Or that of any of the other non-canonical gospels? I have most of them, I recently picked up the Gospel of Judas. It's a good read, and I fully understand why they chose the books they did to go in the bible. Jesus (who I do not deny existed) has flaws in all the other gospels. Personally I like the Gospel of Judas best. Any thoughts?

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I read the book of Enoch, and it was not what i thought it would be. Is the gospel of judas as boring as the book of enoch?
I liked both, so I guess you don't have to take my word. But I like the Gospel of Judas moreso.
I've read parts of the Gospel of Judas (for some reason I can't seem to concentrate on things like that long enough to read them entirely) but it's not comparable to the gospel stories. So I'm having a hard time saying which I "like best".

You say you understand why 'they' chose the books they did to go in the Bible. I do too: for the most part, they picked the earliest ones and the ones least tainted by later theological ideas. That's why the four gospels that were included were the four earliest ones. Later gospels were by definition less reliable, and they tended to get Jesus to conform to the form of Christianity the writers adhered to. The Gospel of Judas is a great example of this: it is a Gnostic gospel written after 150 AD and contains theology that only developed in the Second Century. So we see Jesus saying all kinds of weird stuff about how he wants to shed his human form and free his soul: all of these were Gnostic ideas that were projected onto Jesus.

This is in sharp contrast with the canonical gospels, who are written 40-60 years after Jesus' death: while some (John in particular) are already tainted by theological ideas that didn't develop until after Jesus' actual life (like Jesus' divinity and the concept of the Trinity) but the earlier ones like Mark and Matthew, I think, almost certainly include many actual sayings of Jesus, many actual deeds of Jesus, and the theology he probably did espouse. That's not to say the stories weren't exaggerated and altered in 40+ years of oral tradition, but it's certainly a lot better than the 120+ years of the Gospel of Judas: this clearly is not based on any oral traditions or even a semblance of historical fact.

So I read canonical gospels and non-canonical ones very differently: the former I regard, by virtue of being earlier and less tainted by later theology, to be semi-historical but exaggerated documents about the life of an actual Galilean preacher. The latter I regard as being able to teach me a great deal about how later Christian groups like the Gnostics thought and how they regarded Jesus, but not about anything Jesus would actually have said.
I have a hard time buying the idea that something written so many years after an event could contain any actual sayings of anyone. Ever play "telephone"??
Hi George,

Depends on what gospels we're talking about. The Gospel of Judas, written 120 years after the facts, is indeed a very long time removed from Jesus and so is unlikely to contain any historical value. Besides, the Gnostics prided themselves on being 'pure revelation' instead of relying on tradition (in other words: they pulled things out of their asses during drug-induced trances).
The canonical gospels, on the other hand, are actually not written all that long after Jesus lived. The gospel of Mark - for example - is most commonly dated to 70 CE (40 years after Jesus' death). That might seem like a long time, but really, 40 years ago is only 1970. My father remembers lots of things that happened around that time. My grandfather remembers many more. It's not ancient history at all: it's well within living memory.
Even the latest canonical gospel, John, is commonly dated somewhere around 95-100 CE. That's about 65-70 years after Jesus' death. We're now talking about 1940-1945. Even that is within living memory: just a while ago I was talking to an oldtimer about his time in the French Resistance, and he was able to vividly tell me stories about some of the sabotage and battles he did.

That's why the canonical gospels are treated different historically than later gospels (like the Gospel of Judas). The former are written well within living memory, the latter are written long after that.
April de Connick suggests that the gJudas is a satire. The apostles cannot maintain eye contact with Jesus who is presented thus as the chief "daimon".

I suggest that all the "Gnostic Gospels and Acts" were written after Nicaea and after the canonical books were widely published with the Constantine Bible, 50 copies of which were distributed c.325 CE. All these texts (including Nag Hammadi) exhibit the invective of an academic Greek satirist and present bits and pieces of the text of the canonical books recombined in various ways with novel material added.

