(Or the Gospel of Nicodemus.)
This work does not assume to have written by Pilate, but to have been derived from the official acts preserved in the praetorium at Jerusalem. The alleged Hebrew original is attributed to Nicodemus. The title "Gospel of Nicodemus " is of medieval origin. The apocryphon gained wide credit in the Middle Ages, and has considerably affected the legends of our Saviour's Passion. Its popularity is attested by the number of languages in which it exists, each of these being represented by two or more recensions. We possess a text in Greek, the original language; a Coptic, an Armenian and a Latin, besides modern translations. The Latin versions were naturally its most current form and were printed several times in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. One class of the Latin manuscripts contain as an appendix or continuation, the "Cura Sanitatis Tiberii", the oldest form of the Veronica legend.
The "Acta" consist of three sections, which reveal inequalities of style. The first (i-xi) contains the trial of Jesus based upon Luke, xxiii. The second part comprises xii-xvi; it regards the Resurrection. An appendix, detailing the Descensus ad Infernos , forms the third section, This does not exist in the Greek text and is a later addition. Leucius and Charinus, the two souls raised from the dead after the Crucifixion, relate to the Sanhedrin the circumstances of Our Lord's descent to Limbo. The well-informed Eusebius (325), although he mentions the Acta Pilati referred to by Justin and Tertullian and heathen pseudo-Acts of this kind, shows no acquaintance with this work. We are forced to admit that is of later origin, and scholars agree in assigning it to the middle of the fourth century. There is no internal relation between the "Acta" and the feigned letter found in the Acts of Peter and Paul. Epiphanius refers to the Acta Pilati similar to our own, as early as 376, but there are indications that the current Greek text, the earliest extant form, is a revision of the original one. The "Acta" are of orthodox composition and free from Gnostic taint. The book aimed at gratifying the desire for extra-evangelical details concerning Our Lord, and at the same time, to strengthen faith in the Resurrection of Christ, and at general edification. The writers (for the work we have is a composite) could not have expected their production to be seriously accepted by unbelievers. (See Apocryha, under Pilate Literature.)
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online