By Philip Jenkins
The normal account of early Christianity tells us that the 1st centuries after Jesus' loss of life witnessed an efflorescence of Christian sects, every one with its personal gospel. we're taught that those replacement scriptures, which represented intoxicating, bold, and infrequently extraordinary rules, have been suppressed within the fourth and 5th centuries, whilst the Church canonized the gospels we all know this present day: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. the remaining have been misplaced, destroyed, or hidden.
In The Many Faces of Christ, the well known non secular historian Philip Jenkins completely refutes our most simple assumptions in regards to the misplaced Gospels. He unearths that dozens of other gospels not just survived the canonization strategy yet in lots of circumstances remained influential texts in the authentic Church. complete new gospels persevered to be written and accredited. For 1000 years, those unusual tales in regards to the existence and dying of Jesus have been freely admitted onto church premises, licensed for liturgical examining, learn via usual laypeople for guide and delight, and mentioned as authoritative via students and theologians.
The misplaced Gospels unfold all over, crossing geographic and non secular borders. the traditional Gospel of Nicodemus penetrated into Southern and primary Asia, whereas either Muslims and Jews wrote and propagated gospels in their personal. In Europe, in the meantime, it used to be now not until eventually the Reformation and Counter-Reformation that the misplaced Gospels have been successfully pushed from church buildings. yet nonetheless, many survived, and a few proceed to form Christian perform and trust in our personal day.
Offering a revelatory new point of view at the formation of the biblical canon, the character of the early Church, and the evolution of Christianity, The Many Faces of Christ restores those misplaced Gospels to their vital position in Christian heritage.
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Extra resources for The Many Faces of Christ: The Thousand-Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels
27 If we take a broad definition of the Middle Ages as meaning between, say, 500 and 1500, there were never fewer than four overarching Christian communions: Catholic, Orthodox, Monophysite/ Miaphysite, and Nestorian. For all their diversity, these churches agreed on much. Each of the four was very much an heir of the fourth-century Council of Nicea and accepted doctrines of Trinity and Incarnation, however much they squabbled over the details of these matters. In practice, though, different churches varied greatly in terms of the particular texts that they used in their liturgies and the ones they accepted as authoritative.
Ever since scholars started studying such works three centuries ago, they have used the term New Testament Apocrypha to suggest that the texts in question represent almost a parallel version of the canon, a dark shadow of the authentic work. From that perspective, they are at best also-rans, failed candidates for inclusion in the real Bible. Even if it is used in a technical or academic sense, the term “apocryphal” suggests something inferior and probably spurious, gossip rather than serious information.
Nor are we dealing with scriptures in isolation, as the ideas they carried also survived, and had their impact on the churches and the culture. In Chapter 7, we trace the role of supposedly “lost” scriptures in spawning the heretical movements that the medieval church saw as such a deadly danger. When we take such movements into account, the post-Nicene Christian experience looks just as diverse and creative, just as radical and boundary-breaking, as the world of the earliest church. Medieval Christianity was complex and polychromatic, generating many different forms of faith.
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