(Continued from page 327)
'Mary's Assumption' was derived from the Gnostic 'Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God'!
Gospel of St. Matthew
This is a Latin composition of the fourth or fifth century. It pretends to have been written by St. Matthew and translated by St. Jerome. Pseudo-Matthew is in large part parallel to the 'Protoevangelium Jacobi', being based on the latter or its sources. It differs in some particulars always in the direction of the more marvellous. Some of its data have replaced in popular belief parallel ones of the older pseudograph. Such is the age of fourteen in which Mary was betrothed to Joseph. A narrative of the flight into Egypt is adorned with poetic wonders. The dragons, lions, and other wild beasts of the desert adore the infant Jesus. At His word the palm-trees bow their heads that the Holy Family may pluck their fruit. The idols of Egypt are shattered when the Divine Child enters the land. The 'Gospel of the Nativity of Mary' is a recast of the Pseudo-Matthew, but reaches only to the birth of Jesus. It is extant in a Latin manuscript of the tenth century.
Arabic Gospel of the Infancy
The Arabic is a translation of a lost Syriac original. The work is a compilation and refers expressly to the 'Book of Joseph Caiphas, the High-Priest', the 'Gospel of the Infancy', and the 'Perfect Gospel'. Some of its stories are derived from the Thomas Gospel, and others from a recension of the apocryphal Matthew. However there are miracles, said to have occurred in Egypt, not found related in any other Gospel, spurious or genuine, among them the healings of leprosy through the water in which Jesus had been washed, and the cures effected through the garments He had worn. These have become familiar in pious legend. So also has the episode of the robbers Titus and Dumachus, into whose hands the Holy Family fell. Titus bribes Dumachus not to molest them; the Infant foretells that thirty years thence the thieves will be crucified with Him, Titus on His right and Dumachus on His left and that the former will accompany Him into paradise. The apocryphon abounds in allusions to characters in the real Gospels. Lipsius opines that the work as we have it is a Catholic retouching of a Gnostic compilation. It is impossible to ascertain its date, but it was probably composed before the Mohammedan era. It is very popular with the Syrian Nestorians. An originally Arabic 'History of Joseph the Carpenter' is published in Tischendorf's collection of apocrypha. It describes St. Joseph's death, related by Our Lord to His disciples. It is a tasteless and bombastic effort, and seems to date from about the fourth century.
Gospel of Gamaliel
Dr. A. Baumstark in the Revue Biblique (April, 1906, 253 sqq.), has given this name to a collection of Coptic fragments of a homogeneous character, which were supposed by another Coptic scholar, Reveillout, to form a portion of the 'Gospel of the Twelve Apostles' (q.v. inf.). These fragments have been referred to a single Gospel also by Lacau, in 'Fragments d'apocryphes coptes de la bibliothèque nationale' (Cairo, 1904). The narrative is in close dependence on St. John's Gospel. The author did not pose seriously as an evangelist, since he explicitly quotes from the fourth canonical Gospel. He places the relation in the mouth of Gamaliel of Acts 5:34. Baumstark assigns it to the fifth century. The writer was evidently influenced by the 'Acta Pilati'.
'Letter of Lentulus' - rejected by The Catholic Encyclopedia on the Scriptural and logical grounds that 'Protestants' use to reject all of the apocrypha!
The Transitus Mariæ or Evangelium Joannis
The Transitus Mariæ or Evangelium Joannis, which is written in the name of St. John the Apostle, and describes the death of Mary, enjoyed a wide popularity, as is attested by the various recensions in different languages which exist. The Greek has the superscription: 'The Account of St. John the Theologian of the Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God'. One of the Latin versions is prefaced by a spurious letter of Melito, Bishop of Sardis, explaining that the object of the work was to counteract a heretical composition of the same title and subject. There is a basis of truth in this statement as our apocryphon betrays tokens of being a Gnostic writing worked over in an orthodox interest. A 'Transitus Mariæ' is numbered among the apocrypha by the official list of the 'Decretum of Gelasius' of the fifth or sixth century. It is problematic, however, whether this is to be identified with our recast Transitus or not. Critics assign the latter to the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century. The relation of the Transitus to the tradition of Mary's Assumption has not yet been adequately examined. However, there is warrant for saying that while the tradition existed substantially in portions of the Church at an early period, and thus prepared the way for the acceptance of mythical amplifications, still its later form and details were considerably influenced by the Transitus and kindred writings. Certainly the homilies of St. John Damascene, 'In Dormitionem Mariæ', reveal evidence of this influence, e.g. the second homily, xii, xiii, xiv. Going further back, the 'Encomium' of Modestus, Bishop of Jerusalem, in the seventh century (P.G., LXXXVI, 3311), and the Pseudo-Dionysius of the fifth (De divinis nominibus, iii), probably suppose an acquaintance with apocryphal narratives of the Death and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. These narratives have a common groundwork, though varying considerably in minor circumstances. The Apostles are preternaturally transported from different quarters of the globe to the Virgin's deathbed, those who had died being resuscitated for the purpose. The 'Departure' takes place at Jerusalem, though the Greek version places Mary first at Bethlehem. A Jew who ventures to touch the sacred body instantly loses both hands, which are restored through the mediation of the Apostles. Christ accompanied by a train of angels comes down to receive His mother's soul. The Apostles bear the body to Gethsemani and deposit it in a tomb, whence it is taken up alive to Heaven. (See ASSUMPTION; MARY.)
TCE: here we have more clear evidence for the obvious and unfeigned embellishments and fabrications employed by Papal Rome through the use of admitted myths in these 'Apocryphal gospels of Catholic origin' which The Catholic Encyclopedia confesses to include 'a Gnostic writing worked over in an orthodox interest' to force the utterly false doctrine of 'The Assumption of Mary' and claim to be 'Holy Mother of God' into the minds and beliefs of the weak and ignorant lay people!
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaistic and heretical gospels
Gospel according to the Hebrews
Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, and St. Epiphanius speak of a 'Gospel according to the Hebrews' which was the sole one in use among the Palestinian Judeo-Christians, otherwise known as the Nazarenes. Jerome translated it from the Aramaic into Greek. It was evidently very ancient, and several of the above mentioned writers associate it with St. Matthew's Gospel, which it seems to have replaced in the Jewish-Christian community at an early date. The relation between the Gospel according to the Hebrews and our canonical Matthew Gospel is a matter of controversy. The surviving fragments prove that there were close literal resemblances. Harnack asserts that the Hebrew Gospel was entirely independent, the tradition it contained being parallel to that of Matthew. Zahn, while excluding any dependence on our Greek canonical Matthew, maintains one on the primitive Matthew, according to which its general contents were derived from the latter. This Gospel seems to have been read as canonical in some non-Palestinian churches; the Fathers who are acquainted with it refer to it with a certain amount of respect. Twenty-four fragments have been preserved by ecclesiastical writers. These indicate that it had a number of sections in common with the Synoptics, but also various narratives and sayings of Jesus, not found in the canonical Gospels. The surviving specimens lack the simplicity and dignity of the inspired writings; some even savour of the grotesque. We are warranted in saying that while this extra-canonical material probably has as its starting-point primitive tradition, it has been disfigured in the interests of a Judaizing Church. (See AGRAPHA.)
TCE: Here we find clear admission of the problems of following the inclinations of the 'Church Fathers' and 'tradition' in a work that is admitted to 'lack the simplicity and dignity of the inspired writings [and] even savour of the grotesque'!
Another complication in the determination of how 'revelation' or 'tradition' is judged is the fact that not all Papal Roman Catholics are agreed on their understanding of the relation of 'tradition' to Scripture either, for some understand it as two sources of revelation. Others understand 'apostolic tradition' as a lesser form of revelation while others understand tradition in an almost 'Protestant' way, namely, as merely 'an interpretation of revelation' (albeit, an 'infallible' one) that is found only in the Bible. Traditional Catholics, such as Ludwig Ott and Henry Denzinger, tend to be in the first category, and more 'modern' Catholics, such as John Henry Newman and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, take the latter view. All of this makes the puerile attempts to present Papal Rome as a people 100% in agreement of whatever the resident pope teaches, while 'Protestantism' contains a mass of continuously divergent opinions, look pathetic.
Indeed, in Denzinger's 'Systematic Index' he speaks of 'the Sources [plural] of Revelation': 'The written source of revelation is the canonical books of both Testaments. ... Another source of revelation is ecclesiastical tradition.' The original draft of Trent left no doubt it intended two sources of revelation, speaking of the gospel being contained 'partly in written books, partly in unwritten tradition.' This, however, was changed at the last minute, omitting the word 'partly' in both cases. Many post-Vatican II Catholic scholars claim it is improper to speak of two sources of revelation, since the 'De Verbum' [the Word] document speaks of 'a single sacred deposit of the Word of God.' This is not an 'infallible' pronouncement, however, and it leaves it undefined as to whether each may contain elements not found in the other. Who is to now know whether the words 'partly' were omitted from Trent's declaration for theological or stylistic reasons?
