Saturday, March 30, 2013

A NEW New Testament (Saturday Fun--Theology Version)

This painting represents the Four Gospel authors,
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, not the members
of the more recent panel of scholars.
One of the guys in my Men's Leadership Class forwarded this link to a breaking news story that we have, at last, been given a New New Testament.  It seems that a group of 19 "scholars" representing a spectrum of more liberal Christian persuasions and including rabbis and an expert in eastern religions and yoga  have decided that important writings were left out of the canon and need to be added.
These scholars believe that adding The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, The Acts of Paul and Thecia, and bits and pieces of other writings from the second century give us a more "nurturing and inspiring" spirituality, according to Hal Taussig, the committee's chairperson.  Interestingly, Taussig was also a part of the "Jesus Seminar," whose mission was to eliminate from the four canonical gospels material that was not truly from Jesus--which turned out (in their view) to be most of what Jesus is recorded to have said.

Taussig says that these added books will also give us a fuller context of the life of Jesus, and should be used to offset culturally inappropriate teachings in the accepted New Testament, such as wives submitting to husbands and slaves to masters.

In response, Timothy Paul Jones, from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that using these books to gain context "would be like studying 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer' to understand the context of the 13th Amendment."  Personally, I'm  not sure that Jones isn't being unfair to that fine piece of literature.

To keep any of you from having a less "nurturing and inspiring" spirituality, I give you the following quote from the Gospel of Thomas, that for some reason is not featured in this article.
Gospel of Thomas, Saying 114. Simon Peter says to them: "Let Mary go out from our midst, for women are not worthy of life!" Jesus says: "See, I will draw her so as to make her male so that she also may become a living spirit like you males. For every woman who has become male will enter the Kingdom of heaven."
 I wonder why this isn't in the New Testament, don't you?  All you women reading this, don't worry.  According to the NEW New Testament, some day Jesus will turn you all into men so you can be saved.

Some might say these people need to get a life.  More accurately, they need life.  Eternal life.  Gospel life.  Life that depends on a real life, crucified, risen, ascended, returning Savior.  Life that is revealed through the 66 books of the Bible, just as they have been given and preserved.  Life that finds its guidance and authority in the Scriptures, which are all given by God's breath, and are profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that God's followers can all be made complete and equipped for every good work (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in  your old New Testament to read the direct quote).