New Handbook on Early Christian Apocrypha
I’m pleased to have my contributor’s copy of what appears to be a very valuable new work: The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Apocrypha, eds. Andrew Gregory & Christopher Tuckett (Oxford University Press, 2015), the publisher’s online catalogue entry here. Here is the list of contributions:
Part I: Introduction and overview
1: Christopher Tuckett: Introduction
2: Jörg Frey: Texts About Jesus: Non-canonical Gospels and Related Literature
3: Charlotte Touati and Claire Clivaz: Apocryphal Texts About Other Characters in the Canonical Gospels
4: Richard Pervo: Narratives About the Apostles: Non-canonical Acts and Related Literature
5: Andrew Gregory: Non-canonical Epistles and Related Literature
6: Richard Bauckham: Non-canonical Apocalypses and Prophetic Works
Part II: Key Issues and Themes
7: Tobias Nicklas: The Influence of Jewish Scriptures on Early Christian Apocrypha
8: L. W. Hurtado: Who Read Early Christian Apocrypha?
9: Jens Schröter: The Formation of the New Testament Canon and Early Christian Apocrypha
10: François Bovon: ‘Useful for the Soul’: Christian Apocrypha and Christian Spirituality
11: Pheme Perkins: Christology and Soteriology in Apocryphal Gospels
12: Paul Foster: Christology and Soteriology in Apocryphal Acts and Apocalypses
13: Stephen J. Patterson: The Gospel of Thomas and the Historical Jesus
14: Simon Gathercole: Other Apocryphal Gospels and the Historical Jesus
15: J. K. Elliott: Christian Apocrypha and the Developing Role of Mary
16: Robin M. Jensen: The Apocryphal Mary in Early Christian Art
17: Richard I. Pervo: The Role of the Apostles
18: Petri Luomanen: Judaism and Anti-Judaism in Early Christian Apocrypha
19: Outi Lehtipuu: Eschatology and the Fate of the Dead in Early Christian Apocrypha
20: Harald Buchinger: Liturgy and Early Christian Apocrypha
21: Candida R. Moss: Roman Imperialism: The Political Context of Early Christian Apocrypha
22: Judith Hartenstein: Encratism, Asceticism, and The Construction of Gender and Sexual Identity in Apocryphal Gospels
23: Yves Tissot: Encratism and the Apocryphal Acts
24: Tony Burke: Early Christian Apocrypha in Popular Culture
25: Tony Burke: Early Christian Apocrypha in Contemporary Theological Discourse
As you can see, the topics included comprise pretty much anything you’d want to ask about this diverse body of texts, and the contributors form a galaxy of recognized scholars of a number of nationalities.
In my own contribution, “Who Read Early Christian Apocrypha?” I have had to be selective in the texts considered, but I hope that the selection is sufficiently representative to be adequate for answering the question. I’ve also included data not usually considered, specifically the features of earliest manuscript-copies of some apocryphal texts, reflective of my emphasis on manuscripts as artefacts of early Christians and what they did with the texts included in these manuscripts.
The short answer to the question posed in the title of my essay is: Various Christians read “apocryphal” texts (as they only later came to be designated), and for various reasons.