During this season, lots of people talk about the Bible more than usual (without, you know, actually reading it). And, with the Final Crisis (whatever it may be) looming, it's also a time when lots of people are wondering what will remain in DC continuity.
So I thought I'd save time by talking about both at the same time.
The Bible, you may already know, wasn't all written at the same time, was written by lots of different people, and has been subject to periodic reboots and continuity debates (sometime with almost as much fervor as those concerning comic books). In fact, it wasn't originally "The Bible singular", but "ta biblia", the books plural (in Greek). Only later, in medieval times, did it start being referred to as a Latin singular biblia. In other words, the Bible is a Showcase Edition, not a graphic novel.
Back in the early days of Christianity, it was kind of like the Silver Age, and people wrote whatever crazy colorful crap crossed their minds ("Last night, I had a revelation/ imaginary story /elseworlds!") and didn't worry much about how it all fit together. Along came a new Editor in Chief, Emperor Constantine (who was kind of like Dan Didio, only with an even bigger nose) who decided that Dogmatic Christian continuity needed a housecleaning and ordered a big writers/editors conference called the Council of Nicea (with the superstars of the day, Geoff Johns/Eusebius of Caesarea, Mark Waid/Athanasius of Alexandria, and Grant Morrison/Eustathius of Antioch).
A lot of books didn't make the cut , and for many of the same reasons stories get cut of out comic book continuity. Sometimes, it's because they were because those books were written as infracontinuity. Infracontinuity is what I call stories that are not really designed to move the main character's storyline forward, but rather, fill the storyline in, e.g., by telling stories about the character's past or beginnings (ponecontinuity), or by expanding on the details of previous told stories (microcontinuity).
One of the types of infracontinuity that usually annoys me is that which zooms in on a supporting, or even throwaway, character to become a centerpiece of their own story or mythology. This a particular bane of fanfic; why, there've probably been more stories written about Kevin Riley than Sherlock Holmes. Maybe there's a real term for it I don't know, but I (rather meanly) call it "servocontinuity", because the plot "slave" becomes the plot master. Virtually all of Sandman after Gaiman left is servocontinuity (I mean, really; Merv Pumpkinhead the Mini-series?!)
The Book of Enoch is very much in this tradition. Enoch (a seventh gen begat-ee of Adam) did next to nothing in the mainstream Bible, but somebody wrote him his own book anyway (kind of like Michael Reaves' Shadow Hunter). If Enoch were Jimmy Olsen, then the Book of Enoch is Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen (with the visit to heaven part being written by Jack Kirby). The Nicean Council wisely decided not to include it because it was too wacky and would have interrupted the overall flow of the Bible's big story; judging by Countdown, Dan Didio & Co. would have re-written the Bible around it.
The Gospel of Mary is, of course, Supergirl. Neither of them made it during the Nicean Council of 1986. I mean, you know; she's a girl. We can't have her around on any sort of equal footing with boys. Let's brand her inaccurately as a prostitute or an incompetent who has to be hidden away in an orphanage as a 'secret weapon'. Then, if she still won't stay dead/in her place, we'll let Peter David and Jeff Loeb ruin her.
One of DC's most troublesome ponecontinuities is the Adventures of Superboy, or, as it was marketed outside of the U.S. to the early Christians, The Infancy Gospels of Thomas. Ah, the wacky Silver Age hijinx of the Infancy Gospels...
Jesus uses his superbreath to make the clay ravens fly away. The people of Smallville are afraid that Jesus will wish them into the cornfield. Jesus flies back through the time barrier to prove that he didn't kill Zeno Luthor. Jesus uses his heat vision to weld a child's foot back onto his leg. When Pete gets bitten by a snake on a camping trip, Jesus uses his superbreath to blow the poison out and zaps the snake with his heat vision. Oh, and when Jesus went to visit S.T.A.R. labs in Jerusalem and fooled his parents by leaving a Jesus-robot at home in his place...! What a scamp.
But, both Superboy's and Jesus's childhood adventures don't gibe very easily with the idea of their adult versions coming out later and making a splash. So, those, too, did not make the cut.
The Gospel of Nicodemus, with its story of Jesus's descent into Hell is, I suppose, The Death of Superman, and yet another example of the superior discretion and discipline of the Council of Nicea compared to the DC editorial board.
If Kingdom Come is (quite intentionally) DC's Revelation of John, then Peter's Apocalypse is The Kingdom; less dramatic, less wacky, more clinical and detailed rather than conceptual and evocative.
Leptogenesis? Hm. I guess that would be COIE/52, where the story of Krona and the Tower of Babel explains the creation of the multiverse, and the Chosen Characters realize they need to separate themselves out from the unclean Marvelish versions of themselves. And like, 52, it was a weekly! I suspect the reason it didn't make the cut is because of those crazy-stupid stories about angels "commingling" with humans, producing Giants That Walked The Earth. I mean, nobody wants the New Guardians and Millennium in continuity.
Really, it all poses interesting questions about what criteria you use to determine what becomes canon, whether the story is the Greatest One Ever Told or the Greatest One Ever Told. I have a pretty good idea what criteria the Niceans used. DC? I'm not quite sure... .