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Christianity / Apocryphal gospels /
Gospel of Nicodemus
Also called: Acts of Pilate

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In Christianity, one of the younger apocryphal gospels. Its first half comes from a 4th century Greek text, the second half is from a possibly more recent Latin text. The two are believed to have been merged in the 6th century.
This gospel had an enormous influence in Medieval Europe, especially its second half, accounting about Jesus' descent into Hell. Never having been condemned by church authorities, its was in active use by the church, used to shed more light on the New Testament stories.

Authorship is attributed Nicodemus, who is said to have written down the accounts in Hebrew.

The first half, called Acts of Pilate, relates to the interrogation of Pilates of Jesus, Jesus' crucifixion and his resurrection. Nicodemus is a witness to this.
Much of the content in this half is similar to what is found in Luke and John. Jesus is accused on several accounts, principally for being an illegitimate child, as well as being a wizard aided by Belzebub when performing his miracles. The story is interesting in the fact that it makes several Jews stand forth to testify in favour of Jesus, without thereby abandoning Judaism.
The second half tells about Jesus' descent into Hell. Central to this is that his act represented a victory over Satan and death. The narrative makes a distinction between Hell, as if it was an individual, and Satan. Satan appears as a representative of Hell, one who has been tricked by Jesus' death on the cross. Hell rages over Satan's stupidity in allowing the Crucifixion to go through, an event which has given Jesus powers to overcome Satan and death.

By Tore Kjeilen