Friday, November 30, 2018

Did this ring belong to Pontius Pilate?

ONOMASTIC ARTIFACT: 2,000-year-old ‘Pilate’ ring just might have belonged to notorious Jesus judge. Uncovered 50 years ago at the Herodian palace near Bethlehem, a simple copper-alloy ring is now given a good cleaning — and a second look by skeptical scholars (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

This is a well-balanced article that explores the implications of this find cautiously and thoughtfully. On the one hand, the name Pilate seems to have been uncommon, although not unique. On the other hand, would a Roman governor have worn a cheap copper ring? I would say the connection with Pontius Pilate is plausible, but there's no way to be certain.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on Pontius Pilate are collected here. This object, if it is his, would be the only surviving personal possession of the Pilate of the Gospels. But he is mentioned by Philo, Josephus, and Tacitus, and his name also appears in other archaeological finds. The "Pontius Pilate Inscription" from Caesarea certainly refers to him. There was only one man with that name who was a Roman governor of Judea. Pilate also issued some coins bearing his own name during his administration.

CORRECTION (5 December): Pilate's coins did not bear his name. Apparently we know they are his from the dates and location. Apologies for the error.

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