Report to the Emperor-First Draft

Friday, March 25, AD 2016

Ecce Homo 2

(I post this each year on Good Friday at The American Catholic.  Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter.)

I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report.  The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security.  Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet.  I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome.  Let us take the Jew by surprise for once!

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8 Responses to Report to the Emperor-First Draft

  • This nice article says “the Prefect”, so I assume it is not Pontius Pilate? Who is the author?

  • This is excellent, my favorite recurring article of yours, but the link to the document at “bethanyum” is broken (third link, “…revolt over standards…”).

  • Thanks for the heads up. I have now linked to a new source.

  • Thanks Donald for treating us to a secular version of the Passion. I would guess there are many today who would think about it the same way.

    Happy Easter to you and your family.

  • “In the fullness of time …” meant that Jesus was able to walk into a power struggle that guaranteed his death. Moreover, the competing jurisdictions between Imperial and Jewish law created a perfect storm that teaches us how our faith rocked both worlds. Well written!

  • Dear Donald,
    Just correct the word “Jesus” for Yeshua in some paragraphs, like the ones beginning with “probably” and “learning”.

    Fantastic post.
    Best regards,
    Pedro

  • Lou-
    I believe the author of the non-italic part is Marcus, writing for his boss Pilate, and the Italics are that Perfect’s comments as he reads over the draft.

  • “This nice article says “the Prefect”, so I assume it is not Pontius Pilate? Who is the author?”

    Lou, Pontius Pilate was not a Procurator, he held the rank of Prefect in the Roman bureaucracy. The term Procurator only came into use in Judea in 44 AD, eleven years after Pilate condemned Jesus. Since the Gospels and Tacitus refer to Pilate as Procurator, we have to assume they used the term that was in use when they were written. A bit sloppy as history, but understandable.

Screen Pilates: Lowell Gilmore

Thursday, March 24, AD 2016

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard, Stephen Moyer, Dennis King, Brian Mitchell, Leif Erickson, Peter Firth and David Bowie may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here , here and here.

Actor Lowell Gilmore had the distinction of portraying Pilate three times:  The Living Christ twelve part series (1951). I Beheld His Glory (1952) and Day of Triumph (1954).

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Screen Pilates: David Bowie

Wednesday, March 23, AD 2016

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard, Stephen Moyer, Dennis King, Brian Mitchell, Leif Erickson and Peter Firth may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here and here.

Perhaps the oddest portrayal of Pilate is by David Bowie, who passed away recently, in the enormously controversial film, The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), which was based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis.  I have a hard time being offended by either the novel or the film because Kazantzakis’ take on Christ is so bizarre, and so contrary to the historical record, that it occurred to me that the novel was not really about Christ, but a totally fictional construct by Kazantzakis in which only the name of Jesus remains the same.  The scene at the top of the post where “Pilate” interrogates “Christ” (Willem Dafoe),  is typical:  the dialogue is completely made up and is conducted listlessly by both “Pilate” and “Christ”, rather as if they were participants in a college bull session that had gone on too late into the wee hours of the morning.  One expects one of them to say, “We better turn in, or we will never get up for class.”

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4 Responses to Screen Pilates: David Bowie

  • To be honest, I found some of the scenes in TLToC unintentionally hilarious, as opposed to offensive. Everyone involved seemed to be a bit off their game, including Scorsese.

  • I was intrigued by The Last Temptation of Christ when all the controversy erupted over it. The movie house chains in St. Louis wouldn’t show it. I didn’t see it until years later when I rented the VHS tape from a Mom and Pop video store, (even Blockbuster wouldn’t carry the tape)

    SPOILER WARNING!

    I thought the movie ultimately supported Jesus’ mission because everything did happen as we have been told. His alternate life was either an hallucination or was undone by God when he begged forgiveness. It was a Prodigal Son metaphor. The idea that most powerful thing that the devil could use to tempt Jesus was to just be a normal man with a job and a family and not have the salvation of mankind on his shoulders. More tempting than all the power in the world or bread to a starving man. The idea that Satan tempted Jesus with the life we all have is very powerful. Kind of seems like we are beating the devil just by living our lives. There is nothing better he can offer us.

    But yes, the performances by Willem Dafoe and Bowie were very subdued. I am sure that was intentional to better make the characters seem human and not the famous icons they are today..

  • Agnostic Bible fanfiction? I know the gnostics did some bible fanfiction….. There’s even a special word for bible fanfiction, pseudepigraphical!

    It can be good or bad, religiously speaking. 😀

  • ..the performances by Willem Dafoe..

    THAT’S why he looked so familiar, and why it seemed so strange… The Goblin King is talking to Green Goblin.

Screen Pilates: Peter Firth

Tuesday, March 22, AD 2016

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard, Stephen Moyer, Dennis King, Brian Mitchell and Leif Erickson may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here and here.

Veteran actor Peter Firth portrays Pilate as a worried man in the currently released movie Risen (2016), afraid that if the body of Christ cannot be found unrest from His followers will occur on the eve of a visit to Judaea by the Emperor Tiberius.  The visit of Emperor Tiberius is a fictional device to heighten the drama I assume.  At the time of the execution of Christ, Tiberius was in decadent retirement on the island of Capri.  The historical Pilate had good reason to fear the wrath of Tiberius, as he was a protégé of Roman strongman Sejanus, who Tiberius had executed on October 18, 31 AD, a year of two, likely, before Christ was put to death.  The Jewish philosopher Philo, an older contemporary of Christ born in 25 BC and who would live to 50 AD, noted that Sejanus had helped foster anti-Semitic policies throughout the Empire, and that Tiberius had repudiated these policies upon the fall of Sejanus, and commanded that good relations with the Jewish communities throughout the Roman Empire be the policy of the Roman government.  This of course would have put Pilate on the spot, since he had a generally bad relationship with the Jews.  Much that is obscure about Pilate’s attitude toward Christ is made clear if Philo is accurate in his statement.  Why the screenwriters of Risen did not use these facts, rather than inventing a fictional visit of Tiberius, is beyond me.

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7 Responses to Screen Pilates: Peter Firth

  • Good flick. Fiction but scripturally compatible.

  • I’m looking forward to seeing this movie. Until I do, my top “Pilate” picks have been:

    #1-Hristov Shopov
    #2-Rod Steiger.

  • Why the screenwriters of Risen did not use these facts, rather than inventing a fiction visit of Tiberius, is beyond me.

    Probably because it would have ended up sidetracking the story too much trying to establish everything and bring the audience up to speed in a limited run time movie. Not that I’m still disappointed at times by the lack of full background.

    Though maybe a short run tv series or miniseries would be best to get the audience on the same page as the characters of the story. People will grasp the political intricacies for Game of Thrones, let’s HBO up the Bible! (yeah I know that project will never get off the ground)

  • Also because most people have heard of Tiberius, but not Sejanus.
    .
    And speaking of HBOing up the Bible, anybody watch the now cancelled Of Kings and Prophets?

