Text of title which Roman procurator places on cross angers local religious leaders

From the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John:

Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Matthew 27:37)

The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Mark 15:26)

There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Luke 23:38)

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” (John 19:19-22)

Text taken from the title which the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, placed on cross:

IESVS·NAZARENVS·REX·IVDÆORVM
Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ Bασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων
ישוע הנצרי ומלך היהודים

English translation: Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews

Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 18:55) reports:

BUT now Pilate, the procurator of Judea, removed the army from Cesarea to Jerusalem, to take their winter quarters there, in order to abolish the Jewish laws. So he introduced Caesar’s effigies, which were upon the ensigns, and brought them into the city; whereas our law forbids us the very making of images; on which account the former procurators were wont to make their entry into the city with such ensigns as had not those ornaments. Pilate was the first who brought those images to Jerusalem, and set them up there; which was done without the knowledge of the people, because it was done in the night time; but as soon as they knew it, they came in multitudes to Cesarea, and interceded with Pilate many days that he would remove the images; and when he would not grant their requests, because it would tend to the injury of Caesar, while yet they persevered in their request, on the sixth day he ordered his soldiers to have their weapons privately, while he came and sat upon his judgment-seat, which seat was so prepared in the open place of the city, that it concealed the army that lay ready to oppress them; and when the Jews petitioned him again, he gave a signal to the soldiers to encompass them routed, and threatened that their punishment should be no less than immediate death, unless they would leave off disturbing him, and go their ways home. But they threw themselves upon the ground, and laid their necks bare, and said they would take their death very willingly, rather than the wisdom of their laws should be transgressed; upon which Pilate was deeply affected with their firm resolution to keep their laws inviolable, and presently commanded the images to be carried back from Jerusalem to Cesarea.

Pontius Pilate had shown scant regard for Jewish religious sensibilities while procurator of Judaea and clearly, by the time he was confronted with demands for Jesus’ crucifixion, there was no love lost between them:

“Philo can find no good thing to say of Pilate [describing him] as ‘by nature rigid and stubbornly harsh’ and ‘of a spiteful disposition and an exceedingly wrathful man’, and speaks of ‘the bribes, the acts of pride, the acts of violence, the outrages, the cases of spiteful treatment, the constant murders without trial, the ceaseless and most grievous brutality’ of which the Jews might accuse him. The verdict of the NT is that he was a weak man, ready to serve expediency rather than principle, whose authorization of the judicial murder of the Saviour was due less to a desire to please the Jewish authorities than to fear of imperioal displeasure if Tiberius heard of further unrest in Judaea. This is made abundantly evident by his mockery of the Jews in the wording of the superscription (Jn. 19:19-22) (“Pilate”, New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, IVP).

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1 Response to “Text of title which Roman procurator places on cross angers local religious leaders”



  1. 1 Miracle man who claims to be Messiah dies in Jerusalem today « Friends of the American Revolution Trackback on March 22, 2008 at 3:20 pm

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