There is a vast literature from antiquity concerning the life and works of Jesus, material known as ""extra-canonical"" literature or apocrypha. From these sources, Ballou has assembled extracts corresponding to the stages of Jesus' life, from birth to post-resurrectional apparitions. Each extract is preceded by a short note on the source, and occasionally by an appraisal of the latter's credibility. The author's choice of passages is acceptable, and his commentaries are helpful, so far as they go -- but they do not go far enough. One of the principal uses of such a book will be to illustrate the believer's mentality during the first centuries of the Church as well as document the shifting emphasis of faith according to the political and social vagaries of the time. This, however, is where Ballou most signally fails. For example, the stern Byzantine Christ of the medieval period, who ""sometimes hath wept, but never laughed,"" is passed over with the comment that this representation was ""probably inspired by conventional paintings"" -- which misses the point altogether. In other words, the author fails to supply the reader with a pertinent frame of reference; and he therefore restricts the appeal of his book to the now hard-to-find inspirational market.