By Frank Morison
If anyone thinks that in approaching the trial of Jesus of Nazareth by Pontius Pilate he is approaching the simple and the obvious he is making a big miscalculation.
This thing is extremely subtle: Outwardly, it has all the placidity of still waters, but beneath the apparent stillness there are deep and hidden currents that make it incomparably the greatest and most profoundly interesting psychological study in history. We do not get rid of the mystery of Christ when we bring Him to the Roman bar; we increase it tenfold.
The first hint that there is something curious about this story that is not directly disclosed by the narratives comes, strangely enough, not from the behavior of the Jews, or even of the Prisoner Himself, but from the behavior of Pilate. I remember reading through the four accounts side by side, not once but many times, trying to discover what it was that subconsciously stamped the story of this trial as peculiar. And every time I read them the conviction grew that the hidden and disturbing element lay in what, for want of a better phrase, I must call the unsatisfactory alignment of Pilate's behavior, as uniformly reported in the Gospels, with his known character and antecedents.
We know something at least about the previous history of this brusque and uncultured soldier of the Roman Empire. A tradition, which may not be reliable, says that he was born at Seville in Spain. He came of a fighting family, was a member of the ordo equester and served for a time under Germanicus in Germany. During a prolonged stay in Rome he seems to have captured the affection of a Roman girl of very high connections, Claudia Procula, whom he was destined to marry, and of whom we shall hear more shortly. As the illegitimate daughter of Claudia, the third wife of Tiberius, Claudia Procula was the granddaughter of Augustus Caesar. It is obvious from the sequel that this accidental connection with the ruling house served Pilate's personal interests in an unexpected degree, for in AD. 26, on the recommendation of Sejanus, he was appointed Procurator of Judea, and in accepting the post he applied for and obtained the very unusual privilege of taking his wife with him.
Such are the few but suggestive facts that we know about Pilate prior to his coming to Judea. However, when we reach the ten critical years of his life with which history is chiefly concerned, we begin to get light thrown upon him from new directions. Three episodes stand out during that stormy decade. There was the affair of the Roman ensigns, the affair of the "Corban," and the affair of the votive shields. To these may be added the incident of the Samaritan imposture that occasioned his recall and ultimate banishment. Each of these episodes in its way illustrates and defines the man with whom we have to deal.
If anyone will read carefully and impartially the contemporary classical accounts of these events, paying particular heed to the behavior of Pilate, as distinct from the motives ascribed to him, he will form a very definite impression of a somewhat coarse, rather tactless, and very obstinate man, a man to whom authority denoted power to enforce his own will rather than responsibility and consideration toward others. There is not a trace of that tact in handling foreign and subject peoples that characterized Julius Caesar and certain other far-seeing high-born Romans. He was the embodiment of that personal aggressiveness with which men and women, thrust into a position of authority that exceeds their powers, so often seek to attain their ends.
His obstinacy and complete lack of ordinary political insight come out very strikingly in the matter of the Roman ensigns. We do not know what prompted him to send the ensigns and other insignia of the Legions into Jerusalem. But the fact that he did so at night suggests that he knew there was going to be trouble. When the trouble came and he was practically besieged at Caesarea for six days and six nights, he made apparently not the slightest effort to arrive at a solution by discussion or argument. His only reply on the sixth day was to surround the deputation by armed force. When he found as a result of this belated test that he could get his way only by wholesale massacre (so fanatical was the objection to graven images in Jerusalem) he capitulated and the ensigns were withdrawn.
It is fortunate that we are able to compare the behavior of Pilate in this matter with the handling of an almost identical situation by another Roman soldier, Petronius. The story is told with some fullness by Josephus. The salient feature about this narrative is the manifest recognition by Petronius that there were deep-seated moral forces behind the native Jewish demonstration with which even the political might and statecraft of Rome must reckon. He tried to remove the obstacles by fair reasoning and private conference. He had an infinitely stronger incentive than Pilate to enforce his will, for he had been definitely commissioned by a mad emperor to place the imperial image in the Jewish temple, and failure to do so invited unpleasant consequences. When he ran against the same unshakable rock that confronted Pilate he wrote a report to Caius that not only stamps him as a very brave man, but unquestionably raised the prestige of Rome in the East.
