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Apocryphal and Gnostic Gospels Further Evaluated

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Lesson

Now that we have seen some of the criteria that historians use to judge the reliability of an ancient document, we will use those same criteria on the apocryphal and gnostic gospels. Blomberg uses the twelve criteria of historical reliability.

Outline

I. TEXTUAL CRITICISM

Few number of manuscripts, with contradictions

II. AUTHORSHIP

Unknown

III. DATING

Earliest possible dating is late second century, up to fifth and sixth

IV. IDEOLOGICAL BIAS

Bias is possible since much of the information was given in secret

V. STATE OF THE ORAL TRADITION

Oral tradition of Jesus was fading by the second half of the second century

VI. LITERARY DEPENDENCE

More probably that Thomas relied on the canonical Gospels and not the reverse

VII. LITERARY GENRE

There are no documents that cover the span of Jesus’ life as do the canonical gospels, despite Dan Brown

VIII. HARD SAYINGS

Anti-Semitic and misogynistic attitudes don’t match

IX. KEY MISSING TOPICS

Jesus’ humanity

X. NON-CHRISTIAN TESTIMONY

Only one Quran text supports an apocryphal statement

XI. ARCHAEOLOGY

No supporting evidence because the apocryphal gospels don’t mention historical places or people

XII. OTHER EARLY CHRISTIAN TESTIMONY

Rejected by the church