More Christian Apocrypha Updates 13: Life of John the Baptist by Serapion

[This is the latest in a series of posts on texts to be featured in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures edited by Brent Landau and I. The material here is incorporated also into the information on the texts provided on my More Christian Apocrypha page]. The Life of John the Baptist is told through the voice of Serapion, an Egyptian bishop of the fourth century, on the occasion of an unspecified feast day for John. It begins with a harmony of details about John’s birth taken from the Gospel of Luke and the Infancy Gospel of James, finishing with […]

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More Christian Apocrypha Updates 12: Gospel Fragments

[This is the latest in a series of posts on texts to be featured in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures edited by Brent Landau and I. The material here is incorporated also into the information on the texts provided on my More Christian Apocrypha page]. Gospel fragments are an ubiquitous feature of Christian Apocrypha collections. These untitled, often mystifying fragmentary manuscripts tease the possibility of lost known or unknown gospels, but they can instead be extracts from harmonies or homilies, or evidence for the phenomenon of secondary orality (canonical gospel stories remembered from oral performance before secondarily attaining written […]

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New Testament Apocrypha Course: Reflections on Week 4

I said at the conclusion to the post for week three that this week’s class should be lighter since we would be looking at only two gospels: the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip. Well, I forgot that we would be examining also the Letter of Lentulus and the Abgar Correspondence. Very quickly the lecture went from a leisurely stroll to a sprint as I tried in vain to fit everything in everything I wanted to say about the texts. We began by reading the Letter of Lentulus, a letter attributed to a Roman official at the time […]

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New Testament Apocrypha Course: Reflections on Week Three

My course on the New Testament Apocrypha focused this week on part one of a two-part discussion of “Ministry Gospels”—i.e., texts focusing on Jesus’ adult life, between the infancy gospels and the passion narratives. For this first part we looked at agrapha and fragmentary texts, the latter group including Jewish-Christian gospels, the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of the Savior, and the Secret Gospel of Mark. Our next class is dedicated to complete Ministry Gospels, namely the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip. We started, as usual, by closely reading a text—this time, the first fragment of Secret […]

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More Christian Apocrypha Updates 11: Acts of Titus

[This is the latest in a series of posts on texts to be featured in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures edited by Brent Landau and I. The material here is incorporated also into the information on the texts provided on my More Christian Apocrypha page]. The Acts of Titus has three parts: his early life (chs. 1-3), his time as a companion of Paul, (chs. 4-6), and his time in office as bishop of Gortyna (chs. 7-12). The text is attributed to a certain “Zenas the lawyer” (from Titus 3:13). The author reveals that Titus grew up in a […]

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More Christian Apocrypha Updates 10: The Life and Martyrdom of John the Baptist

[This is the latest in a series of posts on texts to be featured in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures edited by Brent Landau and I. The material here is incorporated also into the information on the texts provided on my More Christian Apocrypha page]. Life Mart. Bapt. draws heavily on the New Testament Gospel information about John but adds some details. No details are given of his birth and childhood; after a bare mention of his birth, the action moves right to his adulthood when Gabriel instructs him on his mission of baptism and particularly the baptism of […]

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More Christian Apocrypha Updates 9: The Legend of the Thirty Silver Pieces

[This is the latest in a series of posts on texts to be featured in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures edited by Brent Landau and I. The material here is incorporated also into the information on the texts provided on my More Christian Apocrypha page]. LTPS exists in two main forms: an Eastern recension in Syriac, Garshuni, and Armenian, and a Western recension in Latin and European vernaculars. Both forms relate the origin and transmission of the silver pieces paid to Judas to betray Christ. The story begins with the minting of the coins by Terah, then they are […]

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New Testament Apocrypha Course: Reflections on Week Two

This week’s class focused on Infancy Gospels, with particular emphasis on the Infancy Gospel of James and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the earliest examples of this literature. We began, however, with a discussion of the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to spend less time discussing canonical texts in this incarnation of the course, but it helps considerably to have the students be aware of the content of the canonical infancy material. So we read Matthew 1-2 together and noted its similarities and differences with Luke 1-2. The differences are […]