  • I know you have already highlighted Barry Dennen, the Pilate from Jesus Christ SuperStar who is great but did you know there was another production in 2000?
    I think the Pilate is that production is amazing.
    Here is a link:

  • Okay, that link is to the beginning of the show. I copied and pasted the Trial Before Pilate link. Don’t know why the wrong one is there.

  • I think this is the Trial before Pilate. Fred Johanson plays Pilate. I think he is amazing

Report to the Emperor-First Draft

Friday, April 3, AD 2015

Ecce Homo 2

 

(I post this each year on Good Friday at The American Catholic.  Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter.)

I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report.  The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security.  Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet.  I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome.  Let us take the Jew by surprise for once!

 

Your first effort on this matter is rather good, but I think we can improve upon it.  Incidentally, tell the Greek in his portion of the report to work in a subtle reference to one of Tiberius’ victories with the legions.  Tiberius claims to despise flattery.  The old fraud, he loves flattery if it isn’t obvious, and I want him in a good mood when he is reading this report, probably the most important report of my career.

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6 Responses to Report to the Emperor-First Draft

Screen Pilates: Keith Mitchell

Tuesday, March 31, AD 2015

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard, Stephen Moyer and Dennis King may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here and here.

CBS broadcast a film adaptation of Jim Bishop’s book The Day Christ Died in 1980.  Bishop hated the film adaptation, had his name removed from the credits and attempted unsuccessfully to change the name of the film.

Brian Mitchell, best known as King Henry VIII in The Six Wives of Henry VIII gives a powerful portrayal as Pilate.  Pilate is interpreted by Mitchell as a politician who, by his own admission, believes in nothing other than his career.  He is disturbed by his wife’s desire to spare Christ.  He is intrigued by Christ and views Him as a mysterious figure.  Ultimately he reluctantly decides to have Christ crucified when Caiaphas accuses him of disloyalty to Caesar, at least that is the public excuse for him literally washing his hands of the matter before the mob.  A glance by Pilate at the pitcher prior to him offering the choice between Barabbas and Christ indicates that he planned what he would do if the mob chose Barabbas.  A good portrayal of Pilate that catches what a tricky character he no doubt was, rather than the straight forward Pilate of most other retellings of the Passion.

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Screen Pilates: Dennis King

Friday, March 27, AD 2015

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard and Stephen Moyer may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here and here.

Give us Barabbas was a Hallmark Hall of Fame tv movie shown in 1961.  Pilate makes a brief appearance at the beginning of the film, asking the mob to choose between Barabbas and Christ.    Washing his hands after Barabbas is chosen, Pilate, portrayed by Dennis King, seems very eager to end his role in what he clearly views as a very distasteful business.  Eaten up by curiosity Barabbas has an interview with Pilate in which he questions why Christ had to die.  Pilate responds that Christ spoke in riddles that puzzled Pilate and gave Pilate no grounds to spare his life.  Pilate is filled with grief over the death of Christ, but does not see what else he could have done.  King portrays Pilate with a great sense of world weariness, a man nearing the end of his career who did not want any involvement in this matter for which he is alone to be remembered.

It is almost a shame that this was not Barabbas the Musical as King was a noted singer, and for decades was  star on Broadway.  He never did much feature film work, and today is chiefly remembered for his work in early television.  He died in 1971.  The author of the screenplay, Henry Denker, who originally studied to be a rabbi, before making a ghastly error and becoming an attorney prior to finding his life long avocation of writing, often Christian themed religious dramas, lived until 2012, passing away at age 99.

Audience reception for the film was good and it was replayed for years near Easter on NBC.

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One Response to Screen Pilates: Dennis King

Report to the Emperor-First Draft

Friday, April 18, AD 2014

(I post this each year on Good Friday at The American Catholic.  Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter.)

I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report.  The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security.  Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet.  I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome.  Let us take the Jew by surprise for once!

 

Your first effort on this matter is rather good, but I think we can improve upon it.  Incidentally, tell the Greek in his portion of the report to work in a subtle reference to one of Tiberius’ victories with the legions.  Tiberius claims to despise flattery.  The old fraud, he loves flattery if it isn’t obvious, and I want him in a good mood when he is reading this report, probably the most important report of my career.

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5 Responses to Report to the Emperor-First Draft

  • A Blessed Easter to you and yours, Donald McClary. One Hail Mary

  • “Perfect! No changes needed.”

    Thank you Mr.McClarey for adding more perspectives for my contemplation.
    Last night at Holy Mass the veil between heaven and earth was so very thin.
    What a GREAT GIFT we have in Him who was slain for our offences. God is SO GOOD to us. Happy Easter and blessings to your family as well.

  • And to you and yours Philip. Holy Week reminds us of ultimate realities that too many of us, and I put myself firmly in that category, blithely ignore for most of the rest of the year.

  • Pilate wants out of politics to enjoy a quiet life in Rome, but that ’empty tomb business’, his wife’s dream, and his rationale about that life saving many others will probably not allow it.
    We probably are graced with enough of a lifespan to figure out the direction of our hearts and consciences if we try .
    Politics every which way from Holy Week to Holy Week – I think your posts and the comments steadily keep the backdrop of the ‘ultimate realities’ and appreciate them. Thank you. Happy Easter season to all.

Screen Pilates: Vincent Varconi

Wednesday, April 16, AD 2014

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks and Cyril Ritchard may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here and here.

One of the earliest screen portrayals of Pilate was by Hungarian actor Vincent Varconi in Cecil B. DeMille’s silent screen epic King of Kings (1927).  We first see Pilate enthroned as the embodiment of Roman power before a huge imperial eagle.  Initially bored by the attempt by Caiaphas to have him execute Jesus, he refuses to look at a document that Caiaphas has prepared laying out the charges against Jesus, after he talks to Jesus he feels the power of the words and presence of Christ, and seeks to satisfy Caiaphas and his mob by having Jesus beaten.

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Screen Pilates: Greg Hicks

Monday, April 14, AD 2014

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring and Stephen Russell may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here and here.

Greg Hicks portrays Pilate in the movie Son of God (2014) as concerned above all at protecting his position.  If he does not execute Jesus Caiaphas can tell Tiberius through his agents that Pilate is coddling a rebel against Rome and that would lead to the ending of Pilate’s procuratorship and perhaps his life.  That is more than enough reason for him to deny the request for mercy for Christ from his wife Procula, disturbed by her dream of Christ.

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8 Responses to Screen Pilates: Greg Hicks

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  • “By asking the question, “Jesus or Barabbas?” he (Pilate) had already rejected the claims of Jesus. By placing the two on the same level, he had ranged himself with Christ’s enemies. This choice was in fact a failure of nerve: failure to commit himself to the defense of a man in whom he had found no crime. Niemöller , preaching in Nazi Germany with the storm troopers closing in around him, saw Pilates everywhere. “In those days and weeks,” he said, “it seems dangerous to vote or to work openly and unequivocally for this Jesus, and human foresight and shrewdness may more than once give us the tempting counsel to imitate Pilate and leave the decision to others. ‘Do choose for yourselves; you are free, you know, to decide whether you will have Barabbas or Jesus, of whom it is said is called the Christ.” ~Pontius Pilate by Ann Wroe This excerpt, from Chapter 5 “The Great Equivocator”.

