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How We Got the Bible. Gnostic Gospels & Beyond. General Outline. Gnostic Gospels & Beyond Textual Criticism The Catholic Era & The Reformation The Bible in Your Hand. Non-Canonical Literature. Three Categories “Apostolic Fathers” Late 1 st or 2 nd century

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how we got the bible

How We Got the Bible

Gnostic Gospels & Beyond

general outline
General Outline
  • Gnostic Gospels & Beyond
  • Textual Criticism
  • The Catholic Era & The Reformation
  • The Bible in Your Hand
non canonical literature
Non-Canonical Literature

Three Categories

“Apostolic Fathers”

  • Late 1st or 2nd century
  • Saw themselves as faithfully transmitting the teachings of Jesus and/or the apostles
  • Did not claim the inspiration or infallible authority ascribed to their predecesors
non canonical literature1
Non-Canonical Literature

Three Categories

“Nag Hammadi Library”

  • Discovered in Egypt after WWII
  • Mostly 2nd-4th centuries
  • Christian world view but rejected as heretical Gnosticism by the early churches
  • Sources ascribed to “secret” revelation which is why the rest of the church had never heard of it
non canonical literature2
Non-Canonical Literature

Three Categories

“New Testament Apocrypha”

  • Ancient works that imitate New Testament genres
  • Reflect the views of small Christian or quasi-Christian sects
non canonical literature3
Non-Canonical Literature

Blomberg: “To the best of our current knowledge, however, in all of the discussions of which books belonged in the New Testament canon, none of these latter two categories of documents were ever endorsed. …”

non canonical literature4
Non-Canonical Literature

Blomberg: “… Indeed the only ones that were ever actually proposed for inclusion but were eventually rejected were several of the largely orthodox Apostolic Fathers’ writings (most notably the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas). One or two early Christian writers mention the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Peter as not being accepted, but never actually say that anyone was lobbying for their inclusion. …

non canonical literature5
Non-Canonical Literature

Blomberg: “… Otherwise, the very fact that the writers of the Gnostic literature and the New Testament apocrypha try to gain credibility for themselves by fictitiously appealing to first-generation followers of Jesus as their authors or main characters shows that they did not have the confidence that the church on any large-scale basis would accept either the ‘history’ or the theology their documents contained without this form of deception.”

books that almost made it
Books That “Almost” Made It

Shepherd of Hermas

  • Shepherd of Hermas contains the words ofHermas who claims to have received visions, commands, and parables from the Lord.
  • Hermas: “Hear then why the tower is built upon the waters. It is because your life has been, and will be, saved through water. For the tower was founder on the word of the almighty and glorious Name and it is kept together by the invisible power of the Lord.”
books that almost made it1
Books That “Almost” Made It

Shepherd of Hermas

  • Muratorian Fragment: “But Hermas wrote the Shepherd very recently, in our times, in the city of Rome, while bishop Pius, his brother, was occupying the chair of the church of the city of Rome. And therefore it ought indeed to be read; but it cannot be read publicly to the people in church either among the Prophets, whose number is complete, or among the Apostles, for it is after [their] time.”
books that almost made it2
Books That “Almost” Made It

Didache

  • Didache is a compilation of early teachings about the details of church practice.
  • Clement (180’s AD?) quotes the Didache as “Scripture.”
  • Eusebius(263–339 AD) also refers to the Didacheas one of the books that some churches accepted as being written by the apostles or apostolic men, but most did not.
  • Athanasius (298–373 AD) although not viewing the Didache as Scripture, did recommend it for personal spiritual reading.
books that almost made it3
Books That “Almost” Made It

Epistle of Barnabas

  • Not to be confused with the “Gospel of Barnabas” which is a Renaissance-era composition that includes explicit Islamic doctrine overlaid on Christian material.
  • Epistle of Barnabas, author unknown, attempts to prove that the death of Christ fulfills the OT.
  • Written between 70-132 AD.
books that almost made it4
Books That “Almost” Made It

Epistle of Barnabas

  • Quoted by Clement and Origen and included like an appendix to the Codex Sinaiticus.
  • Eusebius: “Among the spurious books must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the Shepherd, as it is called, and the Apocalypse of Peter; and, in addition to these, the extant Epistle of Barnabas, and the Teaching of the Apostles [Didache] , as it is called.”
aside gnosticism
Aside: Gnosticism

