A large portion of this episode, putting aside historical inconsistencies, did not even happen in the Bible. Pilate, as an example, is not heard from after the passion narrative. So him being present at the Pentecost celebration in the temple (and more on that in a minute), arguing with Herod during a song and dance? Nowhere in the Christian Bible.
Herod (who, in the Bible, is Herod Antipas) did not ride in to Jerusalem after the Passover celebration. In fact, Herod is already in Jerusalem in Luke 23:7-15, as Pilate sends Jesus to Herod before sentencing. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ even includes this scene in the movie. There are some strange things going on in this episode.
Also not in the Bible? Priests being assassinated, the guards at the tomb being executed, both because they were looking to “eliminate witnesses” to the resurrection, Herod being concerned with all the Roman guards, let alone questioning Pilate for it, not once is any of this mentioned. Oh, and let’s talk about how unlikely it would have been for Mary to be able to sneak into the prison to see them, let alone what that would have meant for her freedom. And it says nowhere in the New Testament that Peter had a daughter, let alone that she was involved, in any way, with the first followers and ministry of Jesus. That is a later tradition.
Now, all this aside, Herod enters Jerusalem, but this is something he would not have done as he was responsible for Galilee and Perea. When Antipas’ father, Herod the Great, died, he left his kingdom of Judea in the hands of his sons. Aside from Antipas, his brothers Herod Archelaus ruled Judea (which included Jerusalem) and Herod Philip II, who ruled Decapolis. Each would have been called a “tetrarch“. In 6 CE, however, Augustus, who had to ratify Herod the Great’s decision for the split of rule among his sons, deemed Archelaus incompetent and he was replaced with a prefect. That prefect happened to be, in this instance, Pontius Pilate. So, the whole “this is my Temple,” nonsense Herod goes on about, not only is it nowhere in the Bible, it is nowhere in history either. He also, very likely, never heard about a peasants execution nor worried about how it was handled.
Herod also makes mention of the Pentecost and how Jews were “flooding the streets”. First, Pentecost is a Greek name for the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot. This holiday, for the Jewish faith, takes place on the sixth day of Sivan, which is late May, early June. Passover, the holiday when Jesus would have been executed, takes place on the fifteenth day of Nisan, which goes from March into April. Given how close together these events appear to happen in this series, it appears extremely unlikely that anything like this would have happened.
One thing they get right, at least historically, is that, when Caiaphas is addressing the crowd, he does so in Hebrew. Pilate asks what he is saying, as he would have understood Latin, and perhaps some Greek, but not Hebrew. This is a welcome correction from Gibson’s Passion when Jesus, the illiterate Jewish peasant, starts speaking in Latin to Pilate when he interacts with him.
Finally, we have a moment when we return to what is actually in the Bible when the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples and they all start speaking different languages. Even when they exit their hiding place and are met by a crowd. While historically unlikely, given how high a profile they are assumed to have had and concerns of being identified, that is actually in the Book of Acts. Caiaphas has John and Peter arrested, which is also in Acts. The beating is not in there, but their arrest is. Sadly, that is it.
Given how this episode played out, I am expecting high-speed car chases and space invaders in the next episode. Perhaps a few phrases found in Acts or the writings of Paul along with it. In other words, I think the producers took a lot of creative licensure with the story; both historically and biblically in this episode.
(Image: “Pentecote” by Jean Il Restout, via WikiMedia)