Saturday, March 14, 2009

Be a Man!

As part of my theology course I've had to study a bit of the New Testament apocrypha - i.e. books which are written in the style of the New Testament books, but which are not considered canonical, or inspired by God.
Most, if not all, of these books were written long after the canonical New Testament books, and were usually written by certain pseudo-Christian groups in order to promote or validate their aberrant theology.

Here's a quote from a scholar:
People may still be heard to say: 'After all, these Apocryphal Gospels and Acts, as you call them, are just as interesting as the old ones. It is only caprice that they were not put into the New Testament'. The best answer to such loose talk has always been, and is now, to produce the writings and let them tell their own story. It will very quickly be seen that there is no question of any one's having excluded them from the New Testament: they have done that for themselves.
(M.R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament)

I think that guy's right, and I'll give you a few examples.
Probably the most popular of the NT apocrypha is the Gospel of Thomas. It was found in a 4th century library in Egypt in 1945. It contains stories and sayings of Jesus, some which are found in the NT, and some which are quite different from the teachings of the NT. Its also well known, because it was quoted in the very B movie Stigmata.
Here's an example: saying 114 says this - 'Simon Peter said to them "Let Mariam go out from among us, for women are not worthy of the life." Jesus said: "Look, I will lead her that I may make her male, in order that she too maybe become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven."
I think that's wild! According to this Gospel, you are saved by grace through faith...that is, unless you are a woman! In which case, you must first become a man. Very nice...

Another example, which would be too long to write out, but here's a link for it, is the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which claims to tell the story of Jesus' childhood, which is so obviously missing from the canonical accounts.
The story starts with Jesus at 5 years old playing at a brook, and he makes the waters of the brook gather together and form pools. Then, a kid comes along - the son of a scribe - and takes a stick and ruins the pools Jesus made. So what does Jesus do? HE KILLS HIM!
And then Jesus goes home. A little later Jesus is going through the village, and a child runs into him and dashes against his shoulder. So what does Jesus do? HE KILLS HIM TOO!
Then Joseph hears that Jesus has been killing the other children in town, so he grabs him by the ear and "wrung it sore." Then Jesus rebukes Joseph for doing this. Well, at least he didn't kill him.

Anyways, the above quote has a really good point. If you read these apocryphal Gospels, it becomes pretty obvious really quickly that they disqualify themselves from being included in the canon by their aberrant stories and theology.
Personally, I believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God, who is able to preserve His Word and keep it pure throughout the generations, protecting it from all kinds of crazy stuff like this.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:57 AM

    Szia Nick! Nagyon érdekes amit írtál a Bibliáról. Hogy létezhetnek olyan íratok amely nem fedi azt a valóságot amiben mi hiszünk. Biztos vagyok, hogy amig világ a világ lesznek kérkedők a SzentIrással kapcsolatban, de én hiszem, hogy mindaz ami a Bibliában van az azért van mert Isten így akarta, hogy legyen. Egyébként nagyon jó, hogy ilyeneket tanulsz mert érdekes.
    Isten áldjon!