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APOCRYPHA


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APOCRYPHA


Modestus Bishop of Jerusalem, in the seventh cen- tur>- (P. G., LXXXVI, 3311), and the I'seudo- Dionysius of the fifth (De divinis nominibus, iii), probably suppose an acquaintanee with apocryphal narratives of the Death and As.suniption of the Blessed \'irgin. These narratives have a common ground- woriv, tliough varying considerably in minor cir- cumstances. The Apostles are preternaturally trans- ported from different quarters of the globe to the Virgin's deatlibed, those who had died being resus- citated for the purpose. The "Departure" takes place at Jerusalem, though the Greek version places Marj- first at Bethlehem. A Jew who ventures to to)ich the sacred body instantly loses both hands, which are restored through the mediation of the .\postlcs. Christ accompanied by a train of angels comes down to receive His mother's soul. The Apos- tles bear the body to Gethsemani and deposit it in a tomb, whence it is taken up alive to Heaven. (See A.ssumption; .M.\ry.)

Walker, Apocn/phal Goapels, Acta, and Revelations (Edin- iurgh 1873: Ir.); The Ante-Nicene Fathers. VIII, edited by RoBFHTS AND DoNALDSON, tr.: Bardenhewer, Geschichtf der allkirchlichen Lileratur (Freiburg. 1902), I ; Harn.ack, Geschichte der altchrittlichen Lileratur (Leipsic); 1893, I, isy? II 1 1904. 2: Zahn-, Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Kanon (Leipzig. 1890), II ; Henneke und Meyer, Neutesta- mentliche Apukryphen (Tubingen, 1904 ; German texts with xcholarly proloEomena) ; Tasker. Apocryphal Gospels; Hast., Diet, of 'the Bible, extra volume (1904); Lipsros, art. Apoc- ryphal Goapels in Diet, of Christ. Biog.

(b) Judaistic and Heretical Gospels. — Gospel ac- cording to the Hebrews. Clement of Alexandria, Origen. Eusebius, and St. Epiphanius speak of a "Ciospel according to the Hebrews", which was the .sole one in use among the Palestinian Judeo-Chris- tians, 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 con- troversy. 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 ac- ■quainted with it refer to it with a certain amount of respect. Twenty-four fragments have been pre- served by ecclesiastical WTiters. 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 dis- figured in the interests of a Judaizing Church. (See A<;i<.\i'H.\.)

Gospel According to the Egyptians. — It is by this title that Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Hip- polytus, and Epiphanius describe an uncanonical work, which evidently was circulated in Egypt. .Ml agree that it was employed by heretical sects — for tlie most part Gnostics. The scanty citations which have been nrcserved in the Fathers indicate a tendency towards the Encratite condemnation of marriage, and a pantheistic Gnosticism. The Gospel according to the I'.gyptians did not replace the <'Utionical records in the Alexandrian Church, as Hurnack 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 re- touched some primitive material not represented in the canonical Gospels, 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 Akhmin in Upper Egj'pt, in the winter of 1886-87, by the French ArchiEologi- cal Mission. It is in Greek and WTitten on a parch- ment codex at a date somewhere between the sixth and ninth century. The fragment narrates part of the Passion, the Burial, and Resurrection. It be- trays 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 inter- mediate in character between the genuine Evangels and the purely legendary apocrj-pha. Its composi- tion must be assigned to the first quarter or the middle of the second centurj' 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 kbniglichen preuss. Akademie zu Berlin, 1895; of. Bardenhewer, Geschichte, I, 397, 399). Only one or two quota- tions 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 SjTian Gnostics, and cites a sen- tence 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 Manichaeans; 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 centurj-; 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 e\-idently 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 Di\-inity is almost effaced, the author makes the Child a miracle-worker ami intellectual prodig>', and in harmony with Docetism, leaves scarcely more than the ;ip)H'arance of humanity in Him. This p.seudo-Gospcl is unique among the apocrj'pha, 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 youtlifiil miracles are worked at times out of more childish fancy, as when He formed clay pigeons, and at a clap of His hands they (lew away as