Skip to comments.The Gospel of Judas -- The Betrayal of Truth
Posted on 06/09/2008 1:01:02 PM PDT by Gamecock
When the National Geographic Society and a team of designated scholars announced the "discovery" and release of the document known as the "Gospel of Judas" the international media went after the story with a frenzy. Headlines around the world claimed that the discovery would force a complete reconstruction of Christianity.
As I explained then:
The resurgence of interest in Gnostic texts such as "The Gospel of Thomas" and "The Gospel of Judas" is driven by an effort, at least on the part of some figures, to argue that early Christianity had no essential theological core. Instead, scholars such as Elaine Pagels of Princeton University want to argue that, "These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion, and demonstrating how diverse--and fascinating--the early Christian movement really was." What Pagels and many other figures argue is that early Christianity was a cauldron of competing theologies, and that ideological and political factors explain why an "orthodox" tradition eventually won, suppressing all competing theologies. Accordingly, these same figures argue that today's Christians should be open to these variant teachings that had long been suppressed and hidden from view.
There were disturbing elements to the story, however. The National Geographic Society clearly aimed at making a financial gain through the much-publicized book and television documentary. More importantly, the Society did not make the actual manuscript available for other scholars to check and consult.
A devastating analysis of the actual translation put forth by the Society and its chosen scholars came from Professor April D. DeConick of Rice University. In her book, The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says, DeConick proved that the most famous "finding" offered by the National Geographic Society translation (claiming that Judas was good and not evil) was a complete misrepresentation of the text and a profound mistranslation.
Now, in the current edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, the scandal surrounding the "Gospel of Judas" is significantly expanded. The paper's account reads like a spy story.
From the article:
Marvin Meyer was eating breakfast when his cellphone buzzed. Meyer, a professor of religious studies at Chapman University, has a mostly gray beard and an athletic build left over from his basketball days. His friends call him "the Velvet Hammer" for his mild demeanor. He's a nice guy.
The voice on the other end belonged to a representative of the National Geographic Society. They were working on a project and wanted his help.
"That's very interesting," he remembers saying. "What do you have in mind?"
"We can't tell you," was the reply.
That was not the answer he expected.
"Let me see if I understand this," Meyer said. "You'd like me to agree to do a project with you, but you won't tell me what that project is. Is that right?"
The paper performs a commendable service in providing an extensive analysis of the controversy surrounding the text and the project. Beyond doubt, there are major issues of scholarship and personal integrity at stake.
It is clear that the media were misled -- and that the media then mislead their audiences. Now, when the integrity of the entire project is called into doubt, the media are far less interested.
The Chronicle of Higher Education is to be commended, the National Geographic Society should be humiliated, and Christians should be reminded once again not to be shaken by media sensationalism. The discovery of the "Gospel of Judas" changes nothing except to add yet another manuscript to the pile of false gospels and Gnostic documents.
When those scholars misrepresented the "Gospel of Judas," they betrayed not only the public trust, but the truth.
While this is a topic that seemingly belongs in the religion Forum, I think this is a lesson for all conservatives.
Considering that the National Geographic also blows the horn for Global Warming and other liberal ideas, I think this article is a must read for all FReeprs, whether atheist, Jewish or Christians.
“The Chronicle of Higher Education is to be commended, the National Geographic Society should be humiliated, and Christians should be reminded once again not to be shaken by media sensationalism. The discovery of the “Gospel of Judas” changes nothing except to add yet another manuscript to the pile of false gospels and Gnostic documents.”
Every year, around Easter, this story comes out.....Interesting that it’s in the limelight this time of year....
“Considering that the National Geographic also blows the horn for Global Warming and other liberal ideas”
Yep...I used to have a subscription but cancelled it...total lib garbage imho....
Note an interesting observation; those who do accept that infallibility will come to blows with those who suggest that the same acceptance be given to more recent Catholic leaders and theologians).
For your respective ping lists
Although within the past year or two National Geographic finally acknowledged that the DDT ban brought on by Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was based on lies and has killed tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people in the past thirty years.
