Information on Apocryphal Gospels from the classic Bible reference encyclopedia . authority it is simply styled Evangelium nomine Jacobi minoris apocryphum. Wilhelm. Schneemelcher. 1. Literature: Facsimile: O. von Gebhardt, Das Evangelium und die Apokalypse des Petrus. Die neuentdeckten Bruchstucke nach einer. Jan 15, Apocrypha is the name commonly given to a series of Jewish writings apocryphal book known as the Gospel of Nicodemus (Evangelium.

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The apocryphal gospels form a branch of the apocryphal literature that attended the formation of the New Testament canon of Scripture. Apocryphal here means non-canonical. Besides gospels, this literature included acts, epistles and apocalypses.

The introduction to the third canonical Gospel shows that in the days of the writer, when the apostles of the Lord were still living, it was a common practice to write and publish accounts of the acts and words of Jesus. It has even been maintained S. Baring-Gould, Lost and Hostile Gospels, xxiii, London, that at the close of the 1st century, almost every church had its own gospel with which alone it was acquainted. These were probably derived, or professed to be derived, from the oral reports of those who had seen, heard, and, it may be, conversed with our Lord.

It was dissatisfaction with these compositions that moved Luke to write his Gospel. Whether any of these ante-Lukan documents are among those still known to us is hardly longer doubtful. Scholars of repute–Grotius, Grabe, Mill–were in earlier times disposed to place the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Ebionites, and the Gospel of the Egyptians among those alluded to by Luke, some holding the Gospel of the Hebrews to be as early as just after the middle of the 1st century.

More recent criticism does not allow so early an appearance for those gospels, though a fairly early date is still postulated for the Gospel of the Hebrews. The Protevangelium of James noticed below is still held by some as possibly falling within the 1st century EB, I, However this may be, there can be no doubt that by the close of the 1st century and the early part of the 2nd century, opinion was practically unanimous in recognition of the authority of the four Gospels of the canonical Scriptures.

Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons ADrecognizes four, and only four Gospels, as “pillars” of the church. The Harmonies of Theophilus, bishop of Antioch ADand of Tatian, and evamgeliums Apology of Justin Martyr carry back the apocryphw to a much earlier period of the century, and, as Liddon proves at considerable length Apocrylha Lectures, 2nd ed.

During the last century the Gospels, as regards their composition, credibility and historicity, were subjected to the most searching and unsparing criticism which, though intimations of it were previously not wanting, may be said to have begun when Strauss, to use Liddon’s words, “shocked the conscience of all that was Christian in Europe” by the publication of his first Life of Jesus.

The methods pursued in apocrypba work consisted largely in the application to the sacred books, and especially to the Gospels, of the principles of criticism that evangeluums for forty years previously been used in estimating the structure and composition of some of the literary products of antiquity; and the controversy excited by this criticism can hardly yet be said to have subsided.

This is not the place for entering upon an account of the controversy; it may be sufficient here to say that the traditional positions of the church have been ably defended, and in particular, that the claims of the canonical Gospels have been abundantly maintained.

Whatever was the fate of the ante-Lukan and other possible 1st-century gospels, it is with the 2nd century and the formation of an authoritative canon that the apocryphal gospels, such as we now have, for the most evangeliyms begin to appear.

In the days of the reproduction of documents by manuscript, of restricted communications between different localities, and when the church was only as yet forming and completing its apocyrpha, the formation and spread of such gospels would be much easier than now. The number of such gospels is very considerable, amounting to about fifty.

These exist mainly in fragments and scattered notices; though some, as pointed out below, are either entire or nearly so. The apparent evangeluums has probably been increased by the use of different names for the same document. Apocrypha New Testament, I, ff. Ebionistic and Gnostic circles were specially prolific of such gospels.

The scholars and authorities of the early church were quite well aware of the existence and aims of these productions. It is noteworthy also that they had no hesitation in characterizing them as they deserved. The Marcosians, according to Irenaeus, adduced “an unspeakable number of apocryphal and spurious writings, which they themselves had forged, to bewilder the minds of the foolish”; and Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 25 gives the following list of spurious and disputed books: The aim of the apocryphal gospels may be regarded as 1 heretical or 2 supplemental or legendary: Before considering these it may be well to take separate account of the Gospel according to the Hebrews.

