BIBLE STORIES

How PONTIUS PILATE DIED who sentenced Jesus to Death

The sentence in which Augustus ordered in writing that all the people of the Jews be put to the sword and that Pilate be brought to Rome as a prisoner and with him the leading men among the Jews, who were the governors, to Archelaus, the son of the late Herod, and to his accomplice Philip, to the high priest Caiaphas, and to his father-in-law, Ananus, and to all the leading men among the Jews. These are the three versions of the death of Pilate. The one who sentenced our Lord Jesus. First version. Mission of Volucianus in Jerusalem. While Tiberius Caesar was emperor of the Romans, afflicted with a serious illness, and hearing that there was in Jerusalem a doctor named Jesus who cured all diseases with his word, and not knowing that Pilate and the Jews had caused him to perish, he gave this order to one of the employees of his household named Volucianus: ‘Go to the other side of the sea as quickly as possible and tell my servant and friend Pilate to send me this doctor here so that he may restore my former health.’ And Volucianus, upon hearing the emperor’s order, immediately departed and went to Pilate in accordance with the order he had received, and explained to Pilate the commission that Caesar had conferred upon him, saying to him, ‘Tiberius, emperor of the Romans, and your lord, knowing that in this city there is a doctor who cures diseases only with his word, asks you to send him to deliver him from his ailments.’ And Pilate, upon hearing this, was dismayed because he had caused Jesus to die according to the desire of the Jews, and he replied to the emissary, saying to him, ‘That man was a malefactor and a seditionist who attracted all the people to himself. Therefore, and in view of the counsel of the wise men of the city, I had him crucified.’ And when the emissary returned home, he found a woman named Veronica who had known Jesus and said to her, ‘Oh woman, how the Jews have put to death a doctor who was in this city and who cured diseases with only his word.’ And she began to weep, saying, ‘Ah, sir, he was my God and my master, he whom Pilate, at the suggestion of the Jews, has taken prisoner, condemned, and crucified.’ And Volucianus, greatly distressed, said to her, ‘I have an extreme pain because I cannot fulfill the orders that my emperor has given me.’ And Veronica said to him, ‘As my lord was going from one place to another preaching, and I was desolate at being deprived of his presence, I wanted to have his image painted so that whenever I felt the pain of his absence, I would at least have the consolation of his portrait.’ And when I was taking a canvas to the painter to have it painted, my lord met me and asked me where I was going, and upon indicating to him my purpose, he asked me for a cloth and returned it to me imprinted with the image of his revered figure. And if your emperor looks upon it with devotion, he will shortly enjoy health. And Lucian said, ‘Can I acquire this image for a price of gold or silver?’ And she replied, ‘Certainly not, but out of pity I will go with you, taking this image to the Caesar so that he may see it, and then I will return.’ And Volucianus went to Rome with Veronica and said to the emperor Tiberius, ‘For a long time, Pilate and the Jews, out of envy, have condemned Jesus to the ignominious death of the cross. But a matron has come with me who brings with her the image of Jesus himself, and if you look upon it devoutly, you will enjoy the benefit of healing.’ And the Caesar had silk fabrics spread out and ordered that the image be brought to him, and as soon as he had looked upon it, he returned to his former health. Punishment of Pilate. And Pilate, by order of Tiberius, was arrested and taken to Rome, and knowing that he had arrived in the city, the Caesar was filled with fury against him and ordered that he be presented to him. And Pilate had brought with him the tunic of Jesus and was wearing it when he appeared before the emperor. And as soon as the emperor saw him, all his anger was appeased, and he rose to see him, and he did not address him with any harsh words. And if in his absence he had shown himself terrible and full of anger, in his presence he only showed sweetness. And when he had been taken away again, he became furious against him in a terrible manner, saying that he was very unfortunate for not having been able to show him the anger that filled his heart, and he made him call again, swearing that he was deserving of death and unworthy to live on the earth. And when he saw him again, he greeted him, and all his anger disappeared, and all those present were amazed, and also the emperor was amazed to be so angry with Pilate when he was leaving, and not being able to say anything threatening to him when he was before him. And finally, yielding to a divine impulse or perhaps by the advice of some Christian, he had him stripped of his tunic, and immediately he felt full of anger against him, and surprising Pilate until he resolved with the advice of the wise men what should be done with him. And a few days later, a sentence was pronounced condemning Pilate to a very ignominious death, and Pilate, knowing this, killed himself with his own knife and thus put an end to his life. And the Caesar, knowing of Pilate’s death, said, ‘Truly he has died a very ignominious death, for not even his own knife spared him,’ and the body of Pilate, attached to a large millstone, was thrown into the Tiber, and the evil and impure spirits, rejoicing in the Tiber, took hold of Pilate’s body and carried it off and threw it into the Rhone because Rhone means the way of the gegena, and it was a place of exportation, and the evil spirits gathered in caterba continued to do what they had done in Rome, and the inhabitants, unable to bear being thus tormented by the demons, cast away from themselves that source of curse and had it buried in the territory and city of Lausanne, and as the demons did not cease to disturb the inhabitants, it was thrown into a pond surrounded by mountains where, according to the accounts, the machinations of the devils are still manifested by the bubbling of the waters. Second version, Pilate’s sentence. Letter from Tiberius Caesar to Pontius Pilate.

