The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1948 Thursday, 11 November 1999.
Date: Wednesday, 10 Nov 1999 11:31:53 -0600
Subject: Apocryphal Gospels
David Evett and Mike Jensen have commented on this subject.
Late fourteenth- and fifteenth-century literature is a good place to
look for vestiges of the apocryphal gospels. The N-Towne Cycle of
mystery plays, for instance, is alive with materials from such gospels,
especially in the "Mary" sequence, a kind of mini-cycle-that is
prominent in the middle of the larger cycle. In my opinion the upsurge
of interest in various apocryphal gospels in the pre-Reformation period
is doctrinally inspired. Doctrine was fluid in the late Middle Ages,
and it seems likely that the early Reformers, Luther and Calvin notably,
were trying to purge in their soteriological doctrines what they saw as
false doctrine, not just false practices like sale of indulgences.
Everyman advances, for instance, a soteriological doctrine of salvation
through good deeds that Luther and Calvin can be seen as responding to.
The concordat between Lutheran and Roman Catholic divines arrived at
just weeks ago in Augsburg, Germany, calls this aspect of the
Reformation "a misunderstanding", but Luther and Calvin would not have
thought it so. But this is adrift from apocryphal gospels.