A reader asks…

…about “Lost Christianities” over at the Register.

  • bob

    Great article, thank you. The point that the gnostics can’t handle the crucifixion is particularly important. Without the Passion the real Gospels would be as short as the fake ones.

    • Ben the Atheist

      But of course the Gospel of Thomas probably is older than any of the canonical gospels, and there’s no passion narrative and no eucharist.

      • Mark Shea

        “Of course”? Pure bravado. Nothing like the combox New Testament ‘scholar”.

      • Beadgirl

        Also, “probably”? Would you mind backing up that statement with some citations? I’ve never heard of Thomas being older than the four we have.

      • http://www.pilgrimage.subcreators.com Lori Pieper

        Plus, there is no mention of the Gospel of Thomas anywhere by any of the Fathers or by any Christian author up until Hippolytus (c. 230 A.D.) You’d think that if it were part of those competing Christianities and Gospels that supposedly was creating debate among Christians in the first century, someone would at least have mentioned the work back then.

        And, as Craig Evans helpfully points out, even Thomas’ supporters (among real scholars, basically limited to J.D. Crossan and of Jesus Seminar and a few others) are aware of the great difficulties caused by the work’s obvious dependence on the Gospels – in particular the Gospel harmony the Diatesseron, which was circulated in the late second century in Syria where Thomas was probably written. To get around this, they basically have to posit an earlier edition of the Gospel which doesn’t contain this dependence. But of course, the existence of this earlier Gospel is sheer speculation. (See his Fabricating Jesus).

        Ben, I find it very telling that you apparently think that the fact that Thomas is missing the passion narrative and the Eucharist indicate an early date. I believe this is the goal for the Jesus Seminar folks as well – they are desperate to get rid of the historical tradition of the canonical Gospels; they don’t WANT the Incarnation, the sacrificial death of Christ and the Eucharist. They greatly prefer the Jesus who goes around murmuring little Zen-like sayings that never mention sin and redemption, a Jesus wo will make no moral demands on them. That’s why in their desperation they are dragging an obviously 2nd century work back into the 1st century to declare it is the earliest Gospel. This is all a hilariously futile effort, given that we have the institution of the Eucharist and the sacrificial death of Christ as staples in the letters of St. Paul, which can be dated well before any of the Gospels.

        • Ben the Atheist

          Paul never talks about a BODILY resurrection though. His experiences of Jesus are pretty clearly visionary in character.

          • Mark Shea

            Sure he does. It’s just that, being a post-Cartesian gnostic, you assume that a “spiritual body” has to mean something ghostly. There is no meaning to the word “resurrection” if it is not a bodily resurrection.

            Life would have been a lot easier if the early Church *had* just said that Jesus was raised as a ghost. That they didn’t is one of the great puzzles–for people like you who assume the resurrection never happened.

            And, by the way, troll. Do you really think that your perpetual habit of changing the subject when you are shown to be full of crap convinces anybody of your honesty? Seriously. You need to face the fact that you are here to self-medicate a need to feel superior, not to engage in conversation with any other human being. You are remarkably impersonal.

          • http://www.pilgrimage.subcreators.com Lori Pieper

            Hey Ben, can you support all this Richard Carrier-Earl Doherty stuff with an actual argument? I mean something longer than a single sentence? Oh wait . . . neither can Richard Carrier or Earl Doherty. (Yeah, I know they’ve written stuff longer than a single sentence, but it doesn’t hold together as an argument).

          • bob

            Now Ben, in a high school track meet they give you several attempts at the shot or the discus. That was a singularly poor throw just then. Go loosen up, get some chalk on your hands and give it another try. If that’s all you got, well, try some other event.

  • CJ

    Nonsense. Thomas is in fact dependent on the canonical Gospels. Not only does it contain material that is common to the four Gospels, but it contains material that is otherwise unique to Matthew, Luke, and John. Whoever wrote Thomas had to be familiar with at least those three in their final forms. See here http://christianthinktank.com/gthomas.html

  • J. Chase

    Before I clicked on the link I read “Lost Christians over at the Register” rather than “lost Christians” over at the Register. Now I feel like a doofus. Way to let me down by merely edifying my faith with another quality article Mark.


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