Early Church Fathers
Part I.-The Acts of Pilate
Prologue.-I Ananias, of the propraetor's body-guard, being learned in the law, knowing our Lord Jesus Christ from the Holy Scriptures, coming to Him by faith, and counted worthy of the holy baptism, searching also the memorials written at that time of what was done in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the Jews had laid up in the time of Pontius Pilate, found these memorials written in Hebrew, and by the favour of God have translated them into Greek for the information of all who call upon the name of our Master Jesus Christ, in the seventeenth year of the reign of our Lord Flavius Theodosius, and the sixth of Flavius Valentinianus, in the ninth indiction.1
All ye, therefore, who read and transfer into other books, remember me, and pray for me, that God may be merciful to me, and pardon my sins which I have sinned against Him.
Peace be to those who read, and to those who hear and to their households. Amen.
In the fifteenth year2 of the government of Tiberius Caesar, emperor of the Romans, and Herod being king of Galilee, in the nineteenth year of his rule, on the eighth day before the Kalends of April, which is the twenty-fifth of March, in the consulship of Rufus and Rubellio, in the fourth year of the two hundred and second Olympiad, Joseph Caiaphas being high priest of the Jews.
The account that Nicodemus wrote in Hebrew, after the cross and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour God, and left to those that came after him, is as follows:-
Having called a council, the high priests and scribes Annas and Caiaphas and Seines and Dathaes, and Gamaliel, Judas, Levi and Nephthalim, Alexander and Jairus,3 and the rest of the Jews, came to Pilate accusing Jesus about many things, saying: We know this man to be the son of Joseph the carpenter, born of Mary; and he says that he is the Son of God, and a king; moreover, he profanes the Sabbath, and wishes to do away with the law of our fathers. Pilate says: And what are the things which he does, to show that he wishes to do away with it?4 The Jews say: We have a law not to cure any one on the Sabbath; but this man5 has on the Sabbath cured the lame and the crooked, the withered and the blind and the paralytic, the dumb and the demoniac, by evil practices. Pilate says to them: What evil practices? They say to him: He is a magician, and by Beelzebul prince of the demons be casts out the demons, and all are subject to him. Pilate says to them: This is not casting out the demons by an unclean spirit, but by the god Aesculapius.
The Jews say to Pilate: we entreat your highness that he stand at thy tribunal, and be heard.6 And Pilate having called them, says: Tell me how I, being a procurator, can try a king? They say to him: W do not say that he is a king, but he himself says that he is. And Pilate having called the runner, says to him: Let Jesus be brought in with respect. And the runner going out, and recognising Him, adored Him, and took his cloak into his hand, and spread it on the ground, and says to him: My lord, walk on this, and come in, for the procurator calls thee. And the Jews seeing what the runner had done, cried out against Pilate, saying: Why hast thou ordered him to come in by a runner, and not by a crier? for assuredly the runner, when he saw him, adored him, and spread his doublet on the ground, and made him walk like a king.
And Pilate having called the runner, says to him: Why hast thou done this, and spread out thy cloak upon the earth, and made Jesus walk upon it? The runner says to him: My lord procurator, when thou didst send me to Jerusalem to Alexander,7 I saw him sitting upon an ass, and the sons of the Hebrews held branches in their hands, and shouted; and other spread their clothes under him saying, Save now, thou who art in the highest: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.8
The Jews cry out, and say, to the runner: The soils of the Hebrews shouted in Hebrew; whence then hast thou the Greek? The runner says to them: I asked one of the Jews, and said, What is it they are shouting in Hebrew? And he interpreted it for me. Pilate says to them: And what did they shout in Hebrew? The Jews say to him: Hosanna Membrome Baruchamma Adonai.9 Pilate says to them: And this hosanna, etc., how is it interpreted? The Jews say to him: Save now in the highest; blessed is he; that cometh in the name of the Lord. Pilate says to them: If you bear witness to the words spoken by the children, in what has the runner done wrong? And they were silent. And the procurator says to the runner: Go out, and bring him in what way thou wilt. And the runner going out, did in the same manner as before, and says to Jesus: My lord, come in; the procurator calleth thee.
And Jesus going in, and the standard-bearers holding their standards, the tops of the standards were bent down, and adored Jesus. And the Jews seeing the bearing of the standards, how they were bent down and adored Jesus, cried10 out vehemently against the standard-bearers. And Pilate says to the Jews: Do you not wonder how the tops of the standards were bent down, and adored Jesus? The Jews say to Pilate: We saw how the standard-bearers bent them down, and adored him. And the procurator having called the standard-bearers, says to them: Why have you done this? They say to Pilate: We are Greeks and temple-slaves, and how could we adore him? and assuredly, as we were holding them up, the tops bent down of their own accord, and adored him.
Pilate says to the rulers of the synagogue and the elders of the people: Do you choose for yourselves men strong and powerful, and let them hold up the standards, and let us see whether they will bend down with them. And the elders of the Jews picked out twelve men powerful and strong, and made them hold up the standards six by six; and they were placed in front of the procurator's tribunal. And Pilate says to the runner: Take him outside of the praetorium, and bring him in again in whatever way may please thee. And Jesus and the runner went out of the praetorium. And Pilate, summoning those who had formerly held up the standards, says to them: I have sworn by tile health of Caesar, that if the standards do not bend down when Jesus comes in, I will cut off your heads. And the procurator ordered Jesus to come in the second time. And the runner did in the same manner as before, and made many entreaties to Jesus to walk on his cloak. And He walked on it, and went ill. And as He went in, the standards were again bent down, and adored Jesus.
And Pilate seeing this, was afraid, and sought to go away from the tribunal; but when he was still thinking of going away, his wife sent to him, saying: Have nothing to do with this just man, for many things have I suffered on his account this night.11 And Pilate, summoning the Jews, says to them: You know that my wife is a worshipper of God, and prefers to adhere to the Jewish religion along with you. They say to him: Yes; we know. Pilate says to them: Behold, my wife12 has sent to me, saying, Have nothing to do with this just man, for many things have I suffered on account of him this night. And the Jews answering, say unto Pilate: Did we not tell thee that he was a sorcerer?13 behold, he has sent a dream to thy wife.
And Pilate, having summoned Jesus, says to Him: What do these witness against thee? Sayest thou nothing? And Jesus said: Unless they had the power, they would say nothing; for every one has the power of his own mouth to speak both good and evil. They shall see to it.14
And the eiders of the Jews answered, and said to Jesus: What shall we see? first, that thou wast born of fornication; secondly, that thy birth in Bethlehem was the cause of the murder of the infants; thirdly, that thy father Joseph and thy mother Mary fled into Egypt because they had no confidence in the people.
Some of the bystanders, pious men of the Jews, say: we deny that he was born of fornication; for we know that Joseph espoused Mary, and he was not born of fornication. Pilate says to the Jews who said that he was of fornication: This story of yours is not true, because they were betrothed, as also these fellow-countrymen of yours say. Annas and Caiaphas say to Pilate: All the multitude of us cry out that he was born of fornication, and are not believed; these are proselytes, and his disciples. And Pilate, calling Annas and Caiaphas, says to them: What are proselytes? They say to him: They are by birth children of the Greeks, and have now become Jews. And those that said that He was not born of fornication, viz.-Lazarus, Asterius, Antonius, James, Atones, Zeras, Samuel, Isaac, Phinees, Crispus, Agrippas, and Judas15 -say: We are not proselytes, but are children of the Jews, and speak of the truth; for we were present at the betrothal of Joseph and Mary.
And Pilate, calling these twelve men who said that He was not born of fornication, says to them: I adjure you by the health of Caesar, to tell me whether it be true that you say, that he was not born of fornication. They say to Pilate: We have a law against taking oaths, because it is a sin; but they will swear by the health of Caesar,16 that it is not as we have said, and we are liable to death. Pilate says to Annas and Caiaphas: Have you nothing to answer to this? Annas and Caiaphas say to Pilate: These twelve are believed when they say that he was not born of fornication; all the multitude of us cry out that he was born of fornication, and that he is a sorcerer, and he says that he is the Son of God and a king, and we are not believed.
And Pilate orders all the multitude to go out, except the twelve men who said that He was not born of fornication, and he ordered Jesus to be separated from them. And Pilate says to them: For what reason do they wish to put him to death? They say to him: They are angry because he cures on the Sabbath. Pilate says: For a good work do they wish to put him to death? They say to him: Yes.
And Pilate, filled with rage, went outside of the praetorium, and said to them: I take the sun to witness17 that I find no fault in this man. The Jews answered and said to the procurator: Unless this man were an evil-doer, we should not have delivered him to thee. And Pilate said, Do you take him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews said to Pilate: It is not lawful for us to put any one to death. Pilate said: Has God said that you are not to put to death, but that I am?
