Originally Published 2007

Online review available from JSTOR




From Frederick M. Biggs's introductory note to the volume:
The term "apocrypha" is used here instead of "pseudepigrapha" because the perspective of this volume is not the same as that of modern scholars who distinguish among three kinds of biblical material: books accepted as canonical by Catholics and Protestants (from the Hebrew canon), additional books accepted by Catholics but not by Protestants (from the Septuagint canon), and books excluded by both groups. For Anglo-Saxon England, where the BIBLE was essentially the Vulgate, it is more appropriate to distinguish between the Bible as the canon and apocrypha as non-canonical books, a distinction suggested by contemporary writers such as ALDHELM, BEDE, and ÆLFRIC (see Biggs 2003 pp 11--21).

Yet defining the term remains difficult. While useful, the definitions of modern scholars--in particular Charlesworth (OTP 1.xxv and NTAP pp 1--17) and Schneemelcher (NTA 1.50--61); see also the introduction to CAVT, Charlesworth 1988, and the bibliography in BPR pp 113--15--are perhaps too strict for our purposes because they exclude works that might have appeared to be "apocrypha" to the Anglo-Saxons. For example, PSEUDO-METHODIUS REVELATIONS, now dated to the mid seventh century and so too late for Charlesworth's criteria, is in some ways similar to Daniel. Thus this section attempts to be inclusive, drawing on the lists of texts included in the major studies. Following the divisions of the Bible, it groups the works into OLD TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA, APOCRYPHA ABOUT CHRIST AND MARY, APOCRYPHAL ACTS, APOCRYPHAL EPISTLES, and APOCRYPHAL APOCALYPSES. Gathered in a final section, MISCELLANEOUS, are works similar to other apocrypha.

Identifying the particular works known or possibly known in Anglo-Saxon England is often complicated by the complex textual histories of many apocrypha. In some cases, it is possible to distinguish different versions of an apocryphon, which are treated in successive entries. In others, overlapping within apocryphal books makes it impossible to establish which were known. For example, as Cross (1979b p 17) notes, the PSEUDO-ABDIAS APOSTOLIC HISTORIES (also known as the Virtutes Apostolorum), which has been cited as a source for works such as the OLD ENGLISH MARTYROLOGY (Mart, B19, ed. Kotzor 1981; Rauer 2000; Rauer 2003; and Lapidge 2005), draws on earlier lives, and so is often indistinguishable from them. Finally, the presence of a single apocryphal motif need not prove that an entire work was known since recent studies, particularly of HIBERNO-LATIN BIBLICAL COMMENTARIES (see Wright 1990a and 2000) indicate that many circulated independently.

Contributors have signed their individual entries; the unsigned entries are my own. Thomas N. Hall and Charles D. Wright have both done much to improve the entire section. For further bibliography on individual texts, see the ATLA Religion Database (1949--current). Wright maintains an on-line Apocrypha Bibliography (http://netfiles.uiuc.edu/cdwright/www/apocrypha.html) as does the Association pour l'étude de la littérature apocryphe chrétienne (http://www2.unil.ch/aelac/).