We now take up a new and most remarkable document known as The Gospel Of Nicodemus. It exists in more than one form and I will be giving you any variations that are significant.
Is this document authentic? That is impossible to determine, but as has been stated before, even if it should not be, the fact that it was accepted for many centuries by the Church and still is by the Eastern Church indicates that the teachings embodied in it were in keeping with the original Christian beliefs.
It is important to keep in mind that the translator has put Jews where in most places it would have been more accurate to have put Judeans.
I, Ananias, of the propaetors 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.
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 fifteen year 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 Caiphas 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 the Semes and Dathaes, and Gamaliel, Judas, Levi, and Nephthalim, Alexander and Jairus, 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 said: And what are the things which he does, to show that he wishes to do away with it? The Jews said: We have a law not to cure anyone on the Sabbath; but this man 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 said to them: What evil practices? They said to him: He is a magician, and by Beelzebul prince of the demons he casts out the demons, and all are subject to him. Pilate said to them: This is not casting out the demons by an unclean spirit, but by the god Aesculapius.
We certainly have to give Pilate his due. The Romans believed in the existence of evil spirits and their power to affect human beings, yet Pilate knew that healing was beyond the scope of evil spirits. Being polarized to anti-life forces, evil spirits can perform astonishing deeds, but they cannot heal or impart life-supporting powers. This is why we hear of gypsies and others first causing cattle or humans to become ill and then when asked for help lifting the curse and thus seeming to heal.
That evil spirits can bring about illness I know both from the testimony of those I know to be truthful and reliable (not always the same) as well as from my own experience. On one occasion I went to bless a house that was under attack from evil influences (blessing can be a diagnostic tool as well as the first step in exorcism). The grandson of the owner had been bedridden for quite some time with fever. When the house blessing was over, his fever had ceased and he was up and around, feeling fine.
Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.1
The Jews said to Pilate: We entreat your highness that he stand at thy tribunal, and be heard.
Another reading is: We entreat your highness to go into the praetorium, and question him. For Jesus was standing outside with the crowd. This agrees with the Gospel accounts.
And Pilate having called them, said: Tell me how I, being a procurator, can try a king? They said to him: We do not say that he is a king, but he himself says that he is.
Pilates question is not sarcastic. Just as Europe before World War I was filled with kings, queens, princes, and princesses of postage-stamp countries and districts within countries, so it wasand morein the Roman empire where the leader of a tribe or clan was styled a king.
And Pilate having called the runner, said to him: Let Jesus be brought in with respect. And the runner going out and recognizing Him, adored Him, and took his cloak into his hand and spread it on the ground, and said 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.
Another transcription has: Pilate therefore, throwing off his cloak, gave it to one of his officers, 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 Pilates 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 honor.
And Pilate having called the runner, said to him: Why hast thou done this, and spread out thy cloak upon the earth, and made Jesus walk upon it? The runner said to him: My lord procurator, when thou didst send me to Jerusalem to Alexander, I saw him sitting upon an ass, and the sons of the Hebrews held branches in their hands, and shouted; and other spread their cloths under him, saying, Save now, thou who art in the highest: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Very likely the Alexander spoken of here is the one listed in Acts 4:6: And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
The Jews cried out, and said to the runner: The sons of the Hebrews shouted in Hebrew; whence then hast thou the Greek?
Most interesting! This indicates that the runner was Greek-speaking.
The runner said 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 said to them: And what did they shout in Hebrew? The Jews said to him: Hosanna membrome baruchamma adonai. Pilate said to them: And this hosanna, etc., how is it interpreted? The Jews said to him: Save now in the highest; blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Pilate said 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 said 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 said to Jesus: My lord, come in; the procurator calleth thee.
Jesus was shown honor in the court that condemned Him to death. This is the way of the world. Let the aspirant learn from this. With a smile the crocodile opens its jaws to devour.
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 [another reading: Annas and Caiphas and Joseph, the three false witnesses] seeing the bearing of the standards, how they were bent down and adored Jesus, cried out vehemently against the standard-bearers. And Pilate said to the Jews: Do you not wonder how the tops of the standards were bent down and adored Jesus? The Jews said to Pilate: We saw how the standard-bearers bent them down and adored him. And the procurator having called the standard-bearers, said to them: Why have you done this? They said 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.
