The members of the Sanhedrim who led Jesus to John xviii. 28-33 Pilate, refuse to enter the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; and thereupon he comes out to them and asks the nature of the accusation. They charge
Him with being a malefactor, and Pilate directs them to take Him and judge Him themselves. As they cannot inflict a capital punishment, they bring the Luke xxiii. 2-4. charge of sedition; and Pilate, reentering the judg- Mark Xv* 2. ment hall, and calling Jesus, examines Him as to His John xviii. 33-38. Messianic claims. Satisfied that He is innocent, Pilate Matt, xxvii. 11. goes out and affirms that he finds no fault in Him. The Jews renewing their accusations, to which Jesus Matt, xxvii. 12-14. makes no reply, and mentioning Galilee, Pilate sends Mark Xv. 3-5. Him to Herod, who was then at Jerusalem; but Jesus Luke xxiii. 5-12. refuses to answer his questions, and is sent back to Pilate. The latter now resorts to another expedient. Matt, xxvii. 15-18. He seats himself upon the judgment seat, and calling Mark Xv. 6-10. the chief priests and elders, declares to them that nei- Luke xxiii. 13-17. ther himself nor Herod had found any fault in Him. According to custom, he would release Him. But the John xviii. 39, 40. multitude beginning to cry that he should release Barabbas, not Jesus, he leaves it to their choice. During Matt, xxvii. 19. the interval whilst the people were making their choice, his wife sends a message to him of warning. The people, persuaded by the priest and elders, reject Je- Matt, xxvii. 20-23. sus and choose Barabbas, and Pilate in vain makes Mark Xv. 11-14. several efforts to change their decision. At last he Luke xxiii. 18-25. gives orders that Jesus be scourged previous to cruci- Matt, xxvii. 26-31. fixion. This was done by the soldiers with mockery Mark Xv. 15-20. and abuse; and Pilate, going forth, again takes Jesus John xix. 1-4. and presents Him to the people. The Jews continue John xix. 5-12. to demand His death, but upon the ground that He made Himself the Son of God. Terrified at this new charge, Pilate again takes Jesus into the hall to ask Him, but receives no answer. Pilate still strives earnestly to save Him, but is met by the cry that he is Caesar's enemy. Yielding to fear, he ascends the tribunal, and, calling for water, washes his hands in token Matt, xxvii. 24-25. of his innocence, and then gives directions, that He be John xix. 13-16. taken away and crucified. As He comes forth he presents Him to them as their King. They cry, Crucify Him, and He is led away to the place of crucifixion.
It is not easily determined whether the Pretorium or judgment hall, to which Jesus was taken, was in the palace
of Herod the Great, and now occupied by Pilate; or in the fortress Antonia. That the Roman governors sometimes used this palace as head-quarters, appears from Josephus,1 where Florus is said to have done so ; and afterward (2. 15. 5) mention is made of his leading out the troops from the royal residence. The palace of Herod at Csesarea was used in like manner, (Acts xxiii. 35.) The palace at Jerusalem was situated on the north side of Mount Sion, and was a magnificent building of white marble, with which, according to Josephus, the temple itself bore no comparison.11 It is to be distinguished from the palace of Solomon, which was lower down on the side of the mount, and near the temple, and wrhere Agrippa afterward built.3 That it was used by Pilate when he visited Jerusalem is very probable.4 Those who place the judgment hall at the fortress Antonia refer in proof to John xix. 13, where it is said that Pilate " sat down in the judgment seat, in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha."& This Pavement is supposed to have been between the fortress Antonia and the western portico of the temple, identifying it with one mentioned by Josephus.6 Pilate was thus sitting upon the highest point of the large temple area, where what he did was plainly visible to all present. But the fact that the outer court of the temple wras " paved throughout"7 does by no means show that Pilate here erected his tribunal. Lightfoot (in loco) argues at some length to show that this Pavement was the room Gazith in the temple, where the Sanhedrim sat, and, as the Jews would not go to Pilate's judgment hall, he went to theirs.
» War, 2. 14. 8. 2 War, 1. 21. 1; 5. 4. 4.
s Josephus, Antiq. 8. 5. 2; 20. 8. 11.
