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At Matthew 27: 19 we see the advice given to Pilate by his wife during the trial of Jesus:

While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.

Had Pilate acceeded to the advice his wife, Jesus could not have accomplished His Mission. Was it possible that the dream of Pilate's wife had been induced by The Enemy? What is the take of Catholic Church on the dream of Pilate's wife?

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  • This sounds like a "What if" question. Christ knew he would be crucified, he didn't for example say. " I will go to Jerusalem, and unless Pilot heeds the advice of his wife, there is a good chance I may die and on the third day be raised"
    – Marc
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 12:55
  • Did the answer satisfy your question?
    – J. Tate
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 13:55

3 Answers 3

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There are a few speculations on what exactly this verse means. St. Thomas Aquinas compiled gospel commentaries of Church fathers in the Catena Aurea. I have copied the relevant comments from the Catena below:

Raban.: It is to be noted, that the bench (tribunal) is the seat of the judge, the throne (solium) of the king, the chair (cathedra) of the master. In visions and dreams the wife of a Gentile understood what the Jews when awake would neither believe nor understand. Jerome: Observe also that visions are often vouchsafed by God to the Gentiles, and that the confession of Pilate and his wife that the Lord was innocent is a testimony of the Gentile people.

Chrys.: But why did Pilate himself not see this vision? Because his wife was more worthy; or because if Pilate had seen it, he would not have had equal credit, or perhaps would not have told it; wherefore it is provided by God that his wife should see it, and thus it be made manifest to all. And she not merely sees it, but "suffers many things because of him," so that sympathy with his wife would make the husband more slack to put Him to death. And the time agreed well, for it was the same night that she saw it.

Chrys., Hom. iii, in Caen. Dom.: Thus then the judge terrified through his wife, and that he might not consent in the judgment to the accusation of the Jews, himself endured judgment in the affliction of his wife; the judge is judged, and tortured before he tortures.

Raban.: Or otherwise; The devil now at last understanding that he should lose his trophies through Christ, as be had at the first brought in [p. 942] death by a woman, so by a woman he would deliver Christ out of the hands of His enemies, lest through His death he should lose the sovereignty of death.

Chrys.: But none of the foregoing things moved Christ's enemies, because envy had altogether blinded them, and of their own wickedness they corrupt the people, for they "persuaded the people that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus."

Gloss., non occ.: Pilate is said to make this answer, "Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?" either to the message of his wife, or the petition of the people, with whom it was a custom to ask such release on the feast-day.

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  • Notice that in the second paragraph, it is supposed that God supplied the vision but in the third paragraph, the devil.
    – J. Tate
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 14:52
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To some extent your question is ill posed in that the Catholic Church has very few formal or official interpretations for scriptural passages, rather the interpretation of scripture is an ongoing and developing field as opposed to a dogmatic body of teachings.

Generally, however, the Church recognizes that there are multiple senses of the scripture, viz. the literal (Antiochian) and allegorical or spiritual (Alexandrian) senses. The allegorical sense can be further broken down into the anagogical (moral) and eschatological senses. In addition there are three main guideposts that are often pointed to: read the bible with respect to context and unity, take into account the living traditions of the Church, and understand the text in a manner that accords with the deposit of faith. It is worth noting that St. Augustine thought that so long as one interpreted the sacred scriptures in accordance with charity (L. caritas), then one could not err in any significant way, in fact the end would be the same.

Thus, you are likely to find as many points on your question as there are Catholics. It could be that the dream could have interfered with the divine economy, on the other hand it may be that no thing could have possibly interfered and that God sent the dream so that the Pilate would be accountable for his actions, i.e. he could not claim a lack of culpability. Ultimately, whatever twists history may take, the divine plan is always in the hands of God.

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    Commented Apr 2 at 3:07
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According to Venerable Maria of Algreda who wrote The Mystical City of God, which recounts her apparitions of Our Lady who told her basically her life story from preconception to Coronation. This book also has the explicit approval and endorsement of several popes since it was written, but is not canonical.

During the part of the Passion, she clearly defines and relays the dream of Pilate’s wife being from the devils.

Why this makes sense.

Pilate’s wife was a pagan like her husband. While we see conversions of Romans throughout Jesus’ story, the idea that a high ranking pagan wife would have suddenly had a conversion dream given by God, would be more difficult to believe with the contrary evidence presented. (Namely the Blessed Virgin presenting the counter narrative in a vision). Also, his wife states “she suffered many things in a dream.” While God will sometimes allow us to suffer to bring us closer to Him, He doesn’t typically torture us into believing. This distressing supernatural dream is either of demonic origins or the truth of the dream troubled her conscience.

In the book, Mary also states that Satan was having doubts about Jesus and even tried to change the mind of Judas by appearing as an old man, telling him Jesus may cast spells on him and retaliate if he goes through with the betrayal. Maybe Judas should wait a bit longer to be sure. But Judas ignored him and proceeded. When Satan failed with Claudia and Judas, he unleashed his full wrath and malice on Jesus by inciting the soldiers.

This doesn’t however necessarily mean she wasn’t saved. There have been those who have been scared into conversion after a frightful encounter with the devil where the veil over evil is removed. (See Nefarious).
As for Pilate, he committed suicide some years later. So the likelihood that he was saved isn’t great.

Why I believe the book.

While not dogmatic, there’s nothing in this book that goes against scripture or Catholic Tradition in terms of belief. Ven Maria of Algreda lies incorrupt in Rome. The Virgin Mary in the vision also referred to herself as “The Immaculate Conception”, which at the time was still controversial. Now that it has become dogmatic, it would seem to lend to the credibility of the account.

The controversy.

Why isn’t she a saint? Apparently politics were involved. Partly because of a badly translated Spanish version that was released, also partly to her being a woman, led one pope to even condemn the work as heresy. This issue was later resolved and several popes after had affirmed her work. But despite being incorrupt and venerable, no pope since has retaken up her case for sainthood.

Final case.

So the decision comes down to do you believe in your own (and others) that says Pilate’s wife was just and had a holy dream, or the account vision of the Virgin Mary which states demons tortured her in a dream in an effort to hold off on Jesus’ execution until they could be more certain he wasn’t the Son of God who would offer salvation to all those who believed and followed.

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