Pontius Pilate was another terrific piece of historical fiction by Paul L. Maier. As noted in my comments on another one of his books, The Flames of Rome, Maier is very disciplined with his rules for historical fiction: No proper names are invented, nothing knowingly contradicts historical facts and great care is exercised to fill in gaps. Any created or assumed portions are documented in the end notes.
It was fascinating to get the Roman perspective on the life of Jesus and to think more about Pilate’s background. Also, for once, I finally have all the Herod’s straight in my mind, along with the relationship of Herodias (who encouraged her daughter Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist) to the Herods. We’ll see how long that lasts.
Not that I am pro-Roman now, but this helped me to see how the Jews would not have been the easiest group of people to govern. The book did help me gain an appreciation for what Rome did well and where it did some bizarre things.
The author has Pilate interacting with Cornelius, the Roman Centurion from Acts 10 as well as Paul. While the accounts are fictionalized, it is quite likely that Cornelius and Pilate would have met on occassion (they both lived in Caeserea).
Here’s an interesting factoid from the footnotes regarding the darkness at the crucifixion.
This phenomenon, evidently, was visible in Rome, Athens, and other Mediterranean cities. According to Tertullian, Apologeticus, xxi, 20, it was a “cosmic” or “world event.” Phlegon, a Greek author from Caria writing a chronology soon after 137 A.D., reported that in the fourth year of the 202nd Olmpiad (i.e., 33 A.D.) there was “the greatest eclipse of the sun,” and that “it became night in the sixth hour of the day [i.e., noon] so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.”
Hmmm . . . sounds a little like Matthew 27:45 – “From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.” I love reading about historical and archeological accounts that confirm Biblical truths.