Saturday, July 26, 2008


I am reminded today of a great classic comedy show from the mid 1950's to 1964. It was the Danny Thomas Show called "Make Room For Daddy" It starred of course Danny Thomas and his original wife was actress Jean Hagen(she was the mother in Walt Disney's "The Shaggy Dog") Jean quit in 1956 and was replaced by actress Marjorie Lord who played Danny's new wife Kathy Williams. Well, Dear Danny died in 1991 of a heart attack, but today is Marjorie Lord's 90th birthday-- imagine that. Angella Cartwright who played Linda, Sid Melton who played "Uncle Charley" and Pat Carroll (she did the voice of Ursula for Disney's "Little Mermaid") are still alive. Rusty Hamner who played the wise cracking kid killed himself in 1990 and Hans Conreid ("Uncle Tonoose") died in 1982. Also in the show was Bill Dana ("Jose Jimenez") and Gale Gordon who played Danny's new landlord. It was delightful. Happy Birthday, Marjorie. I also found out that Marjorie performed on tape and CD a letter that was written by the wife of Pontious Pilate-- written after the crucifixion-- while she was in exile. Her name was Claudia. You might remember that it was Pilate's wife who sent the great "hand washing" governor a note about Jesus that basically said "I have had a dream-- have nothing to do with the fate of this just man". I have read that Pilate became a slave of Caligula-- but have never been able to confirm that.In the New Testament, the only reference to Pilate’s wife exists in a single sentence by Matthew. According to the Gospel of Matthew 27:19, she sent a message to her husband asking him not to condemn Jesus Christ to death: ‘While Pilate was sitting in the judgment hall, his wife sent him a message: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night, I suffered much on account of him.”[1] Pilate did not heed his wife’s warning.
The name "Claudia" only appears once in the New Testament, in 2 Timothy 4:21: ‘Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia send their greetings, and so all the other Christians’. However, there is nothing to suggest that this Claudia was Pilate's wife.
Origen's second century Homilies on Matthew suggest that she became a Christian, or at least that God sent her the dream mentioned by Matthew so that she would become one.This interpretation was shared by several theologians of Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Rival theologians contended the dream was sent by Satan in an attempt to thwart the salvation that was going to result from Christ's death.Pontius Pilate's wife is mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Pilate(Gospel of Nicodemus, probably written around the middle of the 4th century),which gives a more elaborate version of the episode of the dream than Matthew.The name Procula derives from translated versions of that text. The chronicle of Pseudo-Dexter (1619) is the first place known where she is referred to as Claudia.
Procula Claudia is recognized as a saint in two churches within the Eastern Christian tradition: the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, she is celebrated on October 27th. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrates Pilate and Procula together on June 25th A letter, purportedly written in Latin by Pilate's wife from "a little Gallic mountain town" several years after Pilate left Jerusalem, was first published in English by Pictorial Review Magazine in April 1929.The English version of the letter was provided by writer Catherine Van Dyke and it states that Pilate's wife successfully sought Jesus' aid to heal the crippled foot of her son Pilo. Pilate's wife has been featured in literature, theater, film and television.Charlotte Brontë wrote the poem "Pilate's Wife's Dream" in 1846. The Biblical scholar Paul Maier, in Pontius Pilate: A Biographical Novel attempts to take what is known from the documented record and from there construct a fictional narrative as connective material. Maier refers to Pilate's wife as "Procula" arguing that the name "Claudia" only comes from a later tradition.Novels inspired by Pilate's wife include The Bride of Pilate (1959) by Esther Kellner and Pilate's Wife: A Novel of the Roman Empire (2006) by Antoinette May. Both books use the name Claudia, and May's book depicts her parents as Roman aristocrats related by blood to Emperor Augustus. In theater, the life of Pilate's wife has been the subject of the dramas “A Play for Easter” by Jewell Ellen Smith and “Claudia Procula” by Curt M. Joseph. The Andrew Lloyd Weber-Tim Ricestage musical Jesus Christ Superstar and the subsequent film version omits Pilate's wife and gives the dream about Jesus to her husband in the song Pilate's Dream.In films, Pilate's wife was called “Proculla” in the 1927 Cecil B. DeMille epic The King of Kings Majel Coleman played the role. Other notable cinematic references include Barbara Billingsley in the 1954 Day of Triumph, Viveca Lindfors in the 1961 King of Kings (where she is identified as the daughter of the Roman emperor Tiberius), Jeanne Crain in the 1962 Italian film Ponzio Pilato, and Angela Lansbury in the 1965 epic The Greatest Story Ever Told) In the 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ she is known as Claudia Procles (played by Claudia Gerini). In this film, she fails to lobby her husband to save Jesus and consoles Jesus' mother Mary, while Mary Magdalene generously hands them towels to clean up the blood from his scourging.Amazing stuff, folks, amazing stuff! This all sounds like it could make one amazing musical.

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