REJECTED GOSPELS OF THOMAS, MARY, PETER AND JUDAS

REJECTED GOSPELS AND TEXTS


Satellite view of Nag Hammadi, source of the Nag Hammadi texts

There were dozens, probably hundreds, of religious texts circulating around at the time the Gospels were written and coming into common usage in the early centuries after the death of Christ. They include The Gospel of Peter , Origins of the World , Gospel of Mary (Magdalene) , Acts of John , Homilies of Truth and The Gospel of Truth . Many were simply written and forgotten. Others were carefully scrutinized by Christian scholars and rejected for one reason or another, in many cases because the doctrines they promoted were regarded as threatening or heretical.

The Second Discourse of the Great Seth declares that the true Christ was never crucified. The Secret Book of John claims that Adam and Eve received their divine spirit from a true God while the Old testament God hid the truth from mankind.

Some of the early texts were quite bizarre. One tells the story of the Garden of Eden from the snake’s point of view. Another uses the voice of a female spirit. Another features a description of the resurrection with a walking and talking cross; a stone tomb door that moves by itself; heads that stretch to the sky and a voice that asks, “Have you preached to those who are sleeping?”

The main Rejected Gospels that have generated interest among scholars and the general public include: 1) Gospel of Thomas; 2) Gospel of Mary; 3) Gospel of Judas; 4) Gospel of Philip; 5) Gospel of Peter; 6) Unknown Gospel: Egerton Papyrus 2; 7) Gospel of Q. [Source: gospels.net]

Books: “Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas” by Elaine Pagels and "Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It Into the New Testament" by Bart D. Ehrman

Websites and Resources: Christianity Britannica on Christianity britannica.com//Christianity ; History of Christianity history-world.org/jesus_christ ; BBC on Christianity bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity ;Wikipedia article on Christianity Wikipedia ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/christ.htm ; Christian Answers christiananswers.net ; Christian Classics Ethereal Library www.ccel.org ; Early Christianity: Elaine Pagels website elaine-pagels.com ; Sacred Texts website sacred-texts.com ; Gnostic Society Library gnosis.org ; PBS Frontline From Jesus to Christ, The First Christians pbs.org ; Guide to Early Church Documents iclnet.org; Early Christian Writing earlychristianwritings.com ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Early Christian Art oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/arth212/Early_Christian_art ; Early Christian Images jesuswalk.com/christian-symbols ; Early Christian and Byzantine Images belmont.edu/honors/byzart2001/byzindex ; Bible and Biblical History: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible biblegateway.com ; King James Version of the Bible gutenberg.org/ebooks ; Bible History Online bible-history.com ; Biblical Archaeology Society biblicalarchaeology.org ; Saints and Their Lives Today's Saints on the Calendar catholicsaints.info ; Saints' Books Library saintsbooks.net ; Saints and Their Legends: A Selection of Saints libmma.contentdm ; Saints engravings. Old Masters from the De Verda collection colecciondeverda.blogspot.com ; Lives of the Saints - Orthodox Church in America oca.org/saints/lives ; Lives of the Saints: Catholic.org catholicism.org Jesus and the Historical Jesus ; Britannica on Jesus britannica.com Jesus-Christ ; Historical Jesus Theories earlychristianwritings.com ; Wikipedia article on Historical Jesus Wikipedia ; Jesus Seminar Forum virtualreligion.net ; Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ bible.org ; Jesus Central jesuscentral.com ; Catholic Encyclopedia: Jesus Christ newadvent.org

Gospel of Thomas

Thomasines believed that all human beings were born with a divine competent and Jesus taught us how to rediscover our divine self with an emphasis on faith rather than following laws. The Thomasines are believed to have been ascetics who explored esoteric ideas, were open to women’s participation, rejected hierarchal structures and allowed personal expression.


The Thomasines primary text was the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus written in Coptic and found at Nag Hammadi. Some scholars consider it to be the 5th Gospel. Many of the sayings are similar to those in the Gospels but some have a more introspective twist and advocate seeking self-knowledge rather than finding answers through Jesus and Christian doctrine. Many Thomasines are believed to have been former Gnostics who were attracted to Thomas’s teachings because there were more democratic and less elitist.

