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Nicodemus
Nicodemus
(/ˌnɪkəˈdiːməs/; Greek: Νικόδημος) was a Pharisee
Pharisee
and a member of the Sanhedrin
Sanhedrin
mentioned in three places in the Gospel
Gospel
of John:

He first visits Jesus
Jesus
one night to discuss Jesus' teachings (John 3:1–21). The second time Nicodemus
Nicodemus
is mentioned, he reminds his colleagues in the Sanhedrin
Sanhedrin
that the law requires that a person be heard before being judged (John 7:50–51). Finally, Nicodemus
Nicodemus
appears after the Crucifixion
Crucifixion
of Jesus
Jesus
to provide the customary embalming spices, and assists Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea
in preparing the body of Jesus
Jesus
for burial (John 19:39–42).

An apocryphal work under his name—the Gospel
Gospel
of Nicodemus—was produced in the mid-4th century, and is mostly a reworking of the earlier Acts of Pilate, which recounts the harrowing of Hell. Although there is no clear source of information about Nicodemus outside the Gospel
Gospel
of John, the Jewish Encyclopedia
Jewish Encyclopedia
and many Biblical historians[who?] have speculated that he could be identical to Nicodemus
Nicodemus
ben Gurion, mentioned in the Talmud
Talmud
as a wealthy and popular holy man reputed to have had miraculous powers. Others point out that the biblical Nicodemus
Nicodemus
is likely an older man at the time of his conversation with Jesus, while Nicodemus ben Gurion was on the scene 40 years later, at the time of the Jewish War.[1]

Contents

1 Nicodemus
Nicodemus
in John's Gospel 2 Veneration and liturgical commemoration 3 Legacy

3.1 Nicodemus
Nicodemus
in art 3.2 Nicodemus
Nicodemus
in music 3.3 In Protestant
Protestant
vs. Catholic
Catholic
struggle 3.4 United States

4 See also 5 Notes 6 References 7 External links

Nicodemus
Nicodemus
in John's Gospel[edit]

Nicodemus
Nicodemus
(left) talking to Jesus, by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Christus und Nicodemus, by Fritz von Uhde
Fritz von Uhde
(1848–1911)

As is the case with Lazarus, Nicodemus
Nicodemus
does not belong to the tradition of the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
and is only mentioned by John,[2] who devotes more than half of Chapter 3 of his gospel, a few verses of Chapter 7 and lastly mentions him in Chapter 19. The first time Nicodemus
Nicodemus
is mentioned, he is identified as a Pharisee who comes to see Jesus
Jesus
"at night". John places this meeting shortly after the Cleansing of the Temple
Cleansing of the Temple
and links it to the signs which Jesus
Jesus
performed in Jerusalem
Jerusalem
during the Passover
Passover
feast. "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him" (John 3:2). Then follows a conversation with Nicodemus
Nicodemus
about the meaning of being "born again" or "born from above" (Greek: ἄνωθεν), and mention of seeing the "kingdom of God". Nicodemus
Nicodemus
explores the notion of being literally born again from one's mother's womb, but most theologians recognise that Nicodemus
Nicodemus
knew Jesus
Jesus
was not speaking of literal rebirth. Theologian Charles Ellicott
Charles Ellicott
wrote that "after the method of Rabbinic dialogue, [Nicodemus] presses the impossible meaning of the words in order to exclude it, and to draw forth the true meaning. 'You cannot mean that a man is to enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born. What is it, then, that you do mean?'"[3] Jesus
Jesus
expresses surprise, perhaps ironically, that "a teacher of Israel" does not understand the concept of spiritual rebirth. James F. Driscoll describes Nicodemus
Nicodemus
as a learned and intelligent believer, but somewhat timid and not easily initiated into the mysteries of the new faith.[2] In Chapter 7, Nicodemus
Nicodemus
advises his colleagues among "the chief priests and the Pharisees", to hear and investigate before making a judgment concerning Jesus. Their mocking response argues that no prophet comes from Galilee. Nonetheless, it is probable that he wielded a certain influence in the Sanhedrin.[2] Finally, when Jesus
Jesus
is buried, Nicodemus
Nicodemus
brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes—about 100 Roman pounds (33 kg)—for embalming Jesus' body according to Jewish custom.[John 19:39] Nicodemus
Nicodemus
must have been a man of means; in his book Jesus
Jesus
of Nazareth: Holy Week, Pope Benedict XVI observes that, "The quantity of the balm is extraordinary and exceeds all normal proportions. This is a royal burial."[4] Veneration and liturgical commemoration[edit] Nicodemus
Nicodemus
is venerated as a saint in the various Eastern Churches and in the Roman Catholic
Catholic
Church. The Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic
Catholic
churches commemorate Nicodemus
Nicodemus
on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, celebrated on the Third Sunday of Pascha (i.e., the second Sunday after Easter) as well as August 2, the date when tradition holds that his relics were found, along with those of Stephen the Protomartyr, Gamaliel, and Abibas (Gamaliel's second son). The traditional Roman Catholic
Catholic
liturgical calendar lists the same feast of the finding of their relics on the following day, August 3. In the current Roman Martyrology of the Catholic
Catholic
Church, Nicodemus
Nicodemus
is commemorated along with Saint
Saint
Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea
on August 31. The Franciscan Order
Franciscan Order
erected a church under the patronage of Saints Nicodemus
Nicodemus
and Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea
in Ramla. Legacy[edit] Nicodemus
Nicodemus
in art[edit]

