Page:LostApocryphaOfTheOldTestamentMRJames.djvu/15

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
xi
INTRODUCTORY

set up that they should be so used. It was the recognized method of pushing a particular set of doctrines to produce a writing under some venerable name, in which the special tenets were openly or covertly advocated. The fashion is on the wane now, yet we have heard of the Book of Mormon, of Notovich's Buddhist Life of Christ, and perhaps of an astounding work called the Archko Volume. But though the methods of to-day are of necessity different, it would not be very surprising even now if a coterie of spiritualists were to publish, and to gain some credence for, a Life of our Lord dictated "automatically" by the spirit of one who had known Him in the flesh; and this war has taught us that apocryphal prophecies are by no means out of date.

It was, of course, specially important that the books which professed to contain teachings of Christ or of Apostles should be sifted; but it was also necessary to banish from the churches those which had been fathered upon the prophets and patriarchs of the Old Testament. Many such had been made the vehicle of anti-Catholic, and even of anti-Christian, teaching. We shall encounter instances of these, though they are not so common as writings that are legendary, or apocalyptic.

Lists and Stichometries

This necessity for definition led to the drawing-up of lists of the sacred books, and then, naturally, of longer lists, in which apocryphal books were included and expressly reprobated. Such lists form our second main source of knowledge about the lost writings. There are three Greek lists, one Latin, and some in other languages, especially Armenian, which will have to be noticed.

The Greek lists are known as the Stichometry of Nicephorus, the list of the Sixty Books, and that in the Pseudo-Athanasian Synopsis of Holy Scripture. The Stichometry of Nicephorus is a catalogue appended to the chronography called of Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople (806–815), and it is called "Stichometry" because it appends to the title of each book a statement