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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Acts Spurious

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Acts, Spurious [APOCRYPHA]. This term has been applied to several ancient writings pretended to have been composed by, or to supply historical facts respecting our Blessed Savior and his disciples, or other individuals whose actions are recorded in the Holy Scriptures. Some of these writings are still extant; others are only known to have existed, by the accounts of them which are to be met with in ancient authors.

Such, for example, is the beautiful sentiment cited by St. Paul (Acts 20:35), It is more blessed to give than to receive, which some have supposed to be taken from some lost apocryphal book. But the probability is that St. Paul received the passage by tradition from the other apostles. Various other sayings, ascribed to Christ by early writers, which are alleged to be derived from apocryphal gospels, are in all probability nothing more than loose quotations from the Scriptures, which were very common among the apostolic fathers.

The most remarkable of the apocrypha, Acts ascribed to our Lord is the letter which he is said to have written to Agbarus, king of Edessa, in answer to a request from that monarch that he would come to heal a disease under which he labored. Some few historians have maintained the genuineness of these letters, but most writers, including the great majority of Roman Catholic divines, reject them as spurious; and there is good reason to believe that the whole chapter of Eusebius which contains these documents is itself an interpolation.

Acts of the Apostles, Spurious

Of these several are extant, others are lost, or only fragments of them are come down to us.

The following is a catalogue of the principal spurious Acts still extant:

  • The Creed of the Apostles

  • The Epistles of Barnabas, Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp

  • The Recognitions of Clement, or the Travels of Peter

  • The Shepherd of Hermas

  • The Acts of Pilate (spurious), or the Gospel of Nicodemus

  • The Acts of Paul, or the Martyrdom of Thecla

  • Abdias's History of the Twelve Apostles

  • The Constitutions of the Apostles

  • The Canons of the Apostles

  • The Liturgies of the Apostles

  • St. Paul's Epistle to the Laodiceans

  • St. Paul's Letters to Seneca





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Acts Spurious'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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