Entombment, by Titian

Nicodemus
Nicodemus
figures prominently in medieval depictions of the Deposition in which he and Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea
are shown removing the dead Christ from the cross, often with the aid of a ladder. Like Joseph, Nicodemus
Nicodemus
became the object of various pious legends during the Middle Ages, particularly in connection with monumental crosses. He was reputed to have carved both the Holy Face of Lucca
Holy Face of Lucca
and the Batlló Crucifix, receiving angelic assistance with the face in particular and thus rendering the works instances of acheiropoieta.[5] Both of these sculptures date from at least a millennium after Nicodemus' life, but the ascriptions attest to the contemporary interest in Nicodemus
Nicodemus
as a character in medieval Europe. Nicodemus
Nicodemus
in music[edit] In the Lutheran prescribed readings of the 18th century, the gospel text of the meeting of Jesus
Jesus
and Nicodemus
Nicodemus
at night was assigned to Trinity Sunday. Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
composed several cantatas for the occasion, of which O heilges Geist- und Wasserbad, BWV 165, composed in 1715, stays close to the gospel based on a libretto by the court poet in Weimar, Salomo Franck. Ernst Pepping
Ernst Pepping
composed in 1937 an Evangelienmotette (motet on gospel text) Jesus
Jesus
und Nikodemus. In popular music, Nicodemus' name was figuratively used in Henry Clay Work's 1864-written Civil-War-Aera piece "Wake Nicodemus",[6] which at that time was popular in minstrel shows. In 1978 Tim Curry
Tim Curry
covered the song on his debut album Read My Lips ( Tim Curry
Tim Curry
album). The song "Help Yourself" by The Devil Makes Three contains a very informal retelling of the relationship between Nicodemus
Nicodemus
and Jesus. In Protestant
Protestant
vs. Catholic
Catholic
struggle[edit] Main article: Nicodemite During the struggle between Protestants and Catholics in Europe, from the 16th Century to the 18th, a person belonging to a Church different from the locally dominant one often risked severe punishment – in many cases a literal life danger. At that time, there developed the use of "Nicodemite", usually a term of disparagement referring to a person who is suspected of public misrepresentation of their actual religious beliefs by exhibiting false appearance and concealing true beliefs.[7][8] The term was apparently introduced by John Calvin
John Calvin
in his 1544 Excuse à messieurs les Nicodemites.[9] To Calvin, who opposed all veneration of Saints, the fact of Nicodemus
Nicodemus
becoming a Catholic
Catholic
Saint
Saint
in no way exonerated his "duplicity". The term was originally applied mainly to hidden Protestants in a Catholic environment – later used also in opposite cases. United States[edit] The discussion with Jesus
Jesus
is the source of several common expressions of contemporary American Christianity, specifically, the descriptive phrase "born again" used to describe salvation or baptism by some groups, and John 3:16, a commonly quoted verse used to describe God's plan of salvation. Daniel Burke notes that, "To blacks after the Civil War, he was a model of rebirth as they sought to cast off their old identity as slaves".[4] Rosamond Rodman asserts that freed slaves who moved to Nicodemus, Kansas, after the Civil War named their town after him.[4] However, the National Park Service
National Park Service
indicates that it was more likely based on an 1864 song Wake Nicodemus
Nicodemus
by Henry Clay Work
Henry Clay Work
used to promote settlement in the area.[10] In August 16, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
invoked Nicodemus
Nicodemus
as a metaphor concerning the need for the United States to be "born again" in order to effectively address social and economic inequality. The speech was called "Where Do We Go From Here?," and delivered at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.[11]

Nicodemus
Nicodemus
in Art

Jesus
Jesus
and Nicodemus
Nicodemus
by Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645

Cima da Conegliano, Nicodemus
Nicodemus
with Christ's body, Apostle John on the right and Mary to left.

Entombment, by Pietro Perugino, with Nicodemus
Nicodemus
and Joseph from Arimatea

Nicodemus
Nicodemus
(right) talking to Jesus, by William Brassey Hole, (1846–1917)

Tanner – Nicodemus
Nicodemus
coming to Christ II

See also[edit]

Bible portal Biography portal Christianity portal Saints portal

Notes[edit]

^ Carson, D.A. (1991). The Gospel
Gospel
according to John. Leicester: InterVarsity. p. 186.  ^ a b c Driscoll, James F. "Nicodemus." The Catholic
Catholic
Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 13 Dec. 2014. ^ Charles Ellicott, Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers on John 3, accessed 10 February 2016 ^ a b c Burke, Daniel. Nicodemus, The Mystery Man of Holy Week, Religious News Service, March 27, 2013. ^ Schiller, Gertrud. Iconography of Christian Art. Volume 2. The Passion of Jesus
Jesus
Christ. Janet Seligman (tr.), Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society, 1972: 144–45, 472–73. ^ " Henry Clay Work
Henry Clay Work
Biography – life, family, childhood, children, name, story, death, history, wife, school". notablebiographies.com.  ^ Overell 2004, pp. 117–18. ^ Livingstone 2000 ^ Eire 1979. ^ " Nicodemus
Nicodemus
National Historic Site", National Park Service. ^ King Jr., Martin Luther.Where do we go from here, August 16, 1967, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University.

References[edit]

Cornel Heinsdorff: Christus, Nikodemus und die Samaritanerin bei Juvencus. Mit einem Anhang zur lateinischen Evangelienvorlage (= Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte, Bd.67), Berlin/New York 2003

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nicodemus.

Jewish Encyclopedia: Nicodemus "St. Nicodemus", Butler's Lives of the Saints

Nicodemus Life of Jesus

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