Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On writings suppressed by bishops

One of the underlying themes of the Gospel of Judas documentary was that powerful Christian bishops in the fourth century selected the four gospels that agreed with their theology, and kicked out all the rest. Although this idea is remarkably misleading, let’s pretend for a minute that this is really what happened. Exactly what was it that these powerful Christian bishops were rejecting (and that the modern critics seem so determined to support)? Here’s a small sample:

Gospel of Truth
Therefore, all the emanations of the Father are pleromas, and the root of all his emanations is in the one who made them all grow up in himself

Gospel of Thomas
Jesus said, ‘When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garment and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then [will you see] the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid

Gospel of Philip
Echamoth is one thing and Echmoth another. Echamoth is Wisdom simply, but Echmoth is the Wisdom of death with is the one which knows death which is called ‘the little Wisdom”

Gospel of the Egyptians
…the aeons of light of the unrevealable, unmarked, ageless, unproclaimable Father, the aeon of aeons, Autogenes, self-begotten, self-producing, alien, the really true aeon. Three powers came forth from him; they are the Father, the Mother, (and) the Son

The second ogdoad-power, the Mother, the virginal Barbelon epititioch [….] ai, memeneaiment[…who] presides over the heaven…”

Then the great Seth gave praise to the great, uncallable, virginal Spirit, and the male virgin Barbelon, and the thrice-male child Telmael Telmael Heli Heli machar Marhar Seth…

Gospel of Mary
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, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven powers of wrath.

Apocryphon of John
…the glory of Barbelo, the perfect glory in the aeons, the glory of the revelation, she glorified the virginal Spirit and it was she who praised him…she became the womb of everything for it is she who is prior to them all, the Mother-Father, the first man, the holy spirit, the thrice-male, the thrice powerful, the thrice-named androgynous one and the eternal aeon…

On the Origin of the World
After the natural structure of the immortal beings had completely developed out of the infinite, a likeness then emanated from Pistis (Faith); it is called Sophia (Wisdom).

And thus the number of the six authorities of chaos was achieved. Then Death, being androgynous, mingled with his (own) nature and begot seven androgynous offspring. These are the names of the male ones: Jealousy, Wrath, Tears, Sighing, Suffering, Lamentation, Bitter Weeping. And these are the names of the female ones: Wrath, Pain, Lust, Sighing, Curse, Bitterness, Quarrelsomeness. They had intercourse with one another, and each one begot seven, so that they amount to forty-nine androgynous demons

The Apocalypse of James
The Lord said, ‘James, do not be concerned for me or for this people. I am he who was within me. Never have I suffered in any way, nor have I been distressed

The Apocalypse of Adam
The tenth kingdom says of him that his god loved a cloud of desire. He begot him in his hand and cast upon the cloud above him (some) of the drop, and he was born. And the eleventh kingdom says that the father desired his [own] daughter. She herself became pregnant [from] her father

The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth
Therefore I command that this teaching be carved on stone, and that you place it in my sanctuary. Eight guardians guard it with[…] of the sun. The males on the right are frog-faced, and the females on the left are cat-faced. And put a square mild-stone at the base of the turquoise tables and writ the name on the azure stone tablet in hieroglyphic characters

The Paraphrase of Shem
And when Darkness had acquired the likeness of the mind, it resembled the Spirit. For Nature rose up to expel it; she was powerless against it, since she did not have a form from the darkness. For she brought it forth in the cloud. And the cloud shone. A mind appeared in it like a frightful, harmful fire. It (i.e. the mind) collided against the unbegotten Spirit since it possessed a likeness form him. In order that Nature might become empty of the chaotic fire, then immediately nature was divided into four parts. They became clouds which varied in their appearance. They were called hymen, Afterbirth, Power, (and) Water

And when her forms returned, the rubbed their tongue(s) with each other; they copulated; they begot winds and demons and the power which is from the fire and the Darkness and the Spirit. But the form which remain alone cast the beast from herself. She did not have intercourse, but she was the one who rubbed herself alone. And she brought forth a wind which possessed a power from the fire and the Darkness and the Spirit

But the winds, which are demons from water and fire and darkness and light, had intercourse unto perdition. And through this intercourse the winds received in their womb foam from the penis of the demons. They conceived a power in their womb

She was called Barbelo because (of her being) thought; the triple [race] (which is) male, virginal (and) perfect and her knowledge through which she came into being…

For [the power] is attending [to me, leading] me into [the Aeon which] is Barbelo, [the] male [Virgin]. For this reason the Virgin became male, because she had been divided from the male

Trimorphic Portennoia
I am androgynous. [I am Mother (and) I am] Father since [I copulate] with myself. I [copulated] with myself [and with those who love] me [and it is through me alone that the All [stands firm]. I am the Womb [that gives shape] to the All by giving birth to the Light that [shines in] splendor. I am the Aeon to [come…

(The quotes above come from The Nag Hammadi Library edited by James Robinson, San Francisco : HarperSanFrancisco, 1988. The reader is encouraged to purchase a copy to see that the above quotes are not just isolated examples of such nonsense)

Can any honest, intelligent human being seriously question why early Christian churches might have left such dung out of their New Testament? Can you imagine the additional scorn and ridicule that that critics would heap on Christians if any of this nonsense were included in the Bible? You see, it’s a matter of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t." The critics act as if these so-called powerful Christian bishops were in some kind of conspiracy to keep the “truth” from people, but if the Church had included these documents, you can bet the house that the critics' scorn would have known no bounds! Do you suppose that something other than serious, objective scholarship is going on in the radical critical attacks on Jesus and the New Testament?

Ahh, but it gets worse. Come back tomorrow to find out how these rejected writings portrayed women.