The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathaea
NARRATIVE OF JOSEPH OF ARIMATHAEA, THAT BEGGED THE LORD'S BODY; IN WHICH ALSO HE BRINGS IN THE CASES OF THE TWO ROBBERS.
CHAP. I.--I am Joseph of Arimathaea, who begged from Pilate the body
of the Lord Jesus for burial, and who for this cause was kept close in
prison by the murderous and God-fighting Jews, who also, keeping to the
law, have by Moses himself become partakers in tribulation
and having provoked their Lawgiver to anger, and not knowing that He
was God, crucified Him and made Him manifest to those that knew God. in
those days in which they condemned the Son of God to be crucified, seven
days before Christ suffered, two condemned robbers were sent from Jericho
to the procurator Pilate; and their case was as follows:--
The first, his name Gestas, put travellers to death, murdering them
with the sword, and others he exposed naked. And he hung up women by the
heels, head down, and cut off their breasts, and drank the blood of infants
limbs, never having known God, not obeying the laws, being violent from
the beginning, and doing such deeds.
And the case of the other was as follows: He was called Demas, and was
by birth a Galilaean, and kept an inn. He made attacks upon the rich, but
was good to the poor--a thief like Tobit, for he buried the bodies of the
poor. (2) And he set his hand to robbing the multitude of the Jews, and
stole the law (3) itself in Jerusalem, and stripped naked the daughter
of Caiaphas, who was priestess of the sanctuary, and took away from its
place the mysterious deposit itself placed there by Solomon. Such were
And Jesus also was taken on the third day before the passover, in the
evening. And to Caiaphas and the multitude of the Jews it was not a passover,
but it was a great mourning to them, on account of the plundering of the
sanctuary by the robber. And they summoned Judas Iscariot, and spoke to
him, for he was son of the brother (4) of Caiaphas the priest. He was not
a disciple before the face of Jesus; but all the multitude of the Jews
craftily supported him, that he might follow Jesus, not that he might be
obedient to the miracles done by Him, nor that he might confess Him, but
that he might betray Him to them, wishing to catch up some lying word of
Him, giving him gifts for such brave, honest conduct to the amount of a
half shekel, of gold each day. And he did this for two years with Jesus,
as says one of His disciples called John.
And on the third day, before Jesus was laid hold of, Judas says to the
Jews: Come, let us hold a council; for perhaps it was not the robber that
stole the law, but Jesus himself, and I accuse him. And when these words
had been spoken, Nicodemus, who kept the keys of the sanctuary, came in
to us, and said to all: Do not do such a deed. For Nicodemus was true,
more than all the multitude of the Jews. And the daughter of Caiaphas, Sarah by name,
cried out, and said: He himself said before all against this holy place, I am able
to destroy this temple, and in three days to raise it. The Jews say to
her: Thou hast credit with all of us. For they regarded her as a prophetess. And
assuredly, after the council had been held, Jesus was laid hold of.
CHAP. 2.--And on the following day, the fourth day of the week,
they brought Him at the ninth hour into the hall of Caiaphas. And Annas
and Caiaphas say to Him: Tell us, why hast thou stolen our law, and renounced
(5) the ordinances of Moses and the prophets? And Jesus answered nothing.
And again a second time, the multitude also being present, they say to
Him: The sanctuary which Solomon built in forty and six years, why dost
thou wish to destroy in one moment? And to these things Jesus answered
nothing. For the sanctuary of the synagogue had been plundered by the robber.
And the evening of the fourth day being ended, all the multitude sought
to burn the daughter of Caiaphas, on account of the loss of the law; for
they did not know how they were to keep the passover. And she said to them:
Wait, my children, and let us destroy this Jesus, and the law will be found,
and the holy feast will be fully accomplished. And secretly Annas and Caiaphas
gave considerable money to Judas Iscariot, saying: Say as thou saidst to
us before, I know that the law has been stolen by Jesus, that the accusation
may be turned against him, and not against this maiden, who is free from
blame. And Judas having received this command, said to them: Let not all
the multitude know that I have been instructed by you to do this against
Jesus; but release Jesus, and I persuade the multitude that it is so. And
craftily they released Jesus.
