- The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Apocrypha
- List of Figures
- List of Contributors
- Introduction: What is Early Christian Apocrypha?
- Texts about Jesus: Non-canonical Gospels and Related Literature
- Apocryphal Texts about Other Characters in the Canonical Gospels
- Narratives about the Apostles: Non-canonical Acts and Related Literature
- Non-canonical Epistles and Related Literature
- Non-canonical Apocalypses and Prophetic Works
- The Influence of Jewish Scriptures on Early Christian Apocrypha
- Who Read Early Christian Apocrypha?
- The Formation of the New Testament Canon and Early Christian Apocrypha
- ‘Useful for the Soul’: Christian Apocrypha and Christian Spirituality
- Christology and Soteriology in Apocryphal Gospels
- Christology and Soteriology in Apocryphal Acts and Apocalypses
- The <i>Gospel of Thomas</i> and the Historical Jesus
- Other Apocryphal Gospels and the Historical Jesus
- Christian Apocrypha and the Developing Role of Mary
- The Apocryphal Mary in Early Christian Art
- The Role of the Apostles
- Judaism and Anti-Judaism in Early Christian Apocrypha
- Eschatology and the Fate of the Dead in Early Christian Apocrypha
- Liturgy and Early Christian Apocrypha
- Roman Imperialism: The Political Context of Early Christian Apocrypha
- Encratism, Asceticism, and the Construction of Gender and Sexual Identity in Apocryphal Gospels
- Encratism and the Apocryphal Acts
- Early Christian Apocrypha in Popular Culture
- Early Christian Apocrypha in Contemporary Theological Discourse
- Index of Modern Authors
- Index of Subjects and Ancient Texts
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter argues that, contrary to a commonly held assumption, church leaders, major theologians, and ordinary Christians from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance acknowledged and distinguished not two groups of texts, but three—those that were canonical, those that were rejected (apocryphal), and those that were useful for private piety, edification of the community, and a historical understanding of Christian origins. Many texts that today are referred to as ‘New Testament Apocrypha’ or ‘Christian Apocrypha’ belong to this third category, and may be labelled ‘useful for the soul’, and their value for Christian spirituality should be recognized. This chapter considers a number of such texts, among them texts about Mary and the apostles, e.g. the Protevangelium of James and the Martyrdom of Stephen.
François Bovon was Frothingham Professor of the History of Religion Emeritus at Harvard Divinity School, and is now deceased
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