According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Gnostic Gospels of the New Testament Era

 Gnostic Gospels
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnostic_gospels

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The Gnostic Gospels are a collection of about fifty-two texts supposedly based upon the ancient wisdom teachings of several prophets and spiritual leaders including Jesus, written from the 2nd to the 4th century AD -though the sayings of the Gospel of Thomas, compiled circa 140, may include some traditions even older than the gospels of the New Testament, possibly as early as the second half of the first century.[1] These gospels are not part of the standard Biblical canon of any major Christian denomination, and as such are part of what is called the New Testament apocrypha. Recent novels and films that refer to the gospels have recently increased public interest.[2][3]

The word gnostic comes from the Greek word gnosis, meaning "knowledge", which is often used in Greek philosophy in a manner more consistent with the English "enlightenment". Some scholars continue to maintain traditional dating for the emergence of Gnostic philosophy and religious movements.[4] It is now generally believed that the evidence suggests that Gnosticism was a Jewish movement which subsequently reacted to Christianity or that Gnosticism emerged directly in reaction to Christianity.[5] The name "Christian gnostics" came to represent a segment of the Early Christian community that 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.[6] According to this tradition, 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. Some scholars, such as Edward Conze and Elaine Pagels, have suggested that gnosticism blends teachings like those attributed to Jesus Christ with teachings found in Eastern traditions.[1]

Dating

The documents which comprise the collection of gnostic gospels were not discovered at a single time, but rather as a series of finds. The Nag Hammadi Library was discovered accidentally by two farmers in December 1945 and was named for the area in Egypt where it had been hidden for centuries.[7] Other documents included in what are now known as the gnostic gospels were found at different times and locations, such as the Gospel of Mary, which was recovered in 1896 as part of the Akhmim Codex and published in 1955. Some documents were duplicated in different finds, and others, such as with the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, only one copy is currently known to exist.

Although the manuscripts discovered at Nag Hammadi are generally dated to the 4th century, there is some debate regarding the original composition of the texts. A wide range and the majority of scholars date authorship of the Gnostic gospel of Nag Hammadi to the 2nd and 3rd century.[8] Scholars with a focus on Christianity tend to date the gospels mentioned by Irenaeus to the 2nd century, and the gospels mentioned solely by Jerome to the 4th century[citation needed]. The traditional dating of the gospels derives primarily from this division. Other scholars with a deeper focus on pagan and Jewish literature of the period tend to date primarily based on the type of the work[citation needed]
 
  1. The Gospel of Thomas is held by most to be the earliest of the "gnostic" gospels composed. Scholars generally date the text to the early-mid 2nd century.[9] The Gospel of Thomas, it is often claimed, has some gnostic elements but lacks the full gnostic cosmology. However, even the description of these elements as "gnostic" is based mainly upon the presupposition that the text as a whole is a "gnostic" gospel, and this idea itself is based upon little other than the fact that it was found along with gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi.[10] Some scholars including Nicholas Perrin argue that Thomas is dependent on the Diatessaron, which was composed shortly after 172 by Tatian in Syria.[11] A minority view contends for an early date of perhaps 50, citing a relationship to the hypothetical Q document among other reasons.[12]
  2. The Gospel of the Lord, a gnostic but otherwise non-canonical text, can be dated approximately during the time of Marcion in the early 2nd century. The traditional view holds Marcion did not compose the gospel directly but, "expunged [from the Gospel of Luke] all the things that oppose his view... but retained those things that accord with his opinion" [13] The traditional view and dating has continued to be affirmed by the mainstream of biblical scholars,[14][15] however, G. R. S. Mead [16][17] have argued that Marcion's gospel predates the canonical Luke and was in use in Pauline churches.
  3. The Gospel of Truth[18] and the teachings of the Pistis Sophia can be approximately dated to the early 2nd century as they were part of the original Valentinian school, though the gospel itself is 3rd century.
  4. Documents with a Sethian influence (like the Gospel of Judas, or outright Sethian like Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians can be dated substantially later than 40 and substantially earlier than 250; most scholars giving them a 2nd century date.[19] More conservative scholars using the traditional dating method would argue in these cases for the early 3rd century.[citation needed]
  5. Some gnostic gospels (for example Trimorphic Protennoia) make use of fully developed Neoplatonism and thus need to be dated after Plotinus in the 3rd century.[20][21]
Selected gospels

Though there are many documents that could be included among the gnostic gospels, the term most commonly refers to the following:

References in popular culture

The gnostic gospels received widespread attention after they were referred to in the 2003 best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code,[26] which uses them as part of its backstory.[27] The novel's use of artistic license in describing the gospels stirred up considerable debate over the accuracy of its depiction. As a result of public interest triggered by the novel and film, numerous books and video documentaries about the gospels themselves were produced which resulted in the gnostic gospels becoming well known in popular culture.

The 1999 film Stigmata uses the discovery of an as-yet unknown gnostic gospel as the basis for the story. The end of the film also makes references to the Catholic Church's denunciations of such texts as being heretical.

Season 4, Episode 13 of Gilmore Girls is titled "Nag Hammadi Is Where They Found the Gnostic Gospels."

The 2008 novel, Change of Heart, by Jodi Picoult, also makes several in-depth references to the gnostic gospels - and to the Gospel of Thomas in particular.

Grant Morrison's writing been heavily influenced by the Gnostic texts, most evident in The Invisibles.

See also

 

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