Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ

An apocryphal work purporting (like, e.g., the Gospel of Thomas*) to give post-resurrection words of Jesus to the disciples. An apocalypse of the end is followed by detailed prescriptions for church layout, services, ministry, and catechumenate. The prayers have a warm, devotional quality. The “church order” has clearly drawn on, inter alia, the lost Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus,* but reflects a later period, with security for the church. The date is impossible to determine: probably in the fifth, perhaps the fourth century. Apollinarian or Monophysite ingredients are sometimes alleged but remain uncertain, though its later use in Monophysite churches may have affected the translated versions. The place of origin is also obscure: references in the Apocalypse suggest Asia Minor, the provenance Syria or Egypt.

The colophon of the published Syriac indicates its translation from Greek in a.d. 687. Coptic, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions exist, and a Latin arrangement of the Apocalypse. The direct attribution of these prescriptions and liturgies to the Risen Lord is the climax of a series of “apostolic” church orders, and perhaps reflects anxious championship of a particular local use.