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THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS. OVERVIEW. WHY DO WE CARE WHAT ARE GNOSTIC GOSPELS WHY WERE THEY WRITTEN BIBLICAL CANON PERSPECTIVE MODERN DAY EMPHASIS REASONS TO DOUBT CONCLUSIONS. WHY DO WE CARE?. TODAY’S CHRISTIANITY IS BOMBARDED WITH HALF TRUTHS AND INUENDO “JESUS WAS MARRIED TO MARY MAGDELAN”

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Overview l.jpg
OVERVIEW

  • WHY DO WE CARE

  • WHAT ARE GNOSTIC GOSPELS

  • WHY WERE THEY WRITTEN

  • BIBLICAL CANON PERSPECTIVE

  • MODERN DAY EMPHASIS

  • REASONS TO DOUBT

  • CONCLUSIONS


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WHY DO WE CARE?

  • TODAY’S CHRISTIANITY IS BOMBARDED WITH HALF TRUTHS AND INUENDO

    • “JESUS WAS MARRIED TO MARY MAGDELAN”

    • “MARY MAGDALENE WAS MORE IMPORTANT THAN PETER”

    • “THE CHURCH (CATHOLIC) WAS SUBVERSIVE IN DEFINING THE CANON OF THE BIBLE”

  • PEOPLE QUESTION THEIR FAITH BASED ON INACCURACIES THEY BELIEVE


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WHAT ARE GNOSTIC GOSPELS

  • “…gnostic collection of writings about the teachings of Jesus, written around the 2ndcentury” (wikpedia.com)

    • written in Coptic and are generally dated to the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, though the Gospel of Thomas has ignited some debate, and scholars argue that it dates from 50 AD (Koester, HDS) to the late 2nd century AD (Miers). (wikpedia.com)

  • Not the same a valued ancient writings


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GNOSTIC WRITINGS

  • Gospel of Thomas, Secret Book of James

  • Gospel of Mary, Acts of Peter, Acts of Thomas, Naassene Fragment, Basilides

  • Dialogue of the Savior, Gospel of Savior

  • Epiphanes, Marcion, Ptolemy, Heracleon

  • Gospel of Phillip


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ORIGIN OF GNOSTIC GOSPELS

  • gnostic gospels were named after the Greek word gnosis which means "knowledge" and is often used in Greek philosophy in a manner more consistent with the English Enlightenment. Included the idea of “hidden belief”.

  • Gnostic philosophy and religious movements began in pre-Christian times. During this time, ideas from Greek Gnosticism intermingled with Early Christianity.

  • The name "Christian gnostics" came to represent a segment of the Early Christian community who believed that salvation lay not in merely worshipping Christ, but in psychic or pneumatic souls learning to free themselves from the material world via the revelation (wikpedia.com)

  • popularity of Gnosticism began to decline by the end of the third century and lay largely dormant until the recent discovery of Gnostic texts in Egypt in 1945.


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WHY WERE THEY WRITTEN

SUPPORT A BELIEF? UNDERMINE A CAUSE?

  • Gnostic belief? – salvation by knowledge

    • the answers to spiritual questions are to be found within not without.[2] Furthermore, the gnostic path does not require the intermediation of a church for salvation(wikpedia.com)

    • The Gnostic Jesus descended from the spiritual realm to show the way for the rest of humanity, not to die as an atonement for sin, but to make available information necessary for self-perfection. (leaderu.com)

  • Church considered heretical

    • Blurred religious truth.

    • Condemned by Iraneaus (177)/Tertullian(193)


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NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY

  • 1945 two farmers discover leather codices of 52 books, mostly gnostic

    • Written in coptic (late Egyptian language)

    • Dated to 3rd or 4th century

    • First reference to books published 1948

      OTHER SOURCES

  • Akhmim Codex (Berlin Codex) discovered July 1896 and translated completely in 1950s.

    • Contained Gospel of Mary (Magdala)

  • Gospel of Judas – 1970s

    • Mentioned by Irenaeus 2nd century


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BIBLICAL CANNON

  • 50-125 NT Scriptures written

  • 140 Marcion issues heretical canon/beliefs

    • consisted of only eleven books, an abridged and mutilated Gospel of Luke, and ten of Paul’s epistles. He put Galatians first in order, and called Ephesians the Epistle to the Laodicaeans.

    • Church adopts 4 gospels and letter of Paul

  • 170 Muratorian Canon

  • 367earliest list NT, in exact number/order we have written by Athanasius

    • Synod of Hippo 393, Council of Carthage 397


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Church Knowledge of Gnostic Gospels

  • The one incontrovertible testimonium to Gos. Thom. is found in Hippolytus of Rome (Haer. 5.7.20). Writing between the years 222-235 C.E., Hippolytus quoes a variant of saying 4 expressly stated to be taken from a text entitled Gos. Thom

  • Irenaeus mentions a Gospel of Judas in his anti-Gnostic work Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies), written in about 180.

