Catholic Dictionary




Spurious narratives of the life of Christ, written between the first and third centuries. Many of these exist, and new manuscripts of some of them have been discovered in the twentieth century. These apocrypha are of different types. Some may embody at least a few trustworthy oral traditions, e.g., the Gospel of Peter, and According to the Hebrews. Others are openly heretical and sought to expound erroneous, especially Gnostic views, e.g., the Gospels of Thomas, Marcion, the Twelve Apostles, and Philip. A third group of writings are pious tales, composed to satisfy popular curiosity, and deal mainly with the childhood of Christ; such as the Childhood Gospel of Thomas, the History of Joseph the Carpenter, and the Departure of Mary. There is record of twenty-one apocryphal Gospels, some available in their full narrative text.