The Acts of St. John

The Acts of St. John


Est. Date. 150-200 A.D?

Orig. Writer. Leucius

Translated by. M.R. James Oxford Clarendon Press, 1924

The beginning of this book is lost, and the entire book is categorized as an apocryphal book. This books

gives an eye-witness account of the acts of the apostle John and his missionary work in and around

Ephesus. It is typically dated to the 2nd century a.d. even though it may have been written much earlier.

Whether or not Leucious (the supposed author) was a real or fictitious character that supposedly

assisted John, the story does show how certain Christian traits developed by the time this text was

written. However there is no apparent way to prove its authenticity and the patriarch of Christianity did

not deem it as divinely inspired therefore it was never added to any canon of scripture. The text could

have possible been developed by a number of Hellenistic writers who drew upon various Christian and

other literary sources to develop the text.


18 Now John was hastening to Ephesus, moved thereto by a vision. Damonicus therefore, and

Aristodemus his kinsman, and a certain very rich man Cleobius, and the wife of Marcellus,

hardly prevailed to keep him for one day in Miletus, reposing themselves with him. And when

very early in the morning they had set forth, and already about four miles of the journey were

accomplished, a voice came from heaven in the hearing of all of us, saying: John, thou art about

to give glory to thy Lord in Ephesus, whereof thou shalt know, thou and all the brethren that are

with thee, and certain of them that are there, which shall believe by thy means. John therefore

pondered, rejoicing in himself, what it should be that should befall (meet) him at Ephesus, and

said: Lord, behold I go according to thy will: let that be done which thou desirest.

19 And as we drew near to the city, Lycomedes the praetor of the Ephesians, a man of large

substance, met us, and falling at John's feet besought him, saying: Is thy name John? the God

whom thou preachest hath sent thee to do good unto my wife, who hath been smitten with palsy

now these seven days and lieth incurable. But glorify thou thy God by healing her, and have

compassion on us. For as I was considering with myself what resolve to take in this matter, one

stood by me and said: Lycomedes, cease from this thought which warreth against thee, for it is

evil (hard): submit not thyself unto it. For I have compassion upon mine handmaid Cleopatra,

and have sent from Miletus a man named John who shall raise her up and restore her to thee

whole. Tarry not, therefore, thou servant of the God who hath manifested himself unto me, but

hasten unto my wife who hath no more than breath. And straightway John went from the gate,

with the brethren that were with him and Lycomedes, unto his house. But Cleobius said to his

young men: Go ye to my kinsman Callippus and receive of him comfortable entertainment -for I

am come hither with his son- that we may find all things decent.

20 Now when Lycomedes came with John into the house wherein his wife lay, he caught hold

again of his feet and said: See, lord, the withering of the beauty, see the youth, see the renowned

flower of my poor wife, whereat all Ephesus was wont to marvel: wretched me, I have suffered

envy, I have been humbled, the eye of mine enemies hath smitten me: I have never wronged any,

though I might have injured many, for I looked before to this very thing, and took care, lest I

should see any evil or any such ill fortune as this. What profit, then, hath Cleopatra from my


The Acts of St. John

anxiety? what have I gained by being known for a pious man until this day? nay, I suffer more

than the impious, in that I see thee, Cleopatra, lying in such plight. The sun in his course shall no

more see me conversing with thee: I will go before thee, Cleopatra, and rid myself of life: I will

not spare mine own safety though it be yet young. I will defend myself before Justice, that I have

rightly deserted, for I may indict her as judging unrighteously. I will be avenged on her when I

come before her as a ghost of life. I will say to her: Thou didst force me to leave the light when

thou didst rob me of Cleopatra: thou didst cause me to become a corpse when thou sentest me

this ill fortune: thou didst compel me to insult Providence, by cutting off my joy in life (my con-


21 And with yet more words Lycomedes addressing Cleopatra came near to the bed and cried

aloud and lamented: but John pulled him away, and said: Cease from these lamentations and

from thine unfitting words: thou must not disobey him that (?) appeared unto thee: for know that

thou shalt receive thy consort again. Stand, therefore, with us that have come hither on her

account and pray to the God whom thou sawest manifesting himself unto thee in dreams. What,

then, is it, Lycomedes? Awake, thou also, and open thy soul. Cast off the heavy sleep from thee:

beseech the Lord, entreat him for thy wife, and he will raise her up. But he fell upon the floor

and lamented, fainting. [It is evident from what follows that Lycomedes died: but the text does

not say so; some words may have fallen out.]

John therefore said with tears: Alas for the fresh (new) betraying of my vision! for the new

temptation that is prepared for me! for the new device of him that contriveth against me! the

voice from heaven that was borne unto me in the way, hath it devised this for me? was it this that

it foreshowed me should come to pass here, betraying me to this great multitude of the citizens

because of Lycomedes? the man lieth without breath, and I know well that they will not suffer

me to go out of the house alive. Why tarriest thou, Lord (or, what wilt thou do)? why hast thou

shut off from us thy good promise? Do not, I beseech thee, Lord, do not give him cause to exult

who rejoiceth in the suffering of others; give him not cause to dance who alway derideth us; but

let thy holy name and thy mercy make haste. Raise up these two dead whose death is against me.

22 And even as John thus cried out, the city of the Ephesians ran together to the house of

Lycomedes, hearing that he was dead. And John, beholding the great multitude that was come,

said unto the Lord: Now is the time of refreshment and of confidence toward thee, O Christ; now

is the time for us who are sick to have the help that is of thee, O physician who healest freely;

keep thou mine entering in hither safe from derision. I beseech thee, Jesu, succour this great

multitude that it may come to thee who art Lord of all things: behold the affliction, behold them

that lie here. Do thou prepare, even from them that are assembled for that end, holy vessels for

thy service, when they behold thy gift. For thyself hast said, O Christ, 'Ask, and it shall be given

you'. We ask therefore of thee, O king, not gold, not silver, not substance, not possessions, nor

aught of what is on earth and perisheth, but two souls, by whom thou shalt convert them that are

here unto thy way, unto thy teaching, unto thy liberty (confidence), unto thy most excellent (or

unfailing) promise: for when they perceive thy power in that those that have died are raised, they

will be saved, some of them. Do thou thyself, therefore, give them hope in thee: and so go I unto

Cleopatra and say: Arise in the name of Jesus Christ.

23 And he came to her and touched her face and said: Cleopatra, He saith, whom every ruler

feareth, and every creature and every power, the abyss and all darkness, and unsmiling death,

and the height of heaven, and the circles of hell [and the resurrection of the dead, and the sight of

the blind], and the whole power of the prince of this world, and the pride of the ruler: Arise, and

be not an occasion unto many that desire not to believe, or an affliction unto souls that are able to


The Acts of St. John

hope and to be saved. And Cleopatra straightway cried with a loud voice: I arise, master: save

thou thine handmaid.

Now when she had arisen seven days, the city of the Ephesians was moved at the unlooked -for

sight. And Cleopatra asked concerning her husband Lycomedes, but John said to her: Cleopatra,

if thou keep thy soul unmoved and steadfast, thou shalt forthwith have Lycomedes thine husband

standing here beside thee, if at least thou be not disturbed nor moved at that which hath befallen,

having believed on my God, who by my means shall grant him unto thee alive. Come therefore

with me into thine other bedchamber, and thou shalt behold him, a dead corpse indeed, but raised

again by the power of my God.

24 And Cleopatra going with John into her bedchamber, and seeing Lycomedes dead for her

sake, had no power to speak (suffered in her voice), and ground her teeth and bit her tongue, and

closed her eyes, raining down tears: and with calmness gave heed to the apostle. But John had

compassion on Cleopatra when he saw that she neither raged nor was beside herself, and called

upon the perfect and condescending mercy, saying: Lord Jesus Christ, thou seest the pressure of

sorrow, thou seest the need; thou seest Cleopatra shrieking her soul out in silence, for she

constraineth within her the frenzy that cannot be borne; and I know that for Lycomedes' sake she

also will die upon his body. And she said quietly to John: That have I in mind, master, and

nought else.

And the apostle went to the couch whereon Lycomedes lay, and taking Cleopatra's hand he said:

Cleopatra, because of the multitude that is present, and thy kinsfolk that have come in, with

strong crying, say thou to thine husband: Arise and glorify the name of God, for he giveth back

the dead to the dead. And she went to her husband and said to him according as she was taught,

and forthwith raised him up. And he, when he arose, fell on the floor and kissed John's feet, but

he raised him, saying: O man, kiss not my feet but the feet of God by whose power ye are both


25 But Lycomedes said to John: I entreat and adjure thee by the God in whose name thou hast

raised us, to abide with us, together with all them that are with thee. Likewise Cleopatra also

caught his feet and said the same. And John said to them: For tomorrow I will be with you. And

they said to him again: We shall have no hope in thy God, but shall have been raised to no

purpose, if thou abide not with us. And Cleobius with Aristodemus and Damonicus were touched

in the soul and said to John: Let us abide with them, that they continue without offence towards

the Lord. So he continued there with the brethren.

26 There came together therefore a gathering of a great multitude on John's account; and as he

discoursed to them that were there, Lycomedes, who had a friend who was a skilful painter, went

hastily to him and said to him: You see me in a great hurry to come to you: come quickly to my

house and paint the man whom I show you without his knowing it. And the painter, giving some

one the necessary implements and colours, said to Lycomedes: Show him to me, and for the rest

have no anxiety. And Lycomedes pointed out John to the painter, and brought him near him, and

shut him up in a room from which the apostle of Christ could be seen. And Lycomedes was with

the blessed man, feasting on the faith and the knowledge of our God, and rejoiced yet more in the

thought that he should possess him in a portrait.

27 The painter, then, on the first day made an outline of him and went away. And on the next he

painted him in with his colours, and so delivered the portrait to Lycomedes to his great joy. And

lie took it and set it up in his own bedehamber and hung it with garlands: so that later John, when

he perceived it, said to him: My beloved child, what is it that thou always doest when thou

comest in from the bath into thy bedchamber alone? do not I pray with thee and the rest of the


The Acts of St. John

brethren? or is there something thou art hiding from us? And as he said this and talked jestingly

with him, he went into the bedchamber, and saw the portrait of an old man crowned with

garlands, and lamps and altars set before it. And he called him and said: Lycomedes, what

meanest thou by this matter of the portrait? can it be one of thy gods that is painted here? for I

see that thou art still living in heathen fashion. And Lycomedes answered him: My only God is

he who raised me up from death with my wife: but if, next to that God, it be right that the men

who have benefited us should be called gods -it is thou, father, whom I have had painted in that

portrait, whom I crown and love and reverence as having become my good guide.

28 And John who had never at any time seen his own face said to him: Thou mockest me, child:

am I like that in form, thy Lord? how canst thou persuade me that the portrait is like me? And

Lycomedes brought him a mirror. And when he had seen himself in the mirror and looked

earnestly at the portrait, he said: As the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, the portrait is like me: yet not

like me, child, but like my fleshly image; for if this painter, who hath imitated this my face,

desireth to draw me in a portrait, he will be at a loss, the colours that are now given to thee, and

boards and plaster (?) and glue (?), and the position of my shape, and old age and youth and all

things that are seen with the eye.