And Pilate went again into the praetorium, and spoke to Jesus privately, and said to Him: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered Pilate: Dost thou say this of thyself, or have others said it to thee of me? Pilate answered Jesus: Am I also a Jew?18 Thy nation and the chief priests have given thee up to me. What hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world; for if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight in order that I should not be given up to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from thence. Pilate said to Him: Art thou then a king? Jesus answered him: Thou sayest that I am a king. Because for this have I been born, and have I come, in order that every one who is of the truth might hear my voice. Pilate says to him: What is truth? Jesus says to him: Truth is from heaven. Pilate says: Is truth not upon earth? Jesus says to Pilate: Thou seest how those who speak the truth are judged by those that have the power upon earth.Chap. 4.
And leaving Jesus within the praetorium, Pilate went out to the Jews, and said to them: I find no fault in him. The Jews say to him: He said, I can destroy this temple, and in three days build it. Pilate says: What temple? The Jews say: The one that Solomon19 built in forty-six years, and this man speaks of pulling it down and building it in three days. Pilate says to them: I am innocent of the blood of this just man. See you to it. The Jews say: His blood be upon us, and upon our children.
And Pilate having summoned the eiders and priests and Levites, said to them privately: Do not act thus, because no charge that you bring against him is worthy of death; for your charge is about curing and Sabbath profanation. The elders and the priests and the Levites say: If any one speak evil against Caesar, is he worthy of death or not? Pilate says: He is worthy of death The Jews say to Pilate: If any one speak evil against Caesar, he is worthy of death; but this man has spoken evil against God.
And the procurator ordered the Jews to go outside of the praetorium; and summoning Jesus, he says to Him: What shall I do to thee? Jesus says to Pilate: As it has been given to thee. Pilate says: How given? Jesus says: Moses and the prophets have proclaimed beforehand of my death and resurrection. And the Jews noticing this, and hearing it, say to Pilate: What more wilt thou hear of this blasphemy? Pilate says to the Jews: If these words be blasphemous, do you take him for the blasphemy, and lead him away to your synagogue, and judge him according to your law. The Jews say to Pilate: Our law bears that a man who wrongs his fellow-men is worthy to receive forty save one; but he that blasphemeth God is to be stoned with stones.20
Pilate says to them: Do you take him, and punish him in whatever way you please. The Jews say to Pilate: we wish that he be crucified. Pilate says: He is not deserving of crucifixion.
And the procurator, looking round upon the crowds of the Jews standing by, sees many of the Jews weeping, and says: All the multitude do not wish him to die. The elders of the Jews say: For this reason all the multitude of us have come, that he should die. Pilate says to the Jews: Why should he die? The Jews say: Because he called himself Son of God, and King.
And one Nicodemus, a Jew, stood before the procurator, and said: I beseech your honour, let me say a few words. Pilate says: Say on. Nicodemus says: I said to the elders and the priests and Levites, and to all the multitude of the Jews in the synagogue, What do you seek to do with this man? This man many miracles and strange things, which no one has done or will do. Let him go, and do not wish any evil against him. If the miracles which he does are of God, they will stand; but if man, they will come to nothing.21 For assuredly Moses, being sent by God into Egypt, did many miracles, which the Lord commanded him to do before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And there were there Jannes and Jambres, servants of Pharaoh, and they also did not a few of the miracles which Moses did; and the Egyptians took them to be gods-this Jannes and this Jambres.22 But, since the miracles which they did were not of God, both they and those who believed in them were destroyed. And now release this man, for he is not deserving of death.
The Jews say to Nicodemus: Thou hast become his disciple, and therefore thou defendest him. Nicodemus says to them: Perhaps, too, the procurator has become his disciple, because he defends him. Has the emperor not appointed him to this place of dignity? And the Jews were vehemently enraged, and gnashed their teeth against Nicodemus. Pilate says to I them: Why do you gnash your teeth against him when you hear the truth? The Jews say to Nicodemus: Mayst thou receive his truth and his portion. Nicodemus says: Amen, amen; may I receive it, as you have said.
One of the Jews, stepping up, asked leave of the procurator to say a word. The procurator says: If thou wishest to say any thing, say on And the Jew said: Thirty-eight years I lay in my bed in great agony. And when Jesus came, many demoniacs, and many lying ill of various diseases, were cured by him. And some young men, taking pity on me, carried me, bed and all, and took me to him. And when Jesus saw me, bed had compassion on me, and said to me: Take up thy couch and walk. And I took up my couch, and walked. The Jews say to pilate: Ask him on what day it was that he was cured. He that had been cured says: On a Sabbath.23 The Jews say: Is not this the very thing that we said, that on a Sabbath he cures and casts out demons?
And another Jew stepped up and said: I was born blind; I heard sounds, but saw not a face. And as Jesus passed by, I cried out with a loud voice, Pity me, O son of David. And he pitied me, and put his hands upon my eyes, and I instantly received my sight.24 And another Jew stepped up and said: I was crooked, and he straightened me with a word. And another said: I was a leper, and he cured me with a word.25
And a woman26 cried out from a distance, and said: I had an issue of blood, and I touched the hem of his garment, and the issue of blood which I had had for twelve years was stopped.27 The Jews say: we have a law, that a woman's evidence is not to be received.28
And others, a multitude both of men and women, cried out, saying: This man is a prophet, and the demons are subject to him. Pilate says to them who said that the demons were subject to Him: Why, then, were not your teachers also subject to him? They say to Pilate: We do not know. And others said: He raised Lazarus from the tomb after he had been dead four days.29 And the procurator trembled, and said to all the multitude of the Jews: Why do you wish to pour out innocent blood?
And having summoned Nicodemus and the twelve men that said He was not born of fornication, he says to them: What shall I do, because there is an insurrection among the people? They say to him: We know not; let them see to it. Again Pilate, having summoned all the multitude of the Jews, says: You know that it is customary, at the feast of unleavened bread, to release one prisoner to you. I have one condemned prisoner in the prison, a murderer named Barabbas, and this man standing in your presence, Jesus, in whom I find no fault. Which of them do you wish me to release to you? And they cry out: Barabbas. Pilate says: What, then, shall we do to Jesus who is called Christ? The Jews say: Let him be crucified. And others said: Thou art no friend of Caesar's if thou release this man, because he called himself Son of God and king. You wish, then, this man to be king, and not Caesar?30
And Pilate, in a rage, says to the Jews: Always has your nation been rebellious, and you always speak against your benefactors. The Jews say: What benefactors? He says to them: Your God led you out of the land of Egypt from bitter slavery, and brought you safe through the sea as through dry land, and in the desert fed you with manna, and gave you quails, and quenched your thirst with water from a rock, and gave you a law; and in all these things you provoked your God to anger, and sought a molten calf. And you exasperated your God, and He sought to slay you. And Moses prayed for you, and you were not put to death. And now you charge me with hating the emperor.31
And rising up from the tribunal, he sought to go out. And the Jews cry out, and say: We know that Caesar is king, and not Jesus. For assuredly the magi brought gifts to him as to a king. And when Herod heard from the magi that a king had been born, he sought to slay him; and his father Joseph, knowing this, took him and his mother, and they fled into Egypt. And Herod hearing of it, destroyed the children of the Hebrews that had been born in Bethlehem.32
And when Pilate heard these words, he was afraid; and ordering the crowd to keep silence, because they were crying out, he said to them: So this is he whom Herod sought? The Jews say: Yes, it is he. And, taking water, Pilate washed his hands in the face of the sun, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this just man; see you to it. Again the Jews cry out: His blood be upon us, and upon our children.
Then Pilate ordered the curtain of the tribunal where he was sitting to be drawn,33 and says to Jesus: Thy nation has charged thee with being a king. On this account I sentence thee, first to be scourged, according to the enactment of venerable kings, and then to be fastened on the cross in the garden where thou wast seized. And let Dysmas and Gestas, the two malefactors, be crucified with thee.
And Jesus went forth out of the praetorium, and the two malefactors with Him. And when they came to the place, they stripped Him of his clothes, and girded Him with a towel, and put a crown of thorns on Him round His head. And they crucified Him; and at the same time also they hung up the two malefactors along with Him. And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And the soldiers parted His clothes among them; and the people stood looking at Him. And the chief priests, and the rulers with them, mocked Him, saying: He saved others; let him save himself. If he be the Son of God, let him come down from the cross. And the soldiers made sport of Him, coming near and offering Him vinegar mixed with gall, and said: Thou art the king of the Jews; save thyself.34
And Pilate, after the sentence, ordered the charge made against Him to be inscribed as a superscription in Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, according to what the Jews had said: He is king of the Jews.
