The Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles
The Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, also known as the Sonnini Manuscript, is a short text purporting to be the translation of a manuscript containing the 29th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, detailing St. Paul's journey to Britain, where he preached to a tribe of Israelites on Ludgate Hill, the site of St Paul's Cathedral. (The canonical book of Acts ends rather abruptly with Paul kept under house arrest in chapter 28, which has led to various theories about the history of the text.)
The text was found interleaved in a copy of the French naturalist Sonnini de Manoncourt Voyage en Grèce et en Turquie and purchased at the sale of the library and effects of Sir John Newport, Bart., MP (1756–1843) in Ireland, whose family arms were engraved on the cover of the book, and in whose possession it had been for more than thirty years. The Sultan of Turkey granted Sonnini permission to travel in all parts of the Ottoman dominions and he supposedly discovered the text from a "Greek manuscript discovered in the archives at Constantinople and presented to him by the Sultan Abdoul Achmet.
The text made its first appearance in London in 1871 and was printed as a six page pamphlet by Geo. J. Stevenson entitled: The long lost chapter of the Acts of the Apostles: containing an account of the Apostle Paul's journey into Spain and Britain, and other interesting events. Stevenson listed the following reasons in favour of the text's genuineness:
- (a) It has all the appearance of being of ancient date.
- (b) It is written in Greek, and in the style of the Acts.
- (c) The places and peoples mentioned are called by their ancient or Roman names.
- (d) Its tone is dignified and spiritual.
- (e) Its scriptural brevity.
- (f) The remarkable character of its prophetic expressions.
- (g) Its being preserved in the Archives of Constantinople.
- (h) Its pure gospel character and generous conception of the Divine purpose and plan.
However no trace of the original (Greek) manuscript has been found, and from internal evidence, mainstream philology considers it to most likely be a fraud, thus it is classed among the modern pseudepigrapha.
As of 2005, it is available in a 1982 edition by E. Raymond Capt (ISBN 0-934666-09-1) from Artisan Publishers, Muskogee, which is a publisher specializing in evangelical fringe subjects. More recently the British-Israel-World Federation have printed the text in PDF, with added notes.
- The Lost Books of the Bible: The Great Rejected Texts, Joseph Lumpkin, Fifth Estate Publisher, 2009, p.822
- "Strange New Gospels" by Edgar Godspeed