29 But do thou become for me a good painter, Lycomedes. Thou hast colours which he giveth

thee through me, who painteth all of us for himself, even Jesus, who knoweth the shapes and

appearances and postures and dispositions and types of our souls. And the colours wherewith I

bid thee paint are these: faith in God, knowledge, godly fear, friendship, communion, meekness,

kindness, brotherly love, purity, simplicity, tranquillity, fearlessness, griefiessness, sobriety, and

the whole band of colours that painteth the likeness of thy soul, and even now raiseth up thy

members that were cast down, and levelleth them that were lifted up, and tendeth thy bruises,

and healeth thy wounds, and ordereth thine hair that was disarranged, and washeth thy face, and

chasteneth thine eyes, and purgeth thy bowels, and emptieth thy belly, and cutteth off that which

is beneath it; and in a word, when the whole company and mingling of such colours is come

together, into thy soul, it shall present it to our Lord Jesus Christ undaunted, whole

(unsmoothed), and firm of shape. But this that thou hast now done is childish and imperfect: thou

hast drawn a dead likeness of the dead.

There need be no portion of text lost at this point: but possibly some few sentences have been

omitted. The transition is abrupt and the new episode has not, as elsewhere, a title of its own.

30 And he commanded Verus (Berus), the brother that ministered to him, to gather the aged

women that were in all Ephesus, and made ready, he and Cleopatra and Lycomedes, all things

for the care of them. Verus, then, came to John, saying: Of the aged women that are here over

threescore years old I have found four only sound in body, and of the rest some . . . . (a word

gone) and some palsied and others sick. And when he heard that, John kept silence for a long

time, and rubbed his face and said: O the slackness (weakness) of them that dwell in Ephesus! O

the state of dissolution, and the weakness toward God! O devil, that hast so long mocked the

faithful in Ephesus! Jesus, who giveth me grace and the gift to have my confidence in him, saith

to me in silence: Send after the old women that are sick and come (be) with them into the theatre,

and through me heal them: for there are some of them that will come unto this spectacle whom

by these healings I will convert and make them useful for some end.

31 Now when all the multitude was come together to Lycomedes, he dismissed them on John's

behalf, saying: Tomorrow come ye to the theatre, as many as desire to see the power of God.

And the multitude, on the morrow, while it was yet night, came to the theatre: so that the

proconsul also heard of it and hasted and took his sent with all the people. And a certain praetor,


The Acts of St. John

Andromeus, who was the first of the Ephesians at that time, put it about that John had promised

things impossible and incredible: But if, said he, he is able to do any such thing as I hear, let him

come into the public theatre, when it is open, naked, and holding nothing in his hands, neither let

him name that magical name which I have heard him utter.

32 John therefore, having heard this and being moved by. these words, commanded the aged

women to be brought into the theatre: and when they were all brought into the midst, some of

them upon beds and others lying in a deep sleep, and all the city had run together, and a great

silence was made, John opened his mouth and began to say:

33 Ye men of Ephesus, learn first of all wherefore I am visiting in your city, or what is this great

confidence which I have towards you, so that it may become manifest to this general assembly

and to all of you (or, so that I manifest myself to). I have been sent, then, upon a mission which

is not of man's ordering, and not upon any vain journey; neither am I a merchant that make

bargains or exchanges; but Jesus Christ whom I preach, being compassionate and kind, desireth

by my means to convert all of you who are held in unbelief and sold unto evil lusts, and to

deliver you from error; and by his power will I confound even the unbelief of your praetor, by

raising up them that lie before you, whom ye all behold, in what plight and in what sicknesses

they are. And to do this (to confound Andronicus) is not possible for me if they perish: therefore

shall they be healed.

34 But this first I have desired to sow in your ears, even that ye should take care for your souls -

on which account I am come unto you- and not expect that this time will be for ever, for it is but

a moment, and not lay up treasures upon the earth where all things do fade. Neither think that

when ye have gotten children ye can rest upon them (?), and try not for their sakes to defraud and

overreach. Neither, ye poor, be vexed if ye have not wherewith to minister unto pleasures; for

men of substance when they are diseased call you happy. Neither, ye rich, rejoice that ye have

much money, for by possessing these things ye provide for yourselves grief that ye cannot be rid

of when ye lose them; and besides, while it is with you, ye are afraid lest some one attack you on

account of it.

35 Thou also that art puffed up because of the shapeliness of thy body, and art of an high look,

shalt see the end of the promise thereof in the grave; and thou that rejoicest in adultery, know

that both law and nature avenge it upon thee, and before these, conscience; and thou, adulteress,

that art an adversary of the law, knowest not whither thou shalt come in the end. And thou that

sharest not with the needy, but hast monies laid up, when thou departest out of this body and hast

need of some mercy when thou burnest in fire, shalt have none to pity thee; and thou the wrathful

and passionate, know that thy conversation is like the brute beasts; and thou, drunkard and

quarreller, learn that thou losest thy senses by being enslaved to a shameful and dirty desire.

36 Thou that rejoicest in gold and delightest thyself with ivory and jewels, when night falleth,

canst thou behold what thou lovest? thou that art vanquished by soft raiment, and then leavest

life, will those things profit thee in the place whither thou goest? And let the murderer know that

the condign punishment is laid up for him twofold after his departure hence. Likewise also thou

poisoner, sorcerer, robber, defrauder, sodomite, thief, and as many as are of that band, ye shall

come at last, as your works do lead you, unto unquenchable fire, and utter darkness, and the pit

of punishment, and eternal threatenings. Wherefore, ye men of Ephesus, turn yourselves,

knowing this also, that kings, rulers, tyrants, boasters, and they that have conquered in wars,

stripped of all things when they depart hence, do suffer pain, lodged in eternal misery.

37 And having thus said, John by the power of God healed all the diseases.


The Acts of St. John

This sentence must be an abridgement of a much longer narration. The manuscript indicates no

break at this point: but we must suppose a not inconsiderable loss of text. For one thing,

Andronicus, who is here an unbeliever, appears as a convert in the next few lines. Now he is, as

we shall see later, the husband of an eminent believer, Drusiana; and his and her conversion will

have been told at some length; and I do not doubt that among other things there was a discourse

of John persuading them to live in continence.

37 (continued.) Now the brethren from Miletus said unto John: We have continued a long time at

Ephesus; if it seem good to thee, let us go also to Smyrna; for we hear already that the mighty

works of God have reached it also. And Andronicus said to them: Whensoever the teacher

willeth, then let us go. But John said: Let us first go unto the temple of Artemis, for perchance

there also, if we show ourselves, the servants of the Lord will be found.

38 After two days, then, was the birthday of the idol temple. John therefore, when all were clad

in white, alone put on black raiment and went up into the temple. And they took him and essayed

to kill him. But John said: Ye are mad to set upon me, a man that is the servant of the only God.

And he gat him up upon an high pedestal and said unto them:

39 Ye run hazard, men of Ephesus, of being like in character to the sea: every river that floweth

in and every spring that runneth down, and the rains, and waves that press upon each other, and

torrents full of rocks are made salt together by the bitter telementt (MS. promise!) that is therein.

So ye also remaining unchanged unto this day toward true godliness are become corrupted by

your ancient rites of worship. How many wonders and healings of diseases have ye seen wrought

through me? And yet are ye blinded in your hearts and cannot recover sight. What is it, then, O

men of Ephesus? I have adventured now and come up even into this your idol temple. I will

convict you of being most godless, and dead from the understanding of mankind. Behold, I stand

here: ye all say that ye have a goddess, even Artemis: pray then unto her that I alone may die; or

else I only, if ye are not able to do this, will call upon mine own god, and for your unbelief I will

cause every one of you to die.

40 But they who had beforetime made trial of him and had seen dead men raised up, cried out:

Slay us not so, we beseech thee, John. We know that thou canst do it. And John said to them: If

then ye desire not to die, let that which ye worship be confounded, and wherefore it is

confounded, that ye also may depart from your ancient error. For now is it time that either ye be

converted by my God, or I myself die by your goddess; for I will pray in your presence and

entreat my God that mercy be shown unto you.

41 And having so said he prayed thus: O God that art God above all that are called gods, that

until this day hast been set at nought in the city of the Ephesians; that didst put into my mind to

come into this place, whereof I never thought; that dost convict every manner of worship by

turning men unto thee; at whose name every idol fleeth and every evil spirit and every unclean

power; now also by the flight of the evil spirit here at thy name, even of him that deceiveth this

great multitude, show thou thy mercy in this place, for they have been made to err.

42 And as John spake these things, immediately the altar of Artemis was parted into many

pieces, and all the things that were dedicated in the temple fell, and [MS. that which seemed

good to him] was rent asunder, and likewise of the images of the gods more than seven. And the

half of the temple fell down, so that the priest was slain at one blow by the falling of the (?roof, ?

beam). The multitude of the Ephesians therefore cried out: One is the God of John, one is the

God that hath pity on us, for thou only art God: now are we turned to thee, beholding thy

marvellous works! have mercy on us, O God, according to thy will, and save us from our great


The Acts of St. John

error! And some of them, lying on their faces, made supplication, and some kneeled and

besought, and some rent their clothes and wept, and others tried to escape.

43 But John spread forth his hands, and being uplifted in soul, said unto the Lord: Glory be to

thee, my Jesus, the only God of truth, for that thou dost gain (receive) thy servants by divers

devices. And having so said, he said to the people: Rise up from the floor, ye men of Ephesus,

and pray to my God, and recognize the invisible power that cometh to manifestation, and the

wonderful works which are wrought before your eyes. Artemis ought to have succoured herself:

her servant ought to have been helped of her and not to have died. Where is the power of the evil

spirit? where are her sacrifices? where her birthdays? where her festivals? where are the

garlands? where is all that sorcery and the poisoning (witchcraft) that is sister thereto?

44 But the people rising up from off the floor went hastily and cast down the rest of the idol

temple, crying: The God of John only do we know, and him hereafter do we worship, since he

hath had mercy upon us! And as John came down from thence, much people took hold of him,

saying: Help us, O John! Assist us that do perish in vain! Thou seest our purpose: thou seest the

multitude following thee and hanging upon thee in hope toward thy God. We have seen the way

wherein we went astray when we lost him: we have seen our gods that were set up in vain: we

have seen the great and shameful derision that is come to them: but suffer us, we pray thee, to

come unto thine house and to be succoured without hindrance. Receive us that are in


45 And John said to them: Men (of Ephesus), believe that for your sakes I have continued in

Ephesus, and have put off my journey unto Smyrna and to the rest of the cities, that there also the

servants of Christ may turn to him. But since I am not yet perfectly assured concerning you, I

have continued praying to my God and beseeching him that I should then depart from Ephesus

when I have confirmed you in the faith: and whereas I see that this is come to pass and yet more

is being fulfilled, I will not leave you until I have weaned you like children from the nurse's

milk, and have set you upon a firm rock.

46 John therefore continued with them, receiving them in the house of Andromeus. And one of

them that were gathered laid down the dead body of the priest of Artemis before the door [of the

temple], for he was his kinsman, and came in quickly with the rest, saying nothing of it. John,

therefore, after the discourse to the brethren, and the prayer and the thanksgiving (eucharist) and

the laying of hands upon every one of the congregation, said by the spirit: There is one here who

moved by faith in God hath laid down the priest of Artemis before the gate and is come in, and in

the yearning of his soul, taking care first for himself, hath thought thus in himself: It is better for

me to take thought for the living than for my kinsman that is dead: for I know that if I turn to the

Lord and save mine own soul, John will not deny to raise up the dead also. And John arising

from his place went to that into which that kinsman of the priest who had so thought was entered,

and took him by the hand and said: Hadst thou this thought when thou camest unto me, my

child? And he, taken with trembling and affright, said: Yes, lord, and cast himself at his feet.

And John said: Our Lord is Jesus Christ, who will show his power in thy dead kinsman by

raising him up.

