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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Acts of the Apostles, Spurious

Of these several are extant, others are lost, or only fragments of them have come down to us. Of the following we know little more than that they once existed. They are here arranged chronologically:

1. The Preaching of Peter, referred to by Origen (in his Commentary on St. John's Gospel, lib. 14), also referred to by Clemens Alexandrinus.

2. The Acts of Peter, supposed by Dr. Cave to be cited by Serapion.

3. The Acts of Paul and Thecla, mentioned by Tertullian (Lib. de Baptismo, cap. 17). This is, however, supposed by some to be the same which is found in a Greek MS. in the Bodleian Library, and has been published by Dr. Grabe (in his Spicil. Patrum Soecul. I.).

4. The Doctrine of Peter, cited by Origen ("Proem." in Lib, de Princip.).

5. The Acts of Paul (id. de Princip. 1, 2).

6. The Preaching of Paul, referred to by St. Cyprian (Tract. de non iterando Baptismo).

7. The Preaching of Paul and Peter at Rome, cited by Lactantius (De vera Sap. 4, 21).

8. The Acts of Peter, thrice mentioned by Eusebius (Hist. Ecclesiastes 3:1-22; Ecclesiastes 3:1-22); "as to that work, however, which is ascribed to him, called The Acts' and the

Gospel according to Peter,' we know nothing of their being handed down as Catholic writings, since neither among the ancient nor the ecclesiastical writers of our own day has there been one that has appealed to testimony taken from them."

9. The Acts of Paul (ib.).

10. The Revelation of Peter (ib.).

11. The Acts of Andrew and John (ib. cap. 25). "Thus," he says, "we have it in our power to know. . .. those books that are adduced by the heretics, under the name of the apostles, such, viz., as compose the gospels of Peter, Thomas, and Matthew, . . . and such as contain the Acts of the Apostles by Andrew and John, and others of which no one of those writers in the ecclesiastical succession has condescended to make any mention in his works; and, indeed, the character of the style itself is very different from that of the apostles, and the sentiments and the purport of those that are advanced in them deviating as far as possible from sound orthodoxy, evidently proves they are the fictions of heretical men, whence they are to be ranked not only among the spurious writings, but are to be rejected as altogether absurd and impious."

12. The Acts of Peter, John, and Thomas (Athanasius, Synops. § 76).

13. The Writings of Bartholomew the Apostle, mentioned by the pseudo- Dionysius.

14. The Acts, Preaching, and Revelation of Peter, cited by Jerome (in his Catal. Script. Eccles.).

15. The Acts of the Apostles by Seleucus (id. Epist. ad Chrom., etc.).

16. The Acts of Paul and Thecla (id. Catalog. Script. Eccles.).

17. The Acts of the Apostles, used by the Ebionites, cited by Epiphanius

(Adversus Haeres. § 16).

18. The Acts of Leucius, Lentius, or Lenticius, called the Acts of the Apostles (Augustin. Lib. de Fid. c. 38).

19. The Acts of the Apostles, used by the Manichees.

20. The Revelations of Thomas, Paul, Stephen, etc. (Gelasius, de Lib. Apoc.: apud Gratian. Distinct. 15, c. 3).

To these may be added the genuine Acts of Pilate, appealed to by Tertullian and Justin Martyr, in their Apologies, as being then extant. Tertullian describes them as "the records which were transmitted from Jerusalem to Tiberius concerning Christ." He refers to the same for the proof of our Savior's miracles. (See ACTS OF PILATE).

The following are the principal spurious Acts still extant:

1. The Acts of Paul and Thecla, said to have been written by a disciple of St. Paul, and who (according to Tertullian, De Bap. cap. 17, and Jerome, De Scrip, cap. 6), when convicted by John the Evangelist of having falsified facts, confessed that he had done so, but through his love for his master Paul. These Acts were rejected as uncanonical by Pope Gelasius. They were printed, together with some that follow, at London (in English) in 1821, 8vo, under the title "Apocryphal New Testament" (see Fabricius. Cod. Apoc. N.T. 2, 794).

2. Acts of the Twelve Apostles, falsely attributed to Abdias of Babylon. (See ABDIAS). These Acts are said to have been written by him in Hebrew, translated into Greek by Eutropius, and into Latin by Julius Africanus, and were published by Lazius, at Basle, in 1551 (Fabric. 2:388). It is a work full of the most extravagant fables, and bears internal evidence of having been written after the second century.

3. Acts of St. Peter, or, as the work is sometimes designated, Recognitionum libri 10, attributed falsely to Clemens Romanus.

4. The Acts or Voyages (Periodi) of St. John, mentioned by Epiphanius and Augustine, is probably that which we now have as the Acts of St. John among those attributed to Abdias.