But the point I want to bring out is that the difference between Petronius' handling of this delicate affair and Pilate's action in closely similar circumstances is characteristic and deeply instructive. It marks the whole difference between two types of mind that were poles apart. All Pilate's affairs were handled with the same lack of mental resilience and understanding.
Take, for example, the affair of the "Corban," or sacred treasury. The object for which Pilate took this money was in itself a commendable one -- the financing of an aqueduct from the pools of Solomon to the interior of the city. The Jews were as much interested in a sure and safe water supply for Jerusalem as anybody. The problem had occupied successive kings and statesmen for centuries, and more than one exclusively Jewish attempt had been made to solve it.
The question of finding the money for this necessary public work would not have been difficult if it had been put squarely to the authorities. But Pilate raided the "Corban," a fund devoted exclusively to religious purposes. When the populace quite naturally revolted he provoked a needlessly bloody and fatal tumult by sending soldiers disguised as civilians into the mob.
We get precisely the same characteristic and implacable cast of mind in the matter of the votive shields Pilate installed in the Herodian Palace. There was apparently not the slightest attempt to understand or appreciate the deep-seated character of the religious objection to these tablets, or any desire even to discuss it. It was only when a letter from the chief men of the nation to Tiberius brought a strong reproof from the emperor that Pilate gave way.
There is a hint, too, in the Gospels of an affair in which Pilate mingled the blood of certain Galileans with their "sacrifices." We do not know to what this refers, but it agrees pretty closely with what we know of his temperament, and bears a resemblance to his handling of the Samaritan affair as recorded by Philo.
Such, then, are the lineaments of Pontius Pilate as they emerge from the only independent and secular accounts we have of him. They are all amazingly self-consistent and true to type.
Now, when we turn to the Gospel accounts of the trial of Jesus by this man we get an immediate and unmistakable impression that the personality revealed does not lie foursquare on the impression we have previously formed of him. Somehow this does not seem to be the real Pilate haughty, overbearing, truculent who is trying the Lord of Life. He seems so remarkably anxious to conciliate the Jews, and yet so unaccountably reluctant to concede to their wishes. He gives the impression of a man being torn apart by two opposite and irreconcilable forces.
Personally, I cannot escape the feeling that Pilate did not want to touch this thing. He had one idea paramount in his mind to get Christ acquitted, somehow, and at all costs. We see this motif running through everything the attempt to shift the matter to Herod, the thrice-acclaimed innocence of the Prisoner, the washing of hands the last desperate attempt to substitute Barabbas, as a sop to the insistence and clamour of the people. It was only when the sinister cry, "Thou art not Caesar's friend," began to make itself heard above the tumult that a new and greater fear triumphed over the one that had been gnawing at his mind.
What is the explanation of this apparently inconsistent behavior of a man who normally had a very strong will of his own and who did not readily brook opposition to it? Why does Pilate, the tyrant of secular history, appear as Pilate the irresolute in the pages of the Gospels?
I do not think we will ever reach the true explanation of this phenomenon until we take into account various personal matters on the side of Pilate and especially what probably took place in his own household on the evening before the trial.
It will be remembered that in tracing the causes of certain peculiar and otherwise inexplicable delays connected with the arrest of Jesus, we reached the conclusion that Pilate must have been warned of what was about to take place, and that the interview at which this was done could not have occurred much earlier than eleven o'clock in the evening.
Strong as the evidence for this unreported interview with Pilate undoubtedly is, it is strengthened by one small but highly significant circumstance the fact that Claudia Procula was in the Herodian palace that night. It is extraordinarily suggestive that the only reference to Claudia in this particular connection that has survived the centuries should be that she dreamed about Jesus Christ on the night before His death.
So long as we think of the Roman trial of Jesus as developing along the traditional lines (so often inferred from the Gospels), by which the Jews without prior arrangement brought Christ on Friday morning to the bar of Pilate, the reference to Procula seems utterly illogical and its substance improbable. But the moment we put these events in their natural sequence the truth seems to look us in the face. For consider the most likely trend of events that memorable night.
