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The Apocryphal New Testament Easy to use collection of English translations of the New Testament Apocrypha.



  • M. Malinine, H.‐C. Puech, G. Quispel, R. Kasser, R. McL. Wilson, J. Zandee (eds.), Epistula Iacobi Apocrypha (Zürich and Stuttgart, 1968).

  • F. E. Williams, ‘The Apocryphon of James’, in H. W. Attridge (ed.), Nag Hammadi Codex I (The Jung Codex): Introduction, Texts, Translations, Notes, 2 vols. (Leiden, 1985), i. 13–53; ii. 7–37 (= Nag Hammadi Studies 22–3).

  • The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices: Codex I (Leiden, 1977).

Modern Translations


  • J. M. Robinson (ed.), The Nag Hammadi Library in English (Leiden,3 1988), 29–36. Cameron, 55–64.

  • Hennecke3, i. 333–8 (not a full trans.).

  • Hennecke5, i. 285–300.


  • Hennecke3, i. 245–9 (H.‐C. Puech) (not a full trans.).

  • Hennecke5, i. 234–44 (D. Kirchner).


  • H.‐M. Schenke, ‘Der Jacobusbrief aus dem Codex Jung’, Orientalische Literaturzeitung 66 (1971), cols. 117–30 (with German trans.).

  • J. Heldermann, ‘Anapausis in the Epistula Jacobi Apocrypha’, in R. McL. Wilson (ed.), Nag Hammadi and Gnosis (Leiden, 1978), 34–43 (= Nag Hammadi Studies 14).

  • C. W. Hedrick, ‘Kingdom Sayings and Parables of Jesus in the Apocryphon of James’, NTS 29 (1983), 1–24.

  • G. Gianotto, ‘La letteratura apocrifa attributa a Giacomo a Nag Hammadi (NHC 1, 2; V, 3; V, 4)’, Augustinianum 23 (1983), 111–21.

  • R. Cameron, Sayings Traditions in the Apocryphon of Fames (Philadelphia, 1984) (= HTS 34).

  • Parable and Interpretation in the Gospel of Thomas (Sonoma, Calif., 1986) (= Foundations and Facets Forum 2.2).

  • B. Dehandschutter, ‘L'Epistula Jacobi apocrypha de Nag Hammadi (CG I, 2) comme apocryphe néotestamentaire’, ANRW 2.25.6, 4529–50.

  • D. Rouleau, L’Épître apocryphe de Jacques (NH I, 2) (Quebec, 1987) (= Bibliothèque copte de Nag Hammadi, Section Textes 18).

  • D. Kirchner, Epistula Jacobi Apocrypha: Die zweite Schrift aus Nag‐Hammadi‐Codex I (Berlin, 1989) (= TU 136).

  • H. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels (London, 1990), esp. 187–200.

  • J. van der Vliet, ‘Spirit and Prophecy in the Epistula Iacobi Apocrypha (NHC I. 2)’, Vigiliae Christianae 44 (1990), 25–53.

(1.1) [James, writing] to [‐ ‐ ‐]thos. Peace [to you (sing.) from] peace, [love from] love, (5) [grace from] grace, [faith] from faith, life from holy life!

Since you asked me to send (10) you a secret book which was revealed to Peter and me by the Lord, I could neither refuse you nor dissuade you; (15) so [I have written] it in Hebraic letters and have sent it to you—and to you alone. Nevertheless, you should do your best, as a minister of the salvation (20) of the saints, to take care not to disclose this book to many—this which the Saviour did not wish [to] disclose to all of us, his (25) twelve disciples. Still, blessed are they who will be saved through the trustworthiness of this text.

Ten months ago I sent you (30) another secret book which the Saviour revealed to me. However, that one you are to regard in this way, as revealed (35) to me, James. And this one (2.1) [. . . revealed . . .  ] those who [. . .  ], therefore, and seek [. . .  ] (5) so it is [. . .  ] salvation [. . .  ].

Now the twelve disciples [used to] sit all together at the [same time], (10) remembering what the Saviour had said to each one of them, whether secretly or openly, and setting it down (15) in books. I was writing what went in [my book]—suddenly, the Saviour appeared, [after] he had departed from [us, and while we were watching] for him. And so, five hundred (20) and fifty days after he rose from the dead, we said to him, ‘You went away and left us!’

‘No’, Jesus said, ‘but I shall go to the place from which I have come. (25) If you (pl.) wish to come with me, come on!’

‘They all answered and said, ‘If you bid us, we shall come.’

He said, ‘Truly, I say to you, (30) no one ever will enter the kingdom of heaven if I bid him, but rather because you yourselves are full. Let me have James and Peter, (35) so that I may fill them.’

