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In the latter half of the 19th century, religious liberalism was on the rise. Some critics of the Bible, like Robert G. Ingersoll, were making the most of this tide of skepticism, and many conservative pastors and teachers were worried about the faith of their congregations. So there began to appear a number of documents purporting to be translated from ancient manuscripts, corroborating the biblical accounts. Most of these were exposed as frauds within a few years, and passed into oblivion. A few, however, have managed to stick around to this present day. Even though they have been discredited by scholars, they manage to retain a small but zealous following to keep them in print. The Archko Volume, as it is most commonly called today, is one of these. I first heard about The Archko Volume when I was in seminary. Being interested but a little skeptical, I asked one of my professors if it was legitimate. His answer was brief but clear. "It's as phony as a three-dollar bill!" (which doesn't exist in the USA). Since that time I found a good expose of The Archko Volume in an old book by Edgar J. Goodspeed titled "Strange New Gospels." He has a twenty-page chapter on it in that volume. His treatment was sufficient to convince me that The Archko Volume is not a genuine ancient document. I would hesitate to say that W. D. Mahan himself perpetrated the hoax, though he may have. But it also could have been the men he relied on for information about and securing a copy of this alleged ancient account. My advice is that most folks would use their time better to read their Bibles and other trustworthy books, and forget about The Archko Volume, unless they have a friend or loved one who is getting tangled up with this work and they wish to educate themselves in order to help this person.
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