Pilate was in town, not for a brief flying visit, but for the full ten days ordinarily covered by the Feast. The probability, therefore, that Claudia came with him is very strong, even if we did not have Matthew's definite statement that such was the case. Their friends in the foreign capital were undoubtedly few. A man occupying Pilate's position had to restrict severely the circle of his intimate acquaintances, and the two were necessarily thrown much on each other's company.
We are probably not far wrong if on this particular night we imagine them sitting before the fire in one of the spacious apartments of their private suite in the palace, for we know from Peter's warming of his hands that the evening was chilly. To appreciate fully what happened after that we must remember the peculiar limitations of time that the problem imposes. We know from the Gospel records that Pilate heard the case very early on Friday morning. The hurried visit of Judas to the high priest's house took place probably between eight and nine o'clock, for the Supper party lingered on after he had gone, and we have still the two hours' waiting in the Garden to account for. If the decision to arrest Jesus was taken as the result of the information Judas carried to the priests (and we have the strongest reasons for believing such to be the case) it is clear that Pilate must have been approached some time between nine o'clock and, say, eleven thirty. How else could arrangements involving the personal movements of the procurator early the following morning have been consummated?
As I have suggested in a previous chapter, there was probably only one person in Jerusalem who could safely intrude himself upon the privacy of Pilate's household at such a late hour, and then only on urgent political grounds. That man was the high priest himself. Indeed, I do not see how Pilate's services in this matter could have been secured at all at such extremely short notice, apart from urgent personal representations from the highest authority in the Jewish state.
It would seem, therefore, that we are well within the margin of historic probability if we assume that some time between the hours of nine o'clock and eleven, and probably much nearer the latter than the former, a distinguished caller presented himself at the Herodian palace. Possibly the visitor was shown directly into the private apartment, but more probably Pilate went out to an ante-chamber to meet him.
Then, as I conceive it, in a few anxious minutes for the powers in Jerusalem, the outline of the impending Demarche was disclosed. An important political offender was to be arrested that night. The trial would be consummated the next morning, and a verdict involving the extreme penalty was probable. Would Pilate consent to review the case at an early hour so that the necessary ratification might be given in time to secure death by sunset?
Probably also some conversation took place on the difficult question of defilement. It was not permissible for those charged with high duties in the temple to enter the Court of the Stranger on this particular day. Yet the matter was urgent. The alternative to summary jurisdiction (having regard to the character of the city's huge temporary population) was an insurrection. Would Pilate be prepared on this occasion to come out to the deputation who would present the Prisoner and the finding of the Jewish court?
With the discussion of such questions as these, from twenty minutes to half an hour probably went by, and with the departure of his visitor Pilate returned to the fireside. Now does anyone with personal knowledge of the immemorial characteristics of women suppose for a moment that an incident like this would pass without Claudia wanting to know something about it? She would not have been a woman if she had not been curious, and we may be practically certain that before they retired to rest that night there was some conversation about the unexpected visit, the identity of the Prisoner, and the reasons (satisfactory or otherwise) behind the arrest. Anything that foreboded trouble between her husband and the Jews had a special interest for Procula.
When, therefore, Claudia retired to her room in the late evening, it would be, almost certainly, with the thought of Jesus in her mind. And when she awoke next morning after a vivid and painful dream, to find that Pilate had already risen and left the Palace, she knew where he had gone and the delicate matter in which he was engaged. It was at this moment that, according to Matthew, she sent him a message -- almost telegraphic in its brevity and urgency -- designed to convey in the fewest possible words her own grave, apprehensions and the course which she thought he ought to take:
Have thou nothing to do with that righteous man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him (Matt. 27:19).
So far we have a logical and intelligible sequence of events. Is the sequel equally logical? I submit that it is. For the characteristic that immediately strikes us about Claudia's message to Pilate is its urgency. The words are those of someone who is manifestly writing in great haste, and who wants to convey in the fewest possible words a message at once grave and immediate. Indeed, it would be difficult to imagine a sentence of greater brevity that would have conveyed so precisely the information Procula apparently desired to get through to Pilate. She wanted to warn him primarily and above all else not to touch this thing. She seems to have been under something more than an impression that Pilate was going to commit Christ to His enemies, and that at an early stage in the proceedings. Hence the need for her instant warning.