* So Meyer, Winer, Alford, Friedlieb, Lewin. Evvald (v. 14) supposes this palace to have been reserved for the use of Herod's heirs, when they came to the capital.
6 Wieseler, 407. 6 War, 6.1. 8; and 6. S. 2.
7 Josephus, War, 5. 5. 2.
Greswell observes that " to suppose that the tribunal of Pilate could have been placed in any court of the temple would be palpably absurd." We must then conclude that this Pavement was a movable one, like that which Suetonius mentions, when he says that Julius Csesar took with him pieces of marble ready fitted, that they might be laid down at any place, and thejudgment seat be placed upon them; or, which is more probable, that it was the open paved space before the palace of Herod. The latter view is confirmed by Josephus,1 for Florus, when he had fixed his quarters in the palace, erected his tribunal in front of it, and there gathered the chief men of the city before, him. The judge seems to have been at liberty to place his tribunal where he pleased, and Pilate on one occasion did so in the great circus.2 We consider it then most probable that all the judicial proceedings before Pilate were at the palace of Herod upon Mount Sion.3
Pilate, being informed that members of the Sanhedrim had brought a criminal before him, and of their unwillingness to enter the palace, goes out to meet them.4 It was plainly the purpose of the priests and elders to obtain at once from Pilate a confirmation of their sentence, without stating the grounds upon which He had been condemned; but this plan was wholly baffied by his question, " What accusation bring ye against this man ? " Whether Pilate asked this question from a sense of justice, not thinking it right to oondemn any man to death without knowing his offence; or whether he already knew who the prisoner was, and that He had been condemned upon ecclesiastical grounds, we cannot determine.
i War, 2.14. 8. 3 Josephus, "War, 2. 9. 3.
8 Winer, ii. 29; Greswell, iii. 225; Tobler, Top. i. 222. Many, however, place the judgment hall in the castle Autonia; so Williams, Barclay. The point is important only in its bearings on. the site of the sepulchre, and the direction of the Via Dolorosa.
* Jones (Notes, 3 and 9) puts the arrival of the Jews about five o'clock, or a little before sunrise; Ewald (v. 483) an hour before sunrise.
We can scarce doubt, however, that he had some knowledge of Jesus, of His* teaching, works, and character. Without troubling himself about ecclesiastical questions, he would closely watch all popular movements; and he could not overlook a man who had excited so much of public attention. If, as is most probable, he was in Jerusalem at the time of the Lord's public entry, he must have heard how He was hailed by the multitude as King of the Jews; and the fact that he placed a part of the Roman cohort at the disposal of the priests when about to arrest Him, shows that they must have communicated to him their design. But, however this may have been, it is plain that he was by no means disposed to be a mere tool in the hands of the priests and elders to execute their revengeful plans. Vexed at his question, they reply, almost contemptuously, " If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee." It is as if they had said,' We have tried Him, and found Him to be a malefactor; there is no need of any further judicial examination. Rely upon us that He is guilty, and give us without more delay the power to punish Him.'
It is not certain what force is to be given to the word " malefactor,"1 but apparently His accusers design to designate Jesus as one who had broken the civil laws, and therefore was amenable to the civil tribunals. By the use of this general term they conceal the nature of His offence, which was purely ecclesiastical. They had condemned Him for blasphemy, but for this Pilate would not put Him to death —probably would not entertain the case at all; and as they knew not what other crime to lay to His charge, they present Him as a malefactor. This vague and artful reply displeases Pilate, who is, beside, touched by the cool effrontery of the council in demanding that he shall, without examination, ratify their sentence; and he answers tartly, " Take ye Him and judge Him according to your law."
i KaKotf irouav, Tischendorf, Alford. It is as if he had said, If you can judge, you can also execute; but if I execute, I shall also judge. This answer forces them to confess that they had no power to put Him to death; and shows them that, if they would accomplish their purpose, they must bring some direct and definite charge, and one of which Pilate would take cognizance. They therefore now begin to accuse him of perverting the nation, of forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and of saying that He was Christ, a king, (Luke xxiii. 2.) These were very serious accusations, because directly affecting Roman authority, and such as Pilate was bound to hear and judge.
i KaKotf irouav, Tischendorf, Alford.
