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This Very Short Introduction offers a clear, accessible, and concise account of the apocryphal gospels - exploring their origins, their discovery, and discussing how the various texts have been interpreted both by the Church and beyond. Looking at texts from the Gospels from Nag Hammadi to the Dialogues with the Risen Saviour, Paul Foster shows how the apocryphal gospels reflect the diversity that existed within early Christianity, and examines the extent to which they can be used to reconstruct an accurate portrait of the historical Jesus. Including discussions of controversies and case-studies such as the alleged hoax surrounding the discovery of Secret Mark, Foster concludes that the non-canonical texts, considered in the correct context, offer us an important window on the vibrant and multi-faceted face of early Christianity. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.