It does not follow that Pilate was ignorant of Jesusâ€™ ministry, at least entirely ignorant if it, simply because he did not know Jesus was from the region of Galilee.
If Jesus was attracting large multitudes across the region this is always going to be of interest if not a concern of the regional governor of any empire. Pilate's general disinterest signals he had no strong opinions about Jesus because he had not bothered to find out. It looks more like Pilate is not worried about those multitudes (which is hard to figure) or he does not know of them (and is incompetent) or the crowds were not so big to have registered on the consciousness of the governor of Judea.
I can think of numerous instances where Iâ€™ve heard of a person and his exploits but not known where he was from or where those exploits had occurred.
Pilate's job was to know what was going on in Judea and if he was competent to also have an understanding of the region. If you were chief of police there is an expectation you would have a good knowledge of what was going in your county and would be abreast of events in neighbouring counties. Of course that does not mean Pilate was on top of the job but there is a conundrum here.
I havenâ€™t got a clue where Houdini performed his magic or where he was from but Iâ€™ve definitely heard of him and his exploits. Iâ€™ve just never had a strong enough personal reason to pay attention to the details of his life.
Houdini is before your time (I trust
). Bet you could name where Ziegfried and Roy mostly performed and could take a stab at their nationalities. Bet you could also take at stab at David Blaine. But the point here is not whether you can pick out historical or popular figures about which you are vague, but whether it makes sense for Pilate to be so vague. There were probably plenty of people from Galilee well known locally to other Gallieans of which Pilate had never heard. The question is he ought to have heard of a preacher drawing large crowds. Especially when a proportion of those multitudes were making there away across Judea
Further, we have good reasons why Pilate would not know the details of Jesusâ€™ life such as his provenance even though he may have vaguely heard of Jesus.
Well that is the point. Given his position and given the claims about the multitudes it is strange Pilate only vaguely heard of Jesus. That is the curious point.
1) A cultural disconnect. Pilate disliked the Jews and had little respect for their culture or traditions. It follows that he would have little reason to be interested in the details of a famous Jewish rabbi wondering the countryside attracting crowds of Jews with his preaching.
Yes there probably was a disconnect with Pilate disrespecting the Jews. But Jewish or not it is surprising a Roman governor was not interested in large crowds. Luke 13:1-2 tells use Pilate killed some Galileans. Jesus talks of this. Any decent governor would be alert to clamping down on even the hint of dissension. Whilst Jesus may not have concerned himself with Roman affairs Pilate had a responsibility to make sure any preacher drawing large crowds was not going to arouse the multitude against Roman rule. It was his job to know.
2) There was no perceived threat to Roman rule.
Mark 15:7 tells us Barabbas was in prison with insurrectionists. So there you have it. There was insurrection afoot.
Herod would have been much more in tune with the minutia of the things going on among the Jews in his region as well as the potential fulfillment of Jewish prophecies and the like.
Whilst more attuned Herod does not seem too concerned with the multitudes accumulating on his patch. Flavius Josephus reported that Herod killed John because of his fear of the hold John held over the people. This sounds realistic and would also be the basic motivation of any governor to keep an eye on preachers drawing large crowds. Who knows what they may preach against you?
That cultural connection is just as good, if not better, an explanation of Herodâ€™s knowledge and interest in Jesusâ€™ exploits than the arguement Herodâ€™s knowledge and Pilateâ€™s lack of it is due to Jesus being only known in Galilee.
Yes it would and that is an argument why Herod may have been aware of a much smaller ministry and a redundant argument for why he should have been aware of a multitudinousness one. If the crowds were massive then we should expect Herod to be aware whatever his cultural connection. If the crowds were mediocre then those should appear on the radar of a ruler of the local province but more so if there is the cultural connection. There is less reason for pilate to be aware of a preacher drawing mediocre crowds in Galilee. I think the line you are following here does not support the idea Jesus' fame
was more than just a local affair. It also appears Jesus was a curiosity to Herod not an acute problem. He does not seem worried about what the people may think like he was with John. Indicating the support Jesus could draw to him was smallest threat than the numbers who had followed and listened to John. Herod was happy to make a joke out of Jesus and send him back to Pilate.
Further, Herod likely had a personal interest in Jesus, not shared by Pilate. This is evidenced by Herodâ€™s knowledge of what John the Baptist had been going around saying about his marriage. Eventually leading to Herod having John beheaded. When we consider Jesus may have been related to John the Baptist (Luke 1:36) we have further reason to see why Herod would have a personal interest in Jesus.
Well yes all good reasons for Herod to have heard of Jesus when many other governors would not have done. So if Jesus' ministry was a local affair that showed no sizeable threat to public order and there was no fear of a problem spilling over into Judea then that would be a good reason Pilate was vague.
FB wrote:I think the basic conundrum is that the larger Jesus' ministry and miracles are painted the more pressure is placed on the question of why the historical silence in his own lifetime. The smaller and more local the ministry the more reasonable the silence.
But this type of historical reasoning just doesnâ€™t hold up. We have numerous notable people who were famous
in their own day for which there is a virtual historical silence during the lifetime of that person as well. Take even Herod for example. Where are the narratives dedicated to the telling his life story written during his life time?
Well yes exactly. Herod did not walk on water nor raise people from the dead and he did not draw large crowds from all over the Levant. However one thing of note that may have attracted a special note in history is an infanticide spree which fails to get a mention anywhere else. So Herod is perhaps not the best counter example. There is Pilate's stone
that gives physical evidence to the existence of Pilate so maybe Pilate is a better example. The gospels do not attempt such wild stories about Pilate. His role looks realistic. Just one more arrogant vicious Roman governor amongst dozens if not hundreds. No special reason to single him out. Maybe not surprising accounts are light on the ground. We could say the same of Jesus if there was no special reason to make Jesus stand out in his own lifetime.
I don't think of any this is airtight, more a balance of probabilities.