Acts of John

The title "Acts of John" is used to refer to a set of stories about John the Apostle that began circulating in written form as early as the second century CE. Translations of the "Acts of John" in modern languages have been reconstructed by scholars from a number of manuscripts of later date. The "Acts of John" are generally classified as "New Testament apocrypha."

The "Acts of John" and Other Stories about John

Numerous stories about John and other apostles began circulating in the second century CE. These stories trace to a variety of different authors and contexts, and were revised and retold in many different forms and languages over the centuries. Sometimes episodes that had originally circulated independently were combined with other stories to form collections about an apostle, and sometimes episodes that had originally been part of multi-episode collections were detached and circulated independently. Most extant manuscripts of such stories also date to a period considerably after they first began circulating.

These factors can make it difficult to reconstruct the earliest forms of stories about the apostle John, and scholars continue to debate about which episodes originally belonged together. One set of stories, in which John appears before Domitian in Rome and survives drinking deadly poison, appears in some old translations of the "Acts of John," but is no longer considered to have the same origins as other episodes. It is now known as the "Acts of John at Rome," and understood to be a separate tradition.

Content of Modern Versions of the "Acts of John"


Most current scholars agree that even the most recent versions of the "Acts of John" include episodes that trace to multiple different dates and origins. These versions contain roughly the following sections:

A. Stories about John in Ephesus (ActsJohn 18-55, 58-86). These consist of the following sections:

  • An introduction or transition (ActsJohn 18). (The original beginning of the story has been lost.)
  • Conversion of Cleopatra and Lycomedes (ActsJohn 19–29)
  • Healing at the Ephesian Theatre (ActsJohn 30–36)
  • Conversion at the Temple of Artemis (ActsJohn 37–47)
  • The Parricide (ActsJohn 48–54)
  • Summons from Smyrna (ActsJohn 55)
  • Story of the Bedbugs (ActsJohn 58–62)
  • Callimachus and Drusiana (ActsJohn 63–86)

B. A long piece of text in which John recounts earlier experiences he had with Jesus before and during the cross event (ActsJohn 87-105).

C. The Metastasis, an account of John’s death (ActsJohn 106–115).

Many scholars consider the material that is conventionally labelled chs. 94–102 to be of a later origin than the episodes in sections A and C, and some assign all of section B to a separate origin.[1]

Section A

The cycle of stories labelled section A above begins as John is approaching Ephesus with some travelling companions. He is met by Lycomedes, a notable and powerful figure within the city. Lycomedes recounts a vision he received from the God of John, telling him that a man from Miletus was coming to heal his wife, Cleopatra, who had died seven days before from illness. Upon arrival, Lycomedes curses his situation and, despite John's pleas to have faith that his wife will be brought back to life by the power of his god, dies of grief. The entire city of Ephesus is stirred by his death and comes to his house to see his body. John then asks Christ to raise both of them from the dead in order to prove Christ's own might, quoting Matthew 7:7 in his request. Both Cleopatra and Lycomedes are resurrected, leaving the people of Ephesus in awe of the miracle that was performed before them.[2]

In another scene, during a festival celebrating the birthday of the Greek goddess Artemis, the people of Ephesus attempt to kill John because he wears black, rather than white, to her temple. John rebukes them, threatening to have his god kill them if they are unable to convince their goddess to make him die on the spot with her divine power. Knowing that John has performed many miracles in their city, the people at the temple beg John not to destroy them. John then changes his mind, using the power of God instead to break the altar of Artemis in many pieces, damage the offerings and idols within the temple, and collapse half of the structure itself on top of its priest, killing him. Upon seeing this destruction, the people immediately see the error of their ways and acknowledge the God of John as the only true god.[3]

In one comical episode, John and his companions stay overnight at an inn plagued with a bedbug infestation. Immediately after lying down, the author and the other men with him see that John is troubled by the bugs and hear him tell the insects, "I say to you, you bugs, be considerate; leave your home for this night and go to rest in a place which is far away from the servants of God!" The next morning, the narrator and two of his traveling companions, Verus and Andronicus, awake to find the bugs gathered in the doorway, waiting to return to their home in John's mattress. The three men wake John, who allows the creatures to return to the bed because of their obedience to the will of God.[4]

