Two-day symposium exploring Christian Apocrypha comes to York U

Bart Ehrman
Bart Ehrman

A two-day symposium exploring biblical Apocrypha at York University will take place Sept. 25 and 26, featuring keynote speaker and bestselling author Bart Ehrman.

Bart Ehrman
Bart Ehrman

The 2015 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium returns to York U for the third time, and this year investigates motivations behind the production of Christian Apocrypha from antiquity to the present day.

Hosted by the Department of Humanities and organized by Professor Tony Burke, the event brings a total of 19 speakers to the forefront to discuss their findings on the subject of fakes, forgeries and fictions in relation to Christian texts.

“One of the goals of the symposium was to attract a broad audience – scholars publishing in the field, students (graduate and undergraduate), and members of the public simply interested in the texts because of (the texts’) recent impact on popular culture via The Da Vinci Code novel and news of sensational discoveries like the Gospel of Judas,” said Burke, who authored Secret Scriptures Revealed: A New Introduction to the Christian Apocrypha.

This year, the two-day event at Vanier College will feature five sessions and a keynote address.

Highlights, said Burke, include the address by Ehrman on “Apocryphal Forgeries: The Logic of Literary Deceit,” which runs on Sept. 25 from 8 to 9:30pm. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and he has written or edited 30 books, including five New York Times bestsellers: How Jesus Became God, Misquoting Jesus, God’s Problem, Jesus Interrupted and Forged.

“The keynote address on Friday night is particularly tailored to non-scholars,” said Burke. “Bart Ehrman has written a number of popular-market books on aspects of biblical studies, including Christian Apocrypha, and he is an engaging speaker.”

Burke also points out the session on the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, which runs Sept. 26 from 1 to 3 pm, to be an item of particular interest.

The panel of four presenters during this session will reflect on reactions to the recently published Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, and how it has been perceived in the field and in the media.

Tony Burke
Tony Burke

“When the existence of the text was revealed in 2012, many scholars rushed to declare it a modern forgery and scrambled to present evidence for their position, much of it published on scholarly blogs,” said Burke. “The session is intended not as an assessment of the evidence for or against forgery, but as an examination of the reception of the text.”

The panel, Burke suggested, will be of interest to both scholars and non-scholars.

The symposium first ran in 2011, and returned for a second time in 2013. It was created to foster opportunities for interaction and collaboration among North American scholars in the field.

At last year’s symposium, organizers laid the groundwork for a scholarly association, the North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature (NASSCAL), of which Burke is president.

The symposium is open to scholars, students and interested members of the public. Registration for the two-day event is $25 for students and $50 for non-students. Tickets for Bart Ehrman alone are $10 (payable in cash only at the door) for non-students and there is no charge for York U students (with valid student identification).

For more information and registration details, visit The event organizer, Tony Burke, can be contacted directly at