The Gospel of Thomas does not tell the story of the life and death of Jesus, but offers the reader his “secret teachings” or "secret sayings" about the Kingdom of God. The "secret sayings" is a list of 114 of Jesus’s sayings, most introduced by "Jesus said...." Some of which are familiar to readers of the New Testament. Others are puzzling and strange. This gospel begins with the scribal note in the margin, "The Gospel According to Thomas." And the first sentence of that document says, "These are the secret words which the living Jesus taught and which Judas Thomas Didymos wrote down."

Marilyn Mellowes of PBS wrote: “The Nag Hammadi Library, contained a complete manuscript of the Gospel of Thomas. A fragment of this gospel, written in Greek, had been found earlier at Oxyrynchos in Egypt. But it was only a fragment. The text found at Nag Hammadi, although complete, was written in Coptic, which was the form of the Egyptian language in use during later Roman imperial times. On the basis of this text, however, scholars were able to reconstruct the Gospel of Thomas in Greek, the original language of its composition. By this means, they were able to compare its contents with those of writings found in the New Testament. [Source: Marilyn Mellowes, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

“The Gospel of Thomas is very different from the gospels that have become part of the New Testament. It contains no narrative material, nor is there any story of the birth, the life, or the death of Jesus. It consists only of sayings, 114 in all, each preceded by the phrase, "And Jesus said." The collected sayings of the Gospel of Thomas are designated by its author as "the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke." <>

“Some of the sayings from the Gospel of Thomas are very much like those found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, for example:"Jesus said, 'Come to me, for my yoke is easy and my mastery is gentle, and you will find repose.'" (90) But others are puzzling: "Jesus said, 'Become passers by.'" (42). According to this author, salvation is achieved in the recognition of one's origin (the light) and one's destiny (the repose). And in order to return to his or her origin, the disciplemust separate from the world by "stripping off" the garment of flesh and "passing by" corruptible human existence. <>

“For New Testament scholars, one of the most interesting things about this gospel is that its author (who calls himself Didymos Judas Thomas) appears to have used sayings from the same collection used by Matthew and Luke. But for this author and his community, the meaning of these sayings was clearly very different. The Gospel of Thomas, therefore, provided exciting new evidence for the existence of an earlier collection of sayings used by a variety of Christian communities.” <>

Book: Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Page (Random House, 2003)

Insights Into the Gospel of Thomas

20120508-Gospel_of_Thomas.jpg
Gospel of Thomas
Professor Elaine H. Pagels told PBS: “This book opens with the lines, "These are the secret words which the living Jesus spoke, and the twin, Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down." Then there follows a list of the sayings of Jesus. Now this raises all kinds of questions. Did Jesus have a twin brother? Actually the name Thomas Didymos -- well, Thomas is Hebrew for twin. Didymos is Greek for twin.... The implication here is that he is Jesus' twin. But this character, of course, also appears in the Gospel of John, he's one of the disciples, the twin. Here he appears as if he's Jesus' twin, and he is one who knows secret teaching, which Jesus hasn't given to all other people. Some of these sayings are familiar. We know them from Matthew and Luke - Jesus said, "I have come to cast fire on the earth." Or "Behold, a sower went out to sow," and so forth.... Others are as strange and compelling as Zen koans. My favorite of these is saying number 70, which says, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." The gospel opens as Jesus invites people to see.... [Source: Elaine H. Pagels, The Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion Princeton University, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

“The Gospel of Thomas also suggests that Jesus is aware of, and criticizing the views of the Kingdom of God as a time or a place that appear in the other gospels. Here Jesus says, "If those who lead you say to you, 'look, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds will get there first. If they say 'it's in the ocean,' then the fish will get there first. But the Kingdom of God is within you and outside of you. Once you come to know yourselves, you will become known. And you will know that it is you who are the children of the living father." <>

“In this gospel, and this is also the case in the Gospel of Luke, the Kingdom of God is not an event that's going to be catastrophically shattering the world as we know it and ushering in a new millennium. Here, as in Luke 17:20, the Kingdom of God is said to be an interior state; "It's within you," Luke says. And here it says, "It's inside you but it's also outside of you." It's like a state of consciousness. It's hard to describe. But the Kingdom of God here is something that you can enter when you attain gnosis, which means knowledge. But itdoesn't mean intellectual knowledge. The Greeks had two words for knowledge. One is intellectual knowledge, like the knowledge of physics or something like that. But this gnosis is personal, like "I know that person, or do you know so and so." So this gnosis is self-knowledge; you could call it insight. It's a question of knowing who you really are, not at the ordinary level of your name and your social class or your position. But knowing yourself at a deep level. The secret of gnosis is that when you know yourself at that level you will also come to know God, because you will discover that the divine is within you. <>

Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas


Man of Sorrows by Andrea Mantegna

Professor Elaine H. Pagels told PBS: “The Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas does appear rather different from the Jesus we encounter in the others. Because the Gospel of Mark, for example, depicts Jesus as an utterly unique being. This is the good news of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. The Gospel of John says that Jesus isn't even a human being at all, but he's a divine presence who comes down to heaven in human shape.... The Gospel of John says, "God sent his son into the world to save the world." If you believe in him, you're saved, if you don't believe in him you're already damned, because you haven't believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [Source: Elaine H. Pagels, The Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion Princeton University, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

“Now, [in the Gospel of Thomas], this Jesus comes to reveal that you and he are, if you like, twins.... And what you discover as you read the Gospel of Thomas, which you're meant to discover, is that you and Jesus at a deep level are identical twins. And that you discover that you are the child of God just as he is. And so that at the end of the gospel Jesus speaks to Thomas and says, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am, and I will become that person, and the mysteries will be revealed to him." Here, Jesus does not take the role of authority and teacher. <>

In the Gospel of Thomas, the disciples say to Jesus, "Tell us, what do you want us to do? How shall we pray? What shall we eat? How shall we fast?" Now if you look at Matthew and Luke, Jesus answers the questions. He says, "When you pray, say, 'Our Father who are in Heaven, hallowed be...' When you fast, wash your face, don't make a show of it. When you give alms do it privately and without being showy." In this gospel, this Jesus does not answer. He says, "Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for everything is known before heaven." Now this answer throws you and me upon ourselves.... Here Jesus, in effect, turns one toward oneself, and that is really one of the themes of the Gospel of Thomas, that you must go in a sort of a spiritual quest of your own to discover who you are, and to discover really that you are the child of God just like Jesus.” <>

Know Thyself: A Central Theme in the Gospel of Thomas

Professor Helmut Koester told PBS: Some of sayings in the Gospel of Thomas “have parallels in the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Some of these have not. Some of these sayings may go back to a very early period of Christianity, some of them may have been added later. The document itself comes from the fourth century.... As with all gospel text, with this one in particular, we have to remember that these texts were fluid, that scribes could add, that scribes could leave out things, that scribes could add comments, or add an interpretation. So we cannot with certainty reconstruct what did the Gospel of Thomas look like around the year 100 or earlier. But it is very likely that it existed at that time, and that a good deal of the material that's now in that manuscript was already in a Greek manuscript that dates back to the first century. Which of course, is very exciting because here we have a collection of sayings of Jesus, additional sayings of Jesus, that were not known before, and the whole beginning of a new field of studies has opened up.... [Source: Helmut Koester, John H. Morison Professor of New Testament Studies and Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History Harvard Divinity School, Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]


Roman mosaic: Know Thyself

“Now what is typical about these sayings is that in each instance, these sayings want to say that if you want to understand what Jesus said, you have to recognize yourself. You have to know yourself, know who you are. It begins with a saying about the Kingdom of God, "if you seek the Kingdom of God in the sky then the birds will precede you. And if you seek it in the sea, then the fish will precede you, but the Kingdom is in you. And if you know yourself then you know the Kingdom of God." (The Kingdom of the Father, in fact, it always says in the gospel of Thomas. Normally the Kingdom of the Father, not the Kingdom of God.) "But if you don't know yourself, you live in poverty." And poverty is understood as the ignorance of a life in its physical existence. Knowledge is understood to be the knowledge of one's divine origin, of the fact that one has come from the Kingdom. That we are on this earth only in a sojourn.... <>

“What does it mean really to know oneself? To know oneself is to have insight into one's own ultimate divine identity. You can go back to understand this to Greek models, which certainly exist. "Know yourself" is a very old Greek maxim... that is, you have to know that your own soul is divine, and then you know that you are immortal, whereas the body is the mortal part of human existence. Now this is radicalized in the Gospel of Thomas into saying that everything that is experienced physically and through sense perception, everything in this world that you can perceive in this way is nothing. It is, at best, chaos and, at worst, it doesn't even exist in reality. The only thing that really exists is your divine spirit or your divine soul, which is identical in its quality with God himself. And Jesus is the one who teaches that.... <>

