Pilate’s report of the causes of that turmoil in Jerusalem in connection with the death of Jesus of Nazareth.
Of Your Majesty the most revered and submissive servant, Publius Lentullus, Proconsul of Judea.
Noble Sovereign, Hello
The causes of that turmoil in Jerusalem were connected with the death of Jesus of Nazareth. The events that took place in my province a few days ago were of such a character, which makes me report them to you in detail, because I will not be at all surprised if, by the passage of time, the fate of our nation does not ultimately change entirely; for it seems that in the last days the gods ceased to be able to be invoked. I, for my part, am ready to say: cursed be that day, when I followed Valerius Gratius to the government of Judea!
On my arrival in Jerusalem I took over the courtroom and ordered that a large feast be made, to which I invited the Tetrarch of Galilee, together with the Archer and all his officiants. At the announced time, none of the guests showed up. This was an insult to my personal honor.
Later, after a few days, the Archer came to me to apologize. The clothing, like wearing it, was terribly cunning. He claimed that his religion stopped him and his subjects from sitting at the same table with the Romans and worshiping the libations with them. I considered it necessary to receive this excuse, but also on that occasion I convinced myself that the conquerors declared themselves enemies of the conquerors and it seemed to me that of all the conquered cities, Jerusalem is the hardest to rule. So turbulent is this people that we were always living in fear that an uprising would break out at any moment. For its suppression, however, we had only one centurion and a handful of soldiers.
I asked for reinforcements from the governor of Syria, who informed me that he too barely had enough troops to defend his province.
The irresistible desire for conquest, which pushes us to stretch our kingdom beyond our means of defense, I am afraid of being somehow a cause of overthrowing our noble government.
Among the many news that came to me, however, was one, which was of particular interest to me… It was said that a young man appeared in Galilee, preaching, in a gentle and noble tone, another law, in the name of God who sent Him. At first I was afraid that He would not be some agitator to stir up the people against the Romans, but not long after, my fears were dispelled. Jesus of Nazareth spoke more like a friend of the Romans than of the Jews.
Passing one day by the place called Siloam, I saw there a large gathering of people, and in the middle of it I saw a young man who was leaning against a tree and, full of unusual serenity and calmness, preaching to the crowd. I have been told that this is Jesus. It was precisely what, at that time, I least expected to see, so great was the difference between Him and His hearers. His golden hair and beard gave him a heavenly appearance. He seemed to be about thirty years old. I have never seen in my life such a sweet and serene look. What a contrast between Him and His hearers, with their black beards and frowning faces! Having to interrupt Him through my presence, I continued on my way forward, but beckoned to my secretary to join the crowd and listen to what he was talking about.
My secretary’s name is Naulius. He is the great-grandson of the one in charge of espionage and conspiracy issues, who hid in Etruria, waiting for Catilina.
Naulius is an ancient native of Judea, so he knows The Hebrew language well. He is very devoted to me and I consider him worthy of complete trust.
Entering the courtroom, I found Naulius, who told me the words I had heard from Jesus at Siloam. He said to me, “I have never read in books or in the works of philosophers anything that might be like the preaching of Jesus. One of the rebellious Jews, of whom there are so many in Jerusalem, asked Him if he was about to pay tribute to Caesar. Jesus answered him, “Give unto Caesar the things which are due to Caesar and to God, those which are due to God.” It was precisely because of his wisdom that I allowed the Nazarene freedom, because it was in my power to arrest him and send him to you, but this would have been against the righteousness that always characterized the Romans.”
This man (Jesus) has never been animated by hostile or tendentious intentions, nor is he a rebel, which is why I have protected Him with my protection, perhaps unknown to Him. He had the freedom to work, to speak, to make meetings, to preach sermons to the people, and to elect his disciples, unhindered by any praetorian mandate. But if it were to happen (gods forbid, this is an assumption), if it were to happen, I say, that the religion of our ancestors was replaced by the religion of Jesus, it would be due to this noble tolerance and too great indulgence that Rome allows. While I, the wretched bastard, will perhaps have been the tool that Christians call providence, through which this fate and this destiny may come upon us.
But this boundless freedom, given to Jesus, outraged the Jews greatly; but not the poor, but the rich and powerful.
Indeed, Jesus was very harsh with the latter, and this was for me a good reason not to disturb the freedom of the Nazarene.
