Nicodemus

Nicodemus

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Saint Nicodemus was a Pharisee
Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

 and a member of the Sanhedrin
Sanhedrin
The Sanhedrin was an assembly of twenty-three judges appointed in every city in the Biblical Land of Israel.The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme court of ancient Israel made of 71 members...

, who, according to the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

, showed favour to Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

. He appears three times: the first is when he visits Jesus one night to listen to his teachings ; the second is when he states the law concerning the arrest of Jesus during the Feast of Tabernacles
Sukkot
Sukkot is a Biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei . It is one of the three biblically mandated festivals Shalosh regalim on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.The holiday lasts seven days...

 ; and the last follows the Crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

, when he assists Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea was, according to the Gospels, the man who donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after Jesus' Crucifixion. He is mentioned in all four Gospels.-Gospel references:...

 in preparing the corpse of Jesus for burial .

The discussion with Jesus is the source of several common expressions of contemporary Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, specifically, the descriptive phrase born again used to describe the experience of believing in Jesus as Saviour, and John 3:16, a commonly quoted verse used to describe God's plan of salvation.

An apocrypha
Apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....

l work under his name — the Gospel of Nicodemus — was produced the mid fourth century, and is mostly a reworking of the earlier Acts of Pilate
Acts of Pilate
The Acts of Pilate , also called the Gospel of Pilate, is a book of New Testament apocrypha. The dates of its accreted sections are uncertain, but scholars agree in assigning the resulting work to the middle of the fourth century...

, which recounts the harrowing of Hell
Harrowing of Hell
The Harrowing of Hell is a doctrine in Christian theology referenced in the Apostles' Creed and the Athanasian Creed that states that Jesus Christ "descended into Hell"...

.

Though there is no clear source of information about this Nicodemus outside the Gospel of John, the Jewish Encyclopedia
Jewish Encyclopedia
The Jewish Encyclopedia is an encyclopedia originally published in New York between 1901 and 1906 by Funk and Wagnalls. It contained over 15,000 articles in 12 volumes on the history and then-current state of Judaism and the Jews as of 1901...

 and many Biblical historians have theorized that he is identical to Nicodemus ben Gurion
Nicodemus ben Gurion
Nicodemus ben Gurion was a wealthy Jew who lived in Jerusalem in the 1st century CE. He is widely believed to be identical to the Nicodemus mentioned in the Gospel of John....

, mentioned in the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 as a wealthy and popular holy man reputed to have had miraculous powers. Christian tradition asserts that Nicodemus was martyred sometime in the first century.
Nicodemus is venerated as a Saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Roman Catholics celebrate his memorial on August 3. The Franciscan Order erected a Church carrying his name and the name of St. Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea was, according to the Gospels, the man who donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after Jesus' Crucifixion. He is mentioned in all four Gospels.-Gospel references:...

 in Ramla
Ramla
Ramla , is a city in central Israel. The city is predominantly Jewish with a significant Arab minority. Ramla was founded circa 705–715 AD by the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman ibn Abed al-Malik after the Arab conquest of the region...

. The Orthodox Church celebrates him on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers
Myrrhbearers
In Eastern Orthodoxy the Myrrhbearers are the individuals mentioned in the New Testament who were directly involved in the burial or who discovered the empty tomb following the resurrection of Jesus...

, a variable date falling always on the third Sunday of Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 and also on August 2, the date when tradition
Sacred Tradition
Sacred Tradition or Holy Tradition is a theological term used in some Christian traditions, primarily in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox traditions, to refer to the fundamental basis of church authority....

 states that his relics were found, along with those of the Apostle
Seventy Disciples
The seventy disciples or seventy-two disciples were early followers of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke . According to Luke, the only gospel in which they appear, Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs on a specific mission which is detailed in the text...

 and Protomartyr Stephen
Saint Stephen
Saint Stephen The Protomartyr , the protomartyr of Christianity, is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches....

 and Gamaliel
Gamaliel
Gamaliel the Elder , or Rabban Gamaliel I , was a leading authority in the Sanhedrin in the mid 1st century CE. He was the grandson of the great Jewish teacher Hillel the Elder, and died twenty years before the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem...

 (another member of the Sanhedrin who, according to a disputed Christian tradition, converted to Christianity).

