The Life of Saint Issa
Best of the Sons of Men
Translation by Notovitch
1 "Righteous man," said unto him the spies of the governor
of Jerusalem, "tell us if we shall perform the will of our
Caesar or await our speedy deliverance. "
2 And Issa, having recognized them as people appointed to follow
him, replied: "I have not said to you that you shall be delivered
from Caesar. It is the soul plunged in error that shall have its
3 "As there can be no family without a head, so there can
be no order among a people without a Caesar; to him implicit obedience
should be given, he alone being answerable for his acts before
the supreme tribunal."
4 "Does Caesar possess a divine right?" further asked
of him the spies. "And is he the best of mortals?"
5 "There should be no better among men, but there are also
sufferers, whom those elected and charged with this mission should
care for, making use of the means conferred on them by the sacred
law of our Heavenly Father.
6 "Mercy and justice are the highest attributes of a Caesar;
his name will be illustrious if he adhere to them.
7 "But he who acts otherwise, who exceeds the limit of power
that he has over his subordinates, going so far as to put their
lives in danger, offends the great Judge and loses his dignity
in the sight of man."
8 At this juncture, an old woman who had approached the group,
the better to hear Issa, was pushed aside by one of the spies,
who placed himself before her.
9 Then Issa held forth: "It is not meet that a son should
set aside his mother, taking her place. Whosoever respecteth not
his mother, the most sacred being after his God, is unworthy of
the name of son.
10 "Listen, then, to what I say unto you: Respect woman,
for she is the mother of the universe, and all the truth of divine
creation lies in her.
11 "She is the basis of all that is good and beautiful, as
she is also the germ of life and death. On her depends the whole
existence of man, for she is his natural and moral support.
12 "She gives birth to you in the midst of suffering. By
the sweat of her brow she rears you, and until her death you cause
her the gravest anxieties. Bless her and worship her, for she
is your one friend, your one support on earth.
13 "Respect her, uphold her. In acting thus you will win
her love and her heart. You will find favor in the sight of God
and many sins shall be forgiven you.
14 "In the same way, love your wives and respect them; for
they will be mothers tomorrow, and each later on the ancestress
of a race.
15 "Be lenient towards woman. Her love ennobles man, softens
his hardened heart, tames the brute in him, and makes of him a
16 "The wife and the mother are the inappreciable treasures
given unto you by God. They are the fairest ornaments of existence,
and of them shall be born all the inhabitants of the world.
17 "Even as the God of armies separated of old the light
from the darkness and the land from the waters, woman possesses
the divine faculty of separating in a man good intentions from
18 "Wherefore I say unto you, after God your best thoughts
should belong to the women and the wives, woman being for you
the temple wherein you will obtain the most easily perfect happiness.
19 "Imbue yourselves in this temple with moral strength.
Here you will forget your sorrows and your failures, and you will
recover the lost energy necessary to enable you to help your neighbor.
20 "Do not expose her to humiliation. In acting thus you
would humiliate yourselves and lose the sentiment of love, without
which nothing exists here below.
21 "Protect your wife, in order that she may protect you
and all your family. All that you do for your wife, your mother,
for a widow or another woman in distress, you will have done unto
1 Saint Issa taught the people of Israel thus for three years,
in every town, in every village, by the waysides and on the plains;
and all that he had predicted came to pass.
2 During all this time the disguised servants of Pilate watched
him closely without hearing anything said like unto the reports
made against Issa in former years by the chiefs of the towns.
3 But the governor Pilate, becoming alarmed at the too great popularity
of Saint Issa, who according to his adversaries sought to stir
up the people to proclaim him king, ordered one of his spies to
4 Then soldiers were commanded to proceed to his arrest, and they
imprisoned him in a subterranean cell where they tortured him
in various ways in the hope of forcing him to make a confession
which should permit of his being put to death.
5 The saint, thinking only of the perfect beatitude of his brethren,
supported all his sufferings in the name of his Creator.
6 The servants of Pilate continued to torture him and reduced
him to a state of extreme weakness; but God was with him and did
not allow him to die.
7 Learning of the sufferings and the tortures which their saint
was enduring, the high priests and the wise elders went to pray
the governor to set Issa at liberty in honor of an approaching
8 But the governor straightway refused them this. They then prayed
him to allow Issa to appear before the tribunal of the ancients
so that he might be condemned or acquitted before the festival,
and to this Pilate consented.
9 The next day the governor assembled together the chief captains,
priests, wise elders, and lawyers so that they might judge Issa.
10 They brought him from his prison and seated him before the
governor between two thieves to be judged at the same time as
he, in order to show unto the crowd that he was not the only one
to be condemned.
11 And Pilate, addressing himself to Issa, said unto him: "O
man! is it true that thou incites" the people against the
authorities with the intent of thyself becoming king of Israel?"
