Did Jesus write a letter to Joseph of Arimathea? In yesterday’s post on the letter forged in Jesus’ name, allegedly to the king of Edessa Abgar, I mentioned another text in which Jesus is alleged to have written a letter.  This one is even stranger.  Far stranger.  It is a letter he writes from the cross to the cherubim in heaven.  

It’s in a (much) later gospel called the Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea, an account of Jesus’ Passion allegedly written by the obscure figure in the NT Gospels who buried him.  Among other things, it gives us “information” on the two robbers who were crucified with him.

Here I explain what the text is and then give the opening scenes.  Tomorrow I will give the rest of it (it’s a short gospel).  All of this comes from the book I co-produced with my colleague Zlatko Plese, The Other Gospels, a book you might be interested in getting!  It gives about 40 Gospel texts (many of them only in fragments) from early Christianity.

The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea

This Apocryphon provides an alternative version of the passion narrative, emphasizing the betrayal of Judas and the events that transpired both at the crucifixion and after the resurrection.  Particular attention is paid to one of the two robbers crucified with Jesus–a man named Demas–who is vividly portrayed as having entered paradise after his repentance on the cross.

The account is told in the first person, much like the Gospel of Peter, only now by Joseph of Arimathea.  This legendary expansion sometimes supplements and sometimes contradicts the canonical Gospels, on which it is partially based.

The first half of the narrative focuses on …

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