And one of the malefactors hanging up spoke to Him, saying: If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us. And Dysmas answering, reproved him, saying: Dost thou not fear God, because thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the fit punishment of our deeds; but this man has done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Remember me, Lord, in Thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen, amen; I say to thee, To-day shall thou be35 with me in Paradise.
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the earth until the ninth hour, the sun being darkened; and the curtain of the temple was split in the middle. And crying out with a loud voice, Jesus said: Father, Baddach Ephkid Ruel, which is, interpreted: Into Thy hands I commit my spirit.36 And having said this, He gave up the ghost. And the centurion, seeing what had happened, glorified God, and said: This was a just man. And all the crowds that were present at this spectacle, when they saw what had happened, beat their breasts and went away.
And the centurion reported what had happened to the procurator. And when the procurator and his wife heard it, they were exceedingly grieved, and neither ate nor drank that day. And Pilate sent for the Jews, and said to them: Have you seen what has happened? And they say: There has been an eclipse of the sun in the usual way.37
And His acquaintances were standing at a distance, and the women who came with Him from Galilee, seeing these things. And a man named Joseph, a councillor from the city of Arimathaea, who also waited for the kingdom of God, went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in clean linen, and placed it in a tomb hewn out of the rock, in which no one had ever lain.
And the Jews, hearing that Joseph had begged the booty of Jesus, sought him and the twelve who said that Jesus was not born of fornication, and Nicodemus, and many others who had stepped up before Pilate and declared His good works. And of all these that were hid, Nicodemus alone was seen by them, because he was a ruler of the Jews. And Nicodemus says to them: How have you come into the synagogue? The Jews say to him: How hast thou come into the synagogue? for thou art a confederate of his, and his portion is with thee in the world to come. Nicodemus says: Amen, amen. And likewise Joseph also stepped out and said to them: Why are you angry against me because I begged the body of Jesus? Behold, I have put him in my new tomb, wrapping him in clean linen; and I have rolled a stone to the door of the tomb. And you have acted not well against the just man, because you have not repented of crucifying him, but also have pierced him with a spear. And the Jews seized Joseph, and ordered him to be secured until the first day of the week, and said to him: Know that the time does not allow us to do anything against thee, because the Sabbath is dawning; and know that thou shall not be deemed worthy of burial, but we shall give thy flesh to the birds of the air. Joseph says to them: These are the words of the arrogant Goliath, who reproached the living God and holy David.38 For God has said by the prophet, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord.39 And now he that is uncircumcised in flesh, but circumcised in heart, has taken water, and washed his hands in the face of the sun, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just man; see ye to it. And you answered and said to Pilate, His blood be upon us, and upon our children. And now I am afraid lest the wrath of God come upon you, and upon your children, as you have said. And the Jews, hearing these words, were embittered in their souls, and seized Joseph, and locked him into a room where there was no window; and guards were stationed at the door, and they sealed the door where Joseph was locked in.
And on the Sabbath, the rulers of the synagogue,40 and the priests and the Levites, made a decree that all should be found in the synagogue on the first day of the week. And rising up early, all the multitude in the synagogue consulted by what death they should slay him. And when the Sanhedrin was sitting, they ordered him to be brought with much indignity. And having opened the door, they found him not. And all the people were surprised, and struck with dismay, because they found the seals unbroken. and because Caiaphas had the key. And they no longer dared to lay hands upon those who had spoken before Pilate in Jesus' behalf.
And while they were still sitting in the synagogue, and wondering about Joseph, there come some of the guard whom the Jews had begged of Pilate to guard the tomb of Jesus, that His disciples might not come and steal Him. And they reported to the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, what had happened: how there had been a great earthquake; and we saw an angel coming down from heaven, and he rolled away the stone from the mouth of the tomb, and sat upon it; and he shone like snow, and like lightning. And we were very much afraid, and lay like dead men; and we heard the voice of the angel saying to the women who remained beside the tomb, Be not afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here: He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay: and go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and is in Galilee.41
The Jews say: To what women did he speak? The men of the guard say: We do not know who they were. The Jews say: At what time was this? The men of the guard say: At midnight. The Jews say: And wherefore did you not lay hold of them? The men of the guard say: We were like dead men from fear, not expecting to see the light of day, and how could we lay hold of them? The Jews say: As the Lord liveth, we do not believe you. The men of the guard say to the Jews: You have seen so great miracles in the case of this man, and have not believed; and how can you believe us? And assuredly you have done well to swear that the Lord liveth, for indeed He does live. Again the men of the guard say: We have heard that you have locked up the man that begged the body of Jesus, and put a seal on the door; and that you have opened it, and not found him. Do you then give us the man whom you were guarding, and we shall give you Jesus. The Jews say: Joseph has gone away to his own city. The men of the guard say to the Jews: And Jesus has risen, as we heard from the angel, and is in Galilee.
And when the Jews heard these words, they were very much afraid, and said: We must take care lest this story he heard, and all incline to Jesus. And the Jews called a council, and paid down a considerable sum of money, and gave it to the soldiers, saying: Say, while we slept, his disciples came by night and stole him; and if this come to the ears of the procurator, we shall persuade him, and keep you out of trouble. And they took it, and said as the had been instructed.42
And Phinees a priest, and Adas a teacher, and Haggai a Levite, came down from Galilee to Jerusalem, and said to the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites: We saw Jesus and his disciples sitting on the mountain called Mamilch;43 and he said to his disciples, Go into all the world, and preach to every creature: he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be condemned. And these signs shall attend those who have believed: in my name they shall cast out demons, speak new tongues, take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall by no means hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall be well. And while Jesus was speaking to his disciples, we saw him taken up to heaven.44
The elders and the priests and Levites say: Give glory to the God of Israel, and confess to Him whether you have heard and seen those things of which you have given us an account. And those who had given the account said: As the Lord liveth, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we heard these things, and saw him taken up into heaven. The ciders and the priests and the Levites say to them: Have you come to give us this announcement, or to offer prayer to God? And they say: To offer prayer to God. The elders and the chief priests and the Levites say to them: If you have come to offer prayer to God, why then have you told these idle tales in the presence of all the people?45 Says Phinees the priest, and Atlas the teacher, and Haggai the Levite to the rulers of the synagogues. and the priests and the Levites: If what we have said and seen be sinful, behold, we are before you; do to us as seems good in your eyes. And they took the law, and made them swear upon it, not to give any more an account of these matters to any one. And they gave them to cat and drink, and sent them out of the city, having given them also money, and three men with them; and they sent them away to Galilee.And these men having gone into Galilee, the chief priests, and the rulers of the synagogue, and the elders, came together into the synagogue, and locked the door, and lamented with a great lamentation, saying: Is this a miracle that has happened in Israel? And Annas and Caiaphas said: Why are you so much moved? Why do you weep? Do you not know that his disciples have given a sum of gold to the guards of the tomb, and have instructed them to say that an angel came down and rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb? And the priests and the elders sand: Be it that his disciples have stolen his body; how is it that the life has come into his body, and that he is going, about in Galilee? And they being unable to give an answer to these things, said, after great hesitation: It is not lawful for us to believe the uncircumcised.
And Nicodemus stood up, and stood before the Sanhedrin, saying: You say well;46 you are not ignorant, you people of the Lord, of these men that come down from Galilee, that they fear God, and are men of substance, haters of covetousness, men of peace; and they have declared with an oath. We saw Jesus upon the mountain Mamilch with his disciples, and he taught what we heard from him, and we saw him taken up into heaven. And no one asked them in what form he went up. For assuredly, as the book of the Holy Scriptures taught us, Helias also was taken up into heaven, and Elissaeus cried out with a loud voice, and Helias threw his sheepskin upon Elissaeus, and Elissaeus threw his sheepskin upon the Jordan, and crossed, and came into Jericho. And the children of the prophets met him, and said, O Elissaeus, where is thy master Helias? And he said, He has been taken up into heaven. And they said to Elissaeus, Has not a spirit seized him, arid thrown him upon one of the mountains? But let us take our servants47 with us, and seek him. And they persuaded Elissaeus, and he went away with them. And they sought him three days, and did not find him; and they knew he had been taken up.48 And now listen to me, and let us send into every district of Israel, and see lest perchance Christ has been taken up by a spirit, and thrown upon one of the mountains? And this proposal pleased all. And they sent into every district of Israel, and sought Jesus, and did not find Him; but they found Joseph in Arimathaea, and no one dared to lay hands on him.
