Forbidden Texts on the Western Frontier: The Christian Apocrypha in North American Perspectives

By Tony Burke (editor)

A diverse and enlightening selection of essays celebrating the richness of scholarship in contemporary North American Apocrypha studies.

ISBN: 9780227175934


North American study of the Christian Apocrypha is known principally for its interest in using noncanonical texts to reconstruct the life and teachings of Jesus, and for its support of Walter Bauer’s theory on the development of early Christianity. The papers in this volume, presented in September 2013 at York University in Toronto, challenge that simplistic assessment by demonstrating that U.S. and Canadian scholarship on the Christian Apocrypha is rich and diverse. The topics covered in the papers include new developments in the study of canon formation, the interplay of Christian Apocrypha and texts from the Nag Hammadi library, digital humanities resources for reconstructing apocryphal texts, and the value of studying late-antique apocrypha. Among the highlights of the collection are papers from a panel by three celebrated New Testament scholars reassessing the significance of the Christian Apocrypha for the study of the historical Jesus. Forbidden Texts on the Western Frontier demonstrates the depth and breadth of Christian Apocrypha studies in North America and offers a glimpse at the achievements that lie ahead in the field.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Tony Burke is Associate Professor of Early Christianity at York University in Toronto, Ontario. He is the author of Secret Scriptures Revealed (2013), and editor of Ancient Gospel or Modern Forgery? (2013)


List of Illustrations and Tables
Foreword by Christoph Markschies

1. Introduction
     Tony Burke
2. North American Approaches to the Study of the Christian Apocrypha on the World Stage
     Jean-Michel Roessli
     Appendix – The AELAC (Association Pour L’étude de la Littérature Chrétienne): A Brief Historical Survey
3. The “Harvard School” of the Christian Apocrypha
     Brent Landau
4. Excavating Museums: From Bible Thumping to Fishing in the Stream of Western Civilization
     Charles W. Hedrick
5. Scriptural Trajectories through Early Christianity, Late Antiquity, and Beyond: Christian Memorial Traditions in the longue durée
     Pierluigi Piovanelli
6. Jesus at School among Christians, Jews, and Muslims
     Cornelia Horn
7. Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism, Apocrypha: Bridging Disciplinary Divides
     Nicola Denzey Lewis
8. Canon Formation: Why and Where Scholars Disagree
     Lee Martin McDonald
9. Apocryphal Gospels and Historical Jesus Research: A Reassessment
     Stephen J. Patterson
10. Apocryphal Gospels and Historical Jesus Research: A Response to Stephen Patterson
     John S. Kloppenborg
11. Apocryphal Gospels and Historical Jesus Research: A Response to Stephen Patterson
     Mark Goodacre
12. The Distinctive Sayings of Jesus Shared by Justin and the Pseudo-Clementines
     F. Stanley Jones
13. The Tiburtine Sibyl, the Last Emperor, and the Early Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition
     Stephen J. Shoemaker
14. Confused Traditions? Peter and Paul in the Apocryphal Acts
     David L. Eastman
15. Digital Humanities and the Study of Christian Apocrypha: Resources, Prospects and Problems
     Kristian S. Heal
     Appendix – Select Digital Humanities Resources
16. Conversions of Paul: Comparing Acts and Acts of Paul
     Glenn E. Snyder

Ancient Texts Index
Subject Index
Modern Authors Index


Endorsements and Reviews

Studies of the Christian Apocrypha are coming of age in North America, and this volume clearly outlines the contours of such an emergence into adulthood. These essays cover many of the major issues in contemporary apocryphal studies, ranging from debate over definitions to the practicalities of digital editions. The chapters on the distinctive contribution of North American study of the Christian Apocrypha are particularly interesting and provocative.
Stanley E. Porter, President and Dean, Professor of New Testament, Roy A. Hope Chair in Christian Worldview, McMaster Divinity College

Burke has brought together a fascinating collection of essays that not only sheds light on the writing that forms the Christian Apocrypha but also provides deep meta-level reflections on the forces that influence the way those texts are studied in the North American context. Much that is discussed is richly insightful, and often the reflections on scholarship are probing and controversial. This is essential reading for those interested in the Christian Apocrypha and early Christianity.
Paul Foster, Professor, New Testament Language, Literature & Theology, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

As this book shows, scholars in North America have much to contribute to the study of Christian Apocrypha. Some contributors reflect critically on the particular circumstances in which they operate, arising from the interplay between faith commitments and historical scholarship in the academy, the church, and in popular culture. Others foreground and advance the discussion of a number of apocryphal texts. Their essays make a significant contribution to the study of early Christian literature.
Andrew Gregory, Chaplain and Pro-Dean for Welfare, University College, Oxford