Monday, 14 November 2011

What will happen to God's people after death? Wright and Evans on Paul, the Fathers and the Gnostic Gospels

Our library here in Nijmegen just received its copy of Craig A. Evans and NT Wright's book: Jesus, the Final Days. What Really Happened, published by Westminster John Knox Press.

It is definitely written for lay people (thus, no complicated theological language) and is therefore the kind of book that anyone will be able to read with ease.

As I had a quick look at the different chapters, my eye caught the section dealing with the differences between the canonical portrials of Jesus' resurrection, and what we find in the so-called Gnostic Gospels. This bit is quite interesting:

"A notable exception to ... [the] remarkably consistent picture of early Christian belief about resurrection appears in the writings that we call Gnostic (e.g., the Gospel of Thomas). These writings, which have been much vaunted in some contemporary American scholarship, are sometimes hailed as very early and as giving access to the original Christian vision that was then muddled up by the later New Testament writers, not least by the four canonical evangelists. I have argued at some length for the opposite view on these writings, namely that the Gnostic writings are late, and that they derive from and indeed deviate from the canonical writings. This is actually the majority view of New Testament scholars around the world ... In the end, these writings are best seen as reflecting a later attempt to use the language of early Christianity, in this case in talking about life after death, to express a radically different worldview"(p82-83). 

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