The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection Of A...
This collection of apocryphal texts supersedes the best-selling edition by M.R. James, which was originally published in 1924. Several new texts have come to light since 1924 and the textual base for some of the apocrypha previously translated by James is now more secure, as in several cases there are now recently published critical editions available. Although a modest addition to James's edition was made in 1953, no thorough revision has previously been undertaken. In this volume, J.K. Elliott presents new translations of the texts and has provided each of them with a short introduction and bibliography for readers who wish to pursue further the issues raised in the texts or to consult the critical editions, other translations, or general studies. The translations are in modern English, in contrast to James's deliberate imitation of the language of the Authorized Version. The collection is designed to give readers the most important or famous of the Christian apocrypha and a small sample of gnostic texts. Full translations of the earliest texts are printed, as well as some derivative apocrypha.
The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of A...
Newly translated from the original Greek, these apocryphal texts open a window to understanding the rival religious communities which coexisted with the early church. Written after the ministry of Christ and the apostles, these collections of writings contain stories about Jesus that were never part of the canonical Gospels, but nevertheless offer a fascinating glimpse into the world of the early church. These translations by Rick Brannan are perfect for use by students, scholars, and everyday Christians interested in early Christian apocrypha.
Perhaps the best-known of these is the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus which, as it happens, I read when I was a teenager. You can read it for yourself, along with other apocryphal texts, at the Early Christian Writings website. It was popularised by Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code where it was presented as offering the secret truth about Jesus suppressed by 'The Church' because the truth was inconvenient for those with Power. What was less well-known was the actual content, which includes (in the last saying):
There are two collections of apocryphal books that have come down to us; the Old Testament Apocrypha and the New Testament Apocrypha. The first collection was written by Jews while the second collection was written by Christians or those who had their own unique understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus; the New Testament Apocrypha.
The New Testament Apocrypha is an amorphous collection of writings that are for the most part either about, or pseudonymously attributed to, New Testament figures. These books are generally modeled after the literary forms found in the New Testament: there are apocryphal gospels, acts, letters, and revelations. Unlike the Old Testament Apocrypha, the New Testament Apocrypha have never been viewed as canonical by any of the major branches of Christianity, nor is there any reason to believe that the traditions they record have any historical validity. Nonetheless, some of these books were widely used by Christians throughout the Middle Ages and have left their mark on the church.
APOCRYPHA a-pok'-ri-fa: _I. DEFINITION_ _II. THE NAME APOCRYPHA_ 1. Original Meanings (1) Classical (2) Hellenistic (3) In the New Testament (4) Patristic 2. "Esoteric" in Greek Philosophy, etc. _III. USAGE AS TO APOCRYPHA_ 1. Early Christian Usage "Apocalyptic" Literature 2. The Eastern Church (1) "Esoteric" Literature (Clement of Alexandria, etc.) (2) Change to "Religious" Books (Origen, etc.) (3) "Spurious" Books (Athanasius, Nicephorus, etc.) (4) "List of Sixty" 3. The Western Church (1) The Decretum Gelasii (2) "Non-Canonical" Books 4. The Reformers Separation from Canonical Books 5. Heb Words for "Apocrypha" (1) Do Such Exist? (2) Views of Zahn, Schurer, Porter, etc. (ganaz, genuzim) (3) Reasons for Rejection 6. Summary _IV. CONTENTS OF THE APOCRYPHA_ 1. List of Books 2. Classification of Books _V. ORIGINAL LANGUAGES OF THE APOCRYPHA_ _VI. DATE OF THE APOCRYPHAL WRITINGS_ LITERATURE I. Definition. The word Apocrypha, as usually understood, denotes the collection of religious writings which the Septuagint and Vulgate (with trivial differences) contain in addition to the writings constituting the Jewish and Protestant canon. This is not the original or the correct sense of the word, as will be shown, but it is that which it bears almost exclusively in modern speech. In critical works of the present day it is customary to speak of the collection of writings now in view as "the Old Testament Apocrypha," because many of the books at least were written in Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, and because all of them are much more closely allied to the Old Testament than to the New Testament. But there is