How Many Gospels Were There?

There were many Gospels of Jesus in the early days of Christianity. In addition to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the New Testament and the four Nag Hammadi Gospels, many other documents have been referred to as ‘gospels’.

Although many of the early Christian sects did not agree with the orthodox view that the scriptures came directly from God, there was fairly general agreement at the time that they had been written by people who were God-inspired.

In 302 Bishop Damascus directed Jerome to write a Latin text to standardise the scriptures. This came to be called the Latin Vulgate Bible and was used throughout the Christian world as the standardised Church text for at least a thousand years.  Since it was in Latin, it was up to the Church to ‘interpret’ it to their congregations, which was very much part of their intention as it diminished the likelihood of heresies arising.  

Also in the fourth century, Augustine declared that every part of the text had been chosen by God, although written by various Christian writers. Although the Church fathers superficially went along with this, many of them did not agree, as is clear from some of their writings.

Somewhere around the middle of the fourth century the New Testament as we know it began to be collated, and in or about 367 AD Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria gathered together a selection of writings that were approved first by the Council of Hippo (393AD) and then by the Council of Carthage (397 AD).

Over the centuries, these texts were further ‘edited’ and many important sections – presumably those which the Church saw as undermining of its authority or likely to cause dissension – were excluded.

Ten centuries after the Vulgate had originally been accepted, the same old disagreements continued to raise questions and cause dissension. Only in1546 were the four Gospels of the New Testament approved by the Council of Trent… and that only because of the threat to the Roman Catholic Church of the Protestant Reformation

Relating to information about the ministry of Christ in the Nag Hammadi gospels, in an interview published in the US News & World Report, Collector’s edition: Secrets of the Da Vinci Code, James Robinson, general editor of The Nag Hammadi Library, says that of the four Nag Hammadi codices, only the Gospel of Thomas can really be regarded as a gospel because it is the only one that claims to quote the actual words of Jesus. Other sources would regard this as a splitting of hairs since the words of Jesus are reported in other Nag Hammadi gospels.

Nobody knows how many Gospels there originally were, and it might be that some are yet to be discovered. Hundreds of caves offer possible hiding-places.

Since we know that the Four Gospels of the New Testament were selectively chosen and subsequently much edited, adapted and reduced, and as we cannot know what ancient records will still come to light, the issue of the Gospels as contributing to the ‘real’ history of Jesus remains an open question.

Powered by Qumana

Advertisements

Does The Gospel Of Mary Magdalene Really Exist?

The Nag Hammadi reference for the Gospel of Mary is Codex II, 2. It was originally written in Greek, probably in the early part of the second century.   

Karen King and other commentators report that the Gospel of Mary falls naturally into two sections: the account of the exchange between Jesus and the disciples after the Crucifixion, and a description of Mary’s passing on to the disciples the special revelations entrusted to her by Jesus. Only the beginning and end of this important document survives. Four pages are missing between beginning and end. 

It is in the Gospel of Mary that Peter is described as challenging the relationship of Jesus and Mary Magdalene by demanding to know why Jesus would choose to speak privately to her rather than freely to them. Peter complains about Mary’s preaching and asks Jesus to stop her as she is undermining his leadership. Jesus’s response is to rebuke Peter. Mary later says that she is wary of Peter and feels that he hates women. Jesus tells her that anyone, whether man or woman, is divinely entitled to speak if inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Also in the Gospel of Mary, Levi is recorded as pointing out to Peter that if Jesus found Mary Magdalene worthy to be the recipient of his revelations, then he, Peter, had no right to criticise and reject her: “The Saviour surely knows her well enough. That is why he loves her more than us.”  He tells the disciples to go forth and preach as Jesus had asked of them.

They immediately respond, and with this the text ends.

From then on, it seems that the disciples accepted Mary’s position of privilege and that she comforted and encouraged them when they feared that they, too, would meet death at the hands of the authorities. 

The story of Peter’s confrontation with Mary Magdalene is also recorded in the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of the Egyptians and the Pistis Sophia.