The traveling party then journeys to the house of Andronicus in Ephesus. Here, the reader learns that Andronicus is married to Drusiana. Both are followers of John's god and remain chaste even in marriage out of piety. However, Drusiana's celibacy does not prevent the advances of Callimachus, a prominent member of the Ephesian community and "a servant of Satan." Learning of Callimachus' lust, Drusiana falls sick and dies because she believes she has contributed to Callimachus's sin. While John is comforting Andronicus and many of the other inhabitants of Ephesus over the loss of Drusiana, Callimachus, determined to have Drusiana as his own, bribes Andronicus's steward, Fortunatus to help him gain access to her tomb and rape her corpse. A poisonous snake appears, which bites and kills Fortunatus and curls up on Callimachus, pinning him down. The latter sees a beautiful youth, a supernatural figure, who commands him to "die, that you may live."[5] The next day, John and Andronicus enter the tomb of Drusiana and are greeted by the beautiful youth, which the narrative later identifies with Christ, who tells John he is supposed to raise Drusiana back to life before ascending into Heaven. John does so, but not before resurrecting Callimachus in order to learn what had occurred the previous night. Callimachus recounts the events of the night and is repentant of his misgivings, surrendering to the will of Christ. After both Callimachus and Drusiana are resurrected, Drusiana, feeling sorry for the other aggressor involved in the conspiracy to molest her dead body, is granted the ability to raise Fortunatus back from the dead against the wishes of Callimachus. Fortunatus, unwilling to accept Christ, flees from the tomb and eventually dies due to blood poisoning brought about by the snake from the initial bite.[6]

Section B

In Section B, which many scholars consider to come from a different source than the other episodes, John recounts earlier experiences he had with Jesus before and during the cross event.

Part of this account includes a circular dance initiated by Jesus, who says, "Before I am delivered to them, let us sing a hymn to the Father and so go to meet what lies before us". Directed to form a circle around him, holding hands and dancing, the apostles cry "Amen" to the hymn of Jesus. Embedded in the text is a hymn (sections 94 – 96) that some consider to have originally been "a liturgical song (with response) in some Johannine communities" (Davis). In the summer of 1916 Gustav Holst set his own translation from the Greek (Head), influenced by G.R.S. Mead, as The Hymn of Jesus for two mixed choirs, a semi-chorus of female voices, and a large orchestra (Trippett).

The Transfiguration of Jesus is also featured in this Act. It is notable for its depiction of a nude Jesus. It contains the same main cast (John, Peter, James, and Jesus) but does not feature the appearance of Elijah or Moses, unlike the transfiguration scenes from the synoptic gospels (notably not featured in the actual Gospel of John).

“At another time he took me and James and Peter to the mountain, where he used to pray, and we beheld such a light on him that it is not possible for a man who uses mortal speech to describe what it was like…Now I, because he loved me, went to him quietly as though he should not see, and stood looking upon his back. And I saw that he was not dressed in garments, but was seen by us as naked and not at all like a man; his feet were whiter than snow, so that the ground there was lit up by his feet, and his head reached to heaven.”

— Chapter 90 (Translation by Bart Ehrman)

Section B also contains most of the docetic themes present in the Acts of John. Jesus is depicted in several chapters as having a constantly shifting form and an immaterial body.

“Sometimes when I meant to touch him, I met a material and solid body; and at other times again when I felt him, the substance was immaterial and bodiless and as if it were not existing at all."

— Chapter 93 (Translation by Bart Ehrman)

A docetic theme of Jesus' body as inhuman and unable to feel physical pain presents a problem with the idea of the suffering of christ in orthodox Christianity. Ideas about the nature of Jesus vary widely within different gnostic sects. Scholarship is divided on whether this depiction of the Passion should be interpreted as Jesus suffered spiritually and/or physically.[7] Jesus speaks cryptically about this suffering on the cross in Chapter 101, saying:

“Therefore I have suffered none of the things which they will say of me: that suffering which I showed to you..., I wish it to be called a mystery. For what you are, you see that I showed you; but what I am, that I alone know, and no one else… As for seeing me as I am in reality, I have told you this is impossible unless you are able to see me as my kinsman. You hear that I suffered, yet I suffered not; that I suffered not, yet I did suffer, that I was pierced, yet was I not wounded; hanged, and I was not hanged; that blood flowed from me, yet it did not flow; and, in a word, those things that they say of me I did not endure, and the things that they do not say those I suffered.”

