Just wanted to alert you to a couple of interesting blog posts that I recently read on the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.
Tony Burke at Apocryphicity shared the following regarding why he chose to study the Christian Apocrypha:
Why am I such an advocate for the Christian Apocrypha? Have I been “burned…by orthodox Christianity” as Ben Witherington suggests (in The Gospel Code: Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci [Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2004], p. 172-174, and What Have They Done With Jesus? Beyond Strange Theories and Bad History—Why We Can Trust the Bible [San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2006], p. 4-5)? Am I trying to prove I am a “good critical scholar” by “discrediting” the New Testament? Or have I been “misled…by the powers of darkness”? I hope the answer to all of these questions is no. But the answer is connected to faith—or more rightly, a reaction to a faith once held.
My views on censorship have led me also to become an advocate for apocryphal texts. This is literature that Christian orthodoxy did not, and indeed still does not, want us to read. We can debate the validity of this position—the process of selecting a canon of sacred texts is a common phenomenon and is, in some ways, necessary for the survival of the faith—but part of me still thinks it wrong. Texts should be available to all, ideas should flow freely, and to censor them is nothing but cowardice. This is particularly so today. For the church to censor texts in the fourth century, and many centuries thereafter, may be understandable given the times, but for Christian groups and Christian writers to advocate doing so now is unconscionable. Of course, in an age of the free flow of information, censoring the texts is no longer an option, but actively discouraging others from reading literature, sometimes by distorting their contents to instill fear in the potential reader, is just as insidious.
You can read the full post here. I don’t agree with all of Tony’s remarks; for example, I would take issue with his opinion that the Apocalypse of John is not the result of a vision (in agreement with Jim Davila’s comment).
I think that the Apocrypha is an important body of literature, as it gives us insights into the beliefs and practices of early Jews and Christians that we often don’t find so clearly in the canonical texts.
See also Tony Burke’s More Christian Apocrypha page, which lists a number of apocryphal texts that you probably have never even heard of (I hadn’t).
For a day-by-day plan for reading all of James Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.), and why you would want to do so, check out “The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Calendar-in-a-Year” at Joseph Kelly’s blog, כל–האדם