The Nag Hammadi Codices appear to be largely Gnostic in tone. Not all Gnostics were Christians. In fact, there had been Gnostic thinkers before the time of Christ. Gnostic Christians were those who preferred personal revelation and individual understanding rather than conversion by apostles or evangelists.

Because Gnostic Christians were condemned by the orthodox Church , they have always received what we would call ‘a bad press’, but the largely Gnostic writings of the Nag Hammadi codices have brought new understanding of the Gnostics and much sympathy and support for their perspectives of Jesus and his mission. They did not, for instance, believe that Jesus was divine, but saw him as a divinely inspired teacher whose mission was to reveal to ordinary human beings that they could have direct communication with God. Since the Gnostics were largely freethinkers, it goes without saying that there was much variety in their interpretations.

Richard Andres and Paul Schellenberger point out in The Tomb of God: the Body of Jesus and the Solution to a 2000-year-old Mystery that the silence of the Church regarding Christian Gnosticism has left most Christians unaware of the important Gnostic aspects in the origins of their own religion. The orthodox Church fought fiercely to eradicate the Christian Gnostics and other so-called ‘heretics’ prior to the Council at Nicaea in 325 AD and established a pattern of prejudice that has plagued the Church ever since.

The main bone of contention between Gnostic and orthodox Christians seems to have been the issue of whether Christ was divine and the actual Son of God and whether he had been physically resurrected and then taken up into heaven. Although he might not have been the originator, Paul propagated and disseminated the view of Jesus as the Son of God resurrected to life after death on the cross after death. One cannot help but suspect that the disappearance of Jesus from the tomb played into the hands of the later orthodox Church, since his reappearance, either living or dead, would have been difficult to account for in terms of the Resurrection which is fundamental to Christian Church dogma.    

It is not difficult to see why orthodox believers wanted Gnostic interpretations suppressed even before the end of the first century AD, and why people like the inhabitants of the Jewish Qumran community found it necessary to hide their documents in urns secreted in caves before they fled at the time of the Jewish uprising of 70 AD and during later persecutions.

In 325 AD Emperor Constantine, concerned about myriad dissensions in the failing Empire, set up the Council at Nicaea and demanded that Christians cease their quarrelling and make up their minds about their beliefs. His reasons were, of course, personal and political, and had nothing to do with any concern for religion. It was rather that he saw that Christianity was spreading fast and that a unified Christianity would be useful to him.

If Mary did indeed leave the Holy Land after the Crucifixion and finally make her home in France, this would support the view of her implicit in those of the Nag Hammadi Codices that mention her mission. She was the apostle closest to Jesus and it was to her that he made his revelations after his body had disappeared from the cave and he met and spoke with her in the garden.

And if she were indeed the mother of his child – or children – it would have been imperative for her to escape from the Holy Land.

Powered by Qumana

Where Is Mary Magdalene Buried?

The official Church version is that Mary Magdalene was buried in Ephesus and that in 899 the Emperor Leo VI had her relics transferred to a monastery in Constantinople.

 

This has the effect of keeping Mary Magdalene well away from Western Europe and any theories about the Sangreal, the bloodline of Jesus. But a strong contender in the burial probability stakes comes from Provence in France, where there is, as mentioned before, what amounts to a ‘Mary Magdalene industry’.

 

It was Gregory of Tours, chronicler of the Frankish kings in the late 6th century, who recorded the older tradition that Mary Magdalene died in Ephesus where she had lived for many years with Jesus’s mother, Mary, and John the Evangelist, thought to have been the author of the Fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John.

 

This account was, however, contradicted in a document in Latin (c. 5th to 6th century) which, referring to an earlier record, claimed that Mary Magdalene had travelled to Aix-le-Provence with Saint Maximin and had lived there for many years before she died in Aix at the age of 60.