To the Pharisees and the scribes he said, “Baby viper, you are like the whitewashed tombs, clean on the outside and full of abominations on the inside.” Other times He was outraged by the arrogant fastings and philanthropic acts of the rich and said to them, “Two pennies of a poor widow are more cherished before God than your rich gifts, which are not of love and made with humility…”
Every day complaints were made to the courtroom against Jewish abuses. I was informed that soon some misfortune would happen to this man. For it will not be the first time that Jerusalem will come to stone those who were called prophets by them. And I also knew that if the praetor refused their complaint, they would appeal to Caesar’s authority!
My decision was approved by the Senate and I was even promised an increase in the number of soldiers after the end of the war with the Parthians, because otherwise I was not able to cope with the uprising. I then decided to take a measure, which promised to restore tranquility in the city, without subjecting the praetor to humiliating concessions.
I wrote to Jesus, inviting Him to a conversation with me in the courtroom, and He came.
As you know, in my veins flows the blood of a Spaniard, mixed with the blood of a novel, who does not know fear and is not subject to emotions.
I was just walking through my yard when the Nazarene appeared, and when I met him, it seemed to me that an iron hand had tied my feet to the ground, and I was trembling like a culprit, though the Nazarene was calm and quiet, just like an innocent. When He came to me, He suddenly stopped, and as if by a sign, he seemed to say to me, “Here I am, I have arrived.”
For some time I can say that I remained frozen, looking with admiration, respect and with some fear at the features of the figure of this man, which seemed to me as if supernatural, because He had an appearance totally unknown to our many painters, who gave forms and figures of all kinds of gods and heroes.
Jesus, I finally said to him, and my tongue was almost babbling… Jesus of Nazareth, I have left you for three years a great freedom of speech and I confess that I am not sorry. Your words are those of a learned man. I do not know if you have read Socrates or Plato, but one thing I tell you, that in your sermons there is a majestic simplicity, which elevates you far above these philosophers. The emperor is informed about you and I, his humble representative in this community (of Israel), am very happy that I have allowed you this freedom, which you enjoy and are so worthy. However, I cannot hide from you and admit that your sermons have aroused great and powerful enmities against you.
No wonder this is no wonder: Socrates had his enemies and fell victim to their hatred.
Yours are undoubtedly ignited against you because of the freedom they give you. Some even blame me for being in close connection and understanding with you, with the hidden purpose of stripping the Jews of the drama of power they still have from the Romans. My plea, for I do not want to say my command, is that you will be more foresighted in the future and that you will beware of harming the pride of your enemies, lest this stupid people rebel against you and then force me to use the means of justice.
The Nazarene then replied quietly: “Prince of the earth, your words do not spring from true wisdom. Say to the storm when unleashed: Stand in the middle of the mountain, otherwise you will uproot the trees in the valley. Only the only God knows where the storm is going. I, in turn, must obey the laws of the Creator. Truth I say to you, before the roses of Saron bloom, the blood of the Just will be shed,” He added.
I said to him, “You are more precious to me, because of your wisdom, than all these troublemakers of order and conceits of Pharisees, who abuse the freedom given to them by the Romans and plot against Caesar, causing us to stand in a continuous fear, these miserable turbulents. They think I do not know that the wolf in the forest sometimes dresses in wool and sheep skins. That’s why I’m telling you that I’m going to defend you against them. And know that my palace of justice is always open to you for escape.” With a great detachment shaking his head, with a gesture expressing divine grace and accompanying Him with a sublime smile, Jesus replied:
“When that day has come, there shall be no room for escape for the Son of Man, neither under the earth.”
“The kingdom of the Just is there!” he said, pointing his finger at heaven. “What is written in the books of the prophets must ultimately be fulfilled.” – Socrates
“Young man, I said to him in a friendly tone, you compel me as my simple request to change it in the commandment? The security of the province, which is entrusted to my tasks, requires it compulsorily. You need to show more moderation in your sermons. Do not harm others with them, this is what I am compelled to command you now. May happiness be with you! Go in peace!”
“Prince of the earth,” Jesus replied, “I have not come to bring war into the world, but peace, love and benevolence. I was born on the same day that Caesar gave peace to the Roman world. This persecution is not of you. I know that she is about to come from others, and I will meet her in full obedience to the will of my Father, who has always shown me the way. Therefore, take heed and master your worldly wisdom a little, for it is not in your power to arrest the victim at the feet of the altar of atonement.”
