Page 8 - October 2019 - Truth & Tidings
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ontius Pilate was fed up. This was   The present dispute certainly seemed to
              nothing new for the prefect of the   have gotten the Jewish leaders remarkably
        PRoman province of Judaea. His        worked up. Early in the morning they had
        posting, far from the hub of the empire,   been clamoring for an audience with Pilate
        amongst a quarrelsome and contumacious   – though, he noted with irritation, their
        people, was a daily annoyance. Pilate   impatience was insufficient to overcome
        had neither the appetite nor the aptitude   their scrupulousness about contracting
        for diplomacy, and the Jews, whose    defilement. Rather than risk pollution that
        distinctive religious scruples seemed to   would have prevented them from eating
        Pilate to be indulged far too readily by his   the Passover, they congregated outside
        bosses in Rome, were constantly seeking   Pilate’s judgment hall. This show of
        – and often finding – occasions for offence   fastidiousness, with its less-than-flattering
        and career-sapping complaint.         implications and the inconvenience it
          That it was Passover time did nothing   occasioned,  further  deepened  Pilate’s
        to improve Pilate’s mood. Passover    sense of irritation.
        meant that he had to leave the relative   It didn’t help, he reflected, that this nit-
        sophistication of Caesarea and decamp   picking concern for proprieties accorded
        to Jerusalem. For all its storied past, the   so ill with the blatant injustice of their
        city held little charm for Pilate at the best   current  mission.  Pilate  was  no  novice
        of times, and Passover, when the streets   when it came to trials and, as he listened
        would be thronged with pilgrims and   to the accusations being brought against
        echoing with who knew what seditious   Jesus of Nazareth, he had no difficulty in
        talk, was not the best of times. The influx   recognizing them for what they were –
        of outsiders, combined with all the   trumped-up charges designed to move a
        memories of slavery and liberation evoked   religious dispute into the realm of Roman
        by the Passover ritual, made for a stressful   jurisdiction, and thus circumvent the fact
        time for the representative of the foreign   that the Jews no longer had the right to
        occupier.                             impose capital sentences. Pilate had often
          But even the exigencies and         seen this game played – and generally
        inconveniences of Passover were       much better than it was now. It was with
        insufficient to account for Pilate’s current   some difficulty that he maintained the
        mood. Above all things, he hated being   appearance of judicial impartiality as
        drawn into internecine Jewish disputes.   witness contradicted witness in a palpably
        These usually involved fine nuances of   desperate bid for a conviction.
        religion to which Pilate was tone-deaf,   It was not that Pilate was opposed
        heightened tempers with potentially   to judicial murder in principle. But
        explosive repercussions, and offered no   at least the pretense of justice had to
        upside for an administrator whose main   be maintained, and on the face of this
        aim was to keep his nose clean, earn   evidence, even the most perfunctory of
        promotion, and leave Judaea far behind.  defenses must surely result in an acquittal.

        296 TRUTH kTidings   October  2019
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