REL 015 The English Bible
Class Notes for Week #10, 25 March 2003
By Te-Lang Brian Wu and Robin Bose

***Papers back next meeting.

***Discussion on impending assignment.

Synoptics [] -- this web tool can be very useful in looking at the parallel accounts!

Q = German for "Quelle" as in "Spruchquelle" ("speaking, saying" + "source")
Q = material common to Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark, by definition.

Paul has little to say about the historical Jesus (words, actions, etc.)

***Discussion on gospels: WWW.GOSPELS.NET

Canonical Gospels (accepted as authoritative in classical Christianity)
Referring to Matthew, Mark, Luke; John
"Gospel Parallels" book is useful for comparing passages

Gospel of Thomas
Lost for 1500 years
1940's: Nag Hammadi (south of Cairo), Thomas and 51 other items in 13 codices written in Coptic -- the old Egyptian language in Greek characters

{ASIDE} Several phases of written Egyptian language:

Gospel of Peter
Fragmentary, mostly the crucifiction scene

Secret Gospel of Mark

A letter found copied in a modern published book. Forgery?
"Not everything is revealed to men. Some, interpretations, are to be kept secret."
Content: includes Jesus' miracle on raising a young boy from tomb.

Gospel of Mary
About Mary and Jesus

Infancy Gospel of James or Protevangelium Jacobi

{ASIDE} Early Christian History

{Another ASIDE} Jesus of Gnostic Gospels

Infancy Gospel of Thomas (becomes part of "pseudo-Matthew" later)

Gospel of John:

Unidentified Gospels: scraps of papyrus text found in trash heaps of Egypt

Lost Gospels

Traditions of Matthias (traditions, not gospel)

Ascetic, celibate, escape physical world through teachings of Jesus
Many teachings by Jesus on some mountain (a favored setting)

***Discussion on Synoptics & John (canonical gospels) with their Story of Jesus


1) Some argue John the Baptist had followers who established a movement of their own.. evidenced by disciples who ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, like John does
2) Both John the Baptist and Jesus preach that the kingdom of God is near, disciples should clean up their lives and repent; early Christian traditions have an "end-times" orientation

27 March 2003
By Te-Lang Brian Wu

***Final exam (final essay)

***Early Christianity paper (due April 27th)

***answers to some questions

What do the Gospel titles tell us?
Probably they were put on after writings were in wide circulation (conjecture)
Therefore, they provide no clear trace of the authorship, date of composition and place

Why are they called "Synoptic" Gospels?
Mark, Matthew, Luke: view Jesus' journeys and teachings very similarly ("syn" = together, "optic" = viewed)
John is very different; requires 3 years for Jesus' ministyr, is more poetic and "spiritual"

Jesus born before 4 CE (date of death of Herod the Great)
Christian calendar created by a monk in 5th century, erred in dating Jesus' birth (off by about 5 years)!
Around 180 CE, Irenaeus of Leon speaks of there being 4 canonical gospels because of the four directions--North, South, East and West.

Overview of the Canonical Depiction of Jesus

Letters between Abgar and Jesus:
Abgar seeking healing from Jesus, but Jesus refuses because the time is not right.
He will send someone to heal in his name
Authenticity of the letter quite unlikely

The Present New Testament
Our current New Testament is the fruit of the central Christian body's efforts to reject many Christian groups judged to be "heretical."
The gospels probably emerged in a gradual process, as many writings about Jesus were probably available during the early generations, which were reproduced and studied.

Belief is a theme in G.John moreso than in the synoptic gospels

***Gospel of Thomas:

//end of notes, week 10//