Scholars have now translated strange apocryphal biblical texts about 'Demons' and 'Wizards' into English for the first time.
At the end of the fourth century, the church selected and canonized the biblical texts for inclusion in the Bible as we know it today.
However, before then, hundreds of other religious texts circulated Christendom.
According to scholars, more than 300 ancient Christian texts that never made the final edit for inclusion in the Bible still exist.
And recently, a group of scholars translated some leftover texts, and they contain surprising details.
These ancient apocryphal texts of Christianity have been published in a 2020 book New Testament Apocrypha More Noncanonical Scriptures (Volume 2).
The book features hundreds of texts that were once held to be true by Christian followers, even after the canonization of the Bible.
Tony Burke, a professor of early Christianity at Canada's York University who edited the book, noted:
Apocryphal texts were integral to the spiritual lives of Christians long after the apparent closing of the canon… The calls to avoid and even destroy such literature were not always effective.
Here are some of the stories.
Battle against Wizards and How The Virgin Mary Helped
In the text, the Virgin Mary comes to Bishop Basil (who lived from A.D. 329-379) in a dream. She then tells him where to find an image of her that is 'not made by human hands.'
She also directs him to place the image in the sanctuary of her church on top of two columns, which he will find in a temple outside of Philippi.
But at the temple, the bishop finds himself and his men fighting against a group of wizards who knew diabolical magic. The wizards want to keep Basil from completing his quest.
When Basil goes to sleep, the Virgin Mary comes to him in another dream. She vows that the wizards will be defeated, saying:
Those who did this evil deed of impertinent magic, behold, they are blind, grasping.
Later on, after Basil wakes up, water bubbles up beside the columns creating a stream that miraculously heals people.
However, the wizards were not so fortunate, as 'immediately the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them.'
Basil also finds that Virgin Mary had already placed the image on the columns.
Another text tells of the Apostle Peter trapping 'seven demons,' who were posing as angels in the city of Azotus (Ashdod) in what is now Israel.
In the text, Peter marks a circle around the angels and say:
My Lord Jesus Christ, let your glory be revealed through the Holy Spirit.
Are these, as they say, angels of your divinity or spirits who hate what is good?
Six of the demons then confess to Peter that they are demons of deception, sexual immorality, falsehood, adultery, avarice and slander.
However, the seventh demon challenges Peter.
The demon asks him why demons are mistreated compared to humans, saying that Christ forgives human sins but not demons' sins.
The demon says:
You have the partiality of Christ, for which reason he chastises us, but he spares you when you repent.
Therefore, when he leads a prostitute and a tax collector and a denier and a blasphemer and a slanderer into his kingdom, then he ought to gather all of us with you!
The demon also points out that humans should stop blaming demons for their mistakes.
The demon adds:
I, the devil, am not their troubler, but they themselves fall down. For I have become weak and am without vigor.
Therefore, I no longer have a place nor an arrow, for everywhere, people have become Christians.
Therefore, let them guard themselves and not cast blame.
In the end, Peter lets the demons go.
These and other ancient Christian tales provide intriguing insights into the early days of one of the world's largest faiths.
And as more translations of these texts come to light, a full picture of Christianity's ancient roots will emerge.