It is as if he had said, If you can judge, you can also execute; but if I execute, I shall also judge. This answer forces them to confess that they had no power to put Him to death; and shows them that, if they would accomplish their purpose, they must bring some direct and definite charge, and one of which Pilate would take cognizance. They therefore now begin to accuse him of perverting the nation, of forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and of saying that He was Christ, a king, (Luke xxiii. 2.) These were very serious accusations, because directly affecting Roman authority, and such as Pilate was bound to hear and judge.
Up to this time Jesus and His accusers, and Pilate, had been standing without the Pretorium. According to Roman law, the examination might take place within the Pretorium, but the sentence must be pronounced in public without. Entering it, Pilate calls Jesus and demands of Him, " Art thou the King of the Jews ? " The Synoptists give simply this reply: "Thou sayest," or "I am ; " but JoTm relates the reply in full*, inwrhich Jesus describes the nature of His kingdom, (xviii. 33-38.) The effect of this conversation upon Pilate was very great. He saw at once that Jesus wTas no vulgar inciter of sedition, no ambitious demagogue or fanatical zealot, and that the kingdom of which He avowed Himself to be the king was one of truth, and not of force. At worst, He was only a religious enthusiast, from whose pretensions Caesar could have nothing to fear; and he determines to save Him, if possible, from the hands of His enemies. Taking Jesus with him, he goes out and declares to them that he finds no fault in Him. This, probably unexpected, exculpation on his part only makes them " the more fierce," and they renew the charge that He stirred up the people throughout all Judea and Gali
lee, (Luke xxiii. 5.) Mark, xv. 3, says: " And the chief priests accused Him of many things." Galilee may have been thus mentioned because the Galileans were prone to sedition. To all these accusations Jesus answers nothing, so that His silence makes even Pilate to marvel. The incidental mention of Galilee suggests to the governor that he might relieve himself from responsibility by sending Him to Herod, who was then in the city, and unto whose jurisdiction, as a Galilean, He rightfully belonged. He accordingly sends Him to Herod, and hopes that he is now quit of the matter; or, if Herod should decline jurisdiction, that he would express some opinion as to His guilt or innocence. The chief priests and scribes follow Him, that they may renew their accusations before the new judge.
By Herod the Lord was gladly received, as he had long desired to see Him, and hoped that He would now work some miracle before him. But to all the king's questions He answered nothing, nor did He reply to the accusations of His enemies. Angry at His continued silence, and doubtless interpreting it as a sign of contempt, Herod and his soldiers mock Him with pretended homage, and, clothing Him in a gorgeous robe, send Him back to Pilate.1 His return so attired was a very intelligible sign to Pilate that Herod, who, from his position, must have known His history, had no knowledge of any seditious practices in Galilee ; and regarded Him as a harmless man, whose Messianic pretensions were rather to be ridiculed than severely punished.
1 Some would make this a white robe, such as candidates for office were accustomed to wear, and chieftains when they went into battle. Thus robed> He appeared as a candidate for the honor of king of the Jews. So Friedlieb, Arckaol. 109; contra, Meyer. In Vulgate, veste alba.
This sending of Jesus by Pilate to Herod was understood by the latter, and probably designed by the former, as a mark of respect and good will, and was the means of restoring friendship between them, which had been broken, perhaps by some question of conflicting jurisdiction.1 Where Herod took up his residence, when in the city, is not known. If Pilate occupied the fortress Antonia, Herod would doubtless occupy his father's palace. It is not probable that both occupied the latter together, as some suppose.2 Possibly he made his abode at the old palace of the Maccabees.3 In either case, the distance was not great, and but little time was spent in going to and returning from Herod.
