tv Finding Jesus Faith Fact Forgery CNN December 25, 2018 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
we may never know the answer to that question. he is one of the most enigmatic figures in the gospels. >> sometimes he seems to be con vacillating. >> on the other hand, what is truth? and he's famous for one thing. >> i'd like to crucify your king. >> only pilate had the authority to crucify jesus. >> it all comes back to one spot. >> this proves pilate really existed. >> as archaeology discovered pilate's name in stone and the locations of jesus' trial and execution, the character from the bible joins the figure in
history to reveal who really was pontius pilate. ♪ ♪ in 1961 while excavating the ancient city on the coast of israel, a team of italian archaeologists make a sensational discovery. in the city's amphitheater they uncover a stone which bears an inscription. much is eroded, but enough remains to reveal a name. pontius pilate, prefect of judaea.
in the bible, pilate's infamous as the man who tries jesus. >> pilate is a fascinating character in christian history. he does seem tormented about whether or not jesus is guilty and whether or not he should condemn him. >> the pilate of the gospels is unsettled. he seems deeply concerned with jesus' innocence. >> i have the authority to set you free. >> he's not firm and decisive about what he wants to do. >> the discovery of his name in stone was groundbreaking. >> the significance of the pilate stone is that it actually gives us hard evidence of this central figure from the story of the crucifixion of jesus. so pilate really existed. he really lived. and he really was the preforget of judaism. and he was the prefect of judaism. we have a point of connection
between the story of the crucifixion of jesus in the bible and actual roman history. >> although we know a few things about pilate from the gospels, to fill out his story more, we need to go to the jewish historian, josephus, who tells us quite a lot about pilate. >> historian helen bond is in oxford where the library has a rare copy of an ancient manuscript. >> this is a 600-year-old edition of the jewish war. josephus was a jewish aris crass where he became a writer of jewish history. >> were it not for josephus, we would know very little about pontius pilate's reign as governor of judaea. >> in the time, the provence was ruled from the administrative capital. when pilate arrives here, he
would have found a proper roman city befitting the imperial representative of rome. he would have found a manmade harbor complete with a temple to augustus and this beautiful, huge hypodrome where spectators could watch the races while they looked out over the mediterranean. >> according to josephus, pontius pilate arrived roughly 30 years after the birth of jesus. >> pilate was a roman knight, which means he belonged to the order, the rank of the roman nobility. he would have owed his position in judaea to the patronage of
the roman emperor, tiberius. >> pontius pilate was clearly an ambitious chap. he was sent to judaea not the appointment of all appointments. he wanted to work his way up. that is the ladder of success. >> he wants to make sure that he maintains law and order because if he does so, he will impress other people within the imperial bureaucracy and that's likely to lead to a promotion. >> pontius pilate lives here in this palace, and look at this place. it had a swimming pool, it had beautiful mosaic floors. this was the center of imperial roman power in judaea. >> when pilate and his wife are sitting thinking about their lives, i don't think that they're expecting to spend the rest of their life in judaea.
they probably saw this as a staging post, steppingstone to something greater. >> pilate has his work cut out if he is to succeed. >> there's been a roman presence for almost a century, but judea has been under direct roman rule for 20 years. >> i doubt that most jews accepted roman rule. most harbored the hope that one day rome would be ousted. >> the people did not believe that cesar was sovereign. they believed that god was sovereign. >> pilate is immediately confronted by the challenges of the job. >> close today one, he tried to take the roman standards into the temple precinct. of course this caused a huge riot. >> this is a very antagonistic act because these displays efforts of the emperor and to the jews, this is heresy and blasphemy. >> protesters from jerusalem trek over 70 miles to pilate's palace.
after five days, pilate calls out his troops. >> he expects that they are going to just disband because who wouldn't disband when there's a threat of death so eminently? instead, the jews bear their necks to pilate. and they say that they are willing to die for the law if necessary. pilate realizes he's been outmaneuvered, he might be prepared to execute a few people here, but he doesn't want to massacre people. >> it's interesting that pilate backs down. does this show astute political
judgment or just show that he's perhaps a little more weak-willed than he might have been? >> pilate does have to reappraise, how is he going to govern the jewish people who are willing to die over small offenses in his eyes? >> but pilate's biggest challenge is yet to come. >> how about i crucify your king? (male announcer) savings are in season during the bass pro shops' and cabela's annual clearance sale.