a "New" as well as an "Old" Testament Apocrypha consisting of gospels, epistles, etc. Moreover the adjective "Apocryphal" is also often applied in modern times to what are now generally called "Pseudepigraphical writings," so designated because ascribed in the titles to authors who did not and could not have written them (eg. Enoch, Abraham, Moses, etc.). The persons thus connected with these books are among the most distinguished in the traditions and history of Israel, and there can be no doubt that the object for which such names have been thus used is to add weight and authority to these writings. The late Professor E. Kautzsch of Halle edited a German translation of the Old and New Testament Apocrypha, and of the Pseudepigraphical writings, with excellent introductions and valuable notes by the best German scholars. Dr. Edgar Hennecke has edited a similar work on the New Testament Apocrypha. Nothing in the English language can be compared with the works edited by Kautzsch and Hennecke in either scholarship or usefulness. (A similar English work to that edited by Kautzsch is now passing through the (Oxford) press, Dr. R. H. Charles being the editor, the writer of this article being one of the contributors.) II. The Name Apocrypha. The investigation which follows will show that when the word "Apocryphal" was first used in ecclesiastical writings it bore a sense virtually identical with "esoteric": so that "apocryphal writings" were such as appealed to an inner circle and could not be understood by outsiders. The present connotation of the term did not get fixed until the Protestant Reformation had set in, limiting the Biblical canon to its present dimensions among Protestant churches. 1. Original Meanings: (1) Classical. The Greek adjective apokruphos, denotes strictly "hidden," "concealed," of a material object (Eurip. Here. Fur. 1070). Then it came to signify what is obscure, recondite, hard to understand (Xen. Mem. 3.5, 14). But it never has in classical Greek any other sense. (2) Hellenistic. In Hellenistic Greek as represented by the Septuagint and the New Testament there is no essential departure from classical usage. In the Septuagint (or rather Theodotion's version) of Daniel 11:43 it stands for "hidden" as applied to gold and silver stores. But the word has also in the same text the meaning "what is hidden away from human knowledge and understanding." So Daniel 2:20 (Theod.) where the apokrupha or hidden things are the meanings of Nebuchadnezzar's dream revealed to Daniel though "hidden" from the wise men of Babylon. The word has the same sense in Sirach 14:21; 39:3,7; 42:19; 48:25; 43:32. (3) In the New Testament. In the New Testament the word occurs but thrice, namely, Mark 4:22 and the parallel Luke 8:17; Colossians 2:3. In the last passage Bishop Lightfoot thought we have in the word apokruphoi (treasures of Christ hidden) an allusion to the vaunted esoteric knowledge of the false teachers, as if Paul meant to say that it is in Christ alone we have true wisdom and knowledge and not in the secret books of these teachers. Assuming this, we have in this verse the first example of apokruphos in the sense "esoteric." But the evidence is against so early a use of the term in this--soon to be its prevailing--sense. Nor does exegesis demand such a meaning here, for no writings of any kind seem intended. (4) Patristic. In patristic writings of an early period the adjective apokruphos came to be applied to Jewish and Christian writings containing secret knowledge about the future, etc., intelligible only to the small number of disciples who read them and for whom they were believed to be specially provided. To this class of writings belong in particular those designated Apocalyptic (see APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE), and it will be seen as thus employed that apokruphos has virtually the meaning of the Greek esoterikos. 2. "Esoteric" in Greek Philosophy, etc.: A brief statement as to the doctrine in early Greek philosophy will be found helpful at this point. From quite early times the philosophers of ancient Greece distinguished between the doctrines and rites which could be taught to all their pupils, and those which could profitably be communicated only to a select circle called the initiated. The two classes of doctrines and rites--they were mainly the latter--were designated respectively "exoteric" and "esoteric." Lucian (died 312; see Vit. Auct. 26) followed by many others referred the distinction to Aristotle, but as modern scholars agree, wrongly, for the exoterikoi logoi, of that philosopher denote popular treatises. The Pythagoreans recognized and observed these two kinds of doctrines and duties and there is good reason for believing that they created a corresponding double literature though unfortunately no explicit examples of such literature have come down to us. In the Greek mysteries (Orphic, Dionysiac, Eleusinian, etc.) two classes of hearers and readers are implied all through, though it is a pity that more of the