— Chapter 101 (Translation by Bart Ehrman)

While the changing body of Jesus is used as evidence for its docetic (therefore gnostic) themes, it is argued by some scholars that this 'polymorphic christology' is part of the Johannine Christian literary tradition and not be understood as inherently gnostic.[8] This motif developed in the second century and used by both "proto-orthodox" and non-orthodox ("heretical") Christian communities. For gnostic communities, the "portrayal of a polymorphic Christ is used to denote transcendence over the material realm, whereas for the [proto-orthodox communities] they illustrate that Jesus is not constrained by the forces of mortality, but rather that he has entered a higher state of physical existence."[9] Polymorphic themes appear in several other Apocryphal Acts about apostles, such as Acts of Peter and Acts of Thecla. Origen, a third century Christian scholar from Alexandria, did not view the polymorphic nature of Jesus as problematic, saying "although Jesus was one, he had several aspects, and to those who saw him he did not appear alike to all".[10]

Section C

Section C recounts John's death by natural causes.

Dating and History

Many scholars think that versions of the episode considered to belong to the "Acts of John" were already circulating in the second century.[11]

The names of any authors involved in the project are unknown. One older tradition associated the texts with one Leucius Charinus, a companion of John, but his name does not appear in the text and modern scholars do not think he was involved in composing them.

Some version of the "Acts of John" containing at least portions of Section B and the Lycomedes episode was rejected as heretical by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 CE.[12] The exact contents of the "Acts of John" known to participants in the Council is unknown.

The Stichometry of Nicephorus, a ninth century stichometry, gives the length of an "Acts of John" text as 2,500 lines.

Polymorphic christology, seen in Section B, developed mostly during the second century, lending credence to the second century development date.

See also


  1. ^ Ehrman, Bart. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. Oxford University Press. pp. 262–263.
  2. ^ Ehrman, [edited by] Bart D. (2003). Lost scriptures : books that did not make it into the New Testament (1. issued as an Oxford Univ. Press paperback. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 94–96. ISBN 978-0-19-518250-7.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Ehrman, [edited by] Bart D. (2003). Lost scriptures : books that did not make it into the New Testament (1. issued as an Oxford Univ. Press paperback. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 95–97. ISBN 978-0-19-518250-7.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Ehrman, [edited by] Bart D. (2003). Lost scriptures : books that did not make it into the New Testament (1. issued as an Oxford Univ. Press paperback. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-19-518250-7.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Ehrman, [edited by] Bart D. (2003). Lost scriptures : books that did not make it into the New Testament (1. issued as an Oxford Univ. Press paperback. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 97–100. ISBN 978-0-19-518250-7.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Ehrman, [edited by] Bart D. (2003). Lost scriptures : books that did not make it into the New Testament (1. issued as an Oxford Univ. Press paperback. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 99–103. ISBN 978-0-19-518250-7.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ N., Bremmer, Jan (1995). The Apocryphal Acts of John. Kok Pharos. ISBN 9039001413. OCLC 34871604.
  8. ^ Junod, Eric. Polymorphie du Dieu sauveur. pp. 39–40. OCLC 716117505.
  9. ^ Foster, P. (2005-11-18). "Polymorphic Christology: its Origins and Development in Early Christianity". The Journal of Theological Studies. 58 (1): 66–99. doi:10.1093/jts/fll131. ISSN 0022-5185.
  10. ^ Origen; Chadwick, Henry (1980). Origen: Contra Celsum. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780511555213.
  11. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2003). Lost scriptures : books that did not make it into the New Testament (Pbk. ed.). New York: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-19-514182-5.
  12. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). Lost christianities : the battles for scripture and the faiths we never knew (Oxford Univ. Press paperback. ed.). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-19-518249-1.

Further reading

  • Jan N. Bremmer (editor), The Apocryphal Acts of John (1995) brought together a series of eleven essays by various authors on the Acts of John and a bibliography (Kampen, Netherlands: Pharos). On-line as a series of pdf files

External links

1718 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1718.

