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The Apocryphal New Testament Easy to use collection of English translations of the New Testament Apocrypha.

Other Pilate Texts

J. K. Elliott

The Letter of Pilate to Claudius

The translation offered here is from the Latin version found attached to manuscripts of Latin A of the Descensus as given by Tischendorf (13(29). 1). The letter is also found in its original Greek form in the Acts of Peter and Paul 40–2 where the context has determined that the name of the emperor is Claudius—not Tiberius. The letter is also found in Greek in Pseudo‐Marcellus, Passion of Peter and Paul 19. It could be the oldest of the Christian Pilate literature and might have originated at the end of the second century. Tertullian (Apology 5. 2 and 21. 24) (ed. H. Hoppe, CSEL 69 (Vienna and Leipzig, 1939) pp. 14, 58–9) and Eusebius HE 2. 2 (Schwartz, GCS 9.1, pp. 108, 110) knew of a dispatch from Pilate to Tiberius. An Armenian version exists and also a Syriac text found in the Mingana collection. The latter have few links with either the Greek or Latin forms.

Editions

Latin

  • Tischendorf, EA 413–16.

Syriac

  • S. P. Brock, ‘A Syriac Version of the Letters of Lentulus and Pilate’, Orientalia Christiana Periodica 35 (1969), 45–62.

Modern Translations

English

  • Cowper, 370–1.

  • Walker, 212, and see 264–5.

  • Westcott, 117–18.

  • James, 146.

  • Hennecke3, i. 477–8.

  • Hennecke5, 527.

  • Cartlidge and Dungan, 87.

German

  • Hennecke1, 76 (A. Stülcken).

  • Hennecke3, i. pp. 353–4 (F. Scheidweiler).

  • Hennecke5, i. 419 (F. Scheidweiler).

Italian

  • Erbetta, iii, 131–2.

  • Moraldi, i. 641–2.

Pontius Pilate to Claudius, his King, greeting.

There happened recently something which I myself brought to light. The Jews through envy have punished themselves and their posterity with a cruel punishment. For their fathers had a promise that God would send them from heaven his holy one, who would rightly be called their king and whom God had promised to send to earth by a virgin. Yet when he came to Judaea when I was governor, and they saw that he restored sight to the blind, cleansed lepers, healed paralytics, expelled evil spirits from men, and even raised the dead, and commanded the winds, and walked dry‐shod upon the waves of the sea, and did many other miracles, and all the people of the Jews acknowledged him to be the Son of God, the chief priests were moved by envy against him and they seized him and delivered him to me, and telling one lie after another they said he was a sorcerer and acting contrary to their law. And I believed this was so and ordered him to be scourged, and handed him over to their will. And they crucified him and set guards over him after he was buried. But he rose again on the third day, while my soldiers kept watch. But the Jews were so carried away by their wickedness that they gave money to my soldiers saying, ‘Say that his disciples stole his body.’ But after receiving the money they were unable to keep silent about what had happened. For they testified that he had arisen and that they had seen it, 1 Or ‘For they testified that they had seen that he had risen’. and that they had received money from the Jews. I have reported this lest anyone should lie about it and lest you should think that the lies of the Jews should be believed.

Notes:

1 Or ‘For they testified that they had seen that he had risen’.

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