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Pontius Pilate: A Novel Paperback – July 12, 1995

4.6 out of 5 stars 176 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The presentation of the Roman and Jewish political situation is absolutely first rate and historically accurate. (Blockhead Journal 2004-06-03)

A book to be read with eagerness and talked about with enthusiasm. (Atlanta Constitution-Journal 2004-06-03)

A serious historical study treated so well that it is difficult to drop the volume once begun. (Boston Sunday Globe 2004-06-03)

A startling, impressive book, daring in concept. . . praiseworthy and dramatic. (Minneapolis Tribune 2004-06-03)

A tremendous story. . . of cineramic splendor. In drama, romance, color, scope, and depth, this novel is comparable only to Ben Hur, The Silver Chalice, and The Robe . (Christian Herald 2004-06-03)

Tremendously rewarding reading. (Christianity Today 2004-06-03)

Unique in biblical novels. . . [ Pontius Pilate ] raises the genre of the historical novel to a plateau it has rarely reached. (Chicago Daily News 2004-06-03)

We commend this book as an exciting supplement to the New Testament itself. (Moody Magazine 2004-06-03)

About the Author

Paul L. Maier is the former Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History (retired) at Western Michigan University and an award-winning author whose expertise in first-century studies and extensive travels in the Middle East and Asia Minor provide historical authenticity and compelling drama to his writing. His other writings include the ECPA Gold Medallion Award-winning volume Josephus: The Essential Writings, as well as The Flames of Rome, and the best-selling novel, A Skeleton in God’s Closet.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications; 2nd edition (July 12, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0825432960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825432965
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Wormley on December 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
Paul Maier, a nationally recognized teacher of History broke ground with this classic historical biography of Pontius Pilate.
This book taught me more about the New Testament than 20 undergraduate and graduate classes in Biblical Studies.
Rejecting the carelessness that dominates the genre of historical fiction, Dr. Maier created his own genre which could be called "documented historical fiction". He adopts 3 rules,
1) He doesn't invent characters and only uses names of real people 2) He uses information in the primary sources whenever possible and only speculates on plot features where the sources are lacking. 3) He includes documented footnotes for a great number of events in the life of Pilate, these not only lead you to the primary sources, they also give the author's justification for how he interprets them and incorporates them into the story.
If you want to read the Christ story from a new perspective, this book will give you an eyewitness account from the eye sockets of one of the key players in Christ' life. You will understand the political background to the New Testament and gain a new appreciation for how the miraculous events in Jesus ministry were interpreted.
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Paul Maier does an excellent job in this historical novel of being true to the facts where they are available, and being believably fictional in places where there are no facts available. This book traces the career of Pontius Pilate in Roman administration, his prefecture in Judea before, during, and after Christ. Highly researched and with full reference notes. I think the book is more guided to the student of history than of religion, but it will fit on both shelves.
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Two thousand years ago, there was a trial that changed history. Jesus Christ was dragged before the Roman politician who had to make the fateful choice that would place the Messiah on the cross. Who was this man, Pontius Pilate? What was life really like in those days, what political forces shaped events of that moment?
***** Paul Maier does an excellent job of exploring these questions in his novel that was published decades ago, but due to the timelessness of the subject, has held up well over the years. Pilate's choices are seen as both political and perhaps even divine necessity as the day that will become Good Friday unfolds. With the use of real figures and well researched customs, Dr. Maier sweeps readers back two millenia. Calling it fiction is almost an insult, because it is so very realistic. One complaint is that there is not a sequel exploring Pilate's wife, a woman who stands beside Caeser's wife in fascination.
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This is the kind of book one can hardly put down, reads eagerly, and is sorry when it's finished. Maier is clearly a scholar, who has included as much historical data as can be found (from a variety of sources), and has plausibly interpreted gaps in the record. He draws an interesting picture of first-century life in Rome and Palestine, and makes the reader aware of events that otherwise might have escaped notice. Throughout, he realistically weaves elements of the life of Christ from different points of view, especially Roman, and one comes away from the book with the impression of how the emergent Christian faith appeared to people of that era. For both people of faith and those without, this account provides a fascinating vantage point, and is worth reading as fiction, as history, as an adjunct to belief, or all three.
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I thought this book would be all fact, but it is a novel at heart. Pilate is new territory for me, so I didn't realize how little information there was on him.

The fiction is painted with a larger brush than the facts to complete the picture and to Mr. Maier's credit, he is very specific about when, how, and why he includes the made up sequences.

As a Seminary student, I am very picky about keeping fact seperate from fiction. What is great about Dr. Maier's book is the documentation he has done. An excellent addition to my bookshelf.
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The Author, Dr. Paul Maier is a Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University. In 1968, he wrote the book for which he is perhaps best known for, "Pontius Pilate: A Novel". I first read this book in 1979, and it has been on my bookshelf ever since, as I will not part with it. I have always been intrigued by Pontius Pilate, especially in his role as prefect of Judea and the infamous trial of Jesus of Nazareth. What kind of man was he? Are there historical records that might indicate what he thought and what he did before he was mentioned in the Bible? Dr. Maier answers these questions, and much more, in this very engaging historical (fiction) novel on Pilate.

Pontius Pilate is mentioned in several historical writings besides the Bible, and it is in these that Dr. Maier crafts the life of the man who condemned Jesus to death. Dr. Maier leans heavily on Josephus's, "Antiquities of the Jews", and "The Jewish War". Other sources of Pilate include Philo of Alexandria, Tacitus' Annals of Imperial Rome, and in writings of the early church fathers. Using these historical sources, and of course the four Gospel accounts, Dr. Maier constructs Pilate's life, centering on his time in Judea, and then afterwards, when he was called back to Rome. (Very little is known of Pilate's life before his Roman service).

The book is written in Pilate's point of view, which certainly engages the reader, and gives the unique perspective of a Roman who had little interest, (much less faith) in the Jewish religious traditions. Pilate's job was to govern the Jews of Judea, a difficult task at best, as they despised Roman rule. The impression the reader gets is that Pilate despised (perhaps "loathed" is the definitive word) the very people he governed. Being a historian, Dr.
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