Results From a Discovery

There is always taking place in archaeology. Sometimes the results are quick and sometimes they appear very slowly, Here is the news on one recent discovery {do we agree with their conclusions? Hard to say, we would need more information before coming to a conclusion}

DNA Discovery of Ancient Mummies Supports Biblical Narrative of Descendants of Ham, Son of Noah

According to CNN, researchers from the University of Tuebingen and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, both in Germany, found “unexpected results” when decoding the genome of ancient Egyptians.

Their work, published online in Nature Communications, concluded that preserved remains found in Abusir-el Meleq, Middle Egypt, were the closest genetic relatives of Neolithic and Bronze Age populations from the Near East, Anatolia and Eastern Mediterranean Europeans.

“We found the ancient Egyptian samples falling distinct from modern Egyptians, and closer towards Near Eastern and European samples,” the researchers noted. “In contrast, modern Egyptians are shifted towards sub-Saharan African populations.”

The research is based on 166 samples from 151 mummified individuals in Abusir el-Meleq dating back 1,300 years of Egyptian history, from about 1388 BCE to 426 CE.

Using DNA capture techniques, the researchers “successfully obtained complete human mitochondrial genomes from 90 samples and genome-wide SNP data from three male individuals passing quality control.”

Professor Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute explained that previous DNA analysis of mummies has been treated with skepticism.

“When you touch a bone, you probably leave more DNA on the bone than is inside [it],” Krause said. “Contamination is a big issue. … Only in the last five or six years has it become possible to actually study DNA from ancient humans, because we can now show whether DNA is ancient or not by [its] chemical properties.”

He added that he expects there “will be a ton of ancient Egyptian mummy genomes [mapped] in the next couple of years,” with the research just beginning.

We suggest that you click on the link and read the whole story

Travel Bans

We interrupt our project of moving files to this website to discuss these so-called travel bans. We are not going to talk about Trump’s idea as that is on a different level and for different reasons has been created. We are going to talk about the State sponsored travel bans that seem to be getting a foothold in society today.

It is obvious that both New York and California do not heed to scriptural guidance when they implemented their travel bans.  It is equally obvious that those states do not follow ‘Do unto others a you want to be treated’ (paraphrase). They would prefer that when they put into law actions other states deem to be racial, discriminatory or whatever, then they will be on the receiving end of travel bans.  New York and California both do not subscribe to ‘returning good for evil’ and so many other scriptural instructions that are meant to heal and unite not incite and divide.


We understand Trump’s travel ban and the reasoning behind it. The safety of the American people has to be considered when allowing people from another nation to visit the American nation.  That reasoning is substantial whereas the reasons behind the travel bans enacted by both New York and California do not hold such ideals. Instead, their reasoning is founded upon bullying other states into doing what both New York & California already do–call evil good and good evil. The reasoning behind the States’ travel bans are not legitimate for it denies individual States f their right to freely choose how people will behave within their borders. Both California and New York are telling those States that they must abide by the personal feelings they possess and are not allowed self-determination.

This is not right.  Nor is it being a good neighbor, which is another biblical instruction those two States ignore. They are to live peaceably with their neighbors but bullying the others tells us that neither New York nor California want to live peaceably but want to dictate to other States a course of action that the latter may not agree with.The travel bans also tell us that those two States did not pick the higher road but use the issues of homosexuality and transgenderism to intimidate other States who have taken the higher road.

To be considered progressive and inclusive does not mean that one allows evil and sinful practices to dominate the landscape.  The real definitions of those ideas means that all people and their views and rights are included in the discussion and not trampled over in the haste to appease a minute minority of people. There is nothing normal or right about homosexuality or transgender feelings and they should not be accepted by any facet of society. The idea that both New York and California get to act in a parental manner and are allowed to discipline other States for their failure to follow in the footsteps of both New York and California. Those two states are over-stepping their boundaries and interfering with the freedoms other States are supposed to enjoy. It seems that those two States want to be dictators instead of minding their own business, making sure that their rules and laws comply with biblical instructions

Then the idea that traveling to another State that has different laws or regulations you disagree with is supporting discrimination,etc., is just ridiculous. It is founded on nothing but personal bias and employs a reverse discrimination. Battling supposed discrimination by using discrimination never works. The rise of this misleading thinking is the result of the dismissal of sin and how God categorizes sin. Unbelieving humans think they know better than God and they abolish God’s standards and institute their own inferior standards. All this does is allow sin and corruption to taint, corrupt and ruin paradise and life. What those two States are trying to avoid is the exact thing they are implementing.

Travel bans do not work. ALl they do is make the State adopting them look foolish, like a bully and out of touch with reality.

The Nag Hammadi Library


As you will read, the Nag Hammadi library is a set of Gnostic books discovered in 1945 by an amateur who used it as fire wood at first. You will note that most of the significant archaeological discoveries are usually done by amateurs and not professional archaeologists. The Dead Sea Scrolls was such a discovery.

There is no biblical book found amongst this library and none of these works are ‘lost’ gospels or epistles. The books that comprise this library are the ancient equivalent to modern false teachings such as prosperity gospel works or Dianetics or even Jehovah Witness tracts and so on. There is nothing in these books that reveal anything about Jesus or Christianity.

What their existence does reveal is that the ancient world was filled with people who rejected the truth and altered it to fit what they want to believe—just like today.

Again, what follows are simply excerpts on this library and Gnosticism itself.

#1. Geisler, N. L. (1999). In Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics (pp. 520–521). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Nag Hammadi Gospels. Some radical critics of the New Testament (see BIBLE CRITICISM) claim that the Gnostic gospels are equal to those in the New Testament, and that they do not support the resurrection of Christ (see MIRACLE; RESURRECTION, EVIDENCE FOR). The Jesus Seminar places The Gospel of Thomas in their otherwise severely truncated Bible. Both of these conclusions are a serious challenge to the historic Christian Faith.

The Gnostic gospels were discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, near Cairo in 1945 and translated into English in 1977. The Gospel of Thomas (140–170) has 114 secret sayings of Jesus.

Credibility of the Gnostic Gospels. The best way to evaluate the credibility of these gospels is by comparison to the New Testament Gospels, which the same critics have grave doubts about accepting (see NEW TESTAMENT, HISTORICITY OF; NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS). Against the canonical gospels, the Gnostic gospels come up seriously short.

Late Writings. The attested dates for the canonical Gospels are no later than 60–100 (see NEW TESTAMENT, DATING OF). Gnostic gospels appeared nearly a century later. O. C. Edwards asserts “As historical reconstructions there is no way that the two can claim equal credentials” (Edwards, 27).

Historical Worth. The earliest Christians meticulously preserved Jesus’ words and deeds. The Gospel writers were close to the eyewitnesses and pursued the facts (cf. Luke 1:1–4). There is evidence that the Gospel writers were honest reporters. They also present the same overall picture of Jesus.

Beyond the New Testament, canonical lists support the existence of a New Testament canon (see Geisler and Nix, 294). Indeed, all the Gospels and Paul’s basic Epistles are represented on these lists.

Even the heretical canon of Marcion (ca. 140) accepted the Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul’s Epistles.

Support of Church Fathers. A common body of books was cited by Fathers in the second century. This includes the six books crucial to the historicity of Christ and his resurrection, the Gospels, Acts, and 1 Corinthians. Clement of Rome cited the Gospels in 95 (Corinthians, 13, 42, 46). Ignatius (ca. 110–115) quoted Luke 24:39 (Smyrnaeans 3). Polycarp (ca. 115) cites all Synoptic Gospels (Philippians 2, 7). The Didache (early second century) cites the Synoptic Gospels (1, 3, 8, 9, 15–16). The Epistle of Barnabas (ca. 135) cites Matthew 22:14. Papias (Oracles, ca. 125–140) speaks of Matthew, Mark (chronicling Peter), and John (last) who wrote Gospels. He says three times that Mark made no errors. The Fathers considered the Gospels and Paul’s Epistles to be on par with the inspired Old Testament (cf. Clement’s Corinthians [47]; Ignatius’s Ephesians [10]; To Polycarp [1, 5]; and Polycarp’s Philippians [1, 3–4, 6, 12]).

The Fathers vouched for the accuracy of canonical Gospels in early second century. This is long before gnostic gospels were written in the late second century.

Gnostic Resurrection Accounts. There is no real evidence that the so-called “Q” (Quelle, source) document posited by the critics ever existed (see Linneman; see Q DOCUMENT). It is an imaginary reconstruction, so the allegation that it has nothing about the resurrection is pointless.

The Gospel of Thomas does exist, even though it is from the late second century. Nonetheless, contrary to the critics who support this composition, it acknowledges Jesus’ resurrection. In fact, it is the living, post-death (34:25–27; 45:1–16) Christ who allegedly speaks in it. True, it does not stress the resurrection, but this is to be expected because it is primarily a “sayings” source, rather than a historical narration. Further, the Gnostic theological bias against matter would downplay bodily resurrection.

Conclusion. The evidence for the authenticity of the Gnostic gospels does not compare with that for the New Testament. The New Testament is a first-century book. The Gospel of Thomas is a mid-second-century book. The New Testament is verified by numerous lines of evidence, including other references in the New Testament, early canonical lists, thousands of citations by the early Fathers, and the established earlier dates for the Gospels.

#2. Klippenstein, R. (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Bible Background Literature. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press

Nag Hammadi Codices and Related Codices

Thirteen papyrus codices found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt contain texts that mostly appear to be associated with Gnosticism (which was considered a heresy by the church fathers). Most surviving gnostic texts belong to this collection, but a few other gnostic codices are also known; these include some of the same texts found at Nag Hammadi and some other texts.

The Corpus Hermeticum, a collection of writings associated with the deity Hermes Trismegistos, provides an example of Hellenistic syncretistic religion, which combines elements from different cultures, including Greek, Jewish, and Egyptian elements. Some texts from the Corpus Hermeticum were found at Nag Hammadi alongside the gnostic texts found there

Catalog by Relation to Broader Viewpoints

The Nag Hammadi texts may also be categorized according to the broader viewpoints they reflect. These categories are broadly based on how the early church fathers described the various sects of Gnosticism (for further details about particulars of each group, see the articles on each text, cataloged above). Any cataloging of the Nag Hammadi texts is difficult, since the viewpoints of Gnosticism are so broad, and the categorization can often only be based on internal evidence within the texts. With these caveats in mind, the categorization of Nag Hammadi texts by influence (or belief set that seems to be represented) is as follows.

Primarily Sethian Gnosticism Influenced Texts

The Nag Hammadi texts influenced by Sethian Gnosticism are as follows:

• Apocryphon of John

• Gospel of the Egyptians

• Apocalypse of Adam

• Three Steles of Seth

• Zostrianos

• Thought of Norea

• Marsanes

• Allogenes

• Hypsiphrone

• Trimorphic Protennoia

Primarily Valentinian Gnosticism Influenced Texts

The Nag Hammadi texts influenced by Valentinian Gnosticism are as follows:

• Prayer of the Apostle Paul

• Gospel of Truth

• Treatise on the Resurrection

• Tripartite Tractate

• Gospel of Philip

• First Apocalypse of James

• Interpretation of Knowledge

• Valentinian Exposition and its Five Subtractates (Demonstrates divergent views among Valentinian Gnosticism)

Other Gnostic Texts

The other gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi, that do not distinctly fit into Valentinian or Sethian, categories are as follows. This is not to suggest that these texts could not have been used by Valentinian or Sethian gnostics or do not reflect some of their viewpoints; they just do not display the distinct characteristics of either of these groups:

• Apocryphon of James (possibly a more conservative strand of gnosticism)

• Hypostasis of the Archons

• On the Origin of the World

• Exegesis on the Soul

• Book of Thomas the Contender

• Sophia of Jesus Christ

• Gnostic Apocalypse of Paul

• Second Apocalypse of James

• Authoritative Teaching

• Concept of Our Great Power

• Second Treatise of the Great Seth

• Apocalypse of Peter (also Docetist in its viewpoint)

• Letter of Peter to Philip

Texts Not Distinctly (or Traditionally) Gnostic, but Related to Gnostic Ideas

Some of the Nag Hammadi texts show ideas related to Gnosticism, but either disagree with traditional Gnosticism in places or do not demonstrably show fully formed Gnosticism. This could be because these works do not share the entire viewpoint of Gnosticism, and thus only hold to Gnosticism in part, or because in original composition they predate fully formed Gnosticism and thus show a type of forming Gnosticism. The Nag Hammadi texts that are not distinctly or traditionally gnostic, but still related to gnostic ideas are as follows:

• Gospel of Thomas

• Eugnostos the Blessed

• Dialogue of the Savior

• Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles

• Melchizedek

• Testimony of Truth

Other Texts (Philosophical, Hermetic, or Uncategorized)

The remaining Nag Hammadi texts, not classified above, are primarily philosophical or Hermetic in nature, but some defy traditional classification altogether. The texts placed into this category generally do not show explicit gnostic influence, with the exception of the philosophical work Plato’s Republic; the Coptic fragment may have been altered to reflect gnostic thought. The remaining texts not classified above are as follows:

• Thunder: Perfect Mind (Uncategorizable)

• Coptic Plato’s Republic Fragment (Philosophical)

• Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth (Primarily Hermetic perspective)

• Prayer of Thanksgiving (Primarily Hermetic perspective)

• Asclepius 21–29 (Primarily Hermetic perspective)

• Paraphrase of Shem (Uncategorizable)

• Teachings of Silvanus (Uncategorizable)

• Sentences of Sextus (Uncategorizable)

• Fragments from Codex XII (Uncategorizable)

Relationship of the Various Nag Hammadi Texts

As the various classifications of the Nag Hammadi texts shows, there is something odd about these texts being grouped together. This is especially the case when the viewpoints from various texts within one codex appear to be in disagreement (or from a different line of thought) than those within the same codex; these apparent contradictions also occur within the smaller collections of codices that Robinson specifies. Whether the Nag Hammadi texts represent simply a type of broader gnostic library (as they are sometimes called), or whether they actually represent texts used by one group of gnostics, remains a mystery. It is also a possiblity that these texts really were in separate graves (as Doresse suggests [Goodacre, “Nag Hammadi Discovery,” 315]), but even if this is the case, the disagreements between texts within the same codices must be explained. If one group were to use these texts (or even particular individual codices) not just academically, but religiously, then they would have dealt with inherit contradictions among their own writings, which may fit with what some church fathers note about Gnosticism in general: its diverse and at times contradictory due to its developing mythologies and so-called revelations (e.g., Irenaeus, Haer. 1.21).


Many essentially Gnostic notions received wide attention through the sagacious persona of the recently deceased Joseph Campbell in the television series and best-selling book, The Power of Myth. For example, in discussing the idea that “God was in Christ,” Campbell affirmed that “the basic Gnostic and Buddhist idea is that that is true of you and me as well.” Jesus is an enlightened example who “realized in himself that he and what he called the Father were one, and he lived out of that knowledge of the Christhood of his nature.” According to Campbell, anyone can likewise live out his or her Christ nature.1

Gnosticism has come to mean just about anything. Calling someone a Gnostic can make the person either blush, beam, or fume. Whether used as an epithet for heresy or spiritual snobbery, or as a compliment for spiritual knowledge and esotericism, Gnosticism remains a cornucopia of controversy.

In December 1945, while digging for soil to fertilize crops, an Arab peasant named Muhammad ‘Ali found a red earthenware jar near Nag Hammadi, a city in upper Egypt. His fear of uncorking an evil spirit or jin was shortly overcome by the hope of finding gold within. What was found has been for hundreds of scholars far more precious than gold. Inside the jar were thirteen leather-bound papyrus books (codices), dating from approximately A.D. 350. Although several of the texts were burned or thrown out, fifty-two texts were eventually recovered through many years of intrigue involving illegal sales, violence, smuggling, and academic rivalry.

Some of the texts were first published singly or in small collections, but the complete collection was not made available in a popular format in English until 1977. It was released as The Nag Hammadi Library and was reissued in revised form in 1988.

Although many of these documents had been referred to and denounced in the writings of early church theologians such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, most of the texts themselves had been thought to be extinct. Now many of them have come to light. As Elaine Pagels put it in her best-selling book, The Gnostic Gospels, “Now for the first time, we have the opportunity to find out about the earliest Christian heresy; for the first time, the heretics can speak for themselves.”8

nosticism in general and the Nag Hammadi texts in particular present a spectrum of beliefs, although a central philosophical core is roughly discernible, which Gnosticism scholar Kurt Rudolph calls “the central myth.”9 Gnosticism teaches that something is desperately wrong with the universe and then delineates the means to explain and rectify the situation.

The universe, as presently constituted, is not good, nor was it created by an all-good God. Rather, a lesser god, or demiurge (as he is sometimes called), fashioned the world in ignorance. The Gospel of Philip says that “the world came about through a mistake. For he who created it wanted to create it imperishable and immortal. He fell short of attaining his desire.”10 The origin of the demiurge or offending creator is variously explained, but the upshot is that some precosmic disruption in the chain of beings emanating from the unknowable Father-God resulted in the “fall out” of a substandard deity with less than impeccable credentials. The result was a material cosmos soaked with ignorance, pain, decay, and death — a botched job, to be sure. This deity, nevertheless, despotically demands worship and even pretentiously proclaims his supremacy as the one true God.

This creator-god is not the ultimate reality, but rather a degeneration of the unknown and unknowable fullness of Being (or pleroma). Yet, human beings — or at least some of them — are in the position potentially to transcend their imposed limitations, even if the cosmic deck is stacked against them. Locked within the material shell of the human race is the spark of this highest spiritual reality which (as one Gnostic theory held) the inept creator accidently infused into humanity at the creation — on the order of a drunken jeweler who accidently mixes gold dust into junk metal. Simply put, spirit is good and desirable; matter is evil and detestable.

By inspecting a few of the Nag Hammadi texts, we encounter Gnosticism in Christian guise: Jesus dispenses gnosis to awaken those trapped in ignorance; the body is a prison, and the spirit alone is good; and salvation comes by discovering the “kingdom of God” within the self.

One of the first Nag Hammadi texts to be extricated out of Egypt and translated into Western tongues was the Gospel of Thomas, comprised of one hundred and fourteen alleged sayings of Jesus. Although scholars do not believe it was actually written by the apostle Thomas, it has received the lion’s share of scholarly attention. The sayings of Jesus are given minimal narrative setting, are not thematically arranged, and have a cryptic, epigrammatic bite to them. Although Thomas does not articulate every aspect of a full-blown Gnostic system, some of the teachings attributed to Jesus fit the Gnostic pattern. (Other sayings closely parallel or duplicate material found in the synoptic Gospels.)

The text begins: “These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down. And he said, ‘Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death.'”11 Already we find the emphasis on secret knowledge (gnosis) as redemptive.

#4. Strange Fire: The Rise of Gnosticism in the Church by Travers and Jewel van der Merwe

It is frightening to realise that beliefs can be created merely by passively accepting information without attempting to analyse if what is preached or taught is truth! Unfortunately today much depends on the personality delivering the message. If it is a charismatic figure with a certain appeal, he/she can say anything they want and get away with it! The only criteria for truth seems to be if a book has been published and sold many copies, the author must be right.

This is why the knowledge of the Word of God is so important. It is not enough to parrot off someone else’s teaching and sound like a great name in miniature. Any man can lead you astray – no matter how nice or how spiritual he sounds. You have to stand before God yourself! The Word of God says explicitly, Study to show thyself approved, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. (1 Tim.2:15). Listening to hours and hours of tapes or watching “Christian TV” is not a substitute for honest and earnest study of the Word of God. Be like the Bereans who checked out everything they heard to see if those things were so. (Acts 17:10-11). They were commended for doing so – not told they were divisive, critics, fault-finders and “heresy hunters”.

An astonishing event was an outburst by Paul Crouch on the world’s largest Christian TV network as he denounced anyone who would speak out for sound doctrine and against the “gnostic” trends in the church today.

Gnosticism was an esoteric religious movement that flourished during the second and third century A.D. and presented a major challenge to orthodox Christianity. Most Gnostic sects professed Christianity but their beliefs sharply diverged from those of Christianity in the early Church. To its adherents, Gnosticism promised a secret knowledge of the divine realm. Sparks or seeds of the Divine Being fell from this transcendent realm into the material universe, which is wholly evil, and were imprisoned in human bodies. Re-awakened by knowledge, the divine element in humanity can return to its proper home in the transcendental spiritual realm. [Gnosticism, Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, Vol.12, p.10]

The definition of Gnosticism is “a system of religion mixed with Greek and Oriental philosophy (1st-6th century A.D.), intermediate between Christianity and paganism, which taught that knowledge, rather than faith, was the greatest good, and that through knowledge alone could salvation be attained.” [Webster’s Encyclopedia of Dictionaries; Baltimore, Maryland, Ottenheimer, 1978]. Basically what is being said here implies that man’s redemption and justification is not by faith in God according to the Scriptures, but rather in “mystical knowledge” acquired by a personal experience. This is the theme that is intrinsically intertwined in all the doctrines of the cults and occults.

The issues at stake are serious. It is not merely a “cosmetic” problem. The “roots” are not only being threatened, they are being “chopped off”. As this dreadful surgery is being carried out, the life is slowly sapped and in its place is another gospel. This is a gospel that puts man on the throne. A gospel that does not need the cross, the blood or even acknowledge the deity of Jesus Christ.


Based on: God’s Word.

Acknowledges: Deith of Jesus Christ.

Believes: Man is basically sinful, and only GOD can correct the evil in him.

Gives glory to: GOD

God: Believe in a PERSONAL GOD who is all good.

Salvation: Spiritual rebirth that takes place when an individual chooses to believe by faith the DEITY of JESUS CHRIST, recognises the SIN in his life and chooses to follow Christ and turn from his sin according to the Scriptures.

Faith based on: The Word of God.

The Answer: Jesus Christ – according to the Scriptures.

Christ: Jesus Christ, the one and only fully God and fully man.

The Bible: NOTHING should be added and NOTHING should be taken away from the Bible. It is the COMPLETE WORD OF GOD. Interpreted literally and the literal meaning received.

Commitment: To the Lord Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures.


Based on: Man’s word.

Acknowledges: Deith of man.

Believes: Man is good and getting better.

Gives glory to: Self

God: Belief in God or a great force or energy or One Mind. An impersonal God with both good and bad.

Salvation: Spiritual awakening that comes when an individual experiences “his own divinity”.

Faith based on: Experience.

The Answer: Finding the “self” or “god” within and striving with “works”.

Christ: A position of status held by all deserving members. Arrived at by “self”, “experience” and “works”.

