I am having a blast working on the little midrash stories. As I read the noncanonical* materials, I come across little details that are not included in the New Testament stories of Jesus. Right now, for example, I am reading the gospel of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a member of the the Sanhedrin, a pharisee, who became a follower of Jesus. Whether Nicodemus actually wrote this gospel is unclear, but it was attributed to him. Also called the Acts of Pilate, it is a record of Jesus’ trial and includes the eye witness accounts of those who were brought forward to testify for or against Jesus. It was such a surprise to read about a real trial which seems fairer to me than the lickety-split job reported in the bible.
Those who come to Jesus’ defense are familiar to me because I read about them in the bible. But what is really fun is that names are given to a few of them. For example, the Roman soldier who came to Jesus concerning his sick servant is given the name Centurio. Also the malady of his servant is named while we are not given this detail in the bible. The servant suffered from palsy, a form of paralysis that included involuntary tremors. Another character that received a name in the book of Nicodemus is the woman who had bled for 12 years and touched the cloak of Jesus and was healed. Her name is given to be Victoria.
Here is another detail that I found fascinating: the religious leaders who stood to convict Jesus rejected Veronica’s testimony because she was a woman. Having just finished reading the book of Leviticus I was able to find the law that said women were to be excommunicated during their monthly periods because they were considered unclean, so I could conclude that this woman was basically excommunicated for 12 years of her life. I also found the spot where it says women are not to testify. For me, these details add depth to the stories that I have read in the bible.
Woe is me. This is what it takes for me to have fun. It is second only to playing with my grandchildren.
*The canon is composed of those writings that were chosen to be in the bible. But there were many other writings about Jesus and those who made the canon selections may or may not have have known about them. These are the ones I have been reading. Very interesting!