Rick Brannan’s edition of the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha for Logos offers an important new resource that anyone interested in the early history of Christianity will want to have. There are in fact two “volumes” – the Greek texts themselves in the original language, and an English translation with an introduction to each text, explaining its history, contents, and significance. When older editions either of the Greek text (e.g. Tischendorf) or English translations (e.g. M. R. James) have served as the basis for this product, Brannan enhances them – with new suggestions for easily intelligible renderings into English, and integrating new functionalities, such as the ability to quickly look up Greek words, using the tool that will already be familiar to users of Logos. For fragmentary texts, a line-by-line rendering of the original is provided, but so too is a reconstructed reading version. While some of the texts are ones that have been known for a long time and will be very familiar to anyone who works on extracanonical Christian texts, others are fragments that have only relatively recently been published or which are still neglected. I expect this exciting resource will play an important role not only in providing more convenient access for scholars and students already in the habit of studying these texts, but in introducing a wider audience to them as well. Many thanks to Rick Brannan and Logos for their role in not merely providing a useful tool for the already-interested, but also helping to highlight these important texts and make them accessible to others who might not otherwise encounter them or realize their importance for our understanding of the ancient church!
I should add that, in reading through the texts in order to review the product, I found myself getting excited about possible research projects involving the texts. In particular, there is a need for a detailed study of what relationship there is between the Protoevangelium of James and the Mandaean Book of John. Mark Goodacre’s proposed emendation of the Gospel of Peter – discussed in the blogosphere less that two years ago – is mentioned in the introduction to that text. Anyone interested in extracanonical Gospels should also be introduced to two of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri which have not received as much notice as they deserve: POxy 840 (with an intriguing discussion of purity) and POxy 5072, published only as recently as 2011.
See also the other online mentions and reviews by Mike Bird, Joel Watts, and Jim West – and the blog post about the product from almost a year ago when Rick Brannan announced the project. You can pre-order the product via the Logos web site, as the release date is coming up quickly.