CORRESPONDENTS recently have put forward a letter of Publius Lentulus, giving a physical description of Christ.
Publius Lentulus is a purely fictitious person. Caxton's large (15-volume) and scholarly Catholic Encyclopedia points out that no ancient writer alludes to the letter, which appears for the first time in Latin MSS of the fifteenth century.
It is also clear from internal evidence that the letter is a fake. There never was a "Governor of Jerusalem". No Procurator of Judea is known to have been called Lentulus.
A Roman Governor • would not have addressed the Senate, but the Emperor. A Roman writer would not have used the expressions "prophet of truth", "sons of men", "Jesus Christ"; the first two are Hebrew idioms, the third is taken from the New Testament.
The Catholic Encyclopedia concludes that "the letter shows a description of Our Lord as Christian piety conceived him", and conjectures that it may have been composed in order to authenticate a pretended portrait of Jesus during the Middle Ages.
It is surely providential that no reliable physical description of Our Lord has come down to us, since, as St Paul says, "In Christ there is neither Jew nor gentile, slave or freeman, male or female".
And, one might add, especially at the present time, neither black nor white.
A Robinson Bristol