Acts of Timothy

Acta apostoli Timothei

Standard abbreviation: Acts Tim.

Other titles: none

Clavis numbers: CANT 295

Category: Apocryphal Acts

Related literature: Acts of John 37-47

Compiled by: Cavan Concannon, University of Southern California (

Citing this resource (using Chicago Manual of Style): Concannon, Cavan. “Acts of Timothy.” e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR.

Posted January, 2016.


The Acts of Timothy recounts Timothy’s tenure as bishop of Ephesus. The Latin version of the text attributes its authorship to Polycrates, the bishop of Ephesus at the end of the second century (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 5.23-24). Timothy is said to have been born to a Greek father and a Jewish mother in Lystra, following the description in Acts 16. He was converted by Paul and traveled with him until he settled in Ephesus. After Paul’s martyrdom under Nero, the apostle John, equated here with John of Patmos, arrives in Ephesus. Followers of the disciples bring to John various traditions about Jesus on loose sheets of paper, which he organizes into three gospels and assigns to them their traditional names. Then he composes his own to fill in details missing in the other three. John is then exiled to the island of Patmos by Domitian. Timothy, who is still ruling as bishop, publicly attacks a local pagan festival called the Katagogia. In response, the revelers use their clubs and stones to kill Timothy. The local Christians take the bishop and bury him outside of the city in a place called Pion. Some Greek manuscripts mention that his body was later removed to Constantinople to the Church of the Apostles. This removal occurred in 356 CE and was one of the first documented removals of a saint’s body. Under the reign of Nerva John returns from exile and becomes bishop in Ephesus until the reign of Trajan.

Named historical figures and characters: Domitian, Irenaeus of Lyon, John (evangelist), Luke (evangelist), Mark (evangelist), Matthew (apostle), Nero, Nerva, Paul (apostle), Peter (apostle), Polycrates (bishop), Timothy, Trajan.

Geographical locations:  Asia, Embelos Quarter (Ephesus), Ephesus, Galatia,  Lugdunum, Lycaonia, Lystria, Pamphylia, Patmos, Phrygia, Pion (Ephesus), Pontus.


2.1 Art and Iconography

Illustration of Timothy in two menologia:

The Menologion of Basil II, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana gr. 1613, p. 341.

The “Imperial Menologion,” Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, w. 521, fol. 203v. (Dependent on the Menologion of Basil II).

Patterson Ševčenko, Nancy. “The Walters Imperial Menologion.” The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 51 (1993): 43–64.


3.1 Manuscripts and Editions

3.1.1 Greek

Family 1:

A  Mount Athos, Koutlumousiou, 37, fols. 276r-277v (10th cent.)

O  Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Ottob. gr. 54, fols. 11r-13r (11th cent.)

B  Berlin, Deutsche Bibliothek, 220, fols. 37v-40v (13th cent.)

Family 2:

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, gr. 1219 fols. 64r-67r (11th cent.)

V  Vatican, Biblioteca apostolica, gr. 1595 fols. 56v-57v (11th cent.)

C  Vatican, Biblioteca apostolica, gr. 886, fols. 394r-395r (11th/12th cent.)

M  Messina, Biblioteca Universitaria, 63 fols. 230v-232v (13th cent.)

Zamagni, Claudio. “Passion (ou Actes) de Timothée. Étude des traditions anciennes et édition de la forme BHG 1487.” Pages 341–75 in Poussières de christianisme et de judaïsme antiques. Études réunies en l’honneur de Jean-Daniel Kaestli et Éric Junod. Edited by Albert Frey and Rémi Gounelle. Prahins: Publications de l’Institut Romand des Sciences Bibliques, 2007. Reprinted in  Claudio Zamagni, Recherches sur le Nouveau Testament et les apocryphes chrétiens. Rimini: GuaraliLAB, 2017, pp. 257–301 (Critical edition of the Greek tradition based on the seven manuscripts above.)

3.1.2 Latin

Usener, Hermann. Natalicia regis augustissimi Guilelmi imperatoris Germaniae ab Universitate Fridericia Guilelmia Rhenana […] Insunt Acta S. Timothei. Bonn: Programme de l’université de Bonn, 1877.

3.2 Modern Translations

3.2.1 English

Concannon, Cavan. “The Acts of Timothy.” Pages 395–405 in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures. Vol. 1. Edited by Tony Burke and Brent Landau. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016.

3.2.2 French

Claudio Zamagni, “Actes de Timothée.” Pages 587-601 in volume 2 of Écrits apocryphes chrétiens. Edited by Pierre Geoltrain and Jean-Daniel Kaestli. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade 516. Paris: Gallimard, 2005.

3.3 General Works

Barnes, Timothy D. Early Christian Hagiography and Roman History. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010, p. 300–303.

Concannon, Cavan W. “In the Great City of the Ephesians: Contestations over Apostolic Memory and Ecclesial Power in the Acts of Timothy.”  JECS 24.3 (2016): 419-46.

Delehaye, Hippolyte. “Les actes de Saint Timothée.” Pages 77–84 in Anatolian Studies Presented to William Hepburn Buckler. Edited by William Moir Calder and Josef Keil. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1939.

Keil, Josef. “Zum Martyrium des heiligen Timotheus in Ephesus.” JÖAI 29 (1935): 82–92.

Klauck, Hans-Josef. The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction. Translated by Brian McNeil; Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2008, p. 248–49.

Lipsius, Richard A. Die apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden. 2 vols. in 3 parts. Braunschweig, 1883–1890 (see vol. 2.2:372–400).

Zahn, Theodor. “Rezension ‘Acta S. Timothei edidit H. Usener (Programm der Universität Bonn zum 22. März 1877).” Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen (1878): 97–114.