Noncanonical Scriptures, RN101, 4/14/08
Diversity within the canon. Who is Jesus?
In our course so far, as we’ve been reading the four Gospels that eventually became the
Gospels, we’ve noted quite marked differences between one account of who Jesus is
MK presents him as a grown man; MT and LK as a promised birth, then born of a virgin
and the offspring of the Holy Spirit; in John he is the Word who was a) flesh & blood but
who, as the Logos, b) was “with God in the beginning,” and “was God.”
Diversity outside the NT Canon
This dissension within the corpus of the canonical NT is
, however, compared to
the wide spectrum of early second and third century convictions about 1) who Jesus
really was, 2) what it means to follow him, and 3) what texts are to be considered as true
and binding on believers.
It takes until the mid-4
century for the Church finally to decide what books
comprise the Bible and what teachings derived from those Scriptures are orthodox,
Then come official statements or summaries Creeds (“credo,” I believe) – the
Apostles, the Nicene, the Athanasian – that further pin down what it means to confess the
Today look at some of the sacred literature that, for whatever reason, were
by the Church as heretical; that was combated by the early theologians (“Church
Fathers”) who nonetheless quoted them extensively, and ; that were largely driven
underground – quite literally, as at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, buried in the earth.
Who were these “other” Christians and what did they believe?
our knowledge based on polemical writing against them. Since 1945 we have fragments
of works. Excellent resource for this material is Bart D. Ehrman,
Lost Christianities: the
Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
Lost Scriptures: Books that Did
Not Make It into the NT
“Jews for Jesus”; Jesus the Jewish Messiah sent to Jews in fulfillment
of Jewish Scripture. To be a Christian, must be a Jew: circumcision, Sabbath, kosher.
Christology: Jesus completely human. Not born of Virgin or pre-existing “in the
beginning”; was born of human parents; was “adopted” by God as God’s son – why?
because he kept the law perfectly. Offered himself up as sacrifice, which God rewards by
raising him from the dead.