During the trial of Jesus, the gospel accounts focus a great deal on a “larger-than-life” character named Pontius Pilate. Luke referred to him as the Roman governor of Judea during the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1).
Do we have evidence for Pontius Pilate outside the biblical texts?
In 1961, archaeologists discovered a plaque fragment at Caesarea Maritima, an ancient Roman city along the Mediterranean coast of Israel. The plaque was written in Latin and imbedded in a section of steps leading to Caesarea’s Amphitheatre. The inscription includes the following:
“Pontius Pilatus, Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius.”
Emperor Tiberius reigned from 14 to 37 AD. This matches the biblical timeline that records Pontius Pilate ruling as governor of Judea from 26 to 36 AD.
Cornelius Tacitus, a well-known first century Roman historian, also mentioned Pontius Pilate in one if his well-known texts:
“Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus…” (Annales, Historiae, Chapter 15, paragraphs 54 and 55)
Not only does Tacitus mention Pontius Pilate outside the biblical record, but he mentions him in the historical context of Christ (Christus).