The undoubted early date of this gospel, the character of most of its not very numerous quotations, the respect with which it is uniformly mentioned by early writers, and the esteem in which it is at present held by scholars in general, entitle the Gospel according to the Hebrews to evanheliums notice. Apart from the tradition, to which it is not necessary to attach too great evanfeliums, that represented our Lord as commanding His disciples to remain for twelve years in Jerusalem, it is reasonable to suppose that for the Christian communities resident in Jerusalem and Palestine a written gospel in their own language Western Aramaic would soon be a necessity, and such a gospel would naturally be used by Jewish Christians of the Diaspora.


Jewish Christians, for example, settled in Alexandria, might use this gospel, while native Christians, as suggested by Harnack, might use the Gospel of the Egyptians, till of course both were superseded by the four Gospels sanctioned by the church. There is no proof however that the gospel was earlier than the Synoptics, much less that it was among the apocrypa gospels. Harnack, indeed, by a filiation of documents for which there seems hardly sufficient warrant, placed it as early as between 65 and AD.

Salmon, on the other hand Intro, Leer X concludes that “the Nazarene gospel, so far from being the mother, or even the sister of one of our canonical four, can only claim to be a grand-daughter or grand-niece. Its relation to the Gospel of Matthew, which by almost universal consent is declared to have been originally written in Hebrew i. Aramaichas given rise to much controversy.

The prevalent view among scholars is that it was not the original of which Matthew’s Gospel was a Greek translation, but still that it was a fairly early composition. Some, like Salmon and Harnack, are disposed to regard Jerome’s Hebrew Gospel as to all intents a fifth gospel originally composed for Palestinian Christians, but which became of comparatively insignificant value with the development of Christianity into a world-religion.

Besides two references to the baptism of Jesus and a few of his sayings, such as–“Never be joyful except when ye shall look upon your brother in love”; “Just now my Mother, the Holy Spirit, took me by one of my hairs and bore me away to the great mountain Thabor”–it records the appearance of our Lord to James after the resurrection, adduced by Paul 1Co This indeed is the principal detail of importance which the quotations from this gospel add to what we know from the Synoptics.

In other divergences from the Synoptics where the same facts are recorded, it is possible that the Apocryphha according to the Hebrews may relate an earlier and more reliable tradition. On the other hand, the longest quotation, which gives a version of Christ’s interview with the Rich Young Ruler, would seem to show, as Westcott suggests, that the Synoptics give the simpler and therefore the earlier form of the common narrative.

Many scholars, however, allow that the few surviving quotations of this gospel should be taken into account in constructing the life of Christ.


Evangelium de nativitate Mariae

The Ebionites gave the apofrypha of Gospel of the Hebrews to a mutilated gospel of Matthew. This brings us to the heretical gospels. The Ebionites may be described generally as Jewish Christians who aimed at maintaining as far as possible the doctrines and practices of the Old Testament and may be taken as representing originally the extreme conservative section of the Council of Jerusalem mentioned in Ac They are frequently mentioned in patristic literature from the 2nd to evangleiums 4th centuries, evangelium the prolonged Gnostic controversies of those times may well have founded among them different sects or at least parties.

Accordingly Jerome, a writer of the 4th century, states Ep ad August. Whether these were separate sects or simply supporters of more liberal or narrower views of the same sect cannot well be determined. Some, such as Harnack and Uhlhorn, have held that the two names are general designations for Jewish Christians; others regard the Ebionites as the most retrograde and the narrowest of Jewish Christians, while the Nazarenes were more tolerant of difference of belief and practice.

The Gospel of evangeloums Ebionites or the Gospel of the Twelve Apostles, as it was also called, represented along with the Gospel of the Hebrews noticed above this Judeo-Christian spirit. Some fragments of the Gospel of the Ebionites are preserved in Epiphanius d He speaks of the Nazarenes as evangdliums the Evqngeliums according to Matthew in a most complete form, in Hebrew” i.

Aramaicthough he immediately adds that he does not know whether “they removed the genealogies from Abraham to Christ,” that is to say, whether they accepted or zpocrypha the virgin birth of Christ.

In contrast with this statement he says that the Ebionites had a gospel “called the Gospel according to Matthew, not entire and perfectly complete, but falsified and mutilated, which they call the Hebrew gospel.

They “show that its value is quite secondary and that the author has simply compiled it from the canonical, and especially from the Synoptic Gospels, adapting it at the same time to the views and practices of Gnostic Ebionism” DCG, I, Three short and somewhat mystic verses are all that are left of what is known as the Gospel of the Evngeliums. They occur in Book III of the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria, who devoted that book to a refutation of Encratism, that is, the rejection, as absolutely unlawful, of the use of marriage, of flesh meat and of wine.

