In this reader-friendly guide, Markus Bockmuehl offers a sympathetic account of the ancient apocryphal Gospel writings, showing their place within the reception history and formation of what was to become the canonical fourfold Gospel. Bockmuehl begins by helping readers understand the early history behind these noncanonical Gospels before going on to examine dozens of specific apocryphal texts. He explores the complex oral and intertextual relationships between the noncanonical and canonical Gospels, maintaining that it is legitimate and instructive to read the apocryphal writings as an engagement with the person of Jesus that both presupposes and supplements the canonical narrative outline. Appropriate for pastors and nonspecialists, this work offers a fuller understanding of these writings and their significance for biblical interpretation in the church.
"The 'apocryphal gospels' seem nearly as controversial today as they were in the second and third centuries. That is why Markus Bockmuehl's substantive, balanced, and authoritative introduction will prove so valuable, particularly to those in ministry but also to lay readers and to scholars as well. While guiding the reader through the maze of the fascinatingly diverse, noncanonical gospel literature, Bockmuehl demonstrates how these books relate 'epiphenomenally,' that is, as supplements and sometimes as challengers, to the canonical four. To the often polemically charged treatment of these ancient writings, this book offers a calm and well-informed alternative. This is a significant achievement."
—CHARLES E. HILL, John R. Richardson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Reformed Theological Seminary
"This book is a rare combination. It will offer beginning students a sure-footed guide to the basics of studying the apocryphal gospels. It also lays down a challenge to many current approaches to the gospels among scholars, in its bold arguments about the relation between the apocrypha and their canonical counterparts. A must-read for all studying or writing about the gospels."
—SIMON GATHERCOLE, Reader in New Testament Studies, University of Cambridge, and Fellow and Director of Theology and Religious Studies, Fitzwilliam College
"For those who prefer sound scholarship to hype and exaggeration on apocryphal gospels, this is the book! Wide-ranging in coverage, up to date in scholarly discussion, with sober analyses of controversial issues, and cogent argumentation for the positions taken, this is now the 'go-to' introduction to these texts."
—LARRY W. HURTADO, Professor Emeritus of New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh