Page 13


purpose of the present collection is to provide the non-scholar with easy ac­ cess to these ancient Christian documents that were sometimes regarded as sacred authorities for Christian faith and practice. I have organized the col­ lection in traditional rubrics, based for the most part on the genres that even­ tually came to comprise the New Testament: Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses (including in the final two categories related kinds of writings). I have also included several “canonical lists” from the early centuries of Christianity—that is, lists of books that were thought by their authors to be the canon. This final category shows how even within “orthodox” circles there was considerable debate concerning which books to include. Altogether there are forty-seven different texts here, each provided with a concise introduction. Most of the texts are given in their entirety. For some of the very long ones, I have given sufficiently lengthy extracts to provide a sense of what the books were like. Each is in a modern and highly readable English translation. Nineteen of the translations are my own. In conclusion I would like to thank those who have made this volume a possibility: my wife, Sarah Beckwith, whose insatiable curiosity and vast knowledge make her, among other things, an extraordinary dialogue partner; my graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carl Cosaert, whose diligence as a research assistant is sans pareil; Darryl Gless, my unusually supportive Senior Associate Dean, and the entire dean’s office at UNC-Chapel Hill, who provided me with a much needed academic leave from my duties as chair in the Department of Religious Studies, allowing me to complete the project; and especially my editor Robert Miller, who convinced me to produce the book and once more went above and beyond the call of editorial duty in helping me bring it to completion.


Profile for sheekh 3arb