Nicodemus in art



Nicodemus figures prominently in medieval depictions of the Deposition
Entombment of Christ
The Entombment redirects here. For other uses, The Entombment The Entombment of Christ, that is to say the burial of Jesus Christ, occurred after his death by crucifixion, when, according to the gospel accounts, he was placed in a new tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea.-Biblical account:All four...

 in which he and Joseph of Arimathea are always shown removing the dead Christ from the cross, often with the aid of a ladder. Like Joseph, Nicodemus became the object of various pious legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

s during the Middle Ages, particularly in connection with monumental crosses. He was reputed to have carved both the Holy Face of Lucca
Holy Face of Lucca
The Holy Face of Lucca is a venerated wooden corpus of a crucifix, located in the free-standing octagonal Carrara marble chapel , which was built in 1484 by Matteo Civitali, the sculptor-architect of Lucca, to contain it. The tempietto stands in the right-hand nave of the cathedral of San...

 and the Batlló Crucifix, receiving angelic assistance with the face in particular and thus rendering the works instances of acheiropoieta
Acheiropoieta
Acheiropoieta — also called Icons Made Without Hands — are a particular kind of icon which are alleged to have come into existence miraculously, not created by a human painter. Invariably these are images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary...

. Both of these sculptures date from at least a millennium after Nicodemus's life, but the ascriptions attest to the contemporary interest in Nicodemus as a character in medieval Europe.

Popular culture


Nicodemus was portrayed by Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

 in the Franco Zeffirelli
Franco Zeffirelli
Franco Zeffirelli KBE is an Italian director and producer of films and television. He is also a director and designer of operas and a former senator for the Italian center-right Forza Italia party....

 television miniseries Jesus of Nazareth (1977). In the miniseries, Nicodemus tries to warn Jesus that he might be arrested, and is there to watch the Crucifixion. He speaks the famous words "And with His wounds we are healed" .

Nichole Nordeman
Nichole Nordeman
Nichole Ellyse Nordeman is an eight-time Dove Award-winning contemporary Christian American singer–songwriter.-Biography:Nordeman was raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she played the piano in church...

's song To Know You includes the lyrics: "Nicodemus could not understand how You could truly free us. He struggled with the image of a grown man born again. We might have been good friends, 'cause sometimes I still question too how easily we come to You."

In the Dresden Files series of novels, by Jim Butcher, Nicodemus betrays his faith by teaming up with Anduriel, a fallen Angel, who is also the captain of Lucifer's armies of Hell. Unlike the other humans who are possessed and enslaved by the Fallen, Nicodemus chooses his fate. In the series he wears "The Rope of Judas" (the piece of rope Judas
Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot was, according to the New Testament, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He is best known for his betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver.-Etymology:...

 used to hang himself) as a sort of macabre necktie.

The name Nicodemus is given to the leader of the rats in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a 1971 children's book by Robert C. O'Brien. Illustrated by Zena Bernstein, it won the 1972 Newbery Medal. A film adaptation, The Secret of NIMH, was released in 1982....

.

Other references include songs from the Christian band For Today
For Today (band)
For Today is an American Christian metalcore band from Sioux City, Iowa, formed in 2005. They are currently signed to Razor & Tie. They have released one EP, Your Moment, Your Life, Your Time, and three full-length albums: Ekklesia on April 1, 2008, Portraits on June 9, 2009, and their third studio...

, in which one song entitled "Nicodemus (The Seeker)" contains lyrics hinting at his biblical legacy.

Also, in many books are there names used as Nicodemus to represent him.

In the Biblical, historical fiction, "Nicodemus" by Keith Ballard Farris, the life of Jesus is told from the point of view of Nicodemus. The story begins in Bethlehem, where the life of a young Nicodemus first collides with the changes and challenges that will tear apart his family.

External links



Jesus meets with Nicodemus
Life of Jesus
Gospel harmony
A Gospel harmony is an attempt to merge or harmonize the canonical gospels of the Four Evangelists into a single gospel account, the earliest known example being the Diatesseron by Tatian in the 2nd century. A gospel harmony may also establish a chronology for the events of the life of Jesus...

: Ministry Events
Ministry of Jesus
In the Christian gospels, the Ministry of Jesus begins with his Baptism in the countryside of Judea, near the River Jordan and ends in Jerusalem, following the Last Supper with his disciples. The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was "about 30 years of age" at the start of his ministry...

New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....


Events