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Art. 3a, Epistle a Tiberie: Introduction

ABBREVIATIONS: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); BnF: Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris); CUL: Cambridge University Library; MED: Middle English Dictionary; NLW: National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth); PL: Patrologiae cursus completus . . . series latina (Migne).

This addendum to the Gospel of Nicodemus is made to seem an official letter written by Pontius Pilate to Emperor Tiberius Caesar in the immediate aftermath of the Resurrection, wherein he relays a true account of events in his capacity as governor of Judea. Speaking essentially as an impartial observer, Pilate narrates the happenings among the Jews: their prophesied Son of God, Jesus’ divisive appearance among them, and the turmoil caused thereby. As a rhetorical exercise in first-person, the item allows an imaginative glimpse into the mind of Pilate and a different perspective upon the Gospel account. It puts Pilate in the interesting position of reporting secondhand Jesus’ many performed miracles and firsthand the Jewish complicity in the Crucifixion. In the end, he verifies, matter-of-factly, the miracle of the Resurrection — “As they guarded him, he raised himself” (lines 16–17) — seeing mainly here a legal issue in how the Jews bribed the guards to suppress the truth. Pilate sends this letter, he asserts, so that the Roman Emperor will have the real facts before he receives hearsay reports of the events in question.

[Fol. 39rb. ANL 497 (joined to art. 3). Scribe: A, with title inserted by B (Ludlow scribe). Quire: 4. Initials: Scribe A left a space for large opening initial; a red C (two lines high) was inserted by Scribe B. Layout: Two columns. Editions: None. Other MSS (Anglo-Norman Version): See list given for the Gospel of Nicodemus (art. 3). Translations: None, but compare Clough, pp. 95–96; and Elliott, pp. 206–08.]

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