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A New New Testament

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#1    eight bits

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 04:26 PM

Tomorrow is publication day for a new version of the New Testament, comprising the 27 books you know and love, along with ten "new" ones, mostly found among the Nag Hammadi cache, and so mostly "Gnostic."

http://www.hmhbooks....nt/council.html

None of that is actually new, then. The innovation, however, is that these books were selected by way of a kind of resurrected Jesus Seminar (or, if you prefer, as the Church Council that never happened). The author thinks that these should be the canon, if not for all time, then at least for now.

Is that right? If so, then maybe other people should roll their own canon, as a prepublication blog article suggests.

http://uncertaintist...-new-testament/

Would you add to the New Testament canon? Would you add these books? Would you use the author's method to choose(basically, he's in the religion and teaching business, so he and his pals got together, and hashed this out)?

Or, in the age of the internet when these and all kinds of other sacred writings are available free and fast, do we even need a canon?

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#2    Mystic Crusader

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 05:07 PM

Just what this world needs, more insanity, not!

Will god add plagues to them?

Edited by HavocWing, 04 March 2013 - 05:09 PM.

Thomas Paine wrote in The Age of Reason that “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous execution, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God."
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#3    eight bits

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:24 PM

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Just what this world needs, more insanity, not!

No, there's nothing "new" in this new canon, so compiling it doesn't affect the world quota of sanity or insanity. What's new is to put things that were plainly never intended to be read as true stories (Paul and Thecla) adjacent to stories that, whether they are actually true or not, are offered to the reader as being true stories.

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#4    Paranoid Android

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:39 AM

Is there a list anywhere of which ten extra texts are in the New New Testament?  I browsed the website briefly but all I could find was a passing reference to the Gospel of Thomas.  So that's one of ten, it'd be nice to know what the other nine are.

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#5    eight bits

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:40 AM

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Is there a list anywhere of which ten extra texts are in the New New Testament?  I browsed the website briefly but all I could find was a passing reference to the Gospel of Thomas.  So that's one of ten, it'd be nice to know what the other nine are.

The blog posting linked in the OP has all ten, along with links to free online English versions of each. It's located at the end of the article.

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#6    Mr Walker

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 11:50 AM

I dont know how I missed this thread. There is no particular spiritual/holy  "specialness" about the existing works of the bible, except the way they have become embedded in human consciousness and behaviour over 4000 years or so.  And that IS a hugely significant factor.
I would add in all writings which might add to an understanding of early christianity. But then I am a quick and very capable reader reader, with an interest in language and history. Perhaps others might  prefer a "dot pointed" version. :whistle:
I read the reviewers on the site provided and very strongly agreed with their points of view.

Edited by Mr Walker, 09 March 2013 - 11:54 AM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

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With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

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#7    eight bits

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 11:38 PM

Mr W

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I would add in all writings which might add to an understanding of early christianity.

I think everybody on this panel was trying to do what you say, but they came up with 8/10 Gnostic works. One of the two non-Gnostic is a plain fiction (Acts of Paul and Thecla). A work of fiction can shed light on its time... but in a world where many people say that the whole thing is fiction, you can see where it might be a problem to include a story you know didn't happen, and that is written in a genere used for fiction back then.

Are there any specific books you'd like to add?

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#8    AquilaChrysaetos

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 12:40 AM

View Posteight bits, on 04 March 2013 - 04:26 PM, said:

Or, in the age of the internet when these and all kinds of other sacred writings are available free and fast, do we even need a canon?

Keep the original canon as it is. I simply read the lost books online. I mean, what's so wrong with that system we already have, eh?

Jesus Christ - Matthew 28:18-20 said:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

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#9    eight bits

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:21 AM

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Keep the original canon as it is. ... I mean, what's so wrong with that system we already have, eh?  

The Taussig group didn't consider doing this, but are there any books you would drop?

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I simply read the lost books online.

Had you read the Odes of Solomon before now, for example? I chose that one to ask about because they aren't "new doctrine" or Gnostic. My guess is that either they were actual hymns of the early church services, or something similar. We know that there was singing in the early churches, so maybe this is what they sang.

My point being, doesn't being on a carefully thought-out list give people some idea about which books to choose from? Or where to begin? Look at all the things at Early Christian Writings:

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

Even if you used the Taussig group's cut-off date of 175, that still leaves a big list.

I remember that I first encountered Acts of Paul and Thecla because it was included in another kind of "canon," the reading list for a college course. Otherwise, I doubt I would have read it until now, and if now, I'd have read it because it is on the Taussig canon.

In other words, what's wrong with improving upon the system we already have?

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#10    Mr Walker

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:49 AM

Like aquila, I dont consider a canon necessary and I dont think the books in the existing bible have any more authority than other books from  the same time and place. They represent a vested position which had won out over a number of alternative early christian positions by the time our present bible was put together, and they represent what a limited number of men, not representative of all of christianity at that time, wanted to become orthodox "canon".

