Why The Apocryphal Gospels Pale In Comparison to the 4 True Gospels
The gospels of Thomas, Mary, Judas and Peter are nonsense. These and many more are included in a collection of 52 gnostic manuscripts discovered in the village of Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945. Today they are readily accessible online. Myriad online sources say that they are all in Coptic and largely dated to the 4th century. The exception is the gospel of Thomas which is generally dated (in apparently the most prominent system) as early 132 AD, but which is no longer viewed as “gnostic” by one of the foremost experts on them, Elaine Pagels. Then there’s the gospel of Peter, the one to which I was assigned to give special attention on this occasion: Apparently, the author of our textbook, John Dominic Crossan believes that its original composition predates even the New Testament’s synoptic gospels (Wikipedia on Gospel of Peter). But almost no scholars agree. In broad strokes, the gnostic writings are a menagerie of esoteric sayings and reports that bear some resemblance to the stuff of the canonical four Gospels. If they didn’t then they would hardly be included in this category. It exists as a grouping of writings that were not invited to the “in-group” and that some say could have or should have been. But I think not. One reason is that they contradict each other, let alone the canonical gospels. Another is that they contain material that would be considered nonsense and/or repugnant by most thinking people. Another is their blatantly false authorship, and still another is their extremely late dating—far later than the gospels.