Well, I’ve been questioning whether I should renew my subscription to NatGeo because of all the green/lefty politics tripe they put in these days. This seals the deal. I’m not renewing.
The real Gospels were written in Koine Greek (and one possibly in Aramaic) - a dialect which is very well-documented in the 1st century and earlier.
The Gospel Of Judas was written so long after the events it claims to relate that it would be as authentic as someone in 2008 writing an account of the first conversation between Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Today's "Christians" are open to variant theologies. Think of all the church ladies who regularly go to the palm reader or Democratic Caucus. Think of the evangelical left.
Doesn't make them Christian, though.
It doesn't matter how fully and thoroughly the scholarly debate proceeds NOW; the horse is still out of the barn, the milk is still spilled, the eggs are still scrambled, the serious misrepresentations presented as confirmed fact in the program still live on in the minds of millions, who will remain blissfully ignorant until National Geographic steps forward and corrects the mistranslation.
It should also be noted that in the early years of the Christian church, there were probably proportionally as many kooks and “original doctrine thinkers” as exist in society today.
Gnostics, especially, would attract a lot of these people, with the idea that God would speak to them directly, instead of via the written word or priests.
Importantly, such people pride themselves in their ignorance of existing doctrine, and prefer to “wing it” with whatever pops into their heads.
And I’m sure that many of them were as sensible as the Time Cube guy is today:
It's good to see them exposed: and by such an able man as Albert Mohler, a top-drawer thinker and writer, in my estimation.
I want to thank you too, Natural Law, for your rather wry comment.
Now, here's something I would like to hear from y'all about. Modern feminist/deconstructinist theologians like Princeton's Elaine Pagels argue that the early church was unstructured and doctrinally diverse, using all sorts of variant texts and not at all "set in order" with recognized bishops, councils, texts, and doctrines.
On the other hand, most Christians have the view that the Church which gave us the present list of books which comprise the Bible was identifiable, faithful, and doctrinally sound: competent, in other words, to "canonize" the canon.
They would trace their Biblical and doctrinal roots through Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, who in his Easter letter of 367 gave a list of exactly the same books as what would become the New Testament canon, using the word "canonized" (kanonizomena) in regards to them. Pope Damasus I's Council of Rome in 382, issued an identical biblical canonin the Decretum Gelasianum. Then the African Synod of Hippo, in 393, approved the New Testament, as it stands today, together with the Septuagint books, a decision that was repeated by Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419. These councils were under the authority of the Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, who regarded the canon as already closed.
So goes the telling of history accepted by most Catholic, Orthodox, and I think Reformation figures.
So what say ye all? Is Pagels right, that there was no real agreement or structure or authority in the early Church?
Or were Athanasius, Damasus, Augustine and their successors right??
Or some third interpretation?
Hope I haven't made myself too obscure here. I'm really interested in the answers.
We dropped the National Geographic 20 years ago because of it's liberal/green slant on on topics.
What we have to accept is that because the canon process was administered by imperfect men, the message it produced is imperfect. Like an exercise in vector analysis, we must consider as many inputs as possible so that the resulting message is acceptably close to the original intent without claiming that it has been perfectly preserved.
OK, Natural Law, and thank you. You've made your point of view pretty clear: that the canon of Scripture is imperfect. What evidence can you offer us, now, for your assertion that "the early Church lacked infrastructure, orthodoxy and oversight"?
“...Princeton’s Elaine Pagels....”
Pagels is a silly woman and a heretic. Real theologians snicker when she walks into a room. No one argues with her anymore and sadly her reputation for sloppy scholarship and even sloppier thinking has all but destroyed whatever reputation Princeton’s religion department once had.
National Geographic, of course, is no longer worth the paper its printed on as its circulation figures demonstrate.
What level of proof or reference are you looking for? Your first clue should be that there has been far more written about the lack of structure in the early church than written about the structure that existed. Can we agree that for the first 200 years the church was regionally in conflict with Judaism and globally outlawed by Rome, the two most organized entities in the world at the time. The earliest council to produce canon was the Council of Elvira in 306 AD, followed by the Council of Nicene. Would you agree that in the 300 years prior to this the church was at least locally administered through a distributed authority structure?