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jerusalem. the location in the bible for the ultimate act in the life of jesus. >> golgatha. this place was the defining event of jesus' ministry. it's where he was crucified by the romans. >> millions of pilgrims have come here to follow in the footsteps of jesus, but his passion would never have reached its climax were it not for one man, pontius pilate. >> questions of pilate's culpability and his desire to execute jesus is a complicated one. it needs to be remembered that only pontius pilate had the authority to crucify jesus. >> in the bible, the way to the crucifixion begins on palm sunday when jesus enters
jerusalem. >> i think he had resolved well before he ever entered the city on the donkey to do whatever it took to accomplish the mission. >> matthew describes the whole city of jerusalem being in turmoil with people saying, who is this, and the crowd's answer, this is jesus, the prophet from nazareth. >> he arrives as the city prepares for passover. >> passover is the largest religious event of the jewish calendar. language like king of the jews and promises of a new kingdom is very powerful, especially when people are celebrating the liberation of the jewish people from a tyrannical power. >> now we really can understand why the more zealotic disciples say let's get ready to rumble. he's going to come kick the romans out of town. we're going to get our capital city back.
>> jesus riding into jerusalem through the streets on the back of a donkey isn't just simple transportation into the city, this is a very deliberately provocative act. jesus is essentially claiming, i am the king of the jews, the expected messiah coming from the east into jerusalem to bring new hope. >> anyone in authority at the time would be deeply concerned that jesus was actually trying to incite come kind of rebellion. >> pontius pilate is also in jerusalem, not to celebrate passover but to keep the peace and dispense roman justice. >> imagine, you have thousands and thousands of people coming to the same place. they're staying in tents all around the city. in walks jesus with thousands of followers, and he tries to disrupt what's going on there. this is exactly what pilate's job is. his job is to prevent that kind of a ruckus.
>> for pilate, it's order in the city he's looking to maintain. >> to keep jerusalem under control, pilate depends on a powerful ally. >> the way that rome rules in judaea is by using the high priests. the high priests are running the show. but rome exercises it's own power over the priestly class by appointing and sacking at will. >> according to historical account, pilate governed through the same high priest for ten years. >> he is the ultimate moral and religious authority in jerusalem. and he's also the mediator between the people and the roman government. >> caiaphas ruled as high priest for a long time, suggesting that he was a pretty practical fellow. >> but his power depends on rome.
>> caiaphas has to go and ask for pilate to release to him the ceremonial robes that he has to wear. it's a real moment where rome exercises its authority over judaea, over the jewish people, even over the jewish religious authorities at the time. >> jesus is about to strike at the heart of jewish authority in the city. the temple itself. >> massive stones. >> do you see all these great buildings? not one stone here will be left standing on another. >> jesus is disturbed by the fact that there was commerce going on in the temple precincts. >> you have all of these money changes in the gentile part of the temple. and jesus says this is preventing gentiles from being
able to worship. jesus says, my house is a house of prayer for all the nations, but you have made it a den of robbers. >> change money. >> my house shall be called the house of prayer for all the nations. >> it's the one place where jesus seems to express anger, which leads to forceful action. >> it's both a demonstration of his outrage at the exploitation of the people, also a larger symbolic gesture to the destruction of the temple as a whole. >> jesus is expressing his apocalyptic prophesy. he believes in these end times, in his own lifetime, god is going to restore the temple. god is going to restore a certain kind of service and kick out foreign rule. >> no, i don't care.