After Jesus was brought back to Pilate, the latter calls together " the chief priests and the rulers and the people," (Luke xxiii. 13.) He now designs to pronounce Him innocent and end the trial, and therefore seats himself upon his judgment seat, (Matt, xxvii. 19.) There was a custom that at this feast a prisoner chosen by the people should be released from punishment. As to the origin of this custom nothing definite is known. From the language of the Synoptists, Kara eopTiqv, it has been inferred that at each of the feasts a prisoner was released.4 John, however, confines it to the Passover, and it might have had some special reference to the release of the people from Egyptian bondage. No traces of it are to be found in later Jewish writings. It may possibly have been established by the Romans as a matter of policy, but more probably it was of Jewish origin, and continued by the Roman governo 'S.B Whether Pilate had this custom in mind when he took his seat upon the tribunal, is not certain; but his words (Luke xxiii. 16) strongly imply this, as well as the fact that he had gathered the people together with the chief priests and rulers. Ascending the tribunal, he formally declares that, having examined Jesus, he had found no fault in Him, neither had Herod, to whom he had sent Him; and after chastising Him, lie will therefore release Him.
1 Some would trace the origin of this quarrel to the incident mentioned by Luke xiii. 1. See Greswell, iii. 26.
2 Lichtenstein, 432. 3 Josephus, Antiq. 20. 8. 11.
* Friedlieb, Archaol. 110. 5 Winer, ii. 202 j Hofmann, 360.
It seems from the scope of the narrative that he intended to chastise Jesus, thus to propitiate the priests, and then to release Him under the custom without further consulting the people. In this way, apparently, Pilate thought to satisfy all: the people, by releasing Him; the priests and elders, by chastising Him; and himself, by delivering Him from death. But he satisfied none. The people, reminded of their claim, began to clamor for it, but they did not demand that Jesus should be released. To satisfy the priests and rulers, His chastisement was far too light a punishment The cry is raised, " Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas." Pilate, who knew how well affected the people at large had been to Jesus, cannot believe that they will reject Him and choose Barabbas; and he therefore accepts the alternative, and leaves them to elect between the two.
Of this Barabbas, son of Abbas, little is known. According to some authorities, the true reading (Matt, xxvii. 16 and 11) is Jesus Barabbas.1 From the statements of the Evangelists respecting him, it appears that he was one of that numerous and constantly growing party who detested the Roman rule, and who afterward gained such notoriety as the Zealots. In company with others, he had stirred up an insurrection in the city, and had committed murder, (Mark xv. 1; Luke xxiii. 19.) John speaks of him as a robber also ; but this crime was too common to attract much attention, or bring upon its perpetrator much odium. Josephus,2 speaking of Florus, says that "he did all but proclaim throughout the country that every one was at liberty to rob, provided he might share in the plunder." It is remarkable that this man was confessedly guilty of the very crime with which the priests and rulers had falsely charged Jesus—that of sedition; and no plainer proof of their hypocrisy could be given to the watchful Pilate than their efforts to release the former and to condemn the latter.
i So Meyer, Ewald ; and, formerly, Tischendorf: contra, Alford. 2 War, 2. 14. 2.
And this it was easy for them to effect; for the tide of popular feeling ran very strong in favor of national independence, and one who had risen up against the Romans, and had shed blood in the attempt, was deemed rather a hero and a patriot than a murderer. On the other hand, Jesus, so far from encouraging the rising enmity to Roman rule, had always inculcated obedience and submission—teachings ever unpalatable to a subject nation. It is probable, too, that most of those present were the citizens of Jerusalem, rather than the pilgrims from other parts of the land; and, if there were some from Galilee, that they did not dare, in opposition to the rulers, to express openly their wishes.
Whilst waiting for the people to come to a decision, he receives the message from his wife mentioned by Matt, xxvii. 19. Nothing is known of her but her name, which tradition gives as Procla, or Claudia Procula.1 This dream was generally regarded by the fathers as supernatural, and by most ascribed to God, but by some to Satan, who wished to hinder the Lord's death.8 This message would naturally tend to make Pilate more anxious to release " that just man," even if he did not ascribe to the dream a divine origin.3
The Synoptists agree that Pilate made three several attempts to persuade the people to release Jesus, though the order of the attempts is not the same in all. The events may be thus arranged: Pilate presents to the people the two, Jesus and Barabbas, between whom they were to choose. A little interval followed, during which he received his wife's message.
