New Testament Apocrypha?


1 Clement · 2 Clement
Epistles of Ignatius
Polycarp to the Philippians
Martyrdom of Polycarp · Didache
Barnabas · Diognetus
The Shepherd of Hermas
Ebionites · Hebrews · Nazarenes

Infancy Gospels of James · Thomas · Syriac · Pseudo-Matthew · History of Joseph the Carpenter

Gnostic Gospels of Judas · Mary · Phillip · Truth · Secret Mark · The Saviour

Other Gospels of Thomas · Marcion · Peter · Barnabas

Apocalypse of Paul · Coptic Paul
Peter · Gnostic Peter
Pseudo-Methodius · Thomas · Stephen
1 James · 2 James

Epistles of Apocryphon of James
Epistula Apostolorum
Corinthians to Paul · Pseudo-Titus
Peter to Philip · Laodiceans
Seneca the Younger · 3 Corinthians

Acts of Andrew · Barnabas · John · the Martyrs
Paul · Paul & Thecla
Peter · Peter & Andrew
Peter & Paul · Peter & the Twelve
Philip · Pilate · Thomas · Timothy
Xanthippe, Polyxena, & Rebecca

Questions of Bartholomew
Resurrection of Jesus Christ

“Lost” Books of Bartholomew · Cerinthus · Basilides · Mani

All of these books are deemed “apocrypha” and are viewed as heretical writings at best, but is there any good in reading them? I notice most of them can be found in M.R. James “The New Testament Apocrypha”, and later discovered ones can be found in the Nag Hammadi Scriptures.


They are NOT all heretical. Just not inspired

Check out this site so you can read a number of them:


Some of the apocrypha, and even some of the pseudepigrapha, are basically good Christian books that weren’t inspired enough to make it into the Bible. The reason they are listed as apocrypha is that somebody reputable did use them for readings at Mass at some point.

These books are totally harmless and interesting, and are often quoted by theologians and the Fathers:

1 Clement, 2 Clement, Epistles of Ignatius, Polycarp to the Philippians, Martyrdom of Polycarp, Didache, Barnabas, Diognetus, The Shepherd of Hermas

These books are pretty harmless and interesting, although they are mostly made up or chronicle legends. Some people think they were the Christian fiction of the day:

Seneca the Younger fake correspondence with Paul, fake Paul and Thecla, Acts of Peter (the one with the resurrection of the sardines), Proto-Evangelium of James. The Clementine Homilies/Itinerarium Clementis has some iffy stuff in the homilies, but the storyline is pure Greco-Roman novel and has lots of fun with Peter and the new convert Clement facing off against Simon Magus.

Some of the others you listed are associated with various heresies, while others I don’t know.

Secret Mark is generally considered now to have been a modern professorial forgery that was intended as a joke.


The authentic letters of St.Clement and St. Ignatius represent authentic historical treasures. The letter of St. Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans contains what may be the oldest example of the term ‘catholic church’.


In 2005 OUP brought out a new book under the same title, The Apocryphal New Testament, which incorporates newly discovered texts and supersedes M.R. James. The editor of the new work is J.K. Elliott. I haven’t read it, though, so I can’t give an opinion on it.


Looks great, thank you. It will have to go on the wish list, though, at that price. :slight_smile:


Hi Agnes Therese

That was my reaction, too. I’ve still got M.R. James on my shelf. I read it all the way through just once, many years ago, and whenever I’ve needed to look something up I’ve always found it there. I don’t feel a need for an upgrade!


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