The textual history of the early canons is complicated. All accounts from the time were that canon (or rules) were adopted out of need and were often hotly debated. More often than not, charges of heresy accompanied the Canon underscoring a lack of agreement or orthodoxy in the Church.
If you would like some good reading on the subject I would recommend; Hamilton Hess discusses the problems of the textual transmission of the canons in The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica (Oxford Early Christian Studies, Oxford: 2002) 40-42. He summarizes the research of Samuel Laeuchli (who prints the Latin text and translates it), Sexuality and Power: The Emergence of Canon Law at the Synod of Elvira (Philadelphia: 1972) and of Maurice Meigne, "Concile ou collection d'Elvire," Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 70 (1975) 361-387.
Dr. Mohler was being far too generous when he referred to Elaine Pagels as a "scholar."
Thank you, Natural Law. Bear in mind, though, that I'm not a Biblical Literalist. I'm a Catholic.
"Would you agree that in the 300 years prior to this the church was at least locally administered through a distributed authority structure?"
As far as I understand it, yes, you are correct: the Church was locally administered through a distributed authority structure.
The distributed authority structure consisted of bishops who were consecratied via the laying on of hands --- by other bishops, who were successors of other bishops, who were the disciples and successors of the Apostles: for example, St. Irenaeus of Lyon (a disciple of St. Polycarp of Smyrna, who was himself a disciple of the Apostle St. John). This constituted a recognized lineage.
The Apostles and martyrs had a tremendous legitimacy int he eye of all believers in thre Lord, which only increased after their deaths.
The Bishops of certain ancient Sees had a heightened patriarchal authority: I speak of Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Rome.
My evidence that the Church did have recognized structure and authority, would proceed along the following lines:
Clement of Rome, writing c. 80-98 AD, speaks of Peter's martyrdom in Rome, and the reverence with which he was regarded by all the people, as a teacher of truth.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch, in his Letter to the Romans (c. 105-110), tells the Roman Christians: "I do not command you, as Peter and Paul did." --- indicating that both Peter and Paul commanded people: were leaders with authority in Rome.
Dionysius of Corinth wrote (AD 170) that church "plantings" were made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; "for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time." This and similar passages show a church reaching out and propagating the faith in a way which, even in the beginning, was coordinated as a mission.
St. Irenaeus of Lyon (whose lineage I mentioned earlier) in c. 175-185 wrote of "the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles."
Tertullian also writes: "But if you are near Italy, you have Rome, where authority is at hand for us too. What a happy church that is, on which the apostles poured out their whole doctrine with their blood; where Peter had a passion like that of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John [the Baptist, by being beheaded]"
There is much more along these lines for anyone who wants to look into Ante-Nicene patristic literature.
There were, over the centuries, dissentions, rivalries, disputes, feuds and all the rest: such was the struggle against the various heresies (Donatism, Arianism, etc.) This is not evidence that there was no such thing as doctrinal orthodoxy, but that orthodoxy was always challenged by sincere and gifted religious thinkers like Donatus, Arius, etc. who were, however, sincerely wrong.
Oops, I wanted to keep pinging you into this. See mine at #23. Is this essentially accurate, as you see it?
You have constructed a false dichotomy there: the one does not exclude the other. Christ taught us to draw close to the True God calling Him 'Abba' -- Papa --- because our relationship is that direct and personal. He also-- by both His words and His deeds --- gave authority to His Church with all its heavenly perfections and human blemishes and struggles.
I just noticed that a concordance turns up 112 references to "Church" in the New Testament.
If you are devoted to the very words of Our Lord, you might meditate on these: speaking to the picked me He had sent out to preach, Christ said, "He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." He said "if he [the erring brother] refuses to listen even to the Church, treat him as you would a pagan " -- and, speaking to Peter, "On this Rock I will build my Church."
“Oops, I wanted to keep pinging you into this. See mine at #23. Is this essentially accurate, as you see it?”
