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Don Stewart :: What about Books That Have Recently Surfaced Which Claim to Add Firsthand Details to the New Testament? (The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, the Archko Volume, the Lost Books of the Bible)

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Don Stewart

Throughout the history of the church many documents surfaced that have claimed to have been written by the Apostles or those intimately familiar with the life of Christ. A number of these works have surfaced in the last few hundred years. Because they have gained some sort of popularity they must be addressed. The most prominent are. "The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, "The Archko Volume," and "The Lost Books of the Bible."

The Aquarian Gospel Of Jesus The Christ

One alternative explanation of the life and ministry of Jesus that has caused considerable interest is, "the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ." This work was written by Levi Dowling (1844-1911), based upon alleged communication he received from a "universal mind." The Aquarian Gospel attempts to fill in some of the missing years of Jesus' youth as well as explain His wisdom by attributing it to contact with holy men of other religions. The result is a contradictory mixture of Christian Science and occultic thought.

The name is derived from the astrological idea that a new Aquarian age has come upon us, bringing with it the need for a new spiritual gospel, the Aquarian gospel.

The Content Of The Aquarian Gospel

The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ attempts to fill in some of the blanks in the life of Jesus. Some of the material in the Aquarian Gospel is borrowed from the ancient Gospel of James, a well-known forgery in the early years of the church. The most prominent part of the book deals with the education and travel of Jesus. According to the Aquarian Gospel, Jesus first studied under the Jewish teacher Hillel and then went to India to spend time with their holy men. His learning also supposedly took Him to Tibet, Persia, Assyria, Greece, and Egypt. It was in Egypt that Jesus was said to have joined the sacred brotherhood. He passed through seven degrees and emerged as the Logos. In Alexandria a council of seven sages was held where they formulated seven great religious postulates and ordained Jesus for the work of the ministry.

The Aquarian Gospel then rewrites the four gospels according to its own particular viewpoint. The end of the story has Jesus appearing in a materialized body to people in India, Persia, Greece, and other countries.


Like many previous attempts, the Aquarian Gospel attempts to give an explanation of the wisdom and character of Jesus apart from the biblical depiction. Dowling's reconstruction shows obvious borrowing from the ancient "Gospel of James," as well as familiarity with a nineteenth century works, Novotitch's "Unknown Life of Jesus Christ."

The book begins with an historical inaccuracy: "Augustus Caesar reigned and Herod Antipas was ruler in Jerusalem." This is an error because Antipas ruled in Galilee, never in Jerusalem.

The Source Of Jesus' Teachings

A crucial problem with the Aquarian Gospel concerns its idea as to the source of Jesus' teachings. If Jesus obtained His wisdom from the masters of India, Greece, and other countries, then why doesn't His teaching reflect it? The teachings of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, are in direct conflict with every central belief of Hinduism, Buddhism, and the other religions with which He supposedly came into contact!

It Gives A False Portrait Of Jesus

The simple fact is that we have in the Gospels a first-hand account of the life and ministry of Jesus. The Aquarian Gospel is a false portrait of the life of Christ. It is not based upon any historical records or eyewitness testimony but rather upon the recollections of an ancient forgery and the imagination of a nineteenth-century writer. It has no value whatsoever in providing new or accurate information on the life of Christ. Consequently it should not be taken seriously.

The Archko Volume

One of the most famous written hoaxes is the "Archko Volume." The work is also known as the "Report of Pilate" or "The Archko Library." The content of this work is an alleged report of the trial and death of Jesus made by Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius. The existence of this work can be traced back to a certain Reverend. W. D. Mahan of Boonville, Missouri. In 1879 he published a thirty two-page pamphlet titled, "A Correct Transcript of Pilate's Court."

More Discoveries Were Made By Mahan

The success of the "Report of Pilate" led Mahan to make some more "discoveries." These discoveries included an interview with the shepherds who were given the announcement of Christ's birth. There is also an interview with Joseph and Mary by Gamaliel. Found also is Eli's story of the Magi, and other previously unknown interviews surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus. Mahan claimed these "interviews" were translated from ancient manuscripts in Rome or Constantinople.