47 And he made the young man rise, and took his hand and said: It is no great matter for a man

that is master of great mysteries to continue wearying himself over small things: or what great

thing is it to rid men of diseases of the body? And yet holding the young man by the hand he

said: I say unto thee, child, go and raise the dead thyself, saying nothing but this only: John the

servant of God saith to thee, Arise. And the young man went to his kinsman and said this only -

and much people was with him- and entered in unto John, bringing him alive. And John, when he


The Acts of St. John

saw him that was raised, said: Now that thou art raised, thou dost not truly live, neither art

partaker or heir of the true life: wilt thou belong unto him by whose name and power thou wast

raised? And now believe, and thou shall live unto all ages. And he forthwith believed upon the

Lord Jesus and thereafter clave unto John.

[Another manuscript (Q. Paris Gr. 1468, of the eleventh century) has another form of this story.

John destroys the temple of Artemis, and then 'we' go to Smyrna and all the idols are broken:

Bucolus, Polycarp, and Andronicus are left to preside over the district. There were there two

priests of Artemis, brothers, and one died. The raising is told much as in the older text, but more


'We' remained four years in the region, which was wholly converted, and then returned to


48 Now on the next day John, having seen in a dream that he must walk three miles outside the

gates, neglected it not, but rose up early and set out upon the way, together with the brethren.

And a certain countryman who was admonished by his father not to take to himself the wife of a

fellow labourer of his who threatened to kill him -this young man would not endure the

admonition of his father, but kicked him and left him without speech (sc. dead). And John,

seeing what had befallen, said unto the Lord: Lord, was it on this account that thou didst bid me

come out hither to-day?

49 But the young man, beholding the violence (sharpness) of death, and looking to be taken,

drew out the sickle that was in his girdle and started to run to his own abode; and John met him

and said: Stand still, thou most shameless devil, and tell me whither thou runnest bearing a sickle

that thirsteth for blood. And the young man was troubled and cast the iron on the ground, and

said to him: I have done a wretched and barbarous deed and I know it, and so I determined to do

an evil yet worse and more cruel, even to die myself at once. For because my father was alway

curbing me to sobriety, that I should live without adultery, and chastely, I could not endure him

to reprove me, and I kicked him and slew him, and when I saw what was done, I was hasting to

the woman for whose sake I became my father's murderer, with intent to kill her and her

husband, and myself last of all: for I could not bear to be seen of the husband of the woman, and

undergo the judgement of death.

50 And John said to him: That I may not by going away and leaving you in danger give place to

him that desireth to laugh and sport with thee, come thou with me and show me thy father, where

he lieth. And if I raise him up for thee, wilt thou hereafter abstain from the woman that is

become a snare to thee. And the young man said: If thou raisest up my father himself for me

alive, and if I see him whole and continuing in life, I will hereafter abstain from her.

51 And while he was speaking, they came to the place where the old man lay dead, and many

passers-by were standing near thereto. And John said to the youth: Thou wretched man, didst

thou not spare even the old age of thy father? And he, weeping and tearing his hair, said that he

repented thereof; and John the servant of the Lord said: Thou didst show me I was to set forth for

this place, thou knewest that this would come to pass, from whom nothing can be hid of things

done in life, that givest me power to work every cure and healing by thy will: now also give me

this old man alive, for thou seest that his murderer is become his own judge: and spare him, thou

only Lord, that spared not his father (because he) counselled him for the best.

52 And with these words he came near to the old man and said: My Lord will not be weak to

spread out his kind pity and his condescending mercy even unto thee: rise up therefore and give

glory to God for the work that is come to pass at this moment. And the old man said: I arise,

Lord. And he rose and sat up and said: I was released from a terrible life and had to bear the


The Acts of St. John

insults of my son, dreadful and many, and his want of natural affection, and to what end hast

thou called me back, O man of the living God? (And John answered him: If) thou art raised only

for the same end, it were better for thee to die; but raise thyself unto better things. And he took

him and led him into the city, preaching unto him the grace of God, so that before he entered the

gate the old man believed.

53 But the young man, when he beheld the unlooked-for raising of his father, and the saving of

himself, took a sickle and mutilated himself, and ran to the house wherein he had his adulteress,

and reproached her, saying: For thy sake I became the murderer of my father and of you two and

of myself: there thou hast that which is alike guilty of all. For on me God hath had mercy, that I

should know his power.

54 And he came back and told John in presence of the brethren what he had done. But John said

to him: He that put it into thine heart, young man, to kill thy father and become the adulterer of

another man's wife, the same made thee think it a right deed to take away also the unruly

members. But thou shouldest have done away, not with the place of sin, but the thought which

through those members showed itself harmful: for it is not the instruments that are injurious, but

the unseen springs by which every shameful emotion is stirred and cometh to light. Repent

therefore, my child, of this fault, and having learnt the wiles of Satan thou shalt have God to help

thee in all the necessities of thy soul. And the young man kept silence and attended, having

repented of his former sins, that he should obtain pardon from the goodness of God: and he did

not separate from John.

55 When, then, these things had been done by him in the city of the Ephesians, they of Smyrna

sent unto him saying: We hear that the God whom thou preachest is not envious, and hath

charged thee not to show partiality by abiding in one place. Since, then, thou art a preacher of

such a God, come unto Smyrna and unto the other cities, that we may come to know thy God,

and having known him may have our hope in him.

[Q has the above story also, and continues with an incident which is also quoted in a different

form (and not as from these Acts) by John Cassian. Q has it thus:

Now one day as John was seated, a partridge flew by and came and played in the dust before

him; and John looked on it and wondered. And a certain priest came, who was one of his hearers,

and came to John and saw the partridge playing in the dust before him, and was offended in

himself and said: Can such and so great a man take pleasure in a partridge playing in the dust?

But John perceiving in the spirit the thought of him, said to him: It were better for thee also, my

child, to look at a partridge playing in the dust and not to defile thyself with shameful and

profane practices: for he who awaiteth the conversion and repentance of all men hath brought

thee here on this account: for I have no need of a partridge playing in the dust. For the partridge

is thine own soul.

Then the elder, hearing this and seeing that he was not bidden, but that the apostle of Christ had

told him all that was in his heart, fell on his face on the earth and cried aloud, saying: Now know

I that God dwelleth in thee, O blessed John! for he that tempteth thee tempteth him that cannot

be tempted. And he entreated him to pray for him. And he instructed him and delivered him the

rules (canons) and let him go to his house, glorifying God that is over all.

Cassian, Collation XXIV. 21, has it thus:

It is told that the most blessed Evangelist John, when he was gently stroking a partridge with his

hands, suddenly saw one in the habit of a hunter coming to him. He wondered that a man of such

repute and fame should demean himself to such small and humble amusements, and said: Art

thou that John whose eminent and widespread fame hath enticed me also with great desire to


The Acts of St. John

know thee? Why then art thou taken up with such mean amusements? The blessed John said to

him: What is that which thou carriest in thy hands? A bow, said he. And why, said he, dost thou

not bear it about always stretched? He answered him: I must not, lest by constant bending the

strength of its vigour be wrung and grow soft and perish, and when there is need that the arrows

be shot with much strength at some beast, the strength being lost by excess of continual tension,

a forcible blow cannot be dealt. Just so, said the blessed John, let not this little and brief

relaxation of my mind offend thee, young man, for unless it doth sometimes ease and relax by

some remission the force of its tension, it will grow slack through unbroken rigour and will not

be able to obey the power of the Spirit.

The only common point of the two stories is that St. John amuses himself with a partridge, and a

spectator thinks it unworthy of him. The two morals differ wholly. The amount of text lost here

is of quite uncertain length. It must have told of the doings at Smyrna, and also, it appears, at

Laodicca (see the title of the next section). One of the episodes must have been the conversion of

a woman of evil life (see below, 'the harlot that was chaste ')-]

Our best manuscript prefixes a title to the next section:

From Laodicca to Ephesus the second time.

58 Now when some long time had passed, and none of the brethren had been at any time grieved

by John, they were then grieved because he had said: Brethren, it is now time for me to go to

Ephesus (for so have I agreed with them that dwell there) lest they become slack, now for a long

time having no man to confirm them. But all of you must have your minds steadfast towards

God, who never forsaketh us.

But when they heard this from him, the brethren lamented because they were to be parted from

him. And John said: Even if I be parted from you, yet Christ is always with you: whom if ye love

purely ye will have his fellowship without reproach, for if he be loved, he preventeth

(anticipateth) them that love him.

59 And having so said, and bidden farewell to them, and left much money with the brethren for

distribution, he went forth unto Ephesus, while all the brethren lamented and groaned. And there

accompanied him, of Ephesus, both Andronicus and Drusiana and Lycomedes and Cleobius and

their families. And there followed him Aristobula also, who had heard that her husband Tertullus

had died on the way, and Aristippus with Xenophon, and the harlot that was chaste, and many

others, whom he exhorted at all times to cleave to the Lord, and they would no more be parted

from him.

60 Now on the first day we arrived at a deserted inn, and when we were at a loss for a bed for

John, we saw a droll matter. There was one bedstead lying somewhere there without coverings,

whereon we spread the cloaks which we were wearing, and we prayed him to lie down upon it

and rest, while the rest of us all slept upon the floor. But he when he lay down was troubled by

the bugs, and as they continued to become yet more troublesome to him, when it was now about

the middle of the night, in the hearing of us all he said to them: I say unto you, O bugs, behave

yourselves, one and all, and leave your abode for this night and remain quiet in one place, and

keep your distance from the servants of God. And as we laughed, and went on talking for some

time, John addressed himself to sleep; and we, talking low, gave him no disturbance (or, thanks

to him we were not disturbed).

61 But when the day was now dawning I arose first, and with me Verus and Andronicus, and we

saw at the door of the house which we had taken a great number of bugs standing, and while we

wondered at the great sight of them, and all the brethren were roused up because of them, John

continued sleeping. And when he was awaked we declared to him what we had seen. And he sat


The Acts of St. John

up on the bed and looked at them and said: Since ye have well behaved yourselves in hearkening

to my rebuke, come unto your place. And when he had said this, and risen from the bed, the bugs

running from the door hasted to the bed and climbed up by the legs thereof and disappeared into

the joints. And John said again: This creature hearkened unto the voice of a man, and abode by

itself and was quiet and trespassed not; but we which hear the voice and commandments of God

disobey and are light-minded: and for how long?

62 After these things we came to Ephesus: and the brethren there, who had for a long time

known that John was coming, ran together to the house of Andronicus (where also he came to

lodge), handling his feet and laying his hands upon their own faces and kissing them (and many

rejoiced even to touch his vesture, and were healed by touching the clothes of the holy apostle.

[So the Latin, which has this section; the Greek has: so that they even touched his garments).]

63 And whereas there was great love and joy unsurpassed among the brethren, a certain one, a

messenger of Satan, became enamoured of Drusiana, though he saw and knew that she was the

wife of Andronicus. To whom many said: It is not possible for thee to obtain that woman, seeing

that for a long time she has even separated herself from her husband for godliness' sake. Art thou

only ignorant that Andronicus, not being aforetime that which now he is, a God-fearing man,

shut her up in a tomb, saying: Either I must have thee as the wife whom I had before, or thou

shalt die. And she chose rather to die than to do that foulness. If, then, she would not consent, for

godliness' sake, to cohabit with her lord and husband, but even persuaded him to be of the same

mind as herself, will she consent to thee desiring to be her seducer? depart from this madness

which hath no rest in thee: give up this deed which thou canst not bring to accomplishment.

64 But his familiar friends saying these things to him did not convince him, but with

shamelessness he courted her with messages; and when he learnt the insults and disgraces which

she returned, he spent his life in melancholy (or better, she, when she learnt of this disgrace and

insult at his hand, spent her life in heaviness). And after two days Drusiana took to her bed from

heaviness, and was in a fever and said: Would that I had not now come home to my native place,

I that have become an offence to a man ignorant of godliness! for if it were one who was filled

with the word of God, he would not have gone to such a pitch of madness. But now (therefore)

Lord, since I am become the occasion of a blow unto a soul devoid of knowledge, set me free

from this chain and remove me unto thee quickly. And in the presence of John, who knew

nothing at all of such a matter, Drusiana departed out of life not wholly happy, yea, even

troubled because of the spiritual hurt of the man.

