Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 May 2007
In the climactic trial scene of Matthew's Gospel, Pontius Pilate stands over Jesus and, having washed his hands, declares himself innocent of ‘this man's blood’. This shorter reading is found in most modern translations and critical editions and is supported by many of the best manuscripts. It has been the preferred reading ever since Wescott and Hort. Prior to then, however, a longer reading was preferred by the majority of scholars. It reads ‘I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man’. It too is found in many of the best manuscripts, but for the last century has been all but ignored by scholarship. This internal investigation will show why it is finally time to give the longer reading a second glance.