Pontius, Our Pilot – Part 4

Behold! Some hard evidence backing up my suspicion that the Gospel of John goes above and beyond what is written in the other three Gospels. This is the final part of a 4-post exploration comparing the Biblical and historical views of Pontius Pilot. It gets to the point, but I recommend reading the first three parts as well.

A warning to believers – the subject is approached a little harshly at times. I hope you can read this utilizing grace and attempt to understand the information that is presented.

Jericho Brisance

<< Continued from Part 3

Summing the Woeful Tally

The gospels simply do not tell a consistent story about the trial of Jesus.

Prophecy: In the first three gospels, a Silent Jesus comports with the prophecy of Isaiah, as intimated by Luke’s record in Acts. In John, a Mouthy Jesus precludes any possibility that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled by the quick-witted Nazarene, who parried questions with a series of paradoxical comebacks that worked circles around a hapless Pilate. Either (1) Isaiah was indeed foretelling the messianic Jesus, and hence John was exaggerating the story for his own dramatic ends; or else (2) John finally told us the truth about just how talkative Jesus was, and the prior three gospels were skewing the trial to make the life of Jesus seem to fit Isaiah’s prophecy, when it really didn’t. In any case, one or more of the gospels was playing…

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18 Responses to Pontius, Our Pilot – Part 4

  1. Derek says:

    If one reads the gospel of John, talkative is not the word one would use to describe Jesus before Pilot. In Mark, Matthew, and Luke Jesus says a few things. In the Gospel of John more of what he says is revealed, but not much more! A more evenhanded argument void of hyperbole might have been more convincing, but this argument relies too heavily on subjective evaluations of the text.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      You do have a point about the hyperbole. Giving John the title of liar seemed a bit much, even for me who is already suspicious of John. But there are many good points made as well, such as questioning how the stories of the internal process leaked out, and the differences in the character of Pilate.

      What about the OT prophesy connection of Jesus not speaking? Isn’t that negated by John’s description?

    • Derek says:


      I was shocked to see you say that leading through deception is wrong! This seems like a change from your previous point of view. I’m very curious to read your ideas on this!

      • jasonjshaw says:

        I guess it can go both ways, it can be used both to uplift others and it can be used selfishly. Of course, the typical human tendency is to use it for personal gain. Unfortunately it seems to have to be utilized to capture people’s attention to pull attention away from selfish uses as well. It’s the good ol’ constant re-balancing within humanity.

  2. John stands divergent on many points. The 40 days. Lazarus. The “I am” statements. In measuring the weight of everything John said, one must start to consider that the prior three authors were perhaps derelict in their accounts. How could a reasonable and historical account of Steve Jobs’ life omit mention of Apple? So too, how can Matthew, Mark, and Luke omit what John puts in? Food for thought…

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Glad to get some concrete examples from you there Matt. Upon my initial read of the Gospels, John came across to me as a skilled storyteller. He’d be an awesome guy to have sharing stories around a campfire!

      • Or where he went the day after his baptism. What day he was crucified on. And so on.

        The quote that I gave from Origen says a great deal… the church fathers saw this early on – early enough to admit that John wasn’t really giving what we think of as “history”.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Arkenaten brought an interesting quote to my attention of another early example indicating problems with understanding the text. Eusebius’s quote “That it will be necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a remedy for the benefit of those who require such a mode of treatment.”

        Unfortunately, I think he got it wrong about it being a benefit to be led to believe something based on deception.

    • Derek says:

      What was Jesus’ “Apple”? And do the Gospels omit it? The Gospels are individual accounts and therefore contain different information, and to varying degrees, the same information. If they are completely the same, they are copies. If they are totally different, they are contradictions. I disagree with your claim that if Gospels differ, they must by that same token contradict. If everything written about Steve Jobs was not exhaustive would it be untrue? No, obviously not.

      • Several smoking guns here. The oldest adage I recall being proferred was that the different gospel writers were like different witnesses of the same automobile accident. Different vantage points. Different details remembered. But all in harmony and all of the same event.

        In the end, it doesn’t square. A far better explanation is that the different traditions continued to develop in different regions by different groups, and they wound up with divergent traditions.

        A Harmony of the Gospels is very useful in this case. The gaps between John and the synoptics are very notable – somewhat like those between John and the second century gospels. John seems to be a weigh point in the development, very readily fit along that continuum of development, which was already apparent between earlier and later gospels.

        A case to examine very carefully is the resurrection of Lazarus, to take but one example. Arguably the greatest miracle Jesus performed in his ministry. A parable in action to underscore his claims to be the resurrection and the life. It was public. All the disciples and the Jews saw it. It led to many leaving Judaism to follow Jesus. And Lazarus became a co-target of the murder conspiracy of the Jews – specifically because so many were converting to follow Jesus. “We’ll never kill this thing unless they are both dead,” goes the rationale from the Jewish leaders. Given all that, this wasn’t a quiet event. It wasn’t an event that only one disciple knew about. It was the BIG one.

        How can Matthew not have told about it? How can Mark, recording Peter’s story, failed to mention it? Was it really somehow… ancillary? Not a big deal? A take or leave? A side note? Was Jairus’ daughter honestly the bigger miracle, since it got wide press?