65 But Andronicus, grieved with a secret grief, mourned in his soul, and wept openly, so that

John checked him often and said to him: Upon a better hope hath Drusiana removed out of this

unrighteous life. And Andronicus answered him: Yea, I am persuaded of it, O John, and I doubt

not at all in regard of trust in my God: but this very thing do I hold fast, that she departed out of

life pure.

66 And when she was carried forth, John took hold on Andronicus, and now that he knew the

cause, he mourned more than Andronicus. And he kept silence, considering the provocation of

the adversary, and for a space sat still. Then, the brethren being gathered there to hear what word

he would speak of her that was departed, he began to say:

67 When the pilot that voyageth, together with them that sail with him, and the ship herself,

arriveth in a calm and stormless harbour, then let him say that he is safe. And the husbandman

that hath committed the seed to the earth, and toiled much in the care and protection of it, let him

then take rest from his labours, when he layeth up the seed with manifold increase in his barns.

Let him that enterpriseth to run in the course, then exult when he beareth home the prize. Let him


The Acts of St. John

that inscribeth his name for the boxing, then boast himself when he receiveth the crowns: and so

in succession is it with all contests and crafts, when they do not fail in the end, but show

themselves to be like that which they promised (corrupt).

68 And thus also I think is it with the faith which each one of us practiseth, that it is then

discerned whether it be indeed true, when it continueth like itself even until the end of life. For

many obstacles fall into the way, and prepare disturbance for the minds of men: care, children,

parents, glory, poverty, flattery, prime of life, beauty, conceit, lust, wealth, anger, uplifting,

slackness, envy, jealousy, neglect, fear, insolence, love, deceit, money, pretence, and other such

obstacles, as many as there are in this life: as also the pilot sailing a prosperous course is opposed

by the onset of contrary winds and a great storm and mighty waves out of calm, and the

husbandman by untimely winter and blight and creeping things rising out of the earth, and they

that strive in the games 'just do not win', and they that exercise crafts are hindered by the divers

difficulties of them.

69 But before all things it is needful that the believer should look before at his ending and

understand it in what manner it will come upon him, whether it will be vigorous and sober and

without any obstacle, or disturbed and clinging to the things that are here, and bound down by

desires. So is it right that a body should be praised as comely when it is wholly stripped, and a

general as great when he hath accomplished every promise of the war, and a physician as

excellent when he hath succeeded in every cure, and a soul as full of faith and worthy (or

receptive) of God when it hath paid its promise in full: not that soul which began well and was

dissolved into all the things of this life and fell away, nor that which is numb, having made an

effort to attain to better things, and then is borne down to temporal things, nor that which hath

longed after the things of time more than those of eternity, nor that which exchangeth those that

endure not, nor that which hath honoured the works of dishonour that deserve shame, nor that

which taketh pledges of Satan, nor that which hath received the serpent into its own house, nor

that which suffereth reproach for God's sake and then is [not] ashamed, nor that which with the

mouth saith yea, but indeed approveth not itself: but that which hath prevailed not to be made

weak by foul pleasure, not to be overcome by light-mindedness, not to be caught by the bait of

love of money, not to be betrayed by vigour of body or wrath.

70 And as John was discoursing yet further unto the brethren that they should despise temporal

things in respect of the eternal, he that was enamoured of Drusiana, being inflamed with an

horrible lust and possession of the many-shaped Satan, bribed the steward of Andronicus who

was a lover of money with a great sum: and he opened the tomb and gave him opportunity to

wreak the forbidden thing upon the dead body. Not having succeeded with her when alive, he

was still importunate after her death to her body, and said: If thou wouldst not have to do with

me while thou livedst, I will outrage thy corpse now thou art dead. With this design, and having

managed for himself the wicked act by means of the abominable steward, he rushed with him to

the sepulchre; they opened the door and began to strip the grave-clothes from the corpse, saying:

What art thou profited, poor Drusiana? couldest thou not have done this in life, which perchance

would not have grieved thee, hadst thou done it willingly?

71 And as these men were speaking thus, and only the accustomed shift now remained on her

body, a strange spectacle was seen, such as they deserve to suffer who do such deeds. A serpent

appeared from some quarter and dealt the steward a single bite and slew him: but the young man

it did not strike; but coiled about his feet, hissing terribly, and when he fell mounted on his body

and sat upon him.


The Acts of St. John

72 Now on the next day John came, accompanied by Andronicus and the brethren, to the

sepulchre at dawn, it being now the third day from Drusiana's death, that we might break bread

there. And first, when they set out, the keys were sought for and could not be found; but John

said to Andronicus: It is quite right that they should be lost, for Drusiana is not in the sepulchre;

nevertheless, let us go, that thou mayest not be neglectful, and the doors shall be opened of

themselves, even as the Lord hath done for us many such things.

73 And when we were at the place, at the commandment of the master, the doors were opened,

and we saw by the tomb of Drusiana a beautiful youth, smiling: and John, when he saw him,

cried out and said: Art thou come before us hither too, beautiful one? and for what cause? And

we heard a voice saying to him: For Drusiana's sake, whom thou art to raise up-for I was within a

little of finding her -and for his sake that lieth dead beside her tomb. And when the beautiful one

had said this unto John he went up into the heavens in the sight of us all. And John, turning to the

other side of the sepulchre, saw a young man-even Callimachus, one of the chief of the

Ephesians-and a huge serpent sleeping upon him, and the steward of Andronicus, Fortunatus by

name, lying dead. And at the sight of the two he stood perplexed, saying to the brethren: What

meaneth such a sight? or wherefore hath not the Lord declared unto me what was done here, he

who hath never neglected me?

74 And Andronicus seeing those corpses, leapt up and went to Drusiana's tomb, and seeing her

lying in her shift only, said to John: I understand what has happened, thou blessed servant of

God, John. This Callimachus was enamoured of my sister; and because he never won her, though

he often assayed it, he hath bribed this mine accursed steward with a great sum, perchance

designing, as now we may see, to fulfil by his means the tragedy of his conspiracy, for indeed

Callimachus avowed this to many, saying: If she will not consent to me when living, she shall be

outraged when dead. And it may be, master, that the beautiful one knew it and suffered not her

body to be insulted, and therefore have these died who made that attempt. And can it be that the

voice that said unto thee, 'Raise up Drusiana', foreshowed this? because she departed out of this

life in sorrow of mind. But I believe him that said that this is one of the men that have gone

astray; for thou wast bidden to raise him up: for as to the other, I know that he is unworthy of

salvation. But this one thing I beg of thee: raise up Callimachus first, and he will confess to us

what is come about.

75 And John, looking upon the body, said to the venomous beast: Get thee away from him that is

to be a servant of Jesus Christ; and stood up and prayed over him thus: O God whose name is

glorified by us, as of right: O God who subduest every injurious force: O God whose will is

accomplished, who alway hearest us: now also let thy gift be accomplished in this young man;

and if there be any dispensation to be wrought through him, manifest it unto us when he is raised

up. And straightway the young man rose up, and for a whole hour kept silence.

76 But when he came to his right senses, John asked of him about his entry into the sepulchre,

what it meant, and learning from him that which Andronicus had told him, namely, that he was

enamoured of Drusiana, John inquired of him again if he had fulfilled his foul intent, to insult a

body full of holiness. And he answered him: How could I accomplish it when this fearful beast

struck down Fortunatus at a blow in my sight: and rightly, since he encouraged my frenzy, when

I was already cured of that unreasonable and horrible madness: but me it stopped with affright,

and brought me to that plight in which ye saw me before I arose. And another thing yet more

wondrous I will tell thee, which yet went nigh to slay and was within a little of making me a

corpse. When my soul was stirred up with folly and the uncontrollable malady was troubling me,

and I had now torn away the grave-clothes in which she was clad, and I had then come out of the


The Acts of St. John

grave and laid them as thou seest, I went again to my unholy work: and I saw a beautiful youth

covering her with his mantle, and from his eyes sparks of light came forth unto her eyes; and he

uttered words to me, saying: Callimachus, die that thou mayest live. Now who he was I knew

not, O servant of God; but that now thou hast appeared here, I recognize that he was an angel of

God, that I know well; and this I know of a truth that it is a true God that is proclaimed by thee,

and of it I am persuaded. But I beseech thee, be not slack to deliver me from this calamity and

this fearful crime, and to present me unto thy God as a man deceived with a shameful and foul

deceit. Beseeching help therefore of thee, I take hold on thy feet. I would become one of them

that hope in Christ, that the voice may prove true which said to me, 'Die that thou mayest live':

and that voice hath also fulfilled its effect, for he is dead, that faithless, disorderly, godless one,

and I have been raised by thee, I who will be faithful, God-fearing, knowing the truth, which I

entreat thee may be shown me by thee.

77 And John, filled with great gladness and perceiving the whole spectacle of the salvation of

man, said: What thy power is, Lord Jesu Christ, I know not, bewildered as I am at thy much

compassion and boundless long-suffering. O what a greatness that came down into bondage! O

unspeakable liberty brought into slavery by us! O incomprehensible glory that is come unto us!

thou that hast kept the dead tabernacle safe from insult; that hast redeemed the man that stained

himself with blood and chastened the soul of him that would defile the corruptible body; Father

that hast had pity and compassion on the man that cared not for thee; We glorify thee, and praise

and bless and thank thy great goodness and long-suffering, O holy Jesu, for thou only art God,

and none else: whose is the might that cannot be conspired against, now and world without end.


78 And when he had said this John took Callimachus and saluted (kissed) him, saying: Glory be

to our God, my child, who hath had mercy on thee, and made me worthy to glorify his power,

and thee also by a good course to depart from that thine abominable madness and drunkenness,

and hath called thee unto his own rest and unto renewing of life.

79 But Andronicus, beholding the dead Callimachus raised, besought John, with the brethren, to

raise up Drusiana also, saying: O John, let Drusiana arise and spend happily that short space (of

life) which she gave up through grief about Callimachus, when she thought she had become a

stumbling block to him: and when the Lord will, he shall take her again to himself. And John

without delay went unto her tomb and took her hand and said: Upon thee that art the only God do

I call, the more than great, the unutterable, the incomprehensible: unto whom every power of

principalities is subjected: unto whom all authority boweth: before whom all pride falleth down

and keepeth silence: whom devils hearing of tremble: whom all creation perceiving keepeth its

bounds. Let thy name be glorified by us, and raise up Drusiana, that Callimachus may yet more

be confirmed unto thee who dispensest that which unto men is without a way and impossible, but

to thee only possible, even salvation and resurrection: and that Drusiana may now come forth in

peace, having about her not any the least hindrance -now that the young man is turned unto thee-

in her course toward thee.