Acts of Andrew

The Acts of Andrew (Acta Andreae), is the earliest testimony of the acts and miracles of the Apostle Andrew. The surviving version is alluded to in a 3rd-century work, the Coptic Manichaean Psalter, providing a terminus ante quem, according to its editors, M.R. James (1924) and Jean-Marc Prieur in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (vol. 1, p. 246), but it shows several signs of a mid-2nd-century origin. Prieur stated that "The distinctive christology of the text", its silence concerning Jesus as a genuinely historical figure, and its lack of mention of church organisation, liturgy, and ecclesiastical rites, lead one to "militate for an early dating". By the 4th century, the Acta Andreae were relegated to the New Testament apocrypha.

Prieur also stated that its "serene tone" and innocence of any polemic or disputes concerning its ideas or awareness of heterodoxy, particularly in the area of christology, show that "it derived from a period when the christology of the Great Church had not yet taken firm shape".

The episodic narratives in which Andrew figures survive incompletely in two manuscript traditions, aside from citations and fragments that are assumed to have come from lost sections. One is an early Coptic manuscript of part of one of the narratives, conserved at Utrecht University Library; The other is embodied in the Greek Martyrium, supplemented by manuscripts that bring it to 65 chapters.Traditionally the text is said to have been based on the Acts of John and the Acts of Peter, and even to have had the same author, the "Leucius Charinus" who is credited with all the 2nd-century romances. Like these works, the Acts of Andrew describes the supposed travels of the title character, the miracles he performed during them, and finally a description of his martyrdom.

In a separate text known by the name of the Acts of Andrew and Matthias, which was edited by Max Bonnet in 1898 and translated by M.R. James, Matthias is portrayed as a captive in a country of anthropophagi (literally man-eaters, i.e. cannibals) and is rescued by Andrew and Jesus; it is no longer considered to be a portion of the text of Acta Andreae.

Like those in the two books of Acts on which it appears based, the miracles are extremely supernatural, and highly extravagant. For example, aside from the usual miracles of raising the dead, healing the blind, and so forth, he survives being placed amongst fierce animals, calms storms, and defeats armies simply by crossing himself. There is also a great deal of moralising - Andrew causes an embryo which was illegitimate to die, and also rescues a boy from his incestuous mother, an act resulting in her laying false charges against them, requiring God to send an earthquake to free Andrew and the boy. So much does the text venture into the realm of extreme supernatural events, that, while being crucified, Andrew is still able to give sermons for three days.Eusebius of Caesarea knew the work, which he dismissed as the production of a heretic and absurd. Gregory of Tours was delighted to find a copy and wrote a drastically reduced rescension of it about 593, leaving out the parts for "which, because of its excessive verbosity, [it] was called by some apocryphal", for which he felt it had been condemned. His free version expunges the detail that the apostle's ascetic preaching induced the proconsul's wife to leave her husband— socially and morally unacceptable to a Merovingian audience— brings the narrative into conformity with catholic orthodoxy of his time, then adds new material.

The Acts of Andrew was often classed as a gnostic work before the library of Nag Hammadi clarified modern understanding of Gnosticism. In his book, Christianizing Homer: The Odyssey , Plato, and the Acts of Andrew, Dennis MacDonald posits the theory that the non-canonical Acts of Andrew was a Christian retelling of Homer's Odyssey.

Acts of Peter

The Acts of Peter is one of the earliest of the apocryphal Acts of the Apostles. The majority of the text has survived only in the Latin translation of the Vercelli manuscript, under the title Actus Petri cum Simone. It is mainly notable for a description of a miracle contest between Saint Peter and Simon Magus, and as the first record of the tradition that St. Peter was crucified head-down.

The Acts of Peter was originally composed in Greek during the second half of the 2nd century, probably in Asia Minor. Consensus among academics points to its being based on the Acts of John, and traditionally both works were said to be written by Leucius Charinus, whom Epiphanius identifies as the companion of John.

