The Wife of Pilate by Patrick Henry Reardon

The Wife of Pilate

Since the story of Pilate’s wife is found only in the Gospel of Matthew (27:19), it seems reasonable to examine it specifically through the perspective of Matthew. What function is served by that very short narrative in that particular Gospel?

Commentators have remarked that Pilate’s wife, a Gentile woman who pleads the innocence of Jesus (“that just man”) serves as a literary foil to the Jewish leaders who clamor for his crucifixion (27:23). This comment is surely accurate, but it does not indicate a larger context, nor an intention specific to Matthew.

Indeed, this is the sort of story we might more readily have expected in Luke. The latter, after all, is rather preoccupied with showing that the Rom . . .