There exist also the following (for which see each name in its place): The Creed of the Apostles; The Epistles of Barnabas, Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp; The Shepherd of Hermas; The Acts of Pilate (spurious), or the Gospel of Nicodemus; 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.

Besides these there are some others still more obscure, for which see Cotelerius's Ecclesiae Graecae Monumenta (Paris, 1677-92); Fabricius, Codex Apocryphus, N.T.; Du Pin, History of the Canon of the New Testament (London, 1699); Grabe's Spicilegium Patrum (Oxford, 1714); Lardner's Credibility, etc.; Jones's New and Just Method of settling the Canonical Authority of the New Testament; Birch's Auctarium (Hafniae, 1804); Thilo's Acta St. Thomm (Lips. 1823), and Codex Apocryphus, N.T. (Lips. 1832). Tischendorf has published in the original Greek the following apocryphal Acts (Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha, Lips. 1841, 8vo), several of which had not before been edited: "Acts of Peter and Paul;" "Acts of Paul and Thecla;" "Acts of Barnabas, by Mark;" "Acts of Philip" (ed. princeps); "Acts of Andrew;" "Acts of Andrew and Matthew;" "Acts and Martyrdom of Matthew" (ed. princ.); "Acts of Thomas;" "Consummation of Thomas" (ed. pr.); "Acts of Bartholomew" (e. p.); "Acts of Thaddaeus" (e. p.); "Acts of John" (e. p.). (See CANON).

÷ Acts of Pilate

Acts of Pilate

The ancient Romans were scrupulously careful to preserve the memory of all remarkable events which happened in the city; and this was done either in their "Acts of the Senate" (Acta Senatus), or in the "Daily Acts of the People" (Acta Diurna Populs), which were diligently made and kept at Rome (see Smith's Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Acta Diurna). In like manner it was customary for the governors of provinces to send to the emperor an account of remarkable transactions that occurred in the places where they resided, which were preserved as the Acts of their respective governments. Indeed, this would naturally occur in the transmission of their returns of administration (rationes), a copy of which was also preserved in the provincial archives (Cicero, ad Fam. 3, 17; 5, 20). In conformity with this usage, Eusebius says, "Our Savior's resurrection being much talked of throughout Palestine, Pilate, informed the emperor of it, as likewise of his miracles, of which he had heard; and that, being raised up after he had been put to death, he was already believed by many to be a god" (Eccl. Hist. lib. 2, c. 2). These accounts were never published for general perusal, but were deposited among the archives of the empire, where they served as a fund of information to historians. Hence we find, long before the time of Eusebius, that the primitive Christians, in their disputes with the Gentiles, appealed to these Acts of Pilate as to most undoubted testimony. Thus, Justin Martyr, in his first Apology for the Christians, which was presented to the Emperor Antoninus Pius and the senate of Rome, about the year 140, having mentioned the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and some of its attendant circumstances, adds, "And that these things were so done, you may know from the Acts made in the time of Pontius Pilate." Afterward, in the same Apology, having noticed some of our Lord's miracles, such as healing diseases and raising the dead, he says, "And that these things were done by him you may know from the Acts made in the time of Pontius Pilate" (Justin Martyr, Apol. Pr. p. 65, 72, ed. Benedict.).

Tertullian, in his Apology for Christianity, about the year 200, after speaking of our Savior's crucifixion and resurrection, and his appearance to the disciples and ascension into heaven in the sight of the same disciples, who were ordained by him to publish the Gospel over the world, thus proceeds: "Of all these things relating to Christ, Pilate himself, in his conscience already a Christian, sent an account to Tiberius, then emperor" (Tertull. Apolog. c. 21). The same writer, in the same treatise, thus relates the proceedings of Tiberius on receiving this information: "There was an ancient decree that no one should be received for a deity unless he was first approved by the senate. Tiberius, in whose time the Christian religion had its rise, having received from Palestine in Syria an account of such things as manifested the truth of his" (Christ's) "divinity, proposed to the senate that he should be enrolled among the Roman gods, and gave his own prerogative vote in favor of the motion. But the senate rejected it, because the emperor himself had declined the same honor. Nevertheless, the emperor persisted in his opinion, and threatened punishment to the accusers of the Christians. Search your own Commentaries, or public writings; you will there find that Nero was the first who raged with the imperial sword against this sect, when rising most at Rome" (Tertull. Apolog. c. 5).

These testimonies of Justin and Tertullian are taken from public apologies for the Christian religion, which were presented either to the emperor and senate of Rome, or to magistrates of public authority and great distinction in the Roman empire. (See PILATE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Acts of the Apostles, Spurious'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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