New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures

New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures

New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures

New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures

Synopsis

Compilation of little-known and never-before-published apocryphal Christian texts in English translation

This anthology of ancient nonbiblical Christian literature presents introductions to and translations of little-known apocryphal texts from a wide variety of genres, most of which have never before been translated into any modern language.

An introduction to the volume as a whole addresses the most significant features of the included writings and contextualizes them within the contemporary (quickly evolving) study of the Christian Apocrypha. The body of the book comprises thirty texts that have been carefully introduced, annotated, and translated into readable English by eminent scholars. Ranging from the second century to early in the second millennium, these fascinating texts provide a more complete picture of Christian thought and expression than canonical texts alone can offer.

Excerpt

“Of making many books there is no end” in Ecclesiastes 12:12 may be a fair judgment about the seemingly interminable stream of writings concerned with the events and personages of the New Testament commonly gathered together under the umbrella title “The Christian Apocrypha.” the King James Version of the rest of that verse, “… and much study is a weariness of the flesh,” however, may be sensibly glossed over as an inappropriate sentiment to cite in this scholarly book.

Defining “New Testament Apocrypha”

The so-called apocryphal writings are an amorphous and flexible collection of writings that do not constitute an agreed or settled entity, nor are they a body of literature from a defined timeframe. There is no agreed set number of books as there is in the so-called Old Testament Apocrypha, usually printed separately in many Protestant Bibles. Such an enormous, yet unspecified, number of such texts is the reason why more Christian apocrypha need to be published.

The titles given to collections may vary. All the words in the title “The Apocryphal New Testament” are wrong, and “Early Noncanonical Christian Literature,” although preferred by many academics, is not precise or ideal. We study not only early texts, not all of them are Christian (one in the current collection here is Jewish in origin), and “noncanonical” in such a title is as anachronistic as “apocryphal” (in the literal sense). At least “New Testament Apocrypha” is a well-known, if less than perfect, title, which most readers and prospective readers recognize; they know the sorts of writings that may be found in a book with this name on its spine.

Early Christian Apocrypha Collections

Some apocryphal Christian texts have been known for centuries and are among the earliest books printed. the Arabic Infancy Gospel was first printed in 1697 and the Protevange lium of James in 1552. the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the History of Joseph the Carpenter were published in the eighteenth century. a Latin version of the Acts of Timothy, included here, was published in Leuven in 1485 and later revised by the Bollandists in 1643.

Printed collections containing, admittedly, only a limited number of apocryphal texts, as commonly designated, can be traced to the volumes edited by Fabricius (1719), Jones (1726–1727), Birch (1804), Thilo (1832), or Giles (1852). Modern translations of some of these texts into Western languages have been edited over the past century by Walker, Cowper, Vouaux, Amiot, de Santos Otero, and others. a strange but very popular collection containing not only conventional apocryphal texts but some of the Apostolic Fathers was edited by William Hone in 1820 and went through many editions; the editor is now . . .

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