The Bible: They pick and choose Scriptures to suit their purposes. They say the Scriptures can be “interpreted” in many different ways. Spiritualised to say whatever they want.

Commitment: To self – or God through a passive or emotional experiential form of religion.

“Mysticism is the idea that direct knowledge of God or ultimate reality is achieved through personal, subjective intuition or experience apart from, or even contrary to, historyical fact or objective divine revelation.” Arthur Johnson, a professor at West Texas State University, elaborates:

When we speak of a mystical experience we refer to an event that is completely within the person. It is totally subjective . . . Although the mystic may experience it as having been triggered by occurrences or objects outside himself (like a sunset, a piece of music, a religious ceremony, or even a sex act), the mystical experience is a totally inner event. It contains no essential aspects that exist externally to him in the physical world . . . A mystical experience is primarily an emotive event, rather than a cognitive one . . . Its predominant qualities have more to do with emotional intensity, or ‘feeling tone’ than with facts evaluated and understood rationally. Although this is true, it alone is a woefully inadequate way of describing the mystical experience. The force of the experience is often so overwhelming that the person having it finds his entire life changed by it. Mere emotions cannot effect such transformations.

Furthermore, it is from this emotional quality that another characteristic results, namely, its ‘self-authenticating’ nature. The mystic rarely questions the goodness and value of his experience. Consequently, if he describes it as giving him information, he rarely questions the truth of his newly gained “knowledge”. It is this claim that mystical experiences are “ways of knowing” truth that is vital to understanding many religious movements we see today. [Our Sufficiency in Christ, John MacArthur, Jr., Word Publishing, 1991]

The concept of Gnosticism is at the heart of Rosicrucianism, New Age thought and Manifest Sons of God teachings. By Christian orthodox definition the core of these thoughts (inner mystic knowledge) and beliefs are occultic. In varying degrees this thinking has and is infiltrating the church at an alarming rate. The Pentecostals and Charismatics are not exempt. The most common characteristic is an “elitise” mentality.

The Gnostic believes it is wrong to use only the Bible to interpret the Bible. Besides the Bible they believe there are additional inspired manuscripts and books on a par with the Bible and hearing the Voice of God apart from the Scriptures. A Rosicrucian writer neatly puts it:

In order to obtain a satisfactory comprehension of Bible teachings, it is essential to give careful consideration to its symbolic, allegorical and mystic elements. The student and interpreter must learn to consult the vast library of Legend, symbol and myth as faithfully and as accurately as he would resort to a Lexicon of Hebrew and Greek terms and radicals. These elements – symbolic, allegorical and mystic . . . are skillful devices for concealing yet half-revealing the deepest truth. [The Sons of God: A Foreshadowing of the Coming World of the Messenger of the New Age, R. Swinburne Clymer. The Philosophical Pub.Co., Quakerstown, PA, 1923]

Preaching today is filled with allegory. Symbolism has replaced substance and in the modern day “prophetic” movement it is revelation apart from the Scriptures

#5. 1979). Biblical Archaeologist, 42.

Getting the Nag Hammadi Library into English by James M. Robinson

Robinson traces the historical sequence of the Nag Hammadi codices as they passed through various international committees before they were finally translated into English and published.

During the first years after the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945 French scholarship took the lead in efforts to publish it. This was under the patronage of étienne Drioton, the French Director of the Egyptian Department of Antiquities, and his former pupil from Paris days, the Copt Togo Mina, who had become the Director of the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo. Yet in the first decade none of the texts actually were published. Indeed, in 1960 Gerard Garitte of Louvain wrote in Le Muséon:

So fifteen years after the discovery only forty-eight of the some thousand pages that the manuscripts of Chenoboskion contain have been published in the original language: twenty-seven of the so-called Gospel of Truth … , twenty of the Gospel of Thomas, one of the tractate on the origin of the world.… At this tempo, it would take three centuries for all the texts to be edited.

The second decade saw a shift in favor of German scholarship. This was due to a number of factors. Togo Mina died in 1949 and was succeeded by Pahor Labib, who held a degree from Berlin. After the Egyptian revolution of 1952 the Department of Antiquities was reorganized under local Egyptian leadership. Finally, the Suez crisis of 1956 led to a breaking of diplomatic ties with France and the closing of the French Institute in Cairo for a number of years. By 1970 34% of the library had been published in German or French, but only 21% in English. Though the tempo was improving, the fact that within the first quarter of a century since the discovery only a third had been published at all—only a fifth in English—left much to be desired. The present essay traces the steps taken through the intermediary of UNESCO leading to the availability of all the texts in the first ten volumes of The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices and a complete one-volume English translation in The Nag Hammadi Library in English, both presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in December 1977 at San Francisco.

An International Committee had been convened at the Coptic Museum in Cairo in 1956 but did not produce effective publication plans and was not reconvened after the Suez crisis. Hence UNESCO intervened to overcome the impasse. In 1961 René Maheu, General Director of UNESCO, and Saroit Okacha, Minister of Culture and National Guidance of the United Arab Republic, launched a plan to name a “committee of translation and publication of the manuscripts of Nag Hammadi.” On 28 April 1961 N. Bammate, Chief of the Section of Human Sciences at UNESCO, invited Walter Till and another specialist yet to be designated to join with the Director of the Coptic Museum, Pahor Labib, on a month-long “technical mission” to make an inventory of the library, preferably in September 1961, in view of a meeting of the committee planned for November 1961 and the launching of the project “at the beginning of 1962.” Unfortunately, Till’s deteriorating health made such a trip impossible. But this Preliminary Committee, consisting of Pahor Labib as Chairman with Martin Krause and Michel Malinine, met in Cairo 9–30 October 1961. They submitted the first part of their report on 4 November 1961. Meanwhile an International Committee, to be created by a decree of the government of the United Arab Republic, was being nominated by UNESCO. By 20 October 1961 Gerard Garitte, Antoine Guillaumont, Martin Krause, Gilles Quispel, and Torgny Säve-Söderbergh had accepted, while the acceptance of Richard A. Parker was awaited. Henri-Charles Pucch and Walter Till had been proposed as Consultants for the Committee. The first meeting, of a week’s duration, was scheduled for the end of November or December 1961. By 22 November the date was deferred to “the first months of 1962.

#6. Barry, J. D., & Krause, M. S. (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Nag Hammadi Codices. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

The Codices and Their Content

The titles of the Nag Hammadi texts are not consistent across various editions and translations, but most scholars recognize the titles used by Robinson in The Nag Hammadi Library. The list below presents the content of the 13 codices according to Robinson’s titles; it also gives each text’s numerical designation (e.g., “I,2,” indicating the second tractate of the first codex) and common abbreviation (e.g., “Ap. Jas.”). For additional study, see Craig Evans’ list of texts, translations, and commentaries on the Nag Hammadi texts (Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies, 280–84).

Codex 1

Codex 1 is also known as the Jung Codex and includes five texts, which are as follows.

The Prayer of the Apostle Paul (I,1; Pr. Paul). This short pseudonymous prayer is written on the flyleaf of Codex 1. It has gnostic language, such as references to the “archon ear” and the “Psychic God.” This work is classified as an example of Valentinian Gnosticism.

The Apocryphon of James (I,2; Ap. Jas.). A supposed “secret message” (apocryphon) given to James and Peter by Jesus 550 days after the resurrection; presented as a pseudonymous letter written by James that claims to have been originally in Hebrew. This work may have belonged to a more conservative strand of Gnosticism.

The Gospel of Truth (I,3; Gos. Truth). This text is also found in Codex 12 (XII.2). This is not a “gospel” like the narratives of the New Testament, but rather a self-identified “Gospel of Truth”—an exposition of gnostic teaching and viewpoints on Jesus. This work seems to be a gnostic sermon with Valentinian influence, which fits with church father Irenaeus’ remark that either a disciple of Valentinus or Valentinus himself wrote the work. Irenaeus’ mention of Gospel of Truth in his work against heresies indicates that he viewed it as heretical (see Haer. 3.11.9).

The Treatise on the Resurrection (I,4; Treat. Res.). This work is a discussion on the nature of the resurrection according to a gnostic viewpoint; it departs from the New Testament’s view of resurrection, and interprets resurrection in light of its own mythological, gnostic viewpoint. It claims to be teaching received from Jesus. This work is influenced by Valentinian Gnosticism, but departs from Valentinian thought at several points, showing the viewpoint of some other form of Gnosticism that is difficult to classify.

The Tripartite Tractate (I,5; Tri. Trac.). The longest of the Nag Hammadi texts, this is an exposition of gnostic theology/philosophy in three parts: the origin of all things as emanations from God; an interpretation of Genesis 1–3 based on this explanation; and an interpretation of salvation through Christ according to this way of thinking. This work is classified as an example of Valentinian Gnosticism.

For further details, see these articles: Prayer of the Apostle Paul; Apocryphon of James; Gospel of Truth; Treatise on the Resurrection; Tripartite Tractate.

Codex 2

Codex 2 is made up of seven texts, which are as follows.

The Apocryphon of John (II,1; Ap. John). This work is also found in Codex 3 (III,1), Codex 4 (IV,1), and the Berlin Codex. The Codex 2 and Codex 4 copies are known as the longer form version. Apocryphon of John describes a pseudonymous, “secret message” from the risen Christ to the Apostle John; this message is a gnostic exposition of the creation, fall, and salvation of humanity. It is particularly concerned with the question of theodicy. The Apocryphon of John is an example of Sethian Gnosticism. Premises of the Apocryphon of John were used by church father Irenaeus to oppose Gnosticism; if he knew of the work, Irenaeus viewed it as heretical (Haer. 1.29).

The Gospel of Thomas (II,2; Gos. Thom.). This is the most famous of the Nag Hammadi texts, having received thousands of pages of analysis and comparison to the canonical Gospels. Three Greek fragments of Gospel of Thomas (POxy 1, 654, and 655) were also discovered in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, prior to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Codices; only after the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Thomas were the Greek fragments identified as being from the Gospel of Thomas.

The pseudonymous Gospel of Thomas is presented as “secret sayings” of Jesus preserved by the Apostle Thomas the Twin (Didymos). The sayings could contain some authentic Jesus-material not preserved in the New Testament, but there is at times a gnostic orientation to the sayings—a cryptic flavor pointing to supposed superior wisdom and understanding as the key to Jesus’ teachings. The tractate ends with a brief narrative involving a question of Peter about Mary Magdalene that seems to elevate her status to one of the favored disciples of Jesus. The Gospel of Thomas was deemed heretical, unapproved, or false by early church fathers (Hippolytus of Rome, Haer., 5.2; Origen, Hom. Luc., 1; Eusebius, Hist. eccl., 3.25.6).

The Gospel of Philip (II,3; Gos. Phil.). Primarily a collection of sayings of Jesus, this tractate has some narrative material, although it is not presented as a coherent whole. The pseudonymous Gospel of Philip portrays Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ “companion” (which could mean a range of things, from business partner to romantic interest). The text also purports that Jesus “used to often kiss her,” but where he kissed Mary (e.g., mouth, cheek, head) is not described due to the damaged nature of the manuscript at this point; the kiss could be interpreted as a kiss of greeting. The Gospel of Philip reflects the viewpoints of Valentinian Gnosticism.

The Hypostasis of the Archons (II,4; Hyp. Arch.). Presented as a revelation from the supposed angel Eleleth, this is a gnostic version of the events of Genesis 1–6. It shows familiarity with Jewish traditions and the writings of Paul, but its interpretation on these matters is also decidedly gnostic. This work parallels viewpoints present in On the Origin of the World.

On the Origin of the World (II,5; Orig. World). This work is also found in Codex 13 (XIII,2) and contained in a fragment from the British Museum (labelled Or 4926 [1]). On the Origin of the World is a presentation of gnostic cosmogony, including the creation of humankind by “archons” and the ordering of heaven. It includes teaching on the end times, using apocalyptic language in some places. The key figure in the account is the gnostic character Pistis Sophia. On the Origin of the World represents the traditional gnostic creation myth.

The Exegesis on the Soul (II,6; Exeg. Soul). A likely gnostic treatise that claims to explain the descent of the “soul” from heaven. The soul is presented as a female character (having a “womb”) who undergoes many indignities on Earth before being purified and married to her fiancée. The text also describes what the author views as essential for the soul to ascend again to heaven.

The Book of Thomas the Contender (II,7; Thom. Cont.). This likely gnostic work is presented as a secret conversation between the Apostle Thomas and the risen Jesus shortly before the ascension. The text pseudonymously claims this conversation was recorded by “Mathaias,” but it is not clear whether this is Matthew, the Matthias of Acts 1, or another Mathaias. In the work, Thomas is identified as Jesus’ brother and twin. The work exhorts the reader to an ascetic life, warning Thomas not to be “polluted” by intercourse with women.

For further details, see these articles: Apocryphon of John; Gospel of Thomas; Gospel of Thomas, Critical Issues; Gospel of Philip; Hypostasis of the Archons; On the Origin of the World; Exegesis on the Soul; Thomas the Contender, Book of.

Codex 3

Codex 3 includes five texts, which are as follows.

The Apocryphon of John (III,1; Ap. John). This version of the pseudonymous Apocryphon of John is known as the shorter form; a copy of this shorter version is also contained in Coptic Berlin Papyrus 8502. The shorter version does not contain the longer citation from the Book of Zoroaster or the final monologue, both of which are contained in the longer form version in Nag Hammadi Codex 2 and Codex 4 copies.

The Gospel of the Egyptians (III,2; Gos. Eg.). This work is also found in Codex 4 (IV,2). This is a mysterious, almost liturgical presentation of gnostic understandings of the origin of the “elect” gnostic people. The work claims three powers came from the “aeon of the aeons”: Father, Mother, and Son. Much of the work is a presentation of the origin of Seth, son of Adam, who is seen as a savior for humankind. The author (Gongessos) makes the pseudonymous claim that the text was originally written by Seth and hidden in the high mountains. This work fits into the category of Sethian Gnosticism. (This gnostic Gospel of the Egyptians is not to be confused with a different work bearing the same name.)

Eugnostos the Blessed (III,3; Eugnostos). This philosophical work is also found in Codex 5 (V,1). Eugnostos is the name of the teacher and supposed author of this tractate, which seeks to explain various aspects of the cosmology of the hidden world. This tractate does not seem to bear Christian influence and may belong to the era when Gnosticism was emerging; Eugnostos is textually related to the tractate which follows it in Codex 3, the Sophia of Jesus Christ.

The Sophia of Jesus Christ (III,4; Soph. Jes. Chr.). This gnostic work is also found in the Berlin Codex 8502 and a small fragment (POxy 1081). Sophia may be based on Eugnostos: it seems to use its cosmology and themes. It also purports to present the risen Christ appearing in a spiritual way to enlighten select disciples. Those named are Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, Philip, and Mary, who seem to receive these secret teachings (not Peter, John, or James).

The Dialogue of the Savior (III,5; Dial. Sav.). This tractate has many lacunae, so that much of its translation involves speculation or interpolation. It purports to contain a dialogue containing secret teachings between the “Savior” (never named as Jesus) and his chosen disciples: Judas, Matthew, and Mary. The text contains some gnostic elements, but unlike traditional Gnosticism, “the Father,” not a demiurge, creates the world.

For further details, see these articles: Apocryphon of John; Gospel of the Egyptians, Gnostic; Eugnostos; Sophia of Jesus Christ; Dialogue of the Savior.

Codex 4

Codex 4 contains two texts, which are as follows.

The Apocryphon of John (IV,1; Ap. John). This longer version of the Apocryphon of John is also included in Codex 2 (see above).

The Gospel of the Egyptians (IV,2; Gos. Eg.). This work is also included in Codex 3 (see above).

For further details, see these articles: Apocryphon of John; Gospel of the Egyptians, Gnostic.

Codex 5

Codex 5 contains five texts, which are as follows.

Eugnostos the Blessed (V,1; Eugnostos). This work is also contained in Codex 3 (see above).

The Apocalypse of Paul (V,2; Apoc. Paul). One of the Nag Hammadi texts that references Paul, this gnostic work, pseudonymously bearing Paul’s name, purports to be an account of Paul’s ascension into the highest heavens, guided by a spirit child (angel) he meets on a road. Although brief, the narrative has Paul passing through various heavens, encountering the 12 apostles in the 7th heaven, and finally arriving in the 10th heaven. Church fathers Irenaeus and Hippolytus seem aware of groups that interpret Paul’s “third heaven” language from 2 Cor 12:2–4 in a gnostic fashion, and opposed this overall teaching (Irenaeus, Haer. 2.30.7; Hippolytus, Haer. 5.8). (The gnostic Apocalypse of Paul is not to be confused with a different work bearing the same name.)

The (First) Apocalypse of James (V,3; 1 Apoc. Jas.). This pseudonymous work purports to be a revelatory dialogue between the risen Jesus and his brother James, identified as James the Just. This likely gnostic text ends with James rebuking the other apostles for not understanding the “way of knowledge” and refers to James’ subsequent death. This work may fall into the category of Valentinian Gnosticism. (A copy of the [First] Apocalypse of James is also contained in Codex Tchacos.)

The (Second) Apocalypse of James (V,4; 2 Apoc. Jas.). This pseudonymous text, which in Codex 5 is also titled Apocalypse of James (the “Second” is added by modern scholarship) also purports to be a revelatory dialogue between Jesus and James the Just. But here in Second Apocalypse, James is identified as the son of Theuda rather than Joseph. The text claims that its revelation was first spoken to Mareim (described as a priest and relative of Theuda), with Mareim writing it down and then speaking it to Theuda. This text claims to reveal things that even the “archons” do not know. It ends with a supposed account of the stoning of James after he is buried up to his waist. The text displays some gnostic themes, but does not contain some later gnostic elements, such as a strict dualism.

The Apocalypse of Adam (V,5; Apoc. Adam). A gnostic interpretation of the fall, which is presented as Adam’s loss of secret knowledge. This work is pseudonymously written from the perspective of Adam, presenting his supposed saving knowledge to his son Seth and his descendants. This text does not contain explicitly Christian influence, like the Apocryphon of John or the gnostic Gospel of the Egyptians, but it still falls into the broader category of Sethian Gnosticism.

For further details, see these articles: Eugnostos; Apocalypse of Paul, Gnostic; Apocalypse of James, First; Apocalypse of James, Second; Apocalypse of Adam.

Codex 6

Codex 6 contains eight texts and one scribal note, which are as follows.

The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles (VI,1; Acts Pet. 12 Apost.). An allegory in which a pseudonymous Peter narrates an encounter he and the other disciples have with a healer named Lithargoel in the city of Habitation, where Lithargoel is offering the impoverished of the city a pearl, if they come to his city Nine Gates. The disciples then take a treacherous journey to Nine Gates; at Nine Gates, they find out Lithargoel is Jesus, who commissions them to return to Habitation and offer the people healing (using medicine). The text then offers an interpretation of this allegory, based in gnostic thought.

Thunder: Perfect Mind (VI,2; Thund.). This short, first-person address is ascribed to a female deity, who describes herself in various paradoxical statements, such as: “I am the first and the last. I am the honored one and the scorned one. I am the whore and the holy one. I am the wife and the virgin” (VI,2, 13:16–21). This is a unique tractate among the Nag Hammadi texts, and it is difficult to characterize its religious or philosophical affinity; it contains no distinctly gnostic characteristics.

Authoritative Teaching (VI,3; Auth. Teach.). As a supposed description of the origin and destiny of the “invisible soul of righteousness,” this treatise presents a dualistic understanding of the evil nature of the material world. This work does not contain gnostic mythology about the origin of the world, but its dualism between the good soul and evil material world, and other aspects, aligns it with Gnosticism.

The Concept of Our Great Power (VI,4; Great Pow.). This work is a gnostic, apocalyptic presentation of human history, claiming that human salvation is dependent upon the knowledge of the Great Power (and “everyone in whom [the Great Power’s] form will appear will be saved” [VI,4, 36:3]). It also includes additional gnostic mythology (such as the mention of aeons and the role of archons) and ends with a judgment of souls.

Plato, Republic 588a–589b (VI,5; Plato Rep.). A brief selection from the ninth book of Plato’s Republic that deviates considerably from any Greek version. It is a parable that discusses the supposed triple nature of a person: beast (base passions), lion (courage), and man (reason). In the Coptic fragment, unlike the Greek, “the wild beasts keep [the produce of the farmer, the man] from growing” (VI,5, 51:20). This lack of faith in reason and other elements may show that the textual differences from the Greek version are due to gnostic alterations.

The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth (VI,6; Disc. 8–9). This work purports to describe the process of a religious initiate and his mystagogue ascending to the eighth and ninth planetary spheres. It is presented as a dialogue between the author and a mysterious teacher. This tractate is Hermetic in its perspective, as it is related to the Corpus Hermeticum literature.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving (VI,7; Pr. Thanks.). This very brief liturgical prayer that seems to serve in the Codex as a conclusion to the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth. The prayer shows cultic practices of prayer, greeting, and sharing a meal. Like Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth, this work can also be classified as Hermetic, although it has some parallels with gnostic thought. (In addition to the Nag Hammadi copy, a Greek version of this work is embedded in Papyrus Mimaut, which is a magical text, and in a Latin version is appended to a copy of Asclepius.)

Scribal Note (VI,7a). This short note by the scribe indicates that he is the one responsible for including the prayer (VI,7) after the preceding Discourse (VI,6).

Asclepius 21–29 (VI,8; Asclepius). A selection from the Hermetic writing Asclepius, this text claims to discuss various mysteries, such as the nature of sexual intercourse (which may be a metaphor for a mystery religion experience), the difference between the pious and impious (the pious have knowledge), and men creating gods and being gods themselves. It also includes some apocalyptic woes and a discussion of what must happen to each person and the universe. It is framed as a dialogue between demigod Asclepius and the god Hermes Trismegistos.

For further details, see these articles: Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles; Thunder, Perfect Mind; Authoritative Teaching, Text; Concept of Our Great Power; Plato’s Republic, Coptic Version; Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth; Prayer of Thanksgiving, Text; Asclepius, Text.

Codex 7

Codex 7 contains five texts, which are as follows.

The Paraphrase of Shem (VII,1; Paraph. Shem). This pseudonymous text claims to record a revelation given to Shem (the son of Noah) from Derdekeas, who is depicted as a divine redeemer. From Derdekeas, Shem learns about the supposed various powers, eschatology, and salvation; in the process, portions of Genesis (including the flood and the destruction of Sodom) are reinterpreted as the power Darkness trying to destroy Shem’s descendants and the members who will learn of his knowledge. This text may show gnostic influence (or even Manichaean influence), but it is difficult to categorize, and as such, its categorization is highly debated.