>> that, of course, was sedition, it was rebellion, it was absolutely not what any jew should be involved in since the temple is sacrosanct. it's the dwelling place of god. >> if what jesus was saying was able to rally the people around him, that could create the kind of unrest that would be a serious problem for caiaphas. >> caiaphas' whole upbringing taught him that protecting the temple was the most important thing. >> this is the most holy place on earth. and here comes this prophet from where? from nowhere, from galilee trying to disrupt their activities there. >> quite clearly for caiaphas, jesus had to be eliminated. >> but only one man in jerusalem can authorize his execution. and archaeology may have finally
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place of the trial of jesus before pontius pilate. and the problem is this was actually built by the emperor hedon over a century after jesus was crucified. so while it's the traditional place of pilate's condemnation of jesus, it's too late archaeologically to be the actual spot. >> modern pilgrims still follow the centuries old tradition of the via dolorosa. but a recent discovery may reveal the actual spot where jesus stood trial. >> in january 2015, a major discovery hits the news. >> these are busy days in jerusalem where more than 2,000 years of history are recorded in one building where pilate may have sentenced jesus. >> this was one of the israeli team who made the discovery. during archaeological work
under the tower of david museum. >> in our excavation, we find enormous walls and we interpreted them as the foundations, it's the retaining wall to herod's palace. >> and if this was the palace, it was also likely the spot where pilate held the trial of jesus. >> jesus was sentenced here in jerusalem in this area, meaning the residents of the roman government. >> herod's long lost palace, the most lavish in the city, is the obvious spot for pilate's headquarters. >> it's enormous. it's royal. this is the place where pontius pilate should sit in jerusalem, only here.
>> the possible discovery of herod's palace is exciting. it reminds us once again that this is a real life story that happened in a real place and in a real time. >> the most famous trial in history is about to begin. >> romans were very clear about reserving capital punishment into their own hands. the jewish authorities in jerusalem had no authority to execute anybody. >> so if jesus is to be crucified, then the only person who can authorize that is the roman prefect, pontius pilate. >> after disturbing the temple, jesus is a marked man. >> he goes and has the last supper with his disciples and goes then to the garden. that's the place where he's arrested. and then brought to pilate for judgment.
>> for pilate, trouble during passover is the last thing he needs. >> what's going on? >> there's been some trouble in the temple. >> it's possible that pilate had heard about jesus. >> nothing to worry about. >> on the other hand, pilate was a very busy man and jesus was just another galilean peasant causing problems. >> pilate is about to discover the man before him is no ordinary criminal. >> it's not a big deal for a roman governor to sentence someone to die, especially for anything that sounds like treason. >> anyone who proclaims himself king or followers proclaim himself king is a direct threat to roman rule. >> what accusation do you bring against this man? >> he stirs up the people by teaching throughout all judaea.
>> pilate is really trying to figure out, is this a rabbi from galilee and followers who think he's special, or is this someone who has come specifically in order to overthrow roman power? >> are you the king of the jews? >> he's trying to ascertain whether jesus is a political threat to roman power in judaea. >> if you say so. >> blasphemy. >> in luke's account of the trial, pilate's verdict is swift. >> i find no basis for an accusation against this man. >> i think that pilate himself had grave doubts that jesus was really a military threat. so how dangerous could he really be? >> no, no, he stirs up the people throughout all judaea from galilee where he began even to this place. >> bring him to me. >> if caiaphas is not able to
maintain stability and law and order in jerusalem, he might be deemed an inadequate high priest, and he would be replaced. >> in john's gospel, pilate orders him to repeat the charge against him. >> are you the king of the jews? >> this is really the crucial question. are you a political messiah? do you have pretentions to overthrow us? >> do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me? >> i am not a jew. am i? your own nation and chief priests have handed you over to me. >> pilate is almost having a conversation in which he's asking genuine questions of jesus, as opposed to interrogating someone. >> are you the king of the jews?
