The Gospels say that the wife of Pilate was with her husband in Judea at the time our Lord was condemned. Strauss affirms this to be a clear error, for we know, he says, from history, that the Governors were strictly forbidden to take their wives with them to the place of their government, and Augustus allowed them to visit their husbands only during winter. It is quite true that such a prohibition existed, and was acted up to certainly, during the Commonwealth, as also that Augustus endeavoured to enforce it strictly [Suetonius, Augustus 24] during his reign, but it is equally true that he did not succeed. In the time of Tiberius the contrary custom was introduced. Thus when Augustus died, Germanicus had his wife Agrippina living with him in Germany, [Tacitus, Annals 1.40, 41] and he took her with him to the east, in the beginning of Tiberius’ reign. [Tacitus, Annals 1.54] At the same period we see Plancina, the wife of Piso, Prefect of Syria, accompanying her husband. [Tacitus, Annals 1.55] And in the fourth year of Tiberius, Caecina proposed to the Senate to forbid all governors to adopt this usage, but the Conscript Fathers refused to hear him. [Tacitus, Annals 3.33, 34] Strauss also draws his pen through that part of the Gospels which mentions the presence of Herod, and the Roman Governor at Jerusalem, during the Passion; because it was unusual for the tetrarchs to be there, and Caesarea, the seat of the latter’s government, he considers, was too distant to allow of his presence at the capital. But Josephus [Antiquities 19.7.3] draws a special contrast between the Herod in question and others of that name, and tells us expressly that “he sympathized with his countrymen in all their troubles, and therefore took pleasure in constantly living at Jerusalem, strictly observing all the customs of his nation.” The historian [Antiquities 18.5.3] also affirms that the Procurators were constantly in the capital at the Passover. In fact, the great concourse of people to the holy city at that time made their presence there almost a necessity. The insubordinate temper of the Jews at this period was very marked, and it was always most likely to show itself at the great feast. Thus Cumanus stationed an armed cohort in the porticoes of the Temple during the Pasch, to suppress any riot which should take place, “and this the Governors of Judea before him had adopted.” [Antiquities 20.4.3] On this very occasion a tumult occurred in which twenty thousand Jews perished. This feverish state of the capital at the Passover is alluded to more than once in the Gospels. “But they said, not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.” [Matthew 26.5; Mark 14.2; Luke 22.2-6] Now if these two events, the fact of Pilate’s wife being with her husband, and the presence of Herod and the Governor at Jerusalem, are apparently so unlikely that their explanation escaped Strauss and others, notwithstanding all the knowledge of the time which we now possess, how incredible does it appear, that writers of the second century, if such the Evangelists were, could risk the insertion of such circumstances in their narrative!
Arthur J. Yates, “Some Intrinsic Evidences of the Gospels’ Genuineness,” The Month: A Catholic Magazine and Review 52 (1884), pp. 225-26.