The Second Treatise of the Great Seth (VII,2; Treat. Seth). Despite the title of the work, which is only included at the end, this work does not mention Seth and the work does not align with traditional Sethian Gnosticism. The work actually claims to present supposed secret teachings of Jesus to a select audience of enlightened disciples. It includes gnostic mythical references to things like archons and Yaldabaoth. (If there is a corresponding First Treatise of the Great Seth, it is never mentioned in ancient literature and no copies of it are currently extant.)

Apocalypse of Peter (VII,3; Apoc. Pet). A pseudonymous text that purports to include two visions of Peter, which are explained by Jesus. The first vision is about those who claim to accept Christianity but are supposedly really against the truth by worshiping the crucified Christ. The second vision purports that the spiritual Jesus stood beside the cross laughing while the body of Jesus died on the cross. Peter is then commissioned to tell of this to “those of another race who not of this age.” This gnostic (and docetist in viewpoint) work is arguing against orthodox Christians and likely any other non-gnostics.

The Teachings of Silvanus (VII,4; Teach. Silv.). This text includes various pseudonymous teachings by Silvanus (likely a reference to Paul’s traveling companion) concerning behavior before God and other warnings. The various viewpoints represented in the work make it difficult to categorize, as it represents a wide range and blending of beliefs and ideas.

The Three Steles of Seth (VII,5; Steles Seth). This liturgical text involves Dositheos (the supposed Samaritan founder of Gnosticism) seeing and presenting the content of three supposed ancient steles inscribed by Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve (see the Apocalypse of Adam, V,5). The three steles are hymns, each affirming Sethian gnostic beliefs about the supposed triadic “Father Geradama(s).” The text ends with a scribal note, which may refer to the Three Steles of Seth or the entire codex, claiming that the book belongs to the “fatherhood” and the “son” wrote it.

For further details, see these articles: Paraphrase of Shem; Second Treatise of the Great Seth; Apocalypse of Peter, Gnostic; Teachings of Silvanus; Three Steles of Seth.

Codex 8

Codex 8 contains two texts, which are as follows.

Zostrianos (VIII,1; Zost.). Zostrianos is one of the longer Nag Hammadi texts, but the manuscript is considerably damaged. It purports to be an account of a heavenly voyage by Zostrianos, who leaves his body for the journey. The Zostrianos of the text may be a pseudonymous representation of the Persian Zoroaster. The journey has different levels, with knowledge given in each stage. The account fits with the general beliefs of Sethian Gnosticism. Philosopher Porphyry (ca. AD 234–305) may refer to this text, along with Allogenes, as works produced by a group of people that philosopher Plontinus opposed (Vit. Plot. 16).

The Letter of Peter to Philip (VIII,2; Ep. Pet. Phil.). This text opens with a short pseudonymous letter from Peter to Philip, before turning to a narrative. The narrative portion of the text purports to recall four divine encounters of the apostles: the first with Christ, the second with a voice (presumably Christ), the third with the Holy Spirit, and the fourth with Christ. The questions and answers in the disciples’ first dialogue with Christ, as well as other lines elsewhere in the text, seem to presume gnostic mythology and theology. (A copy of the Letter of Peter to Philip is also contained in Codex Tchacos.)

For further details, see these articles: Zostrianos; Letter of Peter to Philip.

Codex 9

Codex 9 contains three texts, which are as follows.

Melchizedek (IX,1; Melch.). Very poorly preserved and missing many words, this text presents Melchizedek as an eschatological high priest and warrior angel, and may identify him with Jesus (this cannot be certain because of the damaged state of the text). This text has some gnostic tendencies, and includes a reference to Seth; it also has an anti-docetic emphasis, affirming the real humanity of Jesus. However, the text’s damaged state, combined with these various viewpoints being represented (and its possible redaction by a gnostic) makes it difficult to categorize its religious perspective; nonetheless, it certainly seems gnostic in tone.

The Thought of Norea (IX,2; Norea). This text is a brief hymn or ode to the triadic “Father of All.” It also presents the character of Norea, in parallel with Hypostasis of the Archons. In gnostic literature, Norea is the daughter of Eve and sister-wife of Seth (but Norea here could also be understood as Noah’s wife or Shem’s wife). This text of Sethian Gnosticism claims that its proclamation of the triadic “Father” is from Norea and it then makes other statements about Norea, her heavenly position, and the “elect.”

The Testimony of Truth (IX,3; Testim. Truth). This very poorly preserved text is a polemical writing containing what appears to be a homily of a gnostic teacher, followed by additional material and arguments, including an interpretation of Genesis 3. The arguments in the work appear to be both against orthodox Christians and other gnostic groups, even though the author holds many gnostic viewpoints. The opposed teachers include the gnostics Valentinus, Basillidea, and Isidore. Water baptism is particularly opposed by the work. This work is very difficult to categorize in terms of its religious perspective.

For further details, see these articles: Melchizedek, Nag Hammadi Text; Thought of Norea; Testimony of Truth.

Codex 10

Codex 10 contains one text, which are as follows.

Marsanes (X; Marsanes). This is the only surviving text from Codex 10 and it is in poor condition. It is presented as a revelatory experience of Marsanes, who supposedly moves through 13 levels of ascent, metaphorically viewed as “seals,” and ascends to a triadic “supreme Father.” This text is categorized as fitting with Sethian Gnosticism, based upon its viewpoints, even though Seth is not directly mentioned.

For further details, see this article: Marsanes.

Codex 11

Codex 11 contains four texts, one of which also has five subtractates. These works are as follows.

The Interpretation of Knowledge (XI,1; Interp. Know.). This work is a gnostic interpretations of specific passages from Matthew’s Gospel and the writings of Paul. The author seems to be addressing a controversy in a community over spiritual gifts, and includes allusions to Paul’s discussion in 1 Cor 12. The interpretation of the author is offered according to gnostic theology, such as the equation of the jealousy of the community with the evil god (demiurge) who supposedly created the world. Based on its theology, and the work that follows it in the Codex, it may specifically represent Valentinian Gnosticism.

A Valentinian Exposition (XI,2; Val. Exp.). This text begins by saying it is revealing a “mystery” and proceeds to relate the gnostic mythology about the character “Sophia,” but this work also purports that Christ descended and became united with Sophia, after her repentance (which seems to contrast with other gnostic texts). This text is categorized as a primary source for the teachings of second-century Valentinian Gnosticism, but seems to represent some opinions that diverge from other Valentinian viewpoints.

The Valentinian Exposition, also contains five subtractates that follow it in codex; when the exposition and five subtrates are combined, the work seems catechetical in form. The five subtractrates are as follows:

• On the Anointing (XI,2a, On Anoint.)

• On Baptism A (XI,2b, On Bap. A)

• On Baptism B (XI,2c, On Bap. B)

• On the Eucharist A (XI,2d, On Euch. A)

• On the Eucharist B (XI,2e, On Euch. B)

These gnostic-in-viewpoint subtractates contain fragments of texts likely used among Valentinian gnostics religiously for anointing, baptism, and the eucharist.

Allogenes (XI,3; Allogenes). This text purports to present secret revelations given to Allogenes and dictated for his “son” Messos (perhaps a reference to Messos being his disciple). The text purports to address a female angel’s visit to Allogenes, followed by Allogenes’ ascent to the supernatural realm. This text is categorized as belonging to Sethian Gnosticism. This work is related to a work with a similar name, A Book of Allogenes from Codex Tchacos. The two Allogenes’ texts are also closely related to Zostrianos from Codex VIII, and both may be mentioned by philosopher Porphyry as created by a group of people philosopher Plotinus opposed (Vit. Plot. 16).

Hypsiphrone (XI,4; Hypsiph.). This text is very fragmentary and purports to record Hypsiphrone’s journey from “the place of my virginity” down to what is likely the material world, where she meets the being Phainops, who may be creating the first person (it is difficult to know based on the fragmentary nature of the text). Although not conclusive, this work seems to share a Sethian Gnosticism perspective; it does not mention Seth but shares much in common with what is known of the mythology of Sethian Gnosticism.

For further details, see these articles: Interpretation of Knowledge; Valentinian Exposition; Allogenes, Nag Hammadi Text; Hypsiphrone.

Codex 12

Codex 12 contains three texts, which are as follows.

The Sentences of Sextus (XII,1; Sent. Sextus). This is a Coptic version of a previously known set of ethical sayings (or maxims). The church fathers seem to have disagreed about the work’s authorship and religious perspective. The work is essentially impossible to categorize religiously as it shows a wide range of viewpoints. (Although this work is also available in Greek, Latin, and other languages, the Coptic version is the earliest manuscript, although the extant Coptic version it is not complete.)

The Gospel of Truth (XII,2; Gos. Truth). This copy of Gospel of Truth is very fragmentary. This work is also included in Codex 1 (see above).

Fragments (XII,3; Frm.). These fragments (labeled as fragments 1A, 1B, 2A, and 2B) are so damaged that their translation is uncertain. It is also uncertain whether the fragments labeled “1” and those labeled “2” are from the same work or different works. (If these fragments are from two different works, then that takes the count of unique works in the Nag Hammadi Library from 46 to 47, and the overall count of texts from 52 to 53.)

Fragment 1A seems to mention ethical instruction of some sort: a description of good and evil works, and those who practice good and evil, and perhaps those that practice both. Fragment 1B mentions “god” and “my father who is … not to them a father.” Also mentioned are the words “the ignorance,” “righteousness,” “these were worthy,” and “forgive,” but any interpretation of this is highly speculative.

Fragment 2A mentions a “philosopher” and something about “they are not able to,” the “philosopher” again, and then the “world.” Fragment 2B includes the words “her,” “begot,” “him,” and “think.” Again, any interpretation is speculative, as is even the translation proposed herein.

Due to the fragmentary nature of these texts, they are generally uncategorizable in terms of religious perspective.

For further details, see these articles: Sentences of Sextus; Gospel of Truth.

Codex 13

Codex 13 is eight loose leaves bearing two texts, which are as follows.

Trimorphic Protennoia (XIII,1; Trim. Prot.). This text purports to include self-explanatory words from the “Protennoia” (“first thought”), along with narrative, describing her three descents to earth. The text claims that Protennoia creates light as the Voice and Father first, then on the second descent comes as Mother, and on the third as Son, in the form of Christ (whom the work seems to depict in a polemical, rather than positive, way). This text describes the triadic god mentioned in works of Sethian Gnosticism, but these appear to be influences on this likely redacted work; it is not distinctly Sethian gnostic. (This particular work was originally found inside the cover of Codex VI.)

On the Origin of the World (XIII,2; Orig. World.). This work is also included in Codex 2 (see above).

#7. Shanks, H. (Ed.). (1984). BAR 10:01 (Jan/Feb 1984).

The story behind the discovery and eventual publication of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts has all the ingredients of a spy thriller. The discoverers, Mohammed Ali and his brother Khalifah, lived in a village named el-Kasr in Upper Egypt. While digging for mineral-rich soil called sebakh at the base of the cliffs along the Nile near the village of Homra Dom, they discovered a large sealed pottery jar. Hoping for buried treasure, they broke open the jar only to find a collection of old books written in a language they could not read. They carried the books back to their home, where their mother reportedly used some of the pages to light the fire in her oven.

Not long after the discovery of the manuscripts, it was rumored that Mohammed Ali and his brothers murdered the son of the sheriff of Homra Dom in reprisal for the death of their father some six months earlier. One result of this feud was that Mohammed Ali was afraid to return to the site of the discovery. Fearing that the books would be found by the police, Mohammed Ali placed them in the care of a Coptic priest. The priest gave one to a relative, who brought it to Cairo. The rest of the books were gradually sold to other residents of the village for small sums of money, and they in turn sold the manuscripts to antiquities dealers in Cairo.

One of these books was sold to the Coptic Museum; another made its way out of the country and was sold to friends of the psychologist C. G. Jung. They gave it to him as a birthday present, and it became known as the Jung Codex.* Ultimately, however, the bulk of the material was confiscated by the Egyptian government after having been photographed by a young French scholar, Jean Doresse. Just as Doresse’s reports were alerting the scholarly world to the existence of an important new manuscript discovery, the Suez crisis 1956 made international cooperation even more difficult than usual. As a result, most of the Nag Hammadi Codices remained inaccessible to scholars. After the codices were declared government property and deposited in the Coptic Museum, an international committee of scholars working under the auspices of UNESCO was appointed, but the committee made little progress toward publishing the documents.

Not until the American Biblical scholar James M. Robinson of Claremont Graduate School entered the picture in 1965 and succeeded in gaining the support of other scholars in reorganizing the UNESCO committee did the Nag Hammadi story gradually emerge. Robinson concentrated his considerable scholarly influence, his organizational skill, and his seemingly limitless energy on the prompt translation and publication of the Nag Hammadi documents. As the secretary of the UNESCO committee, Robinson headed an international team that photographed the manuscripts and conserved them as adequately as possible in their present repository, the Coptic Museum in Cairo. As the director of the Nag Hammadi Library project at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in Claremont, he organized a team of translators, many of them young American scholars, who learned the Coptic language as they worked with the new finds. And as organizer of the Nag Hammadi excavations, he delved into the early history of Christianity in Egypt.

Many other scholars subsequently have joined a growing movement to understand the complicated historical background of early Christianity assumed by the Nag Hammadi documents. Fortunately, the papers used to stiffen the covers of the Coptic codices were legal documents that referred to specific dates; therefore the manuscripts are solidly dated to the mid-fourth century. However, the codices are Coptic translations of documents that were written much earlier. Just how these translations fit into the complex picture of early Christianity and Judaism during the first two centuries of this era is a question that is currently a matter of considerable scholarly debate.

The Nag Hammadi Codices surely help us understand the tendency toward a mystical piety based on revelation or ecstatic experience as one of the varieties of religious experience in the Greco-Roman world of late antiquity. These writings also provide new material for understanding the many types of ancient Gnosticism. How Greek philosophical thought interacted with early Christianity in both its Gnostic and emerging orthodox forms can also be illumined by these new writings.

Attempts to uncover the circumstances that led to the burial of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts have not been as successful as the archaeological excavations that were so helpful in shedding light on another major manuscript discovery, the Dead Sea Scrolls. An excavation carried out by the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in Claremont, California, under the leadership of Robinson and Dr. Bastiaan Van Elderen, has uncovered significant remains of early Christian monastic communities near the discovery site. Direct links with the Nag Hammadi Codices themselves have not been found, however, and even the precise location of the find is not known for certain. The broader questions of how a collection of mostly Gnostic literature came to be buried near the center of early Christian monasteries considered to be bastions of orthodoxy are yet to be answered conclusively by scholars. How Gnostic and orthodox leaders interacted in the development of Christianity in Egypt and other centers of Christianity such as Alexandria and Rome is one of the concerns of a new project being undertaken by Dr. Birger Pearson and several associates under the auspices of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity.




We will not repeat what we have stated in our introduction to the Documentary Hypothesis page except to say that the supposed source document Q is a ridiculous idea wrought upon the biblical world by unbelieving scholars who refused to search for the truth and sought their own answers to supposed biblical problems.

Q was not a source document for any of the Gospel or NT authors. Something that never existed cannot be used to write biblical truths. Something that is not of God cannot be used to write Biblical truths. Q is not of God but a product of secular scholars who have rejected biblical truths.

#1. Sloan, D. B. (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Q Source, Critical Issues. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

The Relationship between Q and Mark

It has long been assumed that Mark’s gospel and Q are independent of one another. A number of scholars have challenged this view, but the majority have not found their arguments convincing.

Mack argues that Mark got a number of his themes from Q and that Mark used ideas in Q as building blocks for his Gospel (Mack, Lost Gospel, 177–180). Catchpole argues that Mark’s introduction is a development of the introduction to Q and that Mark was influenced by Q at other points in writing his Gospel (Catchpole, Quest, 60–78). The most extensive argument for Mark’s use of Q is the book-length study by Fleddermann that examines the 28 Markan passages that overlap Q (Fleddermann, Mark and Q). Fleddermann argues that Q is consistently more original in these passages and that in a number of them Mark displays knowledge not only of the same tradition but also of Q’s redaction of that tradition.

If Mark could be shown to be dependent on Q, there would be a number of implications. The two-document solution to the Synoptic Problem would look significantly different, with Q being a source for all three Synoptic Gospels. The extent of Q would need to be reexamined, as every triple-tradition passage would be potentially from Q (Tuckett, “Mark and Q,” 25). Mark’s omission of many of the sayings in Q would need to be explained. And for those who date Q late, such as Fleddermann himself, Mark would need to be dated even later. So far the majority has not been convinced by Fleddermann and others, and the debate continues.

Q and Christian Origins

Perhaps the largest divide within current Q scholarship is over the implications of Q research for Christian origins. To some scholars, Q’s depiction of Jesus’ death and vindication suggests that Q comes from a tradition that assigns no salvific significance to Jesus’ death and that sees Jesus as assumed into heaven rather than resurrected. Many, however, think this assessment of Q exaggerates the differences between Q and the gospels that made use of it.

Almost all Q scholars agree that the writing lacks a passion narrative. Streeter explains this in two ways: (1) Q, like the Didache, is written to give ethical instruction to those who have already been taught about the passion and its redemptive significance; (2) while Paul focused on the cross, the other apostles focused on the parousia as the center of the gospel and saw the cross as a potential hindrance to accepting the true hope of the gospel (Streeter, Four Gospels, 292). The assumption that Q was intended as a supplement to the passion kerygma remained unquestioned until Tödt wrote his doctoral dissertation in 1956, arguing that Q is not catechetical but is a proclamation of the kingdom that nowhere alludes to the Easter kerygma (Tödt, Son of Man). This led to a number of scholars arguing that Q views Jesus’ death and vindication differently from Mark and Paul.

Jacobson argues that “Mark adapted the tradition[s about the man Jesus] to his Christology and to the passion kerygma,” while Q explained the same traditions within a Deuteronomistic framework that viewed Jesus’ death “not as a salvific act but as evidence of Israel’s continuing impenitence” (Jacobson, “Literary Unity,” 383, 386). Kloppenborg adds that what the resurrection did for Mark and Paul in vindicating Jesus, Jesus’ teachings did for the author of Q; thus, Q had no need for an Easter faith (Kloppenborg, “Easter Faith”).

In each of these studies, it is not only the absence of a passion narrative that suggests that Q views the death of Jesus differently from proto-orthodox Christianity, but the way Jesus’ death and disappearance are spoken of within Q itself. Kloppenborg concludes that “at the numerous points where Q might have borrowed from … the passion kerygma’s salvific construal of Jesus’ death, it consistently fails to do so. It would be hard to imagine that this silence is a matter of Q consciously rejecting such construals of Jesus’ death. Rather, the only plausible solution is that Q simply does not know them” (Kloppenborg, Excavating Q, 374). It is observations such as these that lead Mack and others to conclude that for Q, as for Thomas, Jesus was not a dying and rising savior, but merely a teacher of wisdom. After all, according to the most popular stratification of Q, the document began as a wisdom document and only later was apocalypticized (Mack, “Lord of the Logia,” 9).

There are many components to these arguments, and not all of the scholars surveyed would agree with all of them, but the idea that Q represents a different kerygma than the passion kerygma has failed to convince many for a number of reasons. First, the entire New Testament attests to a diversity of views of Jesus’ death and vindication, even within Paul’s letters, so diversity itself is not problematic (Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 235–239). Matthew and Luke apparently saw no contradiction between Mark’s kerygma and Q’s, as they have included both in their Gospels. The Deuteronomistic understanding of Jesus’ death that is expressed in Q is also the central understanding of His death given in Mark’s parable of the tenants (Mark 12:1–12). And assumption language is used in Luke’s depiction of Jesus’ ascension (Zwiep, Ascension), even though Luke clearly viewed Jesus as resurrected.

Second, there are reasons that we would not expect Q to explain Jesus’ death. According to Mark, this is something Jesus taught only to the Twelve and only on His way to Jerusalem at the end of His life. If Q focuses on Jesus’ public teaching, it would naturally not include discussions of Jesus’ death and vindication (Meadors, Jesus, 313–314; compare Dunn, New Perspective on Jesus, 27). The few passages that hint at Jesus’ death (Q 11:49–51; 13:34–35; 14:27) come in contexts that teach about judgment or discipleship, where there is no need to discuss the significance of Jesus’ death (Meadors, Jesus, 296–302). In fact, even within the Synoptic Gospels, references to the salvific nature of Jesus’ death are rare (Matt 20:28; 26; 28; Mark 10:45; 14:22–24; Luke 22:19–20).

Third, it is unlikely that Q could have viewed Jesus’ death as no more than that of a martyr and His vindication as no more than an assumption. Meadors notes that the martyr image appears in Q in contexts with great christological implications, suggesting that the death of Jesus is more significant than the death of other prophets and sages (Meadors, Jesus, 303). And though Q 13:34–35 echoes the assumption language in 2 Kings 2, there is a key difference between the Elijah of Kings and the Jesus of Q. The former was still alive when he was assumed; the latter had died. How would the “Q community” address this difference? Is there any reason to think they would not have concluded that Jesus was resurrected?

Fourth, we do not know what Q says about Jesus’ death that did not make it into Matthew or Luke, especially if Q is significantly more extensive than the double tradition. Arguments have even been made for a passion narrative in Q (Bundy, Jesus and the First Three Gospels, 48; Franklin, “Passion Narrative”; Sloan, “Passion Narrative”; see also Hultgren, Narrative Elements, 256–309), though they have not convinced many. Even if Q did not have a passion narrative, it is quite possible that there are other brief sayings about Jesus’ death and vindication that either Matthew or Luke dropped, just as Luke dropped Mark’s ransom saying in Mark 10:45 (Goodacre, “Response to Daniel A. Smith”).

Fifth, some have seen in Q 11:22 an allusion to Isa 53:12, “the only verse in the Servant Songs which directly identifies the vicarious suffering and death of the servant” (Meadors, Jesus, 310). So Barnabas Lindars says, “A saying of Jesus has been given messianic application and linked to the ‘plot’ of Isaiah 53. The Passion is not mentioned, but is assumed in the struggle with the strong man” (Lindars, New Testament Apologetic, 85). But even if this allusion is uncertain, Q clearly envisions Jesus as the figure in Isa 61:1 (Q 6:20–21; 7:22), whom readers of Isaiah are likely to view as the same individual as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 (Meadors, Jesus, 312).