  • “By asking the question, “Jesus or Barabbas?” he (Pilate) had already rejected the claims of Jesus.”

    I disagree with Ms. Roe, whose book I have read. Pilate was testing by this stratagem who was the stronger on the streets in Jerusalem: Caiaphas or the followers of Jesus, and the answer was obvious, even though Barabbas was a bandit and rebel. Pilate’s goal throughout his encounter with Jesus was to prevent a rebellion in Jerusalem during Passover, which could easily have led to full scale war. The claims of Jesus would have struck Pilate as mysterious and Jewish and largely incomprehensible to him. After the intervention of his wife, he would have preferred to have let Jesus live, but Caiaphas had prepared a clever trap, and Pilate ultimately saw the execution of Jesus as his only way out.

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Screen Pilates: Stephen Russell

Thursday, March 28, AD 2013

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas and Frank Thring may be read here, here, here, here  here and here.

Stephen Russell portrays Pilate in The Gospel of John (2003) which is a straight forward no frills presentation of the Gospel of John.  As in the Gospel of John Pilate is shown in the film as first curious about Jesus and then sympathetic to Jesus.  He attempts to save Jesus by giving the mob a choice between Jesus and the bandit Barabbas.  When that fails he presents Jesus after He has been beaten and utters the phrase Ecce Homo, Behold the Man.

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5 Responses to Screen Pilates: Stephen Russell

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  • I would like to place a challenge to you — analyse the portrayal of the Procurator in the TV adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita.” It’s quite different from the Gospel standard, but well known to Russians, as it’s arguably the greatest Russian-language novel of the 20th Century. The Pilate in Vladimir Bortko’s Rossiya TV version was Kirill Lavrov, a top Russian actor (the entire cast was “A-list” of Russian TV and movie actors) A complete playlist of the TV version starts at this link, and Pilate’s first appearance in this version is at this link. It has English subtitles, and the text of those titles was cribbed from one of the leading English translations of the work.

    Anyway, it’s a unique portrayal of Pilate. Take a look at it. What do you think?

  • I read the novel the Master and Margarita when it was first translated into English. Magical Realism Russian style! A beautiful satire on Stalinist Russia, a la a combination of Faust, The Grand Inquisitor with some Thirties Slapstick tossed in. I hadn’t seen the film version before and the interplay between Christ and Pilate is interesting although it has nothing to do with the Gospels. Pilate plays the role of the Grand Inquisitor in an homage to that great section from The Brothers Karamazov. The world weariness and the cynicism I suspect is probably an accurate reflection of the historical Pilate. Mr. Lavrov did a fine job, and it is a pity that I haven’t had the time to explore Russian cinema much beyond the forties.

  • Stephen Russell’s Pilate shows reasonable wonder, and fear, accurate to the gospel account. (Now where’d the evangelists get inside info? Hard to believe a Roman governor wearing his emotions on his tunic sleeve.) This Pilate does feel very much like “us,” more so, imo, than the sneering, haughty, noxious versions. Thankfully most of “us” don’t have to worry about our families being slaughtered if we tick off our employer.

  • Thanks for sharing this information and video too.

Screen Pilates: Frank Thring

Wednesday, March 27, AD 2013

Frank Thring as Pilate

 

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov and Telly Savalas may be read here, here, here, here and here.

The late Frank Thring, an Australian actor, had the distinction of playing both Pilate and Herod Antipas in major films, Pilate in Ben Hur (1959) and Herod Antipas in King of Kings (1961).

In Ben Hur we get a glimpse of the backstory of Pilate.  Thring portrays Pilate as an urbane Roman aristocrat dismayed that he is being sent to govern bleak and hot Judea.  At a party given by Arrius to anounce his adoption of Ben Hur, go here to view the video,  Pilate indicates his dismay at the prospect.  After Ben Hur wins his famous chariot race, Pilate cynically crowns Ben Hur as the “one true God” for the moment, of the people.  Go here to watch the clip.

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3 Responses to Screen Pilates: Frank Thring

  • Pontius Pilate serves as a rather strange figure in scripture. It is often expressed that he caved into popularity by listening to the mob and having Jesus crucified. He is described as someone who could have used his job to do the right thing, but he ignobly past that by. And so his reputation from the Christian standpoint is tarnished. He failed in his public role at so pivotal a moment as that one.

  • This series on “Screen Pilates” has been very informative. As a trivia note: there are some literary scholars who think Pilate, rather than the reluctant Pope Celestine V, is the unnamed figure in The Inferno whom Dante describes as having “in his cowardice made the great denial” — i.e. denial of responsibility for Christ’s death.

  • I had never heard that before Elaine. Of course the scholarship regarding The Divine Comedy is huge and I have only dipped a toe in that vast sea.

Screen Pilates: Telly Savalas

Tuesday, March 26, AD 2013

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen and Hristov Shopov may be read here, here, here and here.

Telly Savalas in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) gives a fairly stolid performance as Pilate.  He portrays Pilate as a world weary Roman functionary to whom Christ is merely a problem he does not need.  When he transfers Christ’s case to Herod, we see Jose Ferrer who gives a strikingly good portrayal of Herod Antipas.  Ferrer portrayed Herod as a man touched against his will by the words of John the Baptist.  Now however he has executed John the Baptist, and has given himself up for damned, taking refuge in drink.

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9 Responses to Screen Pilates: Telly Savalas

  • Rod Steiger was undeniably a great Pilate and Jesus of Nazareth is one of my all time favorites. But when I picture Pilate in my mind’s eye, I see and hear Hristov Shopov. He was just perfect for the role. His physical look (much like Steiger), but also his ability to convey so much with his facial expressions. He is hands down my favorite ~ he’s who I picture when I think of Pilate.

    Funny how certain movies have left me with ALWAYS picturing a certain actor when I think of the real-life person. Shopov is Pilate. Cavaziel or Robert Powell for Jesus. James Farentino is Peter. Olivia Hussey or Maia Morgenstern for the Blessed Mother.

    The Passion and Jesus of Nazareth are definitely my all-time keepers.

  • It was for this role that Telly Savalas shaved his head, creating the signature look that he kept for the rest of his career. So if it hadn’t been for Pilate, Kojak might have had hair….

  • I have watched “The Passion of The Christ” and “Jesus of Nazareth” a couple of times and those films are amazing! I will have to watch “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and see how good the movie is. Thank you for a great movie suggestion. This will be a perfect film to watch tonight with the family and feel Jesus’ undying love in our hearts. Thank you!

  • I think you will enjoy it Erin. The sequence after the Resurrection is especially good:

  • Wow, I hadn’t heard of Telly Savales in years. Guess he’s deceased by now.

