||Nov 30, 2009
For the first time the Gnostic Gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Philip and Judas join the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in this masterfully illustrated edition.
Jesus Christ In His Own Words
In AD 180 Bishop Irenaeus of Gaul (now Lyons, France) faced the challenge of selecting four gospels out of the hundreds that circulated throughout Europe, Greece, Egypt, and Asia Minor. At a time when the earth was considered flat, and therefore had four corners, he chose four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Bishop Irenaeus wrote, “There are four winds, four directions on the compass, four elements, and four pillars of the church, therefore there must be four gospels” He mentions many of the discarded gospels by name, in particular those of Thomas, Philip, Judas, and Mary Magdalene. By his very account we know that they existed.
In AD 318 Rome ceased its persecution of the followers of Jesus, called the Christ. Seven years later the Roman Emperor Constantine held council in Nicea (present day Iznik, Turkey) to unite the many Christian sects in Europe and establish a uniform doctrine under the Roman Empire.
The primary objective of the council was to determine the spiritual versus the terrestrial essence of the Israelite they called Jesus and his relation to the Creator/Father.
Any connection of Jesus to the feminine was set only in terms of salvation, since the feminine was associated with the fallen world of procreation and original sin. (In AD 591 Pope Gregory the Great drew the moral conclusion that Mary Magdalene was not an apostle and teacher who was close to Jesus but a repentant prostitute. In 1969 the Second Vatican Council apologetically removed this label, which had debased her memory for close to 1,500 years.)
The Council of Nicea placed Jesus as a uniquely divine incarnation with the Church of Rome as his representative. Bishops and priests became Christ on earth, omnipotent intermediaries between humankind and Father God.
Central to the goal of establishing a unified church was the extermination of the many Gnostic sects whose precept were arrived at through intuition and the knowledge of self through transcendence. Such an intangible could not be harnessed by an institutional oligarchy. The danger of Gnosticism was that “inner knowing” negated the need for a conduit, i.e., an authoritarian church. Furthermore, some Gnostic Gospels portrayed Mary Magdalene’s position in the life of Jesus as that of intimate consort. As Gnosticism did not possess an effective system of organization, for it is a solitary path, it was no match for the military forces of Rome. Gnosticism was annihilated.
In 1945 twelve leather-bound papyrus codices containing fifty-two Gnostic treatises were found in Nag Hammadi, Northern Egypt; a discovery that altered established precepts of Christian doctrine for all time. Why were these manuscripts, along with that of the Gospel of Judas, delayed in reaching the public for so many years?
Unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered the same year, the Nag Hammadi codices were ensnared in greed and political battles: antiquities dealers trying to get rich, political roadblocks, and the competitive atmosphere of academia. The Jung Foundation in Zürich, Switzerland bought twelve codices in 1952 and stored them in a safe-deposit box. In 1961 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) intervened, setting up a committee to arrange publication. The Nag Hammadi documents finally came into the public domain in the 1970’s, inspiring Dr. Elaine Pagels, Princeton historian of religion, to write the 1979 bestseller, The Gnostic Gospels.
The Gospel of Judas, discovered in 1978, was plagued by the same dynamics that hindered the Nag Hammadi codices: traded on the antiquities market for decades, stashed in a safe deposit box in New York for sixteen years, and eventually rescued by art scholars at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Selected quotes from the Gnostic Gospels of Thomas, Philip, Mary Magdalene, and Judas are presented here for the first time in union with the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Any words other than those of Jesus are solely for the purpose of clarification of context.
The same verse may be found quoted in more than one chapter. For example, references to love will be found both in the chapter “Relationship to Others” and in the chapter “Love.” Quotes relative to enlightenment will be found in the chapter “Relationship to Self” and “Awakened Perception.” References to truth will be found in the chapter “Anxiety” and the chapter “The Spirit of Truth,” etc.
Another reason the quotes may seem repetitive is that Mark, Matthew, and Luke, often intersecting one another; are what is referred to as the “Synoptic Gospels,” the term coming from the Greek ‘syn,’ meaning “together,” and ‘optic,’ meaning “seen.” Scholars agree that the Gospel of Mark was written first, AD 65-80, followed by the Gospel of Matthew AD 80-100, then Gospel of Luke AD 80-130.
The Gospel of John, AD 90-120, is considered he most unique of the four and is not included as a Synoptic Gospel, although John echoes the style of Mark, and his Passion narrative resembles Luke’s.
