In the Creed in English we see the mention of Jesus having suffered and died 'under Pontius Pilate' . In my native language Malayalam, the counterpart reference says ' in the days of Pontius Pilate' and that appears to be a direct translation from Syriac language. My question is: how did the original texts of the Creed relate of role of Pontius Pilate in the Passion and death of Jesus ?

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    Does this related question provide any insights ? christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/46301/…
    – Lesley
    Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 16:37
  • Do you mean the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed? I added the Apostles' Creed tag but realize I may have misunderstood your intent. Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 18:05
  • Just curious, but if it is the Apostles' Creed that is the subject of this question, does the original text exist? Or are you looking for additional source information that explains how the first Christians viewed the relationship of Pontius Pilate and Jesus?
    – Lesley
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 7:20
  • If Jesus was crucified under Pilate, whom was he crucified by ? The Acts (2:36) does'nt mince words where Peter says: "Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Perhaps , the writers of the Creed did not want to accuse the Jews any more of Jesus's death. Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 15:43
  • By the way, Procula, wife of Pontius Pilate is revered as a saint in the Eastern Orthox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church ( Courtesy: Wikipedia ) . Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


I found an excellent article showing the precursors of the Apostle's creed with translations in the original Greek, Latin, and English. It appears that the Pontius Pilate reference was unchanged, and the translation variations between "under Pontius Pilate" and "in the days of Pontius Pilate" don't change the meaning, which is simply to fix the historical time of Jesus's suffering aligned to the current governor of the region at the time (just like saying that the atomic bombs were dropped under President Truman), without explicitly laying the blame exclusively on the Roman authorities, the Jewish authorities, or both.

In other words, the creed serves as merely a faith SUMMARY and points us to the Gospels to find out more on how exactly was Jesus condemned to die. This is because the creed's function was to help believers know the key tenets of the "official" Christian faith so they are not misled by non-orthodox variations ("heresies") that were still competing for allegiance at the time. Given that the heresies during the first 2 centuries were NOT about how Jews vs. Rome were to blame, but rather the nature of the Trinity, the humanity/dvinity of Jesus, and the status of the Old Testament, etc. I think it's doubtful that the original author of the creed phrased "under Pontius Plate" because they didn't want to accuse Jews anymore of Jesus's death, especially because in later centuries, many Christians DID STILL blame the Jews severely for their role in crucifying Jesus. See this article for more discussion on the origin of the creed.


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