Apocryphal (yet non-deut.) works

What is the status of those works not part of the canon yet recognized as being written at an early date? I know that the epistles of Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp, along with the Revelations of Hermes, are all considered orthodox, and are used in defense of Catholic beliefs, which are found in the New Testament, but which are further explained by these non-canonical works.

What I’m concerned about are the Infancy Gospels, the Signs Gospels, the Sayings of Jesus, etc. Are there any gospels other than the four in the canon which are considered highly orthodox and historically correct? Also, I understand that there are additional letters supposedly written by Paul. What is the status of those letters? Spurious?

Thanks!

You are correct. The books within the Bible are alone canonical, God-breathed, and consequently, historically accurate (among other things). Then there’s the writings of the orthodox Christians which are sometimes referred to as the writings of the Fathers (even though we may not know for certain the author(s) of a particular writing, i.e. the Didache). Lastly, we have the spurious and apocryphal writings, such as the ones you mentioned, which contain some truth mixed with fanciful details. This makes it difficult to determine fact from speculation in these narratives. Apart from what is Scripture, the Church does not recognize any other Gospel or letters of Paul. These documents are not reliable although they are historical witnesses about certain ideas and beliefs that were present in the particular time period in which they were written.

I recently purchased a book called “The Lost Books of the Bible.” Many of the gospel accounts are not necessarily gnostic, but they are in many ways different from the synoptic accounts of Jesus’ life. I wonder how it was determined that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were divinely inspired whereas books like The Gospel of Nicodemus, or the Apocalypse of Peter, were not.

Does anyone know of any works which deal with the selection of the canon?

:frowning:

This is an important issue, I think, since most of our beliefs are rooted in the four gospels and in the other epistles we hold as canonical. How do we know that these books are canonical? Someone might say that it’s because the Church has the authority to determine the canon. But the Church demonstrates its validity through the gospel accounts we consider canonical. If these gospel accounts aren’t valid, then the Church can’t well-demonstrate its being established by Christ.

I really hope some smart people know how to answer my questions. The whole idea of other gospels during the time of the Apostles is making me uneasy.

This is an important issue, I think, since most of our beliefs are rooted in the four gospels and in the other epistles we hold as canonical. How do we know that these books are canonical? Someone might say that it’s because the Church has the authority to determine the canon. But the Church demonstrates its validity through the gospel accounts we consider canonical. If these gospel accounts aren’t valid, then the Church can’t well-demonstrate its being established by Christ.

I really hope some smart people know how to answer my questions. The whole idea of other gospels during the time of the Apostles is making me uneasy.
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The New Testament confirms the doctrines of the Church, but it is not their source. Christianity did not begin as a religion based upon Scripture, but upon the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed through His Apostles.

The Church did not come out of the Bible; rather, the Bible came out of the Church.

The Catholic Church’s beliefs are rooted in the oral teachings of the Apostles. The New Testament is a reflection of the beliefs of the Church, not the other way around. The Church validates the scriptures.

The Church predates the New Testament and the Bible as we know them by almost 400 years and would teach the same doctrines it teaches now even if there were no New Testament.

You can read the New Testament Apocrypha on line.

earlychristianwritings.com/apocrypha.html

JMJ Jay

I wonder how it was determined that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were divinely inspired whereas books like The Gospel of Nicodemus, or the Apocalypse of Peter, were not.

the church didn’t arbitrarily decide which books were inspired and which weren’t, but only recognized those scriptures which were apostolistic in origin. check out newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.htm and newadvent.org/cathen/03267a.htm

[quote=Madaglan]I recently purchased a book called “The Lost Books of the Bible.” Many of the gospel accounts are not necessarily gnostic, but they are in many ways different from the synoptic accounts of Jesus’ life. I wonder how it was determined that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were divinely inspired whereas books like The Gospel of Nicodemus, or the Apocalypse of Peter, were not.

Does anyone know of any works which deal with the selection of the canon?
[/quote]

The Church had four criteria for selecting the canon:

**Apostolic Origin **– attributed to and based on the preaching/teaching of the first-generation apostles (or their close companions).

**Universal Acceptance **– acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the ancient world (by the end of the fourth century).

**Liturgical Use **– read publicly when early Christian communities gathered for the Lord’s Supper (their weekly worship services).

**Consistent Message **– containing a theological outlook similar or complementary to other accepted Christian writings.

Thus, if a writing was not compatible with the teaching of the Church, it was not accepted into the canon. So the Protestant claim that the teaching of the Church is “unbiblical” is ridiculous. Writings which did not conform to the teaching of the Church were rejected!

The Church is the mother, not the daughter, of the New Testament and the Bible.

myweb.lmu.edu/fjust/Bible/NT_Canon.htm

Remeber this if your going to a Bible Based Church your going to the wrong church the Bible is a Church based book written by catholics for catholics with a canon determined by Catholics only 1500 years after the fact do people claim themselves as having a Bible Based Church. THis concept would be surely ridiculous the first 4 cnetureis of the church when their was no official canon. Also the canon is entirely the product of the traidtion of the church. That is not to deny that the word of God was the word of God before the church said so.
But we seriously have to ask ourselves by what means do we know what the Bible is. That would be the church. Does that means have the authority and the charism of infallibility to determine such an improtant dogma. If not than we at best a guess of what the word of God is since the means we know scripture may have error in her judgement. In essences if the church is error filled than scripture is possibly in error since the means (the church) is not given the authority or infalliable charism.
A catholic builds his case on a rock of Peter a protestant builds his case on the sand of a perfect collection of books given to us by an error filled human institution. That my friends is a game of theological chance that is not likely nor logical
Chistianity were people of the church not people of the book.
The concept was the body of christ not the followers of the book.
Protestantism has warped our perception of the unity of the body of Christ that was intended at the founding of the church.

Maccabees wrote:

A catholic builds his case on a rock of Peter a protestant builds his case on the sand of a perfect collection of books given to us by an error filled human institution. That my friends is a game of theological chance that is not likely nor logical

Amen to your post, Mac! I think you meant to write “a Protestant builds his case on the sand of an imperfect collection of books…” or, “an imperfect collection of perfect books,” since they have removed (or accepted Luther’s removal of) certain writings from the Bible. Catholics have 73 sacred writings; Protestants have only 66.

I often pose the question to Protestants: ‘What good is a collection of books without an infallible collector?’ The fallibility of the collector calls the collection into question, and it was, after all, the Catholic Church that set the biblical canon. The Church had to have been infallible in her choices, or what the contents of the Bible should be is anybody’s guess. Without a direct revelation from God, and there is none, we cannot know. God left His Word in the hands of the Church.

The Bible is not one continuous book, but a collection of writings. We cannot determine that the Epistle to Philemon is “inspired” and the Epistle of Barnabas is not based on empirical evidence. No way. Only the Church, founded by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16-18, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7-15, Acts 1:1-2 et al.) knows what Scripture is (the inspired Word of God) and what is Scripture (which writings belong in the Bible).

Recommended reading: Logic and the Foundations of Protestantism by Brian W. Harrison, posted at www.chnetwork.org. At the home page, click on “conversion stories,” then scroll down to Harrison’s name.

JMJ Jay

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