Finally, Q’s use of resurrection language in Q 7:22; 11:31–32 shows that Q expects a resurrection of the dead. The fact that Q 7:22 makes the dead being raised the “culminating eschatological sign” of the kingdom’s presence in Jesus suggests that, if Jesus Himself has overcome death, then He has done so by resurrection (Fleddermann, “Plot of Q,” 48). Furthermore, Fleddermann argues that the second temptation is written as a “flashforward” of Jesus’ death and resurrection, when God does command His angels concerning Jesus (52–57). Fleddermann argues that the author of Q can do this “because Jesus’ story is so well known” (Fledermann, “Plot of Q,” 52). Finally, Hurtado argues that there was too much interaction between different Christian groups for the doctrine of the resurrection to be unknown to the Q community (Hurtado, “Interactive Diversity”).

#2. Sloan, D. B. (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Q Source, Critical Issues. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Q SOURCE, CRITICAL ISSUES Q Source. Scholarship on various issues related to Q, a hypothetical source that Matthew and Luke are postulated to have used in the composition of their Gospel accounts.


Scholarship has produced more works on Q in the last 15 years than in the entire 20th century. While some of these works have questioned the existence of Q altogether (see especially Goodacre, Case Against Q; Goodacre and Perrin, Questioning Q; Powell, Myth; and Watson, Gospel Writing), the two-document hypothesis is still the majority view among scholarship (for responses to Goodacre, see Kloppenborg, “On Dispensing with Q”; Foster, “Is It Possible”; Mealand, “Is There Stylometric Evidence?”; for a fresh analysis of the Synoptic Problem from 20 different angles, see Foster et al., New Studies). This article will not summarize that debate but will discuss critical issues that are raised by those who argue for the existence of Q. Not every issue will be addressed, but we will focus on five select issues: the extent of Q, the genre of Q, the date of Q, the relationship between Q and Mark, and the implications of Q research for Christian origins…

The Date of Q

While most Q scholars are reluctant to assign a date to Q, those who do are widely divided on whether Q is to be dated to the AD 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, or 70s. All that can be said with certainty is that Q was completed by the time Matthew and Luke took it up in their Gospels.

Early Dates

Schnelle tentatively suggests a date in the 40s because: (1) the emphasis on wandering preachers reflects the earliest congregational structures in the Jesus movement; (2) the Palestinian persecution reflected in Q 6:22–23; 11:49–51; 12:4–5, 11–12 reflects the kind referred to in Acts 12:2 (ca. AD 44) and 1 Thess 2:14–16 (ca. AD 50); and (3) the positive references to Gentiles (Q 6:34; 7:1–10; 10:13–15; 11:29–31; 14:16–23) “indicate that the Gentile mission had begun, which is probably to be located in the period between 40 and 50 CE” (Schnelle, History and Theology, 186).

Likewise Theissen dates Q “between 40 and 55 AD” because: (1) the temptation narrative is modeled after an event in AD 41 in which the emperor Gaius Caligula sought to be worshiped; (2) the expectation of peace before Jesus’ return in Q 17:27–28, 34–35 reflects the mood of 1 Thess 5:3 (ca. AD 52) rather than the mood we see during and after the Jewish War; (3) Q’s attitude toward Israel reflects a time when the 12 apostles were focused on a mission to Israel, and Q may even be reflected in Romans 11; (4) Q is ambivalent toward Gentiles; and (5) Q’s animosity toward the Pharisees reflects the strained relationship between Palestinian Christians and Pharisees in the 40s and early 50s (this relationship improved by the end of the 50s; Theissen, Gospels in Context, 203–34).

Even some who argue for a stratified compositional history have dated Q early. Arnal argues for a “lapse of several years” between Q1 and Q2 and between Q2 and Q3 (Arnal, Jesus and the Village Scribes, 166). He argues (1) that none of the layers reflect the Jewish War; (2) that Q2 shares a number of features with 1 Thessalonians, including a Deuteronomistic condemnation of Israel that is not seen in Paul’s later letters; (3) that the portrayal of John the Baptist in Q2 suggests an early date; and (4) that Q1 portrays Jesus more as a sage than as a significant person of the past. While Arnal does not assign actual dates, it appears that he wants to place Q1 near the time of Jesus’ death, Q2 in the 40s, and Q3 before the Jewish War. Allison likewise argues for three stages in Q’s development and places Q1 in the 30s, Q3 in the 40s or 50s, and Q2 somewhere between them (Allison, Jesus Tradition, 49–54).

#3. Geisler, N. L. (1999). In Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics (p. 618). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Q Document. The Gospel of Q or Q Document is a hypothetical collection of Jesus’ sayings that supposedly antedates the four Gospels. The Q hypothesis comes from the German word Quelle, meaning “sources.” Q was used heavily by the Jesus Seminar to arrive at their radical conclusions. Since Q allegedly contains sayings, not works or miracles of Jesus, it is used as a basis for denying the resurrection. Since the earliest Q contained no references to Jesus’ deity, this too is held to be a later mythological invention. If true, this would undermine the historic apologetic for Christianity (see APOLOGETICS, HISTORICAL; NEW TESTAMENT, HISTORICITY OF).

Supposed States and Dates of Q. According to Q proponent Burton Mack, there were really four successive states of Q: proto-Q1, Q1, proto-Q2, and Q2. The gospel(s) of Q supposedly developed between 30 and 65, before any canonical Gospels appeared. Thus, Q is supposed to provide, along with the Gospel of Thomas (see NAG HAMMADI GOSPELS), the earliest view of Jesus’ followers.

Some scholars distinguish between Q1 (ca. 50), consisting of short sayings of Jesus, and Q2 (50–60), which may have been against the original Jesus group as evidenced by the judgmental tone of Q2. This includes apocalyptic pronouncements of doom on those who refused their kingdom program. After the Jewish War (70), they upgraded their mythology (Q3) to include statements about Jesus being divine (Mack, 53). On this breakdown, Q1 presents Jesus as a sage, a wise teacher; Q2 portrays him as prophetic and apocalyptic; and Q3 as superhuman, embodying the wisdom of God and divine authority (Boyd, 121).

History of the Q Hypothesis. Judging from its widespread acceptance today, one would expect that the Q hypothesis had been around since the early church. The truth is that Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), the father of modern liberalism, gave impetus to the idea when he reinterpreted a statement by Papias (ca. 110) about Matthew compiling “the oracles” of Jesus (Gk. ta logia). This, Schleiermacher decided, was a document consisting only of Jesus’ “sayings,” rather than both “what the Lord said or did” (see Linnemann, Is There a Synoptic Problem? 20). Later, Christian Hermann Weisse (1801–1866) claimed that this saying-source was used by Luke in compiling his Gospel, thus giving rise to the concept of Q. Others added that Mark was used by both Matthew and Luke. Thus, Q is posited to account for the material used by Matthew and Luke that is not found in Mark, their common source.

However, in spite of its popularity, Q has been rejected by many biblical scholars from the time it was first proposed. B. F. Westcott (1825–1901), Theodore Zahn (1838–1933), and Adolf Schlatter (1852–1938) are examples of older scholars. Eta Linnemann, John Wenham, and William Farmer are examples of contemporary scholars.

Alleged Basis of Q. According to proponents, “the Q hypothesis, together with Marcan priority, is the most efficient way of accounting for the myriad details in the relationship of these three texts to one another.” For “Matthew and Luke agree in their sequence of events in the life of Jesus only when they also agree with Mark.” And “this peculiar pattern has led almost all scholars of the New Testament to the conclusion that Matthew and Luke must have made use of Mark as a kind of outline for their respective works, but quite independently of one another.”This Marcan priority, however, doesn’t account for a good deal of material shared by Matthew and Luke. “How could Matthew and Luke have included these several sayings, parables, and occasional stories—sometimes offering versions that are very close in wording—independently of one another?” In view of this, “the Q hypothesis arose as a way of accounting for the material common to Matthew and Luke, but not found in Mark” (Patterson, 39–40). This similarity in content and order of events is used to show literary dependence of the latter documents on the former, that is, of Matthew and Luke upon Mark and Q.

#4. Geisler, N. L. (1999). In Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics (pp. 620–621). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

The Q Assumptions. Obviously, though most Q advocates would be reluctant to admit it, there is an antisupernatural bias behind their view. Following the naturalistic approach to the Gospels that began with David Strauss in 1835–1836) they assume the miraculous does not occur. Thus, all records of miraculous events are categorized as later results of mythmaking (see MYTHOLOGY AND THE NEW TESTAMENT). The haste at which they jump to this conclusion when, even granting an early “sayings” source, betrays a desire to eliminate the supernatural. The confidence with which critics come to an antisupernatural conclusion on such speculative and hypothetical grounds supports the thesis that they really begin with a naturalistic presupposition. Compare the words of one Q advocate: “The narrative canonical gospels can no longer be viewed as the trustworthy accounts of unique and stupendous historical events at the foundation of the Christian faith.” Instead, “the gospels must now be seen as the result of early Christian mythmaking” (Patterson, “The Lost Gospel,” 40).

Beginning with a disbelief in miracles, it comes as no surprise that their imaginary reconstruction of Q in the early time period is devoid of miracle stories, including the resurrection.

The Q hypothesis is based on an incredible number of assumptions (see Boyd, 122–24):

1.      Mark was the earliest Gospel and Matthew and Luke followed its form and content. The same data can be explained by positing an oral tradition or putting Matthew first.

2.      Q existed as a written document. There is no proof for this.

3.      A Q can be reconstructed from what Matthew and Luke have in common that is not found in Mark. But if Q existed there is no objective way to know how much of it was used.

4.      Q was composed to express everything early Christians believed about Jesus. Why could it not have been simply a collection of sayings?

5.      It is also assumed that a community of people created Q. There is no proof of this. One person could just as easily have collected Jesus’ sayings.

6.      Q can be accurately understood by discerning its various literary stages. No objective criteria are offered by which this can be done.

7.      These alleged states reflect various stages of the thinking of Jesus’ followers. The various views could as easily have been concurrent.

8.      The views of Christ are incompatible with one another. Jesus could have been teacher, prophet, and divine authority. If these elements are together at the end, why could they not have all been there at the beginning?

Boyd summarizes: “We see, then, that the liberal revision of the picture of Jesus and of early church history on the basis of Q amounts to nothing more than a pile of arbitrary assumptions built on other arbitrary assumptions” (Boyd, 24).

Conclusion. The argument for the Q hypothesis, particularly in its naturalistic form, are without historical, documentary, or literary foundations. As Boyd noted, “among other things, the entire scheme is completely conjectural. These scholars ask us to trade the reliable Gospel portrait of Christ for a hypothetical reconstruction of history based on a hypothetical reconstruction of a hypothetical document” (Boyd, 121–22). There is nothing in the canonical Gospels that cannot be accounted for by positing that the authors were eyewitnesses and/or contemporaries of the events and that they provided an accurate account of what they reported just as Luke claims (Luke 1:1–4).

In the words of one former Q disciple, “The Gospels report the words and deeds of Jesus. They do this partly through direct eyewitnesses (Matthew and John) and partly through those who were informed by eyewitnesses (Mark and Luke). The similarities as well as the differences in the Gospel accounts are just what one expects from eyewitness reminiscence” (ibid.).

#5. Shanks, H. (Ed.). (2004). BR 11:05.

Eta Linnemann’s article on the Q hypothesis* takes Burton Mack and me to task not only for our scholarship, but also for what she takes to be our attack on traditional Christian beliefs. It’s a clever exercise in apologetics. However, this attempt to undergird her own very conservative understanding of Christian faith by discrediting the Q hypothesis (and anyone who dares discuss it) is misleading, misinformed and misguided.

Her case against Q is misleading. Take, for example, the point that since Paul does not mention Q, we should assume that it did not exist in his day. Aside from the obvious problem that we do not know what Q was called by early Christians (hence, the modern designation “Q”), Paul never refers to his sources by name. This is understandable. Many ancient documents carry no title; if they were referred to at all, it was by recalling the first few words in the document. In short, we do not know whether Paul ever refers to Q.

More egregious, however, is Linnemann’s assertion that since Paul had no conflict with James and Peter, ostensible Q folk, we cannot assume that there were different understandings of the significance of Jesus’ life and death among early Christians. But there were decisive differences in the way early Christians understood Jesus, precisely between Paul, on the one hand, and Peter and James, on the other. The basic split between Petrine and Pauline Christianity belongs to the very rudiments of New Testament scholarship. The dimensions of this difference occupy tomes of research, well known to Linnemann, who, prior to her conversion to Christian fundamentalism a decade ago, was well versed in the history of New Testament scholarship.

Some of that knowledge emerges in her discussion of the history of the Q hypothesis. Here again, however, her remarks are misleading. She must surely know that the case for the existence of Q is not grounded on verbal agreements between Matthew and Luke, nor on residual cases of common order in these gospels. Rather, the Q hypothesis arose as a necessary corollary to another, widely accepted hypothesis used to explain the peculiar relationship of Matthew and Luke to Mark (an issue mentioned only in passing by Linnemann). Hermann Christian Weisse and others noticed that Matthew and Luke agree in their sequence of events in the life of Jesus only when they also agree with Mark. This peculiar pattern has led almost all scholars of the New Testament to the conclusion that Matthew and Luke must have made use of Mark as a kind of outline for their respective works, but quite independently of one another.

This hypothesis of “Marcan priority,” however, leaves a good deal of material shared by Matthew and Luke, but not found in Mark, unaccounted for. How could Matthew and Luke have included these several sayings, parables and occasional stories—sometimes offering versions that are very close in wording—independently of one another? The Q hypothesis arose as a way of accounting for the material common to Matthew and Luke, but not found in Mark.

As with most complicated historical problems, the persuasiveness of the hypothesis lies in the way it can account for the details. The Q hypothesis, together with Marcan priority, is the most efficient way of accounting for the myriad details in the relationship of these three texts to one another. Over the years, various solutions to this problem have had their champions: Matthean priority, Lukan priority, proto-Marcan hypotheses, proto-Lukan hypotheses, and the list goes on. But, in the judgment of most New Testament scholars, none can account for the details as well as the hypothesis of Marcan priority together with the Q hypothesis. But the reader should not accept this appeal to authority as the final word. He or she should find a synopsis of the first three gospels and make a comparison of these texts for him or herself.

Linnemann also dismisses the Gospel of Thomas as irrelevant to the discussion of Q and Christian origins. On this matter she is misinformed and out-of-date. Her assertion rests on the grounds that “recent scholarship dates its earliest possible composition to about A.D. 140.” This, presumably, is a reference to the work of Bernard Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt (LOGIA IHSOY: Sayings of Our Lord [Egypt Exploration Fund, 1897]), who based their dating on a fragment of the Gospel of Thomas known as Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 1 and proposed A.D. 140 as a terminus ad quem (the latest possible date) for the Gospel of Thomas. Linnemann mistakes this assessment for a terminus a quo (the earliest possible date). The more recent discussion of this point includes dating Thomas to around A.D. 50, though I think this is too early. My own proposal is to date it near the end of the first century, roughly contemporaneous with Matthew and Luke. This would indeed make it relevant to the discussion of Q, not as Q’s precursor, but as a document analogous to Q in form. It shows merely that early Christians could create a document like Q and think it a meaningful way of discussing the significance of Jesus.

#6. Shanks, H. (Ed.). (2004). BR 11:04.

Try to imagine flying to a non-existent island on an airplane that has not yet been invented. Even if this impossible trip were to take place during the thirteenth month of the year, it would not be as fantastic as the tale, recently christened as scientific certainty by some New Testament scholars, concerning the “Lost Gospel” of Q.

The story of Q (short for the German Quelle, meaning “source”) is not exactly hot off the press. It began over a century and a half ago. At that time it was part of the two-source theory of gospel origins. In the wake of Enlightenment allegations that the Gospels were historically unreliable, some suggested that their origins were primarily literary. Matthew and Luke, the theory went, composed their Gospels not based on historical recollection but by using Mark and a hypothetical document called Q as dual sources.

The theory was not without its difficulties, and it is no wonder that many Anglo-Saxon scholars—B.F. Westcott (1825–1901) would be a good example1—as well as formidable German-speaking authorities like Theodor Zahn (1838–1933) and Adolf Schlatter (1852–1938) declined to embrace it. But it gained ascendancy in Germany, and to this day enjoys a virtual monopoly there and widespread support in many other countries.

The much-publicized Jesus Seminar has pushed Q into popular headlines of late.* But behind the Jesus Seminar’s exalted claims for Q lies an interesting history. Key players in the Q revival include Siegfried Schulz, with his 1972 study, The Sayings Source of the Evangelists.2 Schulz speaks of a Q-church in Syria that hammered out Q’s final form in the A.D. 30–65 era.3 The “gospel” they produced, later absorbed into the canonical Matthew and Luke, lacked Christ’s passion, atoning death and resurrection. Q, it was alleged, contained only a series of sayings. The upshot of Schulz’s work: A primitive “Christian” community produced a “gospel” lacking the central foci of the four canonical versions, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Q was suddenly no longer an amorphous source, but a discrete witness vying for recognition with its canonical counterparts.

In some ways Schulz had been scooped by the slightly earlier study of James M. Robinson and Helmut Koester.4 But it is only recently that a phalanx of studies by Robinson, Koester, John Kloppenborg, Arland Jacobsen and Burton Mack have in effect expanded on Schulz’s work.5 Mack breaks Q down into four stages: proto-Q1, Q1, proto-Q2 and Q2—asserted in detail without the slightest attempt to furnish proof. To save this house of cards from collapse, the so-called Gospel of Thomas is being pressed into service today to give Q ostensible support.

The cumulative weight of these studies is captured in Stephen J. Patterson’s statement in BR that “the importance of Q for understanding Christian beginnings should not be underestimated. Mack is surely right in asserting that a better understanding of Q will require a major rethinking of how Christianity came to be. Together with the Gospel of Thomas, Q tells us that not all Christians chose Jesus’ death and resurrection as the focal point of their theological reflection. They also show that not all early Christians thought apocalyptically.”6

Patterson is enamored enough of Mack to quote him favorably on a further point that Patterson (wrongly7) claims most New Testament scholars share: “‘Q demonstrates that factors other than the belief that Jesus was divine played a role in the generation of early Jesus and Christ movements…[As a result] the narrative canonical gospels can no longer be viewed as the trustworthy accounts of unique and stupendous historical events at the foundation of the Christian faith. The gospels must now be seen as the result of early Christian mythmaking. Q forces the issue, for it documents an earlier history that does not agree with the narrative gospel accounts.’”8

Now we discover the truth: Q, the hypothetical sayings gospel, is the lever needed to pry the Christian faith out of its biblical moorings. Not the Gospels but Q must be faith’s new anchor, inasmuch as Q is earlier than the Gospels and does not agree with them. Q settles the matter.

Poor Christianity. Are sackcloth and ashes in order because we have followed the wrong gospels, overlooking the real sole authority—Q? Or is it rather time to bar the enthronement of a false gospel, following Paul’s counsel and God’s Word: “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9)?

Just what is Q, anyway?

The rhetoric used by Patterson and Mack is telling: “Q originally played a critical role”; “Q demonstrates”; “Q forces the issue”; “Q calls into question”; “Q tells us.”9 Assuming Q ever existed in the first place, isn’t it just a hypothetical source, a lost piece of papyrus, an inanimate object? But Patterson and Mack’s language make a dead thing into a commanding personal authority. This is the stuff of fairy tales.

The practitioners of this New Testament “science”—despising God’s Word in the Gospels as “the result of early Christian mythmaking”—have created a new myth, not only the enchanted figure of Q but also Q’s storied people: “‘The remarkable thing about the people of Q is that they were not Christians. They did not think of Jesus as a messiah or the Christ. They did not take his teachings as an indictment of Judaism. They did not regard his death as a divine, tragic or saving event. And they did not imagine that he had been raised from the dead to rule over a transformed world. Instead, they thought of him as a teacher whose teaching made it possible to live with verve in troubled times. Thus they did not gather to worship in his name, honor him as a god, or cultivate his memory through hymns, prayers and rituals. They did not form a cult of the Christ such as the one that emerged among the Christian communities familiar to readers of the letters of Paul. The people of Q were Jesus people, not Christians.’”10


#7. Shanks, H. (Ed.). (2004). BR 11:04.

What can we know for sure about Q?

Ancient sources give no hint that such a source ever existed. Among the early Church fathers, there is not even a rumor of some lost gospel. Far less is there a hint that any of the gospels were produced by the use of written sources. And there is not the slightest textual evidence that some lost sayings gospel Q ever existed, although it is claimed today that Q was so widespread that Matthew and Luke (and maybe even Mark) each had copies of it independently.

Paul never mentions Q. Yet, if it existed, he could hardly have been ignorant of such a virulent influence, so contrary to the faith he championed. Paul would not have known the four Gospels (they had not yet appeared), but there is no reason why he should not have known Q if it really existed in the decades before the appearance of the Gospels.

Q allegedly developed between the years 30 and 65 and still existed when Matthew and Luke wrote, commonly regarded as the last quarter of the first century, else it could not be copied by them. Three decades would have given Paul ample time to encounter Q. If the Q-people were the earliest “Jesus movement,” they must have founded a church in Jerusalem. Peter and Barnabas, coming from there, would have known Q and would have introduced Paul to it in Antioch in the early 40s. Paul would have encountered it and the “Jesus people” of Q at the latest around A.D. 49 at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15). Are we to believe that this Council was content to quibble over the interpretation of Jewish law, as Luke reports, when Paul was “mythologizing” the gospel, claiming Jesus to be God’s son, while the Q people held him to be no more than a sage?

If “the people of Q were Jesus people, not Christians,” conflicts would have been inevitable. How could these conflicts have left no trace in Acts or in any of Paul’s letters? How could Paul have written to the Corinthians that he delivered to them what he had received—that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3)—if the atonement at the cross was only a brand-new, mythological idea, not accepted by the earlier followers of Jesus, who “did not regard his death as a divine, tragic or saving event”?11

Either Paul, “called as an apostle by Jesus Christ by the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1), is a liar or the current crop of Q theorists is spinning yarns. We have to choose.

In fact, Q’s existence cannot be corroborated from manuscript evidence, Paul’s letters or the known history of the early church. Q and the Q people are a historical fiction, no more real than the man in the moon. It would be intellectually irresponsible to rethink Christian faith based on such a tale.

Q was unheard of until the 19th century. It has never been anything but a hypothesis, a supposition that Matthew and Luke might have taken their common material from a single written source.

Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) got the modern ball rolling by twisting a statement of Papias (c. A.D. 110), in which the church father says that Matthew compiled t ὰ λόγια, “the oracles.” Schleiermacher wrongly took Papias to be claiming that Matthew wrote a document consisting of Jesus-sayings, and that later someone else composed a gospel that incorporated this sayings document.12 Unfortunately for Schleiermacher, here t ὰ λόγια means “what the Lord said or did,” not just “sayings.”13

Schleiermacher proposed that Matthew wrote only the sayings, not the gospel itself, a view lacking support in both ancient church tradition and in Matthew’s Gospel. If one were to sort out all “sayings” from Matthew, the result does not resemble what is called Q today. Q, as proposed by the Q-theorists, does not contain all the “sayings” found in Matthew’s Gospel, nor does the Gospel consist merely of “sayings.”

Christian Hermann Weisse (1801–1866), wanting to account for the sayings in Luke, built on Schleiermacher’s error.14 Weisse claimed that this sayings-source was used as a source by Luke too. This misused Schleiermacher’s theory for Weisse’s own purposes.15 And so the infamous Q made its debut in the theological world.

We likewise have Weisse to thank for the invention of the Lachmann fallacy,16 which wrongly asserts that Karl Lachmann proved that Mark was also used as a source by Matthew and Luke; in fact Lachmann argued just the opposite—that Mark was not the source for Matthew and Luke.

The world-renowned two-source theory—the notion that Matthew and Luke were based on Mark and Q, the basis for perhaps 40% of so-called New Testament science today—was therefore founded on both (Schleiermacher’s) error and (Weisse’s) lie.

Let us look closely at the alleged Q to see if we can find its presence in Matthew and Luke.17

We concede the obvious at the outset that, besides the pericopes that Matthew and Luke have in common with Mark, there is a good deal of material that Matthew and Luke share. Siegfried Schulz lists 65 pairs of passages that are parallel in Matthew and Luke. But similarity in content is in itself no proof of literary dependence. It could also be caused by the same event: a saying of Jesus, for instance, reported independently by several different persons who heard it. In other words, similarities might have been historically, and not exclusively literarily, transmitted.

Nor can the existence of Q be inferred from literary sequence. The differences in the order of the alleged Q-material in Matthew and Luke are enormous. Only 24 of Schulz’s 65 pairs of parallels, or 36.9%, occur within a distance of no more than one chapter of each other. Only five of them (7.69%) occur in the same point of the narrative flow in Matthew as in Luke (or vice versa). It takes a robust imagination to suppose that, despite such differences, the pericopes claimed for Q based on similarities in literary sequence owe their origin to a common source. But imagination is no substitute for evidence, and guesses as to whether Matthew here or Luke there diverged from Q’s sequence do not prove that Q existed.

The main test for the existence of Q, and “the only safe test for literary dependence,”18 is identity in actual wording. In Q’s 65 pairs of parallels between Matthew and Luke, the number of words in Q’s Matthean form amount to 4319, in Luke’s 4253. The number of identical words in these parallel verses is 1792, or 41% of Matthew’s Q portion and 42% of Luke’s. This parallel material consists mainly of sayings of Jesus, which in the Synoptic Gospels do not vary much. For example, sayings of Jesus found in two of the three Synoptic Gospels have about 80% identical words. Based on my earlier research, this led me to expect that the percentage of identical words in the alleged Q material in Matthew and Luke might be 80% as well. But (as shown in the chart) the percentage of identical words turns out to be only about 42%.

In 17 of the 65 parallel pairs alleged to have come from Q—fully one quarter of Q—the number of identical words in parallel passages is less than 25%.19

In 26* of the 65 parallel passages—41% of Q—the number of identical words in parallel passages is between 25% and 49.9%.

In 15 passages of the 65—or 22% of Q—the number of identical words in parallel passages is between 50% and 74.9%. In 7 passages of the 65—or 11% of Q—the number of identical words in parallel verses is between 75% and 100%.

Of the 65 parallel passages in Matthew and Luke, one half (53%) contain fewer than 50 words. For comparison, the easily memorized Psalm 143 has 43 words.19 About 30% of Q’s passages contain 50–99 words; Psalm 23, also easily memorized, has 115 words. That is to say, 82% of Q consists of blocks of fewer than 100 words in length.

Is it preposterous to suggest that Jesus’ disciples, who sat at his feet and were sent out in his name for three years’ time, could have preserved such reminiscences, which assumed varied shapes in the telling, by memory? Is a hypothetical written document needed, or even reasonable, to account for the overlap in Matthew and Luke in these sayings passages?

I have counted all the rest of the Q passages, too. Five contain 100–149 words, and six contain 150–199 words. Just one contains 250–300 words.

If Q were a written source relied on by Matthew and Luke, then we would expect little variation between pairs of long sayings and pairs of short sayings. But if the saying was passed along orally, based on memory, we would expect that the longer passages would differ more than the shorter passages. What does the evidence show?

In the longest alleged Q passage, the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30), only 20% of its words (60 out of 291) are identical with the Lucan parallel (Luke 19:11–27). Out of these 60 identical words, nine are the word “and,” seven are articles and six are pronouns scattered throughout the pericope. This leaves only 38 words out of 291 that Q-theorists must rely on to establish literary dependence. Most of the identical words (47 of 60, or 78%) occur in direct speech.

The differences between Matthew and Luke in this passage far outnumber the 60 identical words. In fact these differences total 310, which is 107% of Matthew’s 291 words!

The one passage in which all of Matthew’s words are also in Luke (Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13), consists of only 27 words. This is the same as the tiny Psalm 117 and not even half as much as the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18b–20, which many know by heart. Thus the similarity is easily accounted for by a historically reliable memory that reached both Matthew and Luke.

The longest passage in the 75%–100% agreement category contains just 78% identical words. The whole passage is about the length of Psalm 1, again a text that many know by heart. It is not difficult to imagine accounts of this length being committed to memory in the oral culture of Jesus’ day.20

What can we conclude from these statistics? Simply that there is no convincing evidence for the alleged Q in Matthew and Luke. There is not even any persuasive evidence in favor of such a hypothesis. Rather, the difficulties of the hypothesis are legion. The differences in order, and the percentages of identical wording, argue against literary dependence, since the differences are much higher than the similarities. The Q-hypothesis does not solve a problem but rather creates problems—which then require additional hypotheses to remedy.

The Gospels do not entail a problem if we are willing to abide by what the texts themselves and the documents of the early church tell us: The Gospels report the words and deeds of Jesus. They do this partly through direct eyewitnesses (Matthew and John) and partly through those who were informed by eyewitnesses (Mark and Luke).21 The similarities as well as the differences in the Gospel accounts are just what one expects from eyewitness reminiscence.

#8. Shanks, H. (Ed.). (2004). BR 11:04.

But what about Thomas?

The Gospel of Thomas plays a large role in the new debate about Q. Patterson writes: “Scholars took a long time deciding just what Q was. The sheer fact of its nonexistence was no small problem—and an obvious opening for Q skeptics. In recent years, however, resistance to the idea of Q has largely disappeared as the result of another amazing discovery: a nearly complete copy of the noncanonical Gospel of Thomas.”22 “The gospel of Thomas is a recollection of sayings of Jesus. The Gospel of Thomas shows that a gospel without a passion narrative is quite possible. A theology grounded on Jesus’ words, without any particular interest in his death, is no longer unthinkable. The Gospel of Thomas, which also has little interest in Jesus’ death and resurrection, in effect forced this reevaluation.”23 “Together with the Gospel of Thomas, Q tells that not all Christians chose Jesus’ death and resurrection as the focal point of their theological reflection.”24

Does the Gospel of Thomas indeed prove how the oldest gospel, the alleged Q, was shaped—consisting mainly of sayings, with no passion or Easter reports? That would be like saying that a young man who leads a rock-and-roll band must have had someone in his grandfather’s generation who played rock music as well.

The Gospel of Thomas is mentioned or quoted by some Church fathers in the first decades of the third century. Recent scholarship dates its earliest possible composition to about A.D. 140 (though the only complete manuscript is a Coptic translation dating to around A.D. 400). Even if this hypothetical dating is correct, that is more than 70 years after our canonical Gospels. By that time the true Gospels and the very expression evangelion (gospel) were well established; understandably a new creation like Thomas would try to traffic in this good name by claiming the Gospel title. But nothing here supports the theory that Thomas was a model for Q in the A.D. 35–65 time span. The Gospel of Thomas is not just “noncanonical.” Every Church father who ever mentioned it called it heretical or gnostic. From a gnostic document we cannot expect interest in Jesus’ death and resurrection, since gnosticism repudiates both as the early church understood them. So how can a heretical writing rightly be taken as the prototype for constructing canonical ones?

It is important to recall here that an actual “Q gospel” sans passion and Easter narratives does not exist. It is rather extracted from Matthew and Luke—which in every form known to us do contain the passion and Easter material.

William R. Farmer has recently suggested why the heretical Gospel of Thomas is being pushed to play so large a role in reconstructing early Christianity: “Because Thomas is a late-second to fourth-century document, by itself it could never be successfully used to lever the significance of Jesus off its New Testament foundation. Similarly, the sayings source Q, allegedly used by Matthew and Luke, by itself could never be successfully used to achieve this result. But used together, as they are by a significant number of scholars, Thomas and Q appear to reinforce one another.”25

You cannot erect a house of cards with a single card. You might lean two cards together as long as no wind blows. But can you live in such a house of cards?

Let us return to our original question: Is the Lost Gospel of Q fact or fantasy? The answer is now clear.

As a modest hypothesis undergirding the two-source theory, Q turns out to be based on an error. It has been promoted without thorough examination. Put to the test, it proves untenable.

As co-conspirator with the Gospel of Thomas to undermine the whole of Christian faith, Q is nothing but fantasy. The same goes for the literary shuffling used to discern various layers in it. So why are earnest scholars willing to indulge in such fantasies?

“At issue today is whether the death of Jesus should be regarded as an unnecessary or an essential part of the Christian message. The trend among New Testament scholars who follow the Thomas-Q line is to represent Jesus as one whose disciples had no interest in any redemptive consequence of his death and no interest in his resurrection.”26

This critical assessment is borne out in Stephen J. Patterson’s essay in BR, particularly in its closing sentences: “Together with the Gospel of Thomas, Q tells us that not all Christians chose Jesus’ death and resurrection as a focal point of their theological reflection…The followers of Jesus were very diverse and drew on a plethora of traditions to interpret and explain what they were doing. With the discovery of the Lost Gospel, perhaps some of the diversity will again thrive, as we rediscover that theological diversity is not a weakness, but a strength.”27

The motive is clear. Q (with Thomas’ aid) gives a biblical basis for those who do not accept Jesus as the Son of God, reject his atoning death on the cross and deny his resurrection. Then, these same scholars combine their newly minted biblical basis with early Church diversity to justify calling themselves “Christians” despite their aberrant convictions.

By trumpeting the claim that today’s new Q-Christians are in sync with earliest historical origins while traditional Bible believers hallow “the result of early Christian mythmaking,” they lay down an effective smoke screen that enables them to keep their posts as ostensible professors of Christian origins and leaders of the church.

But we are not obliged to follow “cleverly devised tales” (2 Peter 1:16). The canonical Gospels exist. Q does not. The heretical, second-century Gospel of Thomas is not binding except on gnostics! On both historical and theological grounds, there is no reason to give up the canonical Gospels as the original and divinely inspired foundation for our faith.

Documentary Hypothesis


The idea of the documentary hypothesis has been around for a long time, so what is placed here should not be news to anyone. What should be news, and we will include ‘Q’ and any other letter scholars have come up with over the years, is that none of these letters or authors is attested to by any ancient writer.

What this means of course is that the idea that there was a J priestly writer, D, E & P one or even a source book called ‘Q’ is all made up figment of some very fertile scholarly imaginations. The problem is not that some people can see this fact but that scholars ignore it when it is pointed out to them and they keep teaching the idea like it is a proven fact.

As an example, some scholars have spent years reconstructing the document ‘Q’ but how can you reconstruct something that has never existed? Verification of the content is impossible because there is no ancient source holding any quoted words from the supposed source ‘Q’.

The idea that scholars waste theirs and their students’ time with such fruitless work is irritating and annoying to this organization. The idea that some Christians have adopted this hypothesis and pass it on like it is gospel truth is even more upsetting. Christians are to go for the truth, not participate in meaningless academic games.

What follows are some excerpts from different writings to give you an idea of what the Documentary Hypothesis is all about. We encourage our readers to dig further than what is presented here in order for them to obtain the complete picture of the issue.

#1. (1993). Bible and Spade (1993), 6, 34.

The History and Salient Points of the Documentary Hypothesis

The Documentary Hypothesis began when Jean Astruc (1684–1766) came to believe that he could uncover the sources of the Pentateuch by using the divine names Yahweh and Elohim as a guide. He placed passages that use the name Elohim in one column (A), those that use Yahweh in another (B), and passages with “repetitions” (C) and interpolations (D) in a third and a fourth column. From this simple, if not facile, beginning originated the road to the Documentary Hypothesis. Along the way came a “fragmentary hypothesis” (which asserts that the Pentateuch was compiled from a mass of fragmentary sources) and a “supplemental hypothesis” (which asserts that a single, unified document lies at the core of the Pentateuch, but that many fragmentary sources have been added to it). But the triumphant theory of Pentateuchal origins was the Documentary Hypothesis, often called the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis after the   two men, K.H. Graf and Julius Wellhausen, who gave it its classic expression.

The theory, in its most basic form, is easy enough to grasp: Behind the Pentateuch are four source documents, called J (Yahwist), E (Elohist), D (Deuteronomist), and P (Priestly Code).

J, the oldest, begins at Genesis 2:4b and includes large portions of Genesis as well as portions of Exodus and Numbers and a few short texts in Deuteronomy. It may be dated to the early monarchy (Solomonic?) period. In Genesis, J refers to God as Yahweh, for, according to the hypothesis, people began using the name Yahweh early in the antediluvian period (Gn 4:26, a J text). As a theological statement, J is often regarded as the work of a great, original thinker who gave shape to the Old Testament idea of the history of salvation.

E is somewhat later than J but follows the same basic story line. Genesis 15 is the earliest extant E text. E’s provenance is the northern kingdom. In Genesis, E refers to God as Elohim rather than Yahweh, for, according to E, the name Yahweh was not revealed until the exodus period (Ex 3:15, an E text). E is more sensitive to moral issues than J, but it views God as somewhat more distant from man. J and E were subsequently redacted (edited) into a single document by RJE (R=redactor). In the course of redaction, much of the E material was edited out and thus lost to posterity.

D was produced at the time of the Josianic reformation (2 Kgs 22) and is essentially the Book of Deuteronomy. D does not have a characteristic divine name since it has little if any representation in Genesis. RD subsequently combined the texts JE and D.

P was produced last, in the exilic period. It begins at Genesis 1:1 and includes large portions of Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers and all of Leviticus. In Genesis, P refers to God as Elohim since, like E, it assumes that the divine name Yahweh was first revealed at the exodus (Ex 6:3, a P text). It is dominated by genealogies, priestly regulations, and a highly stylized manner of narration. P was soon redacted into JED by RP. The Pentateuch was thus formed.

  A few fragments not related to any of the four source documents (e.g., Gn 14) are also to be found in the Pentateuch.

#2. (1993). Bible and Spade (1993), 6, 37.

The central arguments for the hypothesis are as follows:

1. Some texts in Genesis refer to God as Yahweh, whereas others call him Elohim. Those texts that call him Yahweh may be assigned to J, who thought the name Yahweh was revealed to humanity well before the patriarchal age began. Those texts that refer to God as Elohim may be assigned to E or P. both of whom thought the name Yahweh was not revealed until the Exodus.

2. Genesis contains some duplicate stories and repetitions. This is because each of the two source documents contained its own version of a single tradition. Thus 12:10–20 (J) and 20:1–18 (E) are variants of a single tradition. Sometimes the two variant versions were redacted into a single narrative, yet the documents behind the single redaction are still apparent. J and P each had a version of the Flood story, for example, but these have been combined in the present text.

3. Contradictions within Genesis indicate the existence of the separate documents. The implication is that one document had one tradition, but a second had another.

4. The language and style of the documents vary. J is said to have been a masterful storyteller, but P is prosaic and wordy. Each document also has its own preferred vocabulary. For the English “begot.” J prefers the G stem yld, but P uses the H stem hôîid.

5. Each document, when extracted from the present text of Genesis, shows itself to have been a continuous, meaningful piece of literature. In particular, it is possible to see a specific literary and theological purpose behind each. This validates the method.

6. Even on a superficial reading, some texts obviously involve more than one source. The best example is Genesis 1–2, which can hardly come from a single source. Instead, Genesis 1:1–2:3 and Genesis 2:4ff. must be regarded as separate works. The presence of obvious examples of separate sources in a text validates the principles of the Documentary Hypothesis, which may then be applied to texts where the source division is not obvious.

  7. The confused history of the Israelite priesthood found in the Pentateuch is best explained by the Documentary Hypothesis. In some texts (e.g. Deuteronomy), all Levites are priests. In other texts, (the P portions of Exodus and Leviticus), only the Aaronites are priests and the rest of the Levites are mere hierodules-workers in the temple without priestly privileges. The Pentateuch, therefore, cannot be a unified work from a single hand. Rather, documents D and P come from different perspectives and different ages.

#3. Bennett, S. J. (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Exodus, Book of, Critical Issues. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press

The documentary hypothesis identifies four documents, which are known by the abbreviations J, E, D, and P. D represents most of Deuteronomy and is not represented in Exodus at all. The other three were considered to be intertwined in the other books of the Pentateuch. The documentary hypothesis was a sophisticated development of earlier theories that sought to explain literary characteristics in terms of multiple sources (such as the fragmentary and supplementary hypotheses).

Samuel Driver followed the documentary hypothesis in his 1891 introduction to the Old Testament. In his analysis of Exodus, the first half of the book alternates between P and the J and E sources every few verses. For example, Exodus 1–2 are analyzed as follows: Exod 1:1–5 (P); 1:6 (J); 1:7 (P); 1:8–12 (J) 1:13–14 (P); 1:15–2:14 (E); 2:15–23a (J); 2:23b–25 (P). His analysis of the second half of the book assigns larger units to the sources. For example, the construction of the tabernacle in Exod 35–40 is all attributed to P (Driver, Introduction, 22, 32).

Martin Noth defended the documentary hypothesis in his 1962 commentary on Exodus (1959 in German). He identifies the sources by means of italic and Roman type in his translation. Noth finds the J source in the narrative material of Exodus. For example, the making of the covenant in Exod 34:1–28 is designated as J because it has no cultic element and resembles the J composition of Gen 12:1–3 (Noth, Exodus, 15). E material is also narrative, but Noth finds a greater cultic interest in this source as, for example, in the making of the covenant in Exod 24:9–11. P material is less interested in narrative and more interested in ritual, especially divine ordinances and instructions (such as those for building the tabernacle; Noth, Exodus, 16).

The choice of divine names is an important factor in the documentary hypothesis. The use of Yahweh is considered typical of the J source, while Elohim is preferred by the E and P sources. This is relevant for the first few chapters of Exodus, where the divine name is revealed in Exod 3:15. U. Cassuto challenged this criterion in 1961 and suggested instead that the choice of divine name was determined by the different nuances of the different names. He argued that Elohim is used in matters of international concern or application, while Yahweh is used in matters that concern Israel alone (Cassuto, Documentary Hypothesis, 23; see Whybray, Making of the Pentateuch, 55).

Nicholson is not convinced by this reasoning, especially because the use of Yahweh increases after the revelations of Exod 3:15 and 6:3, while the use of Elohim decreases (Nicholson, “The Pentateuch,” 13). Cassuto would argue that the later part of Exodus is more focused on national concerns (hence the use of Yahweh), while earlier in the book the Egyptians are involved, making a more international focus (hence the use of Elohim).

Of particular importance for Exodus is the statement in Exod 6:3, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Shaddai, but by my name Yahweh I was not known to them.” In support of the documentary hypothesis, Claus Westermann argued that this statement could not have come from the same author who wrote Gen 4:26, “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord [that is, Yahweh]” (ESV) (Westermann, Genesis 1–11, 579).

Various explanations other than the documentary hypothesis have been offered to account for Exod 6:3 and the earlier use of Yahweh. Westermann refers to M.H. Segal’s suggestion that Exod 6:3 is concerned only with the meaning of Yahweh, not with the first instance of its revelation (Westermann, Genesis 1–11, 579). H.H. Rowley takes the reference to the patriarchs in Exod 6:3 exclusively. If the name Yahweh was not revealed to the patriarchs, that does not mean that it was not revealed to anyone else before Moses. This possibility is supported by the explicit statement in Gen 4:26 (Rowley, Unity, 25f). Rowley’s view is weakened, however, by references to the patriarchs calling on the name of Yahweh (e.g., Gen 12:8). It would also be surprising if the patriarchs were ignorant of a name that was common knowledge to others.

Source Criticism and the Old Testament

While the Pentateuch is traditionally attributed to Moses, the early church recognized that at least some portions of the Pentateuch were the work of someone other than Moses; for example, Moses could not have recorded the events of his own death (Deut 34). The author of the Homilies of Pseudo-Clement states that Peter said, “For in the law itself it is written, ‘And Moses died; and they buried him near the house of Phogor, and no one knows his sepulchre till this day.’ But how could Moses write that Moses died?” (Pseudo-Clement, Homilies III, 247). Jerome also suggests, in his Prolegomena book 5, that the Pentateuch may have been edited by Ezra (see also Jerome, Adv. Helv. 7). Deuteronomy 34 indicates that Moses’ burial spot remains a secret “until this day,” indicating that this portion of Deuteronomy was written well after Moses’ death.

In 1753 Astruc, father of the Documentary Hypothesis, challenged Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch in his work Conjectures sur les mémoires originaux dont il paroit que Moyse s’est servi, pour composer le Livre de la Genese. He argued that the Pentateuch was a compilation of various documents. Astruc questioned Mosaic authorship based on three criteria:

1.      repetition

2.      doublets

3.      the alternating names for God in the Pentateuch

Later, Wellhausen, building on the work of Graf, developed a four-source version of the hypothesis in his work, Prolegomena to the History of Israel. Wellhausen believed that by finding and dating the literary sources behind the Pentateuch, he could present a better understanding of the development of Judaism. He developed his hypothesis on the basis of the following factors:

•      time and dating issues (e.g., the chronological issues of Hagar and Ishmael in Gen 16:16; 17:1, 21)

•      various doublets (e.g., the two creation accounts in Gen 1–2)

•      stylistic variations in the Pentateuch (e.g., the different names for God in Genesis)

Wellhausen’s four sources went by the initials JEDP:

•      J—The Yahwist. Wellhausen believed that the passages that use the Hebrew name “Yahweh” (“Jahweh” in German) for God are the work of one writer (950 BC).