And they reported to the elders, and the priests, and the Levites: We have gone round to every district of Israel, and have not found Jesus; but Joseph we have found in Arimathaea. And hearing about Joseph, they were glad, and gave glory to the God of Israel. And the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, having held a council as to the manner in which they should meet with Joseph, took a piece of paper, and wrote to Joseph as follows:-
Peace to thee! We know that we have sinned against God, and against thee; and we have prayed to the God of Israel, that thou shouldst deign to come to thy fathers, and to thy children, because we have all been grieved. For having opened the door, we did not find thee. And we know that we have counselled evil counsel against thee; but the Lord has defended thee, and the Lord Himself has scattered to the winds our counsel against thee, O honourable father Joseph.
And they chose from all Israel seven men, friends of Joseph, whom also Joseph himself was acquainted with; and the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, say to them: Take notice: if, after receiving our letter, he read it, know that he will come with you to us; but if he do not read it, know that he is ill-disposed towards us. And having saluted him in peace, return to us. And having blessed the men, they dismissed them. And the men came to Joseph, and did reverence to him, and said to him: Peace to thee! And he said: Peace to you, and to all the people of Israel! And they gave him the roll of the letter. And Joseph having received it, read the letter and rolled it up, and blessed God, and said: Blessed be the Lord God, who has delivered Israel, that they should not shed innocent blood; and blessed be the Lord, who sent out His angel, and covered me under his wings. And he set a table for them; and they ate and drank, and slept there. And they rose up early, and prayed. And Joseph saddled his ass, and set out with the men; and they came to the holy city Jerusalem. And all the people met Joseph, and cried out: Peace to thee in thy coming in! And he said to all the people: Peace to you! and he kissed them. And the people prayed with Joseph, and they were astonished at the sight of him. And Nicodemus received him into his house, and made a great feast, and called Annas and Caiaphas, and the elders, and the priests, and the Levites to his house. And they rejoiced, eating and drinking with Joseph; and after singing hymns, each proceeded to his own house. But Joseph remained in the house of Nicodemus.
And on the following day, which was the preparation, the rulers of the synagogue and the priests and the Levites went early to the house of Nicodemus; and Nicodemus met them, and said: Peace to you! And they said: Peace to thee, and to Joseph, and to all thy house, and to all the house of Joseph! And he brought them into his house. And all the Sanhedrin sat down, and Joseph sat down between Annas and Caiaphas: and no one dared to say a word to him. And Joseph said: Why have you called me? And they signalled to Nicodemus to speak to Joseph. And Nicodemus, opening his mouth, said to Joseph: Father, thou knowest that the honourable teachers, and the priests and the Levites, see to learn a word from thee. And Joseph said: Ask. And Annas and Caiaphas having taken the law, made Joseph swear, saying: Give glory to the God of Israel, and give Him confession; for Achar being made to swear by the prophet Jesus,49 did not forsware himself, but declared unto him all, and did not hide a word from him. Do thou also accordingly not hide from us to the extent of a word. And Joseph said: I shall not hide from you one word. And they said to him: With grief were we grieved because thou didst beg the body of Jesus, and wrap it in clean linen, and lay it in a tomb. And on account of this we secured thee in a room where there was no windows: and we put locks and seals upon the doors and guards kept watching where thou wast locked in And on the first day of the week we opened, and found thee not, and were grieved exceedingly; and astonishment fell upon all the people of the Lord until yesterday. And now relate to us what has happened to thee.
And Joseph said: On the preparation, about the tenth hour, you locked me up, and I remained all the Sabbath. And at midnight, as I was standing and praying, the room where you locked me in was hung up by the four corners, and I saw a light like lightning into my eyes.50 And I was afraid, and fell to the ground. And some one took me by the hand, and removed me from the place where I had fallen; and moisture of water was poured from my head even to my feet, and a smell of perfumes came about my nostrils. And he wiped my face, and kissed me, and said to me, Fear not, Joseph; open thine eyes, and see who it is that speaks to thee. And looking up, I saw Jesus. And I trembled and thought it was a phantom; and I said the commandments, and he said them with me.51 Even so you are not ignorant that a phantom, if it meet anybody, and hear the commandments, takes to flight. And seeing that he said them with the, I said to him, Rabbi Helias. And he said to me, I am not Helias. And I said to him, Who art thou, my lord? And he said to me, I am Jesus, whose body thou didst beg from Pilate; and thou didst clothe me with clean, linen. and didst put a napkin on my face, and didst lay me in thy new tomb, and didst roll a great stone to the door of the tomb. And I said to him that was speaking to me, Show me the place where I laid thee. And he carried me away, and showed me the place where I laid him; and the linen cloth was lying in it, and the napkin for his face. And I knew that it was Jesus. And he took me by the hand, and placed me, though the doors were locked, in the middle of my house, and led me away to my bed, and said to me, Peace to thee! And he kissed me, and said to me, For forty days go not forth out of thy house; for, behold, I go to my brethren into Galilee.
And the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, when they heard these words from Joseph, became as dead, and fell to the ground, and fasted until the ninth hour. And Nicodemus, along with Joseph, exhorted Annas and Caiaphas, the priests and the Levites, saying: Rise up and stand upon your feet, and taste bread, and strengthen your souls, because to-morrow is the Sabbath of the Lord. And they rose up, and prayed to God, and ate and drank, and departed every man to his own house.
And on the Sabbath our teachers and the priests and Levites sat questioning each other, and saying: What is this wrath that has come upon us? for we know his father and mother. Levi, a teacher, says: I know that his parents fear God, and do not withdraw themselves from the prayers, and give the tithes thrice a year.52 And when Jesus was born, his parents brought him to this place, and gave sacrifices and burnt-offerings to God. And when the great teacher Symeon took him into his arms, he said, Now Thou sendest away Thy servant, Lord, according to Thy word, in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all the peoples: a light for the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel. And Symeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, I give thee good news about this child. And Mary said, It is well, my lord. And Symeon said to her, It is well; behold, he lies for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against; and of thee thyself a sword shall go through the soul, in order that the reasoning of many hearts may be revealed.53
They say to the teacher Levi: How knowest thou these things? Levi says to them: Do you not know that from him I learned the law? The Sanhedrin say to him: We wish to see thy father. And they sent for his father. And they asked him; and he said to them: Why have you not believed my son? The blessed and just Symeon himself taught him the law. The Sanhedrin says to Rabbi Levi: Is the word that you have said true? And he said: It is true. And the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, said to themselves: Come, let us send into Galilee to the three men that came and told about his teaching and his taking up, and let them tell us how they saw him taken up. And this saying pleased all. And they sent away the three men who had already gone away into Galilee with them; and they say to them: Say to Rabbi Adas, and Rabbi Phinees, and Rabbi Haggai: Peace to you, and all who are with you! A great inquiry having taken place in tile Sanhedrin, we have been sent to you to call you to this holy place, Jerusalem.
And the men set out into Galilee, and found them sitting and considering the law; and they saluted them in peace. And the men who were in Galilee said to those who had come to them: Peace upon all Israel! And they said: Peace to you! And they again said to them: Why have you come? And those who had been sent said: The Sanhedrin call you to the holy city Jerusalem. And when the men heard that they were sought by the Sanhedrin, they prayed to God, and reclined with the men, and ate and drank, and rose up, and set out in peace to Jerusalem.
And on the following day the Sanhedrin sat in the synagogue, and asked them, saying: Did you really see Jesus sitting on the mountain Mamilch teaching his eleven disciples, and did you see him taken up? And the men answered them, and said: As we saw him taken up, so also we said.