 

In keeping with the mission of Jesus entrusted to Mary Magdalene and the apostles, she and Maximin had preached the gospel in Gaul, and Maximin had become the first Christian bishop in Gaul (usually referred to as Bishop Maximus). He placed her embalmed body in a crypt and had a Basilica built over it to honour and protect it.

 

The body was said to have been removed during the Saracen invasions as it was feared it would be discovered and destroyed. Rumour has it that part of the remains were taken to the French monastery of Vezelay in Burgundy, the church of which carried Mary Magdalene’s name.

 

Years later, a monk of the Vezelay monastery is reputed to have found a crypt at the Basilica of St Maximin’s in Provence. Reference to the Magdalene was chiselled into the stone.

 

 

Margaret Starbird draws attention to a published report that the Vatican sent an Apostolic Nuncio with six bishops and several priests to celebrate mass at the Basilica of Marie Madeleine in 1950 to honour the 700-year Jubilee of the discovery of her grave in Provence. She asks questions we would all like to have answered. What did the Catholic Church know about Mary Magdalene to induce them to participate in this event? How long had the Church Fathers known whatever it was that they seemed to know? And, since they were willing to lend support to the Jubilee, why were they at the same time continuing to discount the stories that placed Mary Magdalene in Provence both during her lifetime and after her death?

 

Certain documents favouring the Constantinople (Byzantium) account of Mary Magdalene’s burial place claim that part of her relics were transferred in the 9th century to the monastery Church of St Lazarus and that, some time after the final Crusade, were moved to Italy where they were buried beneath the altar of the Lateran Cathedral in Rome. Other documentation places part of her relics near Marseilles where, as mentioned, the splendid St Maximum’s Basilica was built over them.

Then there is the contention that Mary Magdalene’s remains were buried, along with secret documents, on Temple Mount in Jerusalem and were found when the city was conquered during the First Crusade.

 

Where, then, is Mary Magdalene buried? Legends, rumours and traditions – both oral and written – abound. Again, the only honest answer is: we don’t know.

 

– Is she buried in Ephesus in Turkey, as the Church believes… or does it?

 

– Was she buried on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and were her remains moved to the West when the crusaders took Jerusalem?

 

– Is she buried under the Basilica of St Maximin?

 

– Are some of her bones hidden in a crypt at Vezelay?

 

– Or are her relics buried in more than one place?

 

Finally, could it really be that her bones are buried within the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum? Of all possibilities, this is surely the most unlikely.

 

It would be understandable had some of her bones been placed in different burial places after her initial burial in order to ensure that at least some of them survived being discovered and removed and perhaps even destroyed.

 

Perhaps this mystery will also be solved in due course if contemporary documents are ever discovered.

 

 

Powered by Qumana

32 Most Asked Da Vinci Code Questions Answered

As I turned the last page of the The Da Vinci Code I was both satisfied and unsatisfied. This brilliant book took my mind on a journey that excited and riveted my imagination.

So many thoughts raced through my head as I ploughed through page by page… often hours at a time.

Learn about Leonardo Da Vinci and his painting’s secrets

Whilst at first it sounds strange that a man who is arguably one of the most brilliant minds that has ever existed, was involved in an underground society… the truth about the artists of the renaissance period and how they communicated, will open your eyes to a whole new level of genius.

Answered… the Questions about the Da Vinci Code
That You Asked For!

The reason for me creating my brand new book was selfishly for my own benefit, as I wanted to know the answers to these age old questions. Then it dawned on me… that I am not the only one searching for answers, so I was inspired in this quest to help others find the answers to their own questions in this area.

And that is why, it’s not like any other book you’ve ever read on the factual history behind the Da Vinci Code.

Why?

Simply, every section in the book is there because “you asked for it.” Well, not “you” really. But from real live questions. Questions from people who loved the Da Vinci Code and wanted the answers to the pressing questions it created. A simple webpage was set up, and people like you visited it and left me their most pressing questions on ‘the questions you wanted answers to after reading the International Best Selling book.’

Then I got them answered for you!

Which means no fluff. Just the real answers you want to know.

Here are the Answers!