Essentially, yes and for a Latin you’ve done a good job. :) In the first 300 years though, the theology of The Church really was developing mostly in Antioch and Alexandria and there was an intellectual and theological tension between them which bore fruit for The Faith. Rome, truth be told, played a surprisingly small role in this. Its liturgy of the time, by the way, was a minimally reworked version of the Liturgy of +James which was a creation of the very, very early Church of Jerusalem.
Doctrinal Orthodoxy was championed by Alexandria. Antioch tended to be a bit off, but all in all it too was orthodox. It is a mistake, however, to think that after 325 or so that theological heterodxy was stamped out. It wasn’t, at least not in the East. There was an entire Monophysite type church, hierarchy and all, existing for many centuries all throughout the Middle East. Nestorianism survives to this day as do types of Monophytism. It is a myth that heterodox religious groups were stamped out in the East. They weren’t. Many, like Gnosticism, simply died a well deserved death of neglect.
The whole mythology of a triumphant Christian Orthodoxy crushing out dissent after 300 is just Western ethnocentrism born of real or imagined depredations of the Roman Church. Its just bunk.
Just a quick comment before I go off to bed: yes, I think that's true, K. I think Rome at the time was NOT the great intellectual center of the Church: it was a city already faded and in decline, and speaking a second-rate soldiers'-and-construction-trades language (Latin) and not the refined philosophical language of the day (Greek)> A tad backwards.
This may be why so little of the heresy originated in Rome in the first centuries AD. Heresy comes from proud and subtle intellects gone wrong. The Romans were not eagles: they were ravens. They grasped what they'd been given and didn't let go.
G'night, dear Kolokotronis. G'night, all.
I'm curious what you mean by ritual? You say you are Catholic, but do you consider the Eucharist merely a ritual that has no effect on your relationship with God?
The message of Jesus was a simple one; do good deeds, treat one another with love and kindness, honor and love God.
I'd argue His ministry could be summarized in one word: Love. However, all the stuff around that tells us how to do so ;-)
“I think Rome at the time was NOT the great intellectual center of the Church: it was a city already faded and in decline, and speaking a second-rate soldiers’-and-construction-trades language (Latin) and not the refined philosophical language of the day (Greek)> A tad backwards.
This may be why so little of the heresy originated in Rome in the first centuries AD. Heresy comes from proud and subtle intellects gone wrong.”
I think you’re right. I also think that Rome had an ability to ferret out the right doctrine once presented by the East and then, later on like in the iconoclast period, use its first among equals position to defend orthodoxy.
>> There’s a reason the gospel of Judas (and others) was not included in the Bible - it’s a crock, written to help those on Judas’ side defend him. <<
Not even. Many Gnostics were simply Satanists. That is, they believed that YHWH was a lesser god who ruined Lucifer’s grand creation, and only by the destruction of all things material could one gain knowledge. As such, they clung to anyone who was outcast by the catholic church. (You can emphasize the lower case “c” if you’d like.)
I disagree, Kolo. She is certainly the last person on my list to defend, but the truth is, the Church Chrits left behind was not structured, or even resembled anything we have today. There was a proliferation of sects and cults, and the earliest Apostolic Fathers (i.e. +Ignatius, +Polycarp) address their disruptive beliefs. Orthodoxy was challenged from all sides: the Jews, Romans and various cults (Gnostics by the dozens, Ebionites, etc.).
The faux-"Gospel" of Judas is a 2nd century Gnostic product that sheds light on various heretical beliefs. It has also been a welcome opportunity for various satanic television and publishing houses to attack orthodox Christianityand make profit.
Elaine Pagels is not wrong when she asserts that the Church was not well defined. We know that from the history of the biblical canon and from writings of the Church Fathers. She is wrong when she asserts that Gnostics and Christians are two equal branches of true Christianity.
I find it disappointing that the “The gospel of thomas” also falls into the category of it was wrong when they wrote so it it is still wrong now.
>> The thing to remember is that the early Church lacked infrastructure, orthodoxy and oversight. <<
Nonsense. Every city had an overseer (episcopus, or bishop), chosen by an apostle, who served as presider (presbyter, or priest) over worship, aided by ordained assistants (diakonos, or deacon). Within a decade of the death of the last apostles, the episcopi had ordained a middle level of management: presbyters who were not episcopi, but could preside over worship themselves, unlike the deacons. Various apostolic successors achieved influence over lesser churches.
