Christians aren’t aware of the inconsistencies in the scriptures. The Gospels are riddled with factual errors, contradictions and unsupported statements that challenge the very basis of the religion.

This series presents ten myths about the Easter stories drawing on Gospel sources and historical records from the period.

Myth #2:  Pilate was a kindly ditherer, open to persuasion

The Pontius Pilate of history was a ruthless tyrant, far from the weak and wavering man portrayed in the gospels. If Yeshua was believed to pose a threat to law and order his fate would have been quickly sealed.

Few scholars regard the gospel reports of Yeshua’s ‘trial’ as credible. The gospels say Yeshua had broken no law in Roman eyes and only when the chief priests convinced Pilate that he was a danger to public order was his fate sealed. But this is extremely unlikely. Roman Prefects could treat members of the subject nation as they wished. Pilate had a history of putting usurpers to death without trial without hesitation. It is doubtful that Pilate would have lost any sleep over it.

The author of ‘Matthew’ was so keen to absolve the Romans of their responsibility that he had Pilate’s wife advising him in to ‘have nothing to do with this innocent man for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’[1]

But outside the gospel stories there is no record of Pilate ever showing mercy, and it would have been completely out of character to let Yeshua off the hook. Indeed, he was later recalled to Rome to face charges of misrule and committed suicide in disgrace!

Pilate’s reluctance in the gospels to crucify this noisy Jewish dissident contrasts so much with what is known about him from other sources that it seems certain that later editors ‘doctored’ the gospels to deflect blame away from Rome. Why would they do such a thing? Simple: the Christian leaders of the First and Second Centuries did not want to make enemies of the Romans.

In the decades that followed, the Romans took charge of the religion and put the finishing touches to the early Christian Scriptures. It would have been embarrassing to say the least that a senior Roman official had condemned the Saviour to death!

It was convenient to deflect the blame for his death to the Jews. The repercussions for Christian-Jewish relations were severe and lasted for nearly two thousand years, until Pope John Paul the Second made a wholesome apology to the Jewish people in 2000.[2]

©David Lawrence Preston, 10.2.2017

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @David_L_Preston

Balboa Press, 2015

[1] Matthew 27:19. There is no mention of this in the other gospels.

[2] In 2000, Pope John Paul also apologised for the crusades, the massacre of French Protestants and the trial of Galileo.

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