I thank God for Dysmas.

You probably don’t know the name. Heck, it probably isn’t even his real name.

But history ascribes the name “Dysmas” to one of the criminals who was executed with Jesus. Dysmas is the one who repented, Gestas is the one who didn’t (cf. Acta Pilati 9.5; 10.2).

Tonight, proofreading the Greek of Acta Pilati 26 (Dec. Christi 10), a totally fictional re-telling of what early Christians learned about what happened after Christ was crucified, I realized that the same sort of emotion, the same sort of response, that happens in this totally made-up and fictional account is the emotion and response that awaits those who call Jesus the Christ.

And people say this noncanonical literature is worthless and not worth the time it takes to read (let alone to translate). Yeah, I’ll believe that when crap like Left Behind and This Present Darkness doesn’t sell anymore.

Here’s my translation in Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha:

10.1 “While speaking these things, another humble person came, also carrying a cross upon his shoulder, to whom the holy fathers said, ‘Who are you, who has the look of a robber, and what is that cross that you carry on your shoulder?’ He [Dysmas] answered, ‘As you have said, I was a robber and a thief in the world, and because of this, taking me the Jews delivered me to the death of the cross together with our Lord Jesus Christ. While he still was upon the cross, seeing signs that happened I believed in him and called out to him and said, “Lord, when you reign as king, do not forget me.” And immediately he said to me, “Truly, truly, today I say to you, you will be with me in paradise.” So I came, carrying my cross, into paradise, and found Michael the archangel, and said to him, “Our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified has sent me here; so bring me to the gate of Eden.” And when the flaming sword saw the sign of the cross, it opened for me and I entered in. Then the archangel said to me, “Wait a short time, for Adam the ancestor of humanity comes with the righteous, that they may also enter in. And now, having seen you, I come to greet you.” ’ And upon hearing these things, the saints shouted out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Great is our Lord, and great is his power!’ ”
Rick Brannan, Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments and Agrapha: Introductions and Translations (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013).

Yes, great is our Lord, the one who could save one like Dysmas. And truly great is our Lord who can save one such as me.


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