Look at the source Oliver Thomas cites to base his conclusions on.
This guy, Harvey Cox, comes out and states that the Gospels are forgeries and THAT is how we know that Apostolic succession did not exist.
A: Well, I think the evidence is now in that the whole idea of apostolic authority, apostolic succession, came in much later, let’s say in the 200s and 300s, when Christianity was growing and people were looking around for some way to assert, especially the early bishops, their own authority, and you can see this emerging. The bishops would say, “Well, I go back to Matthew” or “I go back to Peter,” and they would even construct or write gospels and statements that were really—we would call them forgeries. They didn’t have that term in those days. And the interesting thing now is we’re beginning to find these things. You know, that whole stash of documents in Nag Hammadi, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Peter, and all those things, which are late. They’re not early. They’re not the apostles doing that. But it was an invention. It was an invention to secure the authority of the church leaders who needed to have some kind of historical backing. I think it means a rather serious rethinking of the basis on which churches that claim the apostolic authority continue to assert their authority. Now, whether they are going to do that or not is another whole question. But when you find out that the historical basis for this is a little shaky, does that affect the way you exercise authority today? I think it should.
Cox reaches this faulty conclusion on the dating of the Gnostic “gospels” of “Judas”, “Mary”, and “Peter”, the Nag Hammadi documents, etc. This is like going to your library, finding a copy of “The Odyssey” copy written in 1957 and saying, there was nothing before it… and therefore all Greek writings are modern contrivances.
Let’s sum up this trail of “facts”:
-Apostolic succession is false because the gospels are “forgeries”.
-The gospels are forgeries because actual forged documents claiming to be “gospels” were found with “copy write dates” only going back to the 200’s.
From beginning to end, this is a sham of an example of “research”. Why anyone would subscribe to a paper that asserts this shabby research as “fact” is the real question. I am very disappointed in PBS as well.
When I encounter assertions like Thomas’, my first thought is: did he even read the New Testament? In the case of this “editorial”, my concluding thought is did Mr. Thomas even read his own references, or did he manage to find just the “Cliff Notes” version?
It’s sad when people get away with this kind of cherry-picking. Thomas only asserts the “problem” with Apostolic succession, he doesn’t follow through with the coupled “fact” that the New Testament itself is a complete “forgery” designed by Bishops to control their flocks.
My question for Mr. Thomas is:
Which is it;
-is Apostolic succession and the Bible itself a complete contrivance;
-or maybe, just maybe, there is something behind the whole idea of Hierarchy and Authority (which is fully supported in the Old Testament as well)
and maybe, just maybe 2000 years of a system that has overcome every kind of problem thrown its way has some actual substance behind it?
I know what my conclusion is.