(More Bible Studies Available At www.marktabata.com)
It is written:
1 John 2:19-They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
The book known as the Da Vinci Code proclaims that the Godhood of Jesus Christ was the invention of a third century church council known as the Council Of Nicaea. As we have seen, the teaching of the Old and New Testaments clearly refute this idea by showing clearly that the Bible (which predated the Council of Nicaea by hundreds of years) taught that the Messiah (i.e., Jesus) is God.
However, the Da Vinci Code makes the claim that the holy writings of the Gnostics are on equal footing with the New Testament Scriptures.
Who are the Gnostics?
What are their scriptures?
Are the Gnostic scriptures superior to the Books in our Bible? Why or why not?
Let’s turn our attention to these subjects.
Near the end of the first century, there was a group of Christians who abandoned the church and the teaching of Christ and His Apostles. They were known as the Gnostics (from the Greek word, ginosko, knowledge). These Gnostics claimed to have special knowledge, superior to the revelation of the Apostles. They formed several different sects, each teaching different things.
“The basic teachings of Gnosticism that the church called heresy are: There are thirty Aeons ( gods) that exist in the Pleroma, outside time and space. 1 The goddess, Sophia, created the Demiurge, a creator angel (the god of the Old Testament) who was a tyrant ; and being unaware of the Aeons, thought he was the only God. He created man; but Sophia gave man a spirit. 2 Some may be saved if they do enough good works; but some are predestined to go to hell. 4 (works salvation) Gnostics have spirits that are emanations from Sophia. This makes them predestined to be saved. It is imposable for them to lose their salvation. It does not matter if their behavior is good or evil. The most “ perfect ” of them addict themselves to evil deeds and are in a habit of defiling the women they convert. 3 Eventually all matter will be destroyed since matter is evil and not capable of salvation. 9, 6 Gnostics will become spirits and will marry the angels. 9 Christ descended upon Jesus at His baptism and left before Jesus went before Pilate . Sophia would not allow Christ to suffer. 9 (Adoptionism) They utter mantras to effect nature. 10 (Hindu mantra and Kabalistic letter magic, Gramera, and emanations) Souls reincarnate. 32 Perfect knowledge is obtained by baptism, spiritual marriage, and last rites. 5 (Sacramentalism) Sophia sent the serpent (the angel Michael or Samael) into the Garden of Eden to free Eve and Adam. By eating from the tree they attained true Gnosis and were set free. 15 Sophia saved Noah from the flood sent by the evil Demiurge. 15 The Demiurge forced Eve into sexual intercourse many times. Eve thereby gave birth to other evil creator angels. 15 (Serpent Seed) At death, some souls enter an intermediate state to be purged of the animal nature before going into the Pleroma. 17 (Purgatory) (Ken Johnson, Ancient Church Fathers: What The Disciples Of The Apostles Taught, 165-166 (Kindle Edition))
A library of Gnostic scriptures was found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in the 1940’s. Following is a list and brief description of these works. (The following information is taken from James L. Garlow with Timothy Paul Jones and April Williams, The DaVinci Codebreaker: An Easy-To-Use Fact Checker, 142-146 (Kindle Edition); Minneapolis, Minnesota; Bethany House).
Acts Of Peter And The Twelve (A.D. 150-1250) Tale of a pearl merchant who turns out to be Jesus; not to be confused with the Christian writing Acts Of Peter from the late second century.
Allogenes (A.D. 300-350) Refers to Gnostics as members of the race of Seth (allogenes means “from another race”)
Apocalypse Of Adam (A.D. 160-300) Adam tells Seth how he and Eve became more powerful than their Creator, never explicitly meant ions any Christian themes or characters.
Apocalypse Of James 1 (AD 200-300) Supposed dialogue between Jesus and James the brother Jesus.
Apocalypse Of James 2 (AD 150-180) Supposed dialogue between Jesus and James the brother of Jesus, ending with James’ martyrdom.
Apocryphon Of James (AD 140-160) Mildly Gnostic letter, claiming to come from James the brother of Jesus.
Apocryphon Of John (AD 160-200) Presents the deity of the Old Testament and creator of the physical universe as an evil demigod.
Asclepius (Time of writing uncertain) Greek philosophical tracate.
Authoritative Teaching (AD 150-200) Gnostic tracate, urging people to avoid physical pleasures.