literature bearing on the question has not been preserved. Among the Buddhists the Samga forms a close society open originally to monks or bhikhus admitted only after a most rigid examination; but in later years nuns (bhikshunis) also have been allowed admission, though in their case too after careful testing. The Vinaya Pitaka or "Basket of Discipline" contains the rules for entrance and the regulations to be observed after entrance. But this and kindred literature was and is still held to be caviare to outsiders. See translation in the Sacred Books of the East, XI (Rhys Davids and Oldenberg). III. Usage as to Apocrypha. It must be borne in mind that the word apocrypha is really a Greek adjective in the neuter plural, denoting strictly "things hidden." But almost certainly the noun biblia is understood, so that the real implication of the word is "apocryphal books" or "writings." In this article apocrypha will be employed in the sense of this last, and apocryphal as the equivalent of the Greek apokruphos. 1. Early Christian Usage: "Apocalyptic" literature. The word apocrypha was first used technically by early Christian writers for the Jewish and Christian writings usually classed under "Apocalyptic" (see APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE). In this sense it takes the place of the classical Greek word esoterika and bears the same general meaning, namely, writings intended for an inner circle and cap. able of being understood by no others. These writings give intimations regarding the future, the ultimate triumph of the kingdom of God, etc., beyond, it was thought, human discovery and also beyond the intelligence of the uninitiated. In this sense Gregory of Nyssa (died 395; De Ordin., II, 44) and Epiphanius (died 403; Haeres, 51 3) speak of the Apocalypse of John as "apocryphal." 2. The Eastern Church: Christianity itself has nothing corresponding to the idea of a doctrine for the initiated or a literature for a select few. The gospel was preached in its first days to the poor and ignorant, and the reading and studying of the sacred Scriptures have been urged by the churches (with some exceptions) upon the public at large. (1) "Esoteric" Literature (Clement of Alexandria, etc.). The rise of this conception in the eastern church is easily understood. When devotees of Greek philosophy accepted the Christian faith it was natural for them to look at the new religion through the medium of the old philosophy. Many of them read into the canonical writings mystic meanings, and embodied those meanings in special books, these last becoming esoteric literature in themselves: and as in the case of apocalyptic writings, this esoteric literature was more revered than the Bible itself. In a similar way there grew up among the Jews side by side with the written law an oral law containing the teaching of the rabbis and regarded as more sacred and authoritative than the writings they profess to expound. One may find some analogy in the fact that among many Christians the official literature of the denomination to which they belong has more commanding force than the Bible itself. This movement among Greek Christians was greatly aided by Gnostic sects and the esoteric literature to which they gave rise. These Gnostics had been themselves influenced deeply by Babylonian and Persian mysticism and the corresponding literature. Clement of Alexandria (died 220) distinctly mentions esoteric books belonging to the Zoroastrian (Mazdean) religion. Oriental and especially Greek Christianity tended to give to philosophy the place which the New Testament and western Christianity assign the Old Testament. The preparation for the religion of Jesus was said to be in philosophy much more than in the religion of the Old Testament. It will be remembered that Marcian (died end of 2nd century AD), Thomas Morgan, the Welsh 18th-century deist (died 1743) and Friedrich Schleiermacher (died 1834) taught this very same thing. Clement of Alexandria (see above) recognized 4 (2) Esdras (to be hereafter called the Apocalypse of Ezra), the Assumption of Moses, etc., as fully canonical. In addition to this he upheld the authority and value of esoterical books, Jewish, Christian, and even heathen. But he is of most importance for our present purpose because he is probably the earliest Greek writer to use the word apocrypha as the equivalent of esoterika, for he describes the esoteric books of Zoroastrianism as apocryphal. But the idea of esoteric religious literature existed at an earlier time among the Jews, and was borrowed from them by Christians. It is clearly taught in the Apocalyptic Esdras (2 or 4 Esd) chapter 14, where it is said that Ezra aided by five amanuenses produced under Divine inspiration 94 sacred books, the writings of Moses and the prophets having been lost when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. Of this large number of sacred books 24 were to be published openly, for the unworthy as well as the worthy, these 24 books representing undoubtedly the books