The Secret Gospels: A Harmony of Apochryphal Jesus Traditions edited and translated by R Joseph Hoffmann, part of the Westminster College-Oxford Critical Studies in Religion series, from Prometheus Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“The apocryphal tradition is not a literature of ideas. It is not even first-class religious literature. The church’s intellectuals, with a few notable exceptions, have not always been comfortable with the ‘devotional’ church—the church of ordinary believers. (Would Thomas Aquinas have visited Lourdes if Lourdes had been around in his day?) The apocryphal tradition is the literature of ordinary belief, impassioned, unstructured, repetitious, naive. What one can see in these gospels are the undeveloped paths in Christian belief which, in choosing the canon it did, the Catholic church chose not to follow. In pursuing the apocryphal tradition, however, it is just as well to remember that these undeveloped paths follow by means of a crude literary logic from paths already laid out by the authors of the canonical books. In answering the question, What did Christian believe in the first centuries of the church’s existence? reference must be made to both authorized and secret gospels.” — from the Introduction, on the back cover