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The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198261827
ISBN-10: 0198261829
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Editorial Reviews


"An essential work for students of the New Testament and related literature."--The Journal of Religion

"[The book] has been beautifully produced with very useful bibliography accompanying the selections, and it will be an important reference work for every college and seminary library. The editor has created a worthy successor to James and has placed all students in his debt."--Southwestern Journal of Theology

"[A] fascinating source of information....Dr. Elliot...has done the groundwork and readers are able to benefit from the results of his research without the task of wading through the secondary literature for themselves....An easy to consult, conveniently-sized volume."--Churchman

"Elliott provides excellent bibliographies....Elliott has done a superb job of organizing a varied corpus of materials and improves on the scheme he inherits from James....Elliott has performed an invaluable service to all scholars of the apocryphal literature, especially English speakers who heretofore have limped along with James's superannuated collection....Elliott's masterful edition of James not only makes James obsolete, but perhaps at the same time shows that the project of a truly representative single-volume compendium of New Testament apocrypha has become obsolete as well."--Bible Review

"Valuable and fascinating."--History Today

From the Back Cover

This collection of apocryphal texts supersedes the best-selling edition by M. R. James, which was originally published in 1924, and regularly reprinted. Several new texts have come to light since 1924 and the textual base for some of the apocrypha previously translated by James is now more secure, as in several cases there are recently published critical editions available. Although a modest appendix to James's edition was added in 1953, no thorough revision has previously been undertaken. In this volume, J. K. Elliott presents new translations of the texts and has provided each of them with a short introduction and bibliography directed to those who wish to pursue further the issues raised in the texts, or to consult the critical editions, other versions, or general studies. The translations are in modern English, in contrast to James's deliberate imitation of the language of the Authorized Version. The collection is designed to give readers the most important and famous of the Christian apocrypha, together with a select sample of gnostic texts. Full translations of the earliest texts are printed. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 776 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 6, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198261829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198261827
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.8 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,324,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By J. Jones on December 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a collection of stories that supplement the canonical New Testament. Here are found expanded accounts of Jesus' nativity, his childhood, his ministry, his trial, his liberation of Hell's captives, and of the passing of Mary and Joseph. Here are the "Acts" of various Apostles, among them Peter, Paul, Thomas, Andrew, Matthias, John, and Phillip, as well as other texts and fragments of texts.

These stories are very important in church history. From texts such as these are derived the biographies of the apostles. Medieval and Renaissance sacred art often contains elements from these texts - such as the Ox and Ass at the Nativity scene - which are not found in the canonical New Testament.
These texts have ever lived at the edge of respectability. They have been treasured, but quite a few of them have been branded "heretical" by this or that church authority. Thus we have not inherited a neat collection of complete works scrupulously copied under official sanction, but rather a tangle of tales, of revised (and sometimes sanitized) versions, of narratives based on earlier narratives, of fragments, etc. The completeness and quality of this collection is uneven, but there is much here worth exploring.

Indeed, the persistence of apocryphal tradition is itself worthy of consideration. We see a pattern here, like a sprawl of grapevine upon a stone building, or upon a ruin. It is a tangle, but it is far from un-pruned.

J.K. Elliott has presented a selection of translated texts, as well as scholarly commentary. He presents some texts that have arrived in good condition and many that come to us in fragmentary form.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
More of a reference book than anything else, it includes translations of surviving texts from right around the time Jesus Christ was alive and some years after his death. Adds new dimensions to the familiar Bible writings. From other sources we know, for instance, there were "Gospels" written under the name of every original Apostle, including Judas Iscariot. Most of this material has been lost over time but what we still have I find worthwhile. To me, this book is a "must have" especially paired with "The Lost Books of the Bible and Forgotten Books of Eden" which is also available through Amazon.com. In this book is "The Acts of Thomas" written about "Doubting Thomas" and his activities right after Jesus died. When I read this one, I laughed so hard my sides hurt afterwards. This book and the other one I mentioned are great for anyone seriously seeking "The Whole Truth."
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Very helpful collection of apocrypha. I used it almost exclusively for the infancy gospels so I can speak to those. Only surprise was the books begin getting paraphrased as they go on. In the case of the infancy gospels since they tend to build on one another this is understandable. By the time we get to the History of Joseph the Carpenter the majority of the text is summarized and the unique material gets translated in full. List of Infancy Gospels in the book: Protevangelium of James; Infancy Gospel of Thomas; Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew; Arabic Infancy Gospel; Arundel 404; History of Joseph the Carpenter; and then brief comments on the Armenian Infancy Gospel, Liber de Infantia Salvatoris and a few others.
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I purchased this book for a college class on New Testament apocryphal literature. This book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to go beyond what's in the canonical New Testament. Elliot offers a brief overview of the text's origin, translations, and history in the Christian church, as well as the text itself. The book offers a wonderful variety of gospels, epistles, apocalypses, passion narratives, birth narratives, etc. It's certainly not light beach reading, but it's a great resource. Those of you who have taken college classes know you usually sell the textbook as soon as you finish. However, I'm actually planning to hang onto this one!
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