Gnostic / Traditional gospels

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by R1D2, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

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    Gnostic / Traditional gospels.
    What's the "true gospels"?
    Is there some here that would lean to incorporate some gnostic gospels now?
    And what would be the true way of the god of the bible. Is "he" a little gnostic? Or is he more traditional?
    Why did the church decide to go with the gospels they did?
     
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  3. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    I looked up gnostic gospels and as an atheist don't much care for the religious aspect of them.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnostic_Gospels
     
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  5. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    The canonical gospels were decided upon in Rome. It's too late to change things now for the majority of Christian. I do think the gnostic gospels have a few challenging verses. For one thing, Jesus praises materialism!
     
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  7. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

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    Very interesting information Killjoyklown
    thanks for adding the link.
     
  8. JWA Registered Member

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    I feel the real benefit of the documents known as the “gnostic gospels” is that they were found in 1945 in Nag Hammadi Egypt and were unedited since written shortly after the death of Jesus unlike the current Christian bibles. They certainly give a different perspective from the canonical Gospels regarding Jesus.
     
  9. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    I think most of them date to around 300 years after. But they are copies, so who knows when the originals were written.
     
  10. JWA Registered Member

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    Good point...
     
  11. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    I think the analysis may have evolved over time but I recall that there was an era in which it was believed that the Gnostic Gospels may have preceded the Gospel of Matthew and Epistles of Paul. One huge problem with understanding the chronology is the uncertainty over how long the oral tradition went on, and when any "original" manuscripts appeared, how many are deliberate forgeries, and why the authors are all anonymous. (Fundamentalists don't seem to understand that the names Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were all invented by the early Church, not that they were autographs.)

    One of the theories I had learned decades ago, which I find especially intriguing, is that the "mainstream" Christian writings were "an answer" to Gnosticism. The Gospel of Thomas, for example, casts Christ in a very impersonal light, although he is the anti-pater (if that's the word). In other words, he is the force introduced to balance the indifference and even malevolence of the Creator God. (And probably especially the indifference to living under Roman rule.) But the Gnostic Jesus is cast in a flat character, without a persona (much like the bizarre rendering of the characters in the Book of Revelation).

    As for how or why certain books were preserved: I did once come upon the Ecclesiastical History written by Eusebius. It's of course biased toward the mainstream Christianity of the day (as we imagine it anyway) but at least Eusebius makes an effort to catalog the works in his possession (at the Library of Alexandria) and it remains an important work for that reason alone.

    The mere existence of so many "heretical" works that were worthy of saving at the Library speaks to the appreciation of all literature by earlier librarians and scholars, regardless of the validity of any writing under the Christian schema. (Writing itself might be considered divinely inspired regardless of content?) At least many heretical works were not burned before Eusebius took over (despite various fires at the Library, probably even intentionally set to crush intellectualism). He does seem to play a role in deeming heretical those documents he so chooses.

    My personal opinion is that this preservation of the materials prior to Eusebius probably was not due merely to tolerance of heresy. In fact there seem to have been many kinds of intolerance practiced. As a I recall, Islam is in part believed to have sprung from the introduction of banned Christian beliefs (esp. Manichaeism) in Arabia. Not only banned, but the followers were evidently banished there. (Eusebius had a prescript from Diocletian ordering the Manichaeans to be burnt, approx in the era Spidergoat referred to, ca. 300 AD.)

    How and why Christianity as we know it came to arise out of the murky political, religious, ethnic, philosophical and literary past of the Levant, and--of all places--Rome (and Byzantium), is to me a far more interesting question than the highly frivolous questions that modern Christianity seems to concern itself with--such as whether a woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy, or whether gays should be treated equally under marriage, family and property laws, or whether the teaching of science (and education in general) should be left to the judgment of scholars in those respective fields, rather than regulated by boards pregnant with Judeo-Christian and Judeo-Christian-esque ideologies.

    What would the world be like today if every child's introduction into western religion began with a survey course that explored mythology, the rise of animism and pantheism, the effect of Greek and Roman cultural assimilation by Jews and early Christians of the Levant, the use of symbolism in the Gnostic and canonic documents, the connection to Babylonian, Persian and Egyptian traditions, legends and myths, the Stoic movement in Greece and its probable influence on the Zealots (Jewish freedom fighters in rebellion against Rome) and Essenes (possible authors of the Dead Sea scrolls, and probable inventors of baptism), and the fragmentation of Judaism into so many sects at just about the time Jesus magically appeared to some of them, ether as a flat character of Gnosticism, or as a virtual Socrates (or Greek drama in general; compare the Passion to say, Antigone) . . . all of this would take many years of schooling to roll out into a coherent explanation of the likely causes of Christianity, but I certainly think this (or something more historically correct) is, and someday will be, the kind of story that even schoolchildren will be able to piece together as as sort of recital, or "show and tell", about how the world got so mired down in this bizarre tradition.

    Not nearly enough is ever said about the "hidden" works of the early Christian era--the Apocrypha represents part of the digression into a "new" canon . . . but the Pseudepigrapha is probably much more important a set of works for Christians to study--if they are ever to understand the arbitrary and frivolous roots to the stories they hold sacred.