Book Of Thomas The Contender (AD 150-225) Supposed ‘secret words’ spoken by Jesus to Thomas and recorded by Matthias; perhaps connected to the Gospel of Matthias.
Concept Of Our Great Power (AD 300-390) Gnostic description of salvation and of the world.
Coptic Apocalypse Of Paul (AD 160-260 perhaps later) Describes Paul’s supposed ascension through several layers of Heaven.
Coptic Apocalypse Of Peter (AD 250-300) Describes Jesus as if He possessed no physical body.
Coptic Gospel Of The Egyptians (AD 200-300) Presents Jesus as the reincarnation of Seth, third son of Adam and Eve.
Dialogue Of The Savior (AD 150-200) Found only in fragments, which present a consistently negative view of sexuality and of women.
Discourse On The Eighth And Ninth (A.D. 150-200) Guide for Gnostics to experience the mystical realm.
Epistle Of Peter To Philip (AD 180-220) Supposed letter, followed by a Gnostic discourse concerning the nature of Jesus Christ.
Eugnostos The Blessed (Time Of Composition Uncertain) Presentation of Gnostic cosmology; some elements may be pre-Christian.
Exegesis On The Soul (A.D. 200-250) Short story; recounting the Gnostic myth of the soul’s fall from Heaven.
Gospel Of Philip (AD 160-300) Collection of Gnostic sayings from several previous writings, apparently reflecting the teachings of Valentines.
Gospel Of Thomas (AD 130-150) List of suppose sayings of Jesus.
Gospel Of Truth (AD 250-350) Gnostic reworking of the Creation and of the ministry of Jesus.
Hypostatis Of The Archons (A.D. 250-350) Mythological presentation of Gnostic cosmology.
Hypsiphrone (Time Of Composition Uncertain) Fragments of text describe the descent of a heavenly figure similar to Sophia.
Interpretation Of Knowledge (AD 160-200) Valentinian reinterpretation of the teachings of Jesus and Paul.
Marsanes (A.D. 200-300) Descriptions of Gnostic experience and rituals.
Melchizedek (AD 200-300) Fragments of text seem to provide a Gnostic reinterpretation of the Old Testament account of Melchizedek.
Origin Of The World (A.D. 290-330) Presentation of Gnostic theology.
Paraphrase Of Shem (Time Of Composition Uncertain) Fragments, presenting a negative view of sexuality.
Prayer Of Thanksgiving (AD 150-250) Brief prayer of gratitude for having received gnosis.
Prayer Of The Apostle Paul (A.D. 160-300) Brief prayer with similarities to Three Steles Of Seth and Gospel of Philip.
Republic (Plato) (Time Of Composition Uncertain) Gnostic adaptation of the philosopher Plato’s classic work.
Sentences Of Sextus (Time Of Composition Uncertain) List of wise sayings.
Sophia Of Jesus Christ (Time of composition uncertain, may seem from the late first or early second centuries) List of supposed questions rom the apostles, to which Jesus provides Gnostic answers; probably an adaptation of Eugnostos.
Teachings Of Silvanius (A.D. 160-220) Unlike other Nag Hammadi documents; not a Gnostic text; emphasizes spiritual growth through self-denial.
Testimony Of Truth (A.D. 180-220) Polemic against competing Gnostic groups.
Thought Of Norea (A.D. 180-240) Depicts a feminine savior, apparently the counterpart of the biblical figure Seth.
Three Steles Of Seth (A.D. 220-260) Includes many Gnostic hymns and prayers.
Thunder, Perfect Mind (Time Of Composition Uncertain) A divine female figure, ‘Thunder,’ sings hymns about herself; not clearly Gnostic, Jewish, or Christian in origin.
Treatise Of The Great Seth (Time Of Composition Uncertain) Supposedly the words of Jesus to a group of Gnostic believers; Simon of Cyrene is crucified instead of Jesus.
Treatise On The Resurrection (A.D. 180-200) Brief letter denying the physical resurrection of believers.
Trimorphic Protennoia (A.D. 160-200) Description of the descent of “the First Thought”of God into the world.
Tripartite Tracate (A.D. 200-250) Gnostic description of salvation history and cosmology.
Valentinian Exposition On Baptism, Anointing, And The Eucharist (A.D. 150-180) Gnostic reinterpretation of Christian rituals.