In the text Peter performs miracles such as resurrecting smoked fish, and making dogs talk. Some versions give accounts of stories on the theme of a woman or women who prefer paralysis to sex; sometimes, for instance in a version from the Berlin Codex, the woman is the daughter of Peter. The text condemns Simon Magus, a figure associated with gnosticism, who appears to have concerned the writer of the text greatly. Peter preaches that Simon is performing magic in order to convert followers through deception. In Peter's outrage, he challenges Simon to a contest in order to prove whose works are from a divine source and whose are merely trickery. It is said that Simon Magus takes flight and Peter strikes him down with the power of God and prays that Simon be not killed but that he be badly injured. When the Magus falls from the sky, he suffers a broken leg in three places, and the converted believers of Peter stone him from the city. The Acts then continue to say that he was taken to Terracina to one Castor "And there he was sorely cut (Lat. by two physicians), and so Simon the angel of Satan came to his end.".Following this incident, Peter is going to flee the city; however, he sees an apparition of Jesus and takes it as a message that he must stay and be crucified to see Jesus again in Heaven. Peter requests to be crucified upside-down because he does not believe that a man is worthy to be killed in the same manner as Jesus Christ. These concluding chapters describing Peter's crucifixion are preserved separately as the "Martyrdom of Peter" in three Greek manuscripts and in Coptic (fragmentary), Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, Armenian, and Slavonic versions. Because of this, it is sometimes proposed that the martyrdom account was an earlier, separate text to which the preceding chapters were affixed.

Acts of the Apostles (genre)

The Acts of the Apostles is a genre of Early Christian literature, recounting the lives and works of the apostles of Jesus. The Acts (Latin: Acta, Greek: Πράξεις Práxeis) are important for many reasons, one of them being the concept of apostolic succession. They also provide insight into the valuation of "missionary activities among the exotic races," since some of them feature missionary work done among, for instance, the Cynocephaly.


In Christianity, docetism (from the Koine Greek: δοκεῖν/δόκησις dokeĩn "to seem", dókēsis "apparition, phantom", is the doctrine that the phenomenon of Jesus, his historical and bodily existence, and above all the human form of Jesus, was mere semblance without any true reality. Broadly it is taken as the belief that Jesus only seemed to be human, and that his human form was an illusion.

The word Δοκηταί Dokētaí ("Illusionists") referring to early groups who denied Jesus's humanity, first occurred in a letter by Bishop Serapion of Antioch (197–203), who discovered the doctrine in the Gospel of Peter, during a pastoral visit to a Christian community using it in Rhosus, and later condemned it as a forgery.. It appears to have arisen over theological contentions concerning the meaning, figurative or literal, of a sentence from the Gospel of John: "the Word was made Flesh".Docetism was unequivocally rejected at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and is regarded as heretical by the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Orthodox Tewahedo, and many other Christian denominations that accept and hold to the statements of these early church councils.

Gnostic texts

Gnosticism used a number of religious texts that are preserved, in part or whole, in ancient manuscripts, or lost but mentioned critically in Patristic writings.

Johann Karl Thilo

Johann Karl Thilo (Langensalza, near Erfurt, 28 November 1794 — Halle 17 May 1853) was a German theologian and biblical scholar.

He studied theology at the University of Leipzig and a final semester at the University of Halle, where he was appointed to teach at the preparatory Paedagogium of the Francke institutions, and assisted his father-in-law, Georg Christian Knapp, director of the theological seminary. In 1820 he travelled to Paris, London and Oxford with his colleague Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius for the examination of rare Eastern manuscripts. At Halle he was privat-docent from 1819, appointed professor of theology (1822, full professor, 1825) and in 1853 a consistorial councillor of the Evangelical State Church in Prussia.

He lectured on the history of dogma, church history, patristics, and after Knapp's death, on the New Testament. He is remembered for his planned series of editions of apocrypha, Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti of which the first volume appeared in 1832, which set a new standard in textual criticism in this field. His editions appeared of Acts of Thomas (1823), Acts of Peter and Paul (1838), Acta Andreae et Matthiae apud Anthropophagos (1846), Acts of John by "Leucius Charinus" (1847).

He also edited a second edition of Knapp's Vorlesungen über die christlichen Glaubenslehre.

He was completely deaf in his left ear, but disguised this fact by always positioning himself to the left of people he was talking to, ensuring that his right ear was closest to them and he could hear them perfectly.

Thilo managed to stay apart from the theological disagreements that divided Halle, remaining on cordial terms with members of both parties.

John Aylmer (bishop)

John Aylmer (Ælmer or Elmer; 1521 – 3 June 1594) was an English bishop, constitutionalist and a Greek scholar.