80 And after these words John said unto Drusiana: Drusiana, arise. And she arose and came out

of the tomb; and when she saw herself in her shift only, she was perplexed at the thing, and

learned the whole accurately from Andronicus, the while John lay upon his face, and

Callimachus with voice and tears glorified God, and she also rejoiced, glorifying him in like


81 And when she had clothed herself, she turned and saw Fortunatus lying, and said unto John:

Father, let this man also rise, even if he did assay to become my betrayer. But Callimachus, when


The Acts of St. John

he heard her say that, said: Do not, I beseech thee, Drusiana, for the voice which I heard took no

thought of him, but declared concerning thee only, and I saw and believed: for if he had been

good, perchance God would have had mercy on him also and would have raised him by means of

the blessed John: he knew therefore that the man was come to a bad end [Lat. he judged him

worthy to die whom he did not declare worthy to rise again]. And John said to him: We have not

learned, my child, to render evil for evil: for God, though we have done much ill and no good

toward him, hath not given retribution unto us, but repentance, and though we were ignorant of

his name he did not neglect us but had mercy on us, and when we blasphemed him, he did not

punish but pitied us, and when we disbelieved him he bore us no grudge, and when we

persecuted his brethren he did not recompense us evil but put into our minds repentance and

abstinence from evil, and exhorted us to come unto him, as he hath thee also, my son

Callimachus, and not remembering thy former evil hath made thee his servant, waiting upon his

mercy. Wherefore if thou allowest not me to raise up Fortunatus, it is for Drusiana so to do.

82 And she, delaying not, went with rejoicing of spirit and soul unto the body of Fortunatus and

said: Jesu Christ, God of the ages, God of truth, that hast granted me to see wonders and signs,

and given to me to become partaker of thy name; that didst breathe thyself into me with thy

many-shaped countenance, and hadst mercy on me in many ways; that didst protect me by thy

great goodness when I was oppressed by Andronicus that was of old my husband; that didst give

me thy servant Andronicus to be my brother; that hast kept me thine handmaid pure unto this

day; that didst raise me up by thy servant John, and when I was raised didst show me him that

was made to stumble free from stumbling; that hast given me perfect rest in thee, and lightened

me of the secret madness; whom I have loved and affectioned: I pray thee, O Christ, refuse not

thy Drusiana that asketh thee to raise up Fortunatus, even though he assayed to become my


83 And taking the hand of the dead man she said: Rise up, Fortunatus, in the name of our Lord

Jesus Christ. And Fortunatus arose, and when he saw John in the sepulchre, and Andronicus, and

Drusiana raised from the dead, and Callimachus a believer, and the rest of the brethren glorifying

God, he said: O, to what have the powers of these clever men attained! I did not want to be

raised, but would rather die, so as not to see them. And with these words he fled and went out of

the sepulchre.

84 And John, when he saw the unchanged mind (soul) of Fortunatus, said: O nature that is not

changed for the better! O fountain of the soul that abideth in foulness! O essence of corruption

full of darkness! O death exulting in them that are thine! O fruitless tree full of fire! O tree that

bearest coals for fruit! O matter that dwellest with the madness of matter (al. O wood of trees full

of unwholesome shoots) and neighbour of unbelief! Thou hast proved who thou art, and thou art

always convicted, with thy children. And thou knowest not how to praise the better things: for

thou hast them not. Therefore, such as is thy way (?fruit), such also is thy root and thy nature. Be

thou destroyed from among them that trust in the Lord: from their thoughts, from their mind,

from their souls, from their bodies, from their acts) their life, their conversation, from their

business, their occupations, their counsel, from the resurrection unto (or rest in) God, from their

sweet savour wherein thou wilt share, from their faith, their prayers, from the holy bath, from the

eucharist, from the food of the flesh, from drink, from clothing, from love, from care, from

abstinence, from righteousness: from all these, thou most unholy Satan, enemy of God, shall

Jesus Christ our God and of all that are like thee and have thy character, make thee to perish.

85 And having thus said, John prayed, and took bread and bare it into the sepulchre to break it;

and said: We glorify thy name, which converteth us from error and ruthless deceit: we glorify


The Acts of St. John

thee who hast shown before our eyes that which we have seen: we bear witness to thy loving-

kindness which appeareth in divers ways: we praise thy merciful name, O Lord (we thank thee),

who hast convicted them that are convicted of thee: we give thanks to thee, O Lord Jesu Christ,

that we are persuaded of thy which is unchanging: we give thanks to thee who hadst need of our

nature that should be saved: we give thanks to thee that hast given us this sure , for thou art

alone, both now and ever. We thy servants give thee thanks, O holy one, who are assembled with

intent and are gathered out of the world (or risen from death).

86 And having so prayed and given glory to God, he went out of the sepulchre after imparting

unto all the brethren of the eucharist of the Lord. And when he was come unto Andronicus'

house he said to the brethren: Brethren, a spirit within me hath divined that Fortunatus is about to

die of blackness (poisoning of the blood) from the bite of the serpent; but let some one go

quickly and learn if it is so indeed. And one of the young men ran and found him dead and the

blackness spreading over him, and it had reached his heart: and came and told John that he had

been dead three hours. And John said: Thou hast thy child, O devil.

'John therefore was with the brethren rejoicing in the Lord.' This sentence is in the best

manuscript. In Bonnet's edition It introduces the last section of the Acts, which follows

immediately in the manuscript. It may belong to either episode. The Latin has: And that day he

spent joyfully with the brethren.

There cannot be much of a gap between this and the next section, which is perhaps the most

interesting in the Acts.

The greater part of this episode is preserved only in one very corrupt fourteenth-century

manuscript at Vienna. Two important passages (93-5 (part) and 97-8 (part)) were read at the

Second Nicene Council and are preserved in the Acts thereof: a few lines of the Hymn are also

cited in Latin by Augustine (Ep. 237 (253) to Ceretius): he found it current separately among the

Priscillianists. The whole discourse is the best popular exposition we have of the Docetic view of

our Lord's person.

87 Those that were present inquired the cause, and were especially perplexed, because Drusiana

had said: The Lord appeared unto me in the tomb in the likeness of John, and in that of a youth.

Forasmuch, therefore, as they were perplexed and were, in a manner, not yet stablished in the

faith, so as to endure it steadfastly, John said (or John bearing it patiently, said):

88 Men and brethren, ye have suffered nothing strange or incredible as concerning your

perception of the , inasmuch as we also, whom he chose for himself to be apostles, were tried in

many ways: I, indeed, am neither able to set forth unto you nor to write the things which I both

saw and heard: and now is it needful that I should fit them for your hearing; and according as

each of you is able to contain it I will impart unto you those things whereof ye are able to

become hearers, that ye may see the glory that is about him, which was and is, both now and for


For when he had chosen Peter and Andrew, which were brethren, he cometh unto me and James

my brother, saying: I have need of you, come unto me. And my brother hearing that, said: John,

what would this child have that is upon the sea-shore and called us? And I said: What child? And

he said to me again: That which beckoneth to us. And I answered: Because of our long watch we

have kept at sea, thou seest not aright, my brother James; but seest thou not the man that standeth

there, comely and fair and of a cheerful countenance? But he said to me: Him I see not, brother;

but let us go forth and we shall see what he would have.

89 And so when we had brought the ship to land, we saw him also helping along with us to settle

the ship: and when we departed from that place, being minded to follow him, again he was seen


The Acts of St. John

of me as having rather bald, but the beard thick and flowing, but of James as a youth whose

beard was newly come. We were therefore perplexed, both of us, as to what that which we had

seen should mean. And after that, as we followed him, both of us were by little and little

perplexed as we considered the matter. Yet unto me there then appeared this yet more wonderful

thing: for I would try to see him privily, and I never at any time saw his eyes closing (winking),

but only open. And oft-times he would appear to me as a small man and uncomely, and then

againt as one reaching unto heaven. Also there was in him another marvel: when I sat at meat he

would take me upon his own breast; and sometimes his breast was felt of me to be smooth and

tender, and sometimes hard like unto stones, so that I was perplexed in myself and said:

Wherefore is this so unto me? And as I considered this, he . .

90 And at another time he taketh with him me and James and Peter unto the mountain where he

was wont to pray, and we saw in him a light such as it is not possible for a man that useth

corruptible (mortal) speech to describe what it was like. Again in like manner he bringeth us

three up into the mountain, saying: Come ye with me. And we went again: and we saw him at a

distance praying. I, therefore, because he loved me, drew nigh unto him softly, as though he

could not see me, and stood looking upon his hinder parts: and I saw that he was not in any wise

clad with garments, but was seen of us naked, and not in any wise as a man, and that his feet

were whiter than any snow, so that the earth there was lighted up by his feet, and that his head

touched the heaven: so that I was afraid and cried out, and he, turning about, appeared as a man

of small stature, and caught hold on my beard and pulled it and said to me: John, be not faithless

but believing, and not curious. And I said unto him: But what have I done, Lord? And I say unto

you, brethren, I suffered so great pain in that place where he took hold on my beard for thirty

days, that I said to him: Lord, if thy twitch when thou wast in sport hath given me so great pain,

what were it if thou hadst given me a buffet? And he said unto me: Let it be thine henceforth not

to tempt him that cannot be tempted.

91 But Peter and James were wroth because I spake with the Lord, and beckoned unto me that I

should come unto them and leave the Lord alone. And I went, and they both said unto me: He

(the old man) that was speaking with the Lord upon the top of the mount, who was he? for we

heard both of them speaking. And I, having in mind his great grace, and his unity which hath

many faces, and his wisdom which without ceasing looketh upon us, said: That shall ye learn if

ye inquire of him.

92 Again, once when all we his disciples were at Gennesaret sleeping in one house, I alone

having wrapped myself in my mantle, watched (or watched from beneath my mantle) what he

should do: and first I heard him say: John, go thou to sleep. And I thereon feigning to sleep saw

another like unto him [sleeping], whom also I heard say unto my Lord: Jesus, they whom thou

hast chosen believe not yet on thee (or do they not yet, &c.?). And my Lord said unto him: Thou

sayest well: for they are men.

93 Another glory also will I tell you, brethren: Sometimes when I would lay hold on him, I met

with a material and solid body, and at other times, again, when I felt him, the substance was

immaterial and as if it existed not at all. And if at any time he were bidden by some one of the

Pharisees and went to the bidding, we went with him, and there was set before each one of us a

loaf by them that had bidden us, and with us he also received one; and his own he would bless

and part it among us: and of that little every one was filled, and our own loaves were saved

whole, so that they which bade him were amazed. And oftentimes when I walked with him, I

desired to see the print of his foot, whether it appeared on the earth; for I saw him as it were

lifting himself up from the earth: and I never saw it. And these things I speak unto you, brethren,


The Acts of St. John

for the encouragement of your faith toward him; for we must at the present keep silence

concerning his mighty and wonderful works, inasmuch as they are unspeakable and, it may be,

cannot at all be either uttered or heard.

94 Now before he was taken by the lawless Jews, who also were governed by (had their law

from) the lawless serpent, he gathered all of us together and said: Before I am delivered up unto

them let us sing an hymn to the Father, and so go forth to that which lieth before us. He bade us

therefore make as it were a ring, holding one another's hands, and himself standing in the midst

he said: Answer Amen unto me. He began, then, to sing an hymn and to say:

Glory be to thee, Father.

And we, going about in a ring, answered him: Amen.

Glory be to thee, Word: Glory be to thee, Grace. Amen.

Glory be to thee, Spirit: Glory be to thee, Holy One:

Glory be to thy glory. Amen.

We praise thee, O Father; we give thanks to thee, O Light, wherein darkness

dwelleth not. Amen.

95 Now whereas (or wherefore) we give thanks, I say:

I would be saved, and I would save. Amen.

I would be loosed, and I would loose. Amen.

I would be wounded, and I would wound. Amen.

I would be born, and I would bear. Amen.

I would eat, and I would be eaten. Amen.

I would hear, and I would be heard. Amen.

I would be thought, being wholly thought. Amen.

I would be washed, and I would wash. Amen.

Grace danceth. I would pipe; dance ye all. Amen.

I would mourn: lament ye all. Amen.

The number Eight (lit. one ogdoad) singeth praise with us. Amen.

The number Twelve danceth on high. Amen.

The Whole on high hath part in our dancing. Amen.

Whoso danceth not, knoweth not what cometh to pass. Amen.

I would flee, and I would stay. Amen.

