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Primary Jewish and Christian Sources Online

We concluded the posts this month with a look at a few “apocryphal” Gospels. The word connotes writings that are “secret” or “hidden”, but there is no reason why these texts should be hidden from the person in the pews any longer. As I work from within a particular Christian framework, none of these writings hold any theological authority on par with the canonical Jewish and Christian Scriptures for me. However, they are invaluable historical documents that fill out the historical and social contexts and the kind of traditions, beliefs, and practices that various groups across the Judeo-Christian spectrum were engaging, often in dialogue and debate with each other and with other groups in the larger Graeco-Roman world. Christian writers in the first few centuries did not yet know what would ultimately be decided as canonical and continued to write to either learn more about Jesus (e.g. the circumstances of his heavenly pre-existence, birth, childhood, ministry, passion, or post-ascension existence) or to interpret the person and message of Jesus through a particular theological lens, only some of which were finally judged to be theologically “orthodox” (e.g., the debate between the Gospels that presented Jesus as a dying Saviour versus as a dispenser of esoteric and revelatory knowledge). If you go to the tab “Academic Resources (External),” you can look up “primary sources” and read up some of the unofficial translations of them online. Official editions of texts may be found in the nearest academic library.

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