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

The Questions of Bartholomew

J. K. Elliott

Although antiquity knew of a Gospel of Bartholomew through Jerome's prologue to his Commentary to Matthew and the Gelasian Decree (where ‘evangelia’ is used in the context, i.e. ‘gospels under the name of Bartholomew’) there is no evidence that what they knew is what has been commonly referred to recently (thanks largely to Wilmart and Tisserant) as the Gospel of Bartholomew. A better title for the texts that they and others have published is the Questions of Bartholomew, which is the title of the Slavonic versions and of one of the Latin versions (the Casanatensis). These ‘questions’ deal with various aspects of Christ's descent comparable to the Descensus in the Gospel of Nicodemus (q.v.), of the annunciation, of Satan's origin and power and also concern deadly sins. It is a suitable title, given the way in which the subject‐matter is accorded question and answer treatment; it also serves to avoid linking this work with other gospels. It may equally well be classified as a gospel or an apocalypse, although, despite tradition, the present collection links it with the apocalypses.

The Questions were originally composed in Greek, possibly in Egypt, but the date of the work is not certain, being estimated between the second and sixth centuries. Latin and Slavonic versions exist, but the relationship between them all is not clear. James's translation is based predominantly on the Greek and Slavonic where they exist, but with some passages added from the Latin; it is repeated below with minor changes. James's presentation is commended by Kaestli (Revue Biblique 95 (1988), 20).

The Bartholomew literature seems to have originated in Egypt and had a changing and developing tradition prior to the composition of the extant texts. The presence of Gnostic ideas is a subject of debate: Beeston's short article (bibliography below) gives an example of how the text can be interpreted without recourse to Gnosticism.

The Questions of Bartholomew is to be distinguished from a Coptic text known as ‘The Book of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Bartholomew the Apostle’ (to be found in Wallis Budge, 1–48 (Eng. trans. 179–230), based on his London manuscript). Many other Coptic fragments in Paris and Strasbourg have also been assigned (by Revillout in particular) to the Gospel of Bartholomew, although his judgement has been questioned and some scholars (especially Baumstark and James) would prefer to assign some of the fragments to the Gospel of Gamaliel (q.v.); indeed one of Revillout's fragments (his no. 15) has a definite attribution to Gamaliel. The Coptic texts date from perhaps the fifth—sixth century. Most of the fragments which Revillout published under the general title of ‘The Gospel of the Twelve Apostles’ (which is a misnomer) are not from an apocryphal gospel, either Bartholomew's or another's, but are from homiletical works, although some of Revillout's fragments (e.g. no. 12 and those on his pp. 185–94) may relate to a gospel of Bartholomew. Schneemelcher (in Hennecke3, i. 372–6; 5i. 437–40) and James (ANT 147–52) tried to bring order into the Coptic fragments, as too did Haase in his ZNW article. The Coptic fragments may be deemed to come from a different cycle of tradition from the Quaestiones Bartholomaei. Only three extracts are given below (B), a summary of Budge's London manuscript and Revillout nos. 6, and 12 (which has a stronger claim to be part of the same tradition as Budge's London manuscript).

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