Eras Journal – Sorek, S. Abstract

Abstract of Sorek, S. “Render Unto Caesar? Pilate’s Acquisition of Temple Funds”.

Most modern scholars would agree with the statement made by Smallwood that, in order to finance his scheme for the building of an aqueduct, Pontius Pilate misappropriated money from the Temple treasury in Jerusalem. This was an act of sacrilege, for Roman law had made the money sacrosanct.

There are two passages in the works of Josephus that appear to confirm this statement; however, they contain many anomalies. First, there is the distinction made between the sacred money in the War account and the Temple money in Antiquities. Second, the two accounts do not agree as to the reaction of the Jews to this crime. Following on from this, the book of Maccabeesdescribes the spontaneous popular reaction to another Temple violation that is, on the face of the evidence, apparently almost identical to Pilate’s. However, Josephus’ description of the Jewish reaction to Pilate in the episode of the aqueduct is so very different from the Jewish reaction described in Maccabees that it actually seems to point towards an altogether different crime.

The aim of this article is to explore these anomalies and to evaluate the story of Pilate’s acquisition of Temple funds. The evidence submitted will show that Pilate did not appropriate sacred money and will offer a viable alternative reason for the Jewish response towards him.