>> my kingdom is not of this world. >> jesus says, my kingdom is not of the character of worldly kingdoms. it's not of this world. i came to bring the truth. >> everybody who belongs to the truth listens to my voice. >> what is truth? >> when pilate asks jesus, what is truth, we have a great example of dramatic irony. here is the man who is acting as judge and jury in a sense over this man's life, truth should be exactly the thing that he understands. >> pilate's not understanding jesus is not forthcoming, the
jewish authorities want him over and done with. they want him dead. >> then, according to matthew, pilate receives an amazing warning. >> have nothing to do with that innocent man. in a dream last night, i suffered much on account of him. >> in the ancient world, dreams are often seen as a way in which the gods communicate with humans. we have sort of the voice of god coming into the narrative at this point and declaring jesus innocent. matthew also contrasts a pagan woman who already understands something about jesus with the jewish chief priests who are intent on getting jesus killed. >> recalled the man.
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jerusalem. home to the most holy site in the christian world. the church of the holy sepulchre. >> in the time of jesus, this would have been outside of the city gate. there would have been a large limestone outcropping of rock and a set of tombs over there. and this is said to be the rock that held the cross on which jesus was crucified.
>> for the christian pilgrims who come each year, this is believed to be the site of golgotha. location of the climactic event in the life of jesus. but the archaeology is not conclusive. >> we don't have the evidence that tells us definitively that this is the place that jesus was crucified, this is merely our best guess. this fits what we know, what we know from the story of jesus. >> in the bible, there's no doubt who sends him to the cross. pontius pilate, prefect of judaea. >> you brought me this man as one who was perverting the people.
>> there's only two crimes under roman law that could lead to crucifixion. one would be sedition or high treason, the other is leading a slave revolt. well jesus didn't seem to be doing either of those to pilate. >> indeed. he has done nothing to deserve death. >> he stirs up the people. >> yeah. >> stirs up the people. >> he may have had a squabble about whether the temple apparatus wasn't done right or not, but that's still not sedition or high treason. >> pontius pilate is put in a tough spot. he doesn't seem to want to make a decision when that's his ultimate job -- the power of life over death. >> in all four gospel accounts, pilate offers the authorities a bizarre choice. >> there's a character called barabbas who appears to have been some kind of violent revolutionary, and he's been
arrested, around about the same time that jesus has. >> you have a custom that i release someone for you at the passover. >> yes. >> it's the one chance he has to do a litmus test on what the crowd actually thinks about jesus. >> barabbas is offered as a choice in a kind of passover amnesty. >> who shall i release? barabbas or jesus? >> he has the power over life and death in judaea, yet he's perfectly willing to throw this open to the crowd and say, you guys decide. >> barabbas. >> sort of perplexing that pilate would have, under any circumstances, thought about letting go a rebel. >> barabbas. >> but of course, in the story, it's barabbas the violent revolutionary they decide to let off. >> release barabbas.
>> jesus' heart must have sunk. these are the people he was trying to serve whose interest he was so concerned about he tried to minister to and they just totally turned their back on him and it must have been unimaginable the depth of his despair. >> what am i then to do with this man you call the king of the jews? >> crucify him. >> enough. >> according to the account, pilate seems to say, well, i find no fault in this man in regard to capital punishment, we'll have him flogged and send him away. >> pilate probably didn't explicitly tell his soldiers to go out and mock jesus. there would have been an audience. there would have been an audience mocking and jeering anyway. pilate didn't have to tell his
soldiers to do so, that was a necessary part of the process. >> pilate was trying to resolve the matter somewhere short of execution. >> perhaps pilate is hoping this will be sufficient and the jewish authorities will accept this. >> look, i am bringing him out to you to let you know that i find no case against him. >> pilate says, i find no crime in this man. and he gets jesus, and he puts him in front of the jewish authorities, but this is a man whose been horribly flogged. >> here is the man. >> he's wearing mock kingly
regalia, purple robe, a crown on his head, and pilate says -- >> behold the man. >> behold the man. in latin, which means behold your messiah, this person has been scourged, look at him. >> this is a broken man. and i think pilate is having his fun here at the expense of the jewish authorities. >> he doesn't want to get involved in this complex, jewish kind of affair, but ultimately that isn't going to be an option for him. >> crucify him. take him yourselves and crucify him. i find no case against him. >> pilate's general way of doing things would have been to try and let the authorities in jerusalem do their own work. he says see to it yourselves. >> then, in john's gospel, caiaphas raises the stakes. >> we have a law and according to that law, he ought to die because he has claimed to be the son of god. >> blasphemy.