This is what Caesar Augustus replied to Pontius Pilate, governor of the Eastern province. The same Caesar added the sentence in his own handwriting and sent it with the messenger Rachab, to whom he also gave more soldiers, numbering 2,000, because you had the audacity to condemn Jesus of Nazareth to death in a violent and totally unjust manner, and even before issuing a condemnatory sentence, you handed him over to the insatiable and furious Jews. Furthermore, you showed no compassion towards this righteous man, but after having beaten him with rods and subjected him to a horrible sentence and the torment of scourging, you handed him over without any fault on his part to the punishment of crucifixion, not without accepting bribes for his death. For in the end, you showed compassion with your lips, but delivered him with your heart to lawless Jews. Therefore, you yourself shall be brought before me in chains to present your excuses and give an account for the life you have unjustly delivered to death. But woe to your hardness and shamelessness! Since this has reached my ears, my soul is suffering and my entrails are torn apart, for a woman has come into my presence, who claims to be his disciple. She is Mary Magdalene, from whom, as she claims, he expelled seven demons and testifies that Jesus performed miraculous healings, making the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, and cleansing the lepers, and all these healings he performed with his word alone. How could you consent to his crucifixion without any reason? For even if you did not want to accept him as God, you should have at least shown compassion towards him as a physician. Even the astute report that has come from your side is demanding your punishment, as it affirms that he was superior to all the gods we venerate. How could it be to deliver him to death? For know that just as you unjustly condemned him and ordered him to be killed, in the same way I will justly execute you, and not only you, but also all your counselors and accomplices from whom you received the bribe for his death. Therefore, the letter was delivered to the emissaries, along with the sentence in which Augustus ordered in writing that all the people of the Jews be put to the sword, and that Pilate be brought to Rome as a prisoner, along with the leading men among the Jews, who were the governors, Archelaus, the son of the late Herod, and his accomplice Philip, the high priest Caiaphas, and his father-in-law, Ananus, and all the leading men among the Jews. So, Rachab marched with the soldiers and did as he had been commanded, putting to the sword all the men among the Jews, while the impure women among them were left exposed to the violation of the pagans, giving rise to an abominable offspring, as the spawn of Satan. Then the emissary took charge of Pilate, Archelaus, Philip, Ananus, and Caiaphas, and all the leading men among the Jews, and loading them with chains, he set out with them on the road to Rome. And it so happened that as they were passing by a certain island called Crete, Caiaphas met a violent and miserable death. They took him, therefore, to bury him, but not even the earth deigned to admit him into its bosom, but cast him out. When the many who were there saw this, they took stones in their hands and threw them at the corpse, thus leaving him buried among the kings of old. The custom was that if a condemned criminal beheld the royal face, he would be freed from his condemnation. Therefore, Caesar gave the appropriate orders not to let Pilate see him, so that he could not escape death. Thus they put him in a cave and left him there, according to the emperor’s orders. He also ordered that Ananus be wrapped in a bull’s hide, and when the hide dried in the sun, he was crushed by it, and his entrails came out through his mouth, and he violently lost his wretched life. The other Jewish prisoners were executed by the sword, but Archelaus, the son of the late Herod, and his accomplice Philip, were condemned to be impaled. One day, the emperor went out of his house and was pursuing a gazelle. As he passed by the mouth of the cave where Pilate was, the gazelle stopped. Pilate was about to perish at the hands of the emperor, and he tried to fix his gaze on him, but in order for what was about to happen to come true, the gazelle came and stood in front of him. Caesar then shot an arrow in order to bring down the animal, but the arrow pierced the entrance of the cave and killed Pilate. All of you who believe that Christ is the true God and our Savior, glorify and magnify him, for to him belongs praise, honor, and worship with his Father without beginning and his consubstantial Spirit, now and always, and forever and ever. Amen. Third version. Pilate’s tradition. The letter arrived in Rome and was read to Caesar in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, and all were amazed to hear that because of Pilate’s crime, darkness and an earthquake had affected the whole earth. And Caesar, in anger, sent soldiers and ordered that Pilate be arrested, who was taken to Rome. And when Caesar learned that he had arrived, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, accompanied by all the military element and the multitude that made up his forces. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. And Caesar, in the presence of many people, proclaimed, “Pilate, your nation is rebellious and insubordinate, not submitting to your rule.” To which Caesar replied, “You should have immediately secured him and sent him to me as soon as you received him, instead of letting yourself be persuaded by them to crucify such a character as this, who was just and performed miracles as good as those you stated in your report. These signs clearly indicated that Jesus was the Christ, the King of the Jews.” And as soon as Caesar mentioned the name of Christ, all the multitude of gods collapsed and were reduced to nothing. He then proposed to interrogate Pilate again, saying, “Tell the truth, you monster of impiety! Your wicked action against Jesus has now been exposed here, as the collapse of the gods testifies. So, tell me, who is this crucified man whose name has brought the destruction of all the gods?” Pilate replied, “Indeed, what is said of him is true. I myself, seeing his works, was convinced that he was of a higher order than most of the Jews living in Jerusalem and the surrounding cities, to the extent that Pilate was compelled to crucify a certain God called Jesus, a heinous crime for which the universe was to be plunged into ruin. Therefore, take courage to present yourself to them promptly, well equipped with forces, and declare slavery by this present edict. Be obedient to the command to attack them and scatter them throughout the world, reducing them to servitude in all nations. And after expelling them from all Judea, cut off their heads, saying, just as he raised his hand against that righteous man called Christ, this one also will fall likewise without mercy.” But when Pilate arrived at the designated place, he prayed silently, “Lord, do not let me perish in the company of the wicked Hebrews, for I would not have raised my hand against you if it had not been for the people of the wicked Jews, for they rebelled against me. But you know that I acted unknowingly, so do not let me perish for this sin. Be merciful to me, and appear as a witness at my second coming when I go to judge the twelve tribes of Israel and those who have not confessed my name. Then he ordered Pilate to advance before him and stand. Caesar, in the presence of not a few people, addressed Pilate, saying: “Tell the truth, monster of impiety, for because of the impious action you carried out against Jesus, your wicked behavior has become evident here, by the fact that the gods have collapsed. Tell me then, who is the one crucified, since his name has brought the destruction of all the gods?”

