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October 02, 2007


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Last year when the gospel of Judas made the news, my grade 8 and 9 students asked about it; and being the opended minded sort that I am, I thought I would teach heresy. Why not?

I put before them a passage from Judas, and then a passage from Matthew, without telling them which one was which. I said, "Decide for yourselves which one reminds you of the Jesus and which one doesn't."

They chose Matthew without any prompting from me and gave reasons why Jesus would never the say the things he did in the Judas gospel. I would not describe my students as good church going kids or well educated in the gospel, but whatever.

Call you it what you want, enter the kingdom of heaven as a child, from the mouths of babes, etc...

Adults who are grasping for straw out of the manger, betray, and make the baby Jesus cry.


we'll get around to looking at some of the texts in question & doing a bit of comparison. One of the questions which pops up for people is "how do I know which - if any - of these ancient texts (including the canonical gospels) can be trusted as most authentic. For that we will have a look at Bock's analysis of Bauer, who sort of started this off in the 30's, but really came into his own in the mid 60's. He's the grandaddy of the quest for alternative gospels, and an alternative Jesus.

Mike S

Of course, the thing we all want to know about is the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Unfortunately, my personal impression of Mary as a wealthy matron and personal friend of Jesus' mother simply does not sell as well as a twenty-something hottie.


The scholastic tradition to which I follow is indeed the 30's and 60's but not the 1930's and 1960's.

"how do I know which - if any - of these ancient texts.. etc....."

Sure, that's a new question. No one has ever asked that before.


Mike: yes, there is that marketing aspect to everything...

Troy: I think it is the kind of question which predates and postdates Christendom. In the earliest times, for those who were outside the circle of Christian tradition (those being evangelized), and prior to the treatment of text as canon, the existence of a variety of texts would have raised such a question. And in a post Christendom context, this is the first time one can have access to so many of the early texts at once. So again, from the missional perspective, it is the kind of question which can be raised in our day and age, which was not raised (indeed could not, because of lack of access to texts) in prior times.

The broader answer (from the point of view of the orthodox tradition) is to look at the early church and see how and why certain texts became canon and others did not. That was really the first full form of the question, and it's fullest answer.


The gospels provoked by the author is very good and he has given very good definitions for Dualism, Cosmogony, Soteriology, Eschatology and Community all are very good.

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blank stare...

  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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