•      E—The Elohist. Passages that use the name “Elohim” for God are the work of another writer (750 BC).

•      D—The Deuteronomist. Passages that are the work of a Deuteronomistic writer (650 BC).

•      P—The Priestly source. Refers to the priestly writings (587 BC).

The compilation of these four sources is supposed to have taken place around 400 BC.

There are ongoing efforts to refine Wellhausen’s work, with little consensus. For example, Van Seters argues that the J source was written much later in the exilic period rather than during the monarchy. The hypothesis has also been criticized, and newer hypotheses have been advanced and developed within historical-critical school. Form and redaction criticism developed out of the inability to discover the actual sources behind the text. Gunkel (the father of form criticism) challenged the Graf-Wellhausen source-critical methods on this basis; his challenge did not deny the use of sources, just the ability to recover them.

The hypothesis is not universally accepted. Brevard Childs broke radically from his historical-critical counterparts in his monograph Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture. He argued for the need to forget about sources and forms and study the Bible as it is received canonically. Closson notes that some scholars hold “to Mosaic authorship and treat the books as a literary unit. This does not mean that Moses didn’t use other documents to write his books. He obviously did. But since other Old Testament authors affirm Mosaic authorship, as do numerous New Testament writers and the early church fathers, the veracity of the Bible as a whole begins to crumble if Moses is not the author of the Pentateuch” (Closson, “Did Moses Write the Pentateuch?” 1). These scholars are concerned that acceptance of sources cannot be reconciled with the doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible. However, Closson affirms that Moses drew from sources in the composition of the Pentateuch. As Moses was not present for the creation account or with the patriarchs, he must have received this information from someone.

Others object to the methodology of source criticism. Closson criticizes the assumptions that source-critical scholars bring to their work: “Modern scholars assume that Hebrew writers never used the repetition of ideas or occurrences even though authors in other ancient Semitic languages did so. They also assume that they can scientifically date the texts, even though they have no other ancient Hebrew writings to compare them with. Documentary scholars have felt free to amend the text by substituting more common words for rare or unusual words that they do not understand or do not expect to see in a given context” (Closson, “Did Moses Write the Pentateuch?” 2).

Source Criticism and the New Testament

Source-critical analysis continues to influence New Testament studies, particularly in relationship to the Synoptic Gospels. Until the 19th century, Matthew’s Gospel was believed to be the first Gospel written. Augustine was one of the first to record an argument for Matthean priority. Johann Jakob Griesbach argued that Matthew’s Gospel predated Mark’s, and that Mark used both Matthew and Luke (see Orchard and Longstaff, J.J. Griesbach). With the advent of source criticism, scholars began to search for the interconnectivity within the synoptic traditions as well as for the prior oral or written sources used in the development of the Synoptic Gospels. The beginning of Luke’s Gospel seems to indicate such a dependence on sources: “Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first” (Luke 1:1–3a NRSV). Scholars began evaluating patterns of agreement and disagreement within our current forms of the Synoptic Gospels in their attempt to understand this developmental process that led to our current Gospels. Out of this research came two main hypotheses.

#4. Geisler, N. L. (1999). In Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics (p. 87). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Form Criticism. Form criticism studies literary forms, such as essays, poems, and myths, since different writings have different forms. Often the form of a piece of literature can tell a great deal about the nature of a literary piece, its writer, and its social context. Technically this is termed its “life setting” (Sitz im Leben). The classic liberal position is the documentary or J-E-P-D Pentateuchal source analysis theory established by Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) and his followers (see PENTATEUCH, MOSAIC AUTHORSHIP OF). They actually attempted to mediate between traditionalism and skepticism, dating Old Testament books in a less supernaturalistic manner by applying the “documentary theory.” These documents are identified as the “Jahwist” or Jehovistic (J), dated in the ninth century B.C., the Elohistic (E), eighth century, the Deuteronomic (D), from about the time of Josiah (640–609), and the Priestly (P), from perhaps the fifth century B.C. So attractive was the evolutionary concept in literary criticism that the source theory of Pentateuchal origins began to prevail over all opposition. A mediating position of some aspects of the theory was expressed by C. F. A. Dillman (1823–1894), Rudolph Kittle (1853–1929), and others. Opposition to the documentary theory was expressed by Franz Delitzsch (1813–1890), who rejected the hypothesis outright in his commentary on Genesis, William Henry Green (1825–1900), James Orr (1844–1913), A. H. Sayce (1845–1933), Wilhelm Möller, Eduard Naville, Robert Dick Wilson (1856–1930), and others (see Harrison, 239–41; Archer; Pfeiffer). Sometimes form-critical studies are marred by doctrinaire assumptions, including that early forms must be short and later forms longer, but, in general, form criticism has been of benefit to biblical interpretation. Form criticism has been most profitably used in the study of the Psalms (Wenham, “History and the Old Testament,” 40).

These techniques were introduced into New Testament study of the Gospels as Formgeschichte (“form history”) or form criticism. Following in the tradition of Heinrich Paulus and Wilhelm De Wette (1780–1849), among others, scholars at Tübingen built on the foundation of source criticism theory. They advocated the priority of Mark as the earliest Gospel and multiple written sources. William Wrede (1859–1906) and other form critics sought to eliminate the chronological-geographical framework of the Synoptic Gospels and to investigate the twenty-year period of oral traditions between the close of New Testament events and the earliest written accounts of those events. They attempted to classify this material into “forms” of oral tradition and to discover the historical situation (Sitz im Leben) within the early church that gave rise to these forms. These units of tradition are usually assumed to reflect more of the life and teaching of the early church than the life and teaching of the historical Jesus. Forms in which the units are cast are clues to their relative historical value.

The fundamental assumption of form criticism is typified by Martin Dibelius (1883–1947) and Bultmann. By creating new words and deeds of Jesus as the situation demanded, the evangelists arranged the units or oral tradition and created artificial contexts to serve their own purposes. In challenging the authorship, date, structure, and style of other New Testament books, destructive critics arrived at similar conclusions. To derive a fragmented New Testament theology, they rejected Pauline authorship for all Epistles traditionally ascribed to him except Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and Galatians (Hodges, 339–48).

Thoroughgoing form critics hold two basic assumptions: (1) The early Christian community had little or no genuine biographical interest or integrity, so it created and transformed oral tradition to meet its own needs. (2) The evangelists were compiler-editors of individual, isolated units of tradition that they arranged and rearranged without regard for historical reality (see Thomas and Gundry, A Harmony of the Gospels [281–82], who identify Dibelius, Bultmann, Burton S. Easton, R. H. Lightfoot, Vincent Taylor, and D. E. Nineham as preeminent New Testament form critics).

#5. Shanks, H. (Ed.). (2004). BR 14:01.

Early in his career Julius Wellhausen—the German Bible scholar best known for the development of the so-called documentary hypothesis, which divides the Pentateuch into four major authorial strands* —asked to be transferred from the University of Greifswald’s Theological Faculty to the Philosophical Faculty. He explained: “I became a theologian because of my interest in the scientific study of the Bible. Gradually I realized that a professor of theology has at the same time the practical task of preparing the students for their ministry in the Protestant church. But I do not succeed in this practical task; notwithstanding all my restraint, I render the students incapable of their ministry. Thus my theological professorship weighs heavily upon my conscience.”

Wellhausen obviously understood the discrepancy between his scientific approach to the Bible and the needs of the religious community. I regard myself as one of Wellhausen’s intellectual heirs; like him, I only came to realize this discrepancy gradually.

The Wellhausen letter from which I quoted was written in 1872 but was only published much later, by Alfred Jepsen, who also taught at Greifswald. In his publication of the letter, Jepsen asked, “How could Wellhausen come to the conviction that teaching an acknowledged truth would contradict the preaching of the gospel and therefore make people incapable for their ministry in the church?” In other words, if the historical-critical method really reveals “the truth,” how can it contradict the ministry in a religious community?

I do not deny a certain plausibility to the results of modern scientific study of the Hebrew Bible. But I have two main objections to the way these results are often used. One is the conviction, not to say the complacency, with which the results of the historical-critical method are asserted. This has been true even as the results themselves have changed dramatically. An example: Wellhausen dated the Yahwist strand of the Pentateuch to early in the Israelite and Judahite kingdom, perhaps as early as the tenth or ninth century B.C. The Yahwist narrative was therefore of great importance as a source for Israelite history during this period. Recently, a growing number of scholars has come to doubt this dating. Many of them date the Yahwist to the time of the Babylonian Exile (sixth century B.C.). One would have expected an outcry about this shocking crumbling of one of the pillars of source-critical research. But that has not been the case; there has been no objection. Why not? Because the method itself is regarded as valid, and therefore its results have to be accepted as true, even when they change fundamentally. What kind of “truth” is that?

My second objection is related to the first. Why should the documentary hypothesis, for example, be the only way to apply the historical-critical method to the Pentateuch? Why not use new approaches? Take the Book of Isaiah: Many Old Testament scholars simply accept that the book comes from two, or even three, authors—First Isaiah (chapters 1–39), Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40–55) and even Trito-Isaiah (chapters 56–66). Recently, some of us have been asking, What about the book Isaiah? Should we not ask what the final author (or authors) of the book wanted to tell the reader?

Modern scholars often reflect what I call the hubris of the 19th century. They see everything more clearly than those who came before, in particular those who came before the Enlightenment. The so-called redactors, or final editors, of the biblical books, and similar scribes are, it is assumed, much less intelligent and informed than the modern professor. The Hebrew of these ancient editors, it is sometimes said, is bad. They did not know the historical context of the texts they were reworking. Sometimes they did not even understand the “original” meaning of the text and therefore changed it for the worse, requiring the modern professor to put things in order and so make the text comprehensible.

Unfortunately, this is not simply a caricature; it is very close to reality. I do not mean to exclude myself from this tradition: As a young academic, I was sometimes very harsh with students who did not believe in the documentary hypothesis. But gradually, I began to understand the limits of such hypotheses. In addition to dissecting the text, we must try to read and understand the texts as they have come down to us. This is what Brevard Childs, in his important Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, calls “canonical interpretation.”1

As Childs emphasizes, the Bible was the sacred scripture of Israel. “Israel,” in this context, refers to a community of faith. Therefore, to read the Hebrew Bible “as Scripture” means, first of all, to read it as a religious document that served a religious community.

From this viewpoint, the main question is no longer “How did this text emerge and develop?” but “What is the message of the text in its final form?” Only in this form did it serve as sacred scripture for a religious community.

At this point a certain tension emerges between the scientific and the religious dimensions of exegesis. The traditional interest of historical-critical scholarship is in the assumed earlier stages of the text. We are now witnessing a certain change in the line of sight, however. More and more scholars are focusing on the final form of the text. I should stress that this does not involve a departure from the historical-critical method, only a change in the focus.

Nevertheless, there is a certain tension between the two approaches. Let me explain with an example:

It is obvious that the Book of Genesis was not written by a single author. The two main elements, traditionally known as the Yahwist strand and the Priestly Code, are clearly distinguishable. The question is how to handle those insights. Clearly, chapter 1 and chapter 2 of Genesis were written by different authors and are two different stories of creation. (Genesis 1:1–2:3 is generally attributed to the Priestly Code; the balance of Genesis 2, to the Yahwist.) My suggested “canonical exegesis” will acknowledge this difference, but it will not stop there. Indeed, only then does the real exegetical task begin—to try to understand the message of the text as a whole. What does it mean to “Fill the earth and master it” (Genesis 1:28)? This is explained in the second account of creation, in chapter 2: God put the man in the garden “to till it” and “keep it,” or “tend it,” or better yet “guard it” (Genesis 2:15). Thus we learn that “master” in Genesis 1:28 does not mean “subdue,” as it is often rendered in English translations, or to rule, but to work carefully and guard. It seems obvious that the author of the text as it has come down to us understood the relation between the two chapters in this way. They are not in contrast to each other, but related to each other.

#6. Shanks, H. (Ed.). (2004). BR 10:04.

The Catholic Church and Bible Interpretation

Major Catholic report endorses modern critical scholarship, condemns fundamentalist biblical interpretation

The historical-critical method of Bible interpretation is “indispensable”, declares a remarkable new report of the Pontifical Biblical Commission of the Roman Catholic Church.1 “Proper understanding [of the Bible] not only admits the use of this method but actually requires it.” Holy Scripture is the “word of God in human language”; in short, the Bible “has been composed by human authors in all its various parts,” states the report issued late last year by a 20-person committee, all men and all leading Roman Catholic scholars.

One of the most valuable aspects of the Commission’s report is its careful, yet succinct descriptions of the wide variety of methods of biblical interpretation, noting both the strengths and limitations of each method.

The Commission’s report discusses both the “documentary hypothesis” regarding the editing of the Pentateuch and the “two-source hypothesis” regarding the relationship of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) to one another.

The report describes the “documentary hypothesis” as “an explanation of the editing of the Pentateuch. According to this hypothesis, four documents, to some extent parallel with each other, had been woven together: that of the Yahwist (J), that of the Elohist (E), that of the Deuteronomist (D) and that of the priestly author (P); the final editor made use of this latter (priestly) document to provide a structure for the whole.”

As for the “two-source hypothesis”:

“In similar fashion, to explain both the agreements and disagreements between the three synoptic Gospels, scholars had recourse to the ‘two-source’ hypothesis. According to this, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were composed out of two principal sources: on the one hand, the Gospel of Mark and, on the other, a collection of the sayings of Jesus (called Q, from the German word quelle, meaning “source”). In their essential features, these two hypotheses retain their prominence in scientific exegesis today—though they are also under challenge.”

The report goes on to describe not only source criticism as reflected in the methods described above, but also form criticism, tradition criticism, redaction criticism and other tools of the historical-critical approach, which, the report concludes, have provided “fresh access to the Bible.”

The report specifically rejects the literalist stance of fundamentalist interpretation. The report describes the fundamentalist approach as “dangerous,” inviting people to “a kind of intellectual suicide.” This approach “unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations.” The report’s discussion of fundamentalist interpretation is printed in its entirety in the sidebar to this article.

While noting the limitations of feminist exegesis, the report gives generally high marks to it:

“Feminist exegesis has brought many benefits. Women have played a more active part in exegetical research. They have succeeded, often better than men, in detecting the presence, the significance and the role of women in the Bible, in Christian origins and in the church. The worldview of today, because of its greater attention to the dignity of women and to their role in society and in the church, ensures that new questions are put to the biblical text, which in turn occasions new discoveries. Feminine sensitivity helps to unmask and correct certain commonly accepted interpretations which were tendentious and sought to justify the male domination of women.”

The report gives a more qualified endorsement to liberation theology. Liberation theology seeks a reading of the Bible “drawn from the situation of people as it is lived here and now. If a people lives in circumstances of oppression, one must go to the Bible to find there nourishment capable of sustaining the people in its struggles and its hopes.”…

Fundamentalist Interpretation is “Naively Literalist”—An Excerpt from the Catholic Report on the Bible

“Fundamentalist interpretation starts from the principle that the Bible, being the word of God, inspired and free from error, should be read and interpreted literally in all its details. But by ‘literal interpretation’ it understands a naively literalist interpretation, one, that is to say, which excludes every effort at understanding the Bible that takes account of its historical origins and development. It is opposed, therefore, to the use of the historical-critical method, as indeed to the use of any other scientific method for the interpretation of Scripture.

The fundamentalist interpretation had its origin at the time of the Reformation, arising out of a concern for fidelity to the literal meaning of Scripture. After the century of the Enlightenment it emerged in Protestantism as a bulwark against liberal exegesis.

The actual term fundamentalist is connected directly with the American Biblical Congress held at Niagara, N.Y., in 1895. At this meeting, conservative Protestant exegetes defined ‘five points of fundamentalism’: the verbal inerrancy of Scripture, the divinity of Christ, his virginal birth, the doctrine of vicarious expiation and the bodily resurrection at the time of the second coming of Christ. As the fundamentalist way of reading the Bible spread to other parts of the world, it gave rise to other ways of interpretation, equally ‘literalist,’ in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. As the 20th century comes to an end, this kind of interpretation is winning more and more adherents, in religious groups and sects, as also among Catholics.

Fundamentalism is right to insist on the divine inspiration of the Bible, the inerrancy of the word of God and other biblical truths included in its five fundamental points. But its way of presenting these truths is rooted in an ideology which is not biblical, whatever the proponents of this approach might say. For it demands an unshakable adherence to rigid doctrinal points of view and imposes, as the only source of teaching for Christian life and salvation, a reading of the Bible which rejects all questioning and any kind of critical research.

The basic problem with fundamentalist interpretation of this kind is that refusing to take into account the historical character of biblical revelation, it makes itself incapable of accepting the full truth of the incarnation itself. As regards relationships with God, fundamentalism seeks to escape any closeness of the divine and the human. It refuses to admit that the inspired word of God has been expressed in human language and that this word has been expressed, under divine inspiration, by human authors possessed of limited capacities and resources. For this reason, it tends to treat the biblical text as if it had been dictated word for word by the Spirit. It fails to recognize that the word of God has been formulated in language and expression conditioned by various periods. It pays no attention to the literary forms and to the human ways of thinking to be found in the biblical texts, many of which are the result of a process extending over long periods of time and bearing the mark very diverse historical situations.

Fundamentalism also places undue stress upon the inerrancy of certain details in the biblical texts, especially in what concerns historical events or supposedly scientific truth. It often historicizes material which from the start never claimed to be historical. It considers historical everything that is reported or recounted with verbs in the past tense, failing to take the necessary account of the possibility of symbolic or figurative meaning.

Fundamentalism often shows a tendency to ignore or to deny the problems presented by the biblical text in its original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek form. It is often narrowly bound to one fixed translation, whether old or present-day. By the same token it fails to take account of the ‘rereadings’ (relectures) of certain texts which are found within the Bible itself.

In what concerns the Gospels, fundamentalism does not take into account the development of the Gospel tradition, but naively confuses the final stage of this tradition (what the evangelists have written) with the initial (the words and deeds of the historical Jesus). At the same time fundamentalism neglects an important fact: the way in which the first Christian communities themselves understood the impact produced by Jesus of Nazareth and his message. But it is precisely there that we find a witness to the apostolic origin of the Christian faith and its direct expression. Fundamentalism thus misrepresents the call voiced by the Gospel itself.

Fundamentalism likewise tends to adopt very narrow points of view. It accepts the literal reality of an ancient, out-of-date cosmology simply because it is found expressed in the Bible; this blocks any dialogue with a broader way of seeing the relationship between culture and faith. Its relying upon a non-critical reading of certain texts of the Bible serves to reinforce political ideas and social attitudes that are marked by prejudices—racism, for example—quite contrary to the Christian Gospel.

Finally, in its attachment to the principle ‘Scripture alone,’ fundamentalism separates the interpretation of the Bible from the tradition, which, guided by the Spirit, has authentically developed in union with Scripture in the heart of the community of faith. It fails to realize that the New Testament took form within the Christian church and that is the Holy Scripture of this church, the existence of which preceded the composition of the texts. Because of this, fundamentalism is often anti-church; it considers of little importance the creeds, the doctrines and liturgical practices which have become part of church tradition, as well as the teaching function of the church itself. It presents itself as a form of private interpretation which does not acknowledge that the church is founded on the Bible and draws its life and inspiration from Scripture.

The fundamentalist approach is dangerous, for it is attractive to people who look to the Bible for ready answers to the problems of life. It can deceive these people, offering them interpretations that are pious but illusory, instead of telling them that the Bible does not necessarily contain an immediate answer to each and every problem. Without saying as much in so many words, fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects in to life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations.”

#7. Shanks, H. (Ed.). (2004). BR 17:06.

Today, when scholars discuss the multiple authors whose work has been woven together in the Bible, they often credit the groundbreaking research in the mid- to late 19th century of Julius Wellhausen and Karl Graf, whose documentary hypothesis identified four source texts (the Yahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomic and Priestly sources) woven together in the Pentateuch.* But in truth, some of the credit should go instead to the German Rationalists and Neologists working decades before Wellhausen.

In 1780 Johann Gottfried Eichhorn posited two sources for Genesis 1–11—an Elohim source and a Jehovah source (Jehovah being a misvocalization for the sacred name YHWH made common in Reformation-era Bible translations)—based on the two names used for God throughout these chapters.2 Eichhorn also separated the history found in Samuel and Kings from that in Chronicles and dated the latter to the post-Exilic period (post 539 B.C.E.) based on the late linguistic forms found in the text and the book’s elaborate demonology and angelology, in which he detected Persian influence.

Literary differences in prophetic literature were also identified as the work of different writers brought together by later editors. In 1780, Johann Benjamin Koppe claimed that Isaiah 40–66 was written during the Babylonian Exile, a position widely espoused by late Victorian and 20th-century scholarship (although today this dating is increasingly challenged).3

In the early 19th century, Wilhelm M.L. de Wette argued that much of the material in Genesis-Numbers was unhistorical (anachronistic). The comprehensive legal system, sacrificial cult and priesthood associated with Moses were actually products of the Exilic period that had been retrojected into the Mosaic era. He found that Chronicles was too late to include reliable information about Israelite religion during the time of the monarchy. De Wette, like the church father Jerome centuries earlier, identified Deuteronomy as the book discovered when the late-seventh-century king Josiah was making repairs to the Temple (according to 2 Kings 22). Thus de Wette concluded that Deuteronomy, which institutes the written law and establishes a central sanctuary in Jerusalem, reflected events and cultic regulations from the late monarchic period.4

Deuteronomy was further identified as the beginning of a literary process that was to conclude with the formal priestly religion enshrined in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. Thus, Wellhausen’s Deuteronomic and Priestly sources were foreshadowed, in chronological order, without being named as such. By the early 19th century, adherents of the German higher critical approaches believed that writings that had once been attributed to Moses were actually the work of several authors and editors dating no earlier than the Israelite monarchy.

Word of this radical German biblical criticism reached England in the late 18th century. But it did not receive a prominent airing until the 1820s, when the Anglican divine Edward B. Pusey excoriated the German scholar Michaelis (as well as Eichhorn and de Wette) for his “perverted applications of mere civil, often of modern, principles, unfounded theories and low views.”5

British shock over this treatment of Holy Writ had far less to do with the redating of biblical texts, however, than with the willingness to question and reject traditional dogmas of church belief. If the world we inhabit is devoid of miracles, a credo of the Enlightenment, then Moses did not part the Red Sea by supernatural intervention. Once skepticism in the literal historical reading of the Bible took root in the academy, the training ground for tomorrow’s clergy, where would it end?6

Moderate British churchmen struggled to promote a counter-educational program that appealed to reason without offending conventional piety. Popular commentaries were generated for lay consumption, and the young were taught in Sunday schools to resist the allure of skepticism.

