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Which Jesus? (Gnostic Teachings of the New Testament)

September 24, 2014

[Many traditionalist Christians, i.e., those that are ultimately a doctrinal product of Roman Emperor Constantine’s 4th century version of Christianity, imagine that gnostic Christianity is a development that did not come about until the second century. Yet, it is present in first century canonical gospels – inclusive of parallels to verses found in prototypical gnostic writings.]

Which Jesus?

The gnostic teacher of hidden mysteries to initiates only?

Mark 4:10-12New King James Version (NKJV)
10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. 11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that

‘Seeing they may see and not perceive,
And hearing they may hear and not understand;
Lest they should turn,
And their sins be forgiven them.’”

Gospel of Thomas logion 1 excerpt:

These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke…

[secret teachings to initiates only is supposedly a tell of the gnostic world view, but is found in Mark and Matthew]

The gnostic sage teaching “the kingdom within you” higher spirituality?
(Paralleled in a richer version as found in Gospel of Thomas logion 3)

Luke 17:20-21
20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’[a] For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

[the spiritual concept of the indwelling of the divine is referred to as “Immanence” and is the core theological underpinning of the Gospel of Thomas]

Jesus, the dispenser of gnostic egalitarianism and the ultimate unity of teacher and disciple:

Luke 6:40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

[the implication that if we emulate Yeshua as the teacher then we will become as he]

A Jesus speaking from the assumption of the gnostic (and Essene, and Platonic) belief in reincarnation, and thus the preexistence of the soul apart from the origin of the physical body (i.e., the soul of Elijah incarnating as John the Baptist):

Matthew 11:10–15
I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is. Since John the Baptist came, up to this present time, the Kingdom of Heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm. Because it was toward John that all of the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading, and he, if you will believe me, is the Elijah who was to return. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen!

[“taking it by storm” refers to the various early first century zealots – several well known to the historical record – that attempted to force the fulfillment of messianic prophecy by inciting and engaging in acts of violence]

Or the thoroughly New Age Jesus that is teaching an exegesis of scripture to his traditionalist/orthodox opponents where we are all stemming from divine nature (and hence the basis of his own divine nature – and thus the implication of his claim regarding himself which his opponents were about to stone him for)?

John 10:30-34 (where Jesus quotes verse 6 from Psalm 82)
30 I and My Father are one.”
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”
33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’?

As is seen, core gnostic teachings attributed to Yeshua are found in first century writings – including that which became official New Testament canon centuries later on. Indeed, the teaching of Luke 17:20-21, as a parallel, and an obviously commonly sourced verse to Gospel of Thomas logion 3, is reasonable to say is the linchpin teaching of the Gospel of Thomas. In the Gospel of Thomas, “Kingdom”, “Light”, and “The All” are developed through various teachings as ultimately to be an equivalency. The Gospel of Thomas could fairly be referred to as the Gospel of Immanence. Yet as we have seen, Immanence is found in the New Testament canon as well.

Further like comparisons:

The author of the Gospel of John employs the device of using a teaching attributed directly to Jesus per John 10:30-34, thus providing the key by which to interpret the most famous Christology of chapter 1 of that gospel. Hence the author provided an internal explanation of the most important and highest concept that is being conveyed by that gospel.

Gospel of Thomas logia 77 and 83 are conceptual parallels to Gospel of John chapter 1; and in similar vein, logion 50 and 83 in a sense expound the implications of logion 77.

Related links:

Dating the Gospel of Thomas
(Evidences pointing to a first century authorship.)

The Gospel of Thomas
With Parallels and Commonalties from the New Testament Gospels

“Which Jesus?” arose from a response given in a debate when the assertion was posed by an opponent:

“Gnosticism is untenable if you believe Jesus.”

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