  • Telly Savales was a kind man. Many years ago, my brother Gerald was shopping in a hat store in NYC. He noticed that Mr. Savales was in the store and approached him to ask what sort of hat he wore on Kojak. Telly spent some time looking with Gerry to find one of the right size and then bought it for him as a gift. As far as we know, there were no bodyguards or any entourage. Just a simple, touching encounter with a humble and kind man. I don’t think my brother knew it was paid for by Savales until he went to the cashier. They’re both gone now but I hope they get together occasionally in the Lord’s presence.

  • I have heard similar stories about Mr. Savalas, William. May his soul rest in peace, as may the soul of your brother Gerald.

  • Thank you and a Happy Easter to you and yours.

Screen Pilates: Hristo Shopov

Thursday, April 5, AD 2012

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began last year during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone and Barry Dennen may be read here, here and here.

Without a doubt the screen portrayal of Pilate seen by the most people around the world is that of Bulgarian actor Hristo Shopov in Mel Gibson’s hugely successful Passion of the Christ (2004).  That is good, because it is a superb portrayal.

 

Shopov portrays Pilate as a coolly in charge Roman prefect in public, but in private he unburdens himself to his wife Claudia who warns him that Jesus is a holy man and he must not condemn Him.  Pilate repeats his query to Christ about truth to his wife.  His truth he tells her is that the Emperor has warned him that if there are any more rebellions in Judaea, he will pay for it with his own blood.  If he refuses to execute Jesus he fears that Caiaphas will lead a revolt, but that if he executes Jesus the followers of Christ might revolt.  I believe this was a key fear of the historical Pilate and he did not order the execution of Jesus until he decided that a revolt by the rent-a-mob of Caiaphas on Good Friday posed the far greater threat.

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22 Responses to Screen Pilates: Hristo Shopov

  • My vote goes to Rod Steiger.

    For what it’s worth I have never bought Pilate as reluctant executioner. His soldiers marched Jesus to Golgotha, they nailed him to the cross, he wrote the sign “King of the Jews”. HE must have given the order at some point.

    Would he have preferred Jesus be killed by a Jewish lynch mob or executed by Herod? I’m sure. But that doesn’t let him off the hook. I also suspect that since the Gospels were written as Christianity began being preached to the Roman world (and the Church’s breach from Judaism) maybe Pilate is painted a little better and the high priests even worse.

  • Both are very good portrayals, but I have to go with Steiger. Pilate might have had a qualm or two, but I think the way Stieger portrays it is more likely. Sort of a dsinterested bureaucrat who has to keep dealing with these crazy religious fanatics and their equally crazy prophets. He may have had a hint of something a little different about Jesus (especially after his wife’s dream), and personally thought him harmless, but then it passes and he gets back to buisiness as usual, and more important to him, politics as usual.

  • Claudia left Pilate and became a Christian. Pontius Pilate was supposed to be the Governor. No one could countermand his decress. “WHO is TRUTH?” Pilate knew. “BEHOLD THE MAN” “KING OF THE JEWS”. Pontius Pilate was filled with contempt, an arrogance so great, that even in the presence of God, Pilate could not humble himself. History gives us reasons for Pilate’s pride, self-preservation, Roman’s orders, the lack of and non-use of authentic authority, (a sin and crime of the High Priests). Jesus authenticated and empowered Pilate’s authority: “you would not have power over me if it had not been given to you from above” at this point Pilate could have assumed his authentic power given him from above and released Jesus and gone home and slept peacefully. Pilate could have given Jesus assylum, to prevent the High Priests from their crime, knowing that he was protected by heaven. The Romans did believe in gods. Our Creed says: “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.” The newer translation reads: “He suffered death and was buried”, leaving Pontius Pilate out. Pontius Pilate never assumed the sovereignty assigned to him.

  • The Romans did in 79AD, what Pontius Pilate ought to have done.

  • “For what it’s worth I have never bought Pilate as reluctant executioner.”

    I do. If Pilate had been concerned about Jesus he would not have had to have Caiaphas force his hand. The inscription on the Cross was a Roman custom of explaining why someone was being put to death. Rebellion against Rome was the only excuse that Pilate could think of to justify the execution. Having the inscription: “Innocent man executed so that the mob of Caiaphas does not revolt.” would not have gone over well either in Jerusalem or Rome. Caiaphas was doing this during Passover when Jerusalem was crowded with visitors and it wouldn’t have taken much to cause a revolt, and that was the main concern of Pilate.

    “My vote goes to Rod Steiger.”

    A fine performance although my vote goes for Richard Boone who portrays Pilate as a military man which I think is what he essentially was.

    “Claudia left Pilate and became a Christian.”
    A pious legend with no historical foundation.

    “Pontius Pilate was filled with contempt,”
    I think he was filled much more with incomprehension and “What is that sneaky rat Caiaphas up to now? What trap is he laying for me?”

    Of course one of the many interesting facts regarding Pilate is that his verdict was necessary for our salvation. I think that was what Christ was getting at in his refence to the power granted to Pilate. Pilate, a gentile, sentences the Jewish Messiah to death and thus unknowingly helps bring salvation to gentiles and jews.

  • I greatly admire Rod Steiger’s version, but I have to go with Shopov. I found the way that Gibson showed the duel between Pilate and Caiphas very effective. “He’s Herod’s subject.” But Herod sends him back. “OK, I might release Barabbas (think Charles Manson here, or any other mass murderer).” Caiaphas says, “Go ahead.” Then Pilate thinks, “OK, I’ll beat him half to death.” Then when he shows the much bloodied Jesus to the crowd, thinking that will surely be enough (it’s really bad, he’s nearly dead anyway, how could anyone want more?), Caiphas says “Kill him.” And Pilate has allowed himself to be pushed into a corner. He even tries the “Isn’t he your king?” path, also countered by Caiaphas with “We have no king but Caesar,” implicitly saying to Pilate, “Do you?” I though it was all brilliantly done. Many people were impressed by the courtesy Pilate shows Christ, but here I have to go with C. S. Lewis in “Screwtape”: Pontius Pilate was merciful, until it got RISKY. Pilate’s courtesy gains him nothing at all, and his cowardice loses him everything.

  • I liked Passion of the Christ for many reasons but two stand out for me. The scene of the resurrection at the end where the shroud is slowly deflating as the camera pans up to Jesus who so serenely walks out of the tomb. No flash light or roar of sound; just as if someone woke up. I think it must have been that way. God wouldn’t have needed showy effects.

    The other reason that stands out for me is the performance of Rosalinda Celentano as Satan, especially her scream of frustration when Jesus dies, signifying that our salvation is possible and Satan will now have to work for souls.