I will not waste time here arguing the obvious point that if Claudia knew of the arrest overnight in the circumstances suggested above, that in itself is an adequate and sufficient cause for the dream. But I do want to draw attention to a significant detail, viz., that the dream would not have had the instant terror for Procula, on awakening early the next morning, if she had not known, or had exceptionally strong reasons for suspecting, that Pilate was going to hand over the Prisoner to His enemies. The whole tenor of the message suggests this:
Have thou nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
However we construe the words, they could have been written only by a woman who was anxious to avert something she was afraid was going to happen. The facts seem to point to one conclusion, viz., that Claudia had reason to believe that Pilate intended to ratify the finding of the Jewish tribunal without rehearing, or at any rate with a bare minimum of official formality. In other words, that he had practically decided to confirm the Jewish decision, and had probably already given assurances to that effect overnight.
I confess that my own mind was prepared somewhat for this conclusion by the very nature of the peculiar political situation that drove the priests to take the extreme measure they did. I cannot help feeling that the principal thing Caiaphas wanted to know before he sanctioned the arrest was whether Pilate would do this very thing. If on this particular occasion, and on the personal pronouncement of the high priest that the offense committed was worthy of death, Pilate would consent to ratify the finding of the Sanhedrin, the whole thing could be settled and done with before sunset. If not, then no one could tell what delays might take place, and it would be safer to postpone the arrest to a more convenient season. The fact that the arrest did take place according to plan seems to point to the Jews' having received assurance on this point.
But what I was not prepared for -- what, indeed, came to me personally as a surprise -- was the discovery that the narratives of the Roman trial itself unmistakably bear out and confirm this view.
The matter is one that will repay very careful study.
If anyone will take the four gospel records of the trial of Jesus by Pontius Pilate, and after putting them side by side, make a careful comparative study of them, he will find them absolutely unanimous upon one point, viz., that Pilate addressed to Jesus the question: "Art thou the King of the Jews?"
Now this is significant because the two earlier evangelists give no hint that Pilate had even been told what the charge was. Both Matthew and Mark, with their accustomed brevity and that complete absence of subsidiary detail characteristic of them, described Pilate as asking this leading question at once thus:
Mark: And straightway in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes, and the whole council, held a consultation, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him up to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? (15:1, 2).
Matthew: Now when morning was come, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: and they bound him, and led him away, and delivered him up to Pilate the governor.
Now Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? (27:1,2, 11).
It is perfectly obvious that this could not, in any circumstances have been the beginning of these proceedings. Both of these Synoptic writers have jumped over something that is exceedingly important for us to know, viz., how this vital and rather peculiar question was led up to, and what it was that caused Pilate to ask it.
Fortunately we have two other independent versions to which we can turn and I will ask the reader to examine these with some care. To facilitate comparison we will set them out fully below:
Luke: And the whole company of them rose up, and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king. And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? (23:1-3).
John: Pilate therefore went out unto them, and saith, What accusation bring ye against this man?
They answered and said unto him, If this man were not an evil-doer, we should not have delivered him up unto thee. Pilate therefore said unto them, Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law. The Jews said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying by what manner of death he should die. Pilate therefore entered again into the palace, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? (18:29-33).
Two things stand out from these accounts. First, they offer a much fuller and more intelligible account of what happened. But second, and chiefly, Pilate's question comes, as we knew it must, after some preliminary interchange of argument with the Jews. It is that preliminary phase of the trial to which I want to direct particular attention.
If we were left solely with the evidence and witness of Luke, we should have to assume that the moment the priests brought their Prisoner to the bar they launched their general accusation thus:
We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.
Let it be said here that, psychologically, this would have been a perfectly natural and satisfactory opening to the case, and if no other data were available, we should be justified, even compelled, to assume that it began in that way. But there is something in the version of the Fourth Gospel that arrests attention, because it throws new light on the way in which the case was presented from the Jewish side. It is not that the writer of John's version contradicts what the Synoptic writers have said. On the contrary, he confirms it. But he seems to begin a little farther back, and he supplies a link in the narrative that is missing from the other three.
