Saturday, September 22, 2012


        But what if it is found to be a genuine fragment from the early the centuries of Christianity?  Well then it must be placed alongside more than 5000 other fragments.  Though the fragment may prove to be as old as some are saying it is, it doesn’t mean that what is written on it is true.
            Of all the thousands of fragments and manuscripts from early church years, we have many that are fictional and unreliable.  These writings are known as the New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.  The Gospel of Thomas the Gospel of Barnabas are just two of these.    It is a fascinating study to discover how  and which Christian Scriptures were indeed considered authentic and reliable and therefore earned their place in what we call the Canon of Scripture.  It was a couple of centuries after the death and resurrection of Christ before this final list was determined.  Those that did not make the cut were grouped together as useful and interesting for study but not necessarily authentic.  The Pseudepigrapha were another group of writings that were considered by early Christian scholars as probably fake. Often the writer assumed the identity of a well known associate of Jesus or an early church father in order to make his writing seem more authoritative.

      The ones that did make the cut had certain distinguishing traits that made them authentic -- one of which was that they were written and supported by eye witnesses and those who knew, saw and heard Jesus personally.
Unfortunately, the waters of this subject are made more murky by the fact that from the time of the translation of the Bible into English, the Roman Catholic Church has included the Old Testament Apocryphal books in their dogma as having the same authority as the usual canon of Scripture.  In contrast, the Protestant Church has been adamant that the Canon of Scripture is closed – no more manuscripts and thus no more teachings may be added to either the Old or the New Testaments.
      Many differences between the Protestant and  Roman Catholic Churches have come about just because of this issue.  The sinlessness of Mary, her Assumption and the infallibility of the Pope have been added to Catholic beliefs only in the last two hundred years. Protestants who base their beliefs only on what is taught in the Bible reject these teachings.  Still more confusion is engendered by those who call themselves Christian but are open to not only what the Pope says but also to any other teachings of any other person which seem to them to be reasonable.

      There is so much more to add to this subject that I cannot begin to tell all about it here. If you would like to learn more, let me recommend you Google The History of New Testament documents and begin your own research.  If you have questions, email me and I will be glad to try to answer them – as long as they are posed in a respectful manner.

To find my email click on my profile and you will find it there.


Jane and Chris said...

If Jesus were married,how would that change who Jesus was, and did?
He still died for me.
Jesus will still be my Saviour.
Jane xxx

Morning's Minion said...

I don't consider myself a true Bible scholar--and often get frustrated with some of the seeming discrepencies of the biblical narratives. Each bit of historical background that I read makes the scriptures more interesting. Somehow this latest 'discovery' comes across as a sensational detraction from the real gospel message.

DawnTreader said...

Hardly a new theory, is it (I recall reading a book about the ideas used in The Da Vinci Code long before Brown wrote that). I don't doubt the idea as such probably goes very far back. But that's not the same as to make it true.

I think the challenge involved is the idea that if there were direct descendants of Jesus, that would either reduce him to be "just a man" OR give his (presumed) physical descendants a status of being more divine than others. The latter is probably the more dangerous view.

snafu said...

I understand it has been discovered to be a fake. Not sure why anyone would want to do that.

ChrisJ said...

JANE: You're right, of course, but some people like to use this kind of info to undermine the truths of the Bible. It doesn't affect my faith, but as a teacher I often had to guide the thinking of teens who would insist that the Bible was just a bunch of fairy tales. That's just lack of education, yet it is exactly what I was taught in school. You can choose not to believe what the Bible teaches, but the manuscripts as written are definitely authentic.

MORNING'S MINION: discrepencies are often the result of incomplete information, and as you say, don't detract from what we know, by personal (subjective) experience the truth of the gospel. Some may dismiss the Bible, but they can't dismiss my experiences.

DAWN TREADER: Your logic is on target, and believers
find it hard to ignore that which undermines Jesus' divinity.

SNAFU: I hadn't heard that it had been proved a fake. It really doesn't matter because all the other manuscripts available are not fake. What matters is, is what they say fake?
People do that for the same reason as they faked the Piltdown man. They want to prove a point.

kaybee said...

One thing that no-one seems to be mentioning is that the name Jesus was a very common name back then. Surely this fragment could have been written by any one of them. And there are just too many 'maybe's' about all this, as usual. It would take a lot more than one obscure scrap of parchment to prove/disprove anything about Jesus. When they have as many parchments as it took to compile the Bible, they might have something to go on. But who really needs anything more?!

jabblog said...

I had not considered the idea that any supposed descendants of Jesus might consider themselves superior. Yes, that would be an undesirable outcome. As far as true believers go, their faith will not be affected by this 'news'.

Roger Owen Green said...

well, it WAS written 3 or 4 centuries AD. it could be authentic but doesn't prove anything one way or another