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APOCRYPHAL LITERATURE


Gospel, The Living (Evangelium Vivum).—This was a gospel of the Manichaeans. See Epiphanius, Haer. lxvi. 2; Photius, Contra Manich. i.

Gospel of Marcion.—On this important gospel see Zahn, Gesch. Kanons, i. 585-718.

Descent of Mary (Γέννα Μαρίας).—This book was an anti-Jewish legend representing Zacharias as having been put to death by the Jews because he had seen the God of the Jews in the form of an ass in the temple (Epiphanius, Haer. xxvi. 12).

Questions of Mary (Great and Little).—Epiphanius (Haer. xxvi. 8) gives some excerpts from this revolting work.

Gospel of Mary.—This gospel is found in a Coptic MS. of the 5th century. According to Schmidt’s short account, Sitzungsberichte d. preuss. Akad. d. Wiss. zu. Berlin (1896), pp. 839 sqq., this gospel gives disclosures on the nature of matter (ὕλη) and the progress of the Gnostic soul through the seven planets.

Gospel of Matthias.—Though this gospel is attested by Origen (Horm. in Luc. i.), Eusebius, H.E. iii. 25. 6, and the List of Sixty Books, not a shred of it has been preserved, unless with Zahn ii. 751 sqq. we are to identify it with the Traditions of Matthias, from which Clement has drawn some quotations.

Gospel of Perfection (Evangelium perfectionis).—Used by the followers of Basilides and other Gnostics. See Epiphanius, Haer. xxvi. 2.

Gospel of Philip.—This gospel described the progress of a soul through the next world. It is of a strongly Encratite character and dates from the 2nd century. A fragment is preserved in Epiphanius, Haer. xxvi. 13. In Preuschen, Reste, p. 13, the quotation breaks off too soon. See Zahn ii. 761-768.

Gospel of Thaddaeus.—Condemned by the Gelasian Decree.

Gospel of Thomas.—Of this gospel only one fragment has been preserved in Hippolytus, Philos. v. 7, pp. 140 seq. See Zahn, op. cit. i. 746 seq.; ii. 768-773; Harnack ii. 593-595.

Gospel of Truth.—This gospel is mentioned by Irenaeus i. 11. 9, and was used by the Valentinians. See Zahn i. 748 sqq.

(b) Acts and Teachings of the Apostles.—

Acts of Andrew.—These Acts, which are of a strongly Encratite character, have come down to us in a fragmentary condition. They belong to the earliest ages, for they are mentioned by Eusebius, H.E. iii. 25; Epiphanius, Haer. xlvii. 1; lxi. 1; lxiii. 2; Philaster, Haer. lxviii., as current among the Manichaeans and heretics. They are attributed to Leucius, a Docetic writer, by Augustine (c. Felic. Manich. ii. 6) and Euodius (De Fide c. Manich. 38). Euodius in the passage just referred to preserves two small fragments of the original Acts. On internal grounds the section recounting Andrew’s imprisonment (Bonnet, Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha, ii. 38-45) is also probably a constituent of the original work. As regards the martyrdom, owing to the confusion introduced by the multitudinous Catholic revisions of this section of the Acts, it is practically impossible to restore its original form. For a complete discussion of the various documents see Lipsius, Apokryphen Apostelgeschichte, i. 543-622; also James in Hastings’ Bible Dict. i. 92-93; Hennecke, NT. Apokryphen, in loc. The best texts are given in Bonnet’s Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha, 1898, II. i. 1-127. These contain also the Acts of Andrew and Matthew (or Matthias) in which Matthew (or Matthias) is represented as a captive in the country of the anthropophagi. Christ takes Andrew and his disciples with Him, and effects the rescue of Matthew. The legend is found also in Ethiopic, Syriac and Anglo-Saxon. Also the Acts of Peter and Andrew, which among other incidents recount the miracle of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. This work is preserved partly in Greek, but in its entirety in Slavonic.