Nevertheless, German higher criticism continued to gain ground, and the offended British intelligentsia cast about for ways to protect the traditional dogmas of inspiration and scriptural infallibility.



The definition for the title word is: The word “pseudepigrapha” literally means “falsely ascribed writings,” and refers to works that falsely claim to be written by a specific author. (Rachel Klippenstein, J. D. B., & III, E. J. H. (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Pseudepigrapha, Old Testament. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.)

And while some may be such works we have a hard time accepting the broad generalization applied to those works scholars reject as honest, legitimate documents. By that we mean that while some scholars claim a work is a false claim we call their judgement and assessment into question. Case in point:

Bauckham and Davila define the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha as “ancient books that claim to be written by a character in the Old Testament or set in the same time period as the Old Testament and recount narratives related to it, but which do not belong to the Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant biblical canons (IBID)

A book titled, for example, The Acts of Job, does not make the claim that Job wrote it. It merely tells us that the main character is a person named Job. Scholars would have to submit the actual passage where an author claims to be a biblical character before suggesting that the work is a falsely ascribed work.

What follows are excerpts from different works on this topic.


In the times immediately preceding and succeeding the commencement of

the Christian era there arose among the Jews a style of writing to

which the name Pseudepigraphic has been given, because most of the

works so composed appeared under the assumed name of some famous

person. They must not be considered in the light of literary

forgeries; they are not like Macpherson with his Ossian, or Chatterton

with his Rowley, fraudulent attempts at imposture; but the authors,

having something to say which they deemed worthy of the attention of

contemporaries, put it forth under the ægis of a great name, not to

deceive, but to conciliate favour.

A writer who ventured to

appropriate a celebrated title would take care to satisfy the

expectations raised by his pseudonym, and readers would believe that

no one would dare to challenge comparison with a great original who

was not qualified to sustain the character assumed. The most familiar

instance is, perhaps, the book known as the Wisdom of Solomon, wherein

the writer assumes the person of the great Israelite king, certainly

with no idea of deceiving his readers (for the language of the

treatise, the date and place of its composition, alike forbid any

notion of fraud), but with the view of supporting his opinions by the

highest authority, and as embodying sentiments which are such as the

son of David might have enunciated.

A similar impersonation is

familiar to us in the Book of Ecclesiastes, where Koheleth utters his

varied experiences through the mouth of Solomon, “son of David, king

in Jerusalem.” Such a use of fiction has been common in all ages; it

is found in classical authors. Plato and Cicero introduced real

characters as vehicles for supporting or opposing their views. The

Apologies of Socrates, the speeches in Thucydides and Livy, are never

deemed to be intentional deceptions; the animus decipiendi is lacking;

and though they utter the words of the writers, and not those of the

persons represented, no one sees in them fraud and chicanery, but

every one regards them as legitimate examples of dramatic personation.

The Old Testament authors do not prefix their names to their works, as

they write, not for self-glorification, but to serve far higher


The only exception to this rule is found in the case of the

prophets, whose names and credentials were necessarily required, in

order to give weight and credibility to their announcements. In

accordance with this practice the uninspired apocalyptic writers

publish their visions, and lucubrations under the appellation of some

earlier worthy, whom with transparent impersonation they introduce

into their compositions. They might also claim the authority of the

titles of many books in the Old Testament which are presented under

the names of authors who certainly did not write them. No one supposes

that Ruth or Esther composed the books which bear their names, and

very little of the two books of Samuel are the work of that great


The Psalmists adopted the designations of David, or Asaph, or

the sons of Korah, because they echoed the spirit or employed the

forms found in their prototypes. Those who followed the footsteps of

these great predecessors, without their claim to inspiration, thought

themselves justified in winning attention to their utterances by

adventitious means, and boldly personated the eminent characters in

whose spirit they wrote. [1]

The value of these writings is considerable, and this for many

reasons; but that which chiefly concerns us is the light which they

throw upon Jewish belief at the most important era. Those which are

plainly antecedent to Christian times have their own special utility;

while the later productions, which belong to the first Christian

centuries, show the influence of new ideas even on those who retained

their affection for the old religion.

And both series are necessary for every study of the religious history of the Jews. It is perhaps

true that this apocalyptic literature was regarded with little favour

by the Rabbinic schools, and no dogmatic authority was attributed to

it; but it can be used as indicating current thought, just as we refer

to any contemporary document to denote popular opinion, though it be

not stamped with the authority of a teaching body.

The number of these

writings which are still extant, and the many more of which the titles

only have remained to our times, prove the wide prevalence of the

feelings which are embodied in them, and the profound impression which

such thoughts had made on the hearts of the people.

Omitting the works

which either in whole or in part have been submitted to modern

criticism, we have notices of the existence of many other apocalyptic

and pseudepigraphic compositions, whose titles pretty fairly explain

their contents. Of course, very many of the works enumerated in the

catalogues of extra-canonical writings are of Christian origin; but

even these are framed on the same lines as the earlier, and very often

repeat the ideas and give expression to the hopes found in the others.

The documents fall naturally into three classes. The first, of which

few representatives have reached us, may be called Lyrical. There is a

spurious production of this nature assigned to David in the Apostolical Constitutions, [4] but it is no longer extant. The only

important contribution to this class is the Psalter of Solomon, a

collection of eighteen psalms, written probably originally in Hebrew,

about half a century before the Christian era, but known to us only in

a Greek version.

The second class may be called Prophetical, and may be divided into

two sections, composed respectively of Apocalypses and Testaments.

Apocalyptic writings are very numerous, the most celebrated being the

Fourth Book of Esdras and the Book of Enoch. The former of these, as

it forms a portion of the Apocrypha in the Authorised Version of our

English Bible, has been copiously annotated of late years; the latter

from its length and importance demands special study.

The third class takes a historical or Haggadistic character. Its chief

representative is the Book of Jubilees, or Micro-Genesis, an enlarged

account of Biblical history down to the institution of the Passover,

with the chronology reduced to Jubilee periods. Other works of which

little is known are these: the History of Jannes and Jambres, the

magicians who opposed Moses at the court of Pharaoh; the Conversion of

Manasses, a different work from the Prayer of Manasses in our

Apocrypha; the Life of Adam; the Revelation of Adam; the Repentance of

Adam; the Daughters of Adam; the Gospel of Eve; the Story of Asenath,

Joseph’s wife, and that of Noria, the wife of Noah.

#2. Rachel Klippenstein, J. D. B., & III, E. J. H. (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Pseudepigrapha, Old Testament. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press

List of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha

Organizing the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha can be difficult due to numerous factors, including the uncertainty of the dating of all the writings, as well as different writings having different titles. Charlesworth categorizes the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha into 65 works based upon their literary type (Charlesworth, OTP 1, xvi). The following list of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha broadly follows Charlesworth’s classification but does not include exactly the same list of works.

(This list does not cover literature that resembles the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha but is known only from the Dead Sea Scrolls; for more information on these works, see this article: Dead Sea Scrolls, Nonbiblical.)

Apocalyptic Literature

This broad literary type contains writings in which an Old Testament hero claims to receive further revelation or disclosure, often concerning the end of time and history as well as information about heaven. This genre often contains visions. There is a heavy emphasis on angels in this genre.

•      1 (Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch—Dating between the second century BC and the first century AD, this book is a composite work written by numerous authors at numerous times, yet claims to be from the biblical Enoch, an early descendant of Adam.

•      2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch—This possibly late first-century AD work is an amplification of Gen 5:21–32; it covers events from Enoch’s life to the onset of the flood.

•      3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch—This book from the fifth—sixth centuries AD claims to be the account of Rabbi Ishmael (prominent circa AD 110–135) and his journey into heaven, where he learned that the biblical character of Enoch was transformed into the angel Metatron.

•      Sibylline Oracles—These various oracles, dating from the second century BC to the eighth century AD, are mainly concerned with predicting woes and disasters on specific nations and peoples, often functioning as examples of political propaganda.

•      Treatise of Shem—A first century BC calendologion (an astrological work containing 12 chapters that correspond to the 12 zodiac signs).

•      Apocryphon of Ezekiel—Only small portions of this first century BC to first century AD work attributed to Ezekiel exist. The longest surviving excerpt is a story about a blind man and a lame man.

•      Apocalypse of Zephaniah.—This apocalypse dating from the first century BC to the first century AD is attributed to Zephaniah and claims to record a vision in which Zephaniah was shown heaven and Hades.

•      The Fourth Book of Ezra—This late first-century AD book forms the core of what is known as 2 Esdras in the Apocrypha of some English Bibles. The book contains a diverse and extensive eschatology and offers numerous parallels to Rev 7:9 and 14:1–5.

•      Greek Apocalypse of Ezra—Dating between the second—ninth centuries AD, this work claims to be a vision received by Ezra in which he was taken up to heaven and much was revealed to him.

•      Vision of Ezra—This Christian-influenced apocalyptic work from the fourth—seventh centuries AD claims to be a collection of the visions of Ezra and has similarities with many other Pseudepigrapha from earlier periods.

•      Revelation of Ezra—A Christian-influenced calendologion dating prior to the ninth century AD designed to show the importance of Ezra as an astrological figure.

•      Apocalypse of Sedrach—Dating between the second—fifth century AD, this work claims to be an account of Sedrach (either Shadrach [Dan 3:12] or Ezra/Esdras) and his dialogue with God.

•      2 (Syriac Apocalypse of) Baruch—An early second-century AD work containing various concepts such as lamentations, prayers, question and answers, and visions. This work sheds important light on the rabbinic Judaism that arose after the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

•      3 (Greek Apocalypse of) Baruch—A work from the first—third century AD in which Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah, is so upset over the destruction of the temple that God sends an angel to comfort him and also to reveal to him the five heavens.

•      Apocalypse of Abraham—A first—second century AD work purporting to be from Abraham; deals with Israel’s election, special status as a nation, and covenant with God.

•      Apocalypse of Adam—A clearly gnostic work dating from the first—fourth century AD; claims to be extra revelation from Adam in support of gnostic theology.

•      Coptic Apocalypse of Elijah—This work, dating from the first—fourth century AD, is not really an apocalypse but claims to be a prophecy. While it is named for Elijah, he is only mentioned twice.

•      Hebrew Apocalypse of Elijah—This work probably dates from the third—seventh century AD. In it, the angel Michael tells Elijah about the end of the age.

•      Apocalypse of Daniel—This ninth-century AD work is an adaptation of the coming of the antichrist to the current times in which the work was written.

•      Seventh Vision of Daniel—A fifth-century AD text purporting to tell of a vision in which the angel Gabriel foretold events of Roman and Byzantine history to Daniel.

•      Questions of Ezra—A Christian-influenced work of uncertain date preserved in Armenian which claims to report a dialogue between Ezra and and an angel concerning the fate of the wicked and the righteous after death.

•      Apocalypse of Noah—A modern title for a possible lost work cited as by Jubilees as having been written by Noah. It may have been a source for portions of 1 Enoch as well as Jubilees.

For further details, see these articles: Enoch, Books of; Enoch, First Book of; Enoch, Second Book of; Enoch, Third book of; Sibylline Oracles; Treatise of Shem; Apocryphon of Ezekiel; Esdras, Books of; Esdras, Second Book of; Apocalypse of Ezra, Greek; Vision of Ezra; Revelation of Ezra; Apocalypse of Sedrach; Baruch, Second Book of; Baruch, Third Book of; Apocalypse of Abraham; Apocalypse of Adam; Apocalypse of Elijah, Coptic; Apocalypse of Elijah, Hebrew; Apocalypse of Daniel; Daniel, Seventh Vision of; Questions of Ezra; Apocalypse of Noah


This literary type is based on the genre of a last will and testament, as seen in Gen 49. These writings claim to record the last words of certain biblical characters, providing their final monologues and dealing with theology and ethics.

•      Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs—A work from the second century BC claiming to be the final utterances of Jacob’s 12 sons.

•      Testament of Job—A first-century BC to first-century AD testament that purports to contain Job’s final words.

•      Testament of Abraham—Dating around the first to second century AD, this work presents itself as an account of how stubborn Abraham was in death; it depicts him trying to bargain with God and refusing to surrender his soul.

•      Testament of Isaac—A second-century AD story in which Isaac, after delivering his last homily, is taken to heaven by the angel Michael, and overhears a conversation between God and Abraham.

•      Testament of Jacob—A story from the second or third century AD with a plot similar to that of the Testament of Isaac.

•      Testament of Moses—A partially preserved text dating in the first or second century AD which claims to be Moses’ farewell discourse to Joshua and outlines the history of Israel from their entrance into Canaan until the end of days.

•      Testament of Solomon—Dating from the first to third century AD, this writing is a folkloric text about Solomon and his building of the temple; it includes sections on magic, astrology, angels, and medicine.

•      Testament of Adam—This second- to fifth-century AD work is made up of three sections: a discourse attributed to Adam on the hours of the day and night, a purported speech of Adam to his son Seth, and a section on the hierarchy of angels and heavenly bodies that does not mention Adam.

For further details, see these articles: Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs; Testament of Job; Testament of Abraham; Testament of Isaac; Testament of Jacob; Testament of Moses; Testament of Solomon; Testament of Adam; Adam, Books of

Expansions and Legends

This literary type includes expansions of biblical narratives, new stories couched within the biblical context about the biblical figures, and legends surrounding the biblical text’s transmissions. Some of these texts are classified as parabiblical or rewritten Bible, while others are simply legends about the biblical figures or figures related to the Bible’s transmission.

•      Letter of Aristeas—A letter probably dating to the second century BC that is an important source for understanding how the Hebrew Bible was translated into the Greek Septuagint (LXX). An apologetic piece, this letter sought to prove the compatibility of the Jewish religion with Hellenistic Greek culture.

•      Jubilees—Dating from the second century BC, the book of Jubilees seeks to provide an explanation for the unknown events that transpired during Moses’ 40 days on Mount Sinai (Exod 24:18).

•      Ascension of Isaiah—A second-century BC to fourth-century AD book written in different sections at different times (known as a composite work) that seeks to provide an account for Isaiah’s death as well as establish a legend about his visions and ascent into heaven.

•      Joseph and Aseneth—A first-century BC to second-century AD romance writing which tells a fanciful story about the Old Testament hero Joseph and an Egyptian woman Aseneth who would be his bride.

•      Life of Adam and Eve (sometimes known as the Apocalypse of Moses in its Greek version)—The original form of this work was likely written between the first century BC and the first century AD. The work seeks to account for some of the events in the lives of the biblical Adam and Eve after their expulsion from the garden of Eden; the Latin version also contains an account of the fall of Satan.

•      Pseudo-Philo—A book from the first century AD that provides a retelling of the history of Israel from Adam to David.

•      The Lives of the Prophets—This first century AD work provides a summary account of the lives of the main prophets in the Old Testament and draws its material mainly from the scriptural accounts, with some legends and expansions added in.

•      The Ladder of Jacob—A fragmentary story probably composed between 200 BC and AD 200 that expands upon Jacob’s dream as recorded in Gen 28:11–22.

•      4 Baruch—A first—second century AD work that retells and expands upon certain events that occurred between the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the stoning of Jeremiah.

•      Jannes and Jambres—This fragmentarily preserved text from the first to third centuries AD tells of the magicians of Pharaoh who sought to oppose Moses (named in 2 Tim 3:8–9 but anonymous in the Old Testament mentions in Exod 7–11).

•      History of the Rechabites—Likely dating from the first—fourth centuries AD, this legend tells the story of a man whom God allows to visit the land of the Blessed Ones, a people whom are in a perpetual blessed states and live and commune with angels.

•      Eldad and Modad—Only one line of this work about Eldad and Modad (Num 11:26–29 is preserved. It dates to sometime before to the second century AD.

•      History of Joseph—Written sometime before or during the sixth century AD, this fragmentary document seems to be a history and expansion of the account of Joseph in Genesis.

•      Maccabees, Ethiopian Books of—The three Ethiopian books of Maccabees (or Meqabyan) are distinct from the books of Maccabees known outside Ethiopia, and focus on different figures. They were probably composed as late as the 15th century AD and are included in the Ethiopian Orthodox canon of the Old Testament.

•      Book of Josippon—A 10th-century AD Jewish historical chronicle based primarily on Pseudo-Hegesippus’ Latin translation of Josephus’ Jewish War. A translation of this work became part of the Ethiopian broader canon of the Old Testament. It is no longer considered pseudepigrapha but a historical chronicle.

•      Cave of Treasures—A fourth—sixth century Syriac history of the world from creation to the time of Christ.

•      Conflict of Adam and Eve—A fifth or sixth century description of the conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan upon their expulsion from paradise.

For further details, see these articles: Aristeas, Letter of; Jubilees, Book of; Ascension of Isaiah; Joseph and Aseneth; Life of Adam and Eve, Text; Adam, Books of; Pseudo-Philo; Lives of the Prophets, Text; Jacob’s Ladder, Text; Baruch, Fourth Book of; Jannes and Jambres; History of the Rechabites; Eldad and Modad, Text; History of Joseph, Text; Maccabees, Ethiopian Books of; Josippon, Book of; Cave of Treasures; Conflict of Adam and Eve, Text

Wisdom and Philosophical Literature

This literary type represents a generic type of Wisdom literature dealing with practical living aspects of Judaism.

•      Ahiqar—This text from between the seventh—sixth century BC became a well-known tale in the ancient Mediterranean world. Non-Jewish in origin, the work tells the story of Ahiqar, a scribe and counselor to the kings of Assyria. It also contains a collection of his wisdom sayings.

•      4 Maccabees—A book from the first century AD that seeks to provide a philosophical treatise on reason over passion, using Old Testament heroes as examples.

•      Pseudo-Phocylides—Dating sometime between the first century BC and the first century AD, this is a poem written under the name of Phocylides (circa sixth century BC), a famous poet in antiquity. However, it is not actually his work since the poem has a decidedly Jewish agenda.

•      The Sentences of the Syriac Menander—A collection of wisdom sayings from approximately the third century AD, this work provides maxims for daily living.

•      Alphabet of Sirach—22 proverbs in Aramaic and the same number in Hebrew, accompanied by medieval commentary and tales.

For further details, see these articles: Ahiqar, Book of; Maccabees, Fourth Book of The; Pseudo-Phocylides; Syriac Menander; Sirach, Alphabet of

Prayers, Psalms, and Odes

This literary type represents the poetic prayers, psalms, and hymns that Jewish people might have used in addition to the psalms found in the Old Testament.

•      Syriac Psalms—Four psalms that are canonical only in the Syriac tradition; they were probably composed at various dates between the third century BC and the first century AD.

•      Psalms of Solomon—A first-century BC collection of psalms that shows the response of a certain group of Jews to the capture of Jerusalem by the Romans in the first century.

•      Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers—A collection of prayers dating from the second—third century AD; representative of synagogue life during that time.

•      Prayer of Joseph—A mid-second to early-third century AD text, available only through quotations; the surviving quotations do not contain a reference to Joseph, but instead make claims about Jacob’s authority and provide information about his supposed encounter with the angel Uriel.

•      Prayer of Jacob—Dating sometime between the first—fourth centuries AD, this work purports to be a prayer of Jacob but is actually similar to Greek-Egyptian magical papyri which were believed to hold mysterious power when invoked.

•      Odes of Solomon—A Christian hymnbook dating to around the end of the first century AD that is based on Jewish models.

For further details, see these articles: Syriac Psalms; Psalms of Solomon; Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers; Prayer of Joseph; Prayer of Jacob; Odes of Solomon

Fragments of Lost Judaeo-Hellenistic Works

While not pseudepigrapha in the traditional sense, these works are often included as a supplement to the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha because they provide insight into the diversity and character of Jewish literature during the time when the Pseudepigrapha were being written (Charlesworth, OTP 2, 776). Most of these works only exist in fragments but are valuable for study nonetheless.

•      Philo the Epic Poet—A fragmentarily preserved epic poem from the third—second century BC dealing with Jerusalem.

•      Theodotus—A poem from the second—first century BC; the surviving fragments deal with Gen 34 and Jacob’s daughter Dinah.

•      Orphica—A Jewish poem claiming to be Greek; likely dates from the second century BC.

•      Ezekiel the Tragedian—A tragic drama dating from the second century BC telling the story of the exodus.

•      Fragments of Pseudo-Greek Poets—Poetic fragments composed by Jews likely in the third—second century BC

•      Aristobulus—Fragments from the second century BC that deal with philosophical issues between Jewish culture and Hellenistic culture.

•      Demetrius the Chronographer—Fragments dating probably to the third century BC that primarily deal with Old Testament chronology.

•      Aristeas the Exegete—The surviving fragment of this work is a history of the life of Job. It dates to some time between the third and first centuries BC.

•      Eupolemus—Fragments dating likely to the second century BC which are from the works of a Jewish historian detailing different aspects of Israel’s history.

•      Pseudo-Eupolemus—Fragments dealing with Abraham, dating prior to the first century BC.

•      Cleodemus Malchus—Fragments that date prior to the first century BC dealing with the history of the descendants of Abraham through his wife Keturah (Gen 25:1–4).

•      Artapanus’ On the Jews—A work of historical fiction from between the third and second century BC; the surviving fragments deal with Abraham, Joseph, and Moses.

•      Pseudo-Hecataeus—Dating between the second century BC and the first century AD, these fragments are historical in context.

For further details, see these articles: Philo the Epic Poet; Theodotus the Epic Poet; Orphica; Ezekiel the Tragedian; Fragments of Pseudo-Greek Poets; Aristobulus the Jewish Philosopher; Demetrius the Chronographer; Aristeas the Exegete; Eupolemus; Pseudo-Eupolemus; Cleodemus Malchus; Artapanus; Pseudo-Hecataeus

#3. Geisler, N. L., & Brooks, R. M. (1990). When skeptics ask (pp. 155–156). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.


The Apocrypha is a set of books written between the third century B.C. and the first century A.D. It consists of fourteen books (fifteen if you divide the books differently) which are found in the several ancient copies of important Greek translations of the Old Testament and reflect some of the Jewish tradition and history that came after the time of Malachi (the last Old Testament prophet). Most of the Apocrypha was accepted as Scripture by Augustine and the Syrian church in the fourth century and was later canonized by the Catholic church. The apocryphal books are alluded to in the New Testament and by the early church fathers and have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran.

