The Apocrypha (Part 1)

Questions to think about during this lesson…

  • What makes it so obvious that the apocryphal books are false apostolic writings?
  • Even though the apocryphal books were composed much later than the apostolic era, they use the names of the Apostles and other figures from the early Church. Why would they do this?
  • In antiquity, why was it nearly impossible to verify who had actually written the book?
  • What’s the difference between Christian apocrypha and Gnostic apocrypha?
  • What’s the problem with Christian apocrypha — why did the Church reject these books?
  • The canonical writings are constantly being confirmed as accurate by modern archaeology and historical investigation. In contrast, even if you know the slightest amount of information about first century Judaism it’s quite obvious that the stories in the apocryphal books are false and that they couldn’t have actually happened. Why is this?
  • The Christian apocrypha are easily recognized as false based on the kinds of stories they contain and the date at which they were written. What are some examples of this from the Protoevangelion of James, the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of Nicodemus (a.k.a. the Acts of Pilate)?
  • Why is it important to accept the fact that there are just some things we don’t know, such as more about the life of the Theotokos and the childhood of Jesus? In other words, why is it important to just leave some things to mystery rather than accept the stories in the apocrypha?
  • What role did St. Irenaeus of Lyons play in fighting Gnosticism around 180-190AD?

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