John Strype

John Strype (1 November 1643 – 11 December 1737) was an English clergyman, historian and biographer.

John Whitgift

John Whitgift (c. 1530 – 29 February 1604) was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583 to his death. Noted for his hospitality, he was somewhat ostentatious in his habits, sometimes visiting Canterbury and other towns attended by a retinue of 800 horses. Whitgift's theological views were often controversial.

John the Apostle

John the Apostle (Aramaic: יוחנן שליחא‎ Yohanān Shliḥā; Hebrew: יוחנן בן זבדי‬ Yohanan ben Zavdi; Koine Greek: Ἰωάννης; Coptic: ⲓⲱⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ or ⲓⲱ̅ⲁ; Latin: Ioannes; c. AD 6 – c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament, which refers to him as Ἰωάννης. Generally listed as the youngest apostle, he was the son of Zebedee and Salome or Joanna. His brother was James, who was another of the Twelve Apostles. The Church Fathers identify him as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, John the Elder and the Beloved Disciple, and testify that he outlived the remaining apostles and that he was the only one to die of natural causes. The traditions of most Christian denominations have held that John the Apostle is the author of several books of the New Testament.

John the Evangelist

John the Evangelist (Greek: Ἰωάννης, translit. Iōánnēs, Coptic: ⲓⲱⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ or ⲓⲱ̅ⲁ) is the name traditionally given to the author of the Gospel of John. Christians have traditionally identified him with John the Apostle, John of Patmos, or John the Presbyter, although this has been disputed by modern scholars.

Leucius Charinus

Leucius, called Leucius Charinus by Photios I of Constantinople in the ninth century, is the name applied to a cycle of what M. R. James termed "Apostolic romances" that seems to have had wide currency long before a selection was read aloud at the Second Council of Nicaea (787) and rejected. Leucius is not among the early heretical teachers mentioned by name in Irenaeus' Adversus haereses (ca. 180). Most of the works seem to have come into existence in the mid-third century.The fullest account of Leucius is that given by Photius (Codex 114), who describes a book, called The Circuits of the Apostles, which contained the Acts of Peter, John, Andrew, Thomas, and Paul, that was purported to have been written by "Leucius Charinus" which he judged full of folly, self-contradiction, falsehood, and impiety (Wace); Photius is the only source to give his second name, "Charinus". Epiphanius (Haer. 51.427) made Leucius a disciple of John who joined his master in opposing the Ebionites, a characterization that appears unlikely, since other patristic writers agree that the cycle attributed to him was docetic, which denies the humanity of Jesus as Christ. Augustine knew the cycle, which he attributed to "Leutius", which his adversary Faustus of Mileve thought had been wrongly excluded from the New Testament canon by the Catholics. Gregory of Tours found a copy of the Acts of Andrew from the cycle and made an epitome of it, omitting the "tiresome" elaborations of detail he found in it.The "Leucian Acts" are as follows:

The Acts of John

The Acts of Peter

The Acts of Paul

The Acts of Andrew

The Acts of ThomasThe Leucian Acts were most likely redacted at a later date to express a more orthodox view. Of the five, the Acts of John and Thomas have the most remaining Gnostic content.

Prochorus (deacon)

Prochorus (Latin form of the Greek: Πρόχορος (Prochoros)) was one of the Seven Deacons chosen to care for the poor of the Christian community in Jerusalem (Acts 6:5). According to later tradition he was also one of the Seventy Disciples sent out by Jesus in Luke 10.

Tradition calls Prochorus the nephew of Stephen the Protomartyr. St Prochorus accompanied the holy Apostle Peter, who ordained him to be the bishop in the city of Nicomedia. He is also thought to have been a companion of John the Apostle, who consecrated him bishop of Nicomedia in Bithynia. He was wrongly thought to have been the author of the apocryphal Acts of John, which is dated by present scholars to the end of the 2nd century. According to the late tradition he was the bishop of Antioch and ended his life as a martyr in Antioch in the 1st century.

In Orthodox iconography he is always depicted as a scribe of John the Evangelist.