Annas says: Take them away from one another, and let us see whether their account agrees. And they took them away from one another. And first they call Adas, and say to him: How didst thou see Jesus taken up? Adas says: While he was yet sitting on the mountain Mamilch, and teaching his disciples, we saw a cloud overshadowing both him and his disciples. And the cloud took him up into heaven, and his disciples lay upon their face upon the earth. And they call Phinees the priest, and ask him also, saying: How didst thou see Jesus taken up? And he spoke in like manner. And they again asked Haggai, and he spoke in like manner. And the Sanhedrin said: The law of Moses holds: At the mouth of two or three every word shall be established.54 Buthem, a teacher, says: It is written in the law, And Enoch walked with God, and is not, because God took him.55 Jairus, a readier, said: And the death of holy Moses we have heard of, and have not seen it; for it is written in the law of the Lord, And Moses died from the mouth of the Lord, and no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.56 And Rabbi Levi said: Why did Rabbi Symeon say, when he saw Jesus, "Behold, he lies for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against? "57 And Rabbi Isaac said: It is written in the law, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall go before thee to keep thee in every good way, because my name has been called upon him.58
Then Annas and Caiaphas said: Rightly have you said what is written in the law of Moses, that no one saw the death of Enoch, and no one has named the death of Moses; hut Jesus was tried before Pilate, and we saw him receiving blows and spittings on his face, and the soldiers put about him a crown of thorns, and he was scourged, and received sentence from Pilate, and was crucified upon the Cranium, and two robbers with him; and they gave him to drink vinegar with gall, and Longinus the soldier pierced his side with a spear; and Joseph our honourable father begged his body, and, as he says, he is risen; and as the three teachers say, We saw him taken up into heaven; and Rabbi Levi has given evidence of what was said by Rabbi Symeon, and that he said, Behold, he lies for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against. And all the teachers said to all the people of the Lord: If this was from the Lord, and is wonderful in your eyes,59 knowing you shall know, O house of Jacob, that it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree.60 And another Scripture teaches: The gods which have not made the heaven and the earth shall be destroyed.61 And the priests and the Levites said to each other: If his memorial be until the year that is called Jobel,62 know that it shall it endure for ever, and he hath raised for himself a new people. Then the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, announced to all Israel, saying: Cursed is that man who shall worship the work of man's hand, and cursed is the man who shall worship the creatures more than the Creator. And all the people said, Amen, amen.63
And all the people praised64 the Lord, and said: Blessed is the Lord, who hath given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He hath spoken; there hath not fallen one word of every good word of His that He spoke to Moses His servant. May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers: let Him not destroy us. And let Him not destroy us, that we may incline our hearts to Him, that we may walk in all His ways, that we may keep His commandments and His judgments which He commanded to our fathers.65 And the Lord shall be for a king over all the earth in that day; and there shall he one Lord, and His name one.66 The Lord is our king: He shall save us.67 There is none like Thee, O Lord.68 Great art Thou, O Lord, and great is Thy name. By Thy power heal us. O Lord, and we shall be healed: save us, O Lord, and we shall be saved;69 because we are Thy lot and heritage. And the Lord will not leave His people, for His great name's sake; for the Lord has begun to make us into His people.70
And all, having sung praises, went away each man to his own house, glorifying God; for His is the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Second Greek Form.
A Narrative about the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ, and His holy resurrection.
Written by a Jew, Aeneas by name, and translated out of the Hebrew tongue into the Romaic language by Nicodemus, a Roman toparch.
After the dissolution of the kingdom of the Hebrews, four hundred years having run their course, and the Hebrews also coming at last under the kingdom of the Romans, and the king of the Romans appointing them a king; when Tiberius Caesar at last swayed the Roman sceptre, in the eighteenth year of his reign,71 he appointed as king of Judaea, Herod, the son of the Herod who had formerly slaughtered the infants in Bethlehem, and he made Pilate procurator in Jerusalem; when Annas and Caiaphas held the high-priesthood of Jerusalem, Nicodemus, a Roman toparch, having summoned a Jew, Aeneas by name, asked him to write an account of the things done in Jerusalem about Christ in the times of Annas and Caiaphas. The Jew accordingly did this, and delivered it to Nicodemus; and he, again, translated it from the Hebrew writing into the Romaic language. And the account is as follows:-
Our Lord Jesus Christ having wrought in Judaea many and great and extraordinary miracles, and on account of this being hated by the Hebrews, while Pilate was procurator in Jerusalem, and Annas and Caiaphas high priests, there came of the Jews to the chief priests, Judas, Levi, Nephthalim, Alexander, Syrus, and many others, speaking against Christ. And these chief priests sent them away to say these things to Pilate also. And they went away, and said to him: A man walks about in this city whose father is called Joseph, and his mother Mary; and he calls himself king and Son of God; and being a Jew, he overturns the Scriptures, and does away with the Sabbath. Pilate then asked, in order to learn from them in what manner lie did away with the Sabbath. And they answered, saying: He cures tile sick on the Sabbath. Pilate says: If he makes the sick whole, he does no evil. They say to him: If he effected the cures properly, small would be the evil; but by using magic he does these things, and by having the demons on his side. Pilate says: To cure a person that is ill is not a diabolic work, but a grace from God.
The Hebrews said: We beseech your highness to summon him, in order that thou mayst make accurate inquiry into what we say. Pilate therefore, throwing off his cloak, gave it to one of his officers,72 saying: Go away, and show this to Jesus, and say to him, Pilate the procurator calls thee to come before him. The officer accordingly went away, and finding Jesus, summoned Him, having unfolded on the ground also Pilate's mantle, and urged Him to walk upon it. And the Hebrews, seeing this, and being greatly enraged, came to Pilate, murmuring against him, how he had deemed Jesus worthy of so great honour.
And he, having inquired of the officer who had been sent how he had done so, the officer answered: When thou didst send me to the Jew Alexander, I came upon Jesus entering the gate of the city, sitting upon an ass. And I saw that the Hebrews spread their garments in the way, and the ass walked upon the garments; and others cut branches, and they went forth to meet him, and cried out, Hosanna in the highest! Thus, therefore, it was necessary for me also to do.
The Jews, hearing these words, said to him: How didst thou, being a Roman, know what was said by the Hebrews? The officer answered: I asked one of the Hebrews, and he told the these things. Pilate said: What means Hosanna? The Jews said: Save us, O Lord. Pilate answered: Since you confess that your children said so, how now do you bring charges, and say against Jesus what you do say? The Jews were silent, and had nothing to answer.73
Now, as Jesus was coming to Pilate, the soldiers of Pilate adored Him. And others also were standing before Pilate holding standards. And as Jesus was coming, the standards also bowed down, and adored Him. As Pilate, therefore, was wondering at what had happened, the Jews said to him: My lord, it was not the standards that adored Jesus, but the soldiers who were holding them carelessly.
Pilate says to the ruler of the synagogue: Choose twelve powerful men, and give them the standards, so that they may hold them firmly. And this having taken place, Pilate ordered the officer to take Jesus outside, and bring Him in again. And as He was coming in, the standards again bowed down, and adored Him. Pilate therefore wondered greatly. But the Jews said: He is a magician, and through that he does these things.
Pilate says to Jesus: Hearest thou what these testify against thee, and answerest thou not?74 And Jesus answered and said: Every man has power to speak either good or bad, as he wishes; these also, therefore, having power, say what they wish.75
The Jews said to Him: What have we to say about thee? First, that thou wast begotten from sin; second, that on account of thee, when thou wast born, the infants76 were murdered; third, that thy father and thy mother fled into Egypt, because they had no confidence in the people.
To these the Jews who were there present, God-fearing men, answered and said: We say that his birth is not from sin; for we know that Joseph received into keeping his mother Mary, according to the practice of betrothal. Pilate said: Consequently you lie who say that his birth is from sin. They say again to Pilate: All the people testify that he is a magician. The God-fearing Jews answered and said: We also were at the betrothal of his mother, and we are Jews, and know all his daily life; but that he is a magician, that we do not know. And the Jews that thus said were these: Lazarus, Astharius, Antonius, James, Zaras, Samuel, Isaac, Phinees, Crispus, Dagrippus, Amese, and Judas.
Pilate therefore says to them: By the life of Caesar, I wish you to swear whether the birth of this man is without sin. They answered: Our law lays down that we are to swear not at all, because an oath is great sin. Notwithstanding, by the life of Caesar we swear that his birth is without sin; and if we lie, order us all to be beheaded. And when they had thins spoken, the Jews that were bringing the charge answered Pilate, and said: And dost thou believe these twelve single Jews more than all the multitude and us, who know for certain that he is a magician and blasphemer, and that he names himself Son of God?
Then Pilate ordered them all to go forth out of the praetorium except the said twelve alone. And when this had been done, Pilate says to them privately: As to this man, it appears that from envy and madness the Jews wish to murder him: for of one thing-that he does away with the Sabbath-they accuse him; but he then does a good work, because he cures the sick. For this, sentence of death is not upon the man. The twelve also say to him: Assuredly, my lord, it is so.
Pilate therefore went outside in rage and anger, and says to Annas and Caiaphas, and to the crowd who brought Jesus: I take the sun to witness that I find no fault in this man. The crowd answered: If he were not a sorcerer, and a magician, and a blasphemer, we should not have brought him to your highness. Pilate said: Try him yourselves; and since you have a law, do as your law says. The Jews said: Our law permits to put no man to death.77 Pilate says: If you are unwilling to put him to death, how much more am I!