I would adorn, and I would be adorned. Amen.

I would be united, and I would unite. Amen.

A house I have not, and I have houses. Amen.

A place I have not, and I have places. Amen.

A temple I have not, and I have temples. Amen.

A lamp am I to thee that beholdest me. Amen.

A mirror am I to thee that perceivest me. Amen.

A door am I to thee that knockest at me. Amen.

A way am I to thee a wayfarer. .

96 Now answer thou (or as thou respondest) unto my dancing. Behold thyself in me who speak,

and seeing what I do, keep silence about my mysteries.

Thou that dancest, perceive what I do, for thine is this passion of the manhood, which I am about

to suffer. For thou couldest not at all have understood what thou sufferest if I had not been sent

unto thee, as the word of the Father. Thou that sawest what I suffer sawest me as suffering, and

seeing it thou didst not abide but wert wholly moved, moved to make wise. Thou hast me as a


The Acts of St. John

bed, rest upon me. Who I am, thou shalt know when I depart. What now I am seen to be, that I

am not. Thou shalt see when thou comest. If thou hadst known how to suffer, thou wouldest have

been able not to suffer. Learn thou to suffer, and thou shalt be able not to suffer. What thou

knowest not, I myself will teach thee. Thy God am I, not the God of the traitor. I would keep

tune with holy souls. In me know thou the word of wisdom. Again with me say thou: Glory be to

thee, Father; glory to thee, Word; glory to thee, Holy Ghost. And if thou wouldst know

concerning me, what I was, know that with a word did I deceive all things and I was no whit

deceived. I have leaped: but do thou understand the whole, and having understood it, say: Glory

be to thee, Father. Amen.

97 Thus, my beloved, having danced with us the Lord went forth. And we as men gone astray or

dazed with sleep fled this way and that. I, then, when I saw him suffer, did not even abide by his

suffering, but fled unto the Mount of Olives, weeping at that which had befallen. And when he

was crucified on the Friday, at the sixth hour of the day, darkness came upon all the earth. And

my Lord standing in the midst of the cave and enlightening it, said: John, unto the multitude

below in Jerusalem I am being crucified and pierced with lances and reeds, and gall and vinegar

is given me to drink. But unto thee I speak, and what I speak hear thou. I put it into thy mind to

come up into this mountain, that thou mightest hear those things which it behoveth a disciple to

learn from his teacher and a man from his God.

98 And having thus spoken, he showed me a cross of light fixed (set up), and about the cross a

great multitude, not having one form: and in it (the cross) was one form and one likenesst [so the

MS.; I would read: and therein was one form and one likeness: and in the cross another

multitude, not having one form]. And the Lord himself I beheld above the cross, not having any

shape, but only a voice: and a voice not such as was familiar to us, but one sweet and kind and

truly of God, saying unto me: John, it is needful that one should hear these things from me, for I

have need of one that will hear. This cross of light is sometimes called the (or a) word by me for

your sakes, sometimes mind, sometimes Jesus, sometimes Christ, sometimes door, sometimes a

way, sometimes bread, sometimes seed, sometimes resurrection, sometimes Son, sometimes

Father, sometimes Spirit, sometimes life, sometimes truth, sometimes faith, sometimes grace.

And by these names it is called as toward men: but that which it is in truth, as conceived of in

itself and as spoken of unto you (MS. us), it is the marking-off of all things, and the firm

uplifting of things fixed out of things unstable, and the harmony of wisdom, and indeed wisdom

in harmony [this last clause in the MS. is joined to the next: 'and being wisdom in harmony'].

There are of the right hand and the left, powers also, authorities, lordships and demons,

workings, threatenings, wraths, devils, Satan, and the lower root whence the nature of the things

that come into being proceeded.

99 This cross, then, is that which fixed all things apart (al. joined all things unto itself) by the (or

a) word, and separate off the things that are from those that are below (lit. the things from birth

and below it), and then also, being one, streamed forth into all things (or, made all flow forth. I

suggested: compacted all into ). But this is not the cross of wood which thou wilt see when thou

goest down hence: neither am I he that is on the cross, whom now thou seest not, but only

hearest his (or a) voice. I was reckoned to be that which I am not, not being what I was unto

many others: but they will call me (say of me) something else which is vile and not worthy of

me. As, then, the place of rest is neither seen nor spoken of, much more shall I, the Lord thereof,

be neither seen .

100 Now the multitude of one aspect (al. of one aspect) that is about the cross is the lower

nature: and they whom thou seest in the cross, if they have not one form, it is because not yet


The Acts of St. John

hath every member of him that came down been comprehended. But when the human nature (or

the upper nature) is taken up, and the race which draweth near unto me and obeyeth my voice, he

that now heareth me shall be united therewith, and shall no more be that which now he is, but

above them, as I also now am. For so long as thou callest not thyself mine, I am not that which I

am (or was): but if thou hear me, thou, hearing, shalt be as I am, and I shall be that which I was,

when I thee as I am with myself. For from me thou art that (which I am). Care not therefore for

the many, and them that are outside the mystery despise; for know thou that I am wholly with the

Father, and the Father with me.

101 Nothing, therefore, of the things which they will say of me have I suffered: nay, that

suffering also which I showed unto thee and the rest in the dance, I will that it be called a

mystery. For what thou art, thou seest, for I showed it thee; but what I am I alone know, and no

man else. Suffer me then to keep that which is mine, and that which is thine behold thou through

me, and behold me in truth, that I am, not what I said, but what thou art able to know, because

thou art akin thereto. Thou hearest that I suffered, yet did I not suffer; that I suffered not, yet did

I suffer; that I was pierced, yet I was not smitten; hanged, and I was not hanged; that blood

flowed from me, and it flowed not; and, in a word, what they say of me, that befell me not, but

what they say not, that did I suffer. Now what those things are I signify unto thee, for I know that

thou wilt understand. Perceive thou therefore in me the praising (al. slaying al. rest) of the (or a)

Word (Logos), the piercing of the Word, the blood of the Word, the wound of the Word, the

hanging up of the Word, the suffering of the Word, the nailing (fixing) of the Word, the death of

the Word. And so speak I, separating off the manhood. Perceive thou therefore in the first place

of the Word; then shalt thou perceive the Lord, and in the third place the man, and what he hath


102 When he had spoken unto me these things, and others which I know not how to say as he

would have me, he was taken up, no one of the multitudes having beheld him. And when I went

down I laughed them all to scorn, inasmuch as he had told me the things which they have said

concerning him; holding fast this one thing in myself, that the Lord contrived all things

symbolically and by a dispensation toward men, for their conversion and salvation.

103 Having therefore beheld, brethren, the grace of the Lord and his kindly affection toward us,

let us worship him as those unto whom he hath shown mercy, not with our fingers, nor our

mouth, nor our tongue, nor with any part whatsoever of our body, but with the disposition of our

soul -even him who became a man apart from this body: and let us watch because (or we shall

find that) now also he keepeth ward over prisons for our sake, and over tombs, in bonds and

dungeons, in reproaches and insults, by sea and on dry land, in scourgings, condemnations,

conspiracies, frauds, punishments, and in a word, he is with all of us, and himself suffereth with

us when we suffer, brethren. When he is called upon by each one of us, he endureth not to shut

his ears to us, but as being everywhere he hearkeneth to all of us; and now both to me and to

Drusiana, -forasmuch as he is the God of them that are shut upbringing us help by his own


104 Be ye also persuaded, therefore, beloved, that it is not a man whom I preach unto you to

worship, but God unchangeable, God invincible, God higher than all authority and all power, and

elder and mightier than all angels and creatures that are named, and all aeons. If then ye abide in

him, and are builded up in him, ye shall possess your soul indestructible.

105 And when he had delivered these things unto the brethren, John departed, with Andronicus,

to walk. And Drusiana also followed afar off with all the brethren, that they might behold the

acts that were done by him, and hear his speech at all times in the Lord.


The Acts of St. John

The remaining episode which is extant in the Greek is the conclusion of the book, the Death or

Assumption of John. Before it must be placed the stories which we have only in the Latin (of

'Abdias' and another text by 'Mellitus', i.e. Melito), and the two or three isolated fragments.

(Lat. XIV.) Now on the next (or another) day Craton, a philosopher, had proclaimed in the

market-place that he would give an example of the contempt of riches: and the spectacle was

after this manner. He had persuaded two young men, the richest of the city, who were brothers,

to spend their whole inheritance and buy each of them a jewel, and these they brake in pieces

publicly in the sight of the people. And while they were doing this, it happened by chance that

the apostle passed by. And calling Craton the philosopher to him, he said: That is a foolish

despising of the world which is praised by the mouths of men, but long ago condemned by the

judgement of God. For as that is a vain medicine whereby the disease is not extirpated, so is it a

vain teaching by which the faults of souls and of conduct are not cured. But indeed my master

taught a youth who desired to attain to eternal life, in these words; saying that if he would be

perfect, he should sell all his goods and give to the poor, and so doing he would gain treasure in

heaven and find the life that has no ending. And Craton said to him: Here the fruit of

covetousness is set forth in the midst of men, and hath been broken to pieces. But if God is

indeed thy master and willeth this to be, that the sum of the price of these jewels should be given

to the poor, cause thou the gems to be restored whole, that what I have done for the praise of

men, thou mayest do for the glory of him whom thou callest thy master. Then the blessed John

gathered together the fragments of the gems, and holding them in his hands, lifted up his eyes to

heaven and said: Lord Jesu Christ, unto whom nothing is impossible: who when the world was

broken by the tree of concupiscence, didst restore it again in thy faithfulness by the tree of the

cross: who didst give to one born blind the eyes which nature had denied him, who didst recall

Lazarus, dead and buried, after the fourth day unto the light; and has subjected all diseases and

all sicknesses unto the word of thy power: so also now do with these precious stones which

these, not knowing the fruits of almsgiving, have broken in pieces for the praise of men: recover

thou them, Lord, now by the hands of thine angels, that by their value the work of mercy may be

fulfilled, and make these men believe in thee the unbegotten Father through thine only-begotten

Son Jesus Christ our Lord, with the Holy Ghost the illuminator and sanctifier of the whole


world without end. And when the faithful who were with the apostle had answered and said

Amen, the fragments of the gems were forthwith so joined in one that no mark at all that they

had been broken remained in them. And Craton the philosopher, with his disciples, seeing this,

fell at the feet of the apostle and believed thenceforth (or immediately) and was baptized, with

them all, and began himself publicly to preach the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

XV. Those two brothers, therefore, of whom we spake, sold the gems which they had bought by

the sale of their inheritance and gave the price to the poor; and thereafter a very great multitude

of believers began to be joined to the apostle.

And when all this was done, it happened that after the same example, two honourable men of the

city of the Ephesian sold all their goods and distributed them to the needy, and followed the

apostle as he went through the cities preaching the word of God. But it came to pass, when they

entered the city of Pergamum, that they saw their servants walking abroad arrayed in silken

raiment and shining with the glory of this world: whence it happened that they were pierced with

the arrow of the devil and became sad, seeing themselves poor and clad with a single cloak while

their own servants were powerful and prosperous. But the apostle of Christ, perceiving these

wiles of the devil, said: I see that ye have changed your minds and your countenances on this


The Acts of St. John

account, that, obeying the teaching of my Lord Jesus Christ, ye have given all ye had to the poor.

Now, if ye desire to recover that which ye formerly possessed of gold, silver, and precious

stones, bring me some straight rods, each of you a bundle. And when they had done so, he called

upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and thev were turned into gold. And the apostle said to

them: Bring me small stones from the seashore. And when they had done this also, he called

upon the majesty of the Lord, and all the pebbles were turned into gems. Then the blessed John

turned to those men and said to them: Go about to the goldsmiths and jewellers for seven days,

and when ye have proved that these are true gold and true jewels, tell me. And they went, both of

them, and after seven days returned to the apostle, saying: Lord, we have gone about the shops of

all the goldsmiths, and they have all said that they never saw such pure gold. Likewise the

jewellers have said the same, that they never saw such excellent and precious gems.

