Bible Review 17:1, February 2001

Bible Books: A Postmodern Pilate

What can be said about Pontius Pilate derives from a few vignettes in the Gospels, several paragraphs in the histories of Flavius Josephus and the seemingly inexhaustible imagination of those who have pondered the New Testament from ancient to modern times. Pontius Pilate made it into the great creeds of Christendom; his story is retold in medieval accounts; and he continues to provide fodder for an impressive array of modern writers of “Pilate Fiction,” including Dorothy L. Sayers, Anatole France and, now, Ann Wroe.

In these elegant, well-crafted pages, Wroe, the editor of the American section of the British newsweekly The Economist, weaves in and out of this vast literature—ancient, medieval and modern—with remarkable dexterity. She deploys a powerful imagination in rendering the historical setting of Pilate’s world and in tracing the development of the ideas and motifs associated with the man who served as Roman prefect of Judea at the time of Jesus’ execution.

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