Last Monday morning a story appeared in the press, first in England but very soon all around the world, about a “lost gospel” that contains evidence that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had two children. You’ve probably heard something about it by now, and you may know I had a hand in this project—a book, The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene (Harper Collins, 2014) by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson, and forthcoming documentary. The “lost gospel” of the title is a Syriac text: the Story of Joseph and Aseneth […]
The class began this week on a bit of a tangent. We discussed Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson’s controversial book The Lost Gospel, which had been mentioned in the news since the previous morning. It was somewhat appropriate for us to spend some time on the book given that the claim of the authors is that the pseudepigraphicon Joseph and Aseneth is a Christian text, making it one of a subset of Christian Apocrypha that utilizes Hebrew Bible figures. And my involvement with the publication, as the translator of the Syriac text that forms the basis of their interpretation, allowed […]
On Monday (November 10) I will be giving a talk at York University on so-called Modern Apocrypha. The presentation is based on a paper I will be presenting as part of the 2015 York Christian Apocrypha Symposium, “Fakes, Fictions, Forgeries: Writing Ancient and Modern Christian Apocrypha.” Here is the abstract: In the late 19th century, the excitement that was stirred by the discovery of apocryphal Christian texts in monastic libraries in the East inspired the creation of new apocryphal texts. Some of these were published as works of scholarship—such as H. C. Greene and C. Mendés’s edition of The Gospel […]
I began our first class on the apocryphal acts with a statement that the material typically does not excite students. Jesus appears very little in the texts and, let’s face it, the apocryphal acts are rather long and tedious. That said, our sourcebook for the course (Ehrman’s Lost Scriptures) reduces the texts well to their more interesting components. And hey, who can resist tales of necrophilia and severed genitals? We started by reading the story of Drusiana from Acts of John 63-64 as a lead in to discussion of some typical features (asceticism, prominent female characters) of the apocryphal acts. […]
Back in the summer, Christopher Skinner sent me a copy of his book, What Are They Saying About the Gospel of Thomas? (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2012). It is a slim book (around 120 pages), so it did not take long to read, nor did it take me long to make some notes on its contents. What did take a long time is for me to get around to finally blogging about it! At first I was a bit leery about the book. I have read a number of discussions of the Christian Apocrypha from what one might call “conservative” […]
Nicola Denzey Lewis, Visiting Associate Professor at Brown University, answers the question “How many gospels were “excluded” from the Bibles as we know them today? And why?” on the Bible Odyssey web site (HERE).
After a week off from lecturing (last week our class time was devoted to a research skills workshop), my New testament Apocrypha class resumed with part two of our look at Passion and Resurrection Gospels, focusing this time on apocalypses. We began with a short reading from the beginning of the Apocalypse of Paul with its claim to have been found, along with a dusty pair of shoes, in a chest in the home of Paul in Tarsus. We have seen such claims before in the Coptic Pseudo-apostolic memoirs. It’s a curious feature: for all orthodox Christianity’s bluster about apocryphal […]
The “Ancient Jewish and Christian Apocalypses: Transfer of Knowledge and Genre Definition” conference takes place at Freie Universtät in Berlin November 14-15, 2014. Presenters include Martha Himmelfarb and John J. Collins. For more information, download the program HERE.
Kelley Coblentz Bautch passed along to me some information about two recent books on Fallen Angels traditions that may be of interest to readers of Christian Apocrypha: Available only since September, Fallen Angels Traditions: Second Temple Developments and Reception History (ed. A. K. Harkins, K. Coblentz Bautch and J. Endres; CBQMS 53) is a collection of essays that takes up new areas of research in fallen angels traditions. Essays in this volume treat traditions of the rebellious angels in the Hodayot, Book of Jubilees, Book of Revelation, and Apocryphon of John. The fallen angels motif is explored also in the […]
Steve Walton, administrator of the Acts and More blog, provides a summary of Simon Gathercole’s plenary paper from the British New Testament Conference (Sept. 4-6, 2014): “Jesus, the Apostolic Gospel and the Gospels.” I can’t say much about the paper without reading it for myself, but it does strike me as presumptuous to start with the determination that the four canonical gospels are distinct as a group from other gospels simply because they are in the canon. Indeed, there are probably more differences (not just in content but in theology) between the Synoptics and John than there is between the […]
For the past three years I have been organizing a session of Christian Apocrypha at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies. Last year we began a partnership with the Canadian Society of Patristic Studies to create a joint session. Normally there is no particular theme to the session, but this year we are looking for papers that tie in to the theme of the York Christian Apocrypha Symposium to be held in September 2015. Papers on other topics are also welcome. CALL FOR PAPERS: JOINT SESSION ON “CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHA” The theme for the session this year […]
Our first of two classes on Passion and resurrection gospels began and ended with the Gospel of Mary. We read the conclusion to Gos. Mary as a group and I had the class consider who the Mary of the text is (the Marys tend to blur in apocryphal traditions), why the apostles doubt her vision (did the author anticipate resistance to the text’s “strange teachings”?), and what to make of the interplay between Peter and Mary (a microcosm of orthodox and “heretical” group conflicts?). We carried this discussion of orthodoxy and heresy into our discussion of the next text examined […]
[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 Timothy recounts Timothy’s tenure as bishop of Ephesus. The Latin version of the text attributes its authorship to a certain presbyter named Polycrates. Timothy is said to have been born to a Greek father and a Jewish mother in Lystra. He was converted by Paul and traveled with him until he […]
[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 […]
[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 […]