  • it is known from early quotations, especially from a publicly circulated letter of Serapion, Bishop of Antioch in 190 - 203, who had found upon examining it that "most of it belonged to the right teaching of the Saviour," but that some parts might encourage its hearers to fall into the Docetist heresy. Serapion's rebuttal of the Gospel of Peter is lost, but it is mentioned by Eusebius (wikpedia.com Gospel of Peter)


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CANONICAL CRITERIA

  • Apostolic Origin- attributed to and/or based on the preaching/teaching of the first-generation apostles (or their closest companions).

  • Universal Acceptance- acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the Mediterranean world (by the end of the fourth century).

  • Liturgical Use- read publicly along with the OT when early Christians gathered for the Lord's Supper (their weekly worship services).

  • Consistent Message- containing theological ideas compatible with other accepted Christian writings (incl. the divinity and humanity Jesus). (catholicresources.org)


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MODERN DAY APPROACH

  • DaVinci Code (Gospel of Mary/Phillip)

    • Supports Jesus marriage to Mary Magdalene

    • Questions his divinity

  • Gospel of Judas

    • Portrays Judas as “obedient” not traitor

    • Shows Christ favoring Judas above others

    • Stoned by other disciples


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MODERN DAY CONCERN

  • Question Christ’s Divinity

    • Make religion a “feel good” hobby

  • Question Church integrity/motives

    • Generate distrust

    • Compromise authority

  • Blur the truth and lose the truth

    • Look/hear something wrong long enough and it begins to look/sound right.


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The Gospel of Mary

  • 1896 discovery 5th century codex

  • written mid 2nd – 3rd century

  • Starts in middle of scene due to missing pgs.

  • Primary thought is Mary of Magdala however, this is not conclusive and some think “his Mother”.

  • Prompted Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Jesus the Man, DaVinci Code


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GOSPEL OF MARY

  • Modern focus is on role of Mary vs Peter

    • Chap. 9: 1) When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her. 2) But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.3) Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things.4) He questioned them about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?5) Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?6) Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.7) Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.8) But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well.9) That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect Man, and separate as He commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said.


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Gospel of Mary

  • BUT OTHER SECTIONS ARE BIZARRE

    • Chap 8: 18) When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, which took seven forms.19) The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven powers of wrath.20) They asked the soul, Whence do you come slayer of men, or where are you going, conqueror of space?21) The soul answered and said, What binds me has been slain, and what turns me about has been overcome,22) and my desire has been ended, and ignorance has died.23) In a aeon I was released from a world, and in a Type from a type, and from the fetter of oblivion which is transient.24) From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence.

  • DOES NOT RESEMBLE GOSPELS AS WE KNOW


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Gospel of Phillip

  • Found in Nag Hammadi Library

    • Dated late 2nd to 3rd century

    • Primary source for Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene

    • Contains the “kiss”

    • No narrative, only sayings


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The Gospel of Phillip

  • Those who say that the Lord died first and (then) rose up are in error, for he rose up first and (then) died. If one does not first attain the resurrection, he will not die. As God lives, he would [...].

  • It is through water and fire that the whole place is purified - the visible by the visible, the hidden by the hidden. There are some things hidden through those visible. There is water in water, there is fire in chrism.

  • The eucharist is Jesus. For he is called in Syriac "Pharisatha," which is "the one who is spread out," for Jesus came to crucify the world.

  • Mary Magdalene. [...] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her(…) The rest of the disciples [...]. They said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?"


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Gospel of Thomas

  • Two versions, Greek and coptic.

  • Discovered late 1800s and Nag Hammadi

  • Dated mid 50-140

  • No narrative only 114 sayings

  • Preamble gives “gnostic” flavor

    • “secret sayings”

  • Many sayings very similar to gospels

  • Some sayings very strange


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Gospel of Thomas

  • P. “These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down. “

  • 1) And He said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death."

  • 9) Jesus said, "Now the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered them. Some fell on the road; the birds came and gathered them up. …

  • 114) Simon Peter said to Him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life." Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven."


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WHY DOUBT THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS

  • Gnostic texts do not offer a recounting of the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus. (leaderu.com)

  • Present bizarre statements by Christ

  • Present bizarre scenes/events

  • Titles imply important authors

    • Two Biblical gospels were by “unknowns”.

  • “Scholars” put words into translations that do not exist.

    • Gospel of Phillip and the “kiss”

  • Dates of writings occur well after the events

    • Nag Hammadi date A.D. 350-400. The original writings older, but not prior to second century A. D.

    • consensus of most scholars - they appeared after the New Testament completed. (leaderu.com)


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CONCLUSIONS

  • Gnosticism is real and gnostic belief is real

  • Gnosticism/belief is contrary to Church teaching and written scripture

  • Gnosticism does not reject Jesus, it envelops and blurs teaching

  • Gnostic gospels have major flaws and the Church knew and addressed these

  • The Biblical Canon was well thought out