The most interesting takes on Christianity are sometimes on Jewish sites. There you can come across observations of changes in the New Testament portrayal of the character Pontius Pilate. When you see it, and figure out why it happened, it’s not Christianity’s proudest moment.
Pilate, as we all know, was a ruthless ruler placed by Rome over the Jews. By all accounts, his assignment was to keep order, collect money from the Jews and send it to Rome.
Some government records of Pilate have survived. Records show a large number of executions, some nearly everyday he ruled.
Secular people who look at this history without its religious back story easily conclude executing a Jesus was likely just another day at the office. A brief hearing, kill this guy, next case.
Pontius Pilate, however, was treated better and better in Christianity as time moved on. In Mark, the first Gospel written, he simply executed Jesus. In the next book written, Luke, Pilot says this man is not guilty.
In Matthew, Pilate washes his hands of the Jesus matter and its all the Jews’ fault. In John, Pilate is so nice to Jesus he leaves it to the Jews to kill him. A century later, Christian writing has Pilate becoming a beloved Christian.
All this was a marketing strategy. The Romans were potential converts, the Jews could be thrown under the bus.
The late Robert Runie, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote, “It would have been better for the moral health of Christianity if the blame had stayed with Pilate.”