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New Testament Apocrypha Course: Reflections on Week One

This past Tuesday I began the latest incarnation of my course "The New Testament Apocrypha" (syllabus posted on my parent site (HERE). As in previous years, I am posting weekly reflections on the week's lecture, in part to encourage pedagogical discussion on how to teach this material (and I won't always do it well), and to provide a forum for my students to offer their thoughts on the course (and thereby gain additional participation marks). This first class dealt with concepts and methodology: we looked at certain important terms (apocrypha, canon, orthodoxy, heresy), read a chapter or two of Walter […]

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More Christian Apocrypha Updates 8: The Qasr el-Wizz Codex

[This is the latest in a series of posts on texts to be featured in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures edited by Brent Landau and I. The material here is incorporated also into the information on the texts provided on my More Christian Apocrypha page]. The tenth/eleventh-century Coptic Qasr el-Wizz codex contains two texts: the Discourse of the Savior and the Dance of the Savior. The first of these is a post-resurrection dialogue between Jesus and the apostles set four days before his ascension. Peter begins the dialogue by asking Jesus about the "mystery of the cross." Jesus responds […]

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2012 ISCAL Proceedings: Latin Apocryphal Acts

NEW IN PRINT: Els Rose, ed., The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles in Latin Christianity: Proceedings of the First International Summer School on Christian Apocryphal Literature (ISCAL), Strasbourg, 24-27 June 2012 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014). Visit http://brepols.metapress.com/content/x282t7/ for a list of contents and instant online access (some sections are open access). From the press: The lives of the apostles after Pentecost are described in the books of the New Testament only in part. Details of their missionary wanderings to the remote corners of the world are found in writings not included in the biblical canon, known as the Apocryphal Acts of […]

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More Christian Apocrypha Updates 7: The Death of Judas

[This is the latest in a series of posts on texts to be featured in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures edited by Brent Landau and I. The material here is incorporated also into the information on the texts provided on my More Christian Apocrypha page]. The fourth book of Papias's lost Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord contains a tradition about the death of Judas that is different from what we find in both Matt 27:3-10 and Acts 1:18-20. This tradition, preserved in a long version and a short version in Greek catenae (collections of extracts from biblical […]

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New in Print: Two books on Jewish Pseudepigrapha

Susan Docherty, The Jewish Pseudepigrapha: An introduction to the literature of the Second Temple period (London: SPCK, 2014).This looks like a nice counterpart to my Secret Scriptures Revealed book (also from SPCK). Here is the publisher's blurb: An understanding of the Jewish Pseudepigrapha forms an integral part of all courses on New Testament background and Christian origins This will be the first student introduction to appear for over thirty years Highlights the key theological themes and significance of each text Reviews the texts on their own merits as examples of early Jewish religious literature as well as looking at the […]

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More Christian Apocrypha Updates 6: Dialogue of the Paralytic

[This is the latest in a series of posts on texts to be featured in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures edited by Brent Landau and I. The material here is incorporated also into the information on the texts provided on my More Christian Apocrypha page]. Dial. Paralytic is an elaboration of the story of Jesus and the paralytic from John 5:1–15, though here the encounter is situated after the resurrection, perhaps as late as the fourth century if the paralytic's mention of Arius (d. 336) is original to the text. Christ descends to earth and sees the paralytic. His […]

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More Christian Apocrypha Updates 5: On the Priesthood of Jesus

[This is the latest in a series of posts on texts to be featured in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures edited by Brent Landau and I. The material here is incorporated also into the information on the texts provided on my More Christian Apocrypha page]. On the Priesthood of Jesus (aka, Confession of Theodosius, Apology of Theodosius) is an example of an embedded apocryphon—meaning, the text comes with a framing story, in this case a dispute between Jews and Christians in the reign of the emperor Justinian I (527–565) during which an account is brought forward that is said […]

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