Nicodemus is the name of a person from the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Bible. The Greek word (actually Nikodemos ) means literally, " winner of the National Assembly " or "victor of the people ."

Biblical testimony

After Jn 3.1 EU Nicodemus belongs to the Jewish group of the Pharisees and is also referred to as a " leader of the Jews." During a nocturnal visit to Jesus this pointed out to him that the entrance into the kingdom of God presupposes a spiritual rebirth. But Nicodemus misunderstands this birth as a biological event. Jesus then accesses the comparison: " The wind blows where it wills; You hear its sound, but you can not tell where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit "( John 3:8 EU). Thus, the Gospel of John emphasizes the primacy of the spiritual dimension in their relationship with God.

Later in John's Gospel (Jn 7.50 to 52 EU) occurs Nicodemus one against the Jewish authorities of Jesus. A third time he is mentioned in the burial of Jesus, as he brings a considerable amount of myrrh and aloes to anoint the corpse (Jn 19,39 EU).

Nicodemus and the Christian- Jewish dialogue

The nightly situation of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus is often understood as Nicodemus dares to come to Jesus in secret, without the knowledge of the other Pharisees, and for fear of their reactions. The relationship between Nicodemus and Jesus is therefore in the context of the Christian-Jewish dialogue. However, derived from the scene basically hostile Jewish attitude towards Jesus is not a mandatory prerequisite for understanding. The Talmud describes a tradition of Jewish rabbis to deal at night with the secrets of the Torah ( bMen 110a ):

This is also Mt 10,27 EU ". What I tell you in darkness, speak (later) on a bright day " is thus understood the nocturnal visit of Nicodemus to Jesus above all a spiritual conversation, as is the Jewish scholars usually with the Torah leads. That would indicate that it is not the Gospel of John in this scene to an abrupt confrontation between Judaism and Christianity, but rather to show the condition for a serious dialogue. This is not the different physical or organizational origin of Jews and Christians, but the linking of mind is a prerequisite for the two common right relationship with God.

Added to this comes the element of contrast between darkness and light, the principle plays an important role in the Gospel of John and the scene closes Nicodemus (Jn 3:19-21 EU). The illustrated through the darkness incomprehension of Nicodemus is to be replaced by the light of spiritual knowledge.

Apart from Biblical sources and subsequent reception

Flavius ​​Josephus mentions in his Antiquities (XIV, 3.2 ) one Nicodemus as emissaries of Aristobulus to Pompey; but it lived before 63 BC and therefore can not be identical to the Nicodemus in John's Gospel.

Rather, the Nicodemus of the Gospel could with the Naqdemon mentioned several times in the rabbinic literature ben Gorjón be equated (see Strack and Billerbeck, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Midrash, Munich 1924, Volume 2, pp. 413-418 ). This should also Buni have told and have been one of the three richest people in Jerusalem who wanted to get during the siege of the city by Titus the people from their inventories. As the Talmud ( Sanh 43a) is claimed that Jesus had a disciple named Buni, equating with the Nicodemus of the Gospel would be possible.

An apocryphal Gospel Passion of the 4th century poses as a " Gospel of Nicodemus " from. The writing had an extraordinary effect rich history especially to the early modern period.

According to a medieval legend Nicodemus manufactured the first representation of the crucified Jesus of wood. The so-called Volto Sancto is located in the Cathedral of Lucca. Because of this history Nicodemus has become an important role model for Christian sculptor. Michelangelo Buonarroti and Tilman Riemenschneider produced, for example, self-portraits as Nicodemus.

The Catholic Church venerates Nicodemus as a saint with the Memorial Day August 3.

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