Now that we have looked at the four gospels of the New Testament, we will now turn to a few of the gospels that were not included in the New Testament. These extra-canonical (outside the canon or Bible) texts are frequently referred to as “gnostic” (from the Greek word “gnosis” meaning “knowledge” – but referring to esoteric or mystical knowledge). In mystical wisdom traditions, this particular type of knowledge is commonly kept a secret until students or followers have the proper capacity to understand these kinds of teachings. In all three synoptic gospels – Mark, Matthew, and Luke – Jesus specifically says that he teaches in parables to the crowds, but to his inner circle he gives the secrets of the kingdom of God.
In this section, you will learn some of the identifying features of how Jesus is portrayed in these secret gospels, as well as some of the unique characteristics of these teachings. As you will see, the teachings are not always easy to understand!
Note: Please don’t worry too much about trying to understand the details of these teachings. I just want you to read through them so that you get a feel for the style and the kinds of things they are saying.
Read the following instructional content:
Please summarize your understanding and your feelings about the interpretations contained in the video called “The Lost Gospel of Thomas: Unknown Teachings of Yeshua” (listed as #3 on our list of resources for this section). The teachings in the “secret” gospels can be very difficult to understand (as you will see when you read through them in your textbook), but this video explains a bit more clearly what these teachings might be saying. (Hint: It will greatly improve your ability to understand the video and your overall understanding of these kinds of teachings if you go through the other resources before watching the video.)
NOTE: It will not help your grade in the slightest if you simply reject the gospels not contained in the Bible based on your beliefs. If you wish to reject them, that is absolutely fine, but you must do it based on information found in the scholarly resources. Remember that Jesus said in all four New Testament Gospelsthat he gave secret teachings to his followers, and these gnostic gospels have been authenticated to the time and place of his early followers. While the orthodox church did not approve of these texts – based on the church’s own understanding and agenda – many of Jesus’ followers found them to be very meaningful and closer to their own understanding of his teachings.
As always, please include direct quotes and/or references to the video if you wish to receive a higher grade. And if you are struggling with any of this, PLEASE let me know so I can help you! 🙂
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