Pseudo-Abdias is the name formerly given to a collection of New Testament Apocrypha held by the Bibliothèque nationale de France and consisting of Latin translations in ten books containing several chapters. Each book describes the life of one of the Apostles.The name "Pseudo Abdias" itself is a mistake, dating from the edition of Swiss scholar Wolfgang Lazius (1552), and based on the mention of a disciple called Abdias, who is presented as the companion of the two apostles Simon and Judas Thaddeus on the way to Persia in one of the books, Passio Simonis et Iudae (BHL H, 7749-7751).

Race and appearance of Jesus

The race and appearance of Jesus has been a topic of discussion since the days of early Christianity. There are no firsthand accounts of Jesus' physical appearance, although some authors have suggested that physical descriptions may have been removed from the Bible at some point to emphasize his universality. Revelation 1:15 symbolically describe Jesus as having feet that resembled polished bronze/brass, as if refined in a furnace, a head and hair as white as wool, and eyes of fire.

Various theories about the race of Jesus have been proposed and debated. By the Middle Ages, a number of documents, generally of unknown or questionable origin, had been composed and were circulating with details of the appearance of Jesus. Now these documents are mostly considered forgeries. By the 19th century, theories that Jesus was non-Semitic were being developed, with writers suggesting he was variously white, black, Indian, or some other race. However, as in other cases of the assignment of race to Biblical individuals, these claims have been mostly pseudoscientific, based on cultural stereotypes, ethnocentrism, and societal trends rather than on scientific analysis or historical method.Many people have a mental image of Jesus drawn from artistic depictions. A wide range of depictions have appeared over the two millennia since Jesus's death, often influenced by cultural settings, political circumstances and theological contexts. The depiction of Jesus in art of the first Christian centuries gradually standardized his appearance with a short beard. These images are often based on second- or third-hand interpretations of spurious sources, and are generally not historically accurate.

Seven Deacons

The Seven, often known as the Seven Deacons, were leaders elected by the Early Christian church to minister to the community of believers in Jerusalem, to enable the Apostles to concentrate on 'prayer and the Ministry of the Word' and to address a concern raised by Greek-speaking believers about their widows being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. Their appointment is described in Chapter 6 of the Acts of the Apostles. According to a later tradition they are supposed to have also been among the Seventy Disciples who appear in the Gospel of Luke. Although the Seven are not called 'deacons' in the New Testament, their role is described as 'diaconal' (διακονειν τραπεζαις in Greek), and they are therefore often regarded as the forerunners of the Christian order of deacons.The Seven Deacons were:

Saint Stephen (Proto-martyr)

Saint Philip the Evangelist





NicholasAccording to the narrative in Acts, they were identified and selected by the community of believers on the basis of their reputation and wisdom, being 'full of the Holy Spirit', and their appointment was confirmed by the Apostles.

Temple of Artemis

The Temple of Artemis or Artemision (Greek: Ἀρτεμίσιον; Turkish: Artemis Tapınağı), also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to an ancient, local form of the goddess Artemis. It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey). It was completely rebuilt three times, and in its final form was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. By 401 AD it had been ruined or destroyed. Only foundations and fragments of the last temple remain at the site.

The earliest version of the temple (a temenos) antedated the Ionic immigration by many years, and dates to the Bronze Age. Callimachus, in his Hymn to Artemis, attributed it to the Amazons. In the 7th century BC, it was destroyed by a flood. Its reconstruction, in more grandiose form, began around 550 BC, under the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes. The project was funded by Croesus of Lydia, and took 10 years to complete. This version of the temple was destroyed in 356 BC by Herostratus in an act of arson. The next, greatest and last form of the temple, funded by the Ephesians themselves, is described in Antipater of Sidon's list of the world's Seven Wonders:

I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, "Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand".

Transfiguration of Jesus

The transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported in the New Testament when Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant in glory upon a mountain. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36) describe it, and the Second Epistle of Peter also refers to it (2 Peter 1:16–18). It has also been hypothesized that the first chapter of the Gospel of John alludes to it (John 1:14).In these accounts, Jesus and three of his apostles, Peter, James, John, go to a mountain (the Mount of Transfiguration) to pray. On the mountain, Jesus begins to shine with bright rays of light. Then the prophets Moses and Elijah appear next to him and he speaks with them. Jesus is then called "Son" by a voice in the sky, assumed to be God the Father, as in the Baptism of Jesus.Many Christian traditions, including the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, commemorate the event in the Feast of the Transfiguration, a major festival.

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