wouldn’t that be awkward
Can I get some credible sources?
and one more for the road
Theology nerd side of Tumblr, reporting for duty!
There are roughly five and a half fucktillion extracanonical gospels out there. For the first couple centuries after Jesus bit it, his followers wrote a ridiculous amount of fanfic. There were a gajillion different headcanons floating around about exactly who and what he even was (God pretending to be human? human who got possessed by God at his baptism? human who got promoted to demigod after his death? simultaneously God and human all along??) and lots of early Christian communities ~conveniently~ discovered a Totally 100% Authentic Eyewitness Account that supported their pet theory (and also, proved that their fave disciple was clearly the best).
Big Name Fans argued about all the major disagreements, periodically throwing conventions specifically to bicker until they reached some sort of consensus (more or less – sometimes the hold-outs ended up saying “screw you guys, we’re gonna go form our own church!”) Toward the end of the second century, a guy named Irenaeus wrote a meta arguing that there were four fics worth reading – no more, no less – and they were ones that folks somewhere along the line started to claim were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This idea caught on as a popular bit of fanon, and over the next couple of centuries it gained so much support that it was declared canon.
So, what’s the point of this Jesus fandom history lesson? Basically, that the discovery of yet another extracanonical text isn’t particularly earth-shattering. Headlines like “Ancient Bible changes everything! Pope freaking out!” are bullshit, but that’s how it’s always framed cause more accurate headlines like “Old manuscript discovered – Historians say ‘Ooh, nifty!’” aren’t very good click-bait.
The actual history and politics of the various gospel texts are really fascinating though (if you’re a huge fucking nerd, like me). In the Gospel of Judas, he’s the only disciple who really understands Jesus, who told Judas to “betray” him. Also, God’s a Glow Cloud. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas has kid!Jesus smite other kids for being little shits. The Gospel of Peter is hella anti-Jewish, but has one cool bit with a character that’s literally a walking, talking cross. There’s a whole book called “Q” which has never even been found, but scholars are pretty sure exists cause Matthew and Luke copied a lot from it.
Seriously, leaning about this stuff made me go “woah, this is freaking awesome – why the hell did my parents’ church make the Bible seem so damn boring??” Well, probably cause all those white upper middle class folks didn’t want us kiddies to dig too deep and find out what a radical, anti-establishment bamf Jesus really was, but that’s another rant for another time…
Reblogging because this is what I live for. As a medieval history major, I got taught first and foremost that we’d be spending four years reading lies and biased half-truths and mythologies. Our job was to find the places they agreed and work the rest out from there. “Do the edge pieces first, Maggie.” I took an entire seminar on forgeries, because so many of the sources historians use to piece together the past are known fakes, but the best they can do is read between the lines or have no lines at all. There’s a reason why medieval historians read farm reports featuring travel descriptions and saints’ lives involving demons-living-in-buckets with the same attention to detail. Every dry history text you’ve read in your life comes from a pile of sources like this, bits of maybe-truth cobbled together with toothpaste and narwhal horn dust.
The moral of the story is be curious, and look for the lies in truth and the truth in lies. It’s pretty great: hello, history, riddle me this.
tl;dr people seem to forget that the NT canon wasn’t formally set until about 300 years after the founding of the church.
found @ 33 likes ON 2019-11-07 05:59:19 BY ME.ME