It is well known that the gospels, now preserved in historical archives, are copies of copies of copies. In the first century of the Jesus movement the tradition was oral; Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John did not write the gospels whose names they bear. Although carbon-14 dated from the second to the fourth centuries, the Nag Hammadi Papyrus and the Gospels of Judas and Mary Magdalene, are also considered to be copies of copies of copies, originating before the time of Irenaeus.
What is remarkable is that these Coptic scripts, unearthed some 1,800 years after they were banned and buried, corroborate the Canonical Gospels; a testimony to the veracity of the teachings and the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
In AD 180 there was a 90% illiteracy rate. In 2010 that number stands on its head with close to a 99% literacy in North & South America, Europe and the Middle East Basin.
We can now read with an open mind.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under wings, and you would not!
Jesus speaks to the Pharisees, Luke 13:34
My teaching is not mine but of the Father who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do the will of the Father, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but he who seeks the glory of the Father is true. In him there is no falsehood.
Jesus speaks to the Jews in the temple of awareness of the voice of truth, John 7:16-18
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth [will] destroy you.
Watch therefore for you do not know when the owner of the house will come, in the evening or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.
I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Often he did not appear to his disciples as himself, but he was found among them as a child.
I tell you that the child is within you all! Seek the child inside; those who search diligently and earnestly shall surely find [it].
This book is a joyful reminder of the simplicity of Christ's teachings. Having Jesus' own words gathered together and neatly organized into one volume helps me stay focused on the essentials of my faith. I'm the type of person who tries very hard to understand things at their most basic level, especially when it comes to religion. This book helps me do that. It's a wonderful bedside companion. I love the illustrations, too, which are beautifully placed throughout the volume. Clearly, this book is a labor of love by the author. It is well worth the investment. Thank you!
For years I've been looking for a book with just the most important words of Christ. When I heard about this book I was very excited and purchased it right away. I decided to keep an open mind and see what the Gnostic gospels had to offer. I'd read the Gospel of Thomas before but was unfamiliar with the Gospels of Philip, Judas and Mary Magdalene.
I will say that most of this book is filled with quotes from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There are very few quotes from the Gnostic gospels and most of the ones that are included seem to mirror the teachings from the Canonical Gospels. For example:
"The kingdom is inside of you." ~ Thomas 3
"...for behold the kingdom of God is within you." ~ Luke 17:21
There are a few verses from the Gnostic gospels which may cause some people a little bit of concern. One verse is included from the Gospel of Thomas which states that Jesus is kissing Mary Magdalene on the mouth. This seems to imply that they had a more intimate relationship. From all my other reading their relationship in the Bible seems more pure.
I also questioned the following:
"He who does not reject his mother and father, because of my teaching, will not become my disciple. For my mother gave me birth, but my real Mother gave me life."
In the Bible, Jesus talks about his "Father." So who is his "real Mother?" To me at least this didn't sound right. I've always believed that Jesus only had one mother, Mary.
On the other hand, one of the verses from the Gospel of Philip was quite beautiful:
"Love never controls. It doesn't claim this is "yours" and that is "mine" but says, "All is yours!"
So there are some Gnostic verses which were new to me and I loved them.
What I did especially like about this book was the explanations under each verse because it gives the context. I also loved how the book was organized. You will find verses about your Relationship to God, Relationship to Self and Relationships to Others. You will also find verses about Dark & Light, Family, Mary Magdalene, Struggle, Anxiety, Faith, peace, Money, The Kingdom, Now, Christ's Purpose, War & Crisis, Awakened Perception, Children, Judgment, Truth in Action, Love, Hypocrisy and Falsehood, Values, Humility, Death, Leaders, Prayer and The Spirit of Truth.
Last but not least, the artwork in this book is especially beautiful. Elizabeth Wallace illustrated it herself. I think the verses in this book are important and reveal key elements of the Christian faith. You will enjoy this book but perhaps like me have a few questions that will only be answered by further study.
~The Rebecca Review
Wonderful Resource-Great Read
"Jesus Christ In His Own Words" is a wonderful compendium of Jesus' teachings on a variety of subjects from our relationship to God, to how to deal with the human emotions and finally an examination of the Spirit of Truth. The compilation of Jesus' teachings in such categories makes it easy to use this book as a resource to find Jesus' views on specific topics. It is also a good read from cover to cover as one discovers in a concise way the essence of Jesus' message. What makes the book particularly compelling is the research that Ms. Wallace has done into the Gnostic writings to bring the reader different perspectives than one usually hears. The incorporation of the Gnostic writings makes the book more inclusive and not divisive allowing the reader to garner the wisdom within the writings. What makes Jesus' message even stronger is the quality of the illustrations that accompany his quotes. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand what Jesus Christ had to say "in his own words" concerning important universal spiritual questions.
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