The Pilate Inscription

Photo from Fallen Empires DESCRIPTION
Language: Latin
Medium: limestone
Size: 82 centimeters high
65 centimeters wide
Length: 4 lines of writing
Genre: Building Dedication
Dedicator: Pontius Pilate
(praefect of Judea)
Approximate Date: 26–37 CE
Place of Discovery: Caesarea, Israel
Date of Discovery: 1961
Chief Excavator: Antonio Frova
Current Location: Israel Museum
Inventory number: AE 1963 no. 104

(with suggested reconstruction)
by K. C. Hanson & Douglas E. Oakman
To the honorable gods (this) Tiberium
Pontius Pilate,
Prefect of Judea,
had dedicated


1. What would motivate a prefect like Pilate to dedicate a temple in honor of Tiberius?

2. What terms do the gospels and Acts use for Pilate's office? Tacitus (see Annals 15.44)? Josephus (see War 2.117, 169)? Philo (see Ad Gaium 299)?
3. What were the responsibilities of a Roman prefect in an imperial province?
4. What do we know about the role of the "imperial cult" in the eastern part of the Roman Empire? How does it compare with other parts of the empire, and what accounts for the differences?
5. What was the relationship between Caesarea and Jerusalem during the first century?
6. What is the relevance of an inscription such as this one regarding the dating and identification of persons mentioned in the Bible?

Bond, Helen K. Pontius Pilate in History and Interpretation. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 100. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Hanson, K. C., and Douglas E. Oakman. Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998.
Jones, A. H. M. “Procurators and Prefects in the Early Principate.” In Studies in Roman Government and Law, 115-25. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960.
Lémonon, Jean-Pierre. Pilate et le gouvernement de le Judée: Textes et monuments. Paris: Gabalda, 1981.
Maier, Paul M. Pontius Pilate. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968.
Rousseau, John J., and Rami Arav. Jesus and His World. An Archaeological and Cultural Dictionary, 225-27. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995.
Samuelsson, Gunnar. Crucifixion in Antiquity: An Inquiry into the Background and Significance of the New Testament Terminology of Crucifixion. WUNT 2/310. Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2011.
Schwartz, Daniel R. “Pontius Pilate.” In The Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman, 5:395-401. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Vardaman, Jerry. “A New Inscription Which Mentions Pilate as ‘Prefect.’” Journal of Biblical Literature 81 (1962) 70-71.

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Last Modified: 10 August 2015