And Judas, going into the sanctuary at the dawn of the fifth day, says
to all the people: What will you give me, and I will give up to you the
overthrower  of the law, and the plunderer of the prophets? The Jews
say to him: If thou wilt give him up to us, we will give thee thirty pieces
of gold. And the people did not know that Judas was speaking about Jesus,
for many of them confessed that he was the Son of God. And Judas received
the thirty pieces of gold.
And going out at the fourth hour, and at the fifth, he finds Jesus walking
in the street. And as evening was coming on, Judas says to the Jews: Give
me the aid of soldiers with swords and staves, and I will give him up to
you. They therefore gave him officers for the purpose of seizing Him. And
as they were going along, Judas says to them: Lay hold of the man whom
I shall kiss, for he has stolen the law and the prophets. Going up to Jesus,
therefore, he kissed Him, saying: Hail, Rabbi! it being the evening of
the fifth day. And having laid hold of Him, they gave Him up to Caiaphas
and the chief priests, Judas saying: This is he who stole the law and the
prophets. And the Jews gave Jesus an unjust trial, saying: Why hast thou
done these things? And be answered nothing.
And Nicodemus and I Joseph, seeing the seat of the plagues,  stood
off from them, not wishing to perish along with the counsel of the ungodly.
CHAP. 3.--Having therefore done many and dreadful things against Jesus
that night, they gave Him up to Pilate the procurator at the dawn of the
preparation, that he might crucify Him; and for this purpose they all came
together. After a trial, therefore, Pilate the procurator ordered Him to
be nailed to the cross, along with the two robbers. And they were nailed
up along with Jesus, Gestas on the left. and Demas on the right.
And he that was on the left began to cry out, saying to Jesus: See how
many evil deeds I have done in the earth; and if I had known that thou
wast the king, I should have cut off thee also. And why dost thou call
thyself Son of God, and canst not help thyself in necessity? how canst
thou afford it to another one praying for help? If thou art the Christ,
come down from the cross, that I may believe in thee. But now I see thee
perishing along with me, not like a man, but like a wild beast. And many
other things he began to say against Jesus, blaspheming and gnashing his
teeth upon Him. For the robber was taken alive in the snare of the devil.
But the robber on the right hand, whose name was Demas, seeing the Godlike
grace of Jesus, thus cried out: I know Thee, Jesus Christ, that Thou art
the Son of God. I see Thee, Christ, adored by myriads of myriads of angels.
Pardon me my sins which I have done. Do not in my trial make the stars
come against me, or the moon, when Thou shall judge all the world; because
in the night I have accomplished my wicked purposes. Do not urge the sun,
which is now darkened on account of Thee, to tell the evils of my heart,
for no gift can I give Thee for the remission of my sins. Already death
is coming upon me because of my sins; but Thine is the propitiation. Deliver
me, O Lord of all, from Thy fearful judgment. Do not give the enemy power
to swallow me up, and to become heir of my soul, as of that of him who
is hanging on the left; for I see how the devil joyfully takes his soul,
and his body disappears. Do not even order me to go away into the portion
of the Jews; for I see Moses and the patriarchs in great weeping, and the
devil rejoicing over them. Before, then, O Lord, my spirit departs, order
my sins to be washed away, and remember me the sinner in Thy kingdom, when
upon the great most lofty throne  thou shalt judge the twelve tribes
of Israel.  For Thou hast prepared great punishment for Thy world on
account of Thyself.
And the robber having thus spoken, Jesus says to him: Amen, amen; I
say to thee, Demas, that to-day thou shalt be with me in paradise. 
And the sons of the kingdom, the children of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob,
and Moses, shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping
and gnashing of teeth.  And thou alone shalt dwell in paradise until
my second appearing, when I am to judge those who do not
confess my name. And He said to the robber: Go away, and tell the cherubim
and the powers, that turn the flaming sword, that guard paradise from the
time that Adam, the first created, was in paradise, and sinned, and kept
not my commandments, and I cast him out thence. And none of the first shall
see paradise until I am to come the second time to judge living and dead.
