Are The Gnostic Gospels Credible?
[...continued...] Are these so-called Gnostic gospels credible? Vargas doesn’t bother to address that question, perhaps because at this point they are desperate to find anything that will lend credibility to the author’s assertion his book is rooted in exhaustive and painstaking research and will thus justify having allocated an hour of network programming to this venture.
Vargas’ opening statement for this segment makes it clear she is working from the framework that these “gospels” are, in fact, valid:
“If you look at the Christian Bible it’s clear there are large holes in the stories we have about the life of Jesus. The Church chose (her emphasis) the four gospels that tell His story in the New Testament. But, there were other stories written about Jesus – other gospels – so controversial that the Church ordered them destroyed. And they were, except for one set of copies and it remained hidden in Egypt until about fifty years ago.”
It seems she has bought into Brown’s version, previously stated, “…if the Church is making such a concerted effort to destroy this information you have to assume that it was fairly explosive.” The inference being that they must be true because the church tried to destroy them. This argument is widely appealed to by those who believe in the veracity of the Nag Hammadi texts.
On this point Christian scholar Douglas Groothuis has accurately noted, “Many sympathetic with Gnosticism make much of the notion that the Gnostic writings were suppressed by the early Christian church. But this assertion does not, in itself, provide support one way or the other for the truth or falsity of Gnostic doctrine. If truth is not a matter of majority vote, neither is it a matter of minority dissent.” (Christian Research Journal, Winter 1991)
Though these documents were destroyed, that they existed certainly had not been swept under the rug. Irenaeus, an early Christian theologian and a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote Against Heresies to address some of the heresies of these Gnostic teachings.
As Groothuis points out, “Irenaeus went to great lengths to present the theologies of the various Gnostic schools in order to refute them biblically and logically. If suppression had been his concern, the book never would have been written as it was. Further, to argue cogently against the Gnostics, Irenaeus and the other anti-Gnostic apologists would presumably have had to be diligent to correctly represent their foes in order to avoid ridicule for misunderstanding them.” (Ibid)
The existence of these documents is not in question. Even Christian scholars readily admit they are real documents that were found in Egypt and date back to the fourth or fifth century. What needs to be addressed is: Were they in circulation shortly after the time of Christ’s death? Did those close to Jesus really write them? And most importantly, is the information they contain accurate?
Rather than address these questions, Vargas focuses on whether these Gnostic gospels affirm that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. Again, one must bear in mind that even if they do teach this, the issue of their credibility must be addressed.
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