    Anyone who is curious about what I'm talking about can research the Gospel of Thomas. I would also suggest looking into the Ethiopian version of Enoch, which seems to be an entirely different "prediction" of sectarianism yet to come, and also to look into the ancient tablets of Mesopotamia, such as at Nineveh (another great library), esp. the epic of Gilgamesh, the writings of the Ugarit (Phoenicia), the legend of Marduk, the code of Hammurabi and the Persian invention of a fiery hell, and the evolution from Zoroastrianism to the Roman version of Mithraism (with parallels to the Passion of Christ and the Last Supper).

    Stuff like this really ought to be developed for consumption by the young and impressionable students of the Christian world, as a sort of vaccine against the various forms of propaganda many or most of them will inevitably have to endure before they truly begin to think for themselves.

    This is probably more than you asked for from your post. I'm still very interested in Gnosticism by itself, as a historical context for understanding the Christian phenomenon, its roots and evolution.

    Thanks for your remarks. They kind of wired me up.

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    . I like this thread. (Hopefully I haven't harshed its mellow.

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    :m

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    PS. Note to the sane: in the event of a factual/logical emergency, break glass to extract the axe labeled "Spidergoat rules, Fundies drool." Then just go chop, chop, chop. It works kind of like the crucifix on Dracula, or the Holy Water on the little girl in the Exorcism. Basically, it takes all the air out of their tires, removes the lug nuts and leaves them up on blocks.

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    PPS. If there was a cabinet level position for Secretary of counter-Disinformation (or something of the sort) I would give 25% of my available life energy to get Spidergoat (or his designee if he's not up to it) to fill that position.

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    Go, Spidey.
     
  12. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Good for you. A lot of folks wouldn't bother to look into it. I think it's kind of distasteful, too. On the other hand, you might someday come back to it like I did and say, hey: which came first, how did these different views feed on each other, why did one prevail over the other, etc. Sometimes I really just wonder: what if this started as a piece of drama for the stage--a play? The Jesus story that has been amplified and preserved over the ages (as opposed to this ho-hum Gnostic version, even if it is kind of trippy) has all of the elements of magic and tragedy that permeated literature of the Golden Age of Greece. Even before Hollywood got ahold of the Bible stories, we might have imagined them as made-for-movie sagas. The Mediterranean world seems to have been prepped by Hellenism to re-invent their own myths and legends in the Greek formula for Divine Tragedy . . . that, and a touch of atheism (belief in one God, according to Plato) the emblem of the martyr (Stoics, Epictetus, or Socrates choosing the poison cup of hemlock) the Persian doctrine of the fire world (to become Hell in the late Jewish/early Christian era) . . . and logically connected to Alexander's tactical victories and his tromping around in Persia). . . all of these are possible ways to connect the dots, which of course add nothing to the turn-off you sensed from looking at Gnosticism. (Also a possible connection to Persian astrology: the sun "dies" for three days in the winter solstice, then "rises again". . .) But hey, what if the original authors never planned on this material getting branded as a religion. Wouldn't it be hilarious if something explaining this were to be unearthed a few years from now? Something like a disclaimer, by the playwright, perhaps noting that "Ok, this is starting to get out of hand...it's definitely gone viral." Although a Life of Bryan rendition could only do this idea justice I, perhaps more than anyone, would have to buy a beer for everyone on this board if some historical artifact popped up that happened to re-cast the story this way!

    I appreciate your point of view, I read a lot of your posts and rarely give feedback, but I'm usually always in agreement with you. You have that sense of balance that adds to the forums, you're never pretentious and quick to offer an honest opinion. (Now that's what I call religion!

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    ) ...just thought I'd give credit where credit is due.
     
  13. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

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    Some good information has been posted. Thanks.

    And if the gnostic view is older. And if its really closer to the true "story and message" of Jesus. Could christians be mislead?
     
  14. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

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    Welcome JWA. :wave:
    And how do we know those "gospels" were unedited? They were orally passed down before being written and copied.
     
  15. rodereve Registered Member

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    Well the church tried to collect all the ones relevant and in agreeance to the biblical canon that did not conflict with each other but they couldn't avoid all the contradictions. They took out the books that referred to magic, obviously that wouldn't settle well with tradition christians. Anything that related to pagan roots or values were stripped away. It's just odd that the end of the bible talks about "adding or taking away" from the bible, but that is essentially what they did by cherrypicking gospels.

    Now, the problem isn't all the gospels that were taken out, but also the translations of the gospels that were kept. if you read the KJV (not to say that KJV is an accurate translation by any means) and read some of the bogus new versions that come out, something stupidly named like New Life Living version, the King James version has passages that have completely different meanings than how passages are read in newer versions. Essentially, people are just rewriting the bible to paraphrase what they believe it meant.

    I recently got the book "Purpose-driven Life" for Christmas and when I see the biblical quotes it refers to these bogus versions. It's currently collecting dust on my bookshelf lol
     
  16. arauca Banned Banned

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    At the end is I am here and we are here in the present age , whatever was done good or bad by our forefather , I or we can make our spiritual life and relationship with God . We don't have to follow any spiritual leader because at end what counts is the relationship with God if we choose to believe in God.
     
  17. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

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    Wow what a good/great start, and some good reading material.
    A-ID you have not :m: hashed your last post in this thread here. Have you?
    Rodereve thanks for adding your two cents even if this is not your normal forte.. I appreciate it
     
  18. Robittybob1 Banned Banned

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    Aqueous ID as per usual makes some very intelligent comments.
     

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