Book Note: Thomas Wayment, The Text of the New Testament Apocrypha

One of the titles I mentioned in my SBL Diary back in November (and deserving of more attention) is Thomas A. Wayment’s The Text of the New Testament Apocrypha (100-400 CE) (London: T&T Clark, 2013). Wayment, an Associate Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University, has assembled here a collection of the earliest Christian Apocrypha extant on papyrus and parchment from the first five centuries. Note, however, that only Greek manuscripts are featured in the volume.

Each chapter of the book focuses on a single text (e.g., the Didache, the Gospel of Mary) or a group of texts (Acts of the Apostles, Sayings Gospels) and provides a bibliography, orthographic notes, and critical editions (not merely transcriptions) of each manuscript. The back half of the volume contains photographs of each manuscript, the majority in colour. The images vary in quality—P. Bodmer V and X, for example, are clear and gorgeous to look at, but P. Oxy 840 is reproduced too small and the reverse side of each page bleeds through the papyrus, making the text difficult to read.

The full list of texts included in the volume is: Acts of the Apostles (John, Paul, Peter), the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Peter, the Infancy Gospel of James (including a complete edition of  P. Bodmer 5 and two recently published manuscripts: P. Ashmolean inv. 9 and Cairo Greek Papyrus JE 85643), the Shepherd of Hermas (with complete editions of P. Bodmer 38 and P. Mich. 129), the Gospel of Thomas, a selection of fragmentary narrative gospels (such as P. Egerton 2 /Köln 255), and other  unidentified fragments (P. Oxy XVII 2069). It’s unfortunate that some texts had to be left out due to the temporal limits of the collection, including the Ahkmim codex with the Gospel and Apocalypse of Peter; but perhaps these texts could be included in a volume covering the next five centuries.

Though all of the texts and their manuscript images are available elsewhere (in some cases images are available online), Wayment has provided a great service by making them all available in one attractive volume.

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