>> have nothing to do with that innocent man. >> gospels say pilate was more afraid than ever. >> he wonders, is there something about this prisoner that i've missed? >> he starts thinking to himself, well maybe this person is somebody who is sent by one of the gods. >> if jesus is sent from the gods, pilate needs to find out before deciding his fate. ♪ ♪
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caesarea, the ancient roman capital of judaea. source of the pilate stone. the unique evidence that proves pontius pilate was real and that locates him in judaea at the time of the trial of jesus. >> this stone tells us a lot about the nature of pilate. he was an ambitious guy. he wanted to make good with the emperor and so, he made a large building and he put this dedicatory inscription to tiberius.
pontius pilate, the prefech of judaea. this is done in honor of another man, in honor of the roman emperor, make no mistake, pilate's loyalty was completely to rome. he's not a king, he's not an emperor. this is the best he can do. but what he did gave us the name of pilate in stone. >> in the bible, pilate plays a crucial role in the final act of jesus' life. >> where are you from? >> the new testament suggests that pilate tended to be a little weak and vacillating at times, but i don't think that's the kind of person he was in reality.
>> speak to me. >> i think he was a much harsher, brutal, matter of fact, military man who just got on with the job. >> remember, i have the authority to set you free. and also to have you crucified. >> so why is the pilate of the bible so concerned with the fate of jesus? >> it was crucial for early christians to minimize the responsibility of the romans in crucifying jesus. >> further gospel writers the fact pilate recognizes that jesus is innocent is really important. it's as if unrighteousness recognizes righteousness when it's right in front of them.
>> you have the authority over me, only because it was given to you by god. >> the idea a poor carpenter from nazareth would have claimed to have power from god, pilate would have thought ridiculous, and he rejects it completely. >> but it also would have presented a real threat to the priest because that meant that jesus superseded them. then he would have sovereignty over the temple and over the priestly class. and they could not have that. >> how about you crucify your king. >> crucify him? >> crucify him. >> why? what has he done? >> if you set him free, that means you are not the emperor's friend. >> caiaphas knows how to push
pilate's buttons. if you don't get rid of this guy, you are no friend of cesar. well, this is no idle phrase. what this meant was we will report you to the emperor and you can bet you're not going anywhere other than judaea. >> here is your king. shall i crucify your king? >> pilate keeps pushing back at the chief priests over the condemnation of jesus. he's pushing them and pushing them, and they keep coming back to him until finally they say, we have no king, but cesar. >> we have no king but the emperor. >> this is the ultimate blasphemy. and of course from the point of view of a roman governor, this is exactly what he wants subject people to say. >> he has one duty, and that is to carry out the will of cesar.
so anyone or anything that gets in the way is going to be destroyed. >> and so at that point, as soon as he hears them say that, he sends jesus to the cross. >> i am innocent of this man's blood. >> see to it yourselves. >> pilate is not very interested in being fear minded at all but delaying executing jesus or trying to do a lesser thing than execute jesus. >> his first responsibility was to rome and any threat to rome needed to be dealt with. >> jesus was not executed for being the son of god. he was executed for being a threat to the roman empire. >> what pilate cared about was making a politically expedient decision, and if executing jesus was politically expedient, pilate was prepared to do so.