As we have seen, when the Holy Family proceeded down the avenue of the Temple of the Sun in Heliopolis, Egypt, the images bowed down before them as though animated, the stone becoming flexiblesomething that can happen in the presence of highest consciousness since matter is simply energy whose behavior patterns can be altered by the action of higher forces upon it. Thus in all religions we have instances of divine incarnations and saints leaving their hand and foot prints in stone. Although it is virtually unknown outside the Eastern Orthodox Church, the footprints of Jesus are preserved on the top of the Mount of Ascension. Unfortunately the Moslemsas is their wont with the holy places of othersbuilt a Mosque over it during the Turkish domination of Israel, and only once a year, on Orthodox Ascension, allow the Orthodox Christians, at great price, to enter and venerate the footprints. A handprint of Jesus, made when He fell beneath the Cross, can be seen at the Russian excavations down the street from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Stone becomes as wax in the presence of a Masteranother proof that solid matter is not at all what we think it to be.
In this instance, though, the images on the Roman Standards did not become flexible, but rather the entire standards bowed forward and down at the passing of Jesus, the standard-bearers being unable to resist the tremendous force. This phenomenon can be seen when dowsing with tree twigs or even metal rods. The dowser cannot keep the twig or rods from moving. I have witnessed this myself more than once.
In the last century a miracle-working icon of the Virgin Mary was carried through a group of trees on Mount Athos. As it passed, the trees bowed down. They did not straighten up, but remained that way. Their further growth was upward so that today the trees are seen to be in an L shape.
Whether the dipping of the standards was an action on the part of the gods depicted on them or whether it was a reaction of the metal to the moving between them of the mighty power emanating from Jesus we do not know, but it was certainly a sign that One Who was more than human was passing by. Sad that the observers did not learn and reverse their evil wills and actions.
Pilate said 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 procurators tribunal. And Pilate said 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, said to them: I have sworn by the 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 in. And as He went in, the standards were again bent down, and adored Jesus.
How reminiscent this is of todays scientific psychic researchers! They experiment and experiment only to say that their results are inconclusive or that something happenedand no more.
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.
We can see from this, as well as from similar incidents through the centuries even into our own days, that warnings and omens mean nothing when the will is negatively disposed. The same applies to attempts to convince those of the truth whose very mental vibration is against it. No amount of intellectual argument or persuasion can have more than a temporary effect if the heart has not heard the upward call. For this reason we should not waste our time in debates and discussions about religion and philosophy. Water finds it own level is true even more in the spiritual world than in the material. It is erroneous to disturb ourselves over those who remain in darkness, outside the light. There can be no external help for them. Rather, their inner eyes and ears must be openedand even then unless their wills are so disposed their inner awakening will mean nothing. We have ourselves wilfully sat in the darkness through many liveswhy should they not have the same freedom? They will not be damned foreverin time they will move into the light and rejoice in it. Until that time they should be left in peace.2 And so should we leave ourselves in peace and not stir ourselves up over them.
And Pilate, summoning the Jews, said to them: You know that my wife is a worshipper of God, and prefers to adhere to the Jewish religion along with you.
This is a new fact. I have written a little about Claudia Procula in An Eagles Flight. In some segments of the Eastern Christian Church she is considered a Saint.
They said to him: Yes, we know. Pilate said to them: Behold, my wife 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, said unto Pilate: Did we not tell thee that he was a sorcerer? Behold, he has sent a dream to thy wife.
The subject of dreams is not a light or a slight one. In all religious traditions it is held that dreams can be communications from higher consciousness. In both Old and New Testaments we find dreams cited as visions from God. Yet there is a pathological obsession with dreams that must be avoided. Many religious people who egotistically aspire to prophethood diligently study every dream and expound them as revelations from On High, when they come from no source higher than the tops of their headsand usually not from that high up!
There are three types of dreams: simple productions of the subconscious in the form of visual thoughts, a mixture of subconscious and superconscious imagery, and a vision coming directly from a higher sourcethe higher self of the person or from high spiritual beings or forces external to him. How to tell which is which is necessary for us.
And Pilate, having summoned Jesus, said 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.
How important these two points are. First, unless the empowerment of our and their karma is behind their acts, no one can do either good or evil to us. This being so, we are not to be like beaten puppies, rolling over and giving up, but on the other hand we must understand that the divine plan is being worked out through them. Now, that does not, as I have said, mean that we are just to accept and suffer. That may be what we are meant to do for our betterment, but we may be supposed to rise up and bat the ball back into their own court. This, too, can be a learning process for us and them. Yet we must realize that we are being taught at all times. We must not waste the lesson by only disliking or liking what is coming to us. Good as well as evil is a teaching. It is hard, I know, to shake off the evil conditioning of false Christianitys insistence on everything being reward and punishment, but we mustand come to realize that all is grace, the grace of a loving Father and Mother.
