Question: Can we turn to the apocryphal Gospels in order to fill in the gaps of those parts of Jesus' life that the canonical Gospels do not discuss?
AP: Some authors of some pretty sensationalist books have told the public "yes," especially with the early years of Jesus' life (also known as his "hidden" life). But the truth is that the apocryphal Gospels do not provide us with reliable information about Jesus. Here are two reasons why:
First, the apocryphal Gospels were composed many years, sometimes hundreds of years, after the life of Jesus. Thus, these texts are almost all very late, and they try to provide data on aspects of the life of Jesus that lacked interest at the beginning of Christianity and were, as a result, lost. Such data, since it was not recorded earlier, must be an invention.
Second, they do not have first-hand information. For much of what they say, they rely on the four canonical Gospels. They are also full of an incredible fantasy, sometimes childlike. Those accounts are pure legends in the majority of cases. In principle, we cannot trust of the apocryphal Gospels.