Christian Apocrypha - Stories Left out of the New Testament

The books of the New Testament were finally determined only after centuries of debate. Which of the early writings about Jesus were to be included, and which left out? We look at some of the writings which were left out - gospels, acts of the apostles, epistles and apocalypses which were finally determined to be ‘apocryphal’, that is, not divinely-inspired. They tell us a lot about the life of the early church, and perhaps a bit more about the earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth.


  • Online


  • Distinguishing ‘truth’ from ‘heresy’. Readings from The Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, the Letters of Ignatius
  • Readings from the Gnostic texts: The Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Judas, the Apocryphon of John, et al
  • Gnostic texts justified: readings from The Letter to Flora, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Barnabas, et al
  • Re-reading the Old Testament: readings from The Epistle of Barnabas, The Gospel of Peter, the Acts of Peter, the Apocalypse of Peter, et al
  • Letters of encouragement. Including letters of Ignatius and The Martyrdom of Polycarp. The modern ‘search for the historical Jesus’
  • Apocryphal lives of Jesus: readings from The Gospel of the Nazoreans, The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Mary (Magdalene), The Apocryphon of James, et al


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Recognise the differences between the books included in the New Testament and those rejected.
  2. Evaluate the so-called ‘Apocryphal’ Scriptures as literature and as Scripture.
  3. Choose which texts deserve further study, online or in published collections.

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