1 Winer, ii. 262; Hofmann, 340. 2 See Jones, Notes, 359.
3 Lewin (129) finds in this circumstance a proof that the locality was Pilate's ordinary residence, the palace of Herod; and that the charge against Jesus was brought at so early an hour that be was aroused from his slumbers to hear it.
He now formally asks the people whom they wished to have released, (Matt, xxvii. 21; Mark xv. 9; Luke xxiii. 16-18.) They answer, Barabbas. Pilate, hoping that by changing the form of the question he could obtain an answer more in accordance with his wishes, says, " What shall I do then with Jesus, wThich is called Christ ? " (Matt, xxvii. 22 ; Mark xv. 12. Luke, xxiii. 20, does not give the question; but the answer shows that it must have been the same as in Matthew and Mark.) To this they reply, " Let Him be crucified." Alexander (on Mark xv. 13) suggests that the cry u Crucify Him " arose from the fact that, as Barabbas, by the Roman law, would have been crucified, Jesus should now stand in his stead and bear his punishment. Bynaeus (iii. 118) explains it on the ground that crucifixion was the usual punishment of sedition, of which He was accused. Pilate now sees that not only do the people reject Jesus, but that they insist upon the most severe and ignominious punishment. He had proposed chastisement; they call for crucifixion. He had not anticipated this, and will reason with them. He therefore asks, " Why, what evil hath He done ? " (Matt, xxvii. 23 ; Mark xv. 14.) Luke (xxiii. 22) adds: "I have found no cause of death in Him; I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go." This judicial declaration of His innocence, and attempt to substitute the milder punishment, only cause the people to cry out the louder, " Let Him be crucified."
John (xviii. 39, 40) sums up the narrative very briefly, and gives no details. He omits the sending to Herod, and states only the result of the popular election.
The great and rapid change in public feeling in regard to Jesus which four or five days had brought, would appear incredible, did we not find many analogous cases in history. The thoughtlessness and fickleness that characterize a populace, are proverbial. Besides, we here find special causes in operation to bring about this change. The multitude, that shouted " Hosanna to the son of David " on the day of His triumphal entry, doubtless expected that He would immediately assert His kingly claims, and take a position before the public corresponding to His high dignity. But so far from this, He reappears the next day, not as a prince, but as a teacher; He does nothing answering to their expectations ; He passes much of His time in seclusion at Bethany, and the excitement of His entry dies away. Still, He has a powerful hold on the popular mind as a prophet and worker of miracles; and this is recognized by the rulers in the manner in which they effect His arrest, and the haste with which they press on the trial. It was His conviction as a blasphemer that turned the heart of the people against Him. The chief priests, the elders, the scribes, all those in whom they trusted, and who guided public opinion, were busy in declaring that He had blasphemed in the presence of the whole Sanhedrim. He assumed to be something more than the Messiah whom they expected—to be even the Son of God. All His teachings, all His miracles are straightway forgotten. He is a blasphemer; He must die.
It may be, also, as has been said, that most of those who cried " Crucify Him " were citizens of Jerusalem, who, under the influence of the hierarchy, had never been well inclined toward him, and do not seem to have joined in the hosannas and rejoicings upon the day of His entry.
From the Synoptists it would appear that, after the failure of the attempts to induce the multitude to release Jesus, Pilate, despairing of success, washed his hands before the people, and then gave Him up to be scourged and crucified. But John (xix. 4-12) relates other and apparently subsequent attempts to save Him, placing them after and in connection with the scourging. Was He, then, twice scourged? This is affirmed by some, who regard the scourging of John (xix. 1-8) as designed to gratify the elders and priests, and to excite popular compassion; but that
mentioned by the Synoptists as the scourging usually inflicted before crucifixion. But this is- improbable. That scourging generally preceded the crucifixion, appears from Josephus.1 This scourging was excessively severe, the leathern thongs being often loaded with lead or iron, and cutting through the flesh even to the bone, so that some died under it.3 But the Lord having been once scourged, there seems no reason why it should be repeated; nor is it likely that Pilate would have permitted it.
