Bookmarks: ‘The Apocryphal Gospels’ by Bart D. Ehrman, Zlatko Plese


The Apocryphal Gospels

Bart D. Ehrman and Zlatko Plese

Oxford University Press: 611 pp., $35

Bart D. Ehrman is something of a superman when it comes to scriptural studies. He’s a tireless and prolific scholar who has given us countless titles about the origins of biblical documents, their translation and transmission, and the human error that inevitably creeps into the process. With “The Apocryphal Gospels,” he and colleague Zlatko Plese provide readers with a comprehensive collection of texts and fragments obviously related to the New Testament though they don’t appear there (“apocrypha” refers to writings that are hidden). These include some that might be familiar to readers — for instance, the gospels of Thomas and of Judas — and many that are unexpected and were left out of the official tradition for obvious reasons (like the 8th century “The Vengeance of the Savior,” with its hostile view of the Jews and description of Pilate’s own imprisonment and death). This is a fascinating compilation that gives us each text alongside original versions in Greek, Coptic and Latin and that attests to humanity’s abiding impulse to embellish even those old sacred stories we thought we already knew.

— Nick Owchar