After these words He disappeared, like a bright cloud after the curtains of the Praetorium. Jesus’ enemies eventually turned to Herod, who was then reigning in Galilee, to take revenge on the Nazarene. If Herod had acted according to his own inclination in this regard, he would have ordered Jesus’ condemnation to death. But he, although proud of his authority, was afraid of committing an act that could destroy his influence before the Roman Senate. One day, Herod came to me in the praetorium.
When he got up to leave, after a few insignificant words, he asked me what I thought of Jesus the Nazarene.
I replied that, in my opinion, Jesus is a great philosopher, as some great nations often produce. And that his teachings in no way are heretical or dangerous, and Rome is willing to allow him all freedom to speak, and to this he is justified by his deeds. Herod smiled with irony and, greeting me with a pretended respect, walked away.
The great feast of the Jews was approaching; religious leaders planned to use this occasion and the popular excitement, which always arises at the feast of Passover. The city was full of turbulent people who wanted the death of the Nazarene.
My spies reported to me that the bishops and Pharisees use the temple hoard to bribe the people. The danger increased with every hour. A Roman centurion was insulted. I then wrote to the prefect of Syria to immediately send me a hundred infantry soldiers and as many cavalry soldiers, and he refused to send me. I saw myself then left alone, only with a handful of soldiers (some old and powerless guards), in the middle of a revolted city, unable to repress the uprising and thus being forced to tolerate it.
The rebels put their hands on Jesus themselves, and although they felt they had nothing to fear the Praetory, believing me with their leaders in this regard, they continued to cry out, “Crucify him!”
Three parties had united against Jesus: the Herodians, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees.
The conduct of the Sadducees was dictated by two reasons: they hated Jesus and wanted to escape the Roman yoke. They could never forget my entrance into their holy city with flags bearing the image of the Emperor of Rome; although I made this great mistake out of ignorance, yet in their eyes the desecration did not diminish. In addition, he was also dissatisfied with my proposal to use the temple treasure for the erection of public buildings. Because of this proposal, they were full of bitterness.
The Pharisees were Jesus’ enemies on the face, and they didn’t care much about our government. They were forced to swallow for three and a half years the bitter utterances that the Nazarene threw before them, in public, wherever he went; being too weak and undecided, and not having the courage to take the desired measures on their own, they were very happy to unite with the Herodians and Sadducees. In addition to the three parties, I also had to fight against a fierce population, always ready to join their uprising and make use of the confusion and misunderstanding that resulted from it.
In this way Jesus was dragged before the Archer and sentenced to death. On this occasion, Archbishop Caiaphas committed the humble act of submission. He sent the prisoner to me, that I might pronounce the final condemnation upon Him. I replied that because Jesus is a Galilean, the affair falls under Herod’s jurisprudence and I commanded him to send him to him. That cunning tetrarch confessed his humiliation and, pretending to have respect for me, through Caesar’s Centurion entrusted me with the fate of this man. Immediately my palace took on the appearance of a busy fortress. Each moment increased the number of turbulents.
Jerusalem was flooded with the population gathered from the Nazareth mountains. It seemed that all Judea was in Jerusalem.
I had taken by my wife a young virgin among the Gauls, who had already had some predictions of the future. Crying, she threw herself at my feet and said, “Beware! Do not touch this man, because He is holy. Last night I saw Him in the dream. He walked over the waters. He was flying on the wings of the wind. He spoke to the storms and the fish of the sea, and they were all subject to Him. Even the river on Mount Kidron flowed full of blood.
The statues of Caesar were filled with the filth of Calvary. The iconostasis inside the temple fell apart and the sun darkened, as dressed in mourning. Oh, Pilate! Great evil awaits you if you will not listen to your wife’s advice. Remember what is said in the Roman Senate: <<Fear the power of Heaven>>.”
During this time the marble steps were groaning under the weight of the crowd, and the Nazarene was brought to me again.
I set off for the courtroom, followed by my guard. In a harsh tone I asked the people:
– What do you want?
– The death of the Nazarene was the answer.
– For which crime?
– He blasphemed God and foretold the demolition of the temple. He calls himself the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of the Jews.
– Roman justice does not punish such deeds with death!
– Crucify Him! Crucify Him! but the united cry of the crowd broke out with great power. The cries of the enraged mob shook the palace from the ground up. In the midst of this awesome mess there was only one quiet and calm man.
This was Jesus of Nazareth.