XVI. Then the holy John said unto them: Go, and redeem to you the lands which ye have sold,

for ye have lost the estates of heaven. Buy yourselves silken raiment, that for a time ye may

shine like the rose which showeth its fragrance and redness and suddenly fadeth away. For ye

sighed at beholding your servants and groaned that ye were become poor. Flourish, therefore,

that ye may fade: be rich for the time, that ye may be beggars for ever. Is not the Lord's hand

able to make riches overflowing and unsurpassably glorious? but he hath appointed a conflict for

souls, that they may believe that they shall have eternal riches, who for his name's sake have

refused temporal wealth. Indeed, our master told us concerning a certain rich man who feasted

every day and shone with gold and purple, at whose door lay a beggar, Lazarus, who desired to

receive even the crumbs that fell from his table, and no man gave unto him. And it came to pass

that on one day they died, both of them, and that beggar was taken into the rest which is in

Abraham's bosom, but the rich man was cast into flaming fire: out of which he lifted up his eyes

and saw Lazarus, and prayed him to dip his finger in water and cool his mouth for he was

tormented in the flames. And Abraham answered him and said: Remember, son, that thou

receivedst good things in thy life, but this Lazarus likewise evil things. Wherefore rightly is he

now comforted while thou art tormented, and besides all this, a great gulf is fixed between you

and us, so that neither can they come thence hither, nor hither thence. But he answered: I have

five brethren: I pray that some one may go to warn them, that they come not into this flame. And

Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. To that he

answered: Lord, unless one rise up again, they will not believe. Abraham said to him: If they

believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again. And these words

our Lord and Master confirmed by examples of mighty works: for when they said to him: Who

hath come hither from thence, that we may believe him? he answered: Bring hither the dead

whom ye have. And when they had brought unto him a young man which was dead (Ps.-

Mellitus: three dead corpses), he was waked up by him as one that sleepeth, and confirmed all

his words.

But wherefore should I speak of my Lord, when at this present there are those whom in his name

and in your presence and sight I have raised from the dead: in whose name ye have seen palsied

men healed, lepers cleansed, blind men enlightened, and many delivered from evil spirits ? But

the riches of these mighty works they cannot have who have desired to have earthly wealth.

Finally, when ye yourselves went unto the sick and called upon the name of Jesus Christ, they

were healed: ye did drive out devils and restore light to the blind. Behold, this grace is taken

from you, and ye are become wretched, who were mighty and great. And where as there was

such fear of you upon the devils that at your bidding they left the men whom they possessed,

now ye will be in fear of the devils. For he that loveth money is the servant of Mammon: and


The Acts of St. John

Mammon is the name of a devil who is set over carnal gains, and is the master of them that love

the world. But even the lovers of the world do not possess riches, but are possessed of them. For

it is out of reason that for one belly there should be laid up so much food as would suffice a

thousand, and for one body so many garments as would furnish clothing for a thousand men. In

vain, therefore, is that stored up which cometh not into use, and for whom it is kept, no man

knoweth, as the Holy Ghost saith by the prophet: In vain is every man troubled who heapeth up

riches and knoweth not for whom he gathereth them. Naked did our birth from women bring us

into this light, destitute of food and drink: naked will the earth receive us which brought us forth.

We possess in common the riches of the heaven, the brightness of the sun is equal for the rich

and the poor, and likewise the light of the moon and the stars, the softness of the air and the

drops of rain, and the gate of the church and the fount of sanctification and the forgiveness of

sins, and the sharing in the altar, and the eating of the body and drinking of the blood of Christ,

and the anointing of the chrism, and the grace of the giver, and the visitation of the Lord, and the

pardon of sin: in all these the dispensing of the Creator is equal, without respect of persons.

Neither doth the rich man use these gifts after one manner and the poor after another.

But wretched and unhappy is the man who would have something more than sufficeth him: for of

this come heats of fevers rigours of cold, divers pains in all the members of the body, and he can

neither be fed with food nor sated with drink, that covetousness may learn that money will not

profit it, which being laid up bringeth to the keepers thereof anxiety by day and night, and

suffereth them not even for an hour to be quiet and secure. For while they guard their houses

against thieves, till their estate, ply the plough, pay taxes, build storehouses, strive for gain, try to

baffle the attacks of the strong, and to strip the weak, exercise their wrath on whom they can, and

hardly bear it from others, shrink not from playing at tables and from public shows, fear not to

defile or to be defiled, suddenly do they depart out of this world, naked, bearing only their own

sins with them, for which they shall suffer eternal punishment.

XVII. While the apostle was thus speaking, behold there was brought to him by his mother, who

was a widow, a young man who thirty days before had first married a vvife. And the people

which were waiting upon the burial came with the widowed mother and cast themselves at the

apostle's feet all together with groans, weeping, and mourning, and besought him that in the

name of his God, as he had done with Drusiana, so he would raise up this young man also. And

there was so great weeping of them all that the apostle himself could hardly refrain from crying

and tears. He cast himself down, therefore, in prayer, and wept a long time: and rising from

prayer spread out his hands to heaven, and for a long space prayed within himself. And when he

had so done thrice, he commanded the body which was swathed to be loosed, and said: Thou

youth Stacteus, who for love of thy flesh hast quickly lost thy soul: thou youth which knewest

not thy creator nor perceivedst the Saviour of men, and wast ignorant of thy true friend, and

therefore didst fall into the snare of the worst enemy: behold, I have poured out tears and prayers

unto my Lord for thine ignorance, that thou mayest rise from the dead, the bands of death being

loosed, and declare unto these two, to Atticus and Eugenius, how great glory they have lost, and

how great punishment they have incurred. Then Stacteus arose and worshipped the apostle, and

began to reproach his disciples, saying: I beheld your angels vveeping, and the angels of Satan

rejoicing at your overthrow. For now in a little time ye have lost the kingdom that was prepared

for you, and the dwellingplaces builded of shining stones, full of joy, of feasting and delights,

full of everlasting life and eternal light: and have gotten yourselves places of darkness, full of

dragons, of roaring flames, of torments, and punishments unsurpassable, of pains and anguish,

fear and horrible trembling. Ye have lost the places full of unfading flowers, shining, full of the


The Acts of St. John

sounds of instruments of music (organs), and have gotten on the other hand places wherein

roaring and howling and mourning ceaseth not day nor night. Nothing else remaineth for you

save to ask the apostle of the Lord that like as he hath raised me to life, he would raise you also

from death unto salvation and bring back your souls which now are blotted out of the book of


XVIII. Then both he that had been raised and all the people together with Atticus and Eugenius,

cast themselves at the apostle's feet and besought him to intercede for them with the Lord. Unto

whom the holy apostle gave this answer: that for thirty days they should offer penitence to God,

and in that space pray especially that the rods of gold might return to their nature and likewise

the stones return to the meanness wherein they were made. And it came to pass that after thirty

days were accomplished, and neither the rods were turncd into wood nor the gems into pebbles,

Atticus and Eugenius came and said to the apostle: Thou hast always taught mercy, and preached

forgiveness, and bidden that one man should spare another. And if God willeth that a man should

forgive a man, how much more shall he, as he is God, both forgive and spare men. We are

confounded for our sin: and whereas we have cried with our eyes which lusted after the world,

we do now repent with eyes that weep. We pray thee, Lord, we pray thee, apostle of God, show

in deed that mercy which in word thou hast always promised. Then the holy John said unto them

as they wept and repented, and all interceded for them likewise: Our Lord God used these words

when he spake concerning sinners: I will not the death of a sinner, but I will rather that he be

converted and live. For when the Lord Jesus Christ taught us concerning the penitent, he said:

Verily I say unto you, there is great joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth and turneth

himself from his sins: and there is more joy over him than over ninety and nine which have not

sinned. Wherefore I would have you know that the Lord accepteth the repentance of these men.

And he turned unto Atticus and Eugenius and said: Go, carry back the rods unto the wood

whence ye took them, for now are they returned to their own nature, and the stones unto the sea-

shore, for they are become common stones as they were before. And when this was

accomplished, they received again the grace which they had lost, so that again they cast out

devils as before time and healed the sick and enlightened the blind, and daily the Lord did many

mighty works by their means.

XIX tells shortly the destruction oi the temple of Ephesus and the conversion of 12,000 people.

Then follows the episode of the poison-cup in a form which probably represents the story in the

Leucian Acts. (We have seen that the late Greek texts place it at the beginning, in the presence of


XX. Now when Aristodemus, who was chief priest of all those idols, saw this, filled with a

wicked spirit, he stirred up sedition among the people, so that one people prepared themselves to

fight against the other. And John turned to him and said: Tell me, Aristodemus, what can I do to

take away the anger from thy soul? And Aristodemus said: If thou wilt have me believe in thy

God, I will give thee poison to drink, and if thou drink it, and die not, it will appear that thy God

is true. The apostle answered: If thou give me poison to drink, when I call on the name of my

Lord, it will not be able to harm me. Aristodemus said again: I will that thou first see others

drink it and die straightway that so thy heart may recoil from that cup. And the blessed John said:

I have told thee already that I am prepared to drink it that thou mayest believe on the Lord Jesus

Christ when thou seest me whole after the cup of poison. Aristodemus therefore went to the

proconsul and asked of him two men who were to undergo the sentence of death. And when he

had set them in the midst of the market-place before all the people, in the sight of the apostle he

made them drink the poison: and as soon as they had drunk it, they gave up the ghost. Then


The Acts of St. John

Aristodemus turned to John and said: Hearken to me and depart from thy teaching wherewith

thou callest away the people from the worship of the gods; or take and drink this, that thou

mayest show that thy God is almighty, if after thou hast drunk, thou canst remain whole. Then

the blessed Jolm, as they lay dead which had drunk the poison, like a fearless and brave man

took the cup, and making the sign of the cross, spake thus: My God, and the Father of our Lord

Jesus Christ, by whose word the heavens were established, unto whom all things are subject,

whom all creation serveth, whom all power obeyeth, feareth, and trembleth, when we call on

thee for succour: whose name the serpent hearing is still, the dragon fleeth, the viper is quiet, the

toad (which is called a frog) is still and strengthless, the scorpion is quenched, the basilisk

vanquished, and the phalangia (spider) doth no hurt -in a word, all venomous things, and the

fiercest reptiles and noisome beasts, are pierced (or covered with darkness). [Ps.- Mellitus adds:

and all roots hurtful to the health of men dry up.] Do thou, I say, quench the venom of this

poison, put out the deadly workings thereof, and void it of the strength which it hath in it: and

grant in thy sight unto all these whom thou hast created, eyes that they may see, and ears that

they may hear and a heart that they may understand thy greatness. And when he had thus said, he

armed his mouth and all his body with the sign of the cross and drank all that was in the cup.

And after be had drunk, he said: I ask that they for whose sake I have drunk, be turned unto thee,

O Lord, and by thine enlightening receive the salvation which is in thee. And when for the space

of three hours the people saw that John was of a cheerful countenance, and that there was no sign

at all of paleness or fear in him, they began to cry out with a loud voice: He is the one true God

whom John worshippeth.

