Non-Canonical Gospels

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    Bauckham, Richard J.

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    Gospels (Apocryphal)

    "The writing of Gospels did not end with the production of the Gospels which became canonical or even with the fixing of the canon of four canonical Gospels. Many other Gospels continued to be written for many centuries. Most of these do not resemble the canonical Gospels in genre...For the purpose of this article a Gospel must be defined as a work which recounts all or part of Jesus’ earthly life and teaching (including his appearances on earth between the resurrection and the ascension)...Most attention will be given to those Gospels most relevant to the study of Jesus and the canonical Gospels."
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    Bauckham, Richard J.

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    The Study of Gospel Traditions Outside the Canonical Gospels: Problems and Prospects

    "The study of Gospel traditions outside the canonical Gospels is the Cinderella of Gospels scholarship. Although numerous articles have dealt with many particular aspects of the subject, there have been few major book-length studies, while most of the important work which has been done continues to be largely ignored in mainstream Gospels scholarship...I suspect that this situation results from a false impression of the relationship between the canonical Gospels and other early Christian literature in which the Gospel tradition has been preserved. It is assumed that almost all other witnesses to the Gospel tradition are later in date than the canonical Gospels and therefore of very little interest to the student of the canonical Gospels. In fact, both parts of this assumption are unwarranted."
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    Bruce, F.F.

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    The ‘Secret’ Gospel of Mark

    "...[T]he ‘secret’ Gospel of Mark...may well have come into being within the Carpocratian fellowship, or a similar school of thought. That Clement thought it went back to Mark himself is neither here nor there, in view of his uncritical acceptance of other apocrypha. The raising of the young man of Bethany is too evidently based―and clumsily based at that―on the Johannine story of the raising of Lazarus for us to regard it as in any sense an independent Markan counterpart to the Johannine story...Since this conclusion is so completely at variance with Professor Smith’s carefully argued case, one must do him the justice of giving his case the detailed consideration which it deserves. But for the present I have given my initial assessment of the document which he has discovered and published."
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    Combs, William W.

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    Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism and the New Testament Interpretation

    "The discovery in upper Egypt of an extensive collection of Gnostic writings on papyri trans- formed a poorly known movement in early Christianity into a well documented heresy of diverse beliefs and practices. The relationship of Gnosticism and the NT is an issue that has not been resolved by the new documents. Attempts to explain the theology of the NT as dependent on Gnostic teachings rest on ques- tionable hypotheses. The Gnostic redeemer-myth cannot be docu- mented before the second century: Thus, though the Gnostic writings provide helpful insight into the heresies growing out of Christianity, it cannot be assumed that the NT grew out of Gnostic teachings."
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    Evans, Craig A.

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    What should we think about the Gospel of Judas?

    "Thursday April 6, 2006, the National Geographic Society held a press conference at its Washington DC headquarters and announced to some 120 news media the recovery, restoration, and translation of the Gospel of Judas. The story appeared as headline news in dozens of major newspapers around the world and was the topic of discussion in a variety of news programs on television that evening and subsequent evenings. A two-hour document aired on the National Geographic Channel Sunday evening April 9 and has aired several times since. What is the Gospel of Judas? Why all the fuss, and what should Christians and others think about it?"
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    Flory, Wayne S.

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    The Gnostic Gospels: A Review Article

    "Major themes of gnostic teaching, such as the discovery of the divine within, appealed to many, but the religious perspectives and methods of gnosticism did not lend themselves to mass religion. Thus it was in an unequel contest with the organized orthodox Church, which expressed a unified religious perspective based on the NT canon, offered a creed requiring only the simplest essentials of the faith, and celebrated rituals at one and the same time simple and profound--baptism and the eucharist."
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    Goodacre, Mark

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    Luke 11.27-28 // Thom. 79a: A Case of Thomasine Dependence

    "The question of the relationship between Thomas and the Synoptics remains highly contested. There is no agreement over whether there is anything in Thomas that might indicate direct acquaintance with texts in one or more of our Synoptic Gospels, or whether the parallels are primarily due to shared oral tradition. One of the difficulties is that Thomas does not lend itself easily to methods honed in synoptic criticism over the last century or so. Where there are parallels to its sayings, there is rarely verbatim agreement with synoptics texts, nor (famously) is it easy to trace agreement in order between Thomas and the Synoptics...One text that might have been given more attention is the saying in Luke 11.27-28 // Thomas 79a. I shall argue that this parallel shows clear signs of Thomas’s direct acquaintance with Luke’s Gospel."
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    Jenkins, Philip

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    Hidden Gospels

    "Far from being the alternative voices of Jesus’ first followers, most of the lost gospels should rather be seen as the writings of much later dissidents who broke away from an already established orthodox church. This is not a particularly controversial statement, despite the impression that we may get from much more recent writing on the historical Jesus. The late character of the alternative texts is crucial to matters of historicity and reliability. Historical research is as good as the sources on which it relies, and to the extent that the latest quest for the historical Jesus is founded on the hidden gospels, that endeavor is fatally flawed."
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    Lane, William L.

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    A Critique of Purportedly Authentic Agrapha

    "The term agrapha designates isolated sayings attributed to Jesus in the tradition, but which are not recorded within the canonical Gospels. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century Alfred Resch and James Hardy Ropes worked meticulously to collect and critically evaluate a large quantity of agrapha. The subsequent publication of the Oxyrhyncus Papyri between the years 1897-1908 disclosed the existence of early collections of the sayings of Jesus which produced new agrapha (P. Oxy. Nos. 1, 654, and 655). More recently, the discovery in 1945 of the Coptic library at ancient Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt has made available a large quantity of sayings attributed to Jesus which were previously unknown...The agrapha must be considered in any search for genuine utterances of Jesus beyond the documents of the New Testament."
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    Miller, Glenn M.

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    What About the Gospel of Thomas?

    "The GTh is late (150-200ad), not early (50-75ad). It dates from AFTER the completion and collation of the FourFold gospel.The GTh may contain an authentic extra-biblical tradition or two...but by and large is dependent on ALL the canonical gospels in their finished form. Since it appears in history 100-150 years later than the alleged Sayings Document called 'Q', its value to demonstrate the existence of such a genre as 'Sayings Document' is negligible. As a late document, is looks more like popular theme books of today--'The Parables of Jesus' or 'The Gaililean Miracles'--subsets of the Gospel data for specific purposes, as opposed to a comprehensive statement of the 'gospel'."
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    Wood, Darin M.

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    Non-Canonical Gospels

    "There is no shortage of early manuscripts bearing the title 'gospel'. The use of this term casts shadows on the canonical term, making it difficult to understand what these 'other gospels' are, where they came from and how (or if) they are to be used. The crucial questions are where did these originate, who wrote them, why where they written and for whom. Furthermore, if they are indeed ‘gospels’, why do we as New Testament believers living in this educated age not include them in our studies?"
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    Yamauchi, Edwin

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    The Gnostics and History

    "Gnosticism was a dualistic heresy which proclaimed salvation through gnosis or esoteric knowledge. It was a heresy which flourished in the 2nd century A.D. Whether it was already in existence in the 1st century or even in the pre-Christian era is a matter of great controversy. Until 1945 our major sources of information on the Gnostics were: the church fathers; and the late Mandaic texts. Then in that year a spectacular cache of 13 Coptic Gnostic Codices was found at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt. These now give us a substantial corpus of early documents from the Gnostics themselves."