If, then, Jesus was scourged but once, and the accounts of the Synoptists and of John refer to the same event, why did Pilate now permit it ? Was it that, finding himself' unable to save Jesus, and having no further expedient, he gives up the struggle, and sends Him away to be scourged as preliminary to His death ?3 Or did he permit it, hoping that through the milder punishment he might awaken pity, and thus rescue Him from death ?4 It is not easy to decide as to Pilate's motives. He had early offered to chastise Jesus, and then release Him; but this the multitude refused, and demanded His crucifixion. It does not, then, seem probable that He could hope that the mere sight of Jesus suffering this punishment could so awaken their pity as to change their determination.5 And why, if this were his purpose, should Jesus be taken into the common hall, or Pretorium, and subjected to the insults and mockery of the soldiers? We infer, then, that Pilate, having yielded to the priests and rulers, sent Him to be scourged as preliminary to His crucifixion, which was done by the soldiers in their usual cruel way; that, beholding Him bloody from, the scourge, clothed with the purple robe, and wearing the crown of thorns, his own compassion was awakened, and he resolved to make one last effort to deliver Him from death.
1 War, 2.14. 9, and 5. 11. 1. See Winer, i. 677; Friedlieb, Arch. 114.
2 As to flagellation among the Jews, see Ainsworth on Deut. xxv, 1-3.
3 Bynaeus, Stier, Krafft, Ellicott.
4 Meyer, Sepp, Alford, Jones, Tholuck.
5 It is not certain whether He was scourged in the Pretorium or without it. The words of Matthew and Mark imply the latter; so Meyer, Lange. But if He was scourged but once, it would seem from John six. 4 that it was done in the Pretorium; so Bynaeus.
He therefore leads Him forth, and after an emphatic declaration for the third time that he finds no fault in Him, presents Him to the people, saying, " Behold the man." He hoped that the sight of one so meek, so helpless, so wretched, would touch the hearts of all as it had touched his own. Stier gives rightly the meaning of his words: aIs this man a king ? An insurgent ? A man to be feared, or dangerous? How innocent, and how miserable! Is it not enough ? " It is probable, as said by Jones, that as He wore the crown of thorns and purple robe, so He also bore in His hand the reed. But nothing could touch the hearts of His imbittered enemies. As they saw Him, the chief priests and officers raised anew the cry, " Crucify Him, crucify Him." It is not said that the people at large joined in it; and perhaps for a time, through fear or pity, they were silent.
Angry at the implacable determination of the rulers that Jesus should be crucified, Pilate tauntingly responds to the cry, "Take ye Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him." Lardner (i. 54) paraphrases these words: " You must crucify Him, then, yourselves, if you can commit such a villany, for I cannot. He appears to me innocent, as I have told you already, and I have now punished Him as much as He deserves." The Jews now perceived that Pilate, knowing that the charge of sedition was baseless, and deeply sympathizing with Jesus, would not put Him to death; and are compelled to return to the original charge of blasphemy. " We have a law, and by our law H$ ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." This mention of the fact that Jesus made Himself the Son of God, had a power over Pilate, who now heard of it for the
first time5 which the Jews little anticipated. Was then his prisoner, whose appearance, words, and conduct had so strangely and so deeply interested him, a divine being ? Full of fear he returns to the judgment hall, and commands Jesus to he brought, and demands, "Whence art thou?" His silence at first, and still more His answer afterward, confirmed Pilate in his determination to release Him; and he may probably have taken some open step toward it. But the rulers will not thus give up their victim. They begin to threaten that if he release Him he thereby shows that he is Caesar's enemy, and that they will accuse him before the emperor. Pilate now perceives the danger of his position. Such an accusation he must, at any cost, avoid. His administration would not, in many respects, bear a close scrutiny; and the slightest suspicion that he had shown favor to a claimant of the Jewish throne, falling into the ear of the jealous and irritable Tiberius, would have endangered, not only his office, but his life. Such peril he could not meet* The shrewd elders and priests, who knew the selfish weakness of his character, pressed their advantage, and Pilate dared do no more. Jesus must be crucified. He now prepares to give final sentence. But he will first clear himself of the guilt of shedding innocent blood. He takes water and washes his hands before all, to show that he is clean.1 "Then answered all the people, His blood be on us and on our children." At this moment, about to give sentence, Pilate could not give up the poor satisfaction of mocking the Jews in what he knew well to be a most tender point: their Messianic hopes. He cries out, " Behold your king." His contemptuous words only bring back the fierce response, " Away with Him ; crucify Him." Still more bitterly he repeats, " Shall I crucify your king ? "
i Many place this after the words of the Jews, " We have no king but Caesar/' (John xix. 15 ;) so Stier. Some before the scourging of Jesus; so Jones.
