Thursday, September 26, 2002

Gospel of St. Thomas the Real Jesus?
I just read a review of a new book by John Dart and Ray Reigert called The Gospel of St. Thomas: Unearthing the Lost Words of Jesus (Berkeley: Seastone, 2000). The Introduction of the book is by the Jesus Seminar guy, John Dominic Crossan. One thing the reviewer points out dispassionately is that the editors believe that the Gospel of St. Thomas gives better access to the Real Jesus (a Gnostic) than the canonical Gospels. There are many people out there who agree, some of whom I know to be in very influential positions in the Church. For instance, I know a youth minister in a Catholic parish who prefers the gnostic Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

My main comment is that to believe that another gospel gives us a better Jesus is not Christian The Christian belief is that the New Testament gives us the most complete, accurate picture of who Jesus was and what he did than any other possible source, whether it be another gospel, the findings of historica-critical research, or some visionaries writings. Whatever the Bible says of Jesus squares with the historical reality of Jesus. Nor am I claiming a photojournalistic realism for the NT. No, many of the events and words of Jesus are elaborated upon, rearranged, interpreted, etc. The point is, though, that the reworking of the raw material itself by the evangelists enhances the fundamental accuracy of the Gospels.

Luigi Giussani makes this point in At the Origin of the Christian Claim. Some people, for instance, claim that the Gospels are distorted because they were written by people who knew Jesus and therefore were biased. Giussani says just the opposite is true. What they say of Jesus, especially of his character, is more likely to be true because they knew Him. That is why, for instance, Plato's portrayal of Socrates, esp. in the Apology, the Crito and Phido, is more accurate than Aristophanes' Socrates in The Clouds.

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