Larry Hurtado has an interesting post on his blog entitled "Hoaxes From the Past (That Keep on Re-appearing)." He discusses briefly (essentially presenting an overview of the contents of Edgar J. Goodspeed's Famous Biblical Hoaxes, or, Modern Apocrypha) a number of modern apocryphal texts, including The Aquarian Gospel of Christ (see this previous post on a handy source for such texts). The overview raises for me an issue over the appropriate use of the term "hoax." What is it that divides these modern apocryphal texts from ancient apocrypha? Or, in some cases, from pseudepigraphical canonical texts? The writer of the introduction to the Apocalypse of Paul, for example, claimed to have found this text hidden away beneath his house in the fourth-century. Clearly Paul did not write the text and it was likely written in the fourth-century by the text's "discoverer." A similar "discovery" in the nineteenth-century, such as The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, is not much different, is it?
I understand the hostility some may feel toward modern apocrypha, but I don't feel the same way about ancient apocrypha. Is the difference solely of time and distance? Or is there something else that is different about the origins of these texts? Are modern apocrypha just as valid an area of study for 19th and 20th century developments in Christianity as ancient apocrypha for medieval Christianity?