Poll one hundred non-Biblical scholars and ask, "What is the name of Pontius Pilate's wife?" Probably none will be able to answer. Pilate's wife is only mentioned in this one reference and without her name. She sent her husband the message as it is pictured in the movies with her standing behind a column watching Jesus before Pilate. Presumably Jesus appeared before Pilate in the Antonia Fortress (later the Praetorium) at the northwest corner of the Temple perhaps on Good Friday before he was nailed to the cross at Golgotha. The Romans placed great stock in dreams. They believed that they were sent from heaven as gifts and warnings that were not to be ignored.
Almost two decades ago, my wife Linda, was asked to read at her church on Palm Sunday the message in Matthew 27 about the trials of Jesus. She became curious as to the name of Pilate's wife and began her quest at a nearby Greek Orthodox church where the resident scholar admitted his faith celebrates on October 27 a feast day in celebration of Claudia Procula. The faith believes she became a Believer in Jesus and that her life passed in peace. Linda began a quest to learn more about this woman and what she learned is tremendously fascinating. She learned that Claudia and Pilate both are celebrated on July 25 by the Coptic Church of Ethiopia, which believes they both became Christians.
Claudia Procula was the granddaughter of the Great Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar. She was technically a Roman princess and the daughter of Augustus' daughter Julia. Julia was reported to have had many lovers and it is probable that Claudia was an illegitimate child. She grew up in Norbonne, France about twelve miles from the Mediterranean Sea. This was a Roman outpost in what was then called Gaul. It is not known when she met and married Pilate, who was from an old Roman family and an equestrian in the Roman Cavalry. Possibly the connections of Claudia led Pilate to the governorship of the Roman province of Judea from 26-36 AD. Her influence with Augustus further allowed her to live in Judea with her husband. This was not allowed in other cases by Augustus.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Josephus, the eminent Jewish historian, wrote that Pilate had an encounter with some rebellious Samaritans and it ended with some deaths. Pilate was recalled to Rome to report on the issue to the Emperor Tiberius, who died enroute, and when Pilate arrived, Caligula was the new Emperor. It is reported that Pilate was dealt with very harshly and was exiled. In those days if a man was exiled, he faced disgrace and the loss of his wealth, leaving his family destitute. An alternative was to commit suicide, which allowed the family's reputation to be unaffected. This act was not interpreted as one of despair, but one of calculated courage by Pilate.
There are two mountains in Europe named for Pilate and it is speculated that he fell to his death from one of them: Mt. Pilate in France, south of Lyon and Mt. Pilatas, southwest of Lucerne in Switzerland.
Almost two decades ago Linda began her lay ministry by researching women of the Bible and it has evolved to where today she performs dramatic presentations of the Bible in period costumes she has researched and sews herself. These are done at churches and women's groups. She considers her drama on Claudia to be her flagship performance. Her website is at http://voices.name.
This Holy Week we can recall no words more important than those reported in Matthew 27:54 (NIV): "When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, 'Surely he was the Son of God.'"
Assuredly He was and is today, we are convicted of that, and because of that belief, our lives have been changed forever!