Apocalypse of Thomas

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The Apocalypse of Thomas is a work from the New Testament apocrypha, apparently composed originally in Greek. It concerns the end of the world, and appears to be a rendering of the Apocalypse of John,[citation needed] although written in a somewhat less enigmatic or mystical manner. It is the inspiration for the popular medieval millennial list Fifteen Signs before Doomsday.[1]

The text was written in Greek between the second and the fourth century, and was either copied or translated in Latin in Italy or North Africa. There are two recensions of the text, the second one of which containing an interpolation apparently written in the fifth century. It was widespread in Northwestern Europe, with manuscripts dating between the eighth and the eleventh century. It was proscribed by Gelasius of Cyzicus in the fifth century, but this seemed not to have harmed its popularity: the Apocalypse was most likely accepted as canonical "in certain parts of Western Christendom in the ninth and tenth centuries".[2] The Decretum Gelasianum, traditionally attributed to Pope Gelasius I, rejects it as apochryphal.[3]

The interpolated version of the Apocalypse is notable for having inspired the Fifteen Signs before Doomsday, a list of fifteen signs given over fifteen days announcing Judgment Day, a visionary list which spread all over Europe and remained popular possibly into Shakespeare's day.[2]


  1. ^ Dunn, Charles W. (1958). "Rev. of Heist, The Fifteen Signs before Doomsday". The Journal of American Folklore. 71 (280): 189. JSTOR 537713.
  2. ^ a b Gatch, Milton McCormick (1964). "Two Uses of Apocrypha in Old English Homilies". Church History. 33 (4): 379–91. doi:10.2307/3162832. JSTOR 3162832.
  3. ^ "Tertullian : Decretum Gelasianum (English translation)". www.tertullian.org. Retrieved 2021-12-30.

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