And when he called these two, he took them aside, and commanded the rest to carry on with what they had been doing.

The Saviour said, (40) ‘You have received mercy (3.1) [. . .  ] become [. . .  ] they wrote [. . .  ] book, as [. . .  ] to you [. . .  ] (5) and just as [. . .  ] they [. . .  ] hear and [. . .  ] they [. . .  ] understand. So do you not desire to be filled? And is your heart drunk? (10) So do you not desire to be sober? You ought, then, to be ashamed! And now, waking or sleeping, remember that you have seen the Son of Man, and with him (15) have you spoken, and to him have you listened. Woe to those who have seen the Son [of] Man. Blessed are they who (20) have not seen the man, and who have not associated with him, and who have not spoken with him, and who have not listened to anything from him. Yours is (25) life! Know, therefore, that he treated you when you were sick, so that you might reign. Woe to those who have been relieved of their sickness, for they will (30) relapse again into sickness. Blessed are they who have not been sick, and have experienced relief before they became sick. Yours is the kingdom of God! Therefore, I (35) say to you, become full and leave no place within you empty, or else the one who is coming will be able to mock you.’

Then Peter responded, ‘Look, three (40) times you have told us, (4.1) “Become [full”, but] we are full.’

The [Lord answered and] said, ‘This [is why I told] you, [“Become full”, so] (5) that [you] might not [be lacking; those who are lacking] will not [be saved]. For fullness is good [and lacking], bad. Therefore, inasmuch as it is good for you (sing.) to lack but bad for you to be filled, so (10) whoever is full tends to be lacking. One who lacks is not filled in the same way as another who lacks is filled; but whoever is full receives his just deserts. Therefore, it is fitting to lack (15) while it is possible to fill yourselves, and to be filled while it is possible to lack, so that you (pl.) may be able [to fill] yourselves the more. Therefore, [become] full of the spirit (20) but lacking in reason. For reason is of the soul; indeed, it is soul.’

And I answered and said to him, ‘Lord, we can obey you (25) if you wish, for we have forsaken our fathers and our mothers and our villages and have followed you. Give us the means, [then], not to be tempted (30) by the evil devil.’

The Lord answered and said, ‘If you do the Father's will, what credit is that to you—unless he gives you, as (35) part of his gift, your being tempted by Satan? But if you are oppressed by Satan, and (40) are persecuted, and you do his (5.1) will, I [say] that he will love you, and will make you equal with me, and will regard [you] as having become (5) [beloved] through his providence according to your own choice. So will you not cease being lovers of the flesh and afraid of suffering? Or (10) do you not realize that you have not yet been abused and have not yet been accused unjustly, nor have you yet been locked up in prison, nor (15) have you yet been condemned unlawfully, nor have you yet been crucified 〈without〉 reason, nor have you yet been buried in the sand, as I myself was, (20) by the evil one? Do you dare to spare the flesh, you for whom the spirit acts as an encircling wall? If you think about the world, about how long it existed (25) 〈before〉 you and how long it will exist after you, you will discover that your life is but a single day, and your sufferings but a single hour. Accordingly, since what is good (30) will not enter this world, you should scorn death and be concerned about life. Remember my cross and my death, and you will (35) live!’

And I answered and said to him, ‘Lord, do not proclaim the cross and death to us, for they are far (6.1) from you.’

The Lord answered and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, none will be saved unless they believe in my cross; (5) [for] the kingdom of God belongs to those who have believed in my cross. Become seekers of death, therefore, like the dead who are seeking life, (10) for what they seek is manifest to them. So what can be of concern to them? When you enquire into the subject of death, it will teach you about election. In truth, (15) I say to you, none will be saved who are afraid of death; for the kingdom of 〈God〉 belongs to those who are dead. Become better than I; (20) be like the son of the Holy Spirit!’

Then I asked him, ‘Lord, how shall we be able to prophesy to those who ask us to prophesy (25) to them? For there are many who enquire of us, and who look to us to hear an oracle from us.’

The Lord answered and said, (30) ‘Do you not realize that the head of prophecy was severed with John?’

But I said, ‘Lord, it is not possible to remove the head of prophecy, is it?’

The Lord said (35) to me, ‘When you (pl.) comprehend what “head” means, and that prophecy issues from the head, understand what “Its head was removed” means. (7.1) I first spoke with you parabolically, and you did not understand. Now I am speaking with (5) you openly, and you do not perceive. Nevertheless, for me you were a parable among parables, and the disclosure (10) of openness.

‘Be eager to be saved without being urged. Instead, become zealous on your own and, if possible, surpass (15) even me. For that is how the Father will love you.

