New College of the Humanities

The Trial Of Jesus: the Enigma of the First Good Friday

S.G.F. Brandon asserts that Pontius Pilate regarded Jesus as guilty of sedition. Whether he was right is another matter.

Ecce Homo ("Behold the Man"), Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pilate presenting a scourged Jesus to the people of Jerusalem.By a strange irony of history, the surest thing known about Jesus of Nazareth is that he was executed by the Romans for sedition against their government in Judaea. The circumstances of Jesus’ birth, the length of his public ministry, and the exact content of his teaching are all matters of uncertainty, but the cause of his death is beyond doubt.

For the fact that Jesus was crucified as a rebel on the orders of Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judaea is attested by all four Gospels, and it is briefly mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus, writing early in the second century.

The witness of the Gospels is especially significant, because the fact of the Roman execution of Jesus on such a charge was very embarrassing for the early Christians. They would obviously have never invented it; indeed, they would probably have not recorded it, if the fact had not been so well known.

To read this article in full you need to be either a print + digital subscriber, or else have purchased access to the online archive.

If you are already a subscriber, please ensure you are logged in. 

Buy Subscription | Buy Online Access | Log In

Sign up for Miscellanies, our free weekly email

X