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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Ecce Homo

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ECCE HOMO.—‘Behold, the man!’ (ἰδοὺ ὁ ἄνθρωπος or ἴδε ὁ ἄνθρωπος) (John 19:5) was the utterance of Pilate when our Lord came forth wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. We may believe that the words were spoken to excite the pity of the Jews. Pilate had given over our Lord to be scourged, and had allowed his soldiers to robe and crown Him in mockery, but all the time he was anxious to save Him from death; and there was undoubtedly an appeal to the compassion of the bystanders in the words, ‘Behold the man.’ Probably it was to mock the Jews that the soldiers had robed and crowned Him who was said to have claimed to be their king; and Pilate himself, we can see, was not unwilling to deal somewhat scornfully with them. But he does not seem to have looked scornfully, he rather looked pitifully, on our Lord Himself. And when he said, ‘Behold, the man!’ he was, as it were, pointing out that Jesus had suffered enough. But although Pilate’s words were those of a weak but not wholly unfeeling man who wanted to move to pity those whom he was afraid to send angry and revengeful from his judgment-seat, he was really, although all unconsciously, paying an act of homage to our Lord. ‘Ecce Homo.’ He was bidding men look to the perfect man, the incarnate Son of God, men’s perfect example, their Divine yet most truly human Redeemer.

The scene of our Lord’s appearing in the crown of thorns and the purple robe is naturally one to appeal to artists; and many great pictures, notably one of the greatest and most striking of modern times (by Munkacsy), have borne the title ‘Ecce Homo!’

Ecce Homo is also the title of a very notable book by the late Sir John Seeley. The book cannot be discussed here. It deals with the manhood of our Lord in an original and striking way, and does not deny, although it does not discuss, His Divinity.

Literature.—Comm. on passage cited; Seeley, Ecce Homo; Knox Little, Perfect Life (1898), p. 140; R. J. Campbell, City Temple Sermons (1903), 50; Rosadi, Trial of Jesus; Farrar, Christ in Art, p. 384 ff.; art. ‘Christusbilder’ in PRE [Note: RE Real-Encyklopädie fur protest. Theologic und Kirche.] 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] .

Geo. C. Watt.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Ecce Homo'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/e/ecce-homo.html. 1906-1918.

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