I picked up a book from the Jerusalem University library the other day with the title,
Those of you who have read Dan Brown's “Davinci Code” will recognize Craig Evan's teasing echo of Brown's book in the opening pages of “Fabricating Jesus.” Evans writes,
- “The Gospel of Thomas” - in comparison with the New Testament Gospels – is late, not early; secondary, not authentic. Contrary to what a few scholars maintain, the “Gospel of Thomas” originated in Syria and probably no earlier than the end of the second century.”
- “The Gospel of Peter”, which describes a talking cross, is late and incredible. In fact, the fragmentary document that we have may not be the “Gospel of Peter” at all. The document that we have may date to the fourth or fifth century.
- The “secret” version of the Gospel of Mark, allegedly found in the Mar Saba Monastery, is a modern hoax. Analysis of the hand-writing betrays the tell-tale signs of forgery.
- The distinctive conclusions of the Jesus Seminar are rejected by most scholars in North America and Europe.
- There is absolutely no credible evidence that Jesus had a wife or a child.
- The evidence is compelling that the New Testament Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – are our best sources for understanding the historical Jesus, The New Testament Gospels are based on eyewitness testimony and truthfully and accurately relate the teaching, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Jesus was not a Cynic; in all probability he never encountered a Cynic.
- No killer monks (albino or otherwise) number among the membership of Opus Dei.
- All descriptions of documents, literature and archaeology in this book are accurate.”
Even if you don't understand all of what Craig Evans is writing about you can appreciate the fact that there are scholars like him who do the hard work of crashing the weak foundations of silly ideas about Jesus, like the suggestion that he married Mary Magdalene and had a child with her, or that these “other sources” give us an accurate rendition of the life of Jesus. While I appreciated my time the other day at the Israel museum Dead Sea Scrolls display I didn't find any hidden truths about Jesus. Rather, we can take such documents for what they purport to be, the documents of a particular community as it seeks to live out its communal life. In the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls this is the Qumran community that had some areas and ideas in common with the New Testament, but certainly nothing that undermines our faith or causes us to throw everything out the window.
The picture is Christ Church, where I have been worshiping on Sundays.