Thursday, April 06, 2006

Document Is Genuine, but Is Its Story True? - New York Times

Document Is Genuine, but Is Its Story True? - New York Times:
"In 1959, when the Gospel of Thomas was first published in English, many Christians were shocked to learn that any gospels existed other than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

It was also the first time that most Christians had ever heard about the Gnostics — Christian communities in the second through fourth centuries whose scriptures and spiritual beliefs barely resemble what is now thought of as traditional Christianity.

But the Gospel of Judas, another piece of Gnostic scripture, has been released in a very different era. It is a time when many Christians have been bombarded by competing claims about their faith and its history, and some are grappling with how to absorb it all...."
This story has been making the rounds for a few weeks or more, and has aroused much interest.

For better or worse, Gnosticism has become a topic of discussion, and much verbiage has been expended on whether this represents the true Christianity, or if it represents a fringe movement that died out for good reasons.

The scholarly consensus is that this manuscript originated with a group known as the Cainites -- a sect of gnostics that believed that many of the questionable characters of the Bible were actually heroes. The copy that surfaced in Egypt is dated at about 300 A.D. and is written in Coptic.

Ben Witherington III, Professor of New Testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary said this:
"There is no evidence that any of these documents ever represented mainstream Christianity," Professor Witherington said. "The Cainites were always on the fringes of their own movement."
I doubt many people would suggest that this represents "mainstream Christianity", but there are many who say that it should have been the mainstream. A far greater number (myself included), feel that, having read many of the Gnostic texts, the Canon of Scripture was correctly established.

There will be a National Geographic Special on Sunday, April 9 at 8pm Eastern Time. I plan to watch it, and hear more about this text.

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