Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday is for Ad Fontes

It's Friday so that means: time for a glass (or two) of wine, an open fire, and some reading of the primary sources. Tonight I've been reading the Epistula Apostolorum. EA is partly an epistle that purports to have been revealed by Jesus Christ as a letter which was subsequently revealed to the council of apostles, their disciples, and to Catholics. Yet it's not really an epistle since the majority of the content is more like a Resurrection Dialogue. It is extant in Ethiopic and Coptic versions though Greek might have been the original language. Date is probably the second century given high hopes for the parousia to occur imminently and critiques of Gnosticism. A few observations:

1. Building on the previous post about "Heresy Hunting" and the "Christian Apocrypha", EA demonstrates that Apocryphal writings were also written by Heresy Hunters. Part of the purpose of EA is to discredit "Simon and Cerinthus, that no one should follow them - for in them is deceit with which they kill men - that you may be established and not waver, not be shaken and turn not away from the word of the Gospel that you have heard" (EA 1).

2. I am impressed at the way that in EA the purpose of the apostolic mission is to go to the twelve tribes of Israel and the nations (EA 30, 36). No supersession of a Jewish mission for a gentile mission in this document.

3. There is also a glowing account of the yet-to-come Paul (EA 31, 33) and Jesus tries to prepare the disciples for him (in which case we'd have to say that more preparation was probably needed).

1 comment:

Joel Willitts said...


You should say where you find EA.