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The Apocryphal New Testament Easy to use collection of English translations of the New Testament Apocrypha.


J. K. Elliott

The first section of Part II deal with the five major apocryphal Acts:

  • The Acts of Andrew

  • The Acts of John

  • The Acts of Paul

  • The Acts of Peter

  • The Acts of Thomas

together with associated Acts linked with each of them. Minor Acts not connected with these texts are then discussed in a final section.

The five are the most influential and among the oldest of the apocryphal Acts, although they were not composed as a collection. It was originally held that all five were written by the same author. The name Leucius, the companion of John the Apostle, was given originally to the author of the Acts of John and then to the author of all five major acts. From the time of Photius he was named as Leucius Charinus. The names Leucius and Charinus (Karinus) appear in the Latin versions of the Descensus, and it may perhaps be assumed that there is some connection between these and the names given by Photius.

Recent scholarship is of the opinion that no two Acts were produced by the same author and the name of Leucius is not now usually applied to the authorship of any of them. They are anonymous works, but their literary interrelationship is clear. Language, style, sometimes theology, and occasionally even contents often show close connexions. The Acts of John shows links with the Acts of Andrew. (The Acts of John by Prochorus, a separate work, also seems to show a knowledge of the Acts of Andrew.) The relative sequence of the ancient Acts is difficult to determine, but the order of composition could be:

  • 1. (or 2) The Acts of Paul

  • 2. (or 1) The Acts of Peter

  • 3. The Acts of John

  • 4. The Acts of Andrew

  • 5. The Acts of Thomas

(Earlier scholars tended to place the Acts of John as the first written.) The Manichaeans gathered these five into a corpus which they substituted for the canonical Acts.

These Acts were composed in the second and third centuries and were intended to supplement stories and details about the apostles. To this extent therefore they belong to the apocryphal traditions based on the New Testament. They are part of the literature of popular piety tinged from time to time with Gnostic ideas and teaching, but which as pieces of literature belong to early orthodox Christianity as practised in various places in the second century.

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