In the recent movie, The Passion of Christ, there was a reference to
Pilate being warned by Caesar twice not to allow any more uprisings. Is
there any historical basis for this? I’m sure there was some political
reason Pilate allowed a man he considered innocent to be executed. Melissa

Relatively little is known, historically, about Pilate
outside what we have in the Bible. In fact, until several years ago, when
an inscription was found in Caesarea, some even doubted whether he was in
fact governor of Judea. The inscription in Caesarea mentioned “Pontius
Pilate, Procurator of Judea,” settling once for all the question of
whether Pilate was indeed the man who authorized the execution of Jesus.
The lack of specific information about Pilate causes us to rely on the
Bible as our main source on Pilate. As you are probably aware, the Bible
does not specifically mention a warning from Caesar. You can assume that
this is an interpolation by Gibson on the gospel story. I would say that
it certainly is a very reasonable interpretation of the text, as the Jews
in the gospel account basically challenged Pilate on his patriotism and
commitment to Caesar if he were to allow a supposed competitor to Caesar,
namely Jesus, the king of the Jews, to go free. The very idea that Jesus
could be a real political rival to Caesar was ludicrous, as Pilate clearly
understood, but the likelihood of some sort of religious uprising
surrounding the person Jesus probably seemed like a real possibility. The
way this is depicted in the movie, though fictional, seems pretty

Personally, I liked the movie The Passion of the Christ. I
was moved by the dramatic picture of the death of Jesus at “our” hands.
There were a few details added to the story for dramatic effect, such as
Satan speaking to Jesus in the garden and so forth. On a scale from 1 to
10, where 1 means an exact depiction of the gospel story and 10 being a
blatant Hollywood interpretation with great and unjustifiable additions to
the story, I would rate The Passion with a 2. It compares very favorably
to such commercial flicks as The Last Temptation of the Christ. Having
said that, there are still a number scenes in the movie which are Mel
Gibson’s own interpretation, viewed through an avowedly Roman Catholic
bias, of the passion events. Despite the limitations of the movie, I
still recommend it to anyone.

John Oakes

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