Noteworthy Apocryphal Gospels

and Related Writings

Clearly the most important of the surviving apocryphal gospels is that of Thomas, which supposes to be written by Thomas called Twin ("Doubting Thomas"). If Thomas indeed wrote the original form of the work, then he may have done so c. 52 AD, but most scholars consider the entire gospel to be a product of later hands, c. 150 AD, somewhat near the beginning of the gnostic debate. The link above will take you to a page dealing with the Gospel of Thomas, including some of the sayings. The Gospel of Thomas is a "sayings gospel."
Papyrus Egerton II
Only a fragment, c. 150 AD
Secret Mark
There is one citation (in two places) of a "Secret Gospel of Mark." Legend has it that before Mark wrote his canonical gospel, he wrote down a collection of sayings of Jesus expressly for Jesus' followers. This collection became known as the "Secret" or "Private" gospel of Mark, as compared with the "Public" gospel, which became canonical. The legend may or may not be true, and the fragmentary manuscript discovered in the 19th century may or may not be part of a genuine "Secret Mark." If the legend is true, Secret Mark was written c. 40-50 AD, and the canonical gospel followed. Otherwise, Secret Mark may have borrowed from canonical Mark and been written c. 150 AD. The citations concern a young man (Mk 14:51-2) who followed Jesus and ran away naked. Was this Markus himself? Was this account related to that of Lazarus?
Gospel to the Nazarenes
written before 180, but exists only in fragmentary quotations
Gospel to the Ebionites
written before 175, but exists only in fragmentary quotations
Gospel to the Hebrews
written c. 150, but exists only in fragmentary quotations. Some appear to have upheld this gospel as important, but not canonical.
2nd century. This gospel is gnostic and is now known to have been written by Valentinius
Gospel of the Egyptians
exists only in fragmentary citations
written at the end of the first century, claiming to be Peter's. Contains portions that some scholars believe may represent authentic sayings
written c. 150-200 AD. Parts are shared with Matthew and Mark. One portion, called the Acts of Pilate contains a saying that either is borrowed from or is the source of part of the "long ending" of Mark.


Freer Logion (5th century)
Previously mentioned, this is an addition to Codex W and certain later manuscripts of Mark 16, containing an extended dialog between v.14 and v.15 as follows:
And they excused themselves saying, "This age of lawlessness and distrust is under the Enemy, who does not allow God's truth and power to be victorious over the unclean things of the spirits. Therefore, reveal your righteousness now." They said this to Christ,
and Christ said to them, "The term of years for the Enemy's power has been completed, but other horrible things are nearing. And I was handed over to death for those who have sinned, so that they would return to the truth and sin no longer--that they would inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness which is in heaven...."
Book of Thomas
Gnostic in nature, written near the beginning of the III century AD
Epistula Apostulorium
Written c. 150 and part of the Ethiopic canon. Gnostic.
Apocryphon of James
Written c. 80-100 and edited by gnostics. It borrows material with Matthew, John, and 1st Corinthians.
Dialog of the Savior
A gnostic dialog probably written during the II century
Letter of Peter to Philip
forged at a later date by a gnostic writer

Other Gnostics

Pistus Sophia
Fragmentary and written in the latter half of the III century
Two Books of Jeu
an undated later work
fragmentary citations exist, placing it near the beginning of the III century
Found in the Nag Hammadi (gnostic) Library. Written before the III century. Manuscript is fragmentary.
not extant; an edited gospel of Lukas
Questions of Bartholomew
III century

Infancy Gospels

What might Jesus have done as a young child?

Protoevangelium of James
Written earlier (c. 150-200 AD) and found among the Bodmer Papyri
Infancy Story of Thomas
II century; ascribed to Thomas

Not all works called "gospels" are written in the teaching styles of the canonical or traditional gospels and therefore are not classified here. Push the "Back" button/icon to return to the previous page.

What? No mention of the Gospel of Barnabas?
The Gospel of Barnabas is a forgery, based loosely on the canonical gospel of John, but created by Muslims. Therefore, in it Jesus proclaims the future coming of Muhammad. There is no mention of the Gospel by anyone (Muslim, Christian, or otherwise) before the 15th century, and no manuscripts exist prior to the end of that century. It was composed by Muslims during the fifteenth century in an attempt to add credibility to the Qu'ran, even though it contradicts the Qu'ran in places. To read more about it, select this link at the "Answering Islam" site.