Whether or not 'extra-biblical apostolic tradition' is considered a second source of revelation, there is no question that both factions agree that Papal Rome believes apostolic tradition is both authoritative and infallible. The Council of Trent was emphatic in proclaiming that the Bible alone is not sufficient for faith and morals: God has ordained tradition in addition to the Bible to faithfully guide the church. The basic arguments in favour of the Bible plus tradition fall into several categories:
'Infallible' guidance in interpreting the Bible comes from 'the church' and one of the criteria used to determine this is the 'unanimous consent of the Fathers' (which we have already proven to be a fallacy!). In accordance with 'The Profession of Faith of the Council of Trent,' the faithful Papal Catholic must be able to state: 'I shall never accept nor interpret it ['Holy Scripture'] otherwise than in accordance with the unanimous consent of the Fathers.' The same council declared (1546) that no one should dare to interpret 'Sacred Scripture ... contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers' and Vatican I (1870) repeated this same decree that 'no one is permitted to interpret Sacred Scriptures ... contrary to the unanimous agreement of the Fathers.'
Papal Catholic scholars advance several arguments in favour of the Bible and tradition, as opposed to the Bible as the only final authority and one of their primary arguments is that the Bible does not teach that the Bible is the final and only authority for faith and morals and nowhere does the Bible teach Sola Scriptura. Thus Papal Roman Catholics conclude that even on 'Protestant' grounds there is no reason to accept Sola Scriptura. Indeed, they believe it is inconsistent or self-refuting, since they claim that the Bible does not teach that the 'Bible alone' is the basis of faith and morals. We have already soundly refuted this claim as well as the manner in which the Bible teaches that 'traditions' should be followed.
The argument that the Bible cannot be properly understood without tradition simply fails to hold water because any claimed tradition that contradicts what we can clearly read must mean that the tradition is to be doubted over the solidity of the written and carefully preserved Word. The other argument offered by Papal Catholic apologists is that it is insufficient to have an infallible Bible unless we have an infallible interpretation of it because 'no chain is stronger than its weakest link'. But if we have only a fallible interpretation of the Bible - as the record of Papal Rome proves to be - how could we ever believe the Bible is infallible? This is how many who reject the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel come to reject 'Christianity' because they are fooled into believing that Papal Rome is Christianity! The claim that God preserved apostolic traditions (teachings) as defined by the teaching magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church to serve as an infallible guide to understanding the Bible is also quickly refuted by an examination of the history of interpretation and resultant blatant heretical doctrines taught by popes! Thus, when we read:
'Scripture is to be proclaimed, heard, read, received, and experienced as the Word of God, in the stream of the apostolic Tradition from which it is inseparable.' (Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini)
we know that only the ignorant, or wilfully blind and ignorant, will believe this deception of Papal Rome.
Papal Roman Catholic apologists, such as Peter Kreeft, attempt to use the same tame arguments for tradition, even arguing in a hopeful circular fashion that 'sola Scriptura violates the principle of causality; that an effect cannot be greater than its cause,' for 'the successors of the apostles, the bishops of the Church, decided on the canon, the list of books to be declared scriptural and infallible. ... If the Scripture is infallible, then its cause, the Church, must also be infallible.' But since it cannot be proven that 'the successors of the apostles, the bishops of the Church, decided on the canon' the argument does not get off the ground.
Rejecting tradition leads to denominationalism, according to Kreeft:
'denominationalism is an intolerable scandal by scriptural standards - see John 17:20-23 and I Corinthians 1:10-17.' ... 'let five hundred people interpret the bible without Church authority and there will soon be five hundred denominations.'
Coupled with this false view, Kreeft claims that 'the first generation of Christians did not have the New Testament, only the Church to teach them' and, therefore, using the Bible alone without apostolic tradition was not possible. Even the most ignorant student of history should recognise that the vast distances separating remote churches in those early days, as well as the disparity of the books in their possession and the variability of the views on those materials (as proven by our review of the 'Church Fathers'), makes such a claim nothing more than deceptive, wishful thinking.
If the early history of the canon is divided into (a) evidence from the period before AD 180; (b) evidence from AD 180-300; and (3) evidence from AD 400 onwards we find:
Evidence from the second century apostolic fathers and apologists:
The earliest patristic testimony is that of Clement of Rome who wrote his epistles to the Corinthians just before the turn of the century. AD 96). The first fact which strikes the reader of his epistle is the large number of citations from the Old Testament and the paucity of specific references to the New Testament books. For Clement the Old Testament either appears more important to cite than any New Testament writings or some other factor, such as the familiarity of his readers with the New Testament works, makes it less necessary to quote what might be fresher in their minds. Either could be true and other theories could be put forward that would be just that - equally unprovable theories. And the same applies to many areas of speculation regarding 'silent' evidence - for we can all postulate as wildly as each other. But it is always facts that determine the truth and, in this respect, it is a fact that Clement's main source of Christian doctrine is the Old Testament. It is found that his interpretation of the Old Testament is basically Christian and he frequently cites it as Scripture with an introductory formula ('It is written') which is never used of any New Testament books. Yet this surely does not mean that the words of Christ did not possess for Clement an authority parallel to the Old Testament, for it is from his knowledge of Christ that Clement obtains his interpretation of the Old Testament, as can be observed from the writings. It is a fact that, when he does cite the gospels, the citations are few and loose which contrasts with the 'accuracy' with which the LXX is generally reproduced (notoriously badly!) and leads to the obvious conclusion that he did not faithfully follow the Septuagint or the Apocrypha! Clement cites some of Paul's epistles, but it is impossible to say which epistles his collection included although Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Ephesians, The Epistle to the Hebrews (sufficiently well known and esteemed to be cited - in one passage fairly extensively) are recognisable in his utilisation of their texts, but there are certainly less certain allusions drawn from the pastoral epistles and James. Why did Clement not specifically cite the New Testament - was he so familiar with it that he happily 'approximated' it, or was he content to mainly rely on the memory of others reading his works? Again, speculation should only go so far and we do not need to go further than this brief summation.
As mentioned earlier, the non-Canonical 'Didache' (or Didaché) contains the first mention of a written gospel (the Lord's prayer at the communion service is attributed to the Lord 'in His gospel' and the word 'gospel' is used four times in the sense of a written gospel) so it is reasonable to say that the author (writing from about AD 70-110, although some put it as early as AD 50) knew of the four gospels. The Didaché was quoted (perhaps as Scripture) by Clement of Alexandria in his Miscellanes (I, 20), but Eusebius classed it among the spurious books in his History (III, 25, 4) and Athanasius said that it was not in the canon but among the books 'to be read by those who newly join us' (Festal Letter 39). So, again, we see the lack of agreement among the 'Fathers'. The last western indication of it before modern times seems to be a trace in Pirminius (d. 753). It is listed in the Stichometry of Nicephorus (ca. 850) as a rejected book and appears to have dropped out of favour after that time until, in 1873, Philotheos Bryennios, metropolitan of Nicomedia, found the text of the Didaché in a manuscript dating from 1056 and eventually published it (in 1883) causing quite a sensation, as it appeared that it might be from the very early period of the Church.
Because of the close similarity of the text in the two works, some thought that Barnabas borrowed from the Didaché (e.g., F. X. Funk, O. Bardenhewer) or, more frequently, the Didaché borrowed from Barnabas (e.g., R. H. Connolly, F. C. Burkitt, J. A. Robinson, J. Muilenberg), while a third hypothesis (equally unprovable!) is that both took the idea from a third source circulating in the Greek-speaking Jewish diaspora! The Didaché includes many views that are compatible with the New Testament, such as the use of a formula of baptism that is clearly New Testament and 'Trinitarian' in origin: 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' (VII, 1). The fact that it was rejected by the 'Fathers' and Councils while the Apocryphal works (with their clearly identifiable flaws) were retained by many in Papal Rome is another serious mark against the methods of determining canon utilised by these 'authorities'!
When the Epistles of Ignatius are considered it is seen that the greatest impact upon him from the New Testament books came from the epistles of Paul, for many instances of his acquaintance with the language of these epistles are discovered. On one occasion Ignatius mentions that Paul remembers the readers (i.e., the Ephesians) 'in every epistle,' a statement which causes perplexity, but at least bears witness to some kind of Pauline Corpus of letters. It is significant that Ignatius' own letters were soon collected into a corpus numbering seven epistles, which may possibly bear some relationship to the already existing Pauline Corpus (the Muratorian List speaks of Paul's letters to seven churches). In addition to these epistles, Ignatius' language also shows affinity with John's gospel, which may be evidence of his acquaintance with it and his esteem for it, although some dispute this claim.
In the brief remaining letter of Polycarp there is a greater evidence of knowledge of New Testament books. The references do not occur as citations but are woven into Polycarp's language and he appears to know Matthew, Luke, 1 and 2 John, 1 Peter, and several of the Pauline epistles. Of special significance is his acquaintance with 1 Timothy and Titus, which leaves no doubt that he regarded them as possessing equal authority with the other letters of Paul. In one statement Polycarp mentions Paul's epistles written to the readers (i.e., the church at Philippi), which is perplexing since only one such letter is extant, but it is not impossible that Polycarp may have been including the letters sent to the other Macedonian church (i.e. 1 and 2 Thessalonians).
