Office Hours: Simon Gathercole On Gnosticsm, Canon, and Competing Gospels

Office Hours 2016 full sizeIf I say to you the word “gospel” or “the gospels” you probably think of the canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There are scholars, however, who do not accept the canonical gospels as “the gospels.” Rather, since the 1930s an influential group of scholars has argued that there were competing gospels that were equally authentic or even more authentic than the gospels that became received as canonical. You might have heard of the so-called Gospel of Judas. Newly discovered and released to public in April 2006, it was touted by the press as a competitor to the canonical gospels. It is the stuff of Dan Brown novels. The history of the text is remarkable to say the least. It tells story of Judas as Jesus’ specially chosen disciple, the recipient of special revelation superior to anything received by the disciples. The opening line tells the whole story: “The secret message of the revelation which Jesus spoke to Judas Iscariot in the week leading up to the third day before they celebrated passover.” Dr Simon Gathercole was on campus this fall to discuss these and other issues. He is Reader in New Testament Studies in the faculty of divinity, Cambridge University. He earned his BA in classics and theology and did his PhD research in Durham with James Dunn. Before joining the divinity faculty in Cambridge he taught in the University of Aberdeen. He is a scholar of the New Testament who explores the intersection between the Judaism and Christianity, who writes on Christology and the atonement. His most recent book is Defending Substitution: An Essay on Atonement in Paul (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015). He has also published The Gospel of Thomas: Introduction and Commentary (Leiden: Brill, 2014), and The Gospel of Judas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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One comment

  1. Hey Scott,

    What do you know about Dr. Marvin C. Meyer? He apparently became one of the world’s foremost experts on this stuff. I went to and graduated from Grand Rapids Central Christian High School (CRC) with him in 1966 and recently discovered he had made a name for himself in this area.

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