In the first installment of this two-part series, I outlined the stark contrasts between the gnostic Jesus and “the Word become flesh.” These respective views of Jesus are lodged within mutually exclusive world views concerning claims about God, the universe, humanity, and salvation. Do we have a clue as to what Jesus, the Man from Nazareth, actually did and said as a player in space-time history?Should such gnostic documents as the capture our attention as a reliable report of the mind of Jesus, or does the Son of Man of the biblical Gospels speak with the authentic voice?Since 1945, however, there are many primary documents. James Robinson, editor of notes that “there is the physical deterioration of the books themselves, which began no doubt before they were buried around 400 C. [then] advanced steadily while they remained buried, and unfortunately was not completely halted in the period between their discovery in 1945 and their final conservation thirty years later.” one often finds notations such as ellipses, parentheses, and brackets, indicating spotty marks in the texts.Often the translator has to venture tentative reconstructions of the writings because of textual damage.
Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4, NIV).
In the Gnostic materials Jesus seems, in many cases, more of a lecturer on metaphysics than a Jewish prophet.
In the Such philosophical abstractions were never on the lips of the disciples — the fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots — of the biblical accounts.
Jesus then discourses on the precosmic fall of “the mother” who acted in opposition to “the Father” and so produced ailing aeons.
Whatever is made of the historical “feel” of these documents, their actual status as historical records should be brought into closer scrutiny to assess their factual reliability.