Papias (probably born AD 60-70), a bishop of the 1st and 2nd century of Hierapolis in Phrygia Pacatiana, left writings of major interest because he claimed that he made a point of interrogating people who had known the Lord's disciples. He thought he could profit more 'from the utterances of a living and surviving voice' than from books and wrote an 'Interpretation of the Sayings of the Lord' in five books. Although it was listed in the library catalogue of Stams, a Cistercian monastery in the Tyrol as late as 1341, it has now disappeared. There are only quotations from it and references to it by other writers and, while Eusebius left very interesting quotations, Irenaeus and Andrew of Caesarea (late 6th century) and others also quoted him directly. 'The Interpretation' (dated ca. 120-130) states that 'Mark became Peter's interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not indeed in order, of the things said or done by the Lord.' Of Matthew, Papias said that he 'collected the sayings in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as he was able' (Euseb. Hist. III. xxxix. 15, 16). Irenaeus quoted Papias as saying that the Apostle John related what Christ taught, that after the resurrection of the righteous there would be an earthly kingdom when vines and wheat would be more prolific than ever, and animals would be peaceable and obedient to man (Iren. Her., V. xxxiii. 3). In this connection Irenaeus described Papias as a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp (ibid., V. xxxiii, 4). Papias wrote of the Apostle John whom he described as a presbyter, and two lines later referred again to 'the presbyter John' (Euseb. Hist. III, xxxix, 4). While Eusebius interpreted this to be a reference to two separate 'Johns' - and some modern scholars agree - Eusebius makes it clear that he had a low opinion of Papias, calling him 'of little intelligence' (Hist. III, xxxix, 13). No book written by Papias remains extant but, from the extracts preserved by Eusebius, it is apparent that he knew Matthew and Mark and regarded them highly. (Ref. J. A. Kleist, Ancient Christian Writers, vol. 6, 1948).
The Epistle of Barnabas is perhaps interesting for no other reason than it contains a canonical citation ('many are called but few are chosen') which is introduced by the formula 'It is written,' indicating that the gospels were, by this time, being accepted on a level with the Old Testament as Scripture.
In the middle of the 2nd century, Justin Martyr, in one of his writings, refers to the fact that in Rome it was customary for Christians to listen to the reading of the apostolic memoirs or the writings of the prophets when they met on Sunday. The latter of these groups would appear to refer to the Old Testament and the former to the gospels. There is little doubt that Justin knew and used the four gospels, although he does not quote any of the evangelists by name. He refers to the memoirs of Peter, by which he evidently means the gospel of Mark. Sometimes the gospels are cited in Justin's Dialogue with the formula, 'It is written.' Of the other New Testament books, he is familiar with the Apocalypse, which is mentioned by name and is regarded as the work of the Apostle John. There is no mention of Paul or his letters, although the language shows acquaintance with some of the Pauline epistles (notably Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians) and The Epistle to the Hebrews is also known and used by him.
The influence of Justin may be seen in the work of his pupil Tatian who, after leaving Rome in AD 170 for the East, joined the heretical sect of the Encratites. Before his departure from Rome Tatian produced a harmony of the four gospels (the 'Diatessaron'), which consisted of the interweaving of passages from each of them. Because Tatian, like his teacher Justin, seems to have accepted some apocryphal material, some have preferred to call his harmony 'Diapente'. 'Diatessaron' is a Greek prepositional phrase, 'by means of four', the name traditionally given to a harmony of the gospels, while 'Diapente', 'by means of five' signifies Tatian's inclusion of apocryphal material from a fifth source since instances of apocryphal items are found in his sources (both the terms belong to Greek music theory, meaning 'perfect fourth' and 'perfect fifth' respectively - hence the work was originally defined as the 'perfect harmony'). The importance of Tatian's harmony in the history of the 'canon' lies rather in the fact that it was rejected. Although widely used, it was displaced even in the Syriac speaking church, where it had most influence, by the separate gospels. There was an obvious advantage in having a harmony rather than four different accounts, but the latter was deemed preferable as a more authentic fourfold testimony to the life and teaching of Jesus. Thus we have evidence that, even in the earliest days, there were men who thought they could improve on the works produced by the inspiration of God. Pope Sixtus V may well be the heretic par excellence in this respect! We have yet to elicit a response from a Papal Roman Catholic with regard to Sixtus V's heresy - why do you think this is - because Patrick Madrid type 'apologetics' is still Papal Rome's methodology?
In the same manner that forgers of currency try to mimic real money as closely as possible (a deception is most effective when it mimics the truth as closely as possible) we find that the early period supplied evidence regarding the New Testament canon through heretical sources. In their attempts to cite canonical books, it is evident that these books must have been regarded first as authoritative in orthodox circles before being taken over and re-interpreted by deviating sects. In addition to copies of the apostolic books in the Greek language, during the first century after the apostles (150 A.D.) there were also translations of the Greek New Testament into Latin and Syriac and possibly other languages. These versions multiplied and many corruptions were introduced as heretics busied themselves adding to and taking away from the text, as it pleased them. Frederick Nolan (1784-1864), a diligent researcher into early church history, stated: 'the founders of those different sects had tampered with the text of Scripture ... in some instances the genuine text had been wholly superseded by the spurious editions (Nolan, Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, 1815, pp. 468-69). The heretics also attempted to foist extra books (cf. many examples listed in the previous text) into the canon in spite of the seal in Revelation 22:18-19. The heretics of the 2nd century were so abundant that 'the fact that Christianity and the pure teaching of the New Testament survived is an impressive proof of their divine origin and authority' (Miller, General Biblical Introduction, p141). Miller also observed that these heretics rejected some the apostolic writings and mutilated others to suit their fancies and errors: 'The convenience of labelling as 'interpolations' and casting out anything that did not square with their ideas of what should be, so highly prized in our day, was popular at this time' (ibid., p141).
Heretics and heretical sects of the first few centuries included Marcion, Simon Magus, Basilides, Valentinus, Cerinthus, the Ebionites, the Ophites, Heraclion, the Montanists, the Lucianists, the Tatianists, the Apelleians, etc. These were heretics in a genuinely Biblical sense, for they denied apostolic doctrine - which is very different from the way genuine Bible believers were called heretics by Papal Rome for the 'heresy' of denying un-Biblical Catholic tradition!
It is significant that the first commentary on any New Testament books came from the pen of the Gnostic Heracleon, who wrote commentaries on both Luke and John. Similarly, Basilides is said to have written twenty-four books of exposition on the gospels. Among the Valentinians, many of Paul's epistles were known and quoted, together with many apocryphal works, such as the Gospel of Peter, the Acts of Peter, and the Acts of John. A collection of ancient texts, the Nag Hammadi Library found in the Egyptian desert and published in 1977, consisted of 45 titles. A few of these were titled 'gospels' with intriguing titles, e.g. the Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Philip, Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Truth, Gospel of Egyptians, and there was also Acts of John. But most of these Gnostic texts were poems, wisdom literature, and supposed historical narratives, e.g. the Gospel of Truth is a meditation on the theme of the gospel message, the Gospel of Thomas a collection of sayings, while the Gospel of Philip appears to be composed of sayings and meditations strung together largely on a catchword principle, without much regard for coherence or systematic presentation and merely echoing the language of many of the New Testament books. The more recently published Gospel of Thomas shows acquaintance with the canonical gospels, although it also contains many supposed sayings of Jesus not contained in the gospels. The Gospel of Philip also does not show real affinity with genuine canonical material. The fact that some of these were attributed to apostles and purport to belong to the same literary genre as the canonical gospels reveals another clear attempt to infiltrate the true canon with forged works. These documents are known to be forgeries and have been dated to the 2nd and 3rd centuries and were therefore written generations after the New Testament gospels were written, adopted and the early church formed (the earliest of the Gnostic Gospels is believed to be the 'Gospel of Thomas', and dated by experts to 150 AD).
It is ironic that heretics, particularly the major heretic Marcion, may have affected others and assisted in their slow recognition of the need to recognise the New Testament canon. Anyone might think that the post-Apostolic disciples had an excuse not to examine every claimed New Testament book carefully - but they don't (e.g. Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians. 5:19-23 etc.). Men such as Marcion may have defined their authorized sources of doctrine more rapidly than the orthodox and semi-heretical (which the 'Church Fathers' clearly broached!), since those sources were considerably more restricted than those used by the orthodox church, for he rejected the Old Testament and therefore had no basic Scripture with which the Christian books could be compared, therefore making it harder for those attracted to his doctrine to spot his errors. This is rather like a Jehovah's Witness or Papal Roman Catholic failing to spot the deceptions that his 'church' has him trapped in - because one has all of 'The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society' books and magazines to read and the other has an even more vast myriad of additional doctrines based on books supplying 'tradition' that not one in a million could remember, let alone apply to their lives! Marcion's decision to base his doctrinal opinions on the theology of Paul made it necessary for him to specify a canon of authorized epistles and his use of ten epistles exclusively Pauline (excluding the Pastoral Epistles), reflects the fact that he regarded Paul as the only true apostle. His linking of Luke with this 'Apostolikon' was most likely because of Luke's closer acquaintance with Paul than any of the other evangelists. But there may have been another reason: of all the gospels Luke's is the least Judaistic, and such traces of Judaism that were recognisable could be expunged by removing sections that did not fit well with his theology. Tertullian was one who recognised this ploy and commented that Marcion 'criticized with a penknife' - a method used to this day by all deceivers, including the 'popes'! The idea of canonical books clearly preceded Marcion and Tertullian's time, but the wider church was still slow to recognise the necessity for a clear definition of the genuine New Testament books while staunchly maintaining the Old Testament as Scripture. It was surely significant that Marcion's rejection of Acts was contrary to every known opinion in the orthodox church and he had made his strange heresy clear by his determination to exclude anything which drew attention to any apostles other than Paul, while the clear names of the other disciples were so easily identified that it staggers the mind to think any serious seeker of the truth guided by the Holy Spirit could have really been deceived.