  • Donald R. McClarey:
    Having the inscription: “Innocent man executed so that the mob of Caiaphas does not revolt and taxes will no longer be sent to Rome.” Reads more like the truth.
    “Claudia left Pilate and became a Christian.”
    A pious legend with no historical foundation.
    Claudia was loving and supporting of Pilate when a centurion announced a rebellion. Pilate dumped Claudia and her dream and her truth and murdered an innocent man. I could live with incomprehension, but I could not live with a murderer of innocent blood. Pilate had Jesus before him, Pilate could have asked for pardon for himself. I go with the pious legend with no historical foundation, rather than believe that Claudia chose to remain with a murderer of innocent blood. Yuck. Can anyone imagine being touched by an unrepentant murderer?
    “Pontius Pilate was filled with contempt,”
    I think he was filled much more with incomprehension and “What is that sneaky rat Caiaphas up to now? What trap is he laying for me?”
    Pax Romana was a law that stated the everybody dies until peace is restored, irregardless of guilt or innocence. Perhaps, Pax Romana was how the Romans were enabled to crucify Jesus Christ. Pilate also had the authentic authority through Pax Romana to cleanse the temple of bloodthirsty rabble, the High Priests, the same way Jesus did and wipe out the Jews the way Rome did in 79A.D., long overdue. Pharisee has become another word for religious hypocrite.
    “Of course one of the many interesting facts regarding Pilate is that his verdict was necessary for our salvation.”
    Pilate, like Judas was free to exercise his free will, up until the day he, Pilate died. Judas, the Zealot, like Barabbas, wanted Israel free of the Romans. Pilate wanted to continue sending taxes to Rome. Wiping out the temple would have brought no taxes to Caesar. They all had a vested interest in seeing Jesus die.
    “ I think that was what Christ was getting at in his reference to the power granted to Pilate. Pilate, a gentile, sentences the Jewish Messiah to death and thus unknowingly helps bring salvation to gentiles and Jews.”
    I think Jesus Christ was establishing Pilates’ sovereign personhood, over himself, and his authority to rule, a source of complaint from Pilate. How Pilate ruled was all according to how Pilate exercised his free will and sovereignty. Even Scripture would have been written differently, if Pilate had used his free will and sovereignty to uphold Justice and respect an innocent man, Jesus Christ.
    Perhaps you have read it as it was in The Wanderer and can be found at JURISDICTIONARY website; a piece written by a judge who studied the trial of Jesus. It is called THE TRIAL OF JESUS. It, too, is very interesting.
    Say one Hail Mary for me, Donald, and thank you for this wonderful blog.

  • George Haberberger:
    The tear that fell from heaven was God mourning his only Begotten Son. God, Jesus Christ’s Father experienced every suffering and pain His Son experienced. “I and the Father are ONE. The Blessed Virgin Mary was there too, to receive all of God’s children into her heart before Christ descended into hell giving all mankind a choice: to stay with Mary or attend to hell with Jesus. Satan could not separate Jesus Christ from His Father to destroy the Triune God, which is what every evil doer ultimaltely is intent on doing.

  • “I go with the pious legend”

    People can believe what they wish Mary, but there is simply no historical support for that belief. Christianity is based in history, and I believe it is essential that we adhere to the historical record in this matter as in all matters.

    “Pax Romana was a law that stated the everybody dies until peace is restored, irregardless of guilt or innocence. ”

    Untrue. The Pax Romana, which was not a law, ultimately brought peace and prosperity to more people than any system before it, and more than most systems since it. A good book on the subject is Empires of Trust by Thomas Madden:
    http://www.amazon.com/Empires-Trust-Built-America-Building/dp/0525950745

    “Pilate also had the authentic authority through Pax Romana to cleanse the temple of bloodthirsty rabble, the High Priests, the same way Jesus did and wipe out the Jews the way Rome did in 79A.D., long overdue. ”

    First and only caution Mary. I am very sensitive to attacks on Jews. Any hint of anti-Semitism on the part of a commenter and I ban them. I do not believe that was your intent, but your words could be subject to that interpretation.

    The First Romano-Jewish War came to an end in 73 AD, so I am uncertain what your reference to 79 AD is. It was followed by two other wars involving rebellions by the Jews of Judaea in 115-117 and in 132-135. Jews always remained in Palestine so the Romans never succeeded in wiping them out, no matter how much they tried.

    “Pharisee has become another word for religious hypocrite.”

    The moral teaching of the Pharisees, and their belief in everlasting life and the resurrection, was the same as that of Jesus. Jesus attacked the Pharisees not for their teaching, but because they did not live up to it. Some Pharisees followed Jesus, most notably Nicodemus, who was also a member of the Sanhedrin. Jesus spares almost no time condemning the Saducees or the Romans, because they were so far from the Truth. The Pharisees were close to the Truth and hence the rebuke, as a father admonishes a cherished son.

    “Even Scripture would have been written differently, if Pilate had used his free will and sovereignty to uphold Justice and respect an innocent man, Jesus Christ.”

    Ah, but Christ had to die for our sins and He had already foretold his death. To what degree Pilate truly had free will in the matter, and to what extent he was merely, on this occasion, a tool in God’s hand is intriguing.

    “It is called THE TRIAL OF JESUS. It, too, is very interesting.”

    I believe I read it long ago Mary. The trial of Jesus is fascinating on any number of grounds: theological, historical, legal and many others.

    “Say one Hail Mary for me, Donald, and thank you for this wonderful blog.”

    Thank you for your kind words Mary. I have said a Hail Mary for you and I hope you will say one for me.

  • “The tear that fell from heaven…”

    I didn’t make that connection when I saw the movie but yes, it is a better metaphor than it just started raining.

  • I believe this was a key fear of the historical Pilate and he did not order the execution of Jesus until he decided that a revolt by the rent-a-mob of Caiaphas on Good Friday posed the far greater threat.

    I agree.

  • Donald: I am distressed that my words may be taken as anti-semitic. I have some Jewish blood in me. My words about Caiaphas are tempered by “to cleanse the temple of bloodthirsty rabble, the High Priests, the same way Jesus did.” Too many of my relatives perished in Poland helping the Jews. 73 AD it is. Historical facts only. God is before all ages and the Author of Holy Scripture. If Pilate had no free will, then Pilate would be innocent of Christ’s blood, but if Pilate was the only person who had the authority to have Jesus crucified…? The best thing I can say about Pilate is that his was a lost vocation. It is Good Friday and I am laughing trying to defend my ignorance of so much. I only ask for a Hail Mary as I am saying a Hail Mary for the petitioned.

  • George Haberberger: All rain drops are tears from heaven. The ocean is an ocean of God’s tears, but sometimes, the ocean is full of Our Lady’s tears. Mary was still walking the earth so this tear was God, the Father’s tear.

  • “Donald: I apologize”

    Don’t worry about it Mary. I do not, especially on Good Friday.

  • Donald: Thank you and a Happy Easter

  • Happy Easter to you and your family Mary!

  • I watch The Passion of the Christ at least once a year. I have seen it several times and am amazed what a fine piece of celluloid it is. It is not a script put to screen; it’s a meditation. It is tribute to classical Christian art.

    There are so many little details to appreciate in each scene, like the many visual connections between scenes. For instance, Jesus at The Last Supper pulling back the napkin to reveal the bread in the basket which will become his body. The scene cuts immediately to the soldiers pulling Jesus’ cloak off to reveal his body. And some of the easier ones to spot, like Jesus looking at the soldier’s sandal and thinking of the night he removed the sandals of the Apostles to wash their feet.

