The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection Of A...
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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.
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 form