        Its worth serious reading and contemplation. I have yet to hear a decent rationale for how 3 out of 4 gospels could “forget” to mention this without being derelict of duty, yet the last-written fourth gospel would “remember” this event. If historically real, it makes it into all four accounts. But it makes more sense that this was developing legend.

        I could go on a similar track with the divinity claims of Jesus and the library of “I am” statements, but I hope Lazarus helps to illustrate the general point. Some omissions are too glaring to make sense on the car wreck analogy.

  3. Derek says:

    I would say Jesus greatest achievement was not Lazarus being raised from the dead, although that did allude to what he would later himself achieve, his greatest achievement was his own resurrection. I don’t think any of the gospels claim to be exhaustive accounts. John says that not all of the miracles Christ performed are listed in his book. I don’t think Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are witnesses of a car accident from different angles. I don’t think that Matthew knew something Mark didn’t, or that Luke knew something John didn’t in all cases. The similarities between the gospels seems to suggest that they knew about each others’ writing. Maybe Matthew, Mark, and Luke knew Lazarus was in John and weren’t compelled to include it in their accounts. I don’t know why Lazarus being raised from the dead isn’t in the other gospels, but I don’t think that makes such a claim any more or less convincing. If it was present in all four gospels would you believe it all of the sudden? I doubt it. Where all of the gospels do converge is unsurprisingly on the most important part of Jesus life: his death on the cross and his resurrection. Your expectations about what the gospels should be are interfering with what the gospel accounts are.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      They also converge on the moneychangers in the Temple.

      The trouble with Lazarus only being in one Gospel is that it is one of the most amazing claims. It is surprising that news of such an extraordinary event would only make it into one Gospel. It leads to the question of why? Why did the other Gospel writers not care about something so amazing? Or how did they not hear about this miracle that is above and beyond almost every other?

      This is why it is suspicious.

      • Derek says:

        “They also converge on the moneychangers in the Temple.”
        That’s true, among other things. I’m not sure what you’re getting at though.

        You’re assuming that because they didn’t include it they didn’t “hear” about it. I don’t think that’s an assumption we can make. The Gospels are not simply a catalog of Jesus miracles, as I said earlier the crucial part of the Gospel is that Christ, a perfect life, died for our sins so that we may have forgiveness for our sins. Lazarus’ resurrection, although miraculous does not have any direct role in our salvation. Interestingly, we do hear about Lazarus’ after death experience in Luke 16:19-31. So I would also add that I don’t think Lazarus’ resurrection is completely absent from all of the Gospels.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Is it the same Lazarus though? I didn’t notice any connections between the two accounts aside from the name Lazarus.

        What I’m getting at is that such a significant miracle would surely be mentioned in a Gospel other than John, especially if the Lazarus in Luke is the same Lazarus. Why would Luke leave out such an amazing act? Why would John include such an unrealistic act?

  4. Derek says:

    You don’t think it’s realistic to begin with so what does it matter if the other gospels include them or not? Luke and the other Gospels don’t leave out the extremely important details surrounding Christs death and resurrection. You can’t expect the Gospels to fulfill an expectation on your part that they never claim to fulfill. You read the Gospels like a divine ESPN top 10 highlight real, this is not what they are. The Gospels were written so that we might believe Jesus is who he said he is, so that we can have life through him.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      I thought the Gospels were written separately as records of Jesus’ life to the extent that the writers were able to learn. I don’t think the supernatural elements are realistic, but I do think what was written is what was realistically believed by the writers.

      I am attempting to look at the Gospels objectively within a basis of non-supernatural reality.

      Also, what “important details” are consistent between the Gospels?

      Here is a chart comparison of the Gospel Accounts – there seems to be a significant amount of differentiation between the accounts:

      Hopefully this will help you better understand the inconsistency between the Gospels accounts – in this case, about the most significant event of the New Testament.

  5. Derek says:

    “I thought the Gospels were written separately as records of Jesus’ life to the extent that the writers were able to learn.”

    I don’t have a problem with this summation.

    “Also, what “important details” are consistent between the Gospels?”
    Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection.

    “Here is a chart comparison of the Gospel Accounts – there seems to be a significant amount of differentiation between the accounts:”

    To be sure, the Gospels are not the same, that would make them identical copies, but the fact they have different information does not hurt their credibility.

    “Hopefully this will help you better understand the inconsistency between the Gospels accounts – in this case, about the most significant event of the New Testament.”

    This is my biggest concern: You don’t seem to understand the Gospels if you actually think that Lazarus’ resurrection is actually the most significant event of the New Testament. It is such a stretch to say that because these sources have different information they are “inconsistent”. It would be inconsistent if Mark said, “Jesus never raised anyone from the dead”, and then John said “Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead”. That’s not what’s happening though.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      I find it inconsistent that Jesus clearly claims to be Son of God in some and doesn’t make that same claim directly in others.

      The angels or men that appeared in or outside Jesus’ tomb is another clear inconsistency. Actually, there seems to be much consistency in the chart in the link I shared about who was involved and how they reacted at the empty tomb.

      It’s surprising that Jesus’ ascension into Heaven is only found in Luke and Acts.

      It is a challenge to the credibility of the Gospels when memorable events, such as Lazarus’ resurrection, are not widely known. It may not discredit them, but it does raise questions.

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