    Hristo Shopov did it just right. One thing I appreciated about his performance was his body language, especially facial expressions. It might be because the film was in a dead language, but his motions really added to the role. I don’t think Pilate was ho-hum disinterested; I believe he would have rathered not have had to deal with the hand he was dealt. But, he had to and so he did.

  • Hristo Shopov plays Pilate two times. The second time in the 2006 movie ‘The Final Inquiry’.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hristo_Shopov

  • Thank you RB2, I was unaware of that.

  • As my brother blurted out during The Movie on Good Friday evening, “Best Pilate EVAH.”
    I believe it may be the Coptic tradition that honors both Claudia and Pilate as saints. God’s mercy is an ocean I’d like to fall into.

Screen Pilates: Barry Dennen

Wednesday, April 4, AD 2012

Continuing a series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began last year during Holy Week.  The figure of Pontius Pilate has always intrigued me. The fifth Prefect of Judaea, Pilate looms large in the Gospels. His name Pilate indicates that his family was of Samnite origin. Pilate is mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus as having condemned Jesus. In 1961 a block of limestone was discoved at the site of Caesarea Maritima, the Roman capital of Judaea, bearing an inscription of Pilate dedicating a Roman theater there. That is almost all we know about Pilate outside of the Gospels, Josephus and Philo. Pilate today would be forgotten, instead of being the best known Roman who ever lived, but for his role in sentencing Jesus.

Last year we looked at Rod Steiger’s portrayal of Pilate in Jesus of Nazareth, here, and at Richard Boone’s in The Robe, here.  Next up is Barry Dennen in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973).

It would take many posts for me to detail how much I disliked Jesus Christ Superstar, which for me symbolized much of what was wrong in the world in the late sixties and the seventies.  Taking pride in being historically inaccurate and a mishmash of ancient and modern, the play and film was just as confused theologically and totally divorced from traditional Christianity.  Jesus is portrayed as petulant, weak and indecisive, a depiction which might be blasphemous if it had more thought behind it.  However, amidst all of the dross there are a very few high points, and Dennen’s performance  is the best of these.

The video at the beginning of this post depicts the sequence where Pilate has a dream about the upcoming trial of Jesus.  Historically, it was Pilate’s wife who had a dream about Jesus:  [19] And as he was sitting in the place of judgment, his wife sent to him, saying: Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.   (Matthew 27:19)  Pilate in each of the Gospel narratives is portrayed as very reluctant to have Jesus executed, mystified as to why Caiaphas had Jesus brought to him, and wary that Caiaphas was seeking to shift the responsibility for the death of Jesus over to him.  The dream of his wife was just what Pilate needed to give him a foreboding that this was not merely a routine execution, but a matter of extreme importance that he could not fathom.  The song brings all of this out quite well.

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9 Responses to Screen Pilates: Barry Dennen

  • I loved this movie when I was a little teenybopper, chiefly because my friends and I thought Ted Neely (who played Jesus as an indecisive hippie) was cute. I agree that Dennen was good in the role.

    It seems that playing Jesus in JCS has become Neely’s life-long meal ticket. A few years ago I was downtown with a friend (who happened to be one of the girls I went to see JCS with when we were 8th graders) and we saw a notice for Jesus Christ Superstar starring Ted Neely playing at a local theater. Now you would think that playing the role of Jesus has a definite built-in age limit, and is automatically off limits to someone eligible for AARP card, but apparently not. (The makeup artist has quite a job on his/her hands.) My friend spotted the sign first and said to me with astonishment “Is Neely entering Jerusalem seated on a wheelchair?”

  • BTW, the nuns in pantsuits played JCS for us in religion class, which is one reason my generation’s knowledge of the Faith is so lacking – we were listening to rock operas and making “God’s Eyes” with yarn and popsicle sticks in religion class instead of learning unfun stuff like the catechism.

  • I get confused when I read the word “Judea”.
    The Jews considered Palestine their home land and Palestine is in Judea.
    Jerusalem is where Jesus is from and that’s part of Palestine?

    I know I have that wrong.

  • The Jews considered Judaea their homeland with Jerusalem as its capital. Palestine was a term used by Egyptians, Greeks and later Romans for designating the land between Syria and Egypt, the boundaries of this area being indistinct. The Jews ruled various parts of this area throughout their history. At the time of Christ this area was ruled by Rome through a bewildering combination of local rulers and direct Roman rule.

  • JCS had a black Judas right at the beginning berating Jesus for going passively to His Cross. It portrayed the cynical Jewish establishment in Caipahas with his deep sepulchral voice. A movie like that would be unusual today.

  • Ivan: Jesus Christ is the TRUTH. If Judas and Caiphas did not trust the TRUTH, they were damned by their own free will.

  • This Pilate exhibited anger and jealousy. Anger because Jesus did not submit to his views and perhaps because Pilate was victim bashing as Jesus caused an uprising. Jealousy because Jesus remained in sovereign control of Himself. Jesus said that God was “far away” and this is a very limp way of describing the kingdom of God, for Jesus in the Gospels says that the kingdom of God is at hand. “My kingdom is not of this world” is not heard either. I never saw JCS but the idea that God is far, far away almost unreachable, sure does sow despair.

  • Donna V.: My daughter got to paint a “pet rock” with which she was instructed to converse. (First year Catholic high school). The cildren are still making “God’s eyes” out of popsicle sticks instead of learning the “unfun” catechism, but now the chidlren are doing this after having been removed from the Sunday Mass.

  • If Judas and Caiphas did not trust the TRUTH, they were damned by their own free will.

    Maybe so, but who is this mysterious entity: “the one with the greater guilt” in the Passion narrative. The one without whose “power from above” Pilate could not act. Surely it cannot be small greasy fries such as Annas and Caiphas or even the Emperor in Rome. In St John’s Gospel more so than in the others Jesus Himself is orchestrating the proceedings with perfect symmetry to a certain end. The only choices I can think of for that mysterious being are Satan or God Himself. Against such powers what are puny human beings?

Report to the Emperor-First Draft

Friday, April 22, AD 2011

ecce-homo

 (I post this each year on Good Friday.)

I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report.  The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security.  Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet.  I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome.  Let us take the Jew by surprise for once!

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7 Responses to Report to the Emperor-First Draft

  • Yes, from all that we know about Pilate, he had the same lack of squeamishness when it came to executions as most Romans, so his reluctance to condemn Jesus is haunting.

    As part of my Good Friday meditations, I intend to read selected passages from Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’s fine book “Death on a Friday Afternoon,” which had a great impact on me when I returned to the Church in 2005.

    One observation Fr. Neuhaus made that always haunts me is that the very tall cross common in Christian art is an invention of the Middle Ages. The real Cross was probably around 7 feet tall (that makes sense when you think about it. Wood is a more precious commodity in the rocky, sandy Mediterranean countries than it was in lushly forested Northern Europe. From the Roman POV: why waste such a resource dangling criminals high overhead when it was just as effective to raise them a foot or so above the ground?) That meant that when Mary and John stood she was actually face to face with her Son. As Fr. Nuehaus put it “The sweat, the blood, the tearing tendons, the twitching, the wrenching, the bulging eyes – she would have seen it all quite clearly, as clearly as she saw him so long ago when she held him safely to her breast.”

