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Pontius Pilate

Roger Caillois. Translated by Charles Lam Markmann, with an introduction by Ivan Strenski
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BUY Cloth · 144 pp. · 5 × 8 · ISBN 9780813925516 · $25.00 · May 2006

If you thought you knew all there is to know about Pontius Pilate and Jesus, this little book has some surprises for you. In this "greatest story never told," Pontius Pilate finally gets a chance to tell his side of the story, filling in what the Bible left out. For someone who made one of the most momentous decisions of all time, we know almost nothing about him. Who was this man who sentenced Jesus to death? What went through his mind as he weighed the alternatives? Was he a villain or a victim of circumstance? If we can imagine Pilate as our contemporary, what would we have done in his place?

Written by one of France's great men of letters of the twentieth century, Pontius Pilate is a highly provocative and psychologically gripping novel that reconstructs Pilate's state of mind in deciding to convict Jesus. Taking his place alongside the authors of other such "sacred fantasies" as Nikos Kazantzakis (The Last Temptation of Christ) and Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), the surrealist Roger Caillois conjures countless plausible dramas of the "what ifs" that might have played out inside Pilate's mind during the final twenty-four hours before he decided Jesus's fate. Transgressive, disconcerting, and original, Pontius Pilate provides a fascinating opportunity to contemplate the mind of a man who, with one decision, arguably changed the course of human history. It explores the interplay of politics and conscience, fundamentalism and cosmopolitanism, and fanaticism and pragmatism--themes even more compelling today than they were forty-some years ago when the book was originally published.

With an introduction by the religion scholar Ivan Strenski, this new American edition of Charles Lam Markmann's original English translation (published in 1963 and long since out of print) makes available once again for the English-language reading public a remarkable work of intelligence, wit, and imagination. Pontius Pilate offers an engaging and climactic read for anyone interested in the interplay of religion and culture and in the mysteries of this pinnacle moment in the biblical narrative.

About the Author(s): 

Roger Caillois, 1913-1978, philosopher, writer, and Académie française laureate, was the author of numerous works of anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, art, and literary criticism, and the cofounder, with Georges Bataille, of France's College of Sociology for the Study of the Sacred. Ivan Strenski is Professor and Holstein Endowed Chairholder in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and the author or editor of several works, including Contesting Sacrifice and Thinking about Religion.

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