The high regard for Pilate shown here betrays an Eastern provenance, for it was in the Coptic churches that Pilate was regarded as a saint.
The text is translated in full and is based on Tischendorf's Greek text, which he printed from five manuscripts, the earliest of which is twelfth‐century.
It has been argued that the Acta Pilati developed from the traditions found in the Paradosis (and Anaphora).
Birch, i. 176 ff.
Thilo, i. 803–16.
Giles, ii, ch. 14.
Tischendorf, EA lxxix f., 449–55.
M. D. Gibson, Apocrypha Sinaitica (London, 1896), 6–14 (= Studia Sinaitica 5) (Syriac and Arabic texts with Eng. trans.).
James, 154–5 (summary).
Hennecke3, i. 482–4.
Hennecke5, i. 530–3.
Migne, Dictionnaire, ii, cols. 751–4.
Hennecke3, i. 356–8 (F. Scheidweiler).
Hennecke5, i. 422–4 (F. Scheidweiler).
Erbetta, iii. 122–4.
Moraldi, i. 717–20.
González‐Blanco, ii. 361–9.
de Santos Otero, 490–6.
1. When the report reached Rome and had been read to Caesar, with not a few standing by, all were amazed that it was because of the lawlessness of Pilate that the darkness and the earthquake had come upon the whole world; and Caesar, filled with anger, sent soldiers with orders to bring Pilate a prisoner.
2. And when he had been brought to the city of the Romans and Caesar heard that Pilate was there, he sat down in the temple of the gods in the presence of the whole senate and the whole army and all the multitude of his forces. And he commanded Pilate to stand forward 1 Or ‘in the entrance’. and said to him, ‘How could you dare to do such a thing, you most impious one, when you had seen such great signs concerning that man? By daring to do an evil deed you have destroyed the whole world.’
3. Pilate answered, ‘Almighty King, I am innocent of these things; it is the multitude of the Jews who are reckless and guilty.’ Caesar asked, ‘Who are they?’ Pilate said, ‘Herod, Archelaus, Philip, Annas and Caiaphas, and all the multitude of the Jews.’ Caesar said. ‘Why did you follow their advice?’ Pilate said, ‘This nation is rebellious and disorderly, and does not submit to your power.’ Caesar said, ‘As soon as they handed him over to you, you should have kept him secure and sent him to me, and not have obeyed them and crucified such a man who was righteous and did such wonderful signs as you have mentioned in your report. For it is clear from these signs that Jesus was the Christ, the king of the Jews.’
4. And when Caesar said this and named the name of Christ, all the multitude of the gods fell down, and became as dust where Caesar sat with the senate. And all the people who stood by Caesar trembled because of the utterance of the word and the fall of their gods, and gripped by fear, they all went away, each to his own house, marvelling at what had taken place. And Caesar commanded that Pilate should be guarded safely, in order that he might learn the truth about Jesus.
5. On the next day Caesar sat in the Capitol with all the senate and tried again to question Pilate. And Caesar said, ‘Speak the truth, you most impious man, for through your godless behaviour against Jesus, even here the working of your evil deeds was shown in the overthrowing of the gods. Tell me now: Who is that crucified one, that his name destroyed all the gods?’ Pilate answered, ‘Truly, the charges made against him are true. For I myself was convinced by his deeds that he is greater than all the gods whom we worship.’ Caesar said, ‘Why then did you bring such audacious action against him if you were not ignorant of him, unless you wished to harm my kingdom?’ Pilate answered, ‘I did it because of the lawlessness and sedition of the lawless and godless Jews.’
6. Then Caesar, filled with anger, took counsel with all the senate and his forces, and ordered the following decree to be recorded against the Jews, ‘To Licianus, chief governor of the East, greeting! I have been informed that recently those Jews who live in Jerusalem and the neighbouring Jewish towns have had the audacity to commit a lawless crime in forcing Pilate to crucify Jesus, who was acknowledged as God. Because of this crime of theirs the world was darkened and dragged down to destruction. Therefore by this decree proceed there with all speed with a strong body of troops and take them prisoner. Be obedient, and advance against them; by scattering them among all the nations enslave them and expel them from Judaea, making the nation so insignificant that it may no longer be seen anywhere, since they are full of evil.’
7. When this decree arrived in the East, Licianus obeyed it and destroyed the whole Jewish nation, and those who were left in Judaea he scattered as slaves among the nations, so that it was known to Caesar that these things had been done by Licianus against the Jews in the East, and he was pleased.
8. And again Caesar was determined to question Pilate, and commanded an officer called Albius to behead Pilate saying, ‘As this man raised his hand against the righteous man called Christ, so shall he fall in the same way and find no salvation.’
9. And when Pilate came to the place of execution, he prayed silently, ‘Lord, do not destroy me with the wicked Hebrews, for had it not been because of the nation of the lawless Jews, I would not have raised my hand against you, because they plotted a revolt against me. You know that I acted in ignorance. Therefore do not destroy me because of this sin, but pardon me, Lord, and your servant Procla, who stands with me in this hour of my death, whom you taught to prophesy that you must be nailed to the cross. Do not condemn her also because of my sin, but pardon us and number us among your righteous ones.’
10. And behold, when Pilate had finished his prayer, there sounded a voice from heaven, ‘All generations and families of the Gentiles shall call you blessed, because in your governorship everything was fulfilled which the prophets foretold about me. And you yourself shall appear as my witness at my second coming, when I shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel and those who have not confessed my name.’ And the prefect cut off Pilate's head, and behold, an angel of the Lord received it. And when Procla his wife saw the angel coming and receiving his head, she was filled with joy, and immediately gave up the ghost and was buried with her husband.
1 Or ‘in the entrance’.