April 20, 2014
FROM THE ARCHIVES: IT AIN'T JUST DECORATIVE:
Why Was Jesus Crucified?: A historical perspective. (Larry Hurtado, April 9, 2009, Slate)
A central statement in traditional Christian creeds is that Jesus was crucified "under Pontius Pilate." But the majority of Christians have only the vaguest sense what the phrase represents, and most non-Christians probably can't imagine why it's such an integral part of Christian faith. "Crucified under Pontius Pilate" provides the Jesus story with its most obvious link to larger human history. Pilate was a historical figure, the Roman procurator of Judea; he was referred to in other sources of the time and even mentioned in an inscription found at the site of ancient Caesarea in Israel. Linking Jesus' death with Pilate represents the insistence that Jesus was a real person, not merely a figure of myth or legend. More than this, the phrase also communicates concisely some pretty important specifics of that historical event.
For one thing, the statement asserts that Jesus didn't simply die; he was killed. This was a young man's death in pain and public humiliation, not a peaceful end to a long life.
It's revealing that one of the chief objections to Mel Gibson's Passion was that Christ was shown to suffer.
[originally posted: 4/12/09]
Posted by oj at April 20, 2014 5:27 AM