To those unfamiliar with the tenets of Christianity, the Holy Bible might seem like a singular text written by a lone author. But it’s actually better described as a series of texts written by a multitude of writers and compiled over centuries. This means there’s a bunch of would-be Bible chapters that didn’t make the cut; these secondary texts are referred to as the “gnostic gospels” in one specific case and apocryphal or gnostic texts more generally.
Many of these alternate biblical sections were discovered by archaeologists or amateurs in locations like Egypt and Palestine. And though their origins are often dubious, they each contain a wealth of interesting information - from what Jesus did when he descended into Hell, to what his mischievous childhood was like, as well as a handful of taboo stories that were left out of the Bible for obvious reasons.
The Infancy Gospel of James, also known as the Protevangelium of James, is a manuscript discovered in 1958 that’s believed to date back to around 150 CE. This gnostic text tells the story of Jesus Christ’s birth and childhood in greater - and more vividly intense - detail.
A skeptical individual doubts Mary’s character-defining purity, and Mary welcomes her to test that theory. Without warning, however, Mary’s private parts turn red-hot and burn the woman’s hand clean off! Or, as the woman describes it:
Woe for my lawlessness and the unbelief that made me test the living God. Look, my hand is falling away from me and being consumed in fire.
Fortunately for her, the touch of baby Jesus is all it takes to restore her lost body part.
The evangelist known as Matthew already has some canonical contributions to the Bible, but the Infancy Gospel of Matthew - or The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew - is not believed to have been written by him. This gnostic text adds a number of details to Jesus’s childhood, including a visit with his mother to a cave where the holy duo encounter dragons.
Fortunately, as the gospel tells it, baby Jesus makes the cave-dragons bow down before him:
And, lo, suddenly there came forth from the cave many dragons; and
when the children saw them, they cried out in great terror. Then Jesus
went down from the bosom of His mother, and stood on His feet before
the dragons; and they adored Jesus, and thereafter retired.
Several different gnostic texts offer alternate takes on the story of Judas Iscariot, but an untitled book by the Bishop Papias - preserved in fragments in later tomes - gives him an ending worthy of the most macabre horror films.
In this version of the tale, Judas is cursed with bloated flesh and swollen eyeballs, along with frequent maggot-filled discharges. Worst of all, his member appears "more repulsive” than any Papias has previously encountered.
To add insult to injury, Papias notes of the location where Judas meets his end, “Still today no one can pass by that place without pinching his nostrils, such was the efflux that seeped from his flesh to the ground.”
A group known as the Gnostics are infamous for their seemingly bizarre takes on Christianity, most of which are derived from an apocryphal text titled The Greater Questions of Mary. The titular character is Mary Magdalene, and the text sees her and Jesus share one of the raunchiest biblical scenes imaginable.
In Greater Questions, Jesus tells Mary the ritualistic collection of his seed is necessary, and to demonstrate, he yanks a woman out of his side and proceeds to copulate with her in front of Mary. At the end, Jesus pulls out and eats his own seed.