Are all the scenes in the film in the Bible?
No. Some of the scenes come from Sister Anne Emmerich's mystical visions of Jesus' life, and others are scenes Mel Gibson created using artistic license. Some examples:

The devil figure that lurks throughout the movie is not in the Gospels. The figure first appears in the Garden of Gethsemane. From beneath the figure's robe, a serpent slithers toward Jesus, praying face-down on the ground. When Jesus stands, he crushes the head of the serpent with his foot. Later, the figure watches Roman soldiers sadistically beat Jesus and walks among the crowd as Jesus carries the cross. At one point, the evil figure and Mary, the mother of Jesus, engage in a face-off, a kind of contest of spiritual wills.

Another difference from the Bible is Mary's role. In Gibson's film, she appears at Jesus' trial, mops up his massive blood loss after his beating, and follows him to Calvary. Twice, when Jesus can no longer carry the cross, Jesus sees Mary and draws strength from her to continue. None of these scenes occurs in the Gospel accounts.

Another scene not in the Bible shows a woman with a white cloth gently pressing it upon Jesus' bloody face. This woman is Veronica, a legendary figure who appears in the traditional Catholic "Stations of the Cross." She does not, however, appear in the Bible.

Yet another is Jesus' beating. Gibson's film has two Roman soldiers beat Jesus with two different types of whips, tearing chunks of flesh from his body. But the beating is mentioned only briefly in the Gospels. Matthew and Mark record only these words, "having scourged Jesus," Pilate delivered him to be crucified. Luke has no Roman beating. John says only that "Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged."

In addition, one scene has demonic children tormenting Judas into hanging himself.

Is Pontius Pilate's wife a character in the Bible?
Yes, though she is alluded to only once (Matthew 27:19); she sends a message to her husband about Jesus, "Have nothing to do with this righteous man--I have suffered much in a dream because of him. Gibson is using artistic license here -- in the film Pilate and his wife have several conversations about what he should do.

What was Pontius Pilate Really Like?
Pontius Pilate was appointed governor or procurator of Judea by the Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar in 26 A.D. Although his official residence was in Caesarea Maritima, the Roman capital of Judea, it is plausible he would have spent the Passover season in Jerusalem to maintain order.

According to his historical contemporaries, Pilate was a harsh and violent ruler. The Jewish philosopher Philo and the Jewish historian Josephus both describe Pilate as a strong ruler whose determination to impose Roman rule and customs brought him into frequent conflict with the Jewish community. In at least two of these cases, appeals to the Emperor - or the threat of such appeals - forced Pilate to reverse himself.

Philo describes Pilate this way: "he was a man of a very inflexible disposition, and very merciless as well as very obstinate." According to Philo, Pilate feared his Jewish subjects might ultimately appeal to the Roman emperor because of "his habit of insulting people, and his cruelty, and his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned, and his never ending, and gratuitous, and most grievous inhumanity.


According to Josephus, Pilate was recalled to Rome in the year 37 to defend himself against accusations he had ordered the slaughter of a large number of innocent Samaritans, gathered for a religious purpose. By the time Pilate reached Rome, the emperor Tiberius had died. No record of Pilate's fate remains.