Adrian Gibb
Adrian Gibb

Project Title: Priest by Proxy: An examination of the symbolism of hand washing by Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of Matthew and the early apocryphal sources

Principal Advisor: Associate Professor Rick Strelan

Project Abstract: Is there an extra dimension to the hand washing scene as found in the Gospel of Matthew? As well as the commonly held assumption that the scene was designed to exonerate the Roman Prefect and place blame for the crucifixion of Jesus away from Rome, was there a conscious effort by the author of Matthew to make Pilate officiate over a pious Jewish sacrifice, taking the authority away from the assembled Temple hierarchy who have abrogated their rights to do so? By shifting the view that the scene of hand washing was a conclusion to the previous act of condemnation by Pilate, but seeing it rather as a prelude to what I will argue is a Matthean motif, the perceived sacrifice of the lamb of God in Jesus, the hand washing takes on a purification aspect, along with the already well established notion of it being an exonerating tool. I will examine the hand washing scene and its symbolism in the context of the Jewish Scriptures and the early Apocryphal sources such as the Gospel of Peter and the Acta Pilatii.

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