Some points presented by the narrative demand further consideration. Brief reasons have been given for supposing that Jesus was scourged but once. Some, however, would make the scourging mentioned by John (xix. 1) a kind of judicial torture, or quaestio per tormenta, for the purpose of forcing a confession if the prisoner were really guilty. To this torture by scourging Pilate subjected Jesus, not that he had any doubt of His innocence, but that if no confession of guilt were extorted, he might have stronger grounds for setting Him free.1 Torture was customary with the Romans, (Acts xxii. 24,) and was practised by Herod the Great.2 But that Pilate should now have recourse to it, when he himself knew Jesus to be innocent, merely that he might say to the Jews that He had made no confession, is most improbable. Sepp (vi. 241) supposes that the soldiers regarded the scourging as intended to extort a confession, and acted accordingly, though Pilate had other designs.
The person to be scourged was bound to a low pillar, that, bending over, the blows might be better inflicted. The pillar to which the Lord was bound is mentioned by Jerome and Bede, and others.3 There is now shown in the church of the Holy Sepulchre a fragment of a porphyry
column called the Column of the- Flagellation, and a rival column is preserved at Rome.
1 Hug, cited by Tholuck; Bucher, 777 ; Kirchen, Lex. vi. 271; Friedlieb, S31. See, however, contra, his Archaol. 116.
2 See Josephus, Antiq. 16. 10. 3 and 4. s Hofmann, 365.
column called the Column of the- Flagellation, and a rival column is preserved at Rome.
The traditional site in the Via Dolorosa of the place where Pilate presented Jesus to the people, or the Arch of the JScce Homo, has been recently defended by Saulcy, (ii. 291.) This writer makes Pilate to have led Jesus forth upon the gallery, /fy/xa, (John xix. 13,) which was situated in the Pavement, and there, for the second time, to have shown Him to the people.
The form of Pilate's sentence is not given. The customary form was, Ibis ad crucem. Friedlieb (Arch. 125) gives a sentence pretended by Adrichomius to be genuine, but rightly rejects it. Another sentence, said to have been found in Aquila in Italy, has been often printed. Another was found at the same place a few years since.1 Both are obvious fabrications.
It has been much disputed whether Pilate transmitted to the emperor at Rome any account of Christ's trial and death. In itself this is intrinsically probable, for it seems to have been the custom of governors of provinces to send thither records of the more important events occurring during their administration. Thus Philo speaks of the " acts," acta, transmitted to Caligula from Alexandria. That Pilate did send such records, appears from Justin Martyr's address to the Emperor Pius, in which he appeals to them as proving Christ's miracles and sufferings. Tertullian, in his Apology, also appeals to them. Eusebius, in his History, (ii. 2,) relates, upon the authority of Tertullian, that Tiberius, receiving these acts of Pilate, containing an account of the Lord's resurrection, and of His miracles, proposed to the senate that He should be ranked among the gods.
* See both, given by Hofmann, 366-369.
If, however, Pilate really sent such an account, we obtain from it no additional particulars respecting the trial and death of the Lord. No writer gives any quotation from it; from which it may he inferred that none, even of those who refer to it, had ever seen it. The supposition that Pilate's records had been destroyed by the senate or emperor before the time of Constantine, in order to remove this proof of Christianity, is not very probable.1
Some have attempted to cast additional light upon the evangelical narratives by referring to the Apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus. But from it very little of value can be drawn.2
See Jones, Canon N. Test. ii. 330; Pearson on Creed, art. 4; Jarvis, 375. 1 See Tischendorf's Pilati Circa Christum Judicium. Lipsiae, 1855.