  • Saint Remigius, the Apostle to the Franks, was instructing King Clovis of the Franks prior to his baptism about the Faith. He had just described the crucifixion. Clovis was greatly affected by this. Clutching his battle ax, he said, “If only my Franks and I could have been there! We would have avenged the wrongs done to our God!” That has always struck me as a very Catholic reaction when we recall the agony of Christ on the cross and the agony of the Blessed Virgin in having to watch this agonizing death of her beloved Son.

  • “We adore You, Christ, and we bless You. Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.” A prayer said before each of the Stations of the Cross.

    The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, The Crucifixion, pray for the grace of final perseverence. Meditate on the love (for us unworthy sinners) which filled Our Lord’s Sacred Heart during His three hours’ agony on His Holy Cross. And, pray that Jesus be with you at the hour of death.

    Contemplate the sword which pierces Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart when she met jesus on His way to Calvary; and as she stood by Him as he was crucified for our sins and salvation, and as the Body of Jesus was laid in the tomb.

    “We adore You, Christ, and we bless You. Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.”

  • Clutching his battle ax, he said, “If only my Franks and I could have been there!”

    Ah, Clovis. Now there’s a character. Got to love the guy.

    Back when I was a teen, my Dad did both Gregory of Tours’ History of the Frank and Njal’s Saga as family read alouds. Man, you don’t get converts like those anymore…

  • Thanks for this Don.
    The links you give provide a quite fascinating insight into not only corroborative accounts of the events of our Easter celebration, but also of the personalities, their histories and their associates, and the various historical intrigues that influenced and guided their actions.

    For example, I had heard and unconfirmed story many years ago that it was possible that Pilate had later become a convert to Christianity at the insistence of his wife; that would appear to be a bit of pious bunkum.

  • “Man, you don’t get converts like those anymore…”

    Another favorite vignette from the conversion of Clovis:

    “Remigius addressed the king by a name on which the noblest among the Franks prided themselves,—”Sicambrian, gently bow thy neck, worship that which thou hast burnt, and burn that which thou hast worshipped.”

  • Thank you Don. The legends that grew up about Pilate and his wife are endless with people eager to fill in what history simply left blank.

Screen Pilates: Richard Boone

Thursday, April 21, AD 2011

Richard Boone

 

The second of our series on screen portrayals of Pontius Pilate is Richard Boone in the film The Robe (1953).  ( The portrayal of Pilate by Rod Steiger in Jesus of Nazareth (1977), the first in our series, is reviewed here.)  Descended from a younger brother of Daniel Boone, Boone, a Navy veteran of the Pacific during World War ii, studied acting on the GI bill.  Boone assayed the role of Pilate only three years into his career, but he already had the three traits that made him stand out as an actor:  a commanding presence, a deep gravelly voice and an ability to suggest that a character he is portraying is not as simple as we think at first glance.  Boone went on to be a western television star in the hit show Have Gun Will Travel (1957-1963) in which he played Paladin, a West Point graduate who fought for truth and justice in the old West, as long as his $1,000.00 fee was paid.  Boone portrayed Paladin as a well-educated man who would often draw upon his knowledge of history to win the day.  It was the favorite show of a very small Donald McClarey and no doubt helped inspire a love of history in me.  Here is the Paladin theme song which could be sung by almost all schoolboys in the early Sixties:

Alright, that is quite enough Memory Lane!  Back to the task at hand.   Go here to view the video clip of Boone as Pilate.  We see Pilate washing his hands.  Tribune Gallio, portrayed by Richard Burton, has been ordered to report to Pilate.  Gallio is being summoned back to Rome.  However, Pilate has one task for him to perform before he leaves.  A routine assignment, the execution of three criminals.  One of them is a fanatic, who has a following and Gallio is told by Pilate to bring enough men to deal with trouble.  Pilate gives these orders in a clipped military style, wasting not a syllable.

Then, the unexpected happens.  Pilate confesses, almost talking to himself, that he had a miserable night, bedeviled by factions and no one agreeing with anyone, with even his wife having an opinion. (“Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night, I suffered much on account of him.”). Pilate then shakes off his reverie, and wishes Gallio good luck.  He then asks a slave to bring water to wash his hands, and is reminded that he has just washed his hands.

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18 Responses to Screen Pilates: Richard Boone

  • “Have gun. Will travel.” Pretty much says it all: solve a ton of problems. Great line for a business card.

    I watched that on TV when I was a kid, too.

  • I liked Gunsmoke better. Marshall Dillon did his job for free. As for Boone, not bad as Pilate. Victor Mature was an underrated actor, too. Liked him in Samson and Delilah. Not to threadjack but this could make an interesting topic, Don: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42215497/ns/us_news-life/
    The U.S. bishops apparently back a new Bible translation that’s PC, which is another reason I have trouble being a Catholic. Whatever happened to tradition?

  • “Marshall Dillon did his job for free.”

    Nope. Dillon did it for his government salary. I always preferred deputy Festus on that show, one of the great comedic television creations.

  • Well, it wasn’t a grand, Don. Palladin was mercenary.

  • As for some bishops making fools of themelves Joe, a cursory look at Church history would demonstrate that has been a problem from the beginning, yet the Church has endured for 20 centuries.

  • “Palladin was mercenary.”

    No, he was a better negotiator than Dillon.

  • Actually Dillon would have received $90.00 a month, not a bad salary in 1870. (A Union private made $14.00 a month during the Civil War and Army privates in WW2 made $50.00 a month in combat pay.) Deputies like Festus made zip in salary. They got six cents a mile when they were out pursuing a fugitive and got $2.00 a head when they brought in a prisoner. (Festus was being ripped off.) Of course this does not include the “cuts” that law enforcement routinely got in the West from businesses to “supplement” their salaries. The Long Branch alone each month could have brought in several hundred dollars more to Dillon. That would explain the reason why he spent so much time in there, leaving aside the beer and the charms of Miss Kitty! 🙂

  • “…the Church has endured for 20 centuries.”

    Don, there are many religions that precede Christianity. Here are scores to pick and choose from:

    http://meta-religion.com/World_Religions/Ancient_religions/ancient_religions.htm

  • Very few religions have begun Joe with their founder being put to death as a criminal. Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, is the only one I can think of offhand, but his religion has been a casualty of Time, the fate of most religions. Christianity has been written off as dead time and again, and the movements that proclaimed it dead have usually suffered the same fate as Manichaeism. Christianity is unique in its long term success when it began with so many initial disadvantages: no religion of a peculiar nation, no control of a powerful nation, up against well-established religions, the subject of bitter persecution from its inception, its ranks drawn disproportionately from the poor and humble and the list could go on at considerable length.

  • Granted, Don, but claimed uniqueness, which is refutable, does not necessarily confer validity. There’s no gainsaying Christianity’s staying power. However, consider that the Virgin Birth was typically an Eastern idea that had been familiar from Egypt to Mesopotamia for at least 2,000 years, and nearly all the prophets and wonder-workers who swarmed in the vast and murky region had been “sons of the gods.”

