Documents to Aid Students and Scholars in Biblical Interpretation
The Bible is a valuable collection of sacred ancient texts, written and assembled over several hundreds of years by numerous authors. These texts were written to particular people living at a definite time and place who shared common experiences and knowledge.
By studying similar literature that precedes and follows the biblical writings chronologically, students of the Bible are better prepared to discover the intended meaning.
Apocryphal and pseudepigraphal literature was apparently intended either to supplement or supplant existing canonical literature. Many of the apocryphal gospels offer guesses as to what occurred during the so-called "missing years" of Jesus' life -- during his childhood or after his resurrection. Others attempt to provide support for later theological convictions -- both orthodox and heretical.
Whether the information found in the apocryphal literature is factually correct or not is not necessarily important. These documents give interpreters valuable insight into what some Jews and Christians believed in various places at different times.