Some time during the 2nd century some prologues which are generally reckoned to be of Marcionite origin were attached to the Pauline epistles, either by Marcion himself or by his followers. These Marcionite prologues stress the Jewish opposition to the true Gospel and bear testimony to Marcion's influence because, rather embarrassingly, they became attached to many Vulgate Manuscripts later on! There are also 'Anti-Marcionite prologues to the gospels', of which those attached to Mark, Luke and John have survived, the last not thought to be dated as early as the other two. It has been suggested that these were attached to the four gospels when the church published the fuller canon in response to, and in opposition to Marcion's truncated canon (ref. de Bruyne, Révue Bénédictine, 1928, pp. 193-214). But it is more probable that the fourfold canon already enjoyed undisputed sway before Marcion's canon - a view that is easily maintained.
The records that still exist show that, prior to AD 180, the New Testament canon was certainly accepted and contained the four gospels - in spite of other 'pseudo-gospels' vying for canonicity. Among the apostles, Paul, Peter and John took precedence, for there was considerable certainty about the acceptance of thirteen Pauline epistles, 1 Peter and 1 John. As we have already seen, evidence for the other Epistles in the 'Catholic' and 'Church Fathers' records does not follow until later. Acts and the Apocalypse (practically everywhere regarded as apostolic) were also included in the acknowledged books, consistent with a common view of this time (contrary to the contemporary view of The Catholic Encyclopedia) that canonicity was closely dependent on the concept of apostolicity.
While it is impossible to know exactly how many early collections were made, or their make up in every known province, we do know that the earliest specific reference to a collection of Paul's epistles comes from within the New Testament itself (2 Peter 3:15-16). Because no official canonical list now exists, it is impossible to determine if one had been definitely established in these early days, or to prove that usage of the full 27 books in at least some of the churches was not sufficiently settled. Not all churches in existence would have been known for the same reason - no official list was necessary, or is demanded by Christ or the apostles. In the same way that some early believers had incomplete knowledge of the 'full gospel' of the Lord Jesus Christ but received this in time as the Holy Spirit worked through evangelists, we can accept that the works of the Apostles spread and were received as Scripture by the early churches and they then spread throughout the world, e.g. Acts 18:24-28:
'Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spake and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John: and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more accurately. And when he was minded to pass over into Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him: and when he was come, he helped them much that had believed through grace; for he powerfully confuted the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.'
We also have clear Scriptural examples, mainly from Paul, revealing warnings about the heretics who appeared even while he was alive (Hymenaeus and Alexander in 1 Timothy 1:20; Alexander the coppersmith in 2 Timothy 4:14; cf. 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:15; 2:17 & 3:1; Titus 1:10-16) - and that they are to be avoided. There is no Scriptural demand to remove these deceivers by force or murder, but Papal Rome started its own doctrine that accelerated as it gained power all the way to the vile days of 'The Inquisition'. In passing, it is interesting from the view of recognising more contradictions of Papal Rome to see that, later, she traditionally differentiated between 'formal heresy' (willful and persistent adherence to theological error) and 'material heresy' (holding heretical beliefs through no fault of one's own) when the latter person was considered of good faith even though in error. But, fairly recently (1971), Rome dropped the term 'heresy,' thus making it impossible to try 'formal heretics' - or even identify real doctrinal error - which makes your whole argument concerning Apocrypha, tradition and 'Papal infallibility' utterly pointless!. But these inspired, clear warnings given by Paul, in particular, would mean that at least sections of the orthodox church taking note of his letters would not follow Marcion's example, or that of other heretics, because they would have read and believed these apostolic warnings. It is blatantly clear that Papal Rome did not take these warnings seriously but, instead, took in uninspired 'pseudologos' in the form of apocryphal works and the wild, flawed proclamations of the popes, and the result was murderous, Satanic attacks on true believers!
The Catholic Encyclopedia cont. ...: Gospel According to the Egyptians
It is by this title that Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius describe an uncanonical work, which evidently was circulated in Egypt. All agree that it was employed by heretical sects - for the most part Gnostics. The scanty citations which have been preserved in the Fathers indicate a tendency towards the Encratite condemnation of marriage, and a pantheistic Gnosticism. The Gospel according to the Egyptians did not replace the canonical records in the Alexandrian Church, as Harnack would have us believe, but it seems to have enjoyed a certain popularity in the country districts among the Coptic natives. It could scarcely have been composed later than the middle of the second century and it is not at all impossible that it retouched some primitive material not represented in the canonical Gospels.
TCE: Further evidence of the dangerous use of such works by heretical Gnostics, as well as the suggestion that those in vulnerable situations - such as these named Coptics - can be deceived as a result, makes the embracing of such works a palpable error typified by Papal Rome with its penchant for clutching at any straw that might lend even the most convoluted fabricated support for its heretical doctrines!
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Gospel of St. Peter
The existence of an apocryphal composition bearing this name in Christian antiquity had long been known by references to it in certain early patristic writers who intimate that it originated or was current among Christians of Docetic views. Much additional light has been thrown on this document by the discovery of a long fragment of it at Akhmîn in Upper Egypt, in the winter of 1886-87, by the French Archæological Mission. It is in Greek and written on a parchment codex at a date somewhere between the sixth and ninth century. The fragment narrates part of the Passion, the Burial, and Resurrection. It betrays a dependence, in some instances literal, on the four inspired Gospels, and is therefore a valuable additional testimony to their early acceptance. While the apocryphon has many points of contact with the genuine Gospels, it diverges curiously from them in details, and bears evidence of having treated them with much freedom. No marked heretical notes are found in the recovered fragment, but there are passages which are easily susceptible of a heterodox meaning. One of the few extra-canonical passages which may contain an authentic tradition is that which describes Christ as placed in mockery upon a throne by His tormentors. Pseudo-Peter is intermediate in character between the genuine Evangels and the purely legendary apocrypha. Its composition must be assigned to the first quarter or the middle of the second century of the Christian era. C. Schmidt thinks he has found traces of what is perhaps a second Gospel of Peter in some ancient papyri (Schmidt, Sitzungsberichte der königlichen preuss. Akademie zu Berlin, 1895; cf. Bardenhewer, Geschichte, I, 397, 399).
TCE: Again The Catholic Encyclopedia reveals the error of accepting late forgeries which are linked to 'Docetic views' and 'heterodox meaning' and unblushingly admitted to be 'intermediate in character between the genuine Evangels and the purely legendary apocrypha'.
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Gospel of St. Philip
Only one or two quotations remain of the Gospel of St. Philip mentioned by Epiphanius and Leontius of Byzantium; but these are enough to prove its Gnostic colouring.
Gospel of St. Thomas
There are two Greek and two Latin redactions of it, differing much from one another. A Syriac translation is also found. A Gospel of Thomas was known to many Fathers. The earliest to mention it is St. Hippolytus (155-235), who informs us that it was in use among the Naasenes, a sect of Syrian Gnostics, and cites a sentence which does not appear in our extant text. Origen relegates it to the heretical writings. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says it was employed by the Manichæans; Eusebius rejects it as heretical and spurious. It is clear that the original Pseudo-Thomas was of heterodox origin, and that it dates from the second century; the citations of Hippolytus establish that it was palpably Gnostic in tenor. But in the extant Thomas Gospel there is no formal or manifest Gnosticism. The prototype was evidently expurgated by a Catholic hand, who, however, did not succeed in eradicating all traces of its original taint. The apocryphon in all its present forms extravagantly magnifies the Divine aspect of the boy Jesus. In bold contrast to the Infancy narrative of St. Luke, where the Divinity is almost effaced, the author makes the Child a miracle-worker and intellectual prodigy, and in harmony with Docetism, leaves scarcely more than the appearance of humanity in Him. This pseudo-Gospel is unique among the apocrypha, inasmuch as it describes a part of the hidden life of Our Lord between the ages of five and twelve. But there is much that is fantastic and offensive in the pictures of the exploits of the boy Jesus. His youthful miracles are worked at times out of mere childish fancy, as when He formed clay pigeons, and at a clap of His hands they flew away as living birds; sometimes, from beneficence; but again from a kind of harsh retribution.
TCE: Clear evidence of the use of such works by blatant heretics and, yet again, unblushing acknowledgement of its dangerous and un-Scriptural content despite the admission that it was 'evidently expurgated by a Catholic hand, who, however, did not succeed in eradicating all traces of its original taint.' Such works were clearly used by Muhammad, the false prophet of Islam, in his laughable and utterly corrupt Koran (which Pope John Paul II publicly kissed so endearingly!), yet Papal Rome still refuses to wash its hands of such apocrypha - even when the clear historical and doctrinal errors are pointed out in the material they have given their full approval!
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Gospel of St. Bartholomew
The so-called Decretum of Gelasius classes the Gospel of St. Bartholomew among the apocrypha. The earliest allusion to it is in St. Jerome's works. Recently scholars have brought to light fragments of it in old Coptic manuscripts. One of these Orientalists, Baumstark, would place its composition in the first part of the fourth century. A Gospel of Matthias is mentioned by Origen and Eusebius among the heretical literature along with the Peter and Thomas Gospels. Hippolytus states that the Basilidean Gnostics appealed to a 'secret discourse' communicated to them by the Apostle Matthias who had received instruction privately from the Lord. Clement of Alexandria, who was credulous concerning apocryphal literature, quotes with respect several times the 'Tradition of Matthias'.
