Alphonse Mingana on the Study of the Apocrypha (1931)

I have been doing some reading on the Book of the Rolls, a sprawling work of around 400 pages extant in Garshuni, Arabic, and Ethiopic. It also goes by the name of the Apocalypse of Peter (not to be confused with the other two texts of that name) or simply Clement. It's a fascinating text, and I may comment on it more later, but right now I just wanted to reproduce some words on the study of the CA offered by Mingana towards the end of his work on the text.

In the third volume of Woodbrooke Studies, Mingana mentions his intention to take a break from work on editing and translating apocryphal texts (p. 356). He then excerpts some comments about the CA by R. A. Lipsius and M. R. James. I'll leave aside the German quotation from Lipsius, but James writes: "There is no question of anyone’s having excluded (the apocryphal Gospels and Acts) from the New testament: they have done that for themselves. Interesting as they are, they do not achieve either of the two principal purposes for which they were written, the instilling of new religion and the conveyance of true history” (The Apocryphal New Testament, p. xi-xii). To this Mingana responds: “Whether the critics of the year, say, 2500, will wholly subscribe to this verdict I cannot say. That it will be slightly modified in favour of some Apocrypha seems to me just possible. Our main task for the present is to edit and translate as many of these uncanonical documents as we can, and leave the duty of studying them more elaborately and comparing them more fully with what we term canonical Books, to future generations. In the year 2500 scholars may possibly be in a position to study both the canonical and uncanonical scripture with a more detached spirit and better equipped minds.”

Well, some of us have been able to achieve that goal in 2012.  But it is heartening to see a scholar as eminent as Mingana express this viewpoint back in 1931. 

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