Foto Marburg/Art Resource, NY

Pilate is likened to Daniel, on another fourth-century C.E. sarcophagus from the Arles Antiquities Museum. Pilate sits in the upper right corner of the relief, mirroring the pose of Daniel, who, in the upper left corner, interrogates one of the elders who has brought a wrongful accusation against the virgin Susannah. In a pseudepigraphal addition to the Old Testament Book of Daniel (known as the Book of Susannah), the virtuous Susannah, having been spied on by two lusty elders while bathing, is unjustly accused by the elders of adultery in retribution for having spurned their sexual advances. Just to the right of the central medallion in the relief, on the top row, the elders peer from behind trees at the virgin, who reads a scroll of law. Only Daniel believes Susannah’s side of the story and rises to defend her. His words—“I want no part in shedding this woman’s blood” (Additions to Daniel 46)—were thought by early church fathers like Hippolytus of Rome (third century) to foreshadow Pilate’s words in Matthew—“I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matthew 27:24). Interrogating the old men separately, Daniel finds that their stories don’t match, and they are stoned to death for their lie (top row, middle left). The relief also depicts the sacrifice of Isaac (top, left of center) and, from left to right in the bottom register, three Hebrew youths refusing to worship an idol of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel in the lions’ den, the passage through the Red Sea, and Miriam and the Israelites setting out for the Promised Land. The central medallion depicts the deceased couple buried in the sarcophagus.