“[When one truly knows oneself], one understands that one is divine, but also one understands that one is mortal. In such a way, you recognize that this mortality is really meaningless, as physical existence is meaningless. And therefore, death is no longer a problem, but death is a solution, because in death finally all this mortality will fall away, and the true self will be liberated to an independent existence that's no longer dependent on physical existence. And on everything that goes with physical existence, sickness and poverty and so on. And so physical existence is often described as poverty. But when you know yourself you are no longer in poverty. <>

Beginning of the Gospel of Thomas


Nag Hammadi Codex II, End of Apocryphon John and the beginning of the Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas begins: “These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded. 1) And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death." 2) Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will rule over all." [Source: Translated by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer, from “The Complete Gospels” (3rd edition), edited by Robert J. Miller (Polebridge Press).

“3) Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) imperial rule is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father's) imperial rule is inside you and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."

“4) Jesus said, "The person old in days won't hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that person will live. For many of the first will be last, and will become a single one." 5) Jesus said, "Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that won't be revealed." 6) His disciples asked him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?" Jesus said, "Don't lie, and don't do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed."

“7 Jesus said, "Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human. And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion still will become human." 8) And he said, The human one is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the little fish back into the sea, and easily chose the large fish. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen! 9) Jesus said, Look, the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered (them). Some fell on the road, and the birds came and gathered them. Others fell on rock, and they didn't take root in the soil and didn't produce heads of grain. Others fell on thorns, and they choked the seeds and worms ate them. And others fell on good soil, and it produced a good crop: it yielded sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per measure.

10) Jesus said, "I have cast fire upon the world, and look, I'm guarding it until it blazes." 11) Jesus said, "This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. During the days when you ate what is dead, you made it come alive. When you are in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?" 12) The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?" Jesus said to them, "No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."

Gospel of Peter


Gospel of Peter

Carl A. Volz wrote: The Gospel of Peter “was referred to by the early church fathers, and was quoted by the Bishop of Antioch in c.190, by Origen the historian of the early church c.250, and by Eusebius c.300. In the work "Religious Histories" (Theodoret, c.450) we are told that this was used by the Nazorenes (descendants of the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem, led by descendants of the brothers of Jesus, living in Trans-Jordan after the Jewish Revolt of 66 ad.) New Testament scholars have long known that this work once existed, and that it appears to have been influential in the early church. [Source: Carl A. Volz, late professor of church history at Luther Seminary, web.archive.org, martin.luthersem.edu /~\]

“According to Justin Martyr, this document was highly favored by many communities in the second century. It has been concluded by a few notable New Testament scholars that this was held in higher and more universal esteem that Mark and John, though this is of course debatable. How it was "lost" and why it was never included in the Canon remains a mystery, but this fragment is now available for the consideration of studious Christians today. /~\

The translation below “was made from the text of a fragmentary papyrus codex unearthed by the French Archaeological Mission in 1886 in the ancient city of Panopolis (modern Akhmim) in Northern Egypt. This codex was found in a grave of unknown antiquity, in which a monk had been interred. This narrative agrees in substance with the Canonical gospels, although it differs in some important details, and fills in some gaps in the Synoptic narrative. It also offers a few observations which lend a sense of imtimacy. /~\

Gospel of Peter on the Trial and Death of Jesus

The Gospel according to Peter reads: “...however, among the Jews present, not one of them washed his hands, and neither did Herod, nor any of his judges. When they had thus refused to wash their hands, Pilate got up to leave. Then King Herod ordered that the Lord be taken away, saying "Do to him as I have commanded that you do". Standing by, Joseph, who was a friend of Pilate and of the Lord, (since he knew that they were about to crucify Him), went up to Pilate and asked that he might be given the body of the Lord, for burrying. Pilate then sent to Herod asking for His body. Herod said, "Brother Pilate, even if no one had asked for his body, we intended to bury him, since the Sabbath is close, because it is written in the Law that the sun not be allowed to set upon a man that has been deprived of his life". [Source: Carl A. Volz, late professor of church history at Luther Seminary, web.archive.org, martin.luthersem.edu /~\]

“He [Herod or Pilate?] displayed Him before the people on the day before the first day of their feast of unleavened bread. They took the Lord and shoved him along as they ran saying "Let's drag away this 'son of god', since we have him in our power". They dressed him in purple and set him on the seat of the Judges, saying "Judge righteously King of Israel", and one of them brought a crown made of thorns and placed it upon the Lord's head. Some stood by and spat in His eyes and others struck his face. Some stabbed at Him with a reed and some whipped him saying "This is how we do homage to this 'son of god'".


