Monday, January 2, 2012

The Apocrypha and Other Non-Canonical Scriptures

Watched an interesting show on History2 the other night, about banned books of the bible. Usually, I don't watch history channel much because most of their programming is ridiculous and honestly I don't feel confident they get all the facts straight. So if I take interest in a show they do, I always try to follow up with my own research to get as full an understanding as I can. Anyways, the program went into some detail about some of the banned books of the bible, ancient texts that had meaning to the early christians but did not make in into the official canon of the church for various reasons. Sometimes the texts were written too late to be considered, other times they dealt with topics and characters that would skew the overall narrative, from Mary Magdalene to Mary, mother of Jesus, to Jesus himself, to heaven and hell. Other texts take some of the bible stories and go into more depth, like adam and eve, and the apocalypse.
This website has a fantastic collection of these ancient "banned" texts and are really worth a read for a much more complete picture of the early christian church. Also it gets you thinking, why weren't these texts included with the others? What were the excluding criteria? Who decided these texts weren't for everyone's eyes???

Sacred Text Archive - The Apocrypha

Some of the more interesting books are:

First and Second books of Adam and Eve - Very in depth tale of the first two humans after the fall from the garden of eden. Temptations from satan, and the gamut of emotions from two people starting life in an alien world. The stories of Cain and Abel and the history of the founding fathers until Moses.

Book of Jubilees - Another account of Genesis from the beginning to Moses but with some different twists and a heavy push from the author to switch from a lunar to a solar calendar.

Book of the Secrets of Enoch - Apocalytpic, legendary, stories of giants and fallen angels, influenced the writers of the New Testament.

Gospel of Thomas - Various sayings of Jesus

Infancy Gospel of Thomas - Jesus growing up, coming into his own as a god-man. Various miracles are performed, but depicts young jesus as malevolent and a trickster, a spoiled divine angry brat. Jesus actually kills some children and adults and shows attitude to his teachers, makes people blind and fearful of his power.

Gospel of James (The  Protevangelion) - Infancy stories and nativity of Jesus. Interesting take on Joseph being a widower with children before Mary, thus allowing Mary to be a perpetual virgin. Also describes Mary's life in more detail.

Gospel of Philip - Eludes to a more special relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, goes into more gnostic views on various sacraments like marriage and baptism.

Gospel of the Egyptians - A discussion between Salome and and Jesus on topics from celibacy to children to death.

Gospel of Mary - very radical thoughts in this text, from the role of women in the church to the reality of Jesus' life and teachings, that his teachings are a way toward inner peace, not necessarily believing in his death and resurrection as the path to eternal life.

Gospel of Nicodemus - A book written in the 2nd or 3rd century AD purporting to be the Acts of Pontius Pilate, and details the events around the crucifixion to garner favor for the new religion.

Apocalypse of Peter - Visions of heaven and hell, punishment for specific crimes...

Here is another great resource for reading more of these early christian texts. Helps put A LOT of things into perspective... Makes it easy to see how man-made this literature is, how it has been manipulated over the years by the early church and how and why some texts made it into the canon and some did not. Please enjoy these resources. I will post them to the left for reference.

Early Christian Writings

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