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date: 18 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on characters that may be considered to play secondary or minor roles in canonical gospels, but are often prominent figures in non-canonical texts: Mary the mother of Jesus, Joseph the father of Jesus, the Magi, John the Baptist and his father Zechariah, Mary Magdalene, Pontius Pilate. Stories about these characters shed light on theological developments that are reflected in other early Christian texts. These developments include the increasingly prominent role of Mary, and anti-Jewish tendencies, which may be seen especially in the evolving role of Pilate, who is distanced even further from responsibility for Jesus’ death than he is in the canonical Gospels. A common feature of these writings is an interest in building on details found in canonical texts, or illuminating areas on which those canonical writings were silent. Thus they appear to have been written to supplement and not to supplant other Christian writings.

Keywords: Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of Jesus, Joseph, Magi, John the Baptist, Pontius Pilatus

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