The Flogging of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel

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Used by permission: Society for the Study of Early Christianity (SSEC)

This conference proceeding may be accessed from the publisher here.

At the time of writing Norman Young was affiliated with Avondale College as a Senior Research Fellow.


The Fourth Gospel’s (FG) account of Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate has some affinities with Mark and-to a lesser degree-with Luke’s narrative; but overall, John marches according to his own drum-beat. The most obvious difference between the FG’s account of the Roman Trial and the Synoptics is their length. The FG devotes 593 words to its account (18.28-19.16) of the trial compared with 338 words for Matthew (27.11- 31), 265 for Mark (15.1-20), and 252 for Luke (23.1-5, 13-25). However, a more startling difference is the FG’s positioning of the scourging and the Roman soldiers’ mocking of Jesus in the midst of Pilate’s investigation of the charges against Jesus. Matthew and Mark place these events at the end of Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus, just prior to his being handed over to be crucified. In contrast the FG situates them in the midst of Pilate’s inquiry, that is, as scene four (John 19.1-3) of the seven scenes that form the FG’s trial narrative. Thus John distances the scourging and the troops’ mockery from Pilate’s handing Jesus over to be crucified. Why does he do this? He does it for dramatic effect: so as to forcefully portray the abused, pitiable, and mocked Jesus, as indeed being the true King (Messiah) of Israel. Hence the FG’s remarkably frequent use of basileu/j and basilei/a in its trial narrative.


Young, N. H. (2014). The flogging of Jesus in the fourth gospel. Paper presented at the Society for the Study of Early Christianity Conference, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Retrieved from

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