Epistle of Lentulus

LENTULUS, EPISTLE OF (lĕn’ chə ləs). A short document of uncertain date but hardly earlier than the 13th cent. and prob. written in Italy, containing a description of Jesus: “A man in stature middling tall, and comely, having a reverend countenance, which they that look upon may love and fear.” The description follows closely the traditional portraits: hair parted in the middle, waving over his shoulders, brow smooth and calm, face without blemish or wrinkle, beard full and forked. The theme was popular from an early period (cf. Euseb. HE VII. xviii. 4).

In the earliest texts the document professes to quote Rom. annals, but in later forms it appears as a letter addressed to the Senate by Lentulus, a Rom. official in Judaea in the time of Tiberius. (See ANT 477f.)