Acts of John.—Clement of Alexandria in his Hypotyposes on 1 John i. 1 seems to refer to chapters xciii. (or lxxxix.) of these Acts. Eusebius (H.E. iii. 25. 6), Epiphanius (Haer. xlvii. 1) and other ancient writers assign them to the authorship of Leucius Charinus. It is generally admitted that they were written in the 2nd century. The text has been edited most completely by Bonnet, Acta Apostol. Apocr., 1898, 151-216. The contents might be summarized with Hennecke as follows:—Arrival and first sojourn of the apostle in Ephesus (xviii.-lv.); return to Ephesus and second sojourn (history of Drusiana, lviii.-lxxxvi.); account of the crucifixion of Jesus and His apparent death (lxxxvii.-cv.); the death of John (cvi.-cxv.). There are manifest gaps in the narrative, a fact which we would infer from the extent assigned to it (i.e. 2500 stichoi) by Nicephorus. According to this authority one-third of the text is now lost. Many chapters are lost at the beginning; there is a gap in chapter xxxvii., also before lviii., not to mention others. The encratite tendency in these Acts is not so strongly developed as in those of Andrew and Thomas. James (Anecdota, ii. 1-25) has given strong grounds for regarding the Acts of John and Peter as derived from one and the same author, but there are like affinities existing between the Acts of Peter and those of Paul. For a discussion of this work see Zahn, Gesch. Kanons, ii. 856-865; Lipsius, Apok. Apostelgesch. i. 348-542; Hennecke, NT. Apokryphen, 423-432. For bibliography, Hennecke, NT. Apok. Handbuch, 492 sq.

Acts of Paul.—The discovery of the Coptic translation of these Acts in 1897, and its publication by C. Schmidt (Acta Pauli aus der Heidelberger koptischen Papyrushandschrift herausgegeben, Leipzig, 1894), have confirmed what had been previously only a hypothesis that the Acts of Thecla had formed a part of the larger Acts of Paul. The Acts therefore embrace now the following elements:—(a) Two quotations given by Origen in his Princip. i. 2. 3 and his comment on John xx. 12. From the latter it follows that in the Acts of Paul the death of Peter was recounted, (b) Apocryphal 3rd Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians and Epistle from the Corinthians to Paul. These two letters are connected by a short account which is intended to give the historical situation. Paul is in prison on account of Stratonice, the wife of Apollophanes. The Greek and Latin versions of these letters have for the most part disappeared, but they have been preserved in Syriac, and through Syriac they obtained for the time being a place in the Armenian Bible immediately after 2 Corinthians. Aphraates cites two passages from 3 Corinthians as words of the apostle, and Ephraem expounded them in his commentary on the Pauline Epistles. They must therefore have been regarded as canonical in the first half of the 4th century. From the Syriac Bible they made their way into the Armenian and maintained their place without opposition to the 7th century. On the Latin text see Carrière and Berger, Correspondance apocr. de S. P. et des Corinthiens, 1891. For a translation of Ephraem’s commentary see Zahn ii. 592-611 and Vetter, Der Apocr. 3. Korinthien, 70 sqq., 1894. The Coptic version (C. Schmidt, Acta Pauli, pp. 74-82), which is here imperfect, is clearly from a Greek original, while the Latin and Armenian are from the Syriac. (c) The Acts of Paul and Thecla. These were written, according to Tertullian (De Baptismo, 17) by a presbyter of Asia, who was deposed from his office on account of his forgery. This, the earliest of Christian romances (probably before A.D. 150), recounts the adventures and sufferings of a virgin, Thecla of Iconium. Lipsius discovers Gnostic traits in the story, but these are denied by Zahn (Gesch. Kanons, ii. 902). See Lipsius, op. cit. ii. 424-467; Zahn (op. cit. ii. 892-910). The best text is that of Lipsius, Acta Apostol. Apocr., 1891, i. 235-272. There are Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic and Slavonic versions. As we have seen above, these Acts are now recognized as belonging originally to the Acts of Paul. They were, however, published separately long before the Gelasian Decree (496). Jerome also was acquainted with them as an independent work. Thecla was most probably a real personage, around whom a legend had already gathered in the 2nd century. Of this legend the author of the Acts of Paul made use, and introduced into it certain historical and geographical facts, (d) The healing of Hermocrates of dropsy in Myra. Through a comparison of the Coptic version with the Pseudo-Cyprian writing “Caena,” Rolffs (Hennecke, NT. Apok. 361) concludes that this incident formed originally a constituent of our book, (e) The strife with beasts at Ephesus. This event is mentioned by Nicephorus Callistus (H.E. ii. 25) as recounted in the περίοδοι of Paul. The identity of this work with the Acts of Paul is confirmed by a remark of Hippolytus in his commentary on Daniel iii. 29. 4,