Gospel of Nicodemus

Project outline:

1. Who was Nicodemus?

2. what was the Gospel

Gospel of Nicodemus is in two parts: the Acta Pilati (Acts of Pilate) and the Descensus Christi ad Inferno (Descent of Christ into hell).

a) brief plot description

. accusation of Jews re death of Jesus

. captivity of Joseph of Arimathea

. resurrection and ascension

. harrowing of hell ("written by Leucius and Karinus") - good stuff, spend lots of time on it!

. reception of document by Pilate, Anas and Caiaphas

. Pilate's letter to Emperor Claudius

b) brief history of Christian apocrypha very brief - list and dates - maybe spend a little time of Gospel of Thomas

c) original text history

i) manuscript tradition: including quotes from tenth century Latin version

no version found before 400 but (Severs p 448-9) "important in controversies between the Greek and Roman Churches as to the purpose of Christ's mission to hell" St John's Cambridge 28 (B6) late C14 between account of Pentecost and harrowing, the legends of Longinus and Pilate p415 Severs

ii) translations and adaptations mystery plays (including a reading?)

most Easter cycles of miracle plays include the harrowing, with a hell mouth a standard part of stage equipment ( pp 448-9 Severs)

I Mystery plays

II Piers Plowman - reading from Passus XVIII

III other save Arthurian -

Old English translation, 2 poems, 2 verse Gospels, 10 manuscripts in prose
2 poems: 4 C15 manuscripts of stanzaic, composed before 1325 and influential on York cycle
verse Gospel: BM manuscript
10 manuscripts of prose translation
Black letter editions: 1507, 1509 (Wynkin de Worde), 1529

IV Arthurian - refer to 3c

iii) Gospel in medieval art - brief illustration only

3. Sense of past/history/numinous in the Middle Ages

a) its influence on the Gospel and its spread/popular interpretation

b) Longinus/modern timeline, including chanson de geste parallels

4. To put it (Gospel, Graal) in perspective: the development of religious imagery in the French/English Arthurian corpus

a) place of the Gospel (appearance in Vulgate)

b) place of the San Graal pre Malory

c) other neat images: Perceval in the forest chapel, Augustine in the Prose Tristan



Acts of Pilate

Alain - nephew of Joseph of Arimathea

Apocrypha - NT - include: Gospel of Nicodemus, Gospel of Thomas, Protoevangel of James, Gospel according to the Egyptians, Gospel according to the Hebrews, Acts of John, Acts of Thomas, Acts of Paul, Didache and many others of varying length

Arthour and Merlin Auchinleck 9938 lines, 4 stress couplets, composed probably between 1250 and 1300 - tells the story from the death of Constans (and accession of Aurelius then Uter) ending with betrothal of Arthur

Boron - brother in law of Joseph of Arimathea

Canon - 397 Council of Carthage (Augustine present) determined the following as canonical scriptures: Gospels, Acts, St Paul, Hebrews, 1,2 Peter, 1,2,3 john, James, Jude, Apocalypse source: McNeile introduction to study of NT p 364

la Damisele de la Blanche Nue- descendant of Joseph of Arimathea - descendant of Joseph of Arimathea and mother of Nascien (LA)

Elyap - wife of Joseph of Arimathea

Enigeus - brother of Joseph of Arimathea

Fisher King - nephew of Joseph of Arimathea (Didot Perceval)

Galaad - son of Joseph of Arimathea, Gilead . Galaad nb Galaad (ie modern Galahad) descended from Joseph d'Arimathea's sister through his mother

Glastonbury, legend of - William of Malmesbury c 1129-39 wrote that c 63, at the instigation of St Phillip, Joseph of Arimathea with 11 companions arrived in Britain and were given Ynys Vitrin (traditionally associated now with Avalon and Glastonbury). He built a church of timber and wattles in honour of Mary, at the foot of the tor. This church was discovered a century later by two missionaries sent to Britain by pope Eleutherius, and thenceforth used as a hermitage. The community is supposed to have survived until 433, when Patrick arrived from Ireland (he became abbot then and there). Another story (quoted by Baronius Ecclesiatical Annals) had Joseph of Arimathea with Lazarus, Mary Magdalene and Martha in a boat, landing at Marseilles and then Britain (source: James History of Christianity in early England p 12 ff)

Gospel of Nicodemus - in Livre d'Artus 2777/27-261/2, in the context of being told by a hermit to Nascien who renounces his knighthood to become a religious hermit

Grail - Carman p 99 divides the theme into 2 parts - early history where its sacredness is demonstrated and latter history (which he suggests is "its victory over courtly love") - Severs (p 72) says that the earliest Grail tale is Chretien's c 1180, and the Grail was not fully Christianised until de Borron's Joseph of Arimathea (before 1191). The Prose Merlin, Didot Perceval and Mort Artu synthesised diverse stories to bring together the Christian stuff, as did the Vulgate (Joseph. early Grail stuff being in the ESG volume). Severs points out that Malory was the only English version, but that an early history of the grail can also be found in the alliterative Joseph of Arimathea (c 1390, 709 line fragment), Henry Lovelich's translation of the ESG, and a 1516-20 printed version of the Joseph legend

Haringues - descendant of Joseph of Arimathea (VMCont)

Harrowing of Hell - see French painting in the Time of Jean de Berry Millard Meiss