Then Pilate returned to the palace, and says to Jesus: Tell me, art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered: Dost thou say this, or have the other Jews said this to thee, that thou mightst question me? Pilate said: Thou dost not think that I am a Hebrew? I am not a Hebrew. Thy people and the chief priests have delivered thee into my hands; and tell me if thou art king of the Jews? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world; for if my kingdom were in this world, my soldiers would not be unconcerned at my being seized: wherefore my kingdom is not in this world. Pilate says: But art thou a king? Jesus said: Thou hast said: for this was I born, to bear witness to the truth; and if any one be a man of the truth, he believes my word, and does it. Pilate says: What is the truth?78 Jesus answered: The truth is from the heavens. Pilate says: On earth, then, is there no truth? Christ says: I am the truth; and how is the truth judged on earth by those that have earthly power!
Pilate therefore, leaving Christ alone, went outside, and says to the Jews: I find no fault in this man. The Jews answered: Let us tell your highness what he said. He said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and in three days to build it. Pilate says: And what temple did he say that he was to destroy? The Hebrews say: The temple of Solomon, which Solomon built in forty-six years.79
Pilate says privately to the chief priests and the scribes and the Pharisees: I entreat you, do nothing evil against this man; for if you do evil against him, you will do unjustly: for it is not just that such a man should die, who has done great good to many men. They said to Pilate: If, my lord, he who has dishonoured Caesar is worthy of death, how much more this man who dishonours God!
Then Pilate dismissed them, and they all went outside. Thereupon he says to Jesus: dost thou wish that I shall do to thee? Jesus says to Pilate: Do to me as is determined. Pilate says: How is it determined? Jesus answered: Moses and the prophets wrote about me being crucified, and rising again. The Hebrews, hearing this, said to Pilate: Why do you seek to hear a greater insult out of him against God? Pilate says: These words are not an insult against God, since they are written in the books of the prophets. The Hebrews said: Our Scripture says, If a man offend against a man, that is to say, if he insult him, he is worthy to receive forty strokes with a rod; but if any one insult God, to be stoned.80
Then came a messenger from Procle, the wife of Pilate, to him; and the message said: Take care that thou do not agree that any evil should happen to Jesus the good man; because during this night I have seen fearful dreams on account of him.81 And Pilate spoke to the Hebrews, saying: If you hold as insult against God the words which you declare Jesus to have spoken, take and judge him yourselves according to your law.82 The Jews said to Pilate: We wish that you should crucify him. Pilate says: This is not good.
And Pilate, turning towards the people, saw many weeping, and said: To me it seems that it is not the wish of all the people that this man should die. The priests and the scribes say: We on this account have brought all the people, that thou mightst have full conviction that all wish his death. Pilate says: For what evil hath he done? The Hebrews said: He says that he is a king, and the Son of God.
A God-fearing Jew, therefore, Nicodemus by name, stood up in the midst, and said to Pilate: I entreat your highness to permit me to say a few words. Say on, said Pilate. Nicodemus says: I, being present in the synagogue, said to the priests, and the Levites, and the scribes, and the people, What have you to say against this man? This man does many miracles, such as man has never yet done nor will do. Let him go, therefore; and if indeed what he does be from God, it will stand; but if from man, it will be destroyed.83 Just as happened also when God sent Moses into Egypt, and Pharoah king of Egypt told him to do a miracle, and he did it. Then Pharoah had also two magicians, Jannes and Jambres; and they also did miracles by the use of magic art, but not such as Moses did.84 And the Egyptians held these magicians to be gods; but because they were not from God, what they did was destroyed. This Jesus, then, raised up Lazarus, and he is alive. On this account I entreat thee, my lord, by no means to allow this man to be put to death.
The Hebrews were enraged against Nicodemus, and said: Mayst thou receive the truth of Jesus, and have a portion with him. Nicodemus says: Amen, amen; be it to me as you say.
And when Nicodemus had thus spoken, another Hebrew rose up, and said to Pilate: I beg of thee, my lord Pilate, hear me also. Pilate answered: Say what thou wishest. The Hebrew says: I lay sick in bed thirty-eight years; and when he saw me he was grieved, and said to me, Rise, take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And while he was saying the word to me, I rose and walked about. The Hebrews say: Ask him on what day of the week this happened. He says: On Sabbath.85 The Jews said: And consequently we say truly, that he does not keep the Sabbath.
Another, again, standing in the midst, said: I was born blind; and as Jesus was going along the road, I cried to him, saying, Have mercy upon me, Lord, thou son of David. And he took clay, and anointed mine eyes; and straight, way I received my sight.86 Another said: I was crooked; and seeing him, I cried, Have mercy upon me, O Lord. And he took me by the hand, and I was immediately raised.87 Another said: I was a leper, and he healed me merely by a word.88
There was found there also a woman named Veronica, and she said: Twelve years I was in an issue of blood, and I only touched the edge of his garment, and directly I was cured.89 The Jews say: Our law does not admit the testimony of a woman.90
Other men cried: This man is a prophet, and the demons are afraid of him. Pilate says: And how were the demons not at all thus afraid of your parents also? They say: We do not know. Others, again, said: Lazarus, after having been four days in the tomb, he raised by a single word.91 Pilate therefore, hearing of the raising of Lazarus, was afraid, and said to the people: Why do you wish to shed the blood of a just man?
Then he summoned Nicodemus and the twelve God-fearing Jews, and said to them: What do you say that I should do? because the people are in commotion They say: We do not know: do as thou wilt; but what the people do, they do unjustly, in order to kill him. Pilate again went outside, and said to the people: You know that in the feasts of unleavened bread it is customary that I free on your account one of the criminals kept in custody. I have, then, one malefactor in the prison, a robber named Barabbas. I have also Jesus, who has never done any evil. Which of the two, then, do you wish that I release to you? The people answered: Release to us Barabbas. Pilate says: What then shall I do with Jesus? They say: Let him be crucified.92 Again, others of them cried out: If thou release Jesus, thou art no friend of Caesar,93 because he calls himself Son of God, and king. And if thou free him, he becomes a king, and will take Caesar's kingdom.
Pilate therefore was enraged, and said: Always has your nation been devilish94 and unbelieving; and ever have you been adversaries to your benefactors. The Hebrews say: And who were our benefactors? Pilate says: God, who freed you out of the hand of Pharaoh, and brought yon through the Red Sea as upon dry land, and fed you with quails, and gave you water to drink out of the dry rock, and who gave you a law which, denying God you broke; and if Moses had not stood and entreated God, you would have perished by a bitter death. All these, then, you have forgotten. Thus also, even now, you say that I do not at all love Caesar, but bate him, and wish to plot against his kingdom.
And having thus spoken, Pilate rose up from the throne with anger, wishing to flee from them. The Jews therefore cried out, saying: We wish Caesar to be king over us, not Jesus, because Jesus received gifts95 from the Magi. And Herod also heard this-that there was going to be a king-and wished to put him to death, and for this purpose sent and put to death all the infants that were in Bethlehem. And on this account also his father Joseph and iris mother fleet from fear of him into Egypt.96
So then Pilate, hearing this, silenced all the people, and said: This, then, is the Jesus whom Herod then sought that he might put him to death? They say to him: Yes. Pilate therefore, having ascertained that he was of the jurisdiction of Herod, as being derived of the race of the Jews, sent Jesus to him. And Herod, seeing Him, rejoiced greatly, because he had been long desiring to see Him, hearing of the miracles which He did. He put on Him, therefore, white garments. Then he began to question Him. But Jesus did not give him an answer. And Herod, wishing to see also some miracle or other done by Jesus, and not seeing it, and also because He did not answer him a single word, sent Him back again to Pilate.97 Pilate. seeing this, ordered his officers to bring water. Washing, then, his bands with the water, he said to the people: I am innocent of the blood of this good man. See yon to it. that he is unjustly put to death, since neither I have found a fault in him, nor Herod; for because of this he has sent him back again to me. The Jews said: His blood be upon us, and upon our children.98
Then Pilate sat down upon his throne to pass sentence. He gave order, therefore, and Jesus came before him. And they brought a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and a reed into His right hand.99 Then he passed sentence, and said to Him: Thy nation says, and testifies against thee, that thou wishest to be a king. Therefore I decree that they shall beat thee first with a rod forty strokes, as the laws of the kings decree, and that they shall mock thee; and finally, that they shall crucify thee.
The sentence to this effect, then, having been passed by Pilate, the Jews began to strike Jesus, some with roots, others with their hands, others with their feet; some also spat in His face. Immediately, therefore, they got ready the cross, and gave it to Him, and flew to take the road. And thus going along, bearing also the cross, He came as far as the gate of the city of Jerusalem. But as He, from the many blows and the weight of the cross, was unable to walk, the Jews, out of the eager desire they had to crucify Him as quickly as possible, took the cross from Him, and gave it to a man that met them, Simon by name, who had also two sons, Alexander and Rufus. And he was from the city of Cyrene.100 They gave the cross, then, to him, not because they pitied Jesus, and wished to lighten Him of the weight, but because they eagerly desired, as has been said, to put Him to death more speedily.