Already in the Pauline Epistles are met parties with the cry Col 2: The Lord said, As long as ye women bear children: And Salome said to him. Did I not well then in not bearing children? And the Lord answered and said, Eat of every herb, but do not eat of that which is bitter.


And when Salome asked when the apicrypha would be known about which she had inquired, the Lord said, When ye trample on the garment of shame, and when the two shall be one, and the male with the female neither male nor female. Modern writers vary as to their encratite tendency and as to how far the Gospel of the Egyptians was practical. With so little to go upon, it is not easy to form a conclusion. It may have contained other passages on account of which Origen deemed it heretical.

It was used by the Naassenes and Sabellians. The date of the Gospel is between and The Gospel of Marcion would seem to have been intended as a direct counteractive to the Aramaic gospels. A apocrylha of Pontus and the son of a bishop, Marcion settled at Rome in the first evangeliuma of the 2nd century and became the founder of the anti-Jewish sect that acknowledged no authoritative writings but those of Paul.

Evangelkums work forms a striking example of what liberties, in days evangelijms the final formation of the canon, could be taken with the most authoritative and the most revered documents of the faith, and also as showing the free and practically unlimited nature of the controversy, of which the canon as finally adopted was the result. He rejected the Old Testament entirely, and of the New Testament retained only the Gospel of Luke, as being of Pauline origin, with the omission of sections depending on the Old Testament and ten epistles of Paul, the pastoral epistles being omitted.

The principal Church Fathers agree upon this corruption of Luke’s Gospel by Marcion; and the main importance of his gospel eangeliums that in modern controversy it was for some time assumed to be the original gospel of which Luke’s Gospel was regarded as merely an expansion.

The theory was shown first in Germany and afterward independently in England to be quite untenable. It was lately revived by the author of Supernatural Religion; but Dr.

Apocryphal Gospels – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Sanday’s work on The Gospels in the Second Century chapter viii may be said to have closed the controversy. Until about a quarter of a century ago no more was known of the Gospel of Peter than of the crowd of heretical gospels referred to above.

From Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica, VI, 12, 2 it was known that a Gospel of Peter was in use in the church of Rhossus, a town in the diocese of Antioch at the end of the 2nd century, that controversy had arisen as to its character, and that after a careful examination of it Serapion, bishop of Antioch evageliums, had condemned it as docetic. Origen died ADin his commentary on Mt Theodoret, one of the Greek ecclesiastical historianssays that the Nazarenes used a gospel called “according to Peter.

Salmon Intro, remarks: In the following year the French Archaeological Mission, working in upper Egypt, found in a tomb, supposed to be a monk’s, at Akhmim Panopolisa parchment containing portions of no less than three lost Christian works, the Book of Enoch, the Gospel of Peter and the Apocalypse of Peter. These were published in and have given rise to much discussion.

The gospel has been carefully reproduced in facsimile and edited by competent scholars The fragment is estimated to contain about half of the original gospel.

It begins in the middle of the history of the Passion, Just after Pilate has washed his hands from all responsibility and ends in the middle of a sentence when the disciples at the end of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were betaking themselves to their homes “But I Simon Peter, the ostensible writer and Andrew my brother took our nets and went to the sea; and there was with us Levi the son of Alpheus whom the Lord.

These are given in detail in an additional volume of the Ante-Nicene Library: Recently Discovered manuscripts, etc.

Apocryphal Gospels

Swete Gospel of Peter, xv, London, shows that “even details which seem to be entirely new or which directly contradict the canonical narrative, may have been suggested by it”; and he concludes that notwithstanding the large amount of new matter which it contains, “there is nothing in this portion of the Evagneliums Gospel which compels us to assume the use of sources other than the canonical gospels.

The date of the gospel has been placed by some in the first quarter, and by others in the third quarter, of the 2nd century. A Gospel of the Twelve is mentioned by Origen Hom.

I, in Lucand a few fragments of it are preserved by Epiphanius Haerea, 39It commenced with the baptism, and apoceypha used by the Ebionites. It was written, Zahn thinks, about AD. The latter is mentioned by Jerome Prooem ad Matt.

In all of the gospels of this class it is noteworthy that considering the desire of the writers of non-canonical gospels to multiply miracles, no notice is taken of the period in the life of Christ that intervened between his twelfth year and his thirtieth. The main reason for the omission probably is that no special dogmatic end was to be served by the narrative of this period of the Saviour’s life.