Second, does this principle spoken by Jesus to Pilate mean that those who spoke against Him were mere instruments, virtual puppets, and not responsible for their words? Not at all. They had the power to speak, but it was their personal negative disposition of mind and will that manifested as false and evil speech. Thus they both fulfilled the karma of Jesus and created further negative karma for themselves. In their reaping of that karma in the future they will in truth see to it. Neither they, nor we, can excuse ourselves by saying that any external force makes us do anything. Not even God forces us to action. All our life is a manifestation of our own creative powers, the mastery of which is essential to our ultimate release into spirit.
And the elders 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.
You may not have met any dedicated walkers of the lefthand path who especially hate our Lord Jesus, but I have, and I can tell you that twenty centuries later than this record I have heard the same stupid words from their mouths. They particularly like the accusation of Jesus causing the murder of the infants. Evil has a most limited repertory.
Some of the bystanders, pious men of the Jews, said: We deny that he was born of fornication; for we know that Joseph espoused Mary, and he was not born of fornication.
For the sake of esoteric symbolism the Gospels only speak of people crying out and demanding the death of Jesus, but here we have a more balancedand no doubt historically more accurateaccount.
Pilate said 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.
This is confirmation that the betrothal ceremony was considered as binding as the later marriage rite would be. Quite interesting is the implication that a child conceived before the marriage would not be looked upon as illegitimate. Thus by Roman and Hebrew Law Jesus would not be illegitimate even if He were the son of Joseph. This explains why, despite the belief that He was conceived and born without Joseph and the Virgin being married, Jesus was allowed to read and teach in the synagogues.3 For the Law said: A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.4
Annas and Caiaphas said 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, said to them: What are proselytes? They said 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, Crispus, Agrippas, and Judas, said: 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, said 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 said to Pilate: We have a law against taking oaths, because it is a sin; but let them swear by the health of Caesar that it is not as we have said, and we are liable to death. Pilate said to Annas and Caiaphas: Have you nothing to answer to this? Annas and Caiaphas said 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.
In Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, a man who is possessed by evil attempts to overwhelm the representative of good by repeating inanities over and over. Here we see the same. Rather than answer intelligently, they just whine: You believe them; you dont believe us like petulant children. Evil often puts on the ways of childishness to both madden and disarm their targets.
And Pilate ordered 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 said to them: For what reason do they wish to put him to death? They said to him: They are angry because he cures on the Sabbath. Pilate said: For a good work do they wish to put him to death? They said to him: Yes.
And Pilate, filled with rage, went outside of the praetorium, and said to them: I take the sun to witness that I find no fault in this man.
Remember, to the Romans the sun was a god, so he was taking an oath with a deity as witness.
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?
In The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ we were told that Pilate had some of the leaders of the Sanhedrin act as fronts for him. Here we see the picture given in the Gospelsthat those members of the Sanhedrin were pushing Pilate to condemn Jesus. Which is correct? Very likely both are. No doubt Pilate used these men to investigate Jesus, and then at the eleventh hour decided Jesus had done no wrong and tried to exonerate himself.
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?
The actual meaning of Pilates words are: You do not mean to say that I, too, am a Jew, do you? It is implied by suffixes to the words that have no literal translation, just as in Latin dices means You say, dont you? but dicesne means Do you say? and dicesnum means You dont say, do you?
Thy nation and the chief priests have given thee up to me. What has 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 said to Him: What is truth? Jesus said to him: Truth is from heaven. Pilate said: Is truth not upon earth? Jesus said to Pilate: Thou seest how those who speak the truth are judged by those that have the power upon earth.
And leaving Jesus within the praetorium, Pilate went out to the Jews, and said to them: I find no fault in him. The Jews said to him: He said, I can destroy this temple, and in three days build it. Pilate said: What temple? The Jews said: The one that Solomon built in forty-six years, and this man speaks of pulling it down and building it in three days. Pilate said to them: I am innocent of the blood of this just man. See you to it. The Jews said: His blood be upon us, and upon our children.