They have been invested with authority over time by church and states but they are really a set of sources and writings which illuminate the life and times, and the beliefs, of writers and others from that time. Every such writing has something to add to our understanding of how early people viewed christ, as a man or a god, or  how they viewed  his teachings.

I am not suprised that modern theologians and scholars have heavily weighted in favour of  gnostic writings. Gnostics were the first losers (among many tragic examples) in the battle for orthodoxy in the christian faith, but they were  a powerful alternative viewpoint among the earliest christians. To understand original christianity and how christ was viewed by his contemporaries, it is necessary to reinstate gnostic beliefs and writings even if only to balance the scales. Gnosticism predated christ, and the gnostics who adopted christianity very early on had a completely different view point as to the nature of christ and his relationship to "god" and men, than non gnostic jews and gentiles held.

Edited by Mr Walker, 10 March 2013 - 09:58 AM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#11    eight bits

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 11:25 AM

Mr W

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and they represent what a limited number of men, not representative of all of christianity at that time, wanted to become orthodox "canon".

But the existing canon does not claim to be representative of all "Christianity," a category which even today is poorly specified. If the criterion is "Admirers of Jesus of Nazareth who accept his case to have been the Jewish Messiah," then "all Christianity" would include Islam, for example.

The older parts of the existing New Testament canon appear to focus on the portion of the first and second generation of teachers who either were appointed by Jesus (as the canonical books would have it), or took it upon themselves to perpetuate Jesus' teachings as they understood them (as happened in modern times to the Lutheran writer Swedenborg, for example).

Then there are the much more recent things in the New Testament, like the Pastorals and Revelation which appear to build upon (or otherwise adapt) the earlier teachings. This would be more in line with the idea of "factionalism." For example, the Pastorals reflect a hostility to women that is nowhere in the earlier books.

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Gnostics were the first losers (among many tragic examples) in the battle for orthodoxy in the christian faith, but they were  a powerful alternative viewpoint among the earliest christians.

There is no plausible case that any historical Jesus was a Gnostic. The theology of Gnosticism is antithetical to the theology of Judaism. So, the Gnostics weren't "losers in the battle for orthodoxy," but rather proponents of a spearate and distinct religion that didn't catch on. There is no "battle for Orthodoxy" today between Nicene Christians and Mormons, for example.

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the gnostics who adopted christianity very early on had a completely different view point as to the nature of christ and his relationship to "god" and men, than non gnostic jews and gentiles held.

Like Mormons today. There's nothing wrong with being a separate and distinct religion, but it is silly to see the discussion as a difference of opinion among upholders of the same tradition, unlike orthodoxy versus the Arian "heresy," where both sides claimed the same heritage.

Even if the admirers of Arius had won (or simply won tolerance of diversity on arcane and technical points), it would hardly make any difference. I see people all the time espousing Arianism who think they are orthodox. Start a thread here about the Trinity, and sooner or later, a Trinitarian will show up explaining how God the Father made the Son, and the two of them made the Holy Spirit, all three equally God, and all that before time began.

Arius lives. So does Gnosticism, but not among people who think of themselves as orthodox Christians, heirs to the First Apostles and the early churches of Jerusalem and Damascus.

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#12    Mr Walker

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 11:54 AM

View Posteight bits, on 10 March 2013 - 11:25 AM, said:

Mr W



But the existing canon does not claim to be representative of all "Christianity," a category which even today is poorly specified. If the criterion is "Admirers of Jesus of Nazareth who accept his case to have been the Jewish Messiah," then "all Christianity" would include Islam, for example.

The older parts of the existing New Testament canon appear to focus on the portion of the first and second generation of teachers who either were appointed by Jesus (as the canonical books would have it), or took it upon themselves to perpetuate Jesus' teachings as they understood them (as happened in modern times to the Lutheran writer Swedenborg, for example).

Then there are the much more recent things in the New Testament, like the Pastorals and Revelation which appear to build upon (or otherwise adapt) the earlier teachings. This would be more in line with the idea of "factionalism." For example, the Pastorals reflect a hostility to women that is nowhere in the earlier books.



There is no plausible case that any historical Jesus was a Gnostic. The theology of Gnosticism is antithetical to the theology of Judaism. So, the Gnostics weren't "losers in the battle for orthodoxy," but rather proponents of a spearate and distinct religion that didn't catch on. There is no "battle for Orthodoxy" today between Nicene Christians and Mormons, for example.



Like Mormons today. There's nothing wrong with being a separate and distinct religion, but it is silly to see the discussion as a difference of opinion among upholders of the same tradition, unlike orthodoxy versus the Arian "heresy," where both sides claimed the same heritage.

Even if the admirers of Arius had won (or simply won tolerance of diversity on arcane and technical points), it would hardly make any difference. I see people all the time espousing Arianism who think they are orthodox. Start a thread here about the Trinity, and sooner or later, a Trinitarian will show up explaining how God the Father made the Son, and the two of them made the Holy Spirit, all three equally God, and all that before time began. .



