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Dysmas

Looking north from inside the unfinished Crusader church built over Jacob's Well in Shechem toward Mt. Ebal.

DYSMAS dĭz’ məs (Δυσμα̂ς; alternately Dismas, Demas, meaning uncertain). A name given in later apocryphal accounts to the repentant thief described in Luke 23:39-43. The Gr. Acts of Pilate (9. 5) name the thief on the right, Dysmas, and the unrepentant thief on the left, Gestas. Syrian sources bear the name Titus in place of Dysmas and on the left is Dumachus. The latter comes from the Gr. δύσμαχος, “hard to fight with,” “unconquerable.” A possible derivation for Dysmas is δυσμή, G1553, meaning “sunset” or “close of life.” It was later used in the baptismal renunciation made by the candidate while facing W (Cyr. H. Catech. 19. 2).

Bibliography

M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament (1924), 103, 104, 116, 161; E. Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen (1924), 79; M. S. Enslin, “Hagiographic Mistletoe,” JR, XXV (Jan. 1945), 10-24.