Middle English Religious Plays - P449 Severs Harrowing - many Passions and Resurrection pieces and 2 poems 1. 2nd C13, 3 mss Call pre 1356 2. 1 ms - 322 lines; c1534 Coventry Draper's Company used the following for staging: "Hell-mouth - a fire kept at it; windlass and 3 fathom of cord; earthquake, barrel for the same . 3 worlds painted . a link to set the world on fire." - costumes either symbolic or contemporary p xiii CAWLEY ed Everyman; Chester - Cooks and Innkeepers acted Harrowing of Hell p 157 CAWLEY Ed Everyman

l'hermite Sador - nephew of Joseph of Arimathea (Prose Tristan)

Iglai - nephew of Joseph of Arimathea (Didot Perceval)

Joseph of Arimathea - C2 Gospel of St Peter, C4-5(?) Gospel of Nicodemus, Robert de Borron Joseph d'Arimathie c 1200 (history of grail in apostolic times), entrusted with the Holy Grail in Malory served as a soldier of Pilate took J's body from cross, collected blood in Grail and became first guardian of Grail imprisoned for beliefs, kept alive by Grail until released by Vespasian (ESG, Grim, LA, PJA) in tales (save PJA) takes grail to Bretaigne and coverts people to Christianity in Perlesvaus his remains are in a coffin near the grail castle, and Perceval takes them instead

Josephé - son of Joseph of Arimathea

Josué - nephew of Joseph of Arimathea (ESG)

la Dame de la Blancherve (sp?)


leucan - relative of Joseph of Arimathea

Livre d'Artus - part of Vulgate Arthur - suggests that Lancelot is descended from Joseph d'Arimathea through his son Galaad, though other genealogies don't (except perhaps in la Conte de la Charrette)

Longinus - patron saint of Mantua, day 21 July ( p 32 Pernoul) p 301 Pernoul "simple soldat, doit son nom à la lance qui perça le côte du Sauveur"

Merlin - wherever Merlin is, Nicodemus seems not to be!!

Nabuzdam - nephew of Joseph of Arimathea (TrPr)

Nascien son of la Damisele de le Blanche Nue, descendant of Joseph of Arimathea, renounces his knighthood to become a religious hermit (LA)

Nicodemus - associate of Joseph of Arimathea whom he assisted in removing body from cross. Father or ancestor of Gail li Gros and paternal ancestor of Perlesvaus; body supposed to be in a coffin in small chapel in Kamaale, but later transferred to Grail castle and to ship for Perlesvaus' final voyage; (WARD p 233 index)

Perceval - in England only in Malory and in romance "Sir Perceval of Galles" ( written 1300-1340, 2286 verses - a straight romance, no grail) Severs p 70

Perron - relative of Joseph of Arimathea

Plays - miracle plays associated with Corpus Christi day from 1311, though also associated with Whitsun; York: first mention 1376 Beverley (not extant) 1377 - by this time the plays were undertaken by municipal authorities; Chester - cooks undertook Harrowing of Hell - most play manuscripts are C15 and C16 p x CAWLEY Ed Everyman 48 York plays 11 OT, 37 NT/Gospel of Nicodemus/Marian legends p xvii Digby Plays Chester plays 1574 record tapsters, Hostlers, Innkeepers, harrowing of Hell p xxii Digby Plays

Roi del Chastes Mortel

Le Roi Riscleeurpelles

St Nicodemus 1748-1809 - proclaimed 1955, Greek orthodox Church,

St Nicodemus - 3 August his Saint's day - according to Pernoud p 32"patron des forerons parce qu'il arracha les clous de la crucifixion"

Syreu - relative of Joseph of Arimathea

Urien - descendant of Joseph of Arimathea (EstSG)

Yvain - descendant of Joseph of Arimathea (EstSG)


Auchinleck manuscript (I have copy) - Arthour and Merlin

Carman - I own

CAWLEY Everyman and medieval miracle plays Dent 1974 I own

Finlay MG Joseph of Arimathea and the Grail 1951

Fletcher RH Arthurian Material in the Chronicles Boston 1906 I own

Furnivall FJ Lovelich H History of Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Holy Grail EETS

Gollancz I (Ed) The legend of King Arthur (title not certain) 1905-10

Hucher E Ed Le Saint-Graal Le Mans-Paris, 1875-8 (esp. v. III)

Nitze WA (Ed) Robert de Boron. Le roman de l'Estoire dou Graal paris 1927

Nitze WA, T Atkinson Jenkins and collaborators Le haut Livre du Graal: Perlesvaus University of Chicago Press 1932-7

Peebles Rose Jeffries The Legend of Longinus

Pernoud - I own

Roach W (Ed) Prose Joseph d'Arimathie "The Modena Text of the prose Joseph d'Arimathie" Romance Philology 9(1955-6): 313-42

Robinson JA Two Glastonbury Legends NY 1926

Rosenberg A Longinus in England Berlin 1917

Skeat WW Joseph of Arimathea. Otherwise called the Romance of the Seint Graal or Holy Grail EETS 44 1871 1924 reprint

Sommer H Oscar (ed) The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian romances 1908-17 I wish I owned

Thomas RG Ten Miracle Plays Edward Arnold 1966 I have relevant extracts

WEST index to proper names.. (I own)