Pilate replied: “Indeed, what is mentioned about him is true. I myself, upon witnessing his deeds, came to be persuaded that this person was of greater significance than some of the Jews who inhabit Jerusalem and the surrounding cities, to the extent that they compelled Pilate to crucify a certain God called Jesus—a heinous crime that was to plunge the universe into ruin. Therefore, take courage to present yourself to them with your force well-equipped, and declare slavery by this decree. Be obedient to the order to attack them and scatter them throughout the world, reducing them to servitude in all nations. And after expelling them from all Judea, cut off their heads, saying in the same way that this one raised his hand against that righteous man called Christ, so will this one also fall without mercy.”

But when Pilate had arrived at the designated place, he began to pray silently: “Lord, do not lose me in the company of the wicked Hebrews, for I would not have lifted my hand against you if it were not for the people of the wicked Jews, for they rebelled against me. But you know that I acted unknowingly, so do not let me perish because of this sin. Instead, be merciful to me and appear as a witness at my second coming when I go to judge the twelve tribes of Israel and those who have not confessed my name.”

Then, Pilate faced his fate. According to the tradition, the letter arrived in Rome and was read to Caesar, who was accompanied by many people. All were astonished to learn that Pilate’s crime had brought darkness and an earthquake upon the whole earth. In anger, Caesar sent soldiers to arrest Pilate, who was brought to Rome. When Caesar learned of Pilate’s arrival, he sat in the temple of the gods at the head of the senate, with all his military forces and the multitude accompanying him.

Caesar ordered Pilate to step forward and stand before him. In the presence of many, Caesar spoke to Pilate, demanding the truth about the crucifixion of Jesus and the collapse of the gods. Pilate admitted the truth of Jesus’s deeds and his significance, acknowledging his own role in the crucifixion.

As Pilate prepared to face his judgment, he prayed silently, asking for mercy and understanding in the face of his unwitting actions. And thus, according to the tradition, Pilate faced the consequences of his decisions.
Caesar, upon hearing Pilate’s admission, was filled with anger. He ordered Pilate to face his fate. Pilate, realizing the gravity of the situation, prayed silently for mercy, acknowledging his unwitting role in the events that transpired. As Pilate stood before Caesar and the assembly, he awaited his judgment. Caesar, in his wrath, condemned Pilate for his actions against Jesus and the subsequent collapse of the gods. Pilate, resigned to his fate, accepted the verdict. In the end, Pilate faced the consequences of his decisions, acknowledging his culpability in the crucifixion of Jesus and the chaos that ensued. Despite his silent plea for mercy, he knew that he must face the judgment for his actions. And thus, according to the tradition, Pilate’s story came to its conclusion, marked by the weight of his decisions and the realization of his role in the events that unfolded.

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