And Pilate having summoned the elders and priests and Levites, said to them private: 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 said: If any one speak evil against Caesar, is he worthy of death or not? Pilate said: He is worthy of death. The Jews said 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 said to Him: What shall I do to thee? Jesus said to Pilate: As it has been given to thee. Pilate said: How given? Jesus said: Moses and the prophets have proclaimed beforehand of My death and resurrection.
Jesus shows us how to look upon our karma, whether painful or pleasant.
And the Jews noticing this, and hearing it, said to Pilate: What more wilt thou hear of this blasphemy? Pilate said 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 said 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.
Pilate said to them: Do you take him, and punish him in whatever way you please. The Jews said to Pilate: We wish that he be crucified. Pilate said: He is not deserving of crucifixion.
And the procurator, looking round upon the Jews standing by, saw many of the Jews weeping, and said: All the multitude do not wish him to die. The elders of the Jews said: For this reason all the multitude of us have come, that he should die. Pilate said to the Jews: Why should he die? The Jews said: Because he called himself Son of God, and King.
And one Nicodemus, a Jew, stood before the procurator, and said: I beseech your honor, let me say a few words. Pilate said: Say on. Nicodemus said: 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 does 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 of man, they will come to nothing.
Later Gamaliel, the great teacher among the Pharisees who numbered Saul of Tarsus, later Saint Paul, among his pupils, would say the same thing, as is set down in the book of Acts.5
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 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 godsthis Jannes and this Jambres. 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 said to Nicodemus: Thou hast become his disciple, and therefore thou defendest him. Nicodemus said 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 said to them: Why do you gnash your teeth against him when you hear the truth? The Jews said to Nicodemus: Mayst thou receive his truth and his portion. Nicodemus said: Amen, amen; may I receive it, as you have said.
The Fathers have told us that the blessings of evil people are really curses, and their curses are really blessings. Saint Nicodemos was evidently of the same mind.
One of the Jews, stepping up, asked leave of the procurator to say a word. The procurator said: If thou wishest to say anything, 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, he had compassion on me, and said to me: Take up thy couch and walk. And I took up my couch, and walked. The Jews said to Pilate: Ask him on what day it was that he was cured. He that had been cured said: On a Sabbath. The Jews said: 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. 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 word.
And a woman [Bernice, or Veronica] 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. The Jews said: We have a law, that a womans evidence is not to be received.
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 said to them who said that the demons were subject to Him: Why, then, were not your teachers also subject to him? They said to Pilate: We do not know. And others said: He raised Lazarus from the tomb after he had been dead four days. 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 said to them: What shall I do, because there is an insurrection among the people? They said to him: We know not; let them see to it. Again Pilate, having summoned all the multitude of the Jews, said: 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 cried out: Barabbas. Pilate said: What, then, shall we do to Jesus who is called Christ? The Jews said: Let him be crucified. And others said: Thou art no friend of Caesars 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?
And Pilate, in a rage, said to the Jews: Always has your nation been rebellious, and you always speak against your benefactors. The Jews say: What benefactors? He said 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. [Other reading are: with wishing another king; with seeking Jesus for king.]
This shows that Pilate was conversant with the history of the Hebrews. Despite its faults, the Roman Empire usually treated its subjects with respect, and the governors sent to the provinces made themselves acquainted with the religions and cultures of the people they ruled.
And rising up from the tribunal, he sought to go out. And the Jews cry out 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 [from two years old and under].
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 said: Yes, it is he.
Herods atrocities were well known throughout the Empire. It is very likely that Pilate personally knew his son, Herod Agrippa, who spent much of his time in Rome.
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. And again the Jews cried 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,…
The drawing of the curtain was customary before pronouncing sentence.
…and said to Jesus: Thy nation has charged thee with being a king. On this account I sentence thee, first to be scoured, 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.
[Another manuscript has the following:
The sentence to this effect, then, having been passed by Pilate, the Jews began to strike Jesus, some with rods, others with their hands, other with their feet; some also spat in His face.
The Gospels say that this was done by the Roman soldiers. There seems to be some confusion here with the maltreatment of Jesus when He was before the High Priest.
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,…
Only the worst criminals carried their own crosses. Usually the crosses were already at the place of execution awaiting them.
…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. 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,…
This shows us that the expression Mother of God applied to the Virgin is of ancient usagefrom the very beginning of Christianity.
