Does the New Testament Apocrypha teach us any historical fact or tradition of the Church?


I thought about this the other day. Is it safe to say some of the stories in the New Testament Apocrypha have some merit of truth to them? Not talking about Gnostic ones but say the Apocryphal Acts. There must have been some consensus on these stories portrayed in oral tradition; unless the author just completely made them up. But I would assume that even though they were written later and are psedeonomously written, there must be some fact in these writings. I would assume they show what oral teachings said in the 2nd-4th centuries.


What is it?


I believe in a Maccabees book it talks about praying for the dead.



It is possible that they contain some truth. The way to tell is to compare it to our current written and oral tradition. Which is why they were rejected in the first place. Some of them have some very beautiful ideas. Then they go and say something odd like women don’t go to heaven until God changes them into men. So if one reads them, they should compare them to Sacred Scripture and the Catechism to see if what is being said fits. That which does is the truth, that which doesn’t is false.


2 Maccabees 12:45, with the huge exception that this is in the Christian (Orthodox/Catholic) canon of the Old Testament, is contained in the Septuagint (LXX) collection - from which Jesus and the New Testament writers most often quoted, and is not an apocryphal writing. It was used by religious Jews for 150+ years before the incarnation.

The Didache, the first known catechism, is a document from about 70-90 AD, written during the life of Saint John the Apostle. It describes beliefs and liturgy that are undeniably Orthodox/Catholic. Point: Not a peep about scripture (never mind scripture alone) anywhere in the Didache - it was all related to the oral apostolic preaching.


All of them have truth in them, particularlly **Sirach
** which is about wisdom - here is an excerpt from chapter two:

Trust in God
My child, when you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
and do not be impetuous in time of adversity.
Cling to him, do not leave him,
that you may prosper in your last days.
Accept whatever happens to you;
in periods of humiliation be patient.
For in fire gold is tested,
and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust in God, and he will help you;
make your ways straight and hope in him.


I believe the Apocrypha or Deuterocannonical books are Old Testament books.


Just to clarify for folks:

The OP is not talking about the Deuterocanonicals - what is often labelled as ‘Apocrypha’ in non-Catholic Bibles. He is asking about the “New Testament Apocrypha,” in other words stuff like the Protoevangelium of James or the Gospel of Thomas or the Acts of Peter or the Didascalia Apostolorum.


OK. Thanks for the clarification. I wasn’t aware there is a New Testament Apocrypha.


So, just so that we’re all on the same page…

The books of the Old Testament that are in Catholic Bibles but not in Protestant Bibles are called the “deuterocanonical” books by Catholics. But, in general, Protestants (who don’t believe the books are inspired) tend to call them “apocrypha” (from a Greek word meaning “hidden”).

In other words, “apocrypha” does not mean “Scriptural,” even though what some identify as “OT apocrypha” are books Catholics include in Scripture.

Therefore, if we’re talking about “New Testament Apocrypha”, we’re not talking about books that are considered Scriptural. Rather, they’re generally recognized as books of the first few centuries A.D., which were not accepted as part of the canon of the Bible.

(It just seemed to me that there might be some confusion as to the canonicity of these books, given that they take on the name “apocrypha”…)




Yes, and with that said, and I notice a lot of people aren’t aware of this; there are books considered apocrypha by Catholics that Orthodox Christians accept as Scripture such as 1 and 2 Esdras, Prayer of Mannaseh, Psalm 151, 3 and 4 Maccabees… And actually I believe the largest Canon is that of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church who also include the Book of Enoch and Jubilees. So a Canon of scripture can be anywhere from 66 books Protestants use, 73 Catholics use, most Orthodox have 76 books, but the Ethiopian Canon has 81.


I’m talking on the lines of the New Testament Apocrypha, like say in the Acts of Peter it says he has a daughter and names her. Or what about the Acts of Paul and Thecla? That’s an interesting book.


They are interesting, but not accepted as true by the Church or me. Gospel of Thomas is quite interesting, it reads like a Confucius say New Testament. (Jesus say…). They are fun reading, but a lot of the are quite off the wall.


This link is good, but I’m hoping I don’t have to read them all. :whistle:
Can anyone tell me if the New Testament Apocrypha has any date information? Clues to what year certain events took place - things like Pilates actions, Jesus’ crucifixion, Pentecost, conversion of Cornelius etc.

Yeah, Im a little bit lazy :blush: Just thought some folks here would know.


The Acts of Pilate (aka the Gospel of Nicodemus) claims itself to have been written

In the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius Caesar, emperor of the Romans, and Herod being king of Galilee, in the nineteenth year of his rule, on the eighth day before the Kalends of April, which is the twenty-fifth of March, in the consulship of Rufus and Rubellio, in the fourth year of the two hundred and second Olympiad, Joseph Caiaphas being high priest of the Jews."

All well and good, but if you look closely the dates are all over the place:

The fifteenth year of Tiberius: AD 29 (counting from AD 14)
The nineteenth year of (Antipas’) rule: AD 16 (counting from 4 BC)
Fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad: AD 32-33

‘Rufus and Rubellio’ are corruptions of C. Fufius Geminus and L. Rubellius Geminus, consuls who served during the first half of the year 29. Around the 4th-5th century (when this work was written), there was already a popular belief that Jesus was crucified during the consulship of ‘Rufus and Rubellio’, i.e. AD 29. St. Epiphanius of Salamis mentions these guys too.

So all this 4th-5th century work tells you is that its author places the crucifixion somewhere between AD 29-33, which is something most of us already know. :cool:


Hmmm, a bit of a worry isnt it?

As for Rufus and his buddy serving in the first half of the year 29; it spoils my cherished belief that Jesus was crucified in AD30. Ah well … :shrug:


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