Christ and Herod

“Along with him, there were brought out two evildoers [malefactors] and they crucified the Lord between them. But he was quiet as though unmoved [not hurt]. When they had lifted up His cross, they wrote this title, "Behold the King of Israel". Having removed His garments, they placed them before Him and they parted them among themselves by throwing lots for them. One of the evildoers reprimanded the guards, saying "We have suffered in this way for doing wrong, but this man, who is become mankind's Saviour, what [wrong] has he done to you to deserve this treatment?" They were enraged at him, and commanded that he remain on his cross [his legs not be broken] until he die in torment.

“At noontime darkness fell apon all of Judea, and everyone was upset and confused, fearing that the sun had set while He was still alive, for it is writen for them that the sun not be allowed to set apon him that has been deprived of his life. One of them said "Give him sour wine with vinegar to drink". They made this mixture, and gave it to Him to drink; in this manner they fulfilled all of the things which had been foretold, and finished the work of sin against themselves [their heads]. Many walked about their way using lamps, since they thought that it was nighttime, and so they stumbled. The Lord cried out, "My power, my power, you have left me" and when he had finished saying this he was taken up [i.e. gave up his spirit]. At that very moment the veil of the temple of Jerusalem was torn in two.

“They removed the nails from the Lord's hands and took Him down, and the whole earth trembled, and everyone was frightened. Then the sun came back out again, and it was seen again at the ninth hour. The Jews were happy, and gave His body to Joseph for burying, because he had seen the good deeds which He had done. He took the Lord and washed Him and rolled Him up in a length of linen cloth, and brought Him to his own tomb, which was called Joseph's Garden.”

Gospel of Peter on the Resurrection

The Gospel according to Peter reads: “At that time, the Jews and their elders and priests became conscious of the evil they had brought apon themselves, and they began to mourn saying "Woe to us for this sin; judgement is coming soon, and Jerusalem is doomed". We were grieved, and since we were deeply upset and afraid, we hid, for we thought we were being sought out by them as evildoers [malefactors], with the accusation that we intended to set fire to the Temple. [Source: Carl A. Volz, late professor of church history at Luther Seminary, web.archive.org, martin.luthersem.edu /~\]

“Because of all these things we fasted and sat lamenting and weeping night and day until the Sabbath. When the scribes and Pharisees and elders were gathered together, they were told that everyone was whispering and beating their breasts saying "He must have been righteous, since all these awful things happened as he was dying". The elders were afraid, so they went to Pilate, asking and begging him, "Send guards with us, that His tomb may be guarded for three days, to prevent his disciples from stealing His body, to make the people believe that he has been raised from the dead, for they would harm us all". Pilate Petronius the centurion, with a squad of soldiers, along with them to guard the tomb. Together, they [the elders and scribes] went to the tomb, and, with the soldiers assistance, they rolled a very large stone to the entrance of the tomb and placed it there. Then they sealed the tomb with seven seals, and they set up an encampment there, to stand guard.

“Early in the morning on the sabbath day, many came out from Jerusalem and the surrounding area to see this tomb which was sealed. And in the night before the Lord's day, as the soldiers were on guard by two's per watch, a loud voice came from the heavens, and they saw the heavens parting, and two shining men came down and went towards the tomb. The stone which had been placed at the entrance rolled out of the way all by itself, and made an opening for the young men, who then entered. When those soldiers saw this, they aroused the centurion and the elders, for they were there keeping guard as well. While they related the things they had seen, they [all] saw three men coming out of the tomb, two of them supporting one, and a cross following [behind] them. The first two were as tall as the heavens, but the one who was led by them was taller than the heavens. They heard a voice from the heavens saying "You have preached to those who are sleeping?". And this response was heard from the cross, "Yes" [indeed].


Resurrection of Christ by Giovanni Bellini


“Together, they pondered whether or not they should go and describe these events to Pilate. While they were still considering this, the heavens parted and a certain man came down and entered into the tomb. When the centurion and his companions saw this, they went quickly through the night to Pilate, leaving the tomb [unguarded] which they were watching over, and they related to him all these events which they had observed. They were very upset, and said "Truly He was the Son of God". Pilate answered them and said, "I am totally clean from the blood of this son of god; you were the ones who meant for this to happen." Then they came close to him asking and begging him to instruct the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing at all about the events which they had seen. They said "It would be better for us, even though we may be culpable of the greatest offence against God, not to be taken by the Jewish people and be stoned". Therefore, Pilate instructed the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing.

