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date: 24 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Determining the intended readers of apocryphal writings is difficult, largely because of limitations of the surviving evidence. The positing of a ‘community’ behind each writing (via the application of so-called ‘mirror reading’) is dubious. It is more likely that the main apocryphal writings circulated among interested readers, and did not function as ‘scriptures’ of distinct groups of Christian believers. By surveying references to these texts in other early Christian writers as well as the extant physical evidence, which has been typically ignored (the manuscripts), the most likely conclusion is that various early Christians read these texts and for various reasons.

Keywords: Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Ebionites, Gospel of Mary, Acts of John, opisthograph, Acts of Peter, mirror reading, manuscripts

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