…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 said: 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, that they are taking Thee away to crucify Thee? And She rose up as if blinded [darkened], and went along the road, weeping. And women followed HerMartha, 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 said to John: Where is My son? John said: 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 Judea? 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 [GolgothaOf The Skull], which was paved with stone; 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 said also to John: Behold thy mother! 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 man. 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 woman and John.]
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. And the soldier Longinus, taking a spear, pierced His side, and there came forth blood and water.
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 shalt thou be 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. And having said this, He gave up the ghost.
Jesus did not die of crucifixion. He consciously left His body.
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 happened? And they say: There has been an eclipse of the sun in the usual way. Pilate said to them: You scoundrels! Is this the way you tell the truth about everything? I know that that never happens but at new moon. Now you ate your passover yesterday, the fourteenth of the month, and you say that it was an eclipse of the sun.
Then they said to him: We hold the feast of unleavened bread tomorrow; 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.
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 Arimathea, 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 rock, in which no one had ever lain.
And as the day of the preparation was drawing towards evening, Joseph, a man well-born and rich, a God-fearing Jew, finding Nicodemus, whose sentiments his foregoing speech had shown, said 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 said 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 said: Jesus, the good man whom through hatred the Jews have taken away to crucify, him I entreat that thou give me for burial. Pilate said: And what has happened, that we should deliver to be honored 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 was 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 went away to Nicodemus, and disclosed to him all that had happened. Then, having bought myrrh and aloes a hundred pounds, and a new tomb, 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.
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 Simeon 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. 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.
This she did. Going to Tiberius, she handed him an egg, saying: Christ is risen. It was the custom to give gifts to Caesar, but usually not something like an egg! Tiberius would not take the egg, but asked to know why she had offered it to him. Saint Mary explained that just as life is in an egg, so Christ the Life lay in the tomb. And as the chick breaks out of the stone of the shell, so Jesus came forth from the stone tomb in triumph over death. Taken aback, Tiberius demanded a sign that her words were true. Instantly the egg turned scarlet in Saint Marys hand, and she then spoke of Christ granting life through the shedding of His blood. It is from this incident that we have the custom of Easter eggs, which in the Eastern Churches are always bright red. (The Slavic Orthodox sometimes paint them elaborately in many colors, but that is not according to the original practice.)
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 feddest 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, John also being present with them.
There has not been much commentary on this since it is so straightforward and obvious. The text itself is of inestimable value.
And the Jews, hearing that Joseph had begged the body 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 said to them: How have you come into the synagogue? The Jews said to him: How has thou come into the synagogue? For thou art a confederate of his, and his portion is with thee in the world to come. Nicodemus said: 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 shalt not be deemed worthy of burial, but we shall give thy flesh to the birds of the air. Joseph said to them: These are the words of the arrogant Goliath, who reproached the living God and holy David. For God has said by the prophet, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord. 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, 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.
This miracle confirmed the truth that Jesus had come forth from the tomb by passing though the stone, and not through the door, leaving the seals intact. (The Western depictions of Jesus coming out through the door of the tomb is not in harmony with the Gospel accounts.) In the same way He had passed through the body of His Mother, keeping the seal of Her virginity intact, as well.
And while they were still sitting in the synagogue, and wondering about Joseph, there came 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.
The Jews said: To what women did he speak? The men of the guard said: We do not know who they were. The Jews said: At what time was this? The men of the guard said: At midnight. The Jews said: And wherefore did you not lay hold of them? The men of the guard said: 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 said: As the Lord liveth, we do not believe you. The men of the guard said 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 said: 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 said: Joseph has gone away to his own city. The men of the guard said 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 be heard, and all incline to Jesus.
This is a common reaction among the ignorantlyand usually evillyreligious people. They care not what is the truthonly that their delusions be maintained and, even worse, communicated to others at their hands. There is nothing they will not do to perpetuate their false ways.
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;
This fiction persists even to this day.
and if this come to the ears of the procurator, we shall persuade him, and keep you out of trouble. And they took the money, but could not hide the truth. For they wanted to say, His disciples stole him while we slept, and could not utter it; but said, Truly the Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the dead; and we saw an Angel of God coming down from heaven, and he rolled back the stone, and sat on it.
When a person is strongly polarized to the righthand or lefthand paths, he will be seen to spontaneously speak and act accordingly. Just as there are evil people who cannot endure to even speak simple truth, so there are those who cannot speak liesbeing advanced on the righthand path. Does this mean their wills have ceased to function? No, rather their wills have become so polarized that they cannot be turned into opposition to themselves. In the lives of saints we have many instances of their having lost the ability to do evil.