XXI. But Aristodemus even so believed not, though the people reproached him: but turned unto

John and said: This one thing I lack -if thou in the name of thy God raise up these that have died

by this poison, my mind will be cleansed of all doubt. When he said that, the people rose against

Aristodemus saying: We will burn thee and thine house if thou goest on to trouble the apostle

further with thy words. John, therefore, seeing that there was a fierce sedition, asked for silence,

and said in the hearing of all: The first of the virtues of God which we ought to imitate is

patience, by which we are able to bear with the foolishness of unbelievers. Wherefore if

Aristodemus is still held by unbelicf, let us loose the knots of his unbelief. He shall be

compelled, even though late, to acknowledge his creator -for I will not cease from this work until

a remedy shall bring help to his wounds, and like physicians which have in their hands a sick

man needing medicine, so also, if Aristodemus be not yet cured by that which hath now been

done, he shall be cured by that which I will now do. And he called Aristodemus to him, and gave

him his coat, and he himself stood clad only in his mantle. And Aristodemus said to him:

Wherefore hast thou given me thy coat? John said to him: That thou mayest even so be put to

shame and depart from thine unbelief. And Aristodemus said: And how shall thy coat make me

to depart from unbelief? The apostle answered: Go and cast it upon the bodies of the dead, and

thou shalt say thus: The apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ hath sent me that in his name ye may

rise again, that all may know that life and death are servants of my Lord Jesus Christ. Which

when Aristodemus had done, and had seen them rise, he worshipped John, and ran quickly to the

proconsul and began to say with a loud voice: Hear me, hear me, thou proconsul; I think thou

rememberest that I have often stirred up thy wrath against John and devised many things against

him daily, wherefore I fear lest I feel his wrath: for he is a god hidden in the form of a man and

hath drunk poison, and not only continueth whole, but them also which had died by the poison he

hath recalled to life by my means, by the touch of his coat, and they have no mark of death upon

them. Which when the proconsul heard he said: And what wilt thou have me to do? Aristodemus


The Acts of St. John

answered: Let us go and fall at his feet and ask pardon, and whatever he commandeth us let us

do. Then they came together and cast themselves down and besought forgiveness: and he

received them and offered prayer and thanksgiving to God, and he ordained them a fast of a

week, and when it was fulfilled he baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and his

Almighty Father and the Holy Ghost the illuminator. [And when thev were baptized, with all

their house and their servants and their kindred, they brake all their idols and built a church in the

name of Saint John: wherein he himself was taken up, in manner following :]

This bracketed sentence, of late complexion, serves to introduce the last episode of the book.

[James gives two additional fragments that do not fit in any other place. These fragments are

very broken and are not of much use for this present project. However, if there is intrest in them,

they can be found on pages 264-6 of the text.]

The last episode of these Acts (as is the case with several others of the Apocryphal Acts) was

preservcd separately for reading in church on the Saint's day. We have it in at least nine Greck

manuscripts, and in many versions: Latin, Syriac, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Slavonic.

106 John therefore continued with the brethren, rejoicing in the Lord. And on the morrow, being

the Lord's day, and all the brethren being gathered together, he began to say unto them: Brethren

and fellow-servants and coheirs and partakers with me in the kingdom of the Lord, ye know the

Lord, hovv many mighty works he hath granted you by my means, how many wonders, healings,

signs, how great spirital gifts, teachings, governings, refreshings, ministries, knowledges, glories,

graces, gifts, beliefs, communions, all which ye have seen given you by him in your sight, yet

not seen by these eyes nor heard by these ears. Be ye therefore stablished in him, remembering

him in your every deed, knowing the mystery of the dispensation which hath come to pass

towards men, for what cause the Lord hath l accomplished it. He beseecheth you by me,

brethren, and entreateth you, desiring to remain without grief, without insult, not conspired

against, not chastened: for he knoweth even the insult that cometh of you, he knoweth even

dishonour, he knoweth even conspiracy, he knoweth even chastisement, from them that hearken

not to his commandments.

107 Let not then our good God be grieved, the compassionate, the merciful, the holy, the pure,

the undefiled, the immaterial, the only, the one, the unchangeable, the simple, the guileless, the

unwrathful, even our God Jesus Christ, who is above every name that we can utter or conceive,

and more exalted. Let him rejoice with us because we walk aright, let him be glad because we

live purely, let him be refreshed because our conversation is sober. Let him be without care

because we live continently, let him be pleased because we communicate one with another, let

him smile because we are chaste, let him be merry because we love him. These things I now

speak unto you, brethren, because I am hasting unto the work set before me, and already being

perfected by the Lord. For what else could I have to say unto you? Ye have the pledge of our

God, ye have the earnest of his goodness, ye have his presence that cannot be shunned. If, then,

ye sin no more, he forgiveth you that ye did in ignorance: but if after that ye have known him

and he hath had mercy on you, ye walk again in the like deeds, both the former will be laid to

your charge, and also ye will not have a part nor mercy before him.

108 And when he had spoken this unto them, he prayed thus: O Jesu who hast woven this crown

with thy weaving, who hast joined together these many blossoms into the unfading flower of thy

cormtenance, who hast sown in them these words: thou only tender of thy servants, and

physician who healest freely: only doer of good and despiser of none, only merciful and lover of

men, only saviour and righteous, only seer of all, who art in all and everywhere present and

containing all things and filling all things: Christ Jesu, God, Lord, that with thy gifts and thy


The Acts of St. John

mercy shelterest them that trust in thee, that knowest clearly the wiles and the assaults of him

that is everywhere our adversary, which he deviseth against us: do thou only, O Lord, succour

thy servants by thy visitation. Even so, Lord.

109 And he asked for bread, and gave thanks thus: What praise or what offering or what

thanksgiving shall we, breaking this bread, name save thee only, O Lord Jesu? We glorify thy

name that was said by the Father: we glorify thy name that was said through the Son (or we

glorify the name of Father that was said by thee . . . the name of Son that was said by thee): we

glorify thine entering of the Door. We glorify the resurrection shown unto us by thee. We glorify

thy way, we glorify of thee the seed, the word, the grace, the faith, the salt, the unspeakable (al.

chosen) pearl, the treasure, the plough, the net, the greatness, the diadem, him that for us was

called Son of man, that gave unto us truth, rest, knowledge, power, the commandment, the

confidence, hope, love, liberty, refuge in thee. For thou, Lord, art alone the root of immortality,

and the fount of incorruption, and the seat of the ages: called by all these names for us now that

calling on thee by them we may make known thy greatness which at the present is invisible unto

us, but visible only unto the pure, being portrayed in thy manhood only.

110 And he brake the bread and gave unto all of us, praying over each of the brethren that he

might be worthy of the grace of the Lord and of the most holy eucharist. And he partook also

himself likewise, and said: Unto me also be there a part with you, and: Peace be with you, my


111 After that he said unto Verus: Take with thee some two men, with baskets and shovels, and

follow me. And Verus without delay did as he was bidden by John the servant of God. The

blessed John therefore went out of the house and walked forth of the gates, having told the more

part to depart from him. And when he was come to the tomb of a certain brother of ours he said

to the young men: Dig, my children. And they dug and he was instant with them yet more,

saying: Let the trench be deeper. And as they dug he spoke unto them the word of God and

exhorted them that were come with him out of the house, edifying and perfecting them unto the

greatness of God, and praying over each one of us. And when the young men had finished the

trench as he desired, we knowing nothing of it, he took off his garments wherein he was clad and

laid them as it were for a pallet in the bottom of the trench: and standing in his shift only he

stretched his hands upward and prayed thus:

112 O thou that didst choose us out for the apostleship of the Gentiles: O God that sentest us into

the world: that didst reveal thyself by the law and the prophets: that didst never rest, but alway

from the foundation of the world savedst them that were able to be saved: that madest thyself

known through all nature: that proclaimedst thyself even among beasts: that didst make the

desolate and savage soul tame and quiet: that gavest thyself to it when it was athirst for thy

words: that didst appear to it in haste when it was dying: that didst show thyself to it as a law

when it was sinking into lawlessness: that didst manifest thyself to it when it had been

vanquished by Satan: that didst overcome its adversary when it fled unto thee: that avest it thine

hand and didst raise it up from the things of Hades: that didst not leave it to walk after a bodily

sort (in the body): that didst show to it its own enemy: that hast made for it a clear knowledge

toward thee: O God, Jesu, the Father of them that are above the heavens, the Lord of them that

are in the heavens, the law of them that are in the other, the course of them that are in the air, the

keeper of them that are on the earth, the fear of them that are under the earth, the grace of them

that are thine own: receive also the soul of thy John, which it may be is accounted worthy by



The Acts of St. John

113 O thou who hast kept me until this hour for thyself and untouched by union with a woman:

who when in my youth I desired to marry didst appear unto me and say to me: John I have need

of thee: who didst prepare for me also a sickness of the body: who when for the third time I

would marry didst forthwith prevent me, and then at the third hour of the day saidst unto me on

the sea: John, if thou hadst not been mine, I would have suffered thee to marry: who for two

years didst blind me (or afflict mine eyes), and grant me to mourn and entreat thee: who in the

third year didst open the eyes of my mind and also grant me my visible eyes: who when I saw

clearly didst ordain that it should be grievous to me to look upon a woman: who didst save me

from the temporal fantasy and lead me unto that which endureth always: who didst rid me of the

foul madness that is in the flesh: who didst take me from the bitter death and establish me on

thee alone: who didst muzzle the secret disease of my soul and cut off the open deed: who didst

afflict and banish him that raised tumult in me: who didst make my love of thee spotless: who

didst make my joining unto thee perfect and unbroken: who didst give me undoubting faith in

thee, who didst order and make clear my inclination toward thee: thou who givest unto every

man the due reward of his works, who didst put into my soul that I should have no possession

save thee only: for what is more precious than thee? Now therefore Lord, whereas I have

accomplished the dispensation wherewith I was entrusted, account thou me worthy of thy rest,

and grant me that end in thee which is salvation unspeakable and unutterable.

114 And as I come unto thee, let the fire go backward, let the darkness be overcome, let the gulf

be without strength, let the furnace die out, let Gehenna be quenched. Let angels follow, let

devils fear, let rulers be broken, Iet powers fall; let the places of the right hand stand fast, let

them of the left hand not remain. Let the devil be muzzled, let Satan be derided, let his wrath be

burned out, Iet his madness be stilled, let his vengeance be ashamed, let his assault be in pain, let

his children be smitten and all his roots plucked up. And grant me to accomplish the journey unto

thee without suffering insolence or provocation, and to receive that which thou hast promised

unto them that live purely and have loved thee only.

115 And having sealed himself in every part, he stood and said: Thou art with me, O Lord Jesu

Christ: and laid himself down in the trench where he had strown his garments: and having said

unto us: Peace be with you, brethren, he gave up his spirit rejoicing.

The less good Greek manuscripts and some versions are not content with this simple ending. The

Latin says that after the prayer a great light appeared over the apostle for the space of an hour, so

bright that no one could look at it. (Then he laid himself down and gave up the ghost.) We who

were there rejoiced, some of us, and some mourned. . . . And forthwith manna issuing from the

tomb was seen of all, which manna that place produceth even unto this day, &c. But perhaps the

best conclusion is that of one Greck manuscript:

We brought a linen cloth and spread it upon him, and went into the city. And on the day

following we went forth and found not his body, for it was translated by the power of our Lord

Jesus Christ, unto whom be glory, &c.

Another says: On the morrow we dug in the place, and him we found not, but only his sandals,

and the earth moving (lit. springing up like a well), and after that we remembered that which was

spoken by the Lord unto Peter, &c.

Augustine (on John xxi) reports the belief that in his time the earth over the grave was seen to

move as if stirred by John's breathing.


The Acts of St. John


Wilhelm Schneemelcher, ed., translation by R. McL. Wilson, New Testament Apocrypha : Writings

Relating to the Apostles Apocalypses and Related Subjects (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1992), pp. 152-