Bible Review 20:3, June 2004
Pilate in the Dock

For the Prosecution

By Stephen J. Patterson

Professor Maier’s extensive rebuttal of my earlier essay is a most welcome engagement from an authority who has written widely on the figure of Pilate.1 I am happy to offer a reply.

First, however, a word on name-calling. Professor Maier’s repeated reference to my remarks as “revisionist” history is intended, I assume, to cast a shadow of political correctness over my views, and to suggest that I hold them for reasons other than their historical plausibility. That’s no way to begin a conversation. All historians have personal histories to which their work is related. I am a liberal Christian who does not believe in the inerrancy of scripture. Paul Maier is a Missouri Synod Lutheran for whom the inerrancy of scripture is basic. These differences will affect how we each approach the Bible as a source for doing historical work. Fair enough. At the end of the day, however, our work must be judged on its historical merits, not on some unstated theological subtext about which the reader is left only to guess. So let us dispense with tags like “revisionist” and “fundamentalist” and simply look at how we view the evidence differently.

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