Of His disciples, therefore, John followed Him there. Then he came fleeing to the mother of God.101 and said to her: Where hast thou been, that thou hast not come to see what has happened? She answered: What is it that has happened? John says: Know that the Jews have laid hold of my Master, and are taking Him away to crucify Him. Hearing this, His mother cried out with a loud voice, saying: My son, my son, what evil then hast thou done, that102 they are taking thee away to crucify thee? And she rose up as if blinded,103 and goes along the road weeping. And women followed her-Martha, and Mary Magdalene, and Salome, and other virgins. And John also was with her. When, therefore, they came to the multitude of the crowd, the mother of God says to John: Where is my son? John says: Seest thou Him bearing the crown of thorns, and having His hands bound? And the mother of God, hearing this, and seeing Him, fainted, and fell backwards to the ground, and lay a considerable time. And the women, as many as followed her, stood round her, and wept. And as soon as she revived and rose up, she cried out with a loud voice: My Lord, my son, where has the beauty of thy form sunk? how shall I endure to see thee suffering such things? And thus saying, she tore her face with her nails, and beat her breast. Where are they gone, said she, the good deeds which thou didst in Judaea? What evil hast thou done to the Jews? The Jews, then, seeing her thus lamenting and crying, came and drove her from the road; but she would not flee, but remained, saying: Kill me first, ye lawless Jews.
Then they got safe to the place called Cranium, which was paved with stone;104 and there the Jews set up the cross. Then they stripped Jesus, and the soldiers took His garments, and divided them among themselves; and they put on Him a tattered robe of scarlet, and raised Him, and drew Him up on the cross at the sixth hour of the day. After this they brought also two robbers, the one on His right, the other on His left.
Then the mother of God, standing and looking, cried out with a loud voice, saying: My son! my son: And Jesus, turning to her, and seeing John near her, and weeping with the rest of the women, said: Behold thy son! Then He says also to John: Behold thy mother!105 And she wept much, saying: For this I weep, my son, because thou sufferest unjustly, because the lawless Jews have delivered thee to a bitter death. Without thee, my son, what will become of me? How shall I live without thee? What sort of life shall I spend? Where are thy disciples, who boasted that they would die with thee? Where those healed by thee? How has no one been found to help thee? And looking to the cross, she said: Bend down, O cross, that I may embrace and kiss my son, whom I suckled at these breasts after a strange manner, as not having known than. Bend down, O cross; I wish to throw my arms round my son. Bend down, O cross, that I may bid farewell to my son like a mother. The Jews, hearing these words, came forward, and drove to a distance both her and the women and John.
Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: Father, let not this sin stand against them; for they know not what they do.106 Then He says: I thirst. And immediately there ran one of the soldiers, and took a sponge, and filled it with gall and vinegar mixed, and put it on a reed, and gave Jesus to drink. And having tasted it, He would not drink it.107 And the Jews standing and looking on laughed at Him, and said: If thou truly sayst that thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross, and immediately, that we may believe in thee. Others said mocking: Others he saved, others he cured, and he healed the sick, the paralytic, the lepers, the demoniacs, the blind, the lame, the dead; and himself he cannot cure.108
In the same manner also, the robber crucified on His left hand said to Him: If thou art the Son of God, come down and save both thyself and us. His name was Gistas. And he that was crucified on the right, Dysmas by name, reproved that robber, saying: O wretched and miserable man, dost thou not fear God? We suffer the due punishment of what we have done; but this man has done no evil at all. And turning to Jesus, he says to Him: Lord, when Thou shalt reign do not forget me. And He said to him: To-day, I tell thee truth, I shall have thee in paradise with me.109
Then Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, Father, into Thy hands I shall commit my spirit, breathed His last.110 And immediately one could see the rocks rent: for there was an earthquake over all the earth; and from the earthquake being violent and great, the rocks also were rent. And the tombs of the dead were opened, and the curtain of the temple was rent, and there was darkness from the sixth hour till the ninth. And from all these things that had happened the Jews were afraid, and said: Certainly this was a just man. And Longinus, the centurion who stood by, said: Truly this was a son of God. Others coming and seeing Him, beat their breasts from fear, and again turned back.111
And the centurion having perceived all these so great miracles, went away and reported them to Pilate. And when he heard, he wondered and was astonished, and from his fear and grief would neither eat nor drink that day. And he sent notice, and all the Sanhedrin came to him as soon as the darkness was past; and he said to the people: You know how the sun has been darkened; you know how the curtain has been rent. Certainly I did well in being by no means willing to put to death the good man. And the malefactors said to Pilate: This darkness is an eclipse of the sun, such as has happened also at other times. Then they say to him: We hold the feast of unleavened bread to-morrow; and we entreat thee, since the crucified are still breathing, that their bones be broken, and that they be brought down. Pilate said: It shall be so. He therefore sent soldiers, and they found the two robbers yet breathing, and they broke their legs; but finding Jesus dead, they did not touch Him at all, except that a soldier speared Him in the right side, and immediately there came forth blood and water.112
And as the day of the preparation113 was drawing towards evening, Joseph, a man well-born and rich, a God-fearing Jew, finding Nicodemus, whose sentiments his foregoing speech had shown, says to him: I know that thou didst love Jesus when living, and didst gladly hear his words, and I saw thee fighting with the Jews on his account. If, then, it seem good to thee, let us go to Pilate, and beg the body of Jesus for burial, because it is a great sin for him to lie unburied. I am afraid, said Nicodemus, lest Pilate should be enraged, and some evil should befall me. But if thou wilt go alone, and beg the dead, and take him, then will I also go with thee, and help thee to do everything necessary for the burial. Nicodemus having thus spoken, Joseph directed his eyes to heaven, and prayed that he might not fail in his request; and he went away to Pilate, and having saluted him, sat down. Then he says to him: I entreat thee, my lord, not to be angry with me, if I shall ask anything contrary to what seems good to your highness. And he said: And what is it that thou askest? Joseph says: Jesus, the good man whom through hatred the Jews have taken away to crucify, him I entreat that thou give me for burial. Pilate says: And what has happened, that we should deliver to be honoured again the dead body of him against whom evidence of sorcery was brought by his nation, and who was in suspicion of taking the kingdom of Caesar, and so was given up by us to death? And Joseph, weeping and in great grief, fell at the feet of Pilate, saying: My lord, let no hatred fall upon a dead man; for all the evil that a man has done should perish with him in his death. And I know your highness, how eager thou wast that Jesus should not be crucified, and how much thou saidst to the Jews on his behalf, now in entreaty and again in anger, and at last how thou didst wash thy hands, and declare that thou wouldst by no means take part with those who wished him to be put to death; for all which reasons I entreat thee not to refuse my request. Pilate, therefore, seeing Joseph thus lying, and supplicating, and weeping, raised him up, and said: Go, I grant thee this dead man; take him, and do whatever thou wilt.
And then Joseph, having thanked Pilate, and kissed his hands and his garments, went forth, rejoicing indeed in heart as having obtained his desire, but carrying tears in his eyes. Thus also, though grieved, he was glad. Accordingly he goes away to Nicodemus, and discloses to him all that had happened. Then, having bought myrrh and aloes a hundred pounds, and a new tomb,114 they, along with the mother of God and Mary Magdalene and Salome, along with John, and the rest of the women, did what was customary for the body with white linen, and placed it in the tomb.115
And the mother of God said, weeping: How am I not to lament thee, my son? How should I not tear my face with my nails? This is that, my son, which Symeon the elder foretold to me when I brought thee, an infant of forty days old, into the temple. This is the sword which now goes through my soul.116 Who shall put a stop to my tears, my sweetest son? No one at all except thyself alone, if, as thou saidst, thou shalt rise again in three days.
Mary Magdalene said, weeping: Hear, O peoples, tribes, and tongues, and learn to what death the lawless Jews have delivered him who did them ten thousand good deeds. Hear, and be astonished. Who will let these things be heard by all the world? I shall go alone to Rome, to the Caesar. I shall show him what evil Pilate hath done in obeying the lawless Jews. Likewise also, Joseph lamented, saying: Ah, me! sweetest Jesus, most excellent of men, if indeed it be proper to call thee man, who hast wrought such miracles as no man has ever done. How shall I enshroud thee? How shall I entomb thee? There should now have been here those whom thou fedst with a few loaves; for thus should I not have seemed to fail in what is due.
Then Joseph, along with Nicodemus, went home; and likewise also the mother of God, with the women, John117 also being present with them.