Arius lives. So does Gnosticism, but not among people who think of themselves as orthodox Christians, heirs to the First Apostles and the early churches of Jerusalem and Damascus.
The catholic church made the existing  bible not just canon but holy, and any divergence from its orthodoxy was increasingly seen as heretical This began before the canon was offically established but continued on for  many many centuries with other christian faiths which diverged from the holy roman church. For most of christian hstory the catholic church officially considered itself "all of christianity. " If you weren't with them you weren't christian.

Many early gnostic christians considered jesus as a figure in their gnostic theology, they became known a gnostic christians Christs teachings had elements of both gnosticism and more material spiritualism in them, but i personally tend to agree that christ was unlikely to have seen himslef as gnostic But pre christian gnostics evolved into christian gnostics as pre christian jews evolved into the first jewish christians.

All the original followers of christ were jews. Some may have been gnostics as well. LAter gentiles converted. Some of them may have also been gnostics. The one certain thing is that in early christianity there  was a strong gnostic component and element, which lost out to the form of theology that catholicism eventually became. If the gnostics had become the mainstream, then they would have been todays "orthodox" christianity

My reading, both from a gnostic and a jewish perspective, indicates that indeed there was a pre christian, jewish gnostic movement. the following quote is only one of many sources on the matter.

"There is no doubt that a Jewish gnosticism existed before a Christian or a Judæo-Christian gnosticism. As may be seen even in the apocalypses, since the second century B.C. gnostic thought was bound up with Judaism, which had accepted Babylonian and Syrian doctrines; but the relation of this Jewish gnosticism to Christian gnosticism may, perhaps, no longer be explained "(Harnack," "Geschichte der Altchristlichen Litteratur," p. 144). The great age of Jewish gnosticism is further indicated by the authentic statement that Johanan b. Zakkai, who was born probably in the century before the common era, and was, according to Sukkah 28a, versed in that science, refers to an interdiction against "discussing the Creation before two pupils and the throne-chariot before one."

http://www.jewishenc...sticism#anchor2
Ps to clarify I have used orthodox in the sense described below.
If the gnostics had become dominant in the early church, then by the council of nicaea,  their theology (and their creeds) would be the orthodoxy to which later  believers had to conform.

The word orthodox, from Greek orthos ("right", "true", "straight") + doxa ("opinion" or "belief", related to dokein, "to think"),[1] is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion.[2] In the narrow sense the term means "conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church".[1]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy

Edited by Mr Walker, 10 March 2013 - 12:05 PM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#13    eight bits

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 12:47 PM

Mr W

Quote

The catholic church made the existing  bible not just canon but holy, and any divergence from its orthodoxy was increasingly seen as heretical This began before the canon was offically established but continued on for  many many centuries with other christian faiths which diverged from the holy roman church.

An interesting story, but we were discussing the Gnostics. They were a separate religion long before there was any particularly Roman church for the Gnostics to be separate from. We seem to be in agreement that Gnosticism existed before Apostolic Christianity, and honed its apologetic on Judaism. (Itself an excellent reason to think of it as a different religion.)

Oddly, the Roman Christian church, when that finally came into separate being, was neither hot nor cold as regards "heretics." Marcion, a specifically Roman heresy, was handled locally (he got a refund of his contributions, and his church went on its merry way, not dying out for centuries). Later on, the Romans remained in communion with what is now the Assyrian Church of the East when the Greek Orthodox didn't, over a christological dispute. That is, heresy.

The really hot and heavy Roman opposition to "heresy" was in the Second Millennium, far too late to have anything to do with the composition of a canon, unless you wanted to open the canon to much more recent works than the Taussig group considered. The issues were by then practical; forcible opposition to heresy costs money.

Furthermore, there is fairly good agreement about the New Testament Canon among those who follow an Apostolic Tradition. It is true that the Oriental Orthodox do away with five books or so (all epsitles, including Revelation), but 22/27 is pretty good. And yet the group in question differ among themselves about who's heretical, who's in schism with whom, etc. etc.

Bottom line, I don't think this problem can be laid at the feet of the Roman Catholic Church.

Quote

If the gnostics had become dominant in the early church, ...

... then there wouldn't have been a council at Nicea. Everybody there professed the earlier Apostle's Creed, which shoulders out the Gnostics at line one:

I believe in God, the omnipotent Father, the creator of heaven and earth.

Gnostics believe that the creator of heaven and earth is not the omnipotent Father. The Apostles' Creed may be as early as Second Century. It is tempting to think it might have been written to distinguish the church from Gnostics (as the Nicene Creed later distinguishes the church from the small part of the church that was Arian), but there's not a lot of evidence for that, and plenty of other reasons for early Christians to write a short affirmation of faith.

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