Scala/Art Resource, NY

Pilate, enthroned (top, center), considers the case against Jesus (top, far left) presented by the high priest Caiaphas (with white beard, middle left) in this sixth-century illuminated collection of the Gospels, in Greek, from Rossano, Italy. In the bottom register, Judas (center), feeling remorse for having betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, beseeches Caiaphas to take the money back: “I have sinned,” he says, “I have brought an innocent man to his death”; but the high priest, turning away, rejects his overture: “What is that to us? It is your concern” (Matthew 27:4). Judas then hangs himself from a tree (bottom right).

Flanking Pilate’s throne in the top scene are two square imperial standards bearing pictures of the Roman emperor Tiberius. History, though not the Gospels, records that Pilate’s open display of imperial imagery offended his Jewish subjects and got him in trouble with his Roman bosses (see “The Dark Side of Pilate”).