“As the Lord's day dawned, Mary Magdalene, a disciple of the Lord, was in great fear of the Jews because they were afire with anger, thus she had not done the womanly things for the Lord's tomb which women do for their loved ones. So, she took her friends with her, and they went to the tomb where He was laid. They were afraid that they would be seen by the Jews, and so they said, "Although when he was crucified we could not weep and lament, yet now let us us attend to his needs at his tomb. But who will roll away the stone that was placed at the entrance of the tomb to allow us to enter, and sit with him, and see to his needs?" The the stone was very large, and they were afraid of being seen. "And if we can't [gain entrance], let's leave the things we are bringing in memory of Him by the entrance, then we will weep and mourn along our way, back to our homes". Then they went and found that the tomb had been opened; as they approached, they looked in and saw a radiant man wearing an intensely bright robe, sitting in the middle of the tomb. He said to them, "What have you come here for? Who are you looking for? The one who was crucified? He has risen, and gone. If you don't believe me, look in here and examine the place where was laid, and see that he is no longer here, since he is risen and gone back to the place from which he was sent". Then the women were afraid, and they ran away.

“On the last of the days of the Unleavened Bread, many people were leaving and returning home, since the feast was ended. But we, the Lord's twelve followers, were weeping and mourning. Then each one of us left to go to his own home, since we were grief stricken about the things which had happened. But I, Simon Peter, along with my brother Andrew, took our nets and went down to the sea. Levi, the son of Alphaeus, went along with us; the one whom the Lord.”

Mary Magdalene and Gnostic Gospels

Some of claims made Mary Magdalene are based on ancient texts that were written around the time of Gospels. The Gnostic Gospel of Philip described Magdalen as “the one who called [Jesus] companion” and claimed that he “used to kiss her on her [mouth].”

20120508-Gnostic text Apocalypse_of_Peter.jpg
Gnostic text, Apocalypse of Peter
A key passage from Gnostic Gospel of Mary depicts Jesus preaching to his disciples after the resurrection, and telling them there is no such thing as sin and they should follow no rules or authority and simple look into themselves. After delivering this he quickly departs, leaving the disciples confused and in fear. Mary Magdalene then turns them and says, “Do not weep or grieve or be in doubt.” She then describes a private vision she received from Jesus. On hearing this Peter says, “[Did] Jesus really speak with a woman without our knowledge?” The disciple Levis comes to her defense, saying, “Peter you have always been hot-tempered...If the Savior made her worthy, who are you to reject her? Surely, the Savior loves her very well. That is why he loved her more than us.”

The Gnostic Gospel of Mary was not written by Mary Magdalene . Rather it emerged from a community that recognized her importance. It had been lost and forgotten for centuries when an incomplete 5th century version of a 2nd century version was rediscovered in 1896 in Cairo. Later other fragments of text were found and the all the know pieces were put together and translated and analyzed in The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle by Karen L. King

Gospel of Mary (Magdalene)

In the gnostic gospel, the Gospel of Mary, Mary Magdalene appears as a disciple, singled out by Jesus for special teachings. In this excerpt, the other disciples are discouraged and grieving Jesus' death. Mary stands up and attempts to comfort them, reminding them that Jesus' presence remains with them. Peter asks her to tell them the words of Jesus which she remembers. To his surprise, she does not reminisce about past conversations with Jesus, but claims that Jesus spoke to her that very day in a vision. [Source: Frontline, PBS, April 1998 <>]

The Gospel of Mary reads: “But they were grieved. They wept greatly, saying, "How shall we go to the gentiles and preach the gospel of the kingdom of the Son of Man? If they did not spare him, how will they spare us?" Then Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to her brethren, "Do not weep and do not grieve nor be irresolute, for His grace will be entirely with you and will protect you. But rather let us praise His greatness, for He has prepared us and made us into men." When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the Good, and they began to discuss the words of the [Saviour]. [Source: “From The Nag Hammadi Library in English,” J M Robinson, Harper Collins ||||