These other interviews are filled with historical errors. For example, he gives a number of references to Josephus's Jewish Wars that simply do not exist. In addition, there is the false statement that Josephus in his Antiquities refers to Jesus in more than fifty places. The interview says that Tacitus wrote the biography of Agricola, his father in law, in the year A.D. 56. This is impossible since Tacitus was born in A.D 55. Furthermore there was no biography to write since Agricola was only nineteen at the time.

The so-called "Report of Pilate," as well as these later interviews, were immediately exposed as the frauds that they clearly are. Unhappily people continue to read and believe these fraudulent works although they have no basis in fact.

The Lost Books Of The Bible

One of the most often asked questions concerns the so-called "Lost Books of the Bible." A book with this title was produced in 1926. It was the reprint of William Hone's Apocryphal New Testament, first printed in 1820. Hone's book was copied from two earlier one's published in 1736 and 1737. Thus the materials found in the "Lost Books of the Bible" were written over two hundred and fifty years ago. Since the time of the original writing of the lost books, the field of manuscript studies has made tremendous advances but those who publish these works have taken none of this into account. The contents of the "lost books" include the following:

The Four Infancy Gospels:

The Four Infancy Gospels include: "The Birth of Mary," a work written in the middle of the second century; "The Protoevangelium of James," written about the same time; the first "Gospel of Infancy," composed about A.D. 400; and "The Second Infancy Gospel," which in reality is a fragment of the Gospel of Thomas.

These were so-called infancy gospels were written to fill in the details of the early years of the life of Christ of which we have no written record. These works include stories of Jesus forming clay figures of animals and birds, which He makes to walk, fly, and eat. There is another account of a child who runs into Jesus and then the child falls down dead. These examples are representative of the fanciful nature of the accounts.

Other Works

This is also known as "The Acts of Pilate." It was written in the fourth or fifth century. Other works found among the lost books include the Apostles' Creed and the spurious letter from Paul to the Laodiceans.

These Are Not Outlaw Scriptures

Some ill-informed people have called these books "outlaw" Scriptures. But this is not the case, for none of these works were ever thought of as part of the New Testament. Anyone who claims that the church suppressed these particular works is speaking out of ignorance or a desire to deceive.

They Were Written At A Late Date

It is obvious from the date of composition of these works that they cannot be considered on the same level as Holy Scripture, which was written by eyewitnesses or people who recorded eyewitness testimony of the life and ministry of Jesus.

They Are Not Secret Works

Scholars have always been aware of these works - they are not secret. One of the reasons why the general public did not hear of them is because no one took them seriously.

They Are Rejected By All Branches Of Christendom

All branches of Christianity reject these writings. Roman Catholics and Protestants alike are in agreement that these writings have no place in Holy Scripture.

They Were Never Considered To Be Scripture

In addition, these books have never received the slightest consideration as being canonical. They are not in the category of disputed books such as "The Shepherd of Hermas" - all believers rejected these books.

The Differences Become Clear If One Merely Reads Them

A reading of these books will show their inferior nature. There is simply no comparison between them and the canonical gospels.


Any other book, apart from the New Testament, that attempts to fill in the gaps of the life of Jesus Christ only reveals the superiority of the four Gospels. To this day, there is no convincing evidence that any of these or other writings give us first-hand material about Jesus. Recent works that have attempted to add to the New Testament account have miserably failed.

"The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ" attempts to fill in the missing years of the life of Jesus. Yet the accounts given in this work have no historical basis whatsoever.

"The Archko Volume" claims to give a report of the trial of Jesus made by Pontius Pilate. Not only does the work provide no evidence of authenticity, it contains a number of historical errors.

"The Lost Books of the Bible" contain a number of works that fill in some of the details of the life of Christ that the New Testament does not cover. However there is no historical basis for any of the accounts. Like the other works mentioned, there is no reason to take anything it says seriously.

All of these works have been composed in the last few hundred years. There is nothing historically accurate about them. They are absolutely worthless in their attempt to add to our knowledge of the New Testament and the life of Christ. Protestants and Catholics alike reject these writings. No one should take them seriously.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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