The Gospel of Thomas and the Other Gospels

Here’s a post from seven years ago that is still very important and intriguing to anyone interested in the NT and early Christianity.   It’s mainly about the most influential and historically important Gospel from outside the New Testament.  I’ve inserted a couple of explanations [in brackets] to update the post.

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One of the benefits of teaching at a research university with a graduate program is that – at least where I am – there are periodic reading groups with ...

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34

My Lecture in Quebec: Did Ancient Authors Try To Deceive Their Readers?

I have decided to go ahead and post the address I gave last week to an academic conference in Quebec on “Pseudepigraphy” in the ancient world.  If you’re not familiar with the term (why would you be??) it refers to a book written by an author who falsely claims to be someone else (like if I wrote a book and claimed to be Stephen King) (which maybe I should do….).   Most scholars seem to think this was an acceptable practice ...

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26

A Readable Edition of the “Lost” (i.e. non-canonical) Gospels

As I have pointed out before on the blog, the topic of the last post, the edition of the non-canonical Gospels (The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations), which I published with my colleague Zlatko Plese, was meant for academics – professors of New Testament and early Christianity and their graduate students.   Most other people, of course, have no need or desire to see the original Greek, Latin, or Coptic of a text along with a translation.  People generally ...

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The Scholarly Edition of the Apocryphal Gospels

In my last couple of posts I began to describe how my edition of the Apocryphal Gospels came about.   After having done the Apostolic Fathers in two volumes for the Loeb, I had decided never to do another translation project again.  Too hard!  But then, forgetting my decision, I thought it would be useful to have a Greek/Latin – English version of the early Christian non-canonical Gospels.  And at the urging of the editor at Harvard, submitted a proposal also ...

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17

How Views of the Afterlife Changed

I’ve been explaining how the tours to heaven and hell – both of them Near Death Experiences – in the Acts of Thomas are meant to show the Christian alternatives to Greek and Roman views of the afterlife.   For early Christians it would not be a dull and boring, powerless and mindless existence for all eternity, as it is depicted in the oldest Greek sources, and it would not require hundreds of years of “purging” where the stains of wickedness ...

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25

An Ancient Author Trying to Justify His Deceit

Yesterday I talked about one Christian forger who got caught red handed who had to explain himself.  Well, justify himself.  Well, bend over backwards to make himself look innocent.  We’ve been seeing a lot of that these days.  It goes way back.  Humans are humans.

Here is my assessment of the situation, not in terms of our own front-page news but in terms of this obscure little controversy, which highlights my obscure little academic point: in the ancient world, readers simply ...

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19

A Christian Forger Caught in the Act

Next month I will be giving a keynote address at a conference dealing with ancient pseudepigrapha at the University of Laval, in Quebec City.  I have recently been discussing the topic (of ancient authors falsely claiming to be a famous person) on the blog in relation to the letter of James, and as you know, it was the subject of my monography Forgery and Counterforgery ten years ago, and my spin-off popular account Forged.   I haven’t ...

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14

Some Very Strange Journeys to Heaven and Hell

This post is free for everyone, but most posts come only to blog members.  Joining the blog is easy and it gives you access to tons of material for very little expense.  All the money goes to charity.  so why not join.

Last week I was in Marburg, Germany for the annual conference for the Society of New Testament Studies.  This is an international society at the top tier of NT scholars in the world, a closed society that ...

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36

Was James the Actual Brother of Jesus?

I’ve started talking about the epistle of James, first in relation to Paul (yesterday) and then in relation to … James, the man himself, Jesus’ brother (today).   My ultimate goal is to explain why I’m sure James himself did not write the letter (later).  But in the meantime I’ve received a question that I should probably address first: did Jesus really have a brother named James?   Uh… don’t a lot of Christians think that Jesus never had any siblings (since ...

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An Official Copy of Jesus’ Death Sentence: Another Forgery?

I have been intermittently posting accounts of modern forgeries of Gospels that provide, as a rule, sensationalized information about the “lost” records of Jesus – for example an account claiming he traveled to India as a young man to learn his wisdom from the Brahmins, or another purportedly based on an eyewitness to the crucifixion.

Here now is yet another, this one an allegedly official copy of the death sentence from his trial, written by Pontius Pilate himself, in Hebrew no ...

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