“Peter said to Mary, "Sister, we know that the Saviour loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us the words of the Saviour which you remember - which you know (but) we do not, nor have we heard them." Mary answered and said, "What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you." And she began to speak to them these words: "I," she said, "I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to him, 'Lord, I saw you today in a vision.' He answered and said to me, 'Blessed are you that you did not waver at the sight of me. For where the mind is, there is the treasure.' I said to him, 'Lord, how does he who sees the vision see it through the soul or through the spirit?' The Saviour answered and said, 'He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind which [is] between the two - that is [what] sees the vision...' ||||


Gospel of Mary

“"[S] it. And desire that, 'I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. Why do you lie, since you belong to me?' The soul answered and said, 'I saw you. You did not see me nor recognise me. I served you as a garment, and you did not know me.' When it had said this, it went away rejoicing greatly. |"Again it came to the third power, which is called ignorance. It (the power) questioned the soul saying, 'Where are you going? In wickedness are you bound. But you are bound; do not judge!' And the soul said, 'Why do you judge me although I have not judged? I was bound though I have not bound. I was not recognised. But I have recognised that the All is being dissolved, both the earthly (things) and the heavenly'. ||||

“When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, (which) took seven forms. The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven [powers] of wrath. They ask the soul, "Whence do you come, slayer of men, or where are you going, conqueror of space?" The soul answered and said, "What binds me has been slain, and what surrounds me has been overcome, and my desire has been ended and ignorance has died. In a [world] I was released from a world, [and] in a type from a heavenly type, and (from) the fetter of oblivion which is transient. From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence." ||||

“When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Saviour had spoken with her. But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, "Say what you (wish to) say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Saviour said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas." Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things. He questioned them about the Saviour: "Did He really speak with a woman without our knowledge (and) not openly? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?" ||||

“Then Mary wept and said to Peter, "My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Saviour? Levi answered and said to Peter, "Peter, you have always been hot - tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Saviour made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Saviour knows her very well. That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man and acquire him for ourselves as He commanded us, and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Saviour said." ... and they began to go forth [to] proclaim and to preach.” ||||

Gospel of Jesus's Wife?


Gospel of Jesus' Wife

In 2015, a business card-sized fragment written in Coptic— which contained a translated line that said "Jesus said to them, 'My wife …'" and also refered to a "Mary," possibly Mary Magdalene — was touted as part a long-lost, potentially earth-shattering gospel, dubbed the Gospel of Jesus's Wife, that appeared to imply that possibly Jesus was married. Karen King, a professor at Harvard Divinity School, first announced the discovery of the so-called Gospel of Jesus's Wife in September 2012. King said the papyrus didn’t prove that Jesus himself was actually married, but rather that some people, who lived after Jesus' time, believed he was. [Source: Owen Jarus, Live Science, October 5, 2015 /~/]

Owen Jarus wrote in Live Science, “Radiocarbon dating indicates that the papyrus dates to around A.D. 800, and tests on the papyrus's ink confirm that it could have been created at that time. Based on these findings, King and a few other scholars have argued that the text is authentic, as it could be a copy of a text written in earlier times. However, a number of scholars have noted peculiar features of the "gospel's" writing that suggest it is a modern forgery — one possibly based off a text that first appeared online in 1997. /~/

Ariel Sabar wrote in Smithsonian Magazine,“The papyrus was a stunner: the first and only known text from antiquity to depict a married Jesus... The words on the fragment, scattered across 14 incomplete lines, leave a good deal to interpretation. But in King’s analysis, the “wife” Jesus refers to is probably Mary Magdalene, and Jesus appears to be defending her against someone, perhaps one of the male disciples. The writing was in the ancient Egyptian language of Coptic, into which many early Christian texts were translated in the third and fourth centuries, when Alexandria vied with Rome as an incubator of Christian thought. But King made no claim for its usefulness as biography, saying instead the text was probably composed in Greek a century or so after the Crucifixion, then copied into Coptic two centuries later. As evidence that the real-life Jesus was married, it is scarcely more dispositive than Dan Brown’s controversial 2003 novel, The Da Vinci Code. [Source: Ariel Sabar, Smithsonian Magazine, November 2012 ***]

“What it does seem to reveal is more subtle and complex: that some group of early Christians drew spiritual strength from portraying the man whose teachings they followed as being married. All of this assumes, however, that the fragment is genuine, a question that as of press time was far from settled. That her announcement would be taken in part as a provocation was clear from the name she’d given the text: “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” ***

Karen King Admits Gospel of Jesus's Wife “Probably a Forgery”


