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The Fact Page: “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate” (Dan Brown).
Ironically, many people are taking the fictional novel as fact.
Don’t Hate, Educate!
A Great Opportunity (Ambassadors) If a friend asks, “What do you think about the movie or novel?” I think it raised interesting questions that each person must deal with in their own spiritual journey. Can we trust the Bible to give us a true picture of Jesus? Is Jesus really who He claimed to be and proved to be?
Faith’s Relationship to Reason
“About one out of four (26%) born again Christians believe that it doesn’t matter what faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons.” “every faith in the world is based on fabrication. That is the definition of faith—acceptance of that which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove.”
Christianity is Based on a Historical Event
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” I Corinthians 15:14 (NIV)
Faith is beyond reason, but never against reason
Did the earliest gospels teach only Christ‟s human traits? Why were these books never included in the Bible? Astro: Anyone watched the National Geographic documentary on Gospel of Judas? Always ask “When was it written?” The Parameswara Question – Which is more reliable? A document written by eyewitness who lived during the event or a document written hundreds of years later?
Fact Check: Dating New Testament
Author Book Gallic Wars Written Earliest Copy (X)
Plato Tacitus Pliny Thucydidie s Herodotus Homer New Testament
100 – 44 BC
c. 900 AD
c. 900 AD c. 1100 AD c. 850 AD c. 900 BC c. 900 AD c. 400 BC c. 114 fragments c. 200 books c. 250 most of NT c. 325 complete NT
c. 1300 yrs c. 1000 yrs c. 750 yrs c. 1300 yrs c. 1350 yrs c. 400 yrs 25-50 yrs 100 yrs 150 yrs 225 yrs
Annals Natural History History History Iliad
100 AD 61 – 133 AD 460 – 400 BC 480 – 425 BC 800 BC 50 – 100 AD
When Was NT Written?
Nearly all New Testament scholars agree that the New Testament was written within 1st century AD.
Gospel of Mark is between A.D. 5060, Paul‟s letters were written between A.D. 50-66, the Gospels between A.D. 50-70 and John‟s Gospel sometime around A.D. 7090.
Don’t Know Much About History…
Dead Sea Scrolls are not “early gospels”. They are about the Essenes, a Jewish sect and not about Jesus or early Christians. Valuable to learn about the background of Israel in 1st century & a complete text of Isaiah
What are the Nag Hammadi texts?
at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945.
were an important archaeological find that confirm what we knew about the Gnostics from the Church Fathers‟ writings
52 Coptic works; only five however were called “gospels” - Truth, Thomas, Egyptians, Philip, and
of the texts are cited in The Da Vinci Code to prove that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.
Gospel of Mary (late 2nd C.) Gospel of Philip (3rd C.) Gospel of Thomas (mid 2nd century)
Who Wrote Them??
When were the Nag Hammadi texts written?
Nag Hammadi manuscripts were written almost 200 years after the events in Jesus‟ life The earliest fragments of the Gospel of Philip dated no earlier than 180-200 AD.
means that the Nag Hammadi texts do not meet the criteria of being ancient or apostolic.
Gnostic Gospels cannot really be called Gospels. They do not contain an orderly account of the birth, life, deeds, and resurrection of Christ.
Meet the Gnostics
Who are the Gnostics? They were people who believed that only an elite group of Christians with mystical experience have “secret knowledge” or “divine”. Self-knowledge is the key to salvation. The Gnostic Jesus was believed to not free us of our sins, but to free us from our ignorance because we don‟t realize who we really are— we are divine! “God created man and man created God… Men make gods and they worship their creations. It would be fitting for gods to worship man” (Gospel of Philip)
Oops! I Did It Again
FACT: The Gnostics have a negative view of the physical world. We are pure spirits, seeking to escape the bodily prison. (Judas Gospel?) “The world came about through a mistake. For he who created it wanted to create it imperishable and immortal. He fell short of attaining his desire. For the world never was imperishable, nor, for that matter, was he who made the world.” (Gospel of Philip)
A Sexier Religion?
FACT: Gnostics have a negative view of sex and marriage “If there is a hidden quality to the marriage of defilement, how much more is the undefiled marriage a true mystery! It is not fleshly, but pure. It belongs not to desire, but to the will. It belongs not to the darkness or the night, but to the day and the light.” Gospel of Philip
Gnostics: Original Feminists?
“Simon Peter said to them (the disciples), „Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life.‟ Jesus said, „I myself shall lead her, in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (mid-2nd century AD) sounds chauvinist (not feminist)...
Question: What Should We Conclude About The “Other” Books That Were Not Included?
Were the Gnostic Gospels considered for canon?
Even the Gnostics themselves don‟t recognize these spurious Gospels?
Ebionites used a shorten form of Matthew (2nd cent) Marcion used Luke (A.D. 140) Valentinus (Gnostic) used John (A.D. 110)
Long before Constantine was born, some Gnostic books have been rejected i.e. Origen (A.D. 185-254) wrote: “I know a certain gospel which is called the Gospel according to Thomas and a Gospel…nevertheless among all these we have approved solely what the church has recognized, which is that only the four gospels should be accepted.”
Principles for Discovering Canonicity
Canonicity is determined by God and discovered by man. Criteria: Was It Written By Apostles Or Their Companions?
Was It Written Close To Time of Jesus?
Were the teachings consistent with other orthodox Scripture (OT)? Were they widely recognized and accepted by the church?
Do The Gnostic Gospels Pass The Test?
These gospels were written neither by apostles, nor by companions of the apostles. All of these people were long dead by the time these documents were written. They were written in the second and third centuries and therefore did not exist during the time of Jesus in the first century. Their heretical teachings differ from the Old Testament and the accepted four gospels. They teach a different view of God, Christ, man, salvation not consistent with the original teachings of Jesus and His earliest followers.
What Should We Conclude About The “Other” Books That Were Not Included?
Unlike the four canonical gospels, these gospels were never widely accepted or recognized as authentic and inspired by the early Christian church. They were never read in Christian assemblies. They were not included in the list of accepted books before or after Constantine. They are not the subject of commentaries by church fathers. If we don‟t have the NT copies, we can still reconstruct the NT from their early quotations
Informed & Winsome
1. What do you think about the Da Vinci Code? 2. Why do you think speculation about how Jesus lived stirs so much passion?
3. Do you think it is possible that Jesus Christ could be something more than man?
Why It Matters?
If Jesus did not claim to be the Son of God, why do you think Jesus did not speak up before Pontius Pilate put him to death? (If you sense they are open to spiritual dialog ask) Can I share with you why I believe he did this and why it makes a difference?