Zostrianos (A.D. 260-300) Description of Gnostic cosmology.
The Gnostic scriptures as a source of information of Jesus Christ and His life and teachings are inferior to the New Testament Scriptures for the following reasons.
First, the New Testament Books were written by eyewitnesses and are based upon eyewitness testimony from various sources (Luke 1:1-4; John 20:30-31; Acts 2:22; 2 Peter 1:16); the Gnostic books were written over a century after Jesus life and ministry and are a retelling of the Christian religion mixed with paganism.
Second, the New Testament Books have been confirmed in numerous ways. The miracles of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles are verified not only by the tests of authenticity of the New Testament, but also by extra-biblical accounts (Josephus, the Talmuds, the Acts Of Pontius Pilate, etc). The Gnostic books have no such evidence to favor them.
Third, the New Testament Books preexisted the Gnostics and were accepted by them as being the genuine product of the Apostles. Not only do we have explicit testimony of this from the Nag Hammadi documents and the writings of Marcion (one elf the original Gnostics), but we see clearly that the Gnostic scriptures quote and allude to the New Testament (showing not only that it predated Gnosticism, but was considered authoritative even among the Gnostics themselves).
Fourth, the Gnostic books are not rooted in history as the New Testament Scriptures are; but are instead a retelling of pagan myth and religious belief, not concerned with the context of history.
There is a fragment of a book from the second century church known as the Muratorian Fragment which describes the reasons why these Gnostic books were not accepted by the Christians. One of the primary reasons stems from the fact that these books were written long after the time of Jesus and His Apostles.
Ken Johnson documents:
“What we know about the Gnostics came mainly from the church fathers Irenaeus and Hippolytus until the discovery of a Gnostic library in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. The contents of this library confirm what the church fathers stated had been the current Gnostic belief system. There is an ancient fragment from the early church called the Muratorian Canon Fragment. It is named after the man who discovered it. It is missing the first section that refers to Matthew and Mark, and ends abruptly, but it gives a few details on which heretics and their books were rejected. We will see that these are some of the same Gnostic works found at Nag Hammadi. The English translation of the fragment is as follows: Matthew and Mark … at which nevertheless he was present and so he placed it in his narrative. Luke The third book of the gospel is that according to Luke. Luke, the well-known physician, wrote it in his own name, according to the general belief after the ascension of Christ when Paul had associated him with himself as one zealous for correctness, one who took pains to find out the facts. It is true that he had not seen the Lord in the flesh. Yet having ascertained the facts, he was able to begin his narrative with the nativity of John. John The fourth book of the gospel is that of John’s, one of the disciples. In response to the exhortation of his fellow disciples and bishops he said, “Fast with me for three days, then let us tell each other whatever shall be revealed to each one.” The same night it was revealed to Andrew, who was one of the apostles, that it was John who should relate in his own name what they collectively remembered; or that John was to relate in his own name, they all acting as correctors. And so to the faith of believers there is no discord even although different selections are given from the facts in the individual books of the Gospels. Because in all of them under the one guiding Spirit, all the things relative to His nativity, passion, resurrection, conversation with His disciples, and His twofold advent, the first in humiliation rising from contempt which took place; and the second, in the glory of kingly power which is yet to come, have been declared. What marvel it is then if John induces so consistently in his epistles these several things saying in person, “what we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears and our hands have handled, those things we have written.” For thus he professes to be not only an eyewitness, but also a hearer and a narrator of all the wonderful things of the Lord in their order. Acts Moreover the acts of all the apostles are written in one book. Luke so comprised them for the most excellent Theophilus because of the individual events that took place in his presence, as he clearly shows by omitting the passion of Peter, as well as the departure of Paul, when Paul went from the city of Rome to Spain. Now, the epistles of Paul, what they are and for what reason they were sent, they themselves make clear to him who will understand. Paul First of all he wrote at length to the Corinthians to prohibit the system of heresy, then to the Galatians against circumcision. And to the Romans on the order of Scriptures intimating also that Christ is the chief matter in them. Each of which is necessary for us to discuss seeing that the blessed apostle Paul himself, following the example of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name, in the following order: Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, Thessalonians, and Romans. But he writes twice for the sake of correction to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians. Forgeries That there is one church defused