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 . . .

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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