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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Apocrypha
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1923  Tuesday, 9 November 1999.

From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Saturday, 06 Nov 1999 14:52:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.1899 Re: Apocrypha
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1899 Re: Apocrypha

>Sorry if I am being pedantic, a continuing fault, but I have a slight
>correction to David Evett's  generalization:
>
>>Because the apocryphal gospels and other early Christian
>>texts raise doctrinal questions in ways the OT material
>>does not, they were precisely not made part of the
>>vernacular Bibles

This is not at all pedantic; Mike Jensen is of course right in reminding
us that the canon was not established for three centuries after most of
the New Testament apocrypha and pseudepigrapha were written, that
through that period they were active elements in the development of
Christianity, and that they retain interest and value.  But the
establishment of the canon marked the settlement of assorted doctrinal
disputes, and the church's disinclination to reeopen them meant the
suppression of those texts by their exclusion from authorized versions
of Biblia Sacra.  Bits and pieces survived because they are discussed by
the church fathers, and some of the stories of Jesus' childhood, descent
into hell, and I don't know, indeed, whether the Manichaean and
Catharist movements, Lollardry, or any of the less successful Protestant
sects called on the discarded texts for support: I would be interested
to learn.  For the purposes of this list, the thing to recognize is that
in Shakespearean England these texts would have been known only to a few
scholars, and there largely through the fragments of them that appeared,
often anathematized, in the writings of the church fathers.
 

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