When the Jews were made acquainted with these things done by Joseph and Nicodemus, they were greatly stirred up against them. And the chief priests Annas and Caiaphas sent for Joseph, and said: Why hast thou done this service to Jesus? Joseph says: I know that Jesus was a man just, and true, and good in all respects; and I know also that you, through hatred, managed to murder him: and therefore I buried him. Then the high priests were enraged, and laid hold of Joseph, and threw him into prison, and said to him: If we had not to-morrow the feast of unleavened bread, tomorrow also should we have put thee, like him, to death; but being kept in the meantime, early in the morning of the Lord's day118 thou shall be given up to death. Thus they spoke, and affixed their seal to the prison, having secured it by fastenings of all sorts.
Thus, therefore, when the Preparation was ended, early on the Sabbath the Jews went away to Pilate, and said to him: My lord, that deceiver said, that after three days he should rise again. Lest, therefore, his disciples should steal him by night, and lead the people astray by such deceit, order his tomb to be guarded. Pilate therefore, upon this, gave them five hundred soldiers, who also sat round the sepulchre so as to guard it, after having put seals upon the stone of the tomb.119
The Lord's day, then, having dawned, the chief priests, along with the Jews, called a council, and sent to take Joseph out of the prison, in order to put him to death. But having opened it, they found him not. And they were astonished at this-how, with the doors shut, and the bolts safe, and the seals unbroken, Joseph had disappeared.
And upon this there came up one of the soldiers guarding the tomb, and he said in the synagogue: Learn that Jesus has risen. The Jews say: How? And he said: First there was an earthquake; then an angel of the Lord, clothed with lightning, came from heaven, and rolled the stone from the tomb, and sat upon it. And from fear of him, all of us soldiers became as dead, and were able neither to flee nor speak. And we heard the angels saying to the women who came there to see the tomb: Be not you afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus. He is not here, but is risen, as He told you before. Bend down and see the tomb where His body lay; but go and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and let them go into Galilee, for there shall they find Him. For this reason I tell you this first.120
The Jews say to the soldiers: What sort of women were they who came to the tomb? and why did you not lay hold of them? The soldiers say: From the fear and the mere sight of the angel, we were able neither to speak nor move. The Jews said: As the God of Israel liveth, we do not believe a word you say. The soldiers say: Jesus did so great wonders, and you believed not, and are you going to believe us? You say truly that God liveth; and certainly he whom you crucified truly liveth. But we have heard that you had Joseph shut up in the prison, and that you afterwards opened the doors, and did not find him. Do you then present Joseph, and so we also shall present Jesus. The Jews say: Joseph, that fled from the prison, you will find in Arimathaea, his own country. And the soldiers say: Go you too into Galilee, and you will find Jesus, as the angel said to the women.
At these words the Jews were afraid, and said to the soldiers: See that you tell this story to nobody, or all will believe in Jesus. And for this reason they gave them also much money. And the soldiers said: We are afraid lest by any chance Pilate hear that we have taken money, and he will kill us. And the Jews said: Take it; and we pledge ourselves that we shall speak to Pilate in your defence. Only say that you were asleep, and in your slumber the disciples of Jesus came and stole him from the tomb. The soldiers therefore took the money, and said as they were bid. And up to this day this same lying tale is told among the Jews.121
And a few days after there came from Galilee to Jerusalem three men. One of them was a priest, by name Phinees; the second a Levite, by name Aggai; and the third a soldier, by name Adas. These came to the chief priests, and said to them and to the people: Jesus, whom you crucified, we have seen in Galilee with his eleven disciples upon the Mount of Olives, teaching them, and saying, Go into all the world, and proclaim the good news; and whosoever will believe and be baptized shall be saved; but whosoever will not believe shall be condemned. And having thus spoken, he went up into heaven.122 And both we and many others of the five hundred123 besides were looking on.
And when the chief priests and the Jews heard these things, they said to these three: Give glory to the God of Israel, and repent of these lies that you have told. They answered: As the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob liveth, we do not lie, but tell you the truth. Then the high priest spoke, and they brought the old covenant of the Hebrews out of the temple, and he made them swear, and giving them also money, he sent them into another place, in order that they might not proclaim in Jerusalem the resurrection of Christ.
And when these stories had been heard by all the people, the crowd came together into the temple, and there was a great commotion. For many said: Jesus has risen from the dead, as we hear, and why did you crucify him? And Annas and Caiaphas said: Do not believe, ye Jews, what the soldiers say; and do not believe that they saw an angel coming down from heaven. For we have given money to the soldiers, in order that they should not tell such tales to any one; and thus also have the disciples of Jesus given them money, in order that they should say that Jesus has risen from the dead.
Nicodemus says: O children of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the prophet Helias went up into the height of heaven with a fiery chariot, and it is nothing incredible if Jesus too has risen; for the prophet Helias was a prototype of Jesus, in order that you, hearing that Jesus has risen, might not disbelieve. I therefore say and advise, that it is befitting that we send soldiers into Galilee, to that place where these men testify, that they saw him with his disciples, in order that they may go round about and find him, and that thus we may ask pardon of him for the evil which we have done to him. This proposal pleased them; and they chose soldiers, and sent them away into Galilee. And Jesus indeed they did not find; but they found Joseph in Arimathaea.
When, therefore, the soldiers had returned, the chief priests, having ascertained that Joseph was found, brought the people together, and said: What shall we do to get Joseph to come to us? After deliberating, therefore, they wrote to him a letter to the following effect:-O father Joseph, peace be to thee and all thy house, and thy friends! We know that we have offended against God, and against thee His servant. On account of this, we entreat thee to come here to us thy children. For we bare wondered much how thou didst escape from the prison, and we say in truth that we had an evil design against thee. But God, seeing that our designs against thee were unjust, has delivered thee out of our hands. But come to us, for thou art the honour of our people.
This letter the Jews sent to Arimathaea, with seven soldiers, friends of Joseph. And they went away and found him; and having respectfully saluted him, as they had been ordered, they gave him the letter, And after receiving it and reading it, he glorified God, and embraced the soldiers; and having set a table, ate and drank with them during all the day and the night.
And on the following day he set out with them to Jerusalem; and the people came forth to meet him, and embraced him. And Nicodemus received him into his own house. And the day after, Annas and Caiaphas, the chief priests, having summoned him to the temple, said to him: Give glory to the God of Israel, and tell us the truth. For we know that thou didst bury Jesus; and on this account we laid hold of thee, and locked thee up in the prison. Thereafter, when we sought to bring thee out to be put to death, we did not find thee, and we were greatly astonished and afraid. Moreover, we prayed to God that we might find thee, and ask thee. Tell us therefore the truth.
Joseph said to them: In the evening of the Preparation, when you secured me in prison, I fell a-praying throughout the whole night, and throughout the whole day of the Sabbath. And at midnight I see the prison-house that four angels lifted it up,124 holding it by the four corners. And Jesus came in like lightning, and I fell to the ground from fear. Taking hold of me, therefore, by the hand, he raised me, saying, Fear not, Joseph. Thereafter, embracing me, he kissed me, and said, Turn thyself, and see who I am. Turning myself, therefore, and looking, I said, My lord, I know not who thou art. He says, I am Jesus, whom thou didst bury the day before yesterday. I say to him, Show me the tomb, and then I shall believe. He took me, therefore, by the hand, and led me away to the tomb, which had been opened. And seeing the linen and the napkin, and recognising him, I said, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord;125 and I adored him. Then taking me by the hand, and accompanied by the angels, he brought me to my house in Arimathaea, and said to me, Sit here for forty days; for I go to my disciples, in order that I may enable them fully to proclaim my resurrection.
When Joseph had thus spoken, the chief priests cried out to the people: We know that Jesus had a father and mother; how can we believe that he is the Christ? One of the Levites answered and said: I know the family of Jesus, noble-minded men,126 great servants of God, and receiving tithes from the people of the Jews. And I know also Symeon the eider, that he received him when he was an infant, and said to him: Now thou sendest away Thy servant, O Lord.
The Jews said: Let us now find the three men that saw him on the Mount of Olives, that we may question them, and learn the truth more accurately. They found them, and brought them before all, and made them swear to tell the truth. And they said: As the God of Israel liveth, we saw Jesus alive on the Mount of Olives, and going up into heaven.
Then Annas and Caiaphas took the three apart, one by one, and questioned them singly in private. They agreed with one another, therefore, and gave, even the three, one account. The chief priests answered, saying: Our Scripture says that every word shall be established by two or three witnesses.127 Joseph, then, has confessed that he, along with Nicodemus, attended to his body, and buried him, and how it is the truth that he has risen.128