>> As was often the case, its message was accepted by locals in cafeteria manner layered over the pagan cultures and traditions it replaced. <<
There were certainly some who claimed authority as Christians outside of the system of deacons, priests, bishops, but bishops claimed a very tight fidelity to each other and placed a very high premium on agreement of doctrine.
>> Settling of disagreements and disputes was often a case of the application of force and political will, not a study of theology or exercise of learned debate. <<
Not until the 4th century.
>> What we have to accept is that because the canon process was administered by imperfect men, the message it produced is imperfect. <<
That’s damnable heresy. Christ promised the guidance of the holy spirit to protect his church from error. You may accept it, but you are not a Christian if you do. The inerrancy of the bible is the First Thing apon which all theology must be based.
The Church's, and specifically Peter's mission was to spread the word of God as told to by Christ. Peter was arraigned twice before the Sanhedrin because of his direct challenge to the legitimacy of their power. It was not to build an organizational hierarchy or to empower, or to admonish or to condemn.
>> I too am a Catholic. <<
No, you’re not. You just think you are. Or (hopefully) you’ve gravely misrepresented yourself. I know you’ll lump me as just one of those who doesn’t mind offending you, but I’m warning you, not delighting in bashing you. Catholics may not read the bible fundamentally, and some may not read certain parts of the Old Testament literally, but the Catholic Church does absolutely hold the inerrancy of the scripture, as well as the infallibility of the magisterium which was responsible for the canon process.
>> One’s relationship with God is direct and personal without ritual or priests, bishops, and councils. <<
That you would place “ritual,” priests and councils as alternative to a direct, personal relationship with God seems as un-Catholic as you can get. Yes, the relationship must be personal and direct, but the sacraments (which are rites, after all) are means to such a relationship, and priests are the required instruments of such grace!
I’m positively baffled as to why you would call yourself Catholic.
I’m not sure what you mean, kosta. (Contrast your post 32 to my post 34): Certainly heretics of all stripes claimed to be Christianity, but the catholic (which, yes, was mostly Greek) church was certainly very structured (while being collegial).
I guess we will just have to disagree on this one, Kosta. The Church had structure before +Ignatius of Antioch wrote his letter to the Smyrneans and that was in the late 1st or very, very early 2nd century. The fact that there were other sects and cults running around doesn’t negate that.
I stick by what I said about Pagels.
It is a fable that every city had a presbyter. All one has to do is look at the various canons that were read in various churches to realize that they were but a few, mostly located in the largest cities such as Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria.
Besides, if you are going to call "structure" the fact that every city had an elder (presbyter), or so we are led to believe, then that may be true of any sect.
In fact, Manicheanism was more popular and widespread than Christianity for some time. For that to exist, one needs "structure." and this applies equally to orthodox Christianity as well as to any other organized pagan and Gnostic roups at that time.
There is no indication from any Roman or Jewish records that anyone considered Christians as an organized, well structured movement. In fact, the prayer cursing the "minims" (a derogatory terms used for Gnostics and Nazarenes or Christians), instituted after Jamnia, shows no distinction from the Jewish point of view.
Most Roman records cite individual acts of defiance to Roman authorities and refusal to worship caesar, rather than of an organized "church." Various governers ask for instructions on how to deal with these individuals and not how to go after the "church."
More importantly, I am talking about an apparent lack of theological orthodoxy. Without a set canon, and with wide ranging beliefs (for instance, the Book of Enoch was considered scripture by many orthodox Christians at that time, and is to this very day by Ethiopian Orthodox), and a known split between the Pauline and Petrine camps (not to mention the Jerusalem Church), it is difficult to speak of any solid "structure."
The lack of such structure was also, understandably, manifest in the canon read in different churches, and the need to publish pseudoepihgraphical books such as 1 and 2 Peter in order to heal Petrine and Pauline disagreements and bring greater unity theologically, not to mention the fact that Apostle John found it absolutely necessary, if not critical, to stress Christ's divinity in his Gospel at the very end of the century because it is not stressed in other three Gospels, and because not all who called themselves Christians believed it, especially the Judaizers.