‘Become haters of hypocrisy and an evil disposition. For such a disposition (20) is what produces hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is far from the truth.

‘Do not let the kingdom of heaven wither away. For it is like a date‐palm shoot (25) whose fruit fell down around it. It put forth buds, and when they blossomed its productivity was caused to dry up. So it also is with the fruit that (30) came from this singular root: when it was picked, fruit was gathered by many. Truly, this was good. Is it not possible to produce such new growth now? (35) Cannot you (sing.) discover how?

‘Since I was glorified in this way before now, why do you (pl.) detain me when I am eager to go? (8.1) For after my [labours] you have constrained me to stay with you eighteen more days for the sake of parables. It was enough (5) for some people 〈to〉 pay attention to the teaching and understand The Shepherds, and The Seed, and The Building, and The Lamps of the Virgins, and The Wage of the Workers, and The Silver Coins, and The (10) Woman.

‘Become eager for instruction. For the first prerequisite for instruction is faith, the second is love, the third is works; (15) now from these comes life. For instruction is like a grain of wheat. When someone sowed it he had faith in it; and when it sprouted he loved it, because he envisioned (20) many grains in place of one; and when he worked he was sustained, because he prepared it for food, then kept the rest in reserve to be sown. So it is possible for you, too, to receive (25) for yourselves the kingdom of heaven: unless you receive it through knowledge, you will not be able to discover it.

‘Therefore, I say to you, be sober; do not go astray. (30) Moreover, I have often said to you all together—and also to you alone, James, have I said—“Be saved”. I have commanded you (sing.) to follow me, (35) and I have taught you how to respond in the presence of the rulers. Observe that I have descended, and have spoken, and have expended myself, and have won my crown, (9.1) so as to save you (pl.). For I descended to dwell with you so that you might also dwell with me. And (5) when I found your houses to be without roofs, I dwelt instead in houses that could receive me at the time of my descent.

‘Therefore, rely (10) on me, my brothers; understand what the great light is. The Father does not need me. For a father does not need a son, but it is the son who needs (15) the father. To him do I go, for the Father of the Son is not in need of you.

‘Pay attention to instruction, understand knowledge, love (20) life. And no one will persecute you, nor will any one oppress you, other than you yourselves.

‘You wretches! You (25) unfortunates! You pretenders to the truth! You falsifiers of knowledge! You sinners against the spirit! Do you even now dare (30) to listen, when it behoved you to speak from the beginning? Do you even now dare to sleep, when it behoved you to be awake from the beginning, so that (35) the kingdom of heaven might receive you? (10.1) In truth, I say to you, it is easier for a holy one to descend into defilement, and for an enlightened person to descend into (5) darkness, than for you to reign—or even not to!

‘I have remembered your tears and your grief and your sorrow; they are far from us. Now, then, you who are (10) outside the Father's inheritance, weep where it is called for, and grieve, and proclaim what is good: how the Son is ascending, as he should. (15) In truth, I say to you, were I sent to those who would listen to me, and were I to have spoken with them, I would never have come down (20) to earth. From now on, then, be ashamed for them.

‘See, I shall leave you and go away; I do not wish to stay with you any longer—just as (25) you have not wished it either. Now, then, follow me eagerly. Therefore, I say to you, for your sake I descended. You are (30) the beloved; it is you who will become the cause of life for many. Invoke the Father, pray to God frequently, and he will give to you. Blessed (35) is whoever has envisioned you along with him when he is proclaimed among the angels and glorified among the saints. Yours is life! Rejoice and exult as (11.1) children of God. Keep [his] will, so that you may be saved. Accept reproof from me and save yourselves. I am pleading (5) for you with the Father, and he will forgive you much.’

When we heard these things, we became elated, for we had despaired over what we recounted earlier. (10) But when he saw us rejoicing, he said, ‘Woe to you who require an intercessor. Woe to you who stand in need of grace. Blessed are (15) they who have spoken out fearlessly, and have obtained grace for themselves. Compare yourselves to foreigners: how are they regarded by your (20) city? Why be upset if you exile yourselves and leave your city? Why abandon your home (25) on your own, making it available for those who wish to live in it? You outcasts and runaways! Woe to you, for you will be caught. Or (30) perhaps you think that the Father is a lover of humanity? Or that he is persuaded by prayers? Or that he grants favours to one on behalf of another? Or that he bears with someone who seeks? (35) For he knows about desire, as well as what the flesh needs: does it not long for the soul? For without the soul the body does not sin, just as (12.1) the soul is not saved without the spirit. But if the soul could be saved from evil, and the spirit were also saved, then the body (5) would become sinless. For the spirit is what animates the soul, but the body is what kills it—in other words, it is the soul which kills itself. Truly, I say to you, (10) he will never forgive the sin of the soul, nor the guilt of the flesh; for none of those who have worn the flesh will be saved. Do you think, then, that many have (15) found the kingdom of heaven? Blessed is whoever has envisioned himself as the fourth one in heaven.’

