Against the Jesus Seminar and the Gnostics


#1

Does anyone know of some serious scholarship efforts made against the more radical claims of the Jesus Seminar? I’m especially interested in any Roman Catholic or Orthodox efforts. I checked to see if any Jesuits have written against the Jesus Seminar’s finidings (believing that the Jesuits are well-educated and are known for defending the faith in the past.) However, I found nothing.

So, if anyone knows of any good scholarly books or articles, that would be great.

A second concern I have is with the increase of Gnostic scholarship since the 1940’s. Many scholars like Elaine Pagels defend the Gnostics. Pagels, among other assertions, suggests that the Gospel of John was influenced by Gnostic thought. Personally I find this scholarship very dangerous because, if people begin believing it, they will no longer believe that the Roman Catholic Church has any real authority. The Gnostic gospels often portray Peter in a lesser role and elevate other apostles to a prime position. Could someone please reference me to some good works which demonstrate the Gnostic gospels as historically innacurate and as representative of a false Christianity? I know that Iraneaus among others wrote against the Gnostics; but I need some scholarship which looks at the Gnostics v. the Church from a modern perspective, and shows the shortcomings of those who support the notion that the Gnostics were more in the tradition of Jesus.

Any references on this second issue is most welcome.

Thanks!


#2

Well, for one thing, the Gnostic writings don’t seem to have any background in Judaism at all, or very much knowledge of it for that matter.
Second, the Gnostic writings have no background in history at all, that is, they don’t name people, places, or things in an historical setting. No one really knows when the Gospel of Thomas was written because it could have been written at any place or time (which probably aids in our determining its late dating, due to its lack of historical details.)
This brings us to our next point: That the Gnostic writings are goofy and just a bunch of nonsense. Its a Joke.
People like Elaine Pagels do not listen to their criticism. They ignored it.
Off the top of my head, here is a small snack from PhilVaz’s website:
bringyou.to/apologetics/a14.htm
There you go. Who wants suma debo?


#3

For refutation of the Jesus Seminar and their ilk, I’d recommend Luke Timothy Johnson’s “The Real Jesus.”

For a refutation of the Gnostics, several of the good books that refute the *Da Vinci Code * spend a lot of time doing just that. Check out Carl Olsen’s page on this book.

carl-olson.com/abouttdvc.html

Here are also some good articles on the Gnostics:

iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0040a.html

iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0088a.html


#4

Yes, thank you for your responses. I know that many Gnostic works fail to provide a chronological framework. I honestly never considered, however, how Gnostics were fairly ignorant in their writings of Jewish thought. I’ll also check out that book which deals with groups such as the Jesus Seminar. Again, thanks for your help!


#5

I actually enjoyed Pagels’s The Gnostic Gospels. I thought it was a very fair overview of the early Church’s fight against Gnosticism.

There are two additional books I reccomend, as far as refuting the Jesus Seminary goes. First, Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Real Jesus. Second, Philip Jenkins’s Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way.

You can go here to read my Amazon.Com review for all three of these books.


#6

Two books worth reading for the fascination of their razor-sharp logic :

By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition, by Mark Shea:

Shea, searching for arguments by which to demythologize the Jesus Seminar and its faulty scholarship, found them in the Catholic view of Scripture and Tradition.

The Cruelty of Heresy: An Affirmation of Christian Orthodoxy, by C. FitzSimons Allison:

Allison, an Anglican scholar, looks at both Gnostic and legalistic heresies in their various forms from early times to the present, focussing on the practical damage they do to society and the lives of those who, consciously or not, go along with their basic assumptions. vienna


#7

You forgot to put quotes around the words “scholarship” and “scholar.” Pagels, Brown and others are misanthropic hacks who could not expound their way out of a wet paper sack. The violence they would evince on our culture just to make names for themselves in their new, shortened version of history is reprehensible.

Even if you take their claims that all history is suspect because the evil Catholic Church changed recorded history to suit its own interests as being true (which they are not), it still does not justify their self-serving salad bar approach to hand-picking certain historical sources and ignoring others. “History is revisionist, so I’m going to be revisionist right back!” That is nuts.

The best way to refute the validity of the Gnostic Gospels is to read them yourselves. They are attrociously un-Christian and patently un-Jewish. All conspiracy theories aside, you can find them available in bookstores and entire books for free online at Catholic sources like newadvent.org in their Catholic Encycopedia. Also, do not be afraid to look at other non-Catholic sources to refute this as well. Even secular news reports like on NPR have a thing or two to say about how ridiculous these books are on their face and how this sensationalist pseudo-scholarship is A) nothing new and B) useless banter.

You might also want to read the books by both Catholics and Protestants against the Da Vinci Code (Brown’s book). I read De-Coding Da Vinci by Amy Welborn. It tears apart Brown and Pagel’s feeble attempts to challenge traditional beliefs.

You might also want to read Anthony Rizzi’s The Science Before Science. Not because it has anything to do with these topics directly, but because it shows how the natural sciences developed from Aristotle to St. Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas. Catholic beliefs in a created, all-good, and intellectually ordered universe are the foundation to the natural sciences.

This is an extremely complex issue but I think the historical ramifications are profound because they reveal Gnosticism to be elitist and anti-progressive anti-intellectualism. If it had won at that point in history, not only would there have been no natural sciences, but there would also have been no universities or hospitals and the world would have been much darker than we can presently imagine.

I also wrote a parody of the Dan Brown FAQ page that takes his half-baked concepts and carries them to their logical and absurd conclusion. I swear it is funny, but I do not know anyone who has read his inane and inadequate FAQ page – so they see it less as satire and more as venomous ranting on my part. Oh well!

Good luck! In my opinion, there are far too few people addressing this problem!


#8

[quote=DominvsVobiscvm]There are two additional books I reccomend, as far as refuting the Jesus Seminary goes. First, Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Real Jesus. Second, Philip Jenkins’s Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way.
[/quote]

If you going to spend your time reading these “content free” polemic responses, please be sure to also read *The Jesus Seminar and its Critics *by Robert Miller to at least get a little balance in your research.

And to borrow a quote from another poster:

You forgot to put quotes around the words “scholarship” and “scholar.” Luke Timothy Johnson, Philip Jenkins, and others are misanthropic hacks who could not expound their way out of a wet paper sack. The violence they would evince on our culture just to make names for themselves in their new, shortened version of history is reprehensible.

Pat


#9

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