After several efforts – to no avail – to rid Him of the fury of these fierce persecutors, I took a measure that, for a moment, seemed to me to serve to save his life: toI gave the command to be scourged, then, asking for a laver, I washed my hands in front of the crowd, thus showing my disapproval of this act. In vain! The miserables considered themselves satisfied only with His life.
In our frequent civil unrest I have witnessed several times the fury of the crowd, but from everything I have seen, nothing can resemble this that I am writing to you about now. Indeed, it might be said that all the evil spirits of the lands of the inferno had then gathered in Jerusalem.
The crowd seemed to no longer walk on their feet; they wore on top, howling, like the waves of an enraged sea! A restless sea was from the gates of the Praetorium to Mount Zion, with cries, whistles, such as have never been heard before in Roman history. The day darkened, like a twilight like the one seen at the death of Julius Caesar the great, which happened in the same way, in the middle of March.
I, the governor of the rebel province, stood leaning against a column of my palace, thinking of the frightening act of these cruel demons, which dragged the innocent Nazarene to execution. They had all disappeared from around me; Jerusalem had brought out all its inhabitants, who were strung on the funeral road leading to Gemonica (Calvary). An air of mourning and sorrow engulfed me. My guard had accompanied the convict, and the centurion, in order to show a shadow of power, was striving to bring order. I was left alone and with a broken heart I thought that what was happening at this moment was more in the power of the gods than of man.
Suddenly a great cry was heard, coming from Calvary, which seemed to be brought by the wind, and which announced an agony that no human ear had ever heard before.
Dark clouds descended and covered the wing of the temple and, settling above the city, covered it like a wave. So frightening were the signs that were seen, both in heaven and on earth, that it is said that Dionysius the Areopagite exclaimed, “Or the author of nature suffers, or even the universe is torn apart.”
By the first hour of the night I took my mantle on myself and set off on foot in the city, towards the gates of Calvary. The sacrifice was consummated, the crowd returned to the city, but in fact still agitated, somber, with dark and desperate faces. Many were gripped by fear and remorse for those they had seen. I also noticed my small troop of soldiers passing grieving and even the flag-bearer had shrouded his head in sorrow. I heard a soldier muttering foreign words, which I did not understand. Here and there you could see groups of men and women gathered; when they looked at mount Calvary, they remained motionless, as in anticipation of some other wonder of nature.
I returned to the praetorium, saddened and full of thoughts that troubled me. As I climbed the steps, I noticed that one could still see splashes of blood, which had flowed from the Nazarene. After a while an old man came to me, with a group of women crying. They stayed at the gate, and he threw himself at my feet, crying bitterly.
It is very disturbing to see an old man crying.
I asked him what he wanted. He said to me, “I am Joseph of Arimathea; I have come to ask of you for permission to bury Jesus of Nazareth.” I said, “Your requirement will come true.” I then commanded Naulius to take with him soldiers and supervise the funeral.
After a few days, the tomb was found empty. His disciples proclaimed throughout the province that Jesus arose from the dead, as He foretold.
I had only one duty left: to make this disgusting incident known to the King. The very night after the unexpected catastrophe, I began to make this report. Towards the day I heard a sound from Calvary, singing Diana’s aria, which reached my ears. As I glanced at Caesar’s gate, I saw a troop of soldiers approaching and heard the sound of the trumpet, which was intonating Caesar’s march. It was the reinforcements that had been promised to me, the two thousand chosen soldiers who, in order to hasten their arrival, had traveled all night.
“He was determined by fate,” I cried, breaking my hands, “that the great unrighteousness should be committed and that the troops that were supposed to prevent yesterday’s uprising should arrive today! Cruel fate! How do you make fun of mortals!” It was all too true what the Nazarene cried out from the cross: “It was done.”
That is the content of the report! And I remain your Majesty’s submissive, with respect and humility,
Governor Pontius Pilate
Made in Jerusalem on the 28th day of March (4147 from creation).
This document was found by a German student in Vatican libraries, but at first he did not consider it so important as to copy it. After a few years, however, he told W.D.Mahan about the report, who, feeling a great desire to take possession of it, wrote to the former German student, who has since returned as a professor to Westphalia (Germany) and asking him to obtain a copy of this precious document through his vatican acquaintances. The German professor intervened through the priest Freilinghausen, the Vatican’s head of protocol, who procured him an English translation of the report and sent it to the wisher.