This accessible selection of the most important and significant of the remarkable and often bizarre apocryphal stories surrounding the life of Jesus and the Early Church has established a reputation as an invaluable introduction to the genre of Christian apocryphal literature.
J. K. Elliott clearly explains the scholarly importance of the genre and introduces each section of texts with reference to biblical texts and later church history. Stories found in this selection include Jesus birth in a cave, his childhood escapades, his secret sayings, and his descent to the underworld; the torments in Hell; Saint Paul baptizing a lion; the death of Pontius Pilate and Saint Peter being crucified upside down. These all come from early Christian legends which did not get into the Bible, yet have had a profound influence on art, literature, and theology from the second century through the Middle Ages and even modern times. Some of the stories included here, especially those involving the Virgin Mary, have affected matters of doctrine; others have influenced the churchs teaching on the after life, whilst from the apocryphal Acts there are some of the best examples of accounts of the lives of Christianitys earliest saints.
William Elliott is the author of Tying Rocks to Clouds. He devotes most of his time to traveling in his motor home, interviewing spiritual leaders, and giving talks at universities, hospices, churches, and bookstores. When he's not on the road, he likes to play golf and drink coffee with friends. He makes his home in Madison, Wisconsin.
This is an excellent collection...
- Professor Keith A. Burton, Oakwood College
"A well selected series of texts from a widely neglected body of early Christian literature. This book will serve as a useful introduction to the New Testament apocrypha for anyone interested in popular spirituality during the time in which the New Testament canon took shape."
- Frank Thielman, Associate Professor of the New Testament, Beeson Divinity School
"A convenient selection of excerpts from his erudite and invaluable The Apocryphal New Testament. A nice handbook for students, as well as an invitation to the larger work."
- Roy D. Wells, Professor of Religion, Birmingham Southern College
"...informative and well designed to introduce someone to a broad sampling of Apocryphal literature."
- Gary Derickson, Western Baptist College
"An excellent low-cost collection."
- Michael T. McEwen, St. Gregorys College