The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations

The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations

The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations

The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations


Bart Ehrman--the New York Times bestselling author of Misquoting Jesus and a recognized authority on the early Christian Church--and Zlatko Plese here offer a groundbreaking, multi-lingual edition of the Apocryphal Gospels, one that breathes new life into the non-canonical texts that were once nearly lost to history.

In The Apocryphal Gospels, Ehrman and Plese present a rare compilation of over 40 ancient gospel texts and textual fragments that do not appear in the New Testament. This essential collection contains Gospels describing Jesus's infancy, ministry, Passion, and resurrection, as well as the most controversial manuscript discoveries of modern times, including the most significant Gospel discovered in the 20th century--the Gospel of Thomas--and the most recently discovered Gospel, the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. For the first time ever, these sacred manuscripts are featured in the original Greek, Latin, and Coptic languages, accompanied by fresh English translations that appear next to the original texts, allowing for easy line by line comparison. Also, each translation begins with a thoughtful examination of key historical, literary, and textual issues that places each Gospel in its proper context. The end result is a resource that enables anyone interested in Christianity or the early Church to understand--better than ever before--the deeper meanings of these apocryphal Gospels.

The Apocryphal Gospelsis much more than an annotated guide to the Gospels. Through its authoritative use of both native text and engaging, accurate translations, it provides an unprecedented look at early Christianity and the New Testament. This is an indispensable volume for any reader interested in church history, antiquity, ancient languages, or the Christian faith.


Interest in the apocryphal writings of early Christianity has exploded in recent years. Although there continue to be debates over just what the term “apocrypha” (literally: “hidden writings”) means in this context, or what it ought to mean, the term is most widely used to refer to books of roughly the same genre as those that came to be included in the canon of the New Testament (Gospels, Acts, Epistles, Apocalypses) but that were excluded. The majority of these books are pseudonymous (as are some of those that were included).

The interest in this amorphous body of literature is evident in the widespread use of collections of apocrypha, both among scholars and graduate students (e.g., W. Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, and J. K. Elliott, Apocryphal New Testament) and in the general public (e.g., B. Ehrman, Lost Scriptures). Excellent translations can be found in other European languages besides English: German (Scheemelcher’s original German edition, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung, 2 vols.), Dutch (A. F. J. Klijn, Apokriefen van het Nieuwe Testament, 2 vols.), Spanish (A. de Santos Otero, Los Evangelios apócrifos), Italian (M. Erbetta, Gli apocrifi del Nuovo Testamento, 3 vols.), and French (F. Bovon, P. Geoltrain, and J.-D. Kaestli, Écrits apocryphes chrétiens, 2 vols.), for example. Most of these collections, however, provide translations only (exception: de Santos Otero). Where is one to go for a collection of these texts in the original languages? Regrettably, original text editions are sometimes difficult to track down. This is not true in every instance, of course. The Coptic materials discovered near Nag Hammadi, for example, are readily available in the handy five-volume paperback edition by Brill of The Coptic Gnostic Library. Some individual apocrypha outside of Nag Hammadi have also been published in original language–English translation editions, such as R. Hock’s edition of The Infancy Gospels of James and Thomas for the Scholars Bible, or W. Stroker’s edition of all the assorted agrapha of Jesus, Extracanonical Sayings of Jesus. Moreover, fragments of apocryphal Gospels have recently become available in original language text editions (A. Bernhard, Other Early Christian Gospels; E. Schlarb and D. Lührmann, Fragmente apokryph gewordener Evangelien).

Other apocryphal works have not fared as well, however. Where does one go to find a Greek edition of the Gospel of Nicodemus? Or a Latin edition of the . . .

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