    Equally, the idea of Atonement was also Eastern, as was that of Original Sin and the Resurrection of the Body. Christianity, then, was in large part a syncretism, an outgrowth of Judaism, which accepted, on the one hand, a concept of immorality that came from the East, and, on the other, a concept of God that gradually become almost more Greek than Jewish.

    Nor can one ignore the constant rewrites of Scripture (which continue to this day) as theologian after theologian looked for new interpretations of old texts. By the 4th Century, Jerome was saying that there were “as many readings as texts.”

    Augustine, Origen, Irenaeus, Cyprian. Justian differed widely on meanings and matters and we are to be content with Tertullian’s “I believe because it is incredible.” Clearly a sign he began life as a lawyer, as HL Mencken quipped. (with all due respect, my barrister friend).

    While 20 centuries old, it wasn’t under 325 a.d. that the Church picked up steam by establishing the divinity of Jesus, purging it of the Arian heresy, and getting the house in order. Three centuries prior there was free-for-all chaos. More than anyone perhaps, Christianity owes its durability to Constantine, who gave it status as an official faith.

    The 17 centuries that followed resist analysis in this short space, but suffice it to say that theological shifts were seismic, resulting in a Church today that bears little resemblance to what was merely another Jewish sect from the start.

    I leave for now with this quote from Eric Hoffer: “Though ours is a godless age, it is the very opposite of irreligious. The true believer is everywhere on the march, shaping the world in his own image. Whether we line up with him or against him, it is well we should know all we can concerning his nature and potentialities.”

  • Because you live in Illinois, Don, I have to share a parody song to the tune of the PALADIN theme that a U of I classmate made up in the 60’s:

    Champaign-Urbana is the name of a town,
    A place without honor on a prairie mound.
    The flicks they are lousy but the girls oh-boy,
    Sodom and Gomorrah of the State of Illinois.

    Illinois, Ilinois, Why are we here?
    To get PhD’s and drink more beer.

  • First rate Sandra! We sang similar parody songs at the U of I in the Seventies when I attended, although none of them to the tune of Paladin, and most of them with lyrics that should not be mentioned on a family friendly blog! 🙂

  • “Virgin Birth was typically an Eastern idea that had been familiar from Egypt to Mesopotamia for at least 2,000 years, and nearly all the prophets and wonder-workers who swarmed in the vast and murky region had been “sons of the gods.””

    Yep Joe and such concepts were anathema to Jews. Hence the ferocious attacks on the early Christians by some Jews who viewed them at best as heretics and at worst as pagans. Now ask yourself this question Joe, “Why would the Jews gathered around Jesus come up with such ideas about Jesus unless they were doing their best to explain a reality that their co-religionists would find shocking?” By doing this they subjected themselves to immense persecution and exile from their own people. Conversely, why would non-Jewish early Christian converts join with Jews to worship a dead Jew unless they were convinced by the testimony of the Apostles as to what they had seen? The fact that the pagans used similar concepts does nothing to explain the success of Christianity in its earliest stages.

    “Equally, the idea of Atonement was also Eastern, as was that of Original Sin and the Resurrection of the Body.”

    Atonement is a concept equally at home in Judaism Joe. As to the resurrection of the body, the Pharisees held to it generations before Christ and the pagans found it to be absurd. As to Original Sin, that is a purely Jewish concept. The Greeks had the idea of an original golden age, but that concept was not the same as Original Sin, as can be seen by the Greek cyclical view of history and a return to the Golden Age here on Earth. The poets of the time of Augustus thought that he was beginning a return to a Golden Age, and hence the “messianic” quality of some of that poetry which some of the early Church Fathers thought was an unconscious prelude to the birth of Christ.

    “Nor can one ignore the constant rewrites of Scripture (which continue to this day) as theologian after theologian looked for new interpretations of old texts. By the 4th Century, Jerome was saying that there were “as many readings as texts.””

    No Joe here we disagree. Most differences in the text are rather minor. Considering the number of books in the Bible, it is amazing how well the texts of these books, overall, have been transmitted, Bart Ehrman and other hysterics on the subject notwithstanding.

    A good article critiquing Ehrman is linked below.

    http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2006/03/misanalyzing-text-criticism-bart.html

    “While 20 centuries old, it wasn’t under 325 a.d. that the Church picked up steam by establishing the divinity of Jesus”

    Completely untrue Joe. Christ was worshipped as God from the beginning. It was the Arians who were the innovators. Of course all we have to do is to look at the Gospels to see Christ referring to himself as “I AM”, which clearly idicates that Christ claimed to be God. The Council of Nicaea was merely reflecting the traditional belief of the Catholic Church.

    “but suffice it to say that theological shifts were seismic, resulting in a Church today that bears little resemblance to what was merely another Jewish sect from the start.”

    No Joe, in its essentials the Church is the same today as the Church that gathered around Christ at the first Mass that we commemorate on Holy Thursday.

    In regard to Eric Hoffer, I have a fondness for the late longshoreman philosopher, but he was mistaken about living in a Godless age. All times are God’s whether humans recognize it or not.

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  • Great Apologetics, Don.
    I’ll have you on my team anytime 🙂

  • Thank you Don. I am sure you have a very able team indeed.

  • Joe Green, with all due respect there is no religion that predated Christianity. True religion was the worship of the One God, and the Redeemer to come that began with Adam and Eve. God revealed more to Noah, Abraham, and Moses. But it was the same religion. The Hebrews of the Old Testament (and some non-idolatrous gentiles, like Job) believed in a Savior to come. We Catholic, true Christians, believe in a Savior who has come, and still abides with His Church, our Emanuel. The words “synagogue” and Church “ecclesia” mean the same thing in Greek and Hebrew. The Church was prefigured in the Old Testament in which all the rituals and sacrifices were a sign of what was to come in the one sacrifice that would actually atone for the sins of the world. Thus the Baptist identifies Christ as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

    I realize that you already know this and so much more, but you are confusing the aberrations of false religions, which were corruptions of the true, with the true religion revealed by God. Some Jewish leaders in the 12th century (Moses Maimonides among them), in their determination to undo Christianity, changed their own dictionaries to render the word “alma” to mean “young woman” instead of “virgin.” Thus, they rejected their own greatest scholars who translated the Hebrew scriptures in to Septuagint Greek in the 3rd century BC. These scholars translated Isaias 7:14 as “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Emanuel.” And, too, why would the apostle Matthew, a Jew, use this text as proof of Jesus being the Messiah, if “alma” meant “young woman”? What scandal it is that the New American Bible mistranslates this passage based on a defective Hebrew dictionary, whose authors deleted the primary meaning of the word “alma.”

  • Brian, with all due respect, I suppose it depends on one’s definition of “religion.” which Webster’s firstly says is “the service and worship of God or the supernatural.”

    Before Christ it is incontrovertible that humans worshipped or otherwise acknowledged divinities, real or imagined. Whether they be “true” or “false” is another matter.