pilate, pontius

Cultural Dictionary
Pilate, Pontius [(pon-shus peye-luht)]

The governor of the Jews at the time of the Crucifixion of Jesus; he was an official of the Roman Empire, to which the Jewish nation belonged at that time. According to the Gospels, Pilate did not consider Jesus guilty and wanted to release him. Under pressure from the crowds in Jerusalem, however, Pilate sentenced Jesus to death on the cross, having first washed his hands to indicate his lack of responsibility for Jesus' fate.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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