When we heard these things, we became distressed. But when he saw that we were distressed, (20) he said, ‘This is why I say this to you, that you may know yourselves. For the kingdom of heaven is like a head of grain which sprouted in a field. And (25) when it ripened, it scattered its fruit and, in turn, filled the field with heads of grain for another year. You also: be eager to reap for yourselves a head of the grain of life, so (30) that you may be filled with the kingdom.

‘As long as I am with you, pay attention to me and obey me; but when I take leave of you, (35) remember me. Remember me because I was with you, though you did not know me. Blessed are they who have known me. Woe to those who have (40) heard and have not believed. Blessed are they (13.1) who have not seen [but] have [had faith].

‘Once again do I [appeal] to you. For I reveal myself to you so that I may build a house of great value (5) to you, since you take shelter in it; likewise, it can support your neighbours’ house when theirs is in danger [of] collapsing. In truth, I say to you, (10) woe to those for whose sake I was sent down here. Blessed are they who are on the way to the Father. Again I admonish you. You who exist, be (15) like those who do not exist, so that you may dwell with those who do not exist.

‘Do not let the kingdom of heaven become desolate among you. Do not be arrogant (20) about the light that enlightens. Rather, behave toward yourselves in the way that I have toward you: I placed myself under a curse for you, so that you (25) might be saved.’

To this Peter answered and said, ‘Sometimes you urge us on toward the kingdom of (30) heaven, yet other times you turn us away, Lord. Sometimes you make appeals, draw us toward faith, and promise us life, yet other times you drive (35) us away from the kingdom of heaven.’

The Lord answered and said to us, ‘I have offered you faith many times; moreover, I have made myself known to you, (14.1) James, and you (pl.) have not understood me. On the other hand, now I see you rejoicing again and again. And even though you are elated (5) over [the] promise of life, you still despair and become distressed when you are taught about the kingdom. But you, through faith [and] knowledge, have received (10) life. Accordingly, disregard rejection when you hear [it], but when you hear about the promise, exult all the more. In truth, I say to you, (15) whoever receives life and believes in the kingdom will never leave it—not even if the Father wishes to banish him!

‘This is all I shall tell (20) you at this time. Now I shall ascend to the place from which I have come. But you, when I was eager to go, have rebuffed me; and instead of accompanying me, (25) you have chased me away. Still, pay attention to the glory that awaits me and, having opened your hearts, listen to the hymns that await me up in heaven. (30) For today I must take my place at the right hand of my Father. I have spoken my last word to you; I shall part from you. For a chariot of spirit has lifted me up, (35) and from now on I shall strip myself so that I may clothe myself. So pay attention: blessed are they who proclaimed the Son before he descended, (40) so that, having come, I might ascend. Blessed three (15.1) times over are they who [were] proclaimed by the Son before they existed, so that you might have a share with (5) them.’

When he said this, he went away. So Peter and I knelt down, gave thanks, and sent our hearts up to heaven. We heard with (10) our ears and saw with our eyes the sound of battles and a trumpet's blast and utter turmoil.

And when we passed beyond (15) that place, we sent our minds up further. We saw with our eyes and heard with our ears hymns and angelic praises and (20) angelic rejoicing. Heavenly majesties were singing hymns, and we ourselves were rejoicing.

After this, we also desired to send our (25) spirits heavenward to the majesty. And when we went up, we were not permitted to see or hear a thing. For the rest of the disciples called to us and (30) asked us, ‘What did you hear from the Teacher?’, and, ‘What did he tell you?’, and, ‘Where has he gone?’

We answered (35) them, ‘He has ascended’, and, ‘He has given us a pledge, and promised all of us life, and disclosed to us children who are to come after us, having bidden (16.1) [us to] love them, since we shall [be saved] for their sake.’

And when they heard, they believed the revelation, yet were angry about (5) those who would be born. So, not wishing to give them an occasion to take offence, I sent each one to a different place. And I myself went up to Jerusalem, praying that I might (10) obtain a share with the beloved who are to appear.

Now I pray that a beginning may take place with you (sing.). For this is how I can be saved—(15) since they will be enlightened through me, through my faith and through another's which is better than mine, for I wish for mine to be more lowly. (20) Do your best, therefore, to be like them, and pray that you may obtain a share with them. For, apart from what I have recounted, (25) the Saviour did not disclose revelation to us. For their sake do we proclaim a share with those for whom this has been proclaimed, those whom the Lord has made his (30) children.

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