The scope of this article takes in those compositions which profess to have been written either by Biblical personages or men in intimate relations with them.
Such known works as the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache (Teaching) of the Twelve Apostles, and the Apostolic Canons and Constitutions, though formerly apocryphal, really belong to patristic literature, and are considered independently.
When we would attempt to seize the literary sense attaching to the word, the task is not so easy.
It has been employed in various ways by early patristic writers, who have sometimes entirely lost sight of the etymology.
Luke wanted to show how the church penetrated the world of his day in ever-widening circles (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the ends of the earth) until it reached Rome, the world's political and cultural center. The recipient of the book, Theophilus, is the same person addressed in the first volume, the Gospel of Luke (see Introduction to Luke: Recipient and Purpose).
For the rest of us, the author tries to get us hooked by demonstrating that authority early on - right in the first part of the book, in fact. It is often claimed by the proponents of this book that the author wrote it when he was an atheist, and was undergoing the conversion process. From a careful reading (see the last two paragraphs at the bottom of page 14), he makes it quite clear that he wrote it as a fully committed Christian, "retracing" his spiritual path an indeterminate period of time after the fact.
The subject will be treated as follows: , hidden, and corresponding to the neuter plural of the adjective.
The use of the singular, "Apocryphon", is both legitimate and convenient, when referring to a single work.
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For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.