Church and the Fathers were hostile even towards the narratives of orthodox aiithorsliip. It was not until the Middle Ages, when their true origin was forgotten even by most of the loarncil, that these apocrv'phal stories began to enter largely into sacred legends, such as the "Aurea Sacra ', into miracle plays. Christian art. and poetry. A comparison of the least extravagant of these productions with the real Gospels reveals the chiusm separating them. Though worthless historically, the apocryphal Gos- pels help us to better understand the religious con- ditions of the second and third centuries, and they are al.so of no little value as early witnesses of the canonicity of the writings of the four Kvangelists. The quasi-evangelistic compositions concerning Christ which make no pretensions to be (iospcls will be treated elsewhere. They are all of orthodox origin. (See Agr.\i'h.\.)
Tasker in extra volume of Hast., Did. of the Bible; Tappe- HoRN, Ausserbiblwhe Nachrichten (Paderborn, 1885).
(a) Apocryphal Gospels of Catholic Origin. — The Proloeimngclium Jacobt. or Injancij Gospel of James, purports to have been written by " James the brother of the Lord", i. e. the .\postle James the Less. It is based on the canonical Gospels which it expands with legendary and imaginati\e elements, which are sometimes puerile or fant:ustic. The birth, education, and marriage of the Blessed Virgin are described in the first eleven chapters and these are the source of various traditions current among the faithful. They are of value in indicating the venera- tion paid to Marj' at a very early age. For instance it is the " Protoevangelium " which first tells that Mary was the miraculous offspring of Joachim and .4nna, previously childless; that when three years old the child was taken to the Temple and dedicated to its service, in fulfilment of her parents" vow. When Mary was twelve Joseph is chosen by the high-priest as her spouse in obedience to a miraculous sign — a dove coming out of his rod and resting on his head. The nativity is embellished in an unrestrained man- ner. Critics find that the "Protoevangelium" is a composite into which two or three documents enter. It wius known to Origen under the name of the " Book of James ". There are signs in St. Justin's works that he was acquainted with it, or at least with a parallel tradition. The work, therefore, li;us been ascribed to the second century. Portions of it show a familiarity with Jewish customs, and critics have surmisetl that the groundwork was composed by a Jewish-Christian. The " Protoevangelium" exists in ancient Cireek ami SjTiac recensions. There are also Armenian and Latin translations.
Gospel of St. Matthew. — This is a Latin com- position 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 latt«r or its sources. It differs in some particulars always in the direction of the more marvellous. Some of its data have replaced in popu- lar belief parallel ones of the older pseutlograph. Such is the age of fourteen in which Mar\' w.ts De- trothed to Jo.seph. .-V 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. .\t His woril the palm-trees bow their heads that the Holy Family may pluck their fruit. The idols of Kgypt are shattereii when the Divine Child enters the land. The "Gospel of the Nativity of Marj'" is a recast of the Pseudo-Matthew, but reaches only to the birth of Jesus. It is extant in a Latin MS. of the tenth centurj'.
Arabic Gospel of the Injanrij. — The .\rabic is a traniilation 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 Go.spel. and others from a recension of the aiwcrj'phal Matthew. However there are miracles, .said to have occurred in Kgypt, not found related in any other Gospel, .spurious or genuine, among them the healings of lep- ro.sy through the water in which Jesus had been Wivshed, and the cures effecletl through the garments He had worn. These have become familiar in pious legend. So also has the epi.soile 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 Catho- lic retouching of a Gnostic compilation. It is im- possible to ascertain its tlate, but it was probably composed before the Mohiunmetlan era. It is very popular with the Syrian Nestorians. An originally .■\rabic "History of Jo.seph the Carpenter" is pub- lished in Tischendorf's collection of apocrypha. It describes St. Jo.seph's death, related W Our Lord to His disciples. It Ls a tasteless and bomba.stic effort, and seems to date from about the fourth century.
Gospel of Gamaliel. — Dr. A. Baumstark in the Revue Biblique (.\pril. 190G, 253 sqq.), has given this name to a collection of Coptic fragments of a homo- geneous character, which were supposed by another Coptic scholar, Keveillout, to form a portion of the "Gospel of the Twelve Ajjostles" (<]. v. inf.). These fragments have been referred to a single Gospel also by Lacau, in " Fragments cFapocriTihes coptes de la bibliothoque nationale ' (Cairo, 1904). The narra- tive is in close dependence on St. John's Gospel. The author diil not pose seriou.sly as an evangelist, since he explicitly quotes from the fourth canonical Gospel. He places the relation in the mouth of Gamahel of .-Vets, v, 3-t. Baumstark assigns it to the fifth centurj'. The writer was evidently influ- enced by the "Acta Pilati ".
The 7 rnn.titus .Maria' or Eranqelium Joannis which is written in the name of St. John the Apostle, and describes the death of Mar>', 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, ex- plaining that the object of the work was to counter- act a heretical composition of the same title and subject. There is a basis of truth in this statement as our apocrj-phon betrays tokens of being a Gnostic writing worked over in an orthodox interest. A "Transitus Maria"" is numbered among the apocry- pha by the official list of the " Decretum of Gehisius" of the fifth or sixth century. It is problematic, how- ever, whether this is to be identified with our rec;»st 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 Marjs .\ssumption hxs 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 perioil, and thus prepared the way for the acceptance of mythical amplifications, still its later fonn and details were considerably influenced by the Transitus and kindred WTitings. Certainly the homilies of St. John Da- mascene, "In Dormitioncm Mari;p". reveal evidence of this influence, e. g. the second homily, xii. xiii, xiv. Going further back, the "Encomium" of