Equally important is the fact that the early Christianity moved away from the Old Testament and that it took +Irenaeus, not until the end of the 2nd century, to bring the OT into theologically seamless union with the Gospels (which is a stretch in my opinion).
The fact that different churches read different "canon," and that the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas are found in the oldest surviving (4th century) complete Bible (C. Sinaiticus), or that Jude quotes from the Book of Enoch as if it were scripture, shows that the Church did not have a unified (catholic) theology, but that there existed rather significant variation among the various bishops, perhaps all within the mbralla of "orthodoxy" but nonetheless a great variable.
If it had structural unity, then it would have not found a need to set canon at the end of the 4th century, something that was never ecumenically ratified in the Undivided Church, and was ratified only at Trent (to which the Eastern Orthodox are not bound) under the gun of Protestant heresy, and something the East never ascended to fully until the 9th century (the Book of Revelation was listed as questionable in Constantinople until that time, along with the Shepherd of Hermas and other books!)
The fact that some parts of the canon (i.e. Hebrews and the Revelation) were basically "horse traded" between the East and the West also shows that some of the reasons for their inclusion (or exclusion) were more of human then divine nature.
And the Orthodox Church to this day does not consider the Bible "inerrant," even though it holds that it contains God's truth.
Thus, to speak of some solid structure rather than a very fluid situation in early Christianity, even among the Apostolic communion is a myth as much as it is a myth that Gnostics were just another expression of true Christianity.
The structure of the Church as we know it today is a product of a 2,000-year old history, shaped by politicis, demographics, and other factors, mostly human in nature (just consider the Vatican II decision to turn the altar around and have the priest face the congregation!).
To claim that the Church was delivered ready-to-use, fully assembled at Pentecost is as much of a stretch as the belief some Protestants spout about the Bible, like, manna, being sent down from the heavens, with numbered verses and full index in the back! It's a fairytale that some would very much like everyone to believe.
Pagels has an agenda, and people will do all sorts of things to defend their agenda. But that is not something isolated only to Pagels. Some 15th century monk penned Comma Johanneum into the New Testament to make it more "trinitarian." The sad part about it is that we know it's a fraud but we still keep it in the New Testament!
I agree wholeheartedly. The NT is very clear that the Apostles were commissioned to do what others cannot do and that it is an imperative prt of the life in the Church to acknowledge the special role of the priesthood in dispensation of God's mysteria.
Sacraments are not ordinary "rituals," although their length and form is a human product based on the Holy Tradition. The life of an Orthodox/Cathllic Christian is the life of sacraments. We can not have our own private "catholic" faith.
That is absolutely correct, within the context of times and the position of the Church in the hostile world. The Apostles were convinced that the End Days were near and their priority was to spread the word of Christ as much as possible, urging people to sell their earthly possessions, and prepare themselves for the second coming.
The Church had to do some "damage control" at the end of the 1st century when it became apparent that this was unrealistic, even erroneous, thus producing pseudoepihraphical 2 Peter to redefine those expectations to prevent massive falling away.
>> It is a fable that every city had a presbyter. <<
Fable? The bible says that a presbyter was appointed in each city that was evangelized to: For this reason, I left Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders (presbyters) in every city.
“Presbyter” isn’t the same word used for Jewish priests; presbyters preside over a rite. Without a presbyter, the worship rites could not be completed.
Now, I’ll grant you that the bishops were dispersed across 5,000 miles, from Spain to India, and there was very little communication possible, so faith traditions were evolving very independently. But this isn’t the sort of lack of structure Pagels is talking about. Within each city, the church was absolutely structured... and in a way many religions were not.
You’re right in that there was debate over various texts. Many communities lacked Revelations, 1-2-3 John, 1-2 Peter, James, Jude and Hebrews. The only “canon” of scripture consisted of those books deemed worthy of liturgical use, and these could include Clement, 3-4 Maccabees, Enoch, Jubilees, and the Shepherd of Hermas. Yet all of these “extra” books are from a completely different category than the sort of Gnostic books Pagels writes about. Her notion of Gnosticism as an alternative expression of Christianity is complete fiction.
