The canon of the New Testament, as we have already seen, having been finally settled before the close of the fourth century, the rejected writ ings which bore the names of the Apostles and Evangelists soon sunk into oblivion, and few, if any, have descended to our times in their original shape. From the decree of Gclasius and a few other sources we have the names and a few de tached notices of a good many of theseproductions. We shall first speak of those which are still ex tant.
(1) Joseph the Carpenter. The history of loseph the carpenter, which has been preserved in the East in an Arabic translation, was first made known in Europe in thc commencement of the sixteenth century by Isidore de lsolanis in 1,1, Summa de donis Sti. Josephi.
(2) The Gospel of the Infancy was first pub lished by Henry Sike, at Utrecht, in 1697, trum an Arabic MS. Sike's Latin version was rt published by Fabricius, who divided it into chap ters, The Arabic was divided into correspond inechapters by Thilo, in 1832.
There arc several MSS. of this gospel extant. the oldest of which known is that in the Medi cean Library, written in 1299. The narratives which it contains were current in the second cen tury, and the account contained in this gospel respecting Christ's learning the alphabet is men tioned by Irenzeus (Adv. thercs. i as a fab rication of the Marcosians. The Gospel of the Infancy is found in the catalogue of Gelasius, and it is especially remarkable from the fact that it was most probably this gospel which was known to Mohammed, who seems to have been unacquainted with any of the canonical scriptures, and who has inserted some of its narrations in the Koran. The original language was probably Syriac. It is sometimes called the Gospel of Peter, or of Thomas.
(3) Gospel of Thomas. The gospel of Thomas the Israelite (Greek), a work which has flowed from the same source with the former, was first published by Cotelerius.
This gospel relates the fable of Christ's learning the Greek alphabet, in which it agrees with the account' in Irenxus. In other gospels of the In fancy (as in that published by Sike) he is repre sented as learning the Hebrew letters. It has been questioned whether this is the same work which is called the Gospel of Thomas, by Origen, Ambrose, Bede, and others. This gospel probably
had its origin among the Gnostics, and found its way from them, through the Manichecs, into the church.
(4) The Protevangelion of James has de scended to us in the original Greek. Although this work is styled by Postell the Protevangelium, there is no MS. authority for this title, nor for the fact' of its being ascribed to St. James the Apostle. It only appears that thc author's name is James. The narrations of this gospel were known to Tertullian (A dv. Gnost., c. viii.), Origen (Com. in Matt. p. 223), Gregory Nyssen (Oral. in diem A'at. Christ. Opt. vol. iii. p. 346), Epiph anius (Bar. 79. sec. 5), the author of the Imper fect Work on Matt., Chrysost. (opfi. tom. vi. p. 24), and many others among the ancients.
(5) The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, which most probably, in its present form, dates its origin from the sixth century, has bcen even rec ommended by the pretended authority of St. Jerome. It is from these Gospels of the Infancy that we have learned the names of the parents of the Blessed Virgin, Joachim (although Bede reads Eli) and Anna. The narratives contained in these gospels were incorporated in the Golden Legend, a work of the thirteenth century, which was translated into all the languages of Europe, and frequently printed. There are extant some metrical accounts of the same in German, which were popular in the era of romance. These leg ends were, however, severely censured by some eminent divines of thc Latin church, of whom it will be sufficient to name Alcuin, in his Homilies, in the ninth. and Fulbert and Petrus Damianus (bishop of 0,:tia) in the eleventh century. 'Some.' says the latter. 'boast of being wiser 'Ilan thcy should be, when, with superfluous curiosity. they inquire into the names of thc parents of the Blessed Virgin, for the evangelist would surely not have failed to have named them if it were profitable to mankind' (Sermon on the Nativity,. Eadmer, the monk, in his book on the Excellence of the Virgin, writes in a similar strain (cap. ii, Anselm. Opp. p. 435, Paris, 1720. Luther also inveighs against the readers of these books (Homil. ed. Walch. tom. xi; and Toble.Tolk, ch. vii, tom. xxii, p. 396).