And He wrote thus: Jesus Christ the Son of God, who have come down from
the heights of the heavens, who have come forth out of the bosom of the
invisible Father without being separated from Him,  and who have come
down into the world to be made flesh, and to be nailed to a cross, in order
that I might save Adam, whom I fashioned,--to my archangelic powers, the
gatekeepers of paradise, to the officers of my Father: I will and order
that he who has been crucified along with me should go in, should receive
remission of sins through me; and that he, having put on an incorruptible
body, should go in to paradise, and dwell where no one has ever been able
And, behold, after He had said this, Jesus gave up the ghost, on the
day of the preparation, at the ninth hour. And there was darkness over
all the earth; and from a great earthquake that happened, the sanctuary
fell down, and the wing of the temple.
CHAP. 4.--And I Joseph begged the body of Jesus, and put it in a new
tomb, where no one had been put. And of the robber on the right the body
was not found; but of him on the left, as the form of a dragon, so was
And after I had begged the body of Jesus to bury, the Jews, carried
away by hatred and rage, shut me up in prison, where evil-doers were kept
under restraint. And this happened to me on the evening of the Sabbath,
whereby our nation transgressed the law. And, behold, that same nation
of ours endured fearful tribulations on the Sabbath.
And now, on the evening of the first of the week, at the fifth hour
of the night, Jesus comes to me in the prison, along with the robber who
had been crucified with Him on the right, whom He sent into paradise. And
there was a great light in the building. And the house was hung up by the
four corners, and the place was opened, and I came out. Then I first recognised
Jesus, and again the robber, bringing a letter to Jesus. And as we were
going into Galilee, there shone a great light, which the creation did not
produce. And there was also with the robber a great fragrance out of paradise.
And Jesus, having sat down in a certain place, thus read: We, the cherubim
and the six-winged, who have been ordered by Thy Godhead to watch the garden
of paradise, make the following statement through the robber who was crucified
along with Thee, by Thy arrangement: When we saw the print of the nails
of the robber crucified along with Thee, and the shining light of the letter
of Thy Godhead,  the fire indeed was extinguished, not being able to
bear the splendour of the print;  and we crouched down, being in great
fear. For we heard that the Maker of heaven and earth, and of the whole
creation, had come down from on high to dwell in the lower parts of the
earth, on account of Adam, the first created. And when we beheld the undefiled
cross shining like lightning from the robber, gleaming with sevenfold the
light of the sun, trembling fell upon us. We felt a violent shaking of
the world below;  and with a loud voice, the ministers of Hades said,
along with us: Holy, holy, holy is He who in the beginning was in the highest.
And the powers sent up a cry: O Lord, Thou hast been made manifest in heaven
and in earth, bringing joy to the world; and, a greater gift than this,
Thou hast freed Thine own image from death by the invisible purpose of
CHAP. 5.--After I had beheld these things, as I was going into Galilee
with Jesus and the robber, Jesus was transfigured, and was not as formerly,
before He was crucified, but was altogether light; and angels always ministered
to Him, and Jesus spoke with them. And I remained with Him three days.
And no one of His disciples was with Him, except the robber alone.
And in the middle of the feast of unleavened bread, His disciple John
comes, and we no longer beheld the robber as to what took place. And John
asked Jesus: Who is this, that Thou hast not made me to be seen by him?
But Jesus answered him nothing. And falling down before Him, he said: Lord,
I know that Thou hast loved me from the beginning, and why dost Thou not
reveal to me that man? Jesus says to him: Why dost thou seek what is hidden?
Art thou still without understanding? Dost thou not perceive the fragrance
of paradise filling the place? Dost thou not know who it is? The robber
on the cross has become heir of paradise. Amen, amen; I say to thee, that
it shall belong to him alone until that the great day shall come. And John
said: Make me worthy to behold him.
And while John was yet speaking, the robber suddenly appeared; and John,
struck with astonishment, fell to the earth. And the robber
was not in his first form, as before John came; but he was like a king
in great power, having on him the cross. And the voice of a great multitude
was sent forth: Thou hast come to the place prepared for thee in paradise.
We have been commanded by Him that has sent thee, to serve thee until the
great day. And after this voice, both the robber and I Joseph vanished,
and I was found in my own house; and I no longer saw Jesus.
And I, having seen these things, have written them down, in order that
all may believe in the crucified Jesus Christ our Lord, and may no longer
obey the law of Moses, but may believe in the signs and wonders that have
happened through Him, and in order that we who have believed may inherit
eternal life, and be found in the kingdom of the heavens. For to Him are
due glory, strength, praise, and majesty for ever and ever. Amen.