He states first what on every ground we must regard as most probable, viz., that when Jesus was brought to Pilate, the Prisoner Himself was conducted into the palace while the priests and other accusers remained outside.
After a short interval, according to John, Pilate came out and put the formal question to the Jews: "What accusation do you bring against this man?" This was the definite opening of the Roman trial, for it was an essential part of the Roman system that a public Accusatio should be made, followed by the Interrogation of the judge, and the Excusatio of the prisoner.
The reply of the priests to this question is so significant and suggestive that I do not think due weight has been given to it. The priests replied:
If this man were not an evil-doer, we should not have delivered him up unto thee.
Before we consider what this phrase means, let us look again closely at the narratives of Luke and John in the table above. It is obvious even upon the cursory reading that there is a gap in John's version following the words "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death." In no conceivable circumstance could Pilate have passed directly from the evasive and resentful answer to his leading question to Jesus: "Art thou then a King?" Some intervening conversation must have led up to it.
Fortunately the missing sentence has been furnished by Luke, and we may therefore fill the gap as shown in the complete narrative printed below:
RECONSTRUCTED NARRATIVE OF THE OPENING OF THE ROMAN TRIAL
Presentation of the Prisoner to Pilate:
They lead Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the palace: and it was early; and they themselves entered not into the palace, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover.
Pilate's demand for the "Accusatio":
Pilate therefore went out unto them, and saith, What accusation bring ye against this man?
The priests' obvious reluctance to produce a charge:
They answered and said unto him, If this man were not an evil-doer, we should not have delivered him up unto thee.
Pilate therefore said unto them, Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.
The priests' reply with an improvised charge:
The Jews said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.
And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.
Pilate's question to the Prisoner:
Pilate therefore entered again into the palace, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
Not only does this reconstructed narrative contain the essential facts recorded by the four writers in the order in which they give them, but it is really the only account we possess of these proceedings, for, as an examination of the documents will show, the four writers are almost unanimous when their particular point of entry has been reached. Moreover, it reads like an authentic piece of history.
With this description now before us we can attempt a reconstruction of an incident which, both historically and psychologically, is probably without precedent in the annals of the world.
The first definite act of the drama of which we have historical record is the bringing of Jesus from the place of His confinement (probably the high priest's house) to the place of trial. This occupied, perhaps, twenty minutes, but as it was still quite early probably few people witnessed the little procession as it made its way swiftly through the narrow streets of Old Jerusalem. The procurator, himself astir early, was awaiting the deputation. On arrival at the gate of the palace we must probably allow for a halt of a few moments for the examination of credentials, after which the Prisoner was conducted alone, under a Roman escort, to the presence chamber of Pilate. Meanwhile, the deputation and their attendants waited without.
We come now to a point of considerable interest. After a brief interval, Pilate himself came out to the Jewish deputation and put the question: "What accusation do you bring against this man?" As I have said above, this was an unmistakable indication that Pilate intended to rehear the case, and it seems to have aroused intense resentment on the part of the priests -- for their answer is not only lacking in proper respect for Pilate, who was acting fully within his duty, but points to their having a special grievance against him in this matter.
If this man were not an evil-doer, we should not have delivered him up unto thee.
Assuming, as I do, the historicity of this reply, it seems to me that there is only one possible interpretation to be placed on it. The priests resented Pilate's sudden determination to rehear the case. They were clearly under the impression that he would not insist on a formal restatement of the case against Jesus, and they appear to have come without any prepared or public accusation at all. If we were to attempt a broad but, I think, quite legitimate paraphrase, we may regard the priests as saying, "Can't you be satisfied with the finding of our court, that this man is an evil-doer? Why reopen the case when we ourselves have found him worthy of death?"
To this Pilate made a very subtle reply:
Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.
The inevitable answer to this skillful counter-thrust was a renewed demand for ratification:
It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.
It would seem then that, realizing the hopelessness of getting what they wanted without the production of a case:
They began to accuse him, saying, We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.
The mention of the words "a king" at last gave Pilate something to work on, and he retired into the palace to put the historic question to Jesus: "Art thou the King of the Jews?"