In this instance, however, the divine power would not allow the guards to lie about the resurrection. This was another miracle to prove the truth of Jesus having conquered death and lived again in His physicalthough transmutedbody.
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; 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.
The elders and the priests and Levites said: 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 elders and the priests and the Levites said to them: Have you come to give us this announcement, or to offer prayer to God? And they said: To offer prayer to God. The elders and the chief priests and the Levites said 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 [why then this trifling which ye have trifled]. Said Phinees the priest, and Adas 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 eat 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 said: 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.
Here we see the power of the mind for self-deception. When before Pilate, they tried to make out that those who spoke in defense of Jesus were not Jews but Gentiles, and now they ignore that Jews have just come and told them of Jesus resurrection.
And Nicodemus stood up, and stood before the Sanhedrin, saying: You say well; 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 [Elias, Elijah] 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 [which parted at its touch], 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, and thrown him upon one of the mountains? But let us take our servants 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. 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 Arimathea, 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 Arimathea. 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 honorable 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, said 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 honorable teachers, and the priests and the Levites, seek 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 [i.e., Joshua], 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 [lifted] up by the four corners, and I saw a light like lightning into my eyes.
This is how some experience the annihilation of spacesomething that is rare but not at all unknown. I know of instances in this century.
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.
For a body to pass through space instantlyas did Saint Philip as recorded in the eighth chapter of the book of Actsit must be shielded. Perhaps Saint Joseph was experiencing this shielding and interpreting it in ways he knew. On the other hand, there are initiatory baptisms which take place in the astral levels, and he may have been undergoing one of those. They sometimes are bestowed for his strengthening when he is about to face some difficulty or actual testing. This is may be what happened to Saint Joseph since he was going to face this interrogation.
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.
See in what a loving and gentle way Jesus treats Saint Joseph. The Christians had this image of Jesus as the loving and tender Friend as well as Master. Only after Constantine, when the Church was turned into a reflection of the imperial state, was this true understanding of Jesus replaced with an imaging of Him as an Emperor upon a throne before Whom all should tremble. From a dispenser of grace and mercy He became a benevolent tyrant who dispensed mathematical justice instead. No longer loving and approachable, He became mighty and remote. This glorification was the vilest of insults, a denial of His true feeling for humanity, for He had told his disciples: Henceforth I call you not servants;…but I have called you friends.6 Jesus the Christ is our Brother. Saint Paul affirms this in his epistle to the Romans. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.7 How differently do so many Christians view Christ today! This is because our true destiny as illumined sons of Godand therefore godsis denied by contemporary theology, conservative and liberal. Expounding a corrupted, false gospel, they present a false Christ.
The icons of the Eastern Church demonstrate this changing of Christ from a merciful friend into a demanding despot. The icons have for more than a thousand years depicted the Emperor of All, but one of the earliest icons from Egypt shows Saint Menas and Jesus side-by-side with Jesus having his arm around the shoulders of Saint Menas in a gesture of loving and intimate friendship. That alone is the true Christ, one Who inspires us with His love, not with fear of His justice and judgmentreal as they are.
And I trembled, and thought it was a phantom; and I said the commandments, and He said them with me. Even so you are not ignorant that a phantom, if it meet anybody, and hear the commandments, takes to flight.
Now we are coming into a realm of very important esoteric knowledge.
Every word we speak is creative, generating a form composed of vibrating energy, that is called a thought form. (This is true of all sound, verbal or otherwise.) A sequence of words, like a sequence of musical notes, also produces a form and vibration. This is why we must watch our words, and even our most idle conversation. We are feeding vibratory energies into our minds and into the world around us.
Prayers composed by genuine mystics are remarkable formulas of power. Whether we say them or whether we hear them, profound changes are worked in us. When in sacred rites the participants intone Amen in response to the leaders prayers, a mighty force is sent forth into the creative levels of the universe to produce the desired effect.
Some prayer formulas are powerful exorcisms. The Lords Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, and the Nicene Creed are especially effective in the Christian tradition. Most effective of all is the Name of Jesus.
