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The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities Kindle Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
Darrell Bock has written a timely and valuable study for anyone curious about the question of lost or missing gospels. Cutting his way through a great deal of hype and misinformation, he provides a solid, scholarly grounding to the early history and development of the gospel traditions. In the process, he makes nonsense of theories that Gnostic texts in any sense represented the suppressed core of Christian truth, concealed by a sinister institutional church. A breath of sanity!
-Philip Jenkins, Professor of History and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania State University
- ASIN : B007V9174G
- Publisher : Thomas Nelson (October 7, 2007)
- Publication date : October 7, 2007
- Language : English
- File size : 587 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 230 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #571,260 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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He examines various players (e.g. Bart Ehrman, Helmut Koester, Elaine Pagels, Walter Baeur) and their contributions--most of whom would generally have supported the "makeover" theory.
One very important note: the book is very layman friendly. I was surprised at how smoothly and easily it reads, how non-technical the prose is. Of course, the names of some manuscript fragments may sound technical, but there's no avoiding that.
Dr. Bock explains the roots and origin of Gnosticism, its relationship to classic Christianity, the claims of the school that favors Gnosticism to traditional Christianity, then contrasts the Gnostic theology and worldview with the New Testament theology and worldview.
The chapter titles run as follows:
1) Making a Scorecard: The Period and Players of Early Christianity
2) Discussion of a Key Alternative View: About Gnosticism and its Definition
3) Dating the Origin of Gnosticism
4) Early Christianity's Diversity and Historical Judgments
5) The Claims of Walter Bauer and the New School
6) The Nature of God and Creation, Part 1 (i.e. in Gnosticism)
7) The Nature of God and Creation, Part 2 (i.e. in traditional Christianity)
8) Jesus: Divine and/or Human, Part 1 (Gnosticism)
9) Jesus: Divine and/or Human, Part 2 (traditional Christianity)
10) The Nature of Humanity's Redemption, Part 1 (Gnosticism)
11) The Nature of Humanity's Redemption, Part 2 (traditional Christianity)
12) Jesus' Death: Knowledge, Sin, and Salvation, Part 1 (Gnosticism)
13) Jesus' Death: Knowledge, Sin, and Salvation, Part 2 (traditional Christianity)
14) Conclusion: The New School, the Missing Gospels, Alternative Christianities, and Orthodoxy
Three to four study questions close out each chapter. Following these we have two appendices, containing plentiful information on texts and dates, and a bibliography for further study.
Very well written, very well explained. Four & 1/2 stars.
For one thing, anyone who has the notion from the Di Vinci Code that the Gnostics were early feminists can get that out their mind right away. While the texts make mention of women and what the Di Vinci Code popularized as the "Divine Feminine," most of them make it quite clear that the females in question are inferior in quality to men. At one point Jesus says he will make Mary Magdalene male so that she is worthy of receiving the mysteries he imparts to his disciples. Definitely not politically correct from the modern perspective.
I'm not entirely certain I agree with the author that the earliest Gnostic ideas were later than those of Orthodoxy and therefore do not reflect the "true" teachings of Jesus. While I do agree that one can't argue from lack of evidence, neither do I agree that lack of evidence is evidence of absence. I suspect that much of what was circulating after the death of Jesus was rich and varied. That the texts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were committed to parchment earlier than the Gnostic works is hardly surprising given the characters of the two distinct beliefs.
What has become the traditional church position is pretty clear cut. In fact I was surprised at just how clear cut it was from these earliest 1st Century works. Essentially one is expected to follow the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, and confess your belief in Jesus Christ as the savior of mankind. The Nicean Creed, which I learned in confirmation class says exactly that. Do these things and your future in heaven is guaranteed. And it's not just an ethereal future either. Your mind, body and soul will be resurrected in a much better, much fairer world.
This form of Christianity is accepting and open to all; in fact it urges everyone to become part of it. No one is considered unworthy to participate. Furthermore, the various centers of the faith tended to communicate with one another, instruct, and support adherence to the core beliefs.
On the other hand, the Gnostic texts portray a variety of beliefs with no sense that their proponents have respect for or even contact with the others. In these texts, the speaking disciple has become a repository to which the master has committed some very special knowledge about reality, the soul, the hereafter, and right living. The contents of these tracts suggest secretiveness, divisiveness, and exclusivity. It reminds me of the Masons and the Eastern Star, both of which are secret societies. My guess is that these beliefs appealed to an educated elite more than to the average man in the street.
The message transmitted by these texts is couched in language that is almost like that of Eastern philosophies, which is probably why the Gnostic texts are enjoying a renaissance in modern times. The neophyte is encouraged to get to "know" themselves, to find their "inner deity" in order to find God. The resurrection is of the soul or spirit of the devotee. There are no apparent clear cut "how tos" involved. Even to learn the very secret words imparted by Jesus, the individual must be inducted into the group. Because of this, I'm not at all surprised that the Gnostic texts were set to paper later than that of the Orthodox religion. I'm more surprised that they were committed to the written word at all.
It is precisely because the differences between the two types of belief are so very apparent that I am inclined to believe this author and others who maintain that the Orthodox Church was not responsible for their suppression. The early Romans might have been, but they were an equal opportunity culture, they suppressed all Christian texts.
The reason for my position is that Gnosticism itself, with its secrecy and exclusiveness, simply failed to survive the intellectual "survival of the fittest" Just as biological beings survive or suffer extinction by virtue of the numbers, so too do ideas.
Orthodoxy included everyone who wanted to join, was open with its liturgy and beliefs, appealed to the average person's understanding of life and its demands, gave clear cut rules for achieving grace, and encouraged everyone to "spread the good word." Their formula was extremely successful for over 2000 years.
Top reviews from other countries
The title, however is a very literal description of the content.
I found it too academic and an uninteresting revelation of the author's scholarship. It is not a resume, but a critique.
If that is what you are seeking, the book offers very good value.
A good discussion of this matter, that stands out from others that criticise the new Gnostic-friendly heretics of our times, about the Gospel of Judas, especially, but also about the "gospels" of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, and other Gnostic writings, is Anthony Valle's article, "Audiatur et altera pars [i.e.] Let the Other Side Also Be Heard: the Gospel of Judas and the Bauer Thesis", in the pages of "The Latin Mass: the Journal of Catholic Culture and Tradition" (vol. 15, no. 5, Advent-Christmastide issue, p. 32-36), which wisely notes (on p. 35) some words from Bock's study, as I also shall do here, generalising Bock's wording a bit in square brackets (and one addition of emphatic capitals to a word):
"So does the discovery of the Gospel of Judas [and of other newly-found Gnostic writings purporting to be gospels] do anything for us historically? Well ... [they do] tell us what [some] Gnostic movement[s] of the second [and third] centur[ies] thought.... All of this aids in understanding [those two] centur[ies], but NOT the first century [of] Christian history. For that one small fragment of historical understanding, we can be grateful. [However, t]he "Gospel of Judas" [among other such Gnostic writings] also corroborates that Irenaeus summarised this [and suchlike] gospel[s] accurately, which means [that] we have known about [these rejected writings] for 1800 years".
So much for their novelty and "new light" that neo-gnostics think that these works shed!
Thank you, Mr. Bock, for your book-length treatment of this matter!