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A guide to the extra-canonical writings of the first centuries of the Christian era.
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Getting Started Print Page

About Early Christian Apocrypha

"Early Christian Apocrypha" or "New Testament Apocrypha" refers to a diverse set of early Christian writings that bear some formal resemblance to the canonical New Testament books

This guide is designed to assist the study of these documents.

If you are looking for an English translation of a particular apocryphal work, see the Early Christian Apocrypha Alphabetical List.

For good introductory information, see the Wabash Center Internet Guide to Religion on the Early Church.


Finding Articles

Here are some sources for finding articles on Early Christian Apocrypha:

ATLA Religion Database (EBSCO)

Religion and Philosophy Collection (EBSCO)

Catholic Periodical and Literature Index (EBSCO)

Christian Periodical Index (EBSCO)

New Testament Abstracts (EBSCO)

Index Theologicus

Also valuable is the annual print index Elenchus of Biblica (REFERENCE Z7770 .E63). Look under section "Postbiblica." See this tutorial on how to use the Elenchus.


New and Noteworthy

Cover Art
The Gospel of Mary of Magdala - Karen L. King
Call Number: BT1392 .G652 K56 2003
ISBN: 0944344585
Publication Date: 2003-09-01

Cover Art
Unlocking the Secrets of the Gospel according to Thomas - Charles W. Hedrick
Call Number: BS2860 .T5 A3 2010
ISBN: 9781556352393
Publication Date: 2010-08-11

Cover Art
A Pious Seductress - Géza G. Xeravits (Editor)
Call Number: BS1735.52 .I58 2009
ISBN: 9783110279948
Publication Date: 2012-01-16

Cover Art
The Gospel of Judas - Marvin W. Meyer
Call Number: BS2460 .J8 M49 2011
ISBN: 9781610973717
Publication Date: 2011-11-01




Finding Books

Works about Early Christian Apocrypha are shelved by call numbers BS2831 through BS2970.

Important areas: (click to view list)

To find works in DiscoverE:

Choose "Advanced Search"

Change the drop-downs to "subject" and "is (exact)" 

Use terms like: 

  • Apocryphal books (New Testament)
  • Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles
  • Apocryphal Gospels
  • Apocryphal infancy Gospels

For particular apocryphal books, search the name of the book:

  • Acts of John
  • Gospel of Thomas
  • Apocalypse of Peter

Journals that Cover Early Christian Apocrypha

--Foremost journal devoted to Christian and Jewish apocrypha
--Mostly French articles, some English.
--Online index.

Catholic Biblical Quarterly
Most biblical studies journals will have occasional articles on apocryphal books and subjects.

Harvard Theological Review
Like biblical studies journals, theology journals often have articles touching on Early Christian Apocrypha.

Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha
Covers ancient Jewish (and Jewish-Christian) pseudepigraphal and related works.

Journal of Coptic Studies
Coptic language, literature, history, art, archaeology and related subjects, before the modern period. Much apocryphal literature is known only through Coptic manuscripts.

Journal of Early Christian Studies
Official publication of the North American Patristics Society, focusing on Christianity in the period 100-700 C.E.

Vigiliae Christianae
Historical, cultural, linguistic or philological articles about early Christian literature written after the New Testament, as well as on Christian epigraphy and archaeology.

Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum
Interdisciplinary journal about early Christianity.

Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche
Linguistic and historical problems of the New Testament and the history of the Early Christianity.


Introductions to Early Christian Apocrypha

The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies - ed. Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David G. Hunter
Call Number: BR121.3 .O99 2008
--Article by Stephen J. Shoemaker, pp. 521-48, is an up-to-date discussion of terminology, definition, overview of research.
--Full bibliography. Excellent introduction.

Cover Art
Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew - Bart D. Ehrman
Call Number: BS2840 .E4 2003
--Highly-readable introduction to the religious milieu of Apocrypha
--See also: Great Courses audio series covering the same ground (Pitts Theology Library MEDIA BS2840 .E44 2002 V.1-6 + BK CD).

An Introduction to the New Testament Apocrypha - Fred Lapham
Call Number: BS2851 .L37 2003
--Basic introduction
--Arrangement by geography rather than genre

Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development - Helmut Koester
Call Number: BS2555.2 .K64 1990
--Somewhat controversial understanding of Thomas, Peter, and other early Christian apocrypha
--For advanced students.

Apokryphe Evangelien: eine Einführung - Hans-Josef Klauck
Call Number: BS2851 .K539 2002
--Authoritative, judicious introduction
--Sticks to gospel material. Available in translation as Apocryphal Gospels: An Introduction.

The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction - Hans-Josef Klauck
Call Number: BS2871 .K57313 2008
--Sequel to above
--Concentrates on the various Acts.

The Apocryphal Gospels: A Very Short Introduction - Paul Foster
Call Number: BS2851 .F67 2009
--Concise introduction to terminology and scope of apocryphal gospels
--Includes: Nag Hammadi, infancy gospels, dialogue gospels, and other examples.
--Good bibliography and notes for further reading.

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