Gnostic gospels

Gnostic Gospels

The Gnostic gospels

By

Jose de Carvalho

 

In most of the programs that I have been watching of late pertaining to Jesus, i.e. “Jesus, the man behind the myth” on the History channel or others on Discovery, mentions the Gnostic gospels that have been found and make out as if these gospels are amiss or lost to the Bible.

 What are the Gnostic gospels?

In the first century apart from the orthodox Christian church a heretic form of Christianity developed. These Christians (and I’m using the term loosely), did not adhere to most of the Christian doctrines including the deity, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but produced some writings. The Gnostic writings promoted knowledge (gnosticism) as a basis for salvation, instead of faith in God through Jesus. Gnostics believed that Jesus was the one that brought this Gnosis to the earth.

 These books are not lost to the Bible as it is insinuated – they are fraudulent writings without apostleship authorship support, but make use of names of famous Christians such as Thomas, Philip, Judas, Mary, etc. to add weight to the documents.  Nevertheless the early fathers of the faith recognized that they:

  • Were not congruent to the writing of the Apostles
  • Promoted false doctrine, paganism and inferior moral standards
  • Contained questionable historical facts
  • Contradicted Old Testament prophesy

The Gnostic gospels were therefore excluded from the Biblical canon, as we know it.

Why do we recognize the Biblical Gospels?

There is a wealth of evidence for the writings of the Biblical Gospels.  It is by far the most attested writing of classical antiquity.  There are over five thousand manuscripts available containing fragments of the Gospels dating back to A.D. 125.

 Although there are ongoing discussions on the precise wording of the original New Testament writings and even if language-to-language translation was not absolutely perfect, scholars agree that none of the points of discussion affect the gospel message or Christian doctrine – it is mostly secondary issues.

 For reflection

While we may struggle with how to apply what we interpret, we must be free from doubts about the integrity of the tests.  As divine author, God inspired the Gospels written by men and as divine protector, He has preserved the text from doctrinal errors.