Now there are two things about this episode which call for special notice.
First, it reads like a transcript from life.
Second, the manifest resentment and surprise shown by the priests when Pilate indicated his intention of rehearing the case, or at any rate of closely examining the Prisoner, points unmistakably to something resembling an understanding. They would hardly have made so insolent and pointed a reference to ratification of their own sentence if they had not been led in some way to expect it.
But when we place this fact in juxtaposition with that other fact -- the urgency of Claudia's reported message to her husband --- its intrinsic probability is increased. We begin to see why Claudia was so anxious to get her message into her husband's hands before it was too late. For if events took the course that it seems they must have done, Claudia knew not merely the identity of the Prisoner when she retired to rest, but she knew also that Pilate was contemplating (if he had not already promised) the ratification of the Jewish sentence. It was this that gave the whole point to her hurried communication. She wanted to tell him at all costs not to take that course.
If this is a true reading of this remarkable episode, then one thing stands out clearly. The message Claudia Procula sent to Pontius Pilate on the morning of the crucifixion changed in certain essential respects the course of history. If Pilate actually received this message he must have done so shortly after his arrival at the place of trial, for high-strung women are generally light sleepers, and the whole tenor of the message suggests its hurried indictment on waking. That Pilate had come down to the audience chamber intending formally to ratify the Jewish sentence seems to be certain. Before the deputation arrived, however, something happened that caused him to change his mind. But not only so. Psychological states have the peculiarity when suddenly challenged of swinging to their opposite extremes, and Pilate throughout his dealings with the Jews on this particular morning seems to have had one concern only -- to shift the responsibility for the affair to others.
This fact is ineradicable from the pages of the narrative. We find it in his initial attempt to get the Jews to carry out their own sentence. We find it in the thrice-proclaimed public acquittal of the Prisoner; we find it in the remission to Herod; we find it supremely in that tense moment, when, unable any longer to make himself heard above the tumult, he washed his hands as a sign that he would have no part in it.
So in a member of Pilate's own household we discover the fourth factor in the psychological parallelogram of personal forces that brought about the death of Christ. The influence of Jesus on the women of His day was profound, and of surpassing interest. He took Mary Magdalene from her native Magdala and made her His bond-slave for ever. He took the sons and breadwinners away from women like Salome and Mary. the wife of Cleophas, yet they would have died willingly for His cause, and did later endure unspeakable hardships on His account. He was the close and intimate friend of cultured women like Mary and her sister Martha. He had in Joanna a faithful and devoted follower in the very household of Herod. Must we add Claudia to the circle of His adherents?
In the sense of actual discipleship, no. But in the sense that in some mysterious way she had come under the impress of His moral influence and His commanding spiritual and intellectual stature, I think we must say yes. It was she who stiffened the Roman instinct for justice in Pilate, at a moment when he was tempted, from personal considerations, to humor the prejudices of the Jewish camarilla, and commit Jesus on their recommendation alone. It was she who was the author of that resplendent phase when the tyrant was seen for a few hours in the guise of a patient administrator anxious to weigh the truth to the last ounce. Let us not belittle this glowing if transient chapter in Pilate's checkered life.
While the stimulus lasted his handling of this difficult and perplexing case was well-nigh perfect. No more lust hearing than this could any man have asked or obtained in any court of that far-off day. The restraining influence of one who clearly believed that Jesus was innocent is obviously upon it. It was only as the stimulus faded against the grinding and growing opposition of the Jewish party that the threat of Caesar's intervention became paramount, and he ended as he intended to begin, by delivering the Prisoner into their hands.
So the baffle of wills closed in the defeat of the Roman procurator, and it was probably a sad and intensely irritated man who made his way back to the imperial apartments of the royal palace. But we do not have to wait long for the repercussion.
A few hours later the priests came back to him again. In his haste, or perhaps out of a coarse wish to turn the tables on his tormentors, he had written in three languages the immortal inscription: "This is the King of the Jews." They wanted him to alter it. He refused. "What I have written I have written" -- the real Pilate came out at last, when the supreme moment of his own personal and individual crisis had passed.