of the Hebrew Old Testament. The remaining 70 were to be kept for the exclusive use of the "wise among the people": i.e. they were of an esoteric character. Perhaps if the Greek original of this book had been preserved the word "apocrypha" would have been found as an epithetic attached to the 70 books. Our English versions are made from a Latin original EZRA or the \ESDRAS, THE SECOND (FOURTH) BOOK OF; APOCALYPTIC ESDRAS\. Modern scholars agree that in its present form this book arose in the reign of Domitian 81-96 AD. So that the conception of esoteric literature existed among the Jews in the 1st century of our era, and probably still earlier. It is significant of the original character of the religion of Israel that no one has been able to point to a Hebrew word corresponding to esoteric (see below). When among the Jews there arose a literature of oral tradition it was natural to apply to this last the Greek notion of esoteric, especially as this class of literature was more highly esteemed in many Jewish circles than the Old Testament Scriptures themselves. (2) Change to "Religious" Books (Origen, etc.). The next step in the history of the word "apocrypha" is that by which it came to denote religious books inferior in authority and worth to the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament. This change of attitude toward noncanonical writings took place under the influence of two principles: (1) that no writer could be inspired who lived subsequent to the apostolic age; (2) that no writing could be recognized as canonical unless it was accepted as such by the churches in general (in Latin the principle was--quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus). Now it was felt that many if not most of the religious writings which came in the end of the 2nd century to be called "apocryphal" in a disparaging sense had their origin among heretical sects like the Gnostics, and that they had never commanded the approval of the great bulk of the churches. Origen (died 253) held that we ought to discriminate between books called "apocryphal," some such having to be firmly rejected as teaching what is contrary to the Scriptures. More and more from the end of the 2nd century, the word "apocrypha" came to stand for what is spurious and untrustworthy, and especially for writings ascribed to authors who did not write them: i.e. the so-called "Pseudepigraphical books." Irenaeus (died 202) in opposition to Clement of Alexandria denies that esoteric writings have any claims to credence or even respect, and he uses the Greek word for "apocryphal" to describe all Jewish and Christian canons. To him, as later to Jerome (died 420), "canonical" and "apocryphal" were antithetic terms. Tertullian (died 230) took the same view: "apocryphal" to him denoted non-canonical. But both Irenaeus and Tertullian meant by apocrypha in particular the apocalyptic writings. During the Nicene period, and even earlier, sacred books were divided by Christian teachers into three classes: (1) books that could be read in church; (2) books that could be read privately, but not in public; (3) books that were not to be read at all. This classification is implied in the writings of Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius (died 373), and in the Muratorian Fragments (about 200 AD). (3) "Spurious" Books (Athanasius, Nicephorus, etc.). Athanasius, however, restricted the word apocrypha to the third class, thus making the corresponding adjective synonymous with "spurious." Nicephorus, patriarch of Constantinople (806-15 AD) in his chronography (belonging essentially to 500 AD according to Zahn) divides sacred books thus: (1) the canonical books of the Old Testament and New Testament; (2) the Antilegomena of both Testaments; (3) the Apocrypha of both Testaments. The details of the Apocrypha of the New Testament are thus enumerated: (1) Enoch; (2) The 12 Patriarchs; (3) The Prayer of Joseph; (4) The Testament of Moses; (5) The Assumption of Moses; (6) Abram; (7) Eldad and Modad; (8) Elijah the Prophet; (9) Zephaniah the Prophet; (10) Zechariah, father of John; (11) The Pseudepigrapha of Baruch, Habakkuk, Ezekiel and Daniel. The books of the New Testament Apocrypha are thus given: (1) The Itinerary of Paul; (2) The Itinerary of Peter; (3) The Itinerary of John; (4) The Itinerary of Thomas; (5) The Gospel according to Thomas; (6) The Teaching of the Apostles (the Didache); (7) and (8) The Two Epistles of Clement; (9) Epistles of Ignatius, Polycarp and Hermas. The above lists are repeated in the so-called Synopsis of Athanasius. The authors of these so-called apocryphal books being unknown, it was sought to gain respect for these writers by tacking onto them well-known names, so that, particularly in the western church, "apocryphal" came to be almost synonymous with "pseudepigraphical." Of the Old Testament lists given above numbers 1, 2, 4, 5 are extant wholly or in part. Numbers 3, 7, 8 and 9 are lost though quoted as genuine by Origen and other eastern Fathers. They are all of them