Karen King

In 2016, Harvard scholar Karen L. King admitted that the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” papyrus is probably a forgery. Ariel Sabar wrote in The Atlantic, For four years, King “has defended the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” against scholars who argued it was a forgery. But Thursday, for the first time, King said the papyrus—which she introduced to the world in 2012—is a probable fake. She reached this conclusion, she said, after reading The Atlantic’s investigation into the papyrus’s origins, which appears in the magazine’s July/August issue and was posted to its website. “It tips the balance towards forgery,” she said. [Source: Ariel Sabar, The Atlantic, Jun 16, 2016 |+|]

“Critics had argued for years that errors in Coptic grammar, similarities with the Gospel of Thomas, and other problems pointed to forgery. But King had placed her faith in the opinions of expert papyrologists, along with a series of carbon-dating and other scientific tests, at MIT, Harvard, and Columbia, that had turned up no signs of modern tampering or forgery. When I called her in March while reporting my Atlantic story, she said she was not interested in commenting on—or even hearing about—my findings before publication. Thursday afternoon, however, she called me to say the story was “fascinating” and “very helpful.” |+|

“Although she had exchanged numerous emails with the owner and had met him in December 2011, she realized after reading the article that she knew next to nothing about him, she said. Walter Fritz had never mentioned his years at the Free University’s Egyptology institute, his formal study of Coptic, or his work as a pornographer whose star actress was his own wife—a woman who’d written a book of “universal truths” and claimed to channel the voices of angels. He had presented himself to her as a “family man” who enjoyed trips to Disney World and was independently wealthy. “I had no idea about this guy, obviously,” she said. “He lied to me.” I asked why she hadn’t undertaken an investigation of the papyrus’s origins and the owner’s background. “Your article has helped me see that provenance can be investigated,” she said. |+|

“King said she would need scientific proof—or a confession—to make a definitive finding of forgery. It’s theoretically possible that the papyrus itself is authentic, she said, even if its provenance story is bogus. But the preponderance of the evidence, she said, now “presses in the direction of forgery.” King hoped that Fritz would allow the scrap to remain at Harvard, so that scholars could continue to probe questions of authenticity. “I’m finding myself not even really angry” at him, she said. “I’m mostly just relieved. I think the truth always makes me calm.” “ |+|

Gospel of Judas

20120508-Taking_of_Christ_-_Odessa Caravaggio_-_.jpg
Taking of Christ by Caravaggio
The Gospel of Judas presents a view on Judas that sharply contrasts with the portrayal of him in the Gospels. Rather than being a traitor that betrayed Jesus for a handful of silver he is depicted as Jesus’s most loyal disciple who betrayed Jesus because Jesus asked him to, telling him to free his soul from his body. According to the text Jesus said to Judas, “You will exceed all of them [the other disciples] for you will sacrifice the man who clothes me.” [Source: Andrew Cockburn, National Geographic, May 2006]

The Gospel of Judas were written in Coptic on both sides of 13 sheets of papyri with iron gall and soot by an unknown author between A.D. 220 and 340, and is probably a translation of a Greek text two or three hundred years older. The beliefs in it are consistent with those of the Gnostics. Jesus is portrayed as having more of mischievous side, at one point erupted into bursts of laughter over his apostles foolishness. In another passage he tells his disciples that most of them will pass into nothingness. Judas then asks him what’s the point of being born, a question Jesus evades.

The Judas Gospel was found in a cave near Minya in the Egyptian desert in the 1970s and was sold to an Egyptian antiquities dealer in 1978. It languished in a bank vault in New York for 17 years before conservationists got a hold of it and, with the help of National Geographic Society, conducted a number of thorough test to assure its authenticity.

The Gospel of Judas was part of the Codex Tchacos, an ancient Egyptian Coptic papyrus containing early Christian Gnostic texts from approximately A.D. 300. These texts were in good condition when the were found but have deteriorated after being subjected to abuse of at the hands of antiquities dealers and owners. At one stage it spent a lengthy period in an owner’s freezer which caused they ink to run when the manuscript was thawed. When it reached restorers in 2001 it consisted of more than 1,000 fragments.

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org; New International Version (NIV) of The Bible, biblegateway.com; “Egeria's Description of the Liturgical Year in Jerusalem” users.ox.ac.uk ; Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), translated by William Whiston, ccel.org , Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org, Frontline, PBS, “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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