throughout the whole earth is shown, by this seven-fold writing and John also in the Apocalypse. Even though he writes to the seven churches, he speaks to all. But he wrote out of affection and love, one to Philemon, one to Titus, two to Timothy and these are held sacred in the honorable esteem of the church universal, in the regulation of Ecclesiastical discipline. There are adduced one to the Laodiceans, another to the Alexandrians, forged in the name of Paul against the heresy of Marcion. And many others which can’t be received into the church universal, for it is not fitting that gall be mixed with honey. General Epistles Further an epistle of Jude, and two bearing the name of John, are counted among the general epistles. And Wisdom written by the friends of Solomon in his honor. We receive the Apocalypses of John and Peter only. Some of us do not wish the Apocalypse of Peter to be read in church. Non-Inspired But Hermas wrote “the Shepherd” in the city of Rome most recently in our times, when his brother bishop Pious was occupying the chair in the church at Rome. And so indeed it ought to be read, but that it be made public to the people in the church and placed among the prophets whose number is complete or among the apostles, is not possible to the end of time. Gnostic Cults We reject everything written by Arsenus, Valentinus, or Miltiadees. We also reject those also who wrote the “new book of Psalms”, Marcion, together with Basilides, and the Asian Cataphrigians… The ancient church made it clear there were only four Gospels. Gospels other than Matthew Mark, Luke and John were fake works produced by cults. “The Apostles did not pass down any hidden wisdom, just the Scriptures.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.3 “The doctrine of the apostles has been guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, as a very complete system of doctrine. Neither receive addition to, nor suffer curtailment from, its truths. Read the Word of God without falsification, lawfully and diligently explaining the Old Testament in harmony with the rest of the Scriptures.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.33 “There never was any secret doctrine handed down by the apostles, just the Scriptures. Only the heretics say there is a secret doctrine from the apostles which you must know to correctly understand the Scripture.” Clement of Alexandria, Stromata Book 2.4 “The apostles did not keep any secret doctrine, but taught it all openly. Only heretics teach a secret gospel or letter or teaching.” Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics 1.25 “The apostles did not give special information to favorite friends.” Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics 1.26 Here is a list of the books found at Nag Hammadi. The finding of these books proves that the church fathers were right all along.” (Ken Johnson, Demonic Gospels: The Truth About The Gnostic Gospels, 278-352 (Kindle Edition); www.Biblefacts.org)
Timothy Paul Jones reminds us:
“It is true that the Nag Hammadi documents do not “match up with the gospels in the Bible.” The documents found at Nag Hammadi are not, however, “the earliest Christian records.” The documents in the New Testament were written between A.D. 40 and 100. The oldest document at Nag Hammadi is probably the Gospel of Thomas, and the surviving form of this text dates from the early to mid-second century at the earliest. Most of the texts at Nag Hammadi were composed between the late second and early fifth centuries A.D.” (Timothy Paul Jones, Conspiracies and The Cross, 751-755 (Kindle Edition); Lake Mary, FL; FrontLine)
When the Gnostic scriptures were first written, the New Testament Scriptures had been around for decades and were well-known by the Christians. This was one of the reasons why they were able to see through the Gnostic teachings so easily.
It is also worth noting here that the earliest Gnostics (like Marcion) argued their religious beliefs from edited versions of the New Testament instead of from Gnostic books. The reason why he did this is simple: the Gnostic books had not yet been written down when Marcion lived!
“Secondly, even though Marcion was a heretic whose views were largely compatible with Gnostic teaching, which was gaining a foothold at this time, he only included parts of our New Testament in his list. To be sure, he edited these books heavily to suit his own purposes, but why didn’t he include such works as the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Mary or the Acts of Peter?…”Marcion was certainly exposed to Gnostic ideas, so why didn’t he include any Gnostic writings in his list? The most likely inference is that they did not yet exist. And even if some of them did exist, they would not have been regarded because of their obviously recent vintage…”Marcion could easily have edited any Gnostic work for his own purposes, just as he did the New Testament books. Indeed, his job would have been considerably easier, since he would not have had to cut out nearly as much material!…”The fact that he used only New Testament books for his truncated canon, and mutilated those copies, suggests that even a radical heretic like Marcion knew that these books were already highly regarded.” (Ed Komozewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss The Real Jesus And Mislead Popular Culture, 126-127 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Kregel Publications)
The lies of the Da Vinci Code continue to mount; yet the truth of God shines brighter and brighter!
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.
Leave a Reply