TCE: Strange that 'Clement of Alexandria' can be called 'credulous concerning apocryphal literature' while Papal Rome is, of course, infallible in its choices!? This is, of course, the same 'Clement of Alexandria' who expressly stated that both Peter and Philip had children - and Peter (about AD 57) is named by Paul (1 Corinthians 9:5) as being engaged in missionary journeys, labouring together with his wife, perhaps among the dispersed Jews in Asia Minor to whom he addressed his epistles (1 Peter 1:1). But anyone who dares accuse us of being selective in who we choose to believe or quote is hardly going to accept the view of this 'Father' in this matter, are they?
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Gospel of the Twelve Apostles
A Gospel of the Twelve Apostles was known to Origen (third century). Other patristic notices give rise to some uncertainty whether the Gospel of the Twelve Apostles of antiquity was really distinct from that of the Hebrews. The greater probabilities oppose their identity. Recently the claim has been made by M. Reveillout, a Coptic scholar, that the lost Gospel has been in a considerable measure recovered in several Coptic fragments, all of which, he asserts, belong to the same document. But this position has been successfully combatted by Dr. Baumstark in the in the [sic] 'Revue Biblique' (April, 1906, 245 sqq.), who will allow at most a probability that certain brief sections appertain to a Gospel of the Twelve Apostles, written originally in Greek and current among Gnostic Ebionites as early as the second century. There exists a late and entirely orthodox Syriac 'Gospel of the Twelve Apostles', published by J. Rendel Harris (Cambridge, 1900).
It is enough to note the existence of other pseudo-Gospels, of which very little is known beside the names. There was a Gospel of St. Andrew, probably identical with the Gnostic 'Acts of Andrew' (q.v., inf.); a Gospel of Barnabas, a Gospel of Thaddeus, a Gospel of Eve, and even one of Judas Iscariot, the last in use among the Gnostic sect of Cainites, and which glorified the traitor.
Pilate literature and other apocrypha concerning Christ
While Christianity was struggling against the forces of Roman paganism, there was a natural tendency to dwell upon the part which a representative of the Roman Empire played in the supreme events of Our Lord's life, and to shape the testimony of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea, even at the cost of exaggeration and amplification, into a weapon of apologetic defence, making that official bear witness to the miracles, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ. Hence arose a considerable apocryphal Pilate literature, of which the Gospel of Gamaliel really forms a part, and like this latter apocryphon, it is characterized by exaggerating Pilate's weak defence of Jesus into strong sympathy and practical belief in His divinity.
Report of Pilate to the Emperor.
In the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Paul there is embodied a letter purporting to have been sent by Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Claudius. This briefly relates the fatuous crime of the Jews in persecuting the Holy One promised to them by their God; enumerates His miracles and states that the Jews accused Jesus of being a magician. Pilate at the time believing this, delivered Him to them. After the Resurrection the soldiers whom the governor had placed at the tomb were bribed by the leaders to be silent, but nevertheless divulged the fact. The missive concludes with a warning against the mendacity of the Jews. This composition is clearly apocryphal though unexpectedly brief and restrained. It is natural, to attempt to trace a resemblance between this pseudograph and certain references of ecclesiastical writers to Acta or Gesta of Pilate. Tertullian (Apologia, xxi) after giving a sketch of the miracles and Passion of Christ, subjoins: 'All these things Pilate ... announced to Tiberius Cæsar.' A comparison between this pericope and the Pseudo-Pilate report reveals a literary dependence between them, though the critics differ as to the priority of these documents. In chapters 35, 38, and 48 of Justin's Apologia, that Father appeals confidently as a proof of the miracles and Passion of Jesus to 'Acts' or records of Pontius Pilate existing in the imperial archives. While it is possible that St. Justin may have heard of such a report, and even probable that the procurator transmitted some account of the events at Jerusalem to Rome, it is on the other hand admissible that Justin's assertion was based on nothing more than hypothesis. This is the opinion of the majority of the experts. During the persecutions under Maximin in the fourth century spurious anti-Christian Acts of Pilate were composed in Syria, as we learn from Eusebius. It is probable that the pseudographic letter was forged as an offset to these.
Acta Pilati (Gospel of Nicodemus)
See the separate article under this title.
The Minor Pilate Apocrypha
The minor Pilate apocrypha, the Anaphora Pilati, or 'Relation of Pilate', is frequently found appended to the texts of the Acta. It presupposes the latter work, and could not have been composed before the middle of the fifth century. It is found in manuscripts combined with the Paradoseis or 'Giving up of Pilate', which represents the oldest form of the legend dealing with Pilate's subsequent life. A still later fabrication is found in the Latin Epistola Pilati ad Tiberium. There exists a puerile correspondence consisting of a pretended Letter of Herod to Pilate and Letter of Pilate to Herod. They are found in Greek and Syriac in a manuscript of the sixth or seventh century. These pseudographs may be as old as the fifth century.
The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea
The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea - furnishing imaginary details of the two thieves crucified with Christ, and the begging of the body from Pilate - seems to have enjoyed popularity in the Middle Ages in the Byzantine East, judging from the number of Greek manuscripts which remain. The oldest of those published belongs to the twelfth century. The relation is appended to some Latin texts of the Acta Pilati, under the title 'Historia Josephi'. It may be read in English in Walker's and the Ante-Nicene Father.' collection of the apocrypha.
The Legend of Abgar
The oldest form of the Pseudo-Correspondence of Jesus and Abgar, King of Edessa, is found in Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, I, xiii), who vouches that he himself translated it from the Syriac documents in the archives of Edessa, the metropolis of Eastern Syria. The two letters are accompanied by an introduction which probably is an excerpt from the same source. According to this, Abgar V, Toparch or King of Edessa, suffering from an incurable disease, and having heard the fame of Christ's miracles sends a courier to Jerusalem, bearing a letter to Jesus, in which he declared Him to be a god, or the son of a god, and invites Him to Edessa, justifying the request partly by his desire to be cured, partly by his wish to offer to Jesus an asylum against the malignant Jews. Our Lord replied as follows:
Blessed are you because you have believed in Me without seeing Me. For it is written that those who have seen Me, will not believe Me; and that those who have not seen Me will believe and love Me. But as to your prayer that I come to you, it is necessary that I fulfil here all that for which I have been sent, and that after I have fulfilled it, that I be taken up to Him who has sent Me. But after my taking up I shall send you one of My disciples, who will heal your pains, and keep life for you and yours.
Accordingly, after the Ascension, 'Judas Thomas' an Apostle, despatches to Edessa Thaddeus, one of the seventy Disciples, who cures the King of his disease, and preaches Christ to the assembled people. This, adds Eusebius, happened in the year 340, i.e. of the Seleucid era; corresponding to A.D. 28-29. The pleasing story is repeated with variations in later sources. The 'Teaching of Addai', a Syrian apocryphon (q.v. infra), reproduces the correspondence with additions.
The authenticity of the alleged letter of Christ has always been strongly suspected when not absolutely denied. As early as the sixth century the Gelasian Decretum brands this correspondence as spurious. Its legendary environment and the fact that the Church at large did not hand down the pretended epistle from Our Lord as a sacred document is conclusive against it. As for the letter of Abgar, its genuineness was formerly favoured by many skilled in this literature, but since the discovery of the 'Teaching of Addai', published in 1876, the presumption against the authentic character of Abgar's epistle, owing to the close resemblance of a portion to passages in the Gospels, has become an established certainty. Lipsius, a high authority, is of the opinion that the Abgar correspondence goes back to the reign of the first Christian ruler of Edessa, Abgar IX (179-216), and that it was elicited by a desire to force a link uniting that epoch with the time of Christ.
The 'Acts of St. Peter' describe 'the triumph of St. Peter over Simon Magus at Rome'!
Letter of Lentulus
A brief letter professing to be from Lentulus, or Publius Lentulus, as in some manuscripts, 'President of the People of Jerusalem', addressed to 'the Roman Senate and People', describes Our Lord's personal appearance. It is evidently spurious, both the office and name of the president of Jerusalem being grossly unhistorical. No ancient writer alludes to this production, which is found only in Latin manuscripts. It has been conjectured that it may have been composed in order to authenticate a pretended portrait of Jesus, during the Middle Ages. An English version is given in Cowper's Apocryphal Gospels and Other Documents Relating to Christ (New York, 6th ed., 1897).
TCE: All of these works are self-condemned on the same grounds as before - but it is particularly noticeable that the 'Letter of Lentulus' is even rejected by The Catholic Encyclopedia on the Scriptural and logical grounds that 'Protestants' use to reject all of the apocrypha - because it is: 'evidently spurious ... being grossly unhistorical'! And they admit that the 'Pseudo-Correspondence of Jesus and Abgar' was only partially rejected because of 'Its legendary environment and the fact that the Church at large did not hand down the pretended epistle from Our Lord as a sacred document is conclusive against it.' If the popes really had the power and authority they have claimed historically it is obviously impossible to believe that this state could have ever been tolerated.