>> To claim that the Church was delivered ready-to-use, fully assembled at Pentecost is as much of a stretch as the belief some Protestants spout about the Bible, like, manna, being sent down from the heavens, with numbered verses and full index in the back! It’s a fairytale that some would very much like everyone to believe.<<
It’s a straw man not relevant to this discussion.
2 Peter is pseudoepigraphical? So you’re saying that 2 Peter 1:1 is a false attestation? How about this whopper: “I think it is right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.” (1:12-14) Or “This is now, beloved, my second letter I am writing to you.” (3:1) This isn’t like Plato’s dialogs, structuring the teachings of Socrates into fictionalized discourses, a method possibly used by John the Evangelist. Nor is it the failure to mention a scribe receiving dictation. You’re talking outright fabrication.
We must guard against reading into things. How many "cities" of that time are we talking about, and what qualified as a city. I submit major metropolis was a city. The rest were not. Also, in those days many Christians were hiding in Cappadocian caves, in order to remain invisible. There were also catacombs in Rome, an underground which was possible in large cities, but not in smaller ones.
Now, Ill grant you that the bishops were dispersed across 5,000 miles, from Spain to India, and there was very little communication possible, so faith traditions were evolving very independently. But this isnt the sort of lack of structure Pagels is talking about. Within each city, the church was absolutely structured... and in a way many religions were not
Yes, the Thomian Church in India is very synagogue-like (the curtain behind the altar actually contains the Torah!). So, one can only surmise that the early Church was an amalgam of many different traditions, all united in Christ's name celebrating the Last Supper and offering the bloodless Sacrifice as described in Didache. We have really no way of knowing how structured they were or even how "catholic" they were.
Yet all of these extra books are from a completely different category than the sort of Gnostic books Pagels writes about. Her notion of Gnosticism as an alternative expression of Christianity is complete fiction.
I think I made that clear in my previous post (#32) when I wrote "She is wrong when she asserts that Gnostics and Christians are two equal branches of true Christianity."
That is correct.
>> Some 15th century monk penned Comma Johanneum into the New Testament to make it more “trinitarian.” The sad part about it is that we know it’s a fraud but we still keep it in the New Testament! <<
The Comma Johanneum is cited as part of the Epistle’s text c. 350 AD. Even a century earlier, Cyprian seems to cite it. The reason for the doubt is that it isn’t cited by people who would seem likely to cite it (such as Clement, 2nd c.). It may actually have originally read, “there are three witness bearers, the Spirit and the water and the blood.” (Codex Sinaiticus, c. AD 330)
That, in fact, may be a trinitarian formulation, since the water is what bears witness to God the Father (representing justice, as exemplified in passages such as Noah’s, Joshua’s, John the Baptist’s), and the blood is from Christ. In which case, the gloss is theologically accurate, but abstracted enough to make it unappealing for Clement to base his argument on; Further, it’s not a fabrication, but an over-translation, consistent with the divine protection of the Holy Spirit preserving the inerrancy of the bible.
>> I submit major metropolis was a city. The rest were not. <<
That’s not reasonable, given the context. Paul and the apostles themselves did a pretty thorogh job of establishing churches in each major metropolis, and would have appointed presbyters themselves. The letter to Titus is Paul appointing a fairly minor character to do so. And such presbyters were needed sacramentally. We see from Acts 3 how deacons such as Phillip weren’t sufficient even to lay hands on converts. We can suppose that Paul is concerned that communities of believers are popping up where there is no presbyter to administer sacraments to them.
>> We have really no way of knowing how structured they were or even how “catholic” they were <<
No, as I concurred, there was probably massive variation among local traditions. But even so: the Thomian (I would have said Thomistic, but you’re trying not to refer to Acquinas? ;^D) churches give us a good hint.
Perzackly. And well stated, for a Greek! :o)
And by the way, I out-weirded you: