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Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (1871) Volume 1.  Title page and preface.  pp.i-xvii







 VOL. I.










The documents which these volumes contain, in text and translation, are the following:—

1. The history of S. John at Ephesus, taken from two vellum manuscripts, the one of the vith cent., the other of the ixth. The former is in the Imperial Public Library of St. Petersburg, the latter in the British Museum.1. The St. Petersburg manuscript consists of 142 leaves, written in a fine, regular Estrangela, in double columns. The quires were originally signed with both letters and arithmetical figures. Fol. 54, which is misplaced, is a later addition, of about the xith cent., in a cursive hand. [Title, Syriac] The contents are:—The Doctrine of Addai at Edessa, [Title, Syriac] fol. 1 b (Add. 14,644, fol. 1 a); the Doctrine of Simon Peter at Rome, [Title, Syriac] fol. 33 a (Add. 14,644, fol. 15 b); the History of S. John at Ephesus, fol. 38 b; the Invention of the holy Cross by the empress Helene, fol. 74 b (Add. 14,644, fol. 18 b); the Martyrdom of Judas, who became bishop of Jerusalem by the name of Cyriacus, fol. 84 b (Add. 14,644, |viii fol. 23 b); the History of the eight Youths of Ephesus, fol. 92 a (Add. 12,160, fol. 147 a, and elsewhere); the Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus, bishop of Neo-Caesarea, fol. 101 a (Add. 14,648, fol. 125 a); and the Life of Basil of Caesarea by Amphilochius of Iconium, fol. 117 a (Add. 12,174, fol. 125 a). The volume belonged to the convent of S. Mary Deipara in the desert of Scete, according to the note on fol. 142 b: [Syriac] This book, and three others from the same convent (the two Books of Samuel and the Pauline Epistles, both according to the Peshīţtā version, and the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, dated A.D. 462), were withheld by a Greek named Pacho from the Trustees of the British Museum, who had made use of his services in the acquisition of the Nitrian collection, and were sold by him, in 1852, to the Imperial Public Library of St. Petersburg, for the sum of 2500 silver rubles. They have been carefully described by Professor Dr. Dorn in the "Melanges Asiatiques," t. ii., p. 195. I am indebted for the use of this manuscript, —which would have given invaluable aid to Dr. Cureton in the publication of his " Ancient Syriac Documents" (compare my Catalogue of Syriac MSS. in the British Museum, part iii., p. 1083, no. DCCCCXXXVI.)-—to the liberality of the Imperial Government of Russia, which is always ready to place its scientific treasures at the disposal of scholars of every nation. To his Excellency M. Deljanoff, the Director of the Imperial Public Library, my warmest thanks are due for the promptitude |ix with which he acceded to my application for the loan both of this volume and of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. Would that the management of all similar institutions were conducted on equally liberal principles!

2. Of the manuscript in the British Museum, Add. 17,192, it is unnecessary to give a detailed description in this place, as I have described it minutely in my Catalogue, part ii., p. 778, no. DCCLXXXIX.  It is of the ixth cent, and was one of the 250 volumes, which were collected and conveyed by the abbat Moses of Nisibis to the convent of S. Mary Deipara in the year 1243, A.D. 932.

These Acts, which are obviously translated from the Greek, being of comparatively late date, and to all appearance destitute of any historical basis, are chiefly valuable from the linguistic point of view. The fact of Eusebius of Cæsarea being named as the author (p. 3), combined with the mention of "Urhāi of the Parthians" at p. 54, suffices, I think, to show that the work was written after the story of the conversion of Abgar, king of Edessa, by Addai, had become generally known, that is to say, after the publication of Eusebius's Ecclesias­tical History, or about the middle of the fourth century. The Greek original, however, is, so far as I am aware, unpublished, if indeed it be still extant.

II. The Decease of S. John, taken from a vellum manuscript in the British Museum, Add. 12,174, which is dated A. Gr. 1508, A.D. 1197 (see my Catalogue, part iii., p.1123, no. DCCCCLX.). This is a translation of the latter portion of the Greek text edited by Professor |x Dr. von Tischendorf in his "Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha" (Leipzig, 1851), from the beginning of chapter 15 (p. 272) to the end.

III. A section from the Περίοδοι. of S. Philip, which is, I believe, not extant, or at least unpublished, in the original Greek, narrating the conversion of the Jew Hananiah or Ananias, and, by his means, of the city of Carthage. I have taken it from a manuscript in the Library of the Royal Asiatic Society of London, which, was placed at my disposal by my friend Mr. Eggeling, the secretary and librarian of the Society. This is a paper manuscript, consisting of 188 leaves, all more or less stained by water, and some of them slightly torn, especially foll. 1 and 97. The quires, twenty-one in number, mostly of ten leaves, are signed with letters (except the last two, which have no signatures). Leaves are wanting after foll. 6, 21, 49, 125, 166, and 172. The volume is written in a good, regular, Nestorian hand, with many vowel-points, 1 and dated (see fol. 92 b) A. Gr. 1880, A.D. 1569. The name of the scribe was Elias. The contents are :—

a. The theological treatise of 'Ebed-Yeshua', metropolitan of Sobā, entitled, [Syriac] or "the Book of the Pearl." See Assemani, Bibl. Or., t. iii., pars 1, p. 352. Imperfect. Fol. 1 b.

b. The "Catalogue of Ecclesiastical Works in Syriac " by the same 'Ebed-Yeshua', edited by Assemani in the Bibl. Or., t. iii., pars 1. Imperfect. Fol. 18 b|xi

c. The historical treatise of Solomon, metropolitan of Perath-Maishān or al-Başra, entitled, [Syriac] "the Book of Collectanea (or the Spicilegium), called the Bee." Imperfect. Fol. 26 a. See Assemani, Bibl. Or., t. iii., pars 1, p. 309, and my Catalogue, part iii., p. 1064, no. DCCCCXXII. It has been translated into Latin by Dr. Schönfelder of Bamberg.

d. The narrative, or vision, of Abba Zosimus "regard­ing the holy men who were removed from this world, by the command of God, in the days of Jeremiah the prophet" (the Rechabites; see Jeremiah, ch. xxxv.). Fol. 93 a. See Add. 12,174, fol. 209 & (in my Catalogue, part iii., p. 1123, no. DCCCCLX.).

e. The Acts of S. Philip. Fol. 107 a.

f. The history of a demon, who repented and was accepted by God. Fol. 117 a.

g. The history of the king's son, who was murdered by the teacher of the school to which he went. Fol. 119 b.

h. The history of Onesimus and the ascetics, who revealed themselves unto the paramonarius (or verger) of Alexandria. Fol. 122 a. Imperfect.

i. The history of the blessed Virgin Mary.  Fol. ,126 a. There are lacunæ in the text on foll. 128 b, 137 b, and 144 b. This is a still fuller form of the history than any of those edited by me in the "Journal of Sacred Literature" and in my "Contributions to the Apocryphal Literature of the New Testament."

j. The history of John bar Malkē, or John of Rome. Fol. 161 b. Imperfect. Of this there are several copies |xii in the Nitrian collection. See, for example, Add. 14,651, fol. 103 b (in my Catalogue, part iii., p. 1101, no. DCCCCXLVIII.).

k. The Eggartā de-Hadbeshabbā Kaddishā,or letter that was sent down from Heaven to Athanasius, patriarch of Rome (!), regarding the observance of Sunday, A. Gr. 1140, A.D. 829. Fol. 169 a. Imperfect. Compare my Catalogue, part ii., p. 1022, no. DCCCLXXIX.

l. The martyrdom of Julitta and Quiricus or Cyriacus. Fol. 173 a.The volume once belonged to a priest named Wardā, the son of the deacon Moses, prior of the convent of Mār Ezekiel, fol. 187 a; and also to one Mār Yūhannān,  fol. 187 b. [Arabic] It was bound in the year 1916,  A.D. 1605, by a person whose name has been blotted out, fol. 1 a.

IV. The Acts of S. Matthew and S. Andrew, translated from the Greek. See Tischendorf, Acta Apostt. Apocrypha, p. 132, and compare Professor Dr. von Gutschmid's article " Die Königsnamen in den apokryphen Apostelgeschichten," in the Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, Neue Folge, Bd. xix., p. 390. My text is taken from Add. 14,645, which was written A. Gr. 1247, A.D. 936. See my Catalogue, part iii., p. 1111, no. DCCCCLII.

V. The history of S. Paul and Thecla, translated from the Greek. See Tischendorf, Acta Apostt. Apocrypha, p. 40, and Von Gutschmid's article, loc. cit., p. 177. My text with its various readings is taken from four manuscripts:—  |xiii

a. Add. 14,652, of the vith cent., denoted by the letter A. See my Catalogue, part ii., p. 651, no. DCCXXXI. This manuscript is older by several cen­turies than any of the Greek codices used by Tischendorf.

b. Add. 14,447, of about the Xth cent., a small frag­ment, denoted by the letter B. See my Catalogue, part L, p. 98, no. CLVI.

c. Add. 14,641, of the Xth or xith cent, denoted by the letter C. See my Catalogue, part iii., p. 1042, no. DCCCCXVIII.

d. Add. 12,174, dated A.Gr. 1508, A.D. 1197,denoted by the letter D. See my Catalogue, part iii., p. 1123, no. DCCCCLX.

VI. The Acts of S. Thomas, or Judas Thomas (i.e.; the Twin), taken from Add. 14,645 (see above, no. IV.).

I regard this piece as the gem of my small collection, since we have here, for the first time, these Acts in a nearly complete form. The portions which are extant in Greek have been edited by Tischendorf, Acta Apostt. Apocrypha, pp. 190—234 and 235—241, but they cover less than half of the Syriac text, viz., [Syriac] and even here there are considerable differences. For example the fourth act of the Syriac (pp. [Syriac]) is altogether wanting in the Greek; and at page [Syriac] the two texts deviate widely from one another (Compare my translation, p. 173, with that in Clark's Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. xvi., p. 408). On the origin and composition of the whole document see the above-mentioned article by Von Gutschmid, pp. 161 and 179.  |xiv

Whatever may be the ultimate conclusions to which a careful examination of these Acts may lead biblical and historical critics, I feel almost certain of two things. Firstly, we have here the Syriac version of a Greek text very similar to that from which the Latin translation, which passes under the name of Abdias, was made. Notwithstanding sundry notable differences, the two works are substantially the same, allowance being made for a constant tendency to abridgement on the part of the Latin translator. As examples of such differences I may mention the omission of the third and fourth acts in the Latin, the variations in the account of the examination of S. Thomas by king Mazdai (Fabricius, pp. 714—7l8),  and  the  transposition of the prayer of S. Thomas (Fabricius, p. 731). On the other hand, the Syriac text offers us the two hymns of S. Thomas, of which there is not a trace in the Latin redaction.2   Secondly, the Syriac text, even in its present shape,  is of great antiquity; I am inclined to think , not later than the fourth century.  I ground this opinion on the number of rare and curious words which it contains , some of which are as yet unknown to me and to other scholars, whom I have consulted.  Such are [Syriac]. |xv

In preparing the present work for publication, my intentions and methods have been the same as heretofore. I wish to appear simply as an editor and translator, not as a commentator and historical critic. As editor, I have sought to reproduce the text of the manuscripts, to  which I had access, as closely and accurately, as possible. Where I have made alterations, they are distinctly noted for the information of the reader. My translation I have striven to make as literal as possible; I am fully aware that it is at times painfully so. I am content, however, like Cureton, to leave my work in this shape. Some one, who wishes to earn a cheap reputation for |xvi scholarship, may perhaps, a few years hence, think it worth his while to issue a new edition of the book; revise my translation and make it read more smoothly, correcting (let us hope) some mistakes whilst he does so; incorporate my notes with his own; and then lay claim to have produced a translation which may fairly be considered as independent",3 and which the more ignorant or careless among his readers will probably assume to be the first English version.4 Such has been the fate of Cureton's "Ancient Syriac Documents" in this country, and such may possibly be the fate of my "Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles."

In conclusion, I have to thank Mr. Bensly of the University Library, Cambridge, Dr. Hoffmann of Göttingen, Professor Dr. Nöldeke of Kiel, and Professor Dr. Sachau of Vienna, for the counsel and assistance which they have given me from time to time. The Dean of Canterbury read the Syriac sheets after they had passed' through the press, and from him I have received many useful notes and observations; whilst Mr. Thompson, the Assistant-keeper of the Manuscripts in the British Museum, has aided me in revising and correcting the proof-sheets of the translation.

To Canon Lightfoot I am indebted in a different way, for it is his liberality alone, which has rendered the publication of this work possible. Being unable to find a publisher for it, I had actually abandoned my design and sent a notice to Leipzig, for insertion in the Journal of the German Oriental Society, offering my materials to any German scholar who would undertake the labour of making a translation. This being accidentally mentioned to Canon Lightfoot, he wrote to me, proposing to defray the whole cost of publication, a generous offer of which I thankfully availed myself. To him, therefore, I dedicate the book, hoping that he may find the result of my labours not wholly unworthy of his acceptance.


London, 2nd October, 1871.

[Footnotes moved to the end and numbered. Note that a complete reprint of this book with all notes, page divisions and Syriac text can be bought online by visiting Gorgias Press,  (and search on Wright)]

1. a Which I have reproduced, as closely as possible, in my text. 

2. a The former of these hymns is a most curious document, and savours rather of Gnosticism or Mandaism than of genuine Christianity. It is certainly wholly out of place in the mouth of the Apostle, and we need not therefore wonder at its absence from the Latin text. The explanation of it I leave to those who are better skilled in the interpretation of such riddles than I am.

3. a See Clark's. Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. xx., introductory notice to Syriac Documents etc., p. 3.    

4. b See the periodical called  "Evangelical Christendom" for July, 1871.

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