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Apocryphal acts of the apostles
The motive which first prompted the fabrication of spurious Acts of the Apostles was, in general, to give Apostolic support to heretical systems, especially those of the many sects which are comprised under the term Gnosticism. The darkness in which the New Testament leaves the missionary careers, and the ends of the greater number of the Apostles, and the meagre details handed down by ecclesiastical tradition, left an inviting field for the exercise of inventive imaginations, and offered an apt means for the insidious propagation of heresy. The Jewish-Christian Church, which early developed un-Catholic tendencies in the form of Ebionitism, seems first to have produced apocryphal histories of the Apostles, though of these we have very few remains outside the material in the voluminous Pseudo-Clement. The Gnostic Acts of Peter, Andrew, John, Thomas, and perhaps Matthew, date from the early portion of the third century or perhaps a little earlier. They abound in extravagant and highly coloured marvels, and were interspersed by long pretended discourses of the Apostles which served as vehicles for the Gnostic predications. Though the pastors of the Church and the learned repudiated these as patently heretical writings, they appealed to the fancy and satisfied the curiosity of the common people. Not only were they utilized by Manichæans in the East and Priscillianists in the West, but they found favour with many unenlightened Catholics. Since it was impossible to suppress their circulation entirely, they were rendered comparatively harmless by orthodox editing which expunged the palpable errors, especially in the discourses, leaving the miracle element to stand in its riotous exuberance. Hence most of the Gnostic Acts have come down to us with more or less of a Catholic purification, which, however, was in many cases so superficial as to leave unmistakable traces of their heterodox origin. The originally Gnostic apocryphal Acts were gathered into collections which bore the name of the periodoi (Circuits) or praxeis (Acts) of the Apostles, and to which was attached the name of a Leucius Charinus, who may have formed the compilation. The Gnostic Acts were of various authorship. Another collection was formed in the Frankish Church in the sixth century, probably by a monk. In this the Catholic Acts have been preserved; it is by no means uniform in its various manuscript representatives. By a misunderstanding, the authorship of the whole, under the title 'Historia Certaminis Apostolorum', was ascribed to an Abdias, said to have been the first Bishop of Babylon and a disciple of the Apostles. The nucleus of this collection was formed by the Latin Passiones, or Martyrdoms, of those Apostles who had been neglected by the Gnostic Acts, viz., the two Jameses, Philip (Matthew?), Bartholomew, Simon, and Jude. The literature grew by accretions from heretical sources and eventually took in all the Apostles, including St. Paul. The motive of these non-heretical apocrypha was primarily to gratify the pious curiosity of the faithful regarding the Apostolic founders of the Church; sometimes local interests instigated their composition. After the model of the Gnostic Acts, which were of Oriental derivation, they abound in prodigies, and like those again, they take as their starting-point the traditional dispersion of the Twelve from Jerusalem. Regarding the historical value of these apocryphal narratives, it requires the most careful criticism to extricate from the mass of fable and legend any grains of historical truth. Even respecting the fields of the Apostolic missions, they are self-contradictory or confused. In general their details are scientifically worthless, unless confirmed by independent authorities, which rarely happens. Much of their apocryphal matter was taken up by the offices of the Apostles in the Latin breviaries and lectionaries, composed in the seventh and eighth centuries at an extremely uncritical period.
TCE: If ever a paragraph were chosen to perfectly illustrate the dangers and results of embracing apocryphal works for even a second, then this could well be it - especially in these two phrases which so utterly condemn Papal Rome: 'Since it was impossible to suppress their circulation entirely, they were rendered comparatively harmless by orthodox editing which expunged the palpable errors, especially in the discourses, leaving the miracle element to stand in its riotous exuberance. Hence most of the Gnostic Acts have come down to us with more or less of a Catholic purification, which, however, was in many cases so superficial as to leave unmistakable traces of their heterodox origin. ... In general their details are scientifically worthless, unless confirmed by independent authorities, which rarely happens. Much of their apocryphal matter was taken up by the offices of the Apostles in the Latin breviaries and lectionaries, composed in the seventh and eighth centuries at an extremely uncritical period.'
Such clear evidence of the tampering of evidence by Papal Rome makes any claims that the Canon could have ever been determined or been held secure in her hands a vain and hollow boast.
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Gnostic acts of the apostles
Acts of St. Peter
There exist a Greek and a Latin Martyrdom of Peter, the latter attributed to Pope Linus, which from patristic citations are recognized as the conclusion of an ancient Greek narrative entitled 'Acts, or Circuits of St. Peter'. Another manuscript, bearing the name 'Actus Petri cum Simone', contains a superior translation with several passages from the original narrative preceding the Martyrdom. The work betrays certain tokens of Gnosticism, although it has been purged of its grossest features by a Catholic reviser. It describes the triumph of St. Peter over Simon Magus at Rome, and the Apostle's subsequent crucifixion. These Acts as we have them are of high antiquity, though it is impossible to always discern whether patristic writers are quoting from them or an earlier tradition. Undoubtedly Commodian. 250) employed our extant Acts of Peter.
TCE: ' ... it is impossible to always discern whether patristic writers are quoting from them or an earlier tradition' - another admission that is embarrassingly true of 'patristic writers'! Again, if it is believed that any work may have been touched in any way by heretical hands, how can anyone justify its use in the hope that it was 'purged of its grossest features by a Catholic reviser'? Papal Rome just does not see that no honest believer in the Bible alone as the Word of God would ever allow the introduction of possibly spurious words to be introduced into His Word, never mind this work that bears marks that The Catholic Encyclopedia calls 'certain tokens of Gnosticism'. You do not take a stream of Pure Living Water, add impure water to it and then still call it pure! His plan for the church was to 'sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word' (Ephesians 5:26) - not by washing it with fake tradition and spurious words partially cleaned up from the works of some unknown Gnostic heretic by a Papal heretic! As with the previous work, it is clearly true that Papal Rome was at work in using heretical apocrypha from its earliest days (as evidenced by the number of blatant heresies embraced by Popes - as we have already detailed) rather than trying to 'clean them up' as The Catholic Encyclopedia likes to pretend.
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Acts of St. John
The heretical character imputed to these by certain Fathers is fully confirmed by extant fragments, which show a gross Docetism, and an unbridled phantasy. Doubtless the author intermingled valuable Ephesian traditions with his fables. There are reasons of weight to regard the work as having been composed, together with the Acts of St. Peter, and probably those of St. Andrew, by a single person, in the latter half of the second century, under the name of a disciple of St. John, called Leucius. Clement of Alexandria was acquainted with the pseudograph. The Johannine Acts of the Pseudo-Prochorus (compare the canonical Acts 6:5) are a Catholic working-over of Gnostic material.
TCE: The clear, erroneous, danger of accepting that 'the author intermingled valuable Ephesian traditions with his fables' and that any work contains 'a Catholic working-over of Gnostic material' reminds us of the Mormon's 'Book of Abraham' which was clearly manufactured from the 'Mormon working-over' of an Egyptian burial papyrus! Clearly, the same demonic spirit(s) inspired the Popes in Rome and Joseph Smith in Palmyra, USA!
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Acts of St. Andrew
Pseudographic Acts of St. Andrew are noted by several early ecclesiastical writers, as in circulation among Gnostic and Manichæan sects. The original form has perished except in a few patristic quotations. But we possess three individual Acts under different names, which prove to be orthodox recensions of an original comprehensive Gnostic whole. These are:
'The Acts of Andrew and Matthias' (or Matthew as given by some authorities)
'Acts of Peter and Andrew' (the original language of the above is Greek)
'The Martyrdom of the Apostle Andrew' has come down in both Greek and Latin recensions. The Latin text is the original one, and cannot be earlier than the fifth century. It purports to be a relation of the heroic death of St. Andrew by eyewitnesses who are 'presbyters and deacons of the Church of Achaia'. It has enjoyed credit among historians in the past, but no reliance can be placed on its data.
(See APOSTOLIC CHURCHES; APOSTLE ST. ANDREW.)
The Acts and Martyrdom of St. Matthew
The Acts and Martyrdom of St. Matthew are in literary dependence on the Acts of St. Andrew (q.v., supra), and hence the reading 'Matthew' may be an error for 'Matthias', since evidently the companion of Peter and Andrew is intended. The work exists in Greek and a later Latin. There is also a Coptic-Ethiopic martyrdom legend of St. Matthew. (See ST. MATTHEW; APOSTLE; APOSTOLIC CHURCHES).
Acts of St. Thomas
No Apostolic apocryphon has reached us in a completeness equal to that of the Thomas Acts. They are found in Greek, Syriac, and Ethiopic recensions. Their Gnostic traits pierce through the Catholic re-touching; in fact, the contents show a conscious purpose to exalt the dualistic doctrine of abstention from conjugal intercourse. Scholars are much inclined to attribute the original to a Syrian origin and an author who was an adherent of Bardesanes. The signs point strongly to the third century as the era. The translation of the remains of St. Thomas to Edessa in 232 may have furnished the inspiration for the composition. The Acts relate the prodigies performed by the Apostle in India, and end with his martyrdom there. They are interspersed with some remarkable hymns; some of real literary beauty but with strong Gnostic colouring. Recent researches have revealed elements of truth in the historical setting of the narrative. The Acts of St. Thomas are mentioned by Epiphanius and Augustine as in use in different heretical circles. St. Ephrem of Syria refers to apocryphal Thomas Acts as in circulation among the Bardesanites (see ST. THOMAS).
Acts of St. Bartholomew
We possess a Greek Martyrdom, dating in its present form from the fifth or sixth century; also a Latin 'Passio Bartholomæi'. Both are tainted with Nestorianism, and seem to have come from a single Bartholomew legend. The Greek text recounts the marvels by which the Apostle overthrew idolatry and converted a king and his subjects in 'India'. The whole is a legendary tissue. (See ST. BARTHOLOMEW, APOSTLE).
Catholic apocryphal acts of the apostles
Acts of Sts. Peter and Paul
These are to be distinguished from the Gnostic Acts of Peter and the orthodox Acts of Paul. The manuscripts which represent the legend fall into two groups:
consisting of all but one of the Greek texts, containing an account of the journey of St. Paul to Rome, and the martyrdom of the two Apostles.
composed of one Greek manuscript and a great number of Latin ones, presenting the history of the passio only.
Lipsius regards the journey section as a ninth-century addition; Bardenhewer will have it to belong to the original document. This section begins with Paul's departure from the island of Mileto, and is evidently based on the canonical narrative in Acts. The Jews have been aroused by the news of Paul's intended visit, and induce Nero to forbid it. Nevertheless the Apostle secretly enters Italy; his companion is mistaken for himself at Puteoli and beheaded. In retribution that city is swallowed up by the sea. Peter receives Paul at Rome with Joy. The preaching of the Apostles converts multitudes and even the Empress. Simon Magus traduces the Christian teachers, and there is a test of strength in miracles between that magician and the Apostles, which takes place in the presence of Nero, Simon essays a flight to heaven but falls in the Via Sacra and is dashed to pieces. Nevertheless, Nero is bent on the destruction of Peter and Paul. The latter is beheaded on the Ostian Way, and Peter is crucified at his request head downward. Before his death he relates to the people the 'Quo Vadis?' story. Three men from the East carry off the Apostles' bodies but are overtaken. St. Peter is buried at 'The place called the Vatican', and Paul on the Ostian Way. These Acts are the chief source for details of the martyrdom of the two great Apostles. They are also noteworthy as emphasizing the close concord between the Apostolic founders of the Roman Church. The date (A.D. 55) of composition is involved in obscurity. Lipsius finds traces of our Acts as early as Hippolytus. 235), but it is not clear that the Fathers adduced employed any written source for their references to the victory over Simon Magus and the work of the Apostles at Rome. Lipsius assigns the kernel of the Martyrdom to the second century; Bardenhewer refers the whole to the first half of the third. The Acts of Peter and Paul undoubtedly embody some genuine traditions. (See ST. PETER; ST. PAUL; SIMON MAGUS).
TCE: Clear evidence is seen of the nature of Papal Rome's embracing what they can only hope are 'genuine traditions' (which have no genuine support at all) in order to support their many heretical, utterly un-Scriptural, doctrines which are derived from such works. Thus Rome has its equivalent 'doctrine of demons' (1 Timothy 4:3) to the 'abstention from conjugal intercourse' derived from 'Acts of St. Thomas' in their false doctrine of celibacy for the false priesthood that has brought such scandal to Rome. Regarding 'the 'Quo Vadis?' story' we note that "quo vadis" - as a question ('Where are you going?') - also occurs five times in the Latin Vulgate (Genesis 16:8, Genesis 32:17, Judges 19:17, John 13:36, and John 16:5). How can this be? Did Jerome swallow apocryphal garbage after his clear disengagement from these fake works which we have clearly proven? It seems more likely that one of the many incompetent copyists of Papal Rome added this after Jerome's work because they liked the flavour of the story!
It also appears that most Papists are unaware of the further contradiction in this area for, in the days of Rome's 'Crusaders', bishops of the Greek Orthodox tradition entered into a negotiated settlement with the papacy to save their lives and the lives of their congregants. The Eastern Orthodox bishops were allowed to retain their identities in their 'Eastern Rite', still holding to the Byzantine tradition, liturgical use of the Greek language, and the vestments and rituals of the Eastern church, and even allowing their clergy to marry. Thus the price for persuading these elements of the Eastern church, such as Marionite Catholics, to come back under the governance and jurisdiction of the pope is to ignore a supposed bed-rock doctrine of the Papal Roman Catholic Church! Of course, in our own day we see the Vatican willing to dialogue and negotiate similar compromises with Anglo-Catholicism and other returning 'Protestant sects' in the same way, allowing them to retain the outward dressing of their own identities while continuing to hold practices alien to mainstream Roman Catholicism as an inducement for them to likewise acquiesce to the demands of the pope and kneel down and kiss his ring in order to return!
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Acts of St. Paul
Origen and Eusebius expressly name the praxeis Paulou; Tertullian speaks of writings falsely attributed to Paul: 'Quod is Pauli perperam inscripta legunt.' He is cautioning his readers against the tale of Thecla preaching and baptizing herself. Hitherto it was supposed that he referred to the 'Acts of Paul and Thecla'. The 'Acta Pauli', presumed to be a distinct composition, were deemed to have perished; but recently (1899) a Coptic papyrus manuscript, torn to shreds, was found in Egypt, and proves to contain approximately complete the identical Acts of Paul alluded to by a few ecclesiastical writers. This find has established the fact that the long-known Acts of Paul and Thecla and the apocryphal correspondence of St. Paul with the Corinthian Church, as well as the Martyrdom of St. Paul, are really only excerpts from the original Pauline Acts. The newly-discovered document contains material hitherto unknown as well as the above-noted sections, long extant. It begins with a pretended flight of St. Paul from Antioch of Pisidia, and ends with his martyrdom at Rome. The narrative rests on data in the canonical books of the New Testament, but it abounds in marvels and personages unhinted at there, and it disfigures traits of some of those actually mentioned in the Sacred Writings. The Acts of Paul, therefore, adds nothing trustworthy to our knowledge of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Fortunately the above-cited passage of Tertullian (De Baptismo, xvii) informs us of its authorship and aim. The African writer observes that the pseudo-history was the work of a priest of Asia Minor, who on the discovery of the fraud, was deposed from an ecclesiastical charge, and confessed that he forged the book out of love for St. Paul. Experts ascribe its composition to the second century. It was already known when Tertullian wrote, and during the first centuries enjoyed a considerable popularity, both East and West. In fact Eusebius classes it among the antilegomena, or works having locally quasi-canonical authority.
Acts of Paul and Thecla
The early detachment of these as well as the Martyrdom from the Acts of St. Paul may be accounted for by ecclesiastical use as festal lections. Despite Tertullian's remark regarding this pseudograph, it enjoyed an immense and persistent popularity through the patristic period and the Middle Ages. This favour is to be explained mainly by the romantic and spirited flavour of the narrative. Exceptional among the apocryphists, the author kept a curb upon his fertile imagination, and his production is distinguished by its simplicity, clearness, and vigour. It deals with the adventures of Thecla, a young woman of Iconium, who upon being converted by St. Paul's preaching, left her bridegroom and lived a life of virginity and missionary activity, becoming a companion of St. Paul, and preaching the Gospel. She is persecuted, but miraculously escapes from the fire and the savage beasts of the arena. The relief into which abstention from the marriage-bed is brought in these Acts makes it difficult to escape from the conclusion that they have been coloured by Encratite ideas. Nevertheless the thesis of Lipsius, supported by Corssen, that a Gnostic Grundschrift underlies our present document, is not accepted by Harnack, Zahn, Bardenhewer, and others. The apocryphon follows the New Testament data of St. Paul's missions very loosely and is full of unhistorical characters and events. For instance, the writer introduces a journey of the Apostles, to which there is nothing analogous in the Sacred Books. However, there are grains of historical material in the Thecla story. A Christian virgin of that name may well have been converted by St. Paul at Iconium, and suffered persecution. Gutschmid has discovered that a certain Queen Tryphena was an historical personage (Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, X, 1864). (See THECLA.)
TCE: We can recognise the grains of sentiment that created 'nunneries' and churches dedicated to 'St. Thecla' in this material, but all of this comes out of nothing more than speculation of the 'might have been' but simply cannot be proven type. The fact that the work contains an episode of miraculous deliverance when Paul is supposedly thrown to the lions at Ephesus - but the lion he encounters is the same one he had once baptized, on its request, in Jericho - should wake up all but the most gullible to its true origins! Clear warning is given of the dangers of accepting the opinions of the 'Church Fathers' when we read that such a work 'enjoyed an immense and persistent popularity through the patristic period and the Middle Ages'.
Acts of St. Philip
The extant Greek fragments supply us with all but five (10-14) of the fifteen Acts composing the work. Of these 1-7 are a farrago of various legends, each, it would seem, with an independent history; 8-14 is a unit, which forms a parasitic growth on the ancient but somewhat confused traditions of the missionary activity of an Apostle Philip in Hierapolis of Phrygia. Zahn's view, that this document is the work of an ill-informed Catholic monk of the fourth century, is a satisfactory hypothesis. The largest fragment was first published by Batiffol in 'Analecta Bollandiana', IX (Paris, 1890). A Coptic 'Acts of Philip' is also to be noted. (See ST. PHILIP, APOSTLE)
There are Latin, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Armenian histories of the missions and death of St. James the Greater, the son of Zebedee. Lipsius assigns the Latin to about the third century. Coptic and Armenian Acts and Martyrdom of St. James the Less depend mostly on the Hegesippus tradition, preserved by Eusebius (Church History IV.22).
TCE: Clearly any work described as 'a parasitic growth on ... ancient but somewhat confused traditions ' while concluding that 'a satisfactory hypothesis' is that it is the 'work of an ill-informed Catholic monk' developed out of recognised 'legends' should be kept at a distance from any who would serve Christ honestly!