>> he wants people to see that the final decision in his court rests with him. >> so why did the gospel accounts try to make the man who condemned jesus into a good guy? you're gonna love if ythe best of geico.ercials, it's geico's all-time greatest hits back on tv for a limited time. and if you love the best of geico, you're gonna really love voting online for your favorite. you can even enter for a chance to appear in an upcoming geico commercial. this fire's toasty, linda but the best of geico collection sounds even hotter. to vote for your favorite geico ad and enter to win, visit geico.com/bestof. that's geico.com/bestof. in america, the zip code you're born in can determine your future. but no matter what neighborhood you grow up in, the y creates opportunities for all. for a better us, donate to your local y today.
can be very brutal. the pilate of the gospels is uncertain. a couple of the gospels suggest that the jewish authorities pressurized a reluctant pilate into sending jesus to the cross. >> are you the king of the jews? >> in reality, i think this is not at all realistic. and i don't think it would have taken very much for pilate to be convinced that jesus had to be sent to the cross. >> we can see the gospel accounts of the trial of jesus in some ways as fictional courtroom dramas. >> then why does the pilate of the bible try to avoid crucifying jesus? >> i have the authority to set you free. >> the gospels are all written several decades after the death of jesus. and by this time, the people coming into christianity are romans. >> the gospels try to let pilate off the hook by making him seem more doubtful, and that makes sense because the gospel writers
are writing in a roman world. >> so it's very important to show that even though jesus was crucified on a roman cross, the roman governor responsible didn't really want to do it. >> in the bible, pilate takes one final action, which makes his true intent explicit. >> pilate puts a sign up above the cross that reads "the king of the jews." according to john's gospel, he has it written in greek, hebrew, and latin. >> he's mocking jesus here. he's saying that jesus claims to be a royal figure, but look at him. here he is. he's not enthroned in glory. he's just on a roman cross. >> you need to bear in mind that the roman governor pontius pilate was profoundly anti-semitic. >> for pilate, executing someone who claimed to be a king in this way would be saying you can
claim to be king of the jews, and we're still going to kill you. >> you want to know who's in charge, who's the real ruler here? it's not any jewish pretenders and contenders like jesus. >> and the whole point of these three languages is that everybody in cosmopolitan jerusalem can understand what it means. >> the great irony, of course, is that for the readers of the gospels and for christians ever since, it is in fact true. >> jesus is crucified, suffers, and dies under pilate. >> even though jesus seems like he's the powerless one, his power is shown and revealed at the resurrection. so we see that the real king of the jews is in fact jesus, and that pilate's inscription over the cross is true. >> so what happened to the loyal roman prefect after jesus' crucifixion? the bible tells us nothing. but thanks to josephus, we have a record of the final chapter in pilate's life.
a group of samaritans armed themselves on a religious pilgrimage. >> the moment the samaritans chose to take up arms, there was no way that incident was going to end other than pontius pilate intervening. >> many people are killed. and the ringleaders of the movement are put to death. after the uprising is put down, the samaritans lodge an official complaint against pilate, and so he's recalled to rome to answer the charges. >> but before he can get there, his patron, the emperor tiberius, dies. >> and we have no idea what happened to him once he reached rome. he just drops out of history. >> but the name of pontius pilate will live on. >> pilate's tragic flaw was that he was so loyal to the roman
emperor, who was considered a god, that he couldn't see the true god standing right in front of him. >> golgotha, this place was the defining event of jesus' ministry. it's where he was crucified by the romans. it's where he was said to have raised from the dead. if you think of the impact that christianity has had on the world, it all comes back to one spot. golgotha, the church of the holy sepulchre. >> we often interpret the death of jesus as a saving act, and yet the paradox here is that without pilate, there is no saving act. without the death of jesus, there is no christianity.
>> john the baptist. >> judgment is coming! >> the fearless prophet who hails the coming of a new messiah. >> he believes that some reckoning is imminent. >> the preacher who baptizes jesus, setting him on his mission towards god. >> it's at that moment that something profound changes in jesus. >> now science joins the quest to connect past and present, testing john the baptist's relics to discover a link to the man the bible says was john's cousin, jesus himself, to help us answer who really was john
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