We see from this account of Saint Joseph that the Ten Commandments, having been originally inscribed on stone by the power of God, were also formulas of exorcistic power. This is because they were the seeds of the powers which, when conserved by those who follow the Commandments, have the effect of expelling all evil.8
Just as you and I, strivers to produce and conform to the divine order, find ourselves wanting to leave a place where cacophonous and chaotic music is blaring, so negative spirits are made miserable by orderly and high vibrations. Usually they will flee from the place where sacred vibrations are being produced. This is why the first step in exorcism to is to bless a place or person. By imbuing them with high vibrations any negative entities are usually expelled. However, there are entities that are unsettled by positive vibrations but are strong enough to remain. These require stronger measures to be dislodged. But none can resist for long. In the West the evil spirits are usually cursed and fulminated againstproducing the very kind of negative vibrations that such spirits thrive onand so the exorcisms take a long time, and often fail because of their basically negative approach. But in the East the exorcism takes the form of loving praise of God and Christ. The holy vibrations produced by such praises quickly and easily expel the evil intelligences.
Sometimes we encounter entities that claim to be saints, angels, masters, or other positive beings. We know from Saint Paul that evil spirits can appear to be angels of light.9 How, then, shall we test them, for Saint John counsels us: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.10
One way is to challenge them to recite the Holy Name of Jesus or holy prayer-invocations. We should demand that they recite by themselvesnot along with uslest they make vague noises as we recite them and fool us into thinking they are repeating the holy sounds. A possessed man used to attend our monasterys church services and seemed to be singing along, making the responses, etc. But someone listened carefully and found he was mouthing nonsense that sounded right. For example, whenever To Thee, O Lord, was to be sung, he came out with Doo Dee, Doe Dordand he did not have a speech impediment. Superficially it sounded like he was saying the right wordsbut he was not.
Why cannot they recite these holy words? Because when we say them their power manifests within the depths of our being and takes effect. To an entity or person polarized to evil, the sacred power is like acid burning within them, for the energies pull in absolutely the opposite direction to their polarization.
We can test ourselves this way too. If we find ourselves getting antsy in worship or meditation we can know that we are drifting to the left and that which is unsettling us is the very remedy for it.
And seeing that He said them with me, 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! For forty days go not forth out of thy house; for, behold, I go to my brethren in Galilee in order that I may enable them fully to proclaim My resurrection.
Here we find that Jesus looked upon His disciples as brothers, as we have already covered. As also mentioned a goodly while back, in India every day the faithful sing: Thou art my father, and Thou art my mother, and Thou art my brother….
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 tomorrow 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, said: I know that his parents fear God, and do not withdraw themselves from the prayers, and give the tithes thrice a year. 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 Simeon 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 Simeon 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 Simeon 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 thy soul, in order that the reasoning of many hearts may be revealed.
They said to the teacher Levi: How knowest thou these things? Levi said to them: Do you not know that from him I learned the law? The Sanhedrin said 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 Simeon himself taught him the law. The Sanhedrin said 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 said 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 the 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 said: 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 called Adas, and said to him: How didst thou see Jesus taken up? Adas said: 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 called Phinees the priest, and asked 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. Buthem, a teacher, said: It is written in the law, And Enoch walked with God, and is not, because God took him. Jairus, a teacher, 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. And Rabbi Levi said: Why did Rabbi Simeon say, when he saw Jesus, Behold, he lies for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against? 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.
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; but 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 honorable 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 Simeon, 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, knowing you shall know, O house of Jacob, that it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree. And another Scripture teaches: The gods which have not made the heaven and the earth shall be destroyed. And the priests and the Levites said to each other: If his memorial shall be until the year that is called Jobel [the year of jubilee], know that it shall 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 mans hand, and cursed is the man who shall worship the creatures more than the Creator. And all the people said, Amen, amen.
And all the people praised [or, sang hymns to] 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, 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. And the Lord shall be for a king over all the earth in that day; and there shall be one Lord, and His name one. The Lord is our king: He shall save us. There is none like Thee, O Lord. 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; because we are Thy lot and heritage. And the Lord will not leave His people, for His great names sake; for the Lord has begun to make us into His people.
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.
So ends the first part of the Gospel of Nicodemus.
For some reason the following has been copied separately in the manuscripts, perhaps because it was traditional to read it on Holy Saturday, just before Easter, or perhaps in the week after Easter, and for convenience it was made separate. It is known as The Descent of Christ into Hades.
