When and where was the Acts of John composed, by whom, for whom, and why? Using his vibrant Scholars Version translation, Pervo introduces the text of the Acts of John, identifies its sources, investigates early witnesses, and illuminates the motivations of its author. Includes the text, notes, and cross-references. The Early Christian Apocrypha series features fresh new translations of major apocryphal texts that survive from the early period of the Christian church. These non-canonical writings are crucial for determining the complex history of Christian origins. Each translation is accompanied by cross-references, notes, commentary. An extensive introduction also sets out the challenge of recovering and reconstructing the original text.
This study was defended as a dissertation in Groningen (1998). The first monograph in the series, it studies the Acts of John in its second-century context and sheds new light on the text, which was probably written in Asia Minor before the year 150 AD. Lalleman shows that both the Gnostic and the non-Gnostic sections of the Acts of John owe much more to the canonical books of the New Testament than has been assumed. The enigma of the Gnostic section is solved by the discovery that it forms the second stage of initiation into a Gnostic form of Christianity. Read in this way, both sections of the Acts of John turn out to be important steps on the trajectory from the Fourth Gospel to Gnosticism. Penetrating investigations of the Christology and the attitude towards asceticism in the Acts of John complete the book.
The publication of the apocryphal Acts in Greek and Latin by Lipsius and Bonnet as well as Schmidt have opened a large, but very little cultivated field of ancient Christian literature. The oldest of these Acts are those which are treated in the present volume. They give us a picture of Christianity towards the end of the second century. They are important for the history of the Christian cultus in the second and third centuries, and by their description of the divine service in the houses they supplement [the] picture delineated in the Acts of the Apostles. They are also important for the history of Christian poetry which commences among the Gnostics; in short: though these Acts contain both 'truth and fiction,' they cannot be ignored . . . . --from the Preface