However, these books were never accepted by the Jews as Scripture and are not included in the Hebrew Bible. Though the New Testament may allude to them (e.g., Heb. 11:35), none of the allusions are clearly called the Word of God (Paul quotes pagan poets too, but not as Scripture). Augustine admitted that it has secondary status to the rest of the Old Testament. One reason for supporting it was that it was included with the Septuagint (a Greek translation), which he considered to be inspired; but Jerome, a Hebrew scholar, made the official Latin Vulgate version of the Old Testament without the added apocryphal books.

Those churches that have accepted the Apocrypha have done so long after it was written (fourth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries). The fathers who cited these writings are offset by others who vehemently opposed them, such as Athanasius and Jerome. In fact, these books were never officially added to the Bible until A.D. 1546 at the Council of Trent. But this is suspect in that they accepted these books on the basis of Christian usage (the wrong reason) just twenty-nine years after Martin Luther had called for some biblical support for beliefs like salvation by works and prayer for the dead (which the Apocrypha provides: 2 Maccabees 12:45; Tobit 12:9). As for the Qumran finds, hundreds of books have been found there that are not canonical; this offers no evidence that they accepted the apocryphal books as anything other than popular literature. Finally, no apocryphal book claims to be inspired. Indeed, some specifically deny that they are inspired (1 Maccabees 9:27). If God did not inspire it, then it is not His Word.

#4. Shanks, H. (Ed.). (2004). BR 19:05.

This literary genre is called pseudepigraphy, from the Greek for “false writing.” Early Jewish literature abounds with documents attributed to ancient figures such as Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Jacob’s twelve sons, Moses, Solomon, Ezra, and Ezekiel.2 Not all pseudepigrapha are out-and-out forgeries. Some were probably circulated anonymously and only later attributed to sages of old. But all contain clear evidence, such as anachronistic language, betraying their relatively late date of composition.

#5. (1983). Biblical Archaeologist, 46.

After all, the phenomenon of pseudepigraphy, that is, the attribution of books to “false” authors, was widespread in the ancient world and particularly prevalent in Greco-Roman antiquity, in Jewish, Christian, and pagan circles alike. We have Jewish books attributed to pagan authors, such as the Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides, written by a Hellenistic Jew and credited to a proverbial Greek wise man of the sixth century BCE There were even Jewish and Christian oracles attributed to a legendary pagan prophetess, the famous Sibyl. There were works written by Greek pagans and attributed to Zoroaster, the Persian founder of the Zoroastrian religion, or to the legendary Egyptian king Nechepso. The same phenomenon is to be found in a broad range of Christian and Gnostic writing as well (see Speyer 1971; Stone 1983).

The Pseudepigrapha can be more specifically defined as Jewish writings of the Second Temple period resembling the Apocrypha in general character, yet not included in the Bible, Apocrypha, or rabbinic literature. The definition thus depends on an understanding of the nature and scope of the Apocrypha.

The term Apocrypha designates quite clearly those books that were included in the Latin Bible of the Middle Ages and which were excluded from the Protestant canon of Scripture, for the reformers took the Hebrew Bible as the basis for their Old Testament. The Apocrypha, then, were those books that were included in the Latin Bible but not in the Hebrew, that is the Jewish, collection of Sacred Scripture. Almost all of them are still found in the canon of the Old Testament of the Roman Catholic church.

These are Jewish books, chiefly, if not exclusively, written in the last pre-Christian centuries and the first century C.E. All the extra books which were found in the medieval Latin Bible, with one exception (4 Ezra, also called 2 Esdras), also occur in Greek. Some of them were originally written in a Semitic language (Hebrew or Aramaic), while others were composed in Greek. Gradually, these works in their Greek versions were incorporated into the Greek bibles in use throughout Christendom. As these bibles were translated into Latin, the extra books were included along with those of the Hebrew canon. When the Protestant reformers many centuries later sought a return to the Hebrew Old Testament, the Roman Church reacted by declaring these extra works to be canonical at the Council of Trent in 1546.

None of the books of the Apocrypha were preserved as such in the on-going tradition of rabbinic Judaism, in the original Hebrew or Aramaic. Certain of them, it is true, were transmitted back into the Jewish tradition in the Middle Ages, most often from Christian sources, but this was a secondary process. Thus, the Apocrypha is a fixed corpus that is the result of a historical development within the Christian tradition.

Other developments contributed to and stemmed from the process—the beginnings of archaeology, the decipherment of hieroglyphs and cuneiform, the beginning of scholarly study of the Holy Land, to name just a few. It was in this context that the first serious interest developed in those Jewish documents which might help to illuminate the New Testament. Many works were discovered, published, translated, and studied, and they came to be called the Pseudepigrapha. This was the first period in the study of the Pseudepigrapha. It culminated at the end of the nineteenth century and the very start of the twentieth in the works of Charles and Kautzsch. An English translation was made early in this century and was prepared under the guidance of the renowned scholar R. H. Charles (Charles 1913). He entitled the collection he edited, significantly, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. The same conception of subject was reflected in the almost contemporary German collection edited by E. Kautzsch (Kautzsch 1900).

The discovery of fragments of ten manuscripts of Enoch among the Dead Sea Scrolls has gone a long way to answering many of these questions. The original language was Aramaic, the language of all the fragments of Enoch from Qumran. Study of these Aramaic fragments has allowed scholars to determine that the Ethiopic translation is fairly faithful in most sections of the book, although in one, which gives detailed astronomical and calendary descriptions, the surviving translation is abbreviated. Furthermore, the paleographic dating of the manuscripts shows that certain parts of Enoch are as old or older than the third century BCE (Milik 1976; Greenfield and Stone 1977; Stone 1978; for a survey of recent scholarship see Nickelsburg 1981). Consequently, with just this one example in mind, we can see that, though they are very fragmentary, the Qumran manuscripts of the Pseudepigrapha have considerable importance for the study of this literature.

Not only were pieces of Pseudepigrapha discovered; other, similar writings, which were not previously known, were also found. Through the Greek tradition we had an apocryphal psalm preserved (Psalm 151); in some Syriac manuscripts an additional four psalms of this sort were discovered. In the Psalms Scroll from Qumran, a number of other such compositions turned up (Sanders 1965), and among the unpublished material from Cave 4, even more such psalmodic texts are present. In this case the scrolls have not merely increased the corpus of texts at our disposal, which in itself is a very important contribution. They also enhance our knowledge of a literary genre, the later Psalms, which happen to be poorly attested in the Pseudepigrapha. Any study of Jewish literature of the Second Temple period must now take very seriously the Psalms that were written at that time. Their importance is not limited to the literary historian, for some of them provide a deep insight into the religious feelings and sentiments of their authors.

From the historical sources, primarily the works of Josephus Flavius and the New Testament, we have information about a large number of sects and groups that flounshed in the age of the Second Temple—Pharisees, Sadducees, Samaritans, and Essenes are just a few of them. We also have a plethora of literature—yet there is very little literature that can be confidently attributed to any of these sects or groups within Judaism.

It was the opinion of scholars when these books were published that they originated from Jewish circles in the Second Temple period. In other words, and this was what interested and motivated scholars, they helped to provide a context for the understanding of the origins of Christianity. No longer was rabbinic Judaism to form the primary basis for comparison with earliest Christian literature, but rather the Jewish literature of the Second Temple period, and particularly the Pseudepigrapha, could contribute much insight. Many scholars painted the Pseudepigrapha as opposition literature representing the continuing flow of the “true stream” of Israelite religion forced underground by the growing authority of the Law and Rabbis developing in “Late Judaism” (see, for instance, Charles 1899: 202–03). It is true that some Christian scholars protested against these views, which were on the whole motivated by an animosity let the very least, theological in nature) to the continuing life of Judaism (Sanders 1977: 34–59). Nonetheless, this line of thinking continued to predominate in Christian scholarship of the literature. Jewish scholars, on the other hand, generally paid scant attention to this literature.

In addition to their direct contribution to religious and literary history, the discovery of Pseudepigraphal and other works has had a very great impact upon recent scholarship. When assessed from the point of view of the scholarly study of Jewish literature, one result has been to force scholars to face the issues of the interplay between documents and the way of life of their authors—to ask questions about the Pseudepigrapha or other Jewish documents that are not governed by concerns external to them. In other words, scholars have been made to begin to examine this literature as an expression of various types of Judaism and to undertake to describe those types.

But the study of the Pseudepigrapha has even further implications, on quite a different level of discourse. These books were transmitted by various Christian churches. Although some of them can be identified by external evidence as clearly Jewish and belonging to the period under discussion (such evidence includes the Dead Sea Scrolls or citations in ancient sources), many of them can be set into their historical context only by a careful study of their contents. Yet, all too often, scholars have tended to take works preserved in medieval manuscripts and, with no more ado, proceed as if they had a much older work perfectly preserved or at worst clumsily interpolated. In fact, it is only recently that the need to approach such works first of all in the context in which they were transmitted has become evident. It is a significant fact for the understanding of Byzantine Christianity, for example, that it cultivated and transmitted certain works, such as particular types of apocalypse, and did not conserve others. Which works were so transmitted and why? Which works provided inspiration for a series of medieval compositions? Which aspects of older works were repeatedly taken up and developed? Why? (Himmelfarb 1981).

Some of the People in Church History- 2


This is page 2 of a two page series of lesser known people, for the most part, in Church history. You need to read page one first to get the full context and purpose of this list.

MACVICAR, DONALD HARVEY (1831–1902) Canadian Presbyterian clergyman and educator MacVicar was born in Argyleshire, Scotland, and came to Canada with his parents as a child. He was educated at the University of Toronto and Knox College, Toronto, and in 1859 entered the Presbyterian ministry. In 1868 MacVicar helped to found Presbyterian College in Montreal. His appointment as principal in 1868 represented a triumph for those who wanted the appointment of a Canadian-trained Scot rather than one trained in Scotland. From the time of his appointment until his death in 1902, the fortunes of Presbyterian College depended largely upon his energy and devotion. In the early period of the college’s history almost the whole burden of teaching fell on him. MacVicar was a fine preacher. His sermon at a precommunion service in the Glengarry district in Ontario has been vividly recorded by the Canadian writer Ralph Connor in his novel, The Man from Glengarry. MacVicar wrote widely, publishing articles in the Presbyterian College Journal and in magazines in Ontario and New York. MacVicar’s theology was the solid, Calvinist theology of the Reformed faith. His lectures showed the influence of American Calvinists such as Jonathan Edwards and Charles Hodge. He was anxious that his students should preach the gospel of salvation and urged them, “You are sent to preach the Gospel, to proclaim the great doctrines of grace in the proportions and relations to each other in which you find them stated in the Word of God.” He was a firm believer in the Presbyterian form of church organization which, he said, afforded “proper rights and powers to clergy and laity alike.” MacVicar was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1881. He was a powerful factor in shaping the church as a Calvinist and evangelizing body.

MCPHERSON, AIMEE SEMPLE (1890–1944) One of America’s most flamboyant revivalists in the 1920s and 1930s Born in Ingersoll, Ontario (Canada), McPherson married the man who had been influential in her conversion, Robert Semple, a Pentecostal preacher, with whom she went to China as a missionary in 1908. When Robert died, Aimee returned to the United States with their son, Robert. She then married Harold McPherson, from whom she was subsequently divorced. A third marriage and another divorce came later. With her mother as companion, Aimee Semple McPherson began after World War I a very successful series of revival tours across the United States. “Sister Aimee,” as she was known to her followers, was a physically attractive woman who knew how to exploit her good looks and vibrant personality to capture the attention of the media. She pioneered in radio evangelism (1922) and may have participated in a staged kidnapping of herself in 1926, a case that remains clothed in mystery. Her teaching was probably not as important as her personality in her great success, but it did include standard fundamentalist and Pentecostal emphases: sanctification, baptism of the Holy Spirit with the gift of tongues, Christ as Savior and healer (hence faith healing), and the imminent return of Christ. In 1922 she settled in Los Angeles, where she preached to thousands each week at her $1.5 million Los Angeles Temple. The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel arose as a result of her ministry in 1927. It continued under the direction of her son after she died. Part of the sensation surrounding McPherson’s career arose from allegations linking her romantically to other men. Even her death in 1944 was not free from sensation—some ascribing it to a heart attack, others to an overdose of sleeping pills.

MURRAY, ANDREW (1828–1917) South-African Dutch Reformed leader; author of many devotional writings Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Murray became a noted missionary leader. His father was a Scottish Presbyterian serving the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa, and his mother had connections with both French Huguenots and German Lutherans. This background to some extent explains his ecumenical spirit. He was educated at Aberdeen University, Scotland, and at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. After ordination in 1848 he served pastorates at Bloemfontein, Worcester, Cape Town, and Wellington. He helped to found what are now the University College of the Orange Free State and the Stellenbosch Seminary. He served as Moderator of the Cape Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church and was president of both the YMCA (1865) and the South Africa General Mission (1888–1917), now the Africa Evangelical Fellowship. He was one of the chief promoters of the call to missions in South Africa. This led to the Dutch Reformed Church missions to blacks in the Transvaal and Malawi. Apart from his evangelistic tours in South Africa, he spoke at the Keswick and Northfield Conventions in 1895, making a great impression upon his British and American audiences. For his contribution to world missions he was given an honorary doctorate by the universities of Aberdeen (1898) and Cape of Good Hope (1907). Murray is best known today for his devotional writings, which place great emphasis on the need for a rich, personal devotional life. Many of his 240 publications explain how he saw this devotion and its outworking in the life of the Christian. Several of his books have become devotional classics; among these are Abide in Christ, Absolute Surrender, With Christ in the School of Prayer, The Spirit of Christ, and Waiting on God.

MOULTON, WILLIAM FIDDIAN (1835–1898) British Bible scholar and teacher Born of strong Methodist parents, Moulton attended various Methodist schools and graduated from London University. He was ordained in 1858 and became a tutor in classics at Wesley College, Surrey. The position allowed him to devote much time to scholarly research, and in 1870 he published his first work, a translation from German of Winer’s Grammar of New Testament Greek. The same year he was appointed the youngest member of the committee responsible for the Revised Version of the New Testament. He was generally acknowledged to be one of the finest Greek scholars of his generation. In addition to the translation of Winer’s grammar, Moulton’s writings include A History of the English Bible (1878) and a Commentary on Hebrews in the Ellicott series (1879). He also collaborated with William Milligan on a commentary on the Gospel of John (1880) and with A. S. Geden on A Concordance of the Greek New Testament (1897). A respected Methodist leader, Moulton was elected president of the Wesleyan Conference in 1890. He also was appointed the first headmaster of The Leys School, Cambridge (1874), a position he held until his death. He received honorary degrees from Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities for his contributions to the study of Greek grammar.

LAUBACH, FRANK CHARLES (1884–1970) American missionary; apostle of literacy Born in Benton, Pennsylvania, Laubach was educated at Princeton University (A.B. 1909), Union Theological Seminary, New York City (1911–1914), and Columbia University (M.A. and Ph.D., 1915). In 1915 he was sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to Mindanao in the Philippines, and there he became interested in the Muslim Moros. He was transferred to Manila to teach in Union Theological Seminary, but in 1929 he returned to Mindanao and set up a program for teaching illiterates to read by phonetic symbols and pictures. He took as a slogan “Each one teach one,” which meant that each illiterate, after learning to read, was expected to teach another. This work proved so successful that it was adopted elsewhere in the Philippines and eventually was officially sponsored by the government. Laubach’s literacy program grew so extensively that finally he had produced more than 300 primers in 235 languages covering 100 countries; and out of his efforts grew the Committee on World Literacy and Christian Literature of the Foreign Missions Conference of North America. All Laubach’s efforts were undergirded and sustained by fervent prayer, which he regarded as “the mightiest force in the world.”

LAWS, ROBERT (1851–1934) Scottish pioneer missionary Born in Aberdeen and apprenticed to his cabinet-maker father, Laws attended evening school and university classes. Later came study in arts, theology, and medicine; his aim was to follow in David Livingstone’s footsteps. Ordained in 1875 in the United Presbyterian Church, he joined a Free Church expedition charged to found a mission in Central Africa to be named Livingstonia. After an eventful journey, a mission was established near remote Lake Nyasa. Laws, in charge from 1877, planned a series of mission stations at strategic lakeside and interior sites. He opened his first school in 1876; when he left Africa in 1927 there were over seven hundred primary schools plus facilities for further education in theology, medicine, agriculture, and technical subjects—and a Christian community of sixty thousand with thirteen ordained African pastors. Robert Laws of Livingstonia was a clear-sighted pioneer. His goal: a Bible-reading, self-governing, self-supporting, self-extending church, with schools staffed by African Christian teachers, as the basic evangelizing agency. He visited Canada, the United States, Germany, and Nigeria; was United Free Church of Scotland moderator in 1908; and served on the legislative council of Nyasaland (now Malawi).

LATOURETTE, KENNETH SCOTT (1884–1968) Church historian Born in Oregon City, Oregon, Latourette was educated at Linfield College and Yale University. He received a Ph.D. from Yale in 1909. He served as a faculty member of Yale-in-China until illness forced him to return to the United States in 1912. After convalescing he taught at Reed College, Oregon (1914–1916), and Denison College, Granville, Ohio (1916–1921). In 1921 he went to Yale as professor of missions, becoming Sterling Professor in 1949. He retired from full-time teaching in 1953. Latourette held several important offices. He was president of the American Society of Church History, president of the American Historical Association, president of Japan International Christian University, and president of the American Baptist Convention. Latourette’s major work was to teach and write church history, particularly the story of Christian missions. He published over three hundred articles and more than thirty books, which may be put into three categories: (1) works dealing with the Far East, especially China (in which he had an abiding interest after his sojourn there)—for example, History of Christian Missions in China (1929) and A History of the Far East (1946); (2) volumes describing the growth and spread of Christianity as a missionary movement—for example, History of the Expansion of Christianity (seven volumes, 1937–1945); (3) books dealing with “the entire spread of Christianity in all its phases and in its setting in the human scene”—for example, A History of Christianity (1953) and Christianity in a Revolutionary Age (five volumes, 1958–1962). Latourette believed that Christianity has exerted a deep influence on the world through the ever-widening impact of Jesus on individuals. His interpretation has not won universal acceptance, but no one doubts that his work on the Christian missionary movement, particularly during what he called “the great century” (1815–1914), will be of lasting significance. Among his many honorary degrees was an Oxford University D.D. awarded him in 1947.

KELLY, WILLIAM (1821–1906) Plymouth Brethren leader Kelly was born in Ulster and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. Although at one time he was attracted by the Anglican Tractarian movement, he decided in 1841 to join the new Brethren movement instead. Later he became friends with John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) and edited his writings (thirty-four volumes, 1867–1883). From 1844 to 1871 he lived in Guernsey, and from 1871 to 1906 in Blackheath, Kent. As an editor and writer Kelly exercised a wide influence. He edited The Prospect (1848–1850) and The Bible Treasury (1857–1906). Some of his books were on prophetic subjects, including a commentary on the Greek text of Revelation. He also published studies of Matthew, John, and the books of Moses. Just before his death he gave his library of fifteen thousand volumes to the town of Middlesborough. In theology Kelly had views similar to J. N. Darby’s. He helped popularize the dispensationalist doctrine of the premillennial advent of Christ. Kelly was also an opponent of higher critical views of the Bible, readily engaging in controversy to resist them.

KIMBANGU, SIMON (1889–1951) Zairian prophet and martyr-figure; founder of the Kimbanguist Church Kimbangu, born in the Lower Congo, attended the English Baptist mission school at Ngombe Lutete. At twenty-six he was baptized and named Simon. He became a village teacher and catechist working under the Baptist mission. In 1918 Kimbangu felt a strong sense of God’s call to witness to his African brothers and sisters. He tried to escape the call, finally returning home. In April 1921, he felt an urge to pray for a sick woman nearby. She was healed. Kimbangu’s reputation as a healer spread, causing great excitement in the region. Healings and “wonders” drew large, excited crowds. Kimbangu attributed the healings to God’s power, not his own, and called a group of “helpers” to join him in dealing with the crowds. Fearing nationalistic overtones and anticolonial feelings in the gatherings, the Belgians accused Kimbangu of inciting sedition. He escaped arrest, hiding with his followers for several months. In September 1921, he gave himself up. He was tried, flogged, and sentenced to death. Due to the intervention of Protestant missionaries and the Belgian king, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He died a prisoner in Elizabethville.

KUYPER, ABRAHAM (1837–1920) Theologian and statesman of the Netherlands Widely recognized as historian, theologian, philosopher, writer, and professor-educator, Kuyper was born in Maassluis, the son of a State Church (Reformed) pastor, later to accompany his family to the university town of Leyden, where his father accepted a charge. In 1862 Kuyper was awarded the doctor of theology from Leyden University. Having fully embraced orthodox Calvinism, Kuyper held pastorates in Utrecht, Amsterdam, and elsewhere. Prompted by his interest in the legitimacy of private schools, he became affiliated with the Anti-Revolutionary Party (opposition to godless revolution and support for the Word of God and its implications for life), ultimately becoming its head. He edited a weekly, De Heraut (The Herald), “for a free church and a free church school in a free land,” as well as a daily party organ, De Standaard (The Standard). Beginning in 1874, Kuyper served repeatedly as a member of one or the other of the two houses of the Netherlands’ legislature. He continued to champion the recognition of private education (common and higher) by government. On October 20, 1880, through the work of Kuyper and cofounders, the Amsterdam Free University was opened, dedicated to a Calvinistic orientation, a tribute to Kuyper’s persistence in striving for the right of private higher education in the Netherlands. In 1886 he led the break from the State Church, establishing the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. Kampen became the seminary of the denomination. Kuyper’s close association with Herman Bavinck, professor of systematic theology at the seminary, came during this period. In 1901 Kuyper became prime minister of his homeland, a position he held for four years. Kuyper’s copious writings include some 16,800 Standard editorials, nineteen major convention addresses, sermons, Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology (1898), Calvinism (1899), and The Work of the Holy Spirit (1900).

JEWEL, JOHN (1522–1571) Bishop of Salisbury; defender of the Protestant Church of England Born in Devon, Jewel was educated at Merton College, Oxford, where he was introduced to recent English translations of the New Testament. Later he moved to Corpus Christi College. There he worked so hard that he damaged his health. His Protestant opinions were strengthened through the influence of Peter Martyr, the new professor of divinity. When Mary