Characteristics of Gnosticism

  • Early sect of Christianity that may have been influenced by Jewish or Greek mysticism.
  • Truth was revealed in secret.
  • Believed material world (including flesh) was evil and that the soul had to saved from this world and the flesh.
  • Often taught that Jesus did not have a fleshly body, or else he would be evil.
nag hammadi library
Nag Hammadi Library

Gospel of Thomas

  • Not a “gospel” as such, but contains 114 sayings of Jesus that were allegedly revealed to Thomas in secret.
  • Blomberg: “Many of the sayings have a patently Gnostic flavour, and little can be said in support of their authenticity.”
  • Thomas: “Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone and you will find me there.”
nag hammadi library1
Nag Hammadi Library

Gospel of Thomas

  • Thomas: “Simon Peter said to them, ‘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.’”
nag hammadi library2
Nag Hammadi Library

Apocryphon of James

  • Claims to be a secret revelation from Jesus to his brother James.
  • Describes Jesus talking to his disciples on the road to the ascension.
  • Claims this took place over 550 days.
  • Acts 1:3 (ESV) He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
nag hammadi library3
Nag Hammadi Library

Gospel of Philip

  • Manual of Gnostic theology that makes use of the sayings of Jesus.
  • Made famous by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.
  • Philip: “And the companion of [the saviour was Mar]y Ma[gda]lene. [Christ loved] M[ary] more than [all] the disci[ples, and used to] kiss her [????] on her [????]. The rest of [the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval]. They said to him ‘Why do you love her more than all of us?’”
apocryphal material
Apocryphal Material

Infancy Gospels

  • These gospels attempt to fill in the gaps of Jesus’ birth and youth narratives.
  • Blomberg: “Most of these stories, however, differ so radically from the portraits of Christ in the Gospels and of the apostles in Acts that it is hard to believe they could rest on any secure historical foundation. Nevertheless, one can point to details in the New Testament that would have given rise to the legends, however warped they may have become.”
apocryphal material1
Apocryphal Material

Infancy Gospels

In Infancy Gospel of Thomas young Jesus …

  • Strikes a boy dead for running into him.
  • Makes sparrows out of clay and breathes life into them (see Genesis 2).
  • Causes a boy to wither up for pestering him (see Mark 11:14).
  • Rants at his elementary teachers for not knowing enough (see Luke 2:46-47).
apocryphal material2
Apocryphal Material

Gospel of Judas

  • Condemned by Irenaeus in 180 AD.
  • Rediscovered in the 1970s and finally translated in 2006.
  • Claims that Jesus made secret revelations to Judas planning the betrayal.
  • Claims that YHWH is a false god.
  • Claims that Jesus is fully God but not fully human (as Gnosticism).
apocryphal material3
Apocryphal Material

Gospel of Judas

Judas said to Jesus, “Look, what will those who have been baptized in your name do?” Jesus said, “Truly I say [to you], this baptism […] my name [—about nine lines missing—] to me. Truly [I] say to you, Judas, [those who] offer sacrifices to Saklas […] God [—three lines missing—] everything that is evil.

“But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.

Already your horn has been raised,

your wrath has been kindled,

your star has shown brightly,

and your heart has […].”

apocryphal material4
Apocryphal Material

Gospel of Judas

Judas said to Jesus, “Look, what will those who have been baptized in your name do?” Jesus said, “Truly I say [to you], this baptism […] my name [—about nine lines missing—] to me. Truly [I] say to you, Judas, [those who] offer sacrifices to Saklas […] God [—three lines missing—] everything that is evil.

“But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.

Already your horn has been raised,

your wrath has been kindled,

your star has shown brightly,

and your heart has […].”

conclusions
Conclusions
  • Some ancient Christian texts exist outside of the New Testament canon.
  • Some of them are useful. Very few of them were ever put forward as viable candidates for Scripture. Some of them were immediately renounced as heresy.
  • These texts do not show us “competing versions of Christianity” but rather the rise of mysticism, legend, and outright error in the centuries that followed the life of Christ.
conclusions1
Conclusions

This situation was anticipated by Paul.

  • 2 Timothy 4:3-5 (ESVFor the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.