Acts of St. Matthew
The Apostolic Acts of the Pseudo-Abdias contain a Latin 'Passio Sancti Matthæi', which preserves an Abyssinian legend of St. Matthew, later than the Coptic Martyrdom noticed in connection with the Gnostic Acts of that saint. The correct historical setting indicates that the recension was the work of an Abyssinian of the sixth century, who wished to date the establishment of the Abyssinian Church (fourth century) back to the Apostolic times. However, the kernel of the narrative is drawn from older sources. The Abdias Passio places St. Matthew's martyrdom in Abyssinia. (See ST. MATTHEW, APOSTLE)
Teaching of Addai (Thaddeus)
In 1876 an ancient Syriac document, entitled 'The Teaching of Addai, the Apostle', was published for the first time. It proved to closely parallel the Abgar material derived by Eusebius from the Edessa archives, and indeed purports to have been entrusted to those archives by its author, who gives his name as Labubna, the son of Senaak. It is full of legendary but interesting material describing the relations between Jesus and King Abgar of Edessa. Thaddeus, or Addai, one of the seventy disciples, is sent, after the Resurrection, in compliance with Christ's promise, to Abgar, heals the ruler and Christianizes Edessa with the most prompt and brilliant success. Notable is the story of the painting of Jesus made at the instance of Abgar's envoy to the former. Since the narrative of a Gaulish pilgrim who visited Edessa about 390 contains no allusion to such a picture, we may reasonably conclude that the Teaching of Addai is of later origin. Critics accept the period between 399-430. The Thaddeus legend has many ramifications and has undergone a number of variations. There is a Greek 'Acts of Thaddeus', which identifies Addai with Thaddeus or Lebbæus, one of the Twelve. (See ABGAR; EDESSA).
Acts of Simon and Jude
A Latin Passio, which Lipsius attributes to the fourth or fifth century, narrates the miracles, conversions, and martyrdoms of these Apostles. It is found in the Abdias collection. The scene is Persia and Babylonia. It has been recognized that the historical setting of these Acts agrees remarkably with what is known of the conditions in the Parthian empire in the first century after Christ.
The Acts of St. Barnabas
The Acts of St. Barnabas appear to have been composed toward the end of the fifth century by a Cypriot. They are ascribed to St. Mark the Evangelist, and are historically worthless. They are extant in the original Greek and in a Latin version. The narrative is based upon the mutual relations and activities of Barnabas, Mark, and Paul, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
This is the latest of the pseudo-Acts, having been composed by a monk of Trèves, in the twelfth century, as a prelude to an account of the translation of the sacred relic, and the body of St. Matthias to that city, and their subsequent rediscoveries. It pretends to have derived the history of the Apostle's career from a Hebrew manuscript. (See ST. MATTHIAS, APOSTLE)
It must suffice to mention 'Acts of St. Mark', of Alexandrian origin, and written in the fourth or fifth century; 'Acts of St. Luke', Coptic, not earlier than end of fourth; 'Acts of St. Timothy', composed by an Ephesian after 425; 'Acts of St. Titus', of Cretan origin, between 400-700; 'Acts of Kanthippe and Polyxena', connected with the legends about St. Paul and St. Andrew.
Apocryphal doctrinal works
Testamentum Domini Nostri Jesu
It was known that a Syriac work of this name existed, and an extract was published in 1856. In 1899 Monsignor Rahmani, Patriarch of the United Syrians, published from a late manuscript the Syriac text, a Latin introduction and translation. The work is in two books. It begins with an apocalypse of the approaching day of Antichrist alleged to have been uttered by Our Lord after His Resurrection. Between this and the body of the work there is a very loose connection, as the main portion represents Christ as enacting, even to small details, laws for the governance and ritual of the Church. The writer places on Our Lord's lips descriptions of liturgical observances prevalent in his own and earlier periods. There are evident points of contact between the Testament and the ancient ecclesiastico-liturgical Canones Hippolyti, Apostolic Constitutions, and Apostolic Canons. Monsignor Rahmani assigns the Testament to the second century, and places the above works in the relation of dependence on it. But critics unanimously refuse to accord a high antiquity to the Testament, dating it in the fourth or fifth century, and inverting the dependence mentioned. On the ground that there is no indication of an acquaintance with the book outside the Orient, and that Arabic and Coptic recensions of it are known, Dr. A. Baumstark regards the work as a compilation originating in Monophysite circles, and current in the national Churches of that sect in Syria and Egypt. The apocalyptic opening has been found in a Latin manuscript of the eighth century, and published by M. R. James, 'Apocrypha Anecdota' (Cambridge, 1893).
The Preaching of Peter or Kerygma Petri.
Clement of Alexandria repeatedly quotes from a kerygma Petrou, concerning whose credibility he obviously has no doubt. On the other hand, Eusebius classes it as apocryphal. A certain 'Doctrine of Peter', mentioned by a later writer, was probably identical with the 'Preaching'. From the scanty remains of this work we can form but a very imperfect idea of it. It spoke in St. Peter's name and represented him above all as a teacher of the Gentiles. The doctrinal parts occur in a framework of an account of the missionary journeys. The pseudograph was probably suggested by the text, II Peter, i, 5. A work which was so well accredited in the days of Clement of Alexandria. 140-215), and which was known to the 'Gnostic Heracleon'. 160-170), must have come from almost Apostolic antiquity. Scholars favour the first quarter of the second century. The fragments which remain betray no signs of heterodox origin. There is a Syriac 'Preaching of Simon Peter in the City of Rome.'
Two Ways or Judicium Petri
This is a moralizing treatise ascribed to St. Peter, and prefixed to the Didache. It is of Jewish-Christian origin, and probably was based on the so-called 'Epistle of Barnabas'.
Preaching of Paul
The only witness to this work is the treatise 'De Rebaptismo' in the pseudo-Cyprian writings. According to this it represented Christ as confessing personal sins, and forced by His mother to receive baptism.
TCE: Even Papal Rome should have no problem rejecting such blatantly heretical works which range from 'Gnostic Acts', 'Monophysite' creations and blasphemies directed at the Lord Jesus Christ - as well as evidence of the kind of embellishments Papal Rome is famous for, as evidenced by the 'Abyssinian legend of St. Matthew' ... [while] 'The correct historical setting indicates that the recension was the work of an Abyssinian of the sixth century, who wished to date the establishment of the Abyssinian Church (fourth century) back to the Apostolic times'. That such clear inventions and embellishments circulated - and continue to circulate - in Papal Rome reveals the nature of the Vatican which existed from its earliest inception and exists to this day!
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Apocryphal epistles
Pseudo-Epistles of the Blessed Virgin
These are all composed in Latin and at late dates.
The Epistle of the Blessed Virgin to St. Ignatius Martyr fills but nine lines in the Fabricius edition of the apocrypha. It exhorts to faith and courage. There is a reply from Ignatius.
The Epistle to the Messanienses, i.e. the inhabitants of Messina, Sicily, is equally brief; it conveys an exhortation to faith, and a blessing.
The Epistle to the Florentines was expounded in a sermon of Savonarola, 25 October, 1495. We have no other testimony of it. It is four lines in length.
Pseudo-Epistle of St. Peter to St. James the Less
The Pseudo-Clementine homilies contain as a preface two letters, the first of which purports to be from Peter to James the Less, beseeching him to keep his (Peter's) preaching secret. (See CLEMENTINE PSEUDO-WRITINGS)
Pseudo-Epistles of St. Paul; Correspondence with the Corinthians
The ancient Syrian (Edessene) Church revered as canonical a Third Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, which is accompanied by a letter from the pastors of that Church, to which it is an answer. But about the beginning of the fifth century the Syrian Church fell under the influence of the Greek, and in consequence the spurious letter gradually lost its canonical status. It was taken up by the neighbouring Armenians and for centuries has formed a part of the Armenian New Testament. Latin and Greek writers are completely silent about this pseudograph, although Greek and Latin copies have been found. It was obviously suggested by the lost genuine Pauline letter referred to in 1 Corinthians 5:9 and 7:1. It was composed by a Catholic presbyter about 160-170, and is a disguised attack on some of the leading errors of Gnosticism. This correspondence long had an independent circulation, but recently it has been proved that the document was incorporated into the Acts of St. Paul (q.v.).
Pseudo-epistle to the Laodiceans
In the genuine Epistle to the Colossians, Paul, after instructing them to send their Epistle to Laodicea, adds: 'read that which is from the Laodiceans'. This most probably regards a circular letter, the canonical 'Ephesians'; but it has been held to be a lost letter to the Laodicean Christians. The apocryphal epistle is a transparent attempt to supply this supposed lost sacred document. It consists of twenty short lines and is mainly made of matter taken from Philippians and other Epistles, and pieced together without sequence or logical aim. Our apocryphon exists only in Latin and translations from the Latin, though it gives signs of a Greek original. It can hardly be the pseudo-Laodicean letter said by the Muratorian Fragment to have been invented by the heresiarch Marcion. Despite its insipid and suspicious character, this compilation was frequently copied in the Middle Ages, and enjoyed a certain degree of respect, although St. Jerome had written of it: ab omnibus exploditur. (See LAODICEA.) The Muratorian Fragmentist mentions together with a spurious epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans, one to the Alexandrians, which was forged under the auspices of Marcion. We have no other certain knowledge of this apocryphon.
(Continued on page 329)