Hades means the unseen world. Thinking of the worlds as being stacked on one anotherwhich is not really correct, but easy to grasp we speak of higher and lower worlds. The Greeks took a very literal view of this way of speaking and thought that after death a person descended into the depths of the earth itself. This is a doctrine of many Fundamentalist Protestants as well, some of them even giving an exact figure in miles as to where hell is located beneath the earths crust! Hell comes from the Saxon hella and simply means lower or nether world. (The country we call Holland, Helland, is really Nederlandthe Low Landbecause it is below sea level.) Neither hell nor nether in themselves have the connotation of the place where evil souls go after death, but they have taken on that meaning. Thus when we read ancient writings whose authors did not think of hell as we have come to do, we can become confused. So we need to keep in mind this older meaning when we go through many of these translations. Rather than enter upon the arduous endeavor of correcting them, I will simply give them as they are and hope you will remember the more correct terminology that should have been used.
And Joseph rose up and said to Annas and Caiaphas: Truly and well do you wonder, since you have heard that Jesus has been seen alive from the dead, ascending up into heaven. But it is more to be wondered at that He is not the only one who has risen from the dead; but He has raised up alive out of their tombs many others of the dead, and they have been seen by many in Jerusalem.
Saint Matthew records that: Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the Saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.11 This was to ensure that no one could honestly say that the resurrection of Jesus was a fabricationthat those who claimed to have seen Him living were lying. Everyone in Jerusalem saw at least one resurrected person, so immortality and the possibility of resurrection was proven to all but those who refused to know the truth. As the Russian axiom says: Even if you convince me I will not be convinced.
And hear me now, that we all know the blessed Simeon, the great priest, who took up with his hands Jesus, when an infant, in the temple.
Saint Luke gives the account of Saint Simeon and his meeting of the Theotokos and Her Son: And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lords Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.12 The history of Saint Simeons work on the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew scriptures and the angelic revelation that he should not die before seeing the Messiah has already been covered earlier.
And Simeon himself had two sons, full brothers; and we all were at their falling asleep, and at their burial. Go, therefore, and see their tombs: for they are open, because they have risen; and, behold, they are in the city of Arimathea, living together in prayers. And, indeed, they are heard crying out, but speaking with nobody, and they are silent as the dead. But come, let us go to them; let us conduct them to us with all honor and respect. And if we adjure them, perhaps they will speak to us of the mystery of their resurrection.
At hearing this they all rejoiced. And Annas and Caiaphas, Nicodemus, and Joseph, and Gamaliel, went, and did not find them in their sepulchres; but, walking into the city of Arimathea, they found them there, on their bended knees, and spending their time in prayer. And kissing them, they conducted them to Jerusalem, into the synagogue, with all veneration and fear of God. And shutting the doors, and lifting up the law of the Lord, they put it in their hands, adjuring them by the God Adonai, and the God of Israel, Who by the law and the prophets spoke to our fathers, saying: Do you believe that it was Jesus who raised you from the dead? Tell us how you have risen from the dead.
That is, they brought forth the Holy Torah and had them hold it and then adjured them to declare the truth. This is because the Torah scroll itself is considered a divine presence because of its contents, and also because of the way it is inscribed by hand with continual prayers that magnetize it greatly. Books vibrate with the energy of the authors mind. From childhood I used to be able to read the mind of a writer by simply reading a few lines from one of his books. That is, by reading I came into contact with his mind. And it made no difference whether the author was living or dead. The nineteenth century British author William Thackeray had this ability, also. Therefore when all of England was taken with the writings of Charlotte Bronte under the name of Currer Bell, he declared adamantly that the author of Jane Eyre was a woman and not a man. When Charlotte Bronte came to see him incognito, the moment he glimpsed her he greeted her with the words: Ah! Currer Bell, is it not? Being sensitive to vibrations, he sensed the same mind energies emanating from her that he encountered in reading her book. There was no need for him to become acquainted with herhe knew her already through intuition.13
1) Matthew 12:22-28 [Go back]
2) Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone. (Hosea 4:17) [Go back]
3) And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:14) [Go back]
4) Deuteronomy 23:2 [Go back]
5) Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. (Acts 5:34-39) [Go back]
6) John 15:15 [Go back]
7) Romans 8:16,17 [Go back]
8) See The Gnosis of the Ten Commandments. [Go back]
9) II Corinthians 11:14 [Go back]
10) I John 4:1 [Go back]
11) Matthew 27:50-53 [Go back]
12) Luke 2:22-35 [Go back]
13) Thackeray was born in India. Did this have anything to do with this ability of his? [Go back]