NON-CANONICAL EPISTLES AND RELATED WRITINGS
with me all the books that are in my possession. And if I purpose not to take them with me, I shall not leave them behind in my house, but shall consign them to the care of my bishop, who is of the same faith and of like extraction. 4 If I am sick and see death before me, I shall, if I am childless, proceed in the same way. I shall do the like if at the time of my death my son is not worthy or is not yet of age. I shall deposit the books with my bishop that if, when my son has come of age, he should prove to be worthy of the trust that he may hand them over to him as a father’s legacy according to the terms of the vow.
And that I shall proceed in this way, I again invoke as witnesses heaven, earth, and water, in which every thing is comprehended, and also in ad dition the all-pervading air without which I am unable to breathe: I shall be obedient to him who hands over to me the books of the preachings, I shall keep them in every respect as I have vowed and even beyond that. 2 If now I observe the agreements, then will my portion be with the saints; but if I act against my vow, then may the uni verse and the all-pervading ether and God, who is over all and is mightier and more exalted than any other, be hostile to me. 3 And if even I should come to believe in another god, then I swear also by him,
whether he now is or is not, that I shall not proceed otherwise. In addition to all that, if I am false to my word, I shall be accursed living and dead and suffer eter nal punishment.’ And thereupon let him partake of bread and salt with him who hands over the books to him.” 5 When James had said this, the elders were pale with fright. Accordingly, ob serving that they feared greatly, James said, “Hear me, brethren and fellowservants. 2 If we pass on the books to all without discrimination and if they are falsiﬁed by audacious people and are spoiled by interpretations—as indeed you have heard that some have already done—then it will come to pass that even those who ear nestly seek the truth will always be led into error. 3 On this account it is better that we keep the books and, as we have said, hand them with all caution only to those who wish to live and to save others. But if any one, after that he has made such a vow, does not adhere to it, then will he rightly suffer eternal punishment. 4 For why should he not go to ruin who has been guilty of the corruption of others?” Then were the elders pleased with James’s conclusion and said, “Praised be he who has foreseen all things and destined you to be our bishop.” And when they had said this, we rose up and prayed to God the Father of all, to whom be glory forever. Amen