The Bible is a valuable collection of sacred ancient texts,
written and assembled over several hundreds of years by numerous authors. These
texts were written to particular people living at a definite time and
place who shared common experiences and knowledge.
By studying similar literature that precedes and follows the biblical writings chronologically, students of the Bible are better
prepared to discover the intended meaning.
Apocryphal and pseudepigraphal literature was apparently intended
either to supplement or supplant existing canonical literature. Many of
the apocryphal gospels offer guesses as to what occurred during the
so-called "missing years" of Jesus' life -- during his childhood or after
his resurrection. Others attempt to provide support for later theological
convictions -- both orthodox and heretical. Whether the information found in the apocryphal literature is
factually correct or not is not necessarily important. These documents
give interpreters valuable insight into what some Jews and Christians
believed in various places at different times.