“The Gospel according to Pilate” by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
Written on May 9, 2007
“The Gospel according to Pilat” is a novel of three parts:
The first part is an attempt of describing the life of Jesus as a human who received his vocation and then spreading the message very reluctantly, especially for performing miracles, without joy as if against his will. Yechou3a (Jesus) saved Pilate’s wife Claudia from bleeding and she did her utmost to save Jesus’ life.
Jesus decided that he had to die and didn’t do anything to change the process though he could have easily go free; he didn’t answer Herode’s questions or satisfied his wishes for a single miracle and looked lame and wretched and not the messenger of a God.
Pilate whipped him to diffuse the anger of the crowd who wanted blood but Jesus didn’t respond accordingly and didn’t complain or cried or shouted or showed that he didn’t deserve the punishment.
The crowd even selected the murderer Barabas to be freed instead of Jesus and Pilate realized that Jesus was indeed pretty ugly compared to Barabas.
The second part is the main one which is a series of letters that Ponce Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea and appointed by Rome with the help of his well established wife Claudia Procula, had written to his brother Titus in Rome describing in details his investigative processes undertaken to recover the corps of Jesus (Yechou3a) that was missing from the grave.
Pilate and Caife, the head of the Jewish Sanhedrin, had interest in recovering the corps because the rumors were spreading that the Son of God had resurrected and was appearing to people in the flesh. Caife could be in serious trouble because the Jews would harass the traditional priestly structure and stop following the Jewish strict laws. As for Pilat the reason was because the Jews might end up revolting against the Romans if united under an imaginary belief that their promised Messiah has been murdered by the Romans.
After several cuts in his investigations Pilate came to a conclusion that it was Herode, the King of Galilee, who snatched the corps in order to start a Jewish uprising and be elected King to all of Palestine. Pilat came to this idea because Herode had been in communication with Yechou3a and allowed him to spread his message in Galilee for three years hoping that Jesus’ followers might serve his political schemes to dominion.
The other indices were that Jesus appeared to people in locations belonging to Herode’s properties and the messages were identical such as: “Rejoice, Christ is alive; spread the Good News”. Pilate’s suspicions were well founded because the first person to claim having seen Jesus alive was Salome, the 16 year-old daughter of Herodiade, wife of King Herode, and who asked for the head of Yuhanan the Plunger who baptized everyone who cared in the Jordan River and announced the arrival of the Messiah.
After Salome, Jesus appeared to two pelerines of Emmaus who had followed him for a few weeks when he was preaching the message and Miriam of Magdalena. They all were telling their testimonials among crowds in Jerusalem
Apparently, Herode was shocked that the corps has resurrected and that the rumors were gaining force and was convinced that he killed the real Messiah and would thus suffer eternal damnation; he went unconscious, as he did when the head of Yuhanan the Plunger (John the Baptist) was brought to him on a silver platter three years ago.
Caife was always one step ahead of Pilate in the investigation after the corps was first declared missing and he was conducting his searches without informing Pilate. Caife went to the grave and then to Yoseph d’Arimathie, the rich cultivator who undertook to carry the corps and bury it, and to Nicodemos, the doctor in Jewish laws, both of them suspects of hiding the corps.
Pilate also located where the disciples were hiding and he realized that they were too scared of being persecuted. The disciples sounded upset and humiliated of being cheated out of their works and families and following a mere mortal.
Pilate ordered the disciples out of Jerusalem and they were happy for their freedom. Only Yohanan, the 18 year-old son of Zebedee, who was from a rich family of Jerusalem and a relative of Caife was not afraid and stayed in Jerusalem and tried hard to be everywhere where Jesus might appear; he was completely convinced that the angel Gabriel has saved Jesus as many believed this explanation.
Herodiade had asked Pilat to consider the theory that a double (sosie) might be playing the role of the resurrected Jesus; Pilate thus interrogated the young Yohanan and discovered that he was not a suspect.
The rational Roman Pilate reasoned that Jesus did not actually die and they failed in their searches because they were after a corpse and not an ailing but living individual. Pilate asked his Roman physician about this eventuality and the physician responded that five hours is not sufficient for one to die of asphyxia, especially that no bones were broken nor the ankle tendon nor any muscles were severed to accelerate the process. The physician demonstrated that the Romans invented crucifixion because the victim is left to die slowly for several days.
Pilate set about locating a sick and most probably dying Jesus who was being cured and cared for. He investigated further on with Youssef d’Arimathie who was the prime suspect for forcing the premature descent of Jesus from the cross and the drugging of the Jewish guards on the grave on orders from Caife.
Claudia quit her palace toward Galilee and joined the masses on foot converging toward Nazareth because the rumors were that Jesus will appear to his disciples in Galilee.
The Roman physician after reviewing the facts proposed that Jesus most probably died and Pilate could not refute his wife’s confirmation that she was one of the four women who were around the dead corps of Jesus when it was lowered from the cross.
Pilate joined the masses on foot and changed his views from logic and rationality because of the faith of his beloved wife but could not bring himself to believe in the resurrection of Jesus: he was confident that once the last of the disciples died then the testimonials will end and this movement would stop to exist, especially because nothing was put on paper and the disciples could not read or write or communicate with the right people who can aid in propagating the message of peace and love among all the people on earth.
The third part is basically an explanation of the author’s reasons for describing Jesus characters differently than accepted by tradition.