12 "One becomes not king at one's own will," replied
Issa, "and they have lied who have told thee that I stir
up the people to rebellion. I have never spoken of other than
the King of Heaven, and it is he I teach the people to worship.
13 "For the sons of Israel have lost their original purity;
and if they have not recourse to the true God, they will be sacrificed
and their temple shall fall into ruins.
14 "As temporal power maintains order in a country, I teach
them accordingly not to forget it. I say unto them: 'Live conformably
to your station and your fortune, so as not to disturb the public
order.' And I have exhorted them also to remember that disorder
reigns in their hearts and in their minds.
15 "Wherefore the King of Heaven has punished them and suppressed
their national kings. Nevertheless, I have said unto them, 'If
you become resigned to your destinies, as a reward the kingdom
of heaven shall be reserved for you."'
16 At this moment, the witnesses were brought forward, one of
whom made the following deposition: "Thou hast said to the
people that the temporal power is as naught against that of the
king who shall soon deliver the Israelites from the pagan yoke."
17 "Blessed art thou," said Issa, "for having spoken
the truth. The King of Heaven is greater and more powerful than
the terrestrial law, and his kingdom surpasses all the kingdoms
of the earth.
18 "And the time is not far off when, conforming to the divine
will, the people of Israel shall purify them of their sins; for
it has been said that a forerunner will come to proclaim the deliverance
of the people, gathering them into one fold."
19 And the governor, addressing himself to the judges, said: "Doss
hear? The Israelite Issa confesses to the crime of which he is
accused. Judge him, then, according to your laws, and pronounce
against him capital punishment."
20 "We cannot condemn him," replied the priests and
the elders. "Thou hast just heard thyself that his allusions
were made regarding the King of Heaven and that he has preached
naught to the sons of Israel which could constitute an offense
against the law."
21 The governor Pilate then sent for the witness who, at his instigation,
had betrayed Issa. The man came and addressed Issa thus: "Didst
thou not pass thyself off as the king of Israel when thou saddest
that he who reigns in the heavens had sent thee to prepare his
22 And Issa, having blessed him, said: "Thou shalt be pardoned,
for what thou sayest does not come from thee!" Then, addressing
himself to the governor: "Why humiliate thy dignity, and
why teach thy inferiors to live in falsehood, as without doing
so thou hast power to condemn the innocent?"
23 At these words the governor became exceeding wroth, ordering
the sentence of death to be passed upon Issa and the acquittal
of the two thieves.
24 The judges, having consulted together, said unto Pilate: "We
will not take upon our heads the great sin of condemning an innocent
man and acquitting thieves. That would be against the law.
25 "Do then as thou wilt." Saying which the priests
and the wise elders went out and washed their hands in a sacred
vessel, saying: "We are innocent of the death of this just
1 By the order of the governor, the soldiers then seized Issa
and the two thieves, whom they led to the place of execution,
where they nailed them to crosses erected on the ground.
2 All the day the bodies of Issa and the two thieves remained
suspended, terrible to behold, under the guard of the soldiers;
the people standing all around, the relations of the sufferers
praying and weeping.
3 At sunset the sufferings of Issa came to an end. He lost consciousness,
and the soul of this just man left his body to become absorbed
in the Divinity.
4 Thus ended the earthly existence of the reflection of the Eternal
Spirit under the form of a man who had saved hardened sinners
and endured many sufferings.
5 Meanwhile, Pilate became afraid of his action and gave the body
of the saint to his parents, who buried it near the spot of his
execution. The crowd came to pray over his tomb, and the air was
filled with groans and lamentations.
6 Three days after, the governor sent his soldiers to carry away
the body of Issa to bury it elsewhere, fearing otherwise a popular
7 The next day the crowd found the tomb open and empty. At once
the rumor spread that the supreme Judge had sent his angels to
carry away the mortal remains of the saint in whom dwelt on earth
a part of the Divine Spirit.
8 When this rumor reached the knowledge of Pilate, he became angered
and forbade anyone, under the pain of slavery and death, to pronounce
the name of Issa or to pray the Lord for him.
9 But the people continued to weep and to glorify aloud their
Master; wherefore many were led into captivity, subjected to torture,
and put to death.
10 And the disciples of Saint Issa abandoned the land of Israel
and scattered themselves among the heathen, preaching that they
should renounce their errors, bethink them of the salvation of
their souls and of the perfect felicity awaiting humanity in that
immaterial world of light where, in repose and in all his purity,
the Great Creator dwells in perfect majesty.
11 The pagans, their kings, and their warriors listened to the
preachers, abandoned their absurd beliefs, and forsook their priests
and their idols to celebrate the praise of the all-wise Creator
of the universe, the King of kings, whose heart is filled with