I have studied many if not all of the texts of these new testament "Gnostic Gospels and Acts, etc" and have sketched a small summary of over 20 of these at this article. The political context c.326 to c337 when they were authored was that a new religion was coming into being called Christianity and this religion had been lavishly sponsored by the technology of the codex by the Roman Emperor Constantine, and there was a great resistance to change the old and ancient ways.

These books of the new testament apocrypha were written to compete with the Constantine Bible for popularity, and they were performed in the theatres of the Greeks --- but not for long because they were prohibited and banned by the emperor. The prohibited books were the subject os search and destroy missions by the army and by specific trusty orthodox bishops such as Athanasius.

They were hot property. If you were caught with one of these books it was your death by beheading. The only option was to bury them, and so we have the Nag Hammadi Codices perhaps ordered to be taken out of the monastry and buried by Pachomius, or his successors, in the mid 4th century.


For example, from the Nag Hammadi Codices ....

The Interpretation of Knowledge: NHC 11.1 Text commences ... (13 lines missing) ... they came to believe by means of signs and wonders and fabrications. The likeness that came to be through them followed him, but through reproaches and humiliations before they received the apprehension of a vision they fled without having heard that the Christ had been crucified. But our generation is fleeing since it does not yet even believe that the Christ is alive. . Further section is cited ...

And he was crucified and he died - not his own death,
for he did not at all deserve to die because of the church of mortals.
And he was nailed so that they might keep him in the Church.



The Acts of Thomas:

The Apostles are casting lots to see who is going where: Thomas gets India.
Thomas renegs on the casting of lots, and refuses to go to the Indians.
Jesus appears and orders Thomas to travel to India.
Judas refuses Jesus' commands; Jesus sells him into slavery
Jesus receives a bill-of-sale for the sale of Thomas.


The Acts of Paul:

This satire uses Aesop’s Fables to compare Paul to a mouse. Paul baptizes a talking lion in the wilderness. When thrown to the lions at the conclusion Paul meets the same - now Christian - lion in the arena and is saved. Paul continues to proclaim the need for a life of sexual abstinence and other encratite practices. In versions of “The Acts of Paul and Thecla” the author introduces the noble woman Thecla, who preached like a missionary and administered baptism. Here the satire was directed at the military minded male dominated 4th century state Christendom. How many women are church figures today?
Paul prays to God who causes the destruction of another temple – this one to Apollo.

When did you learn arithmetic Dannyisme? The gJudas C14 dating of 280 CE plus or minus 60 years represents an upper bound of 280 + 60 which adds to 340 CE. The evidence thus allows me to conjecture that the "Gnostic Gospels and Acts, etc" were a Greek literary reaction AFTER Nicaea in 325 CE, when the Bible went ballistic under Bullneck. The basis of this claim is that 325 CE is less than 340 CE. Get it?

Ditto, the gThomas C14 dating of 348 CE or minus 60 years is also with the bounds of my theory.
A. J. Tim Jull's statement

"All five samples, remarkably, are the same age.
All date to the third to fourth century,
clearly before the Council of Nicaea"

contradicts the C14 results themselves which have an upper bound of 340 CE and thus implicitly tolerate the codex to have been manufactured after Nicaea and between 325 and 340 CE.

Dont you understand that 340 CE is not clearly before 325 CE?

Cut the rhetoric and deal with the evidence.
Deal with the Nag Hammadi C14 date of 348 CE.
@D - "You are taking the most extreme margin of error, exceeding it, and declaring it fact."

I am within the +/- 60 years boundaries for C14 tests of the epoch in question and I am declaring this as a fact, which it is even for the gJudas alone.

But when you average the gJudas with the gThomas, then Nicaea moves clearly into the midrange of the results. You may not like this, or Jull may not like this, but hey --- its only a Bell curve.
By the way, where do you even get those C14 estimations from?
@MATT who asks "By the way, where do you even get those C14 estimations from?"

Try the relevant publications.
There are only 2 C14 citations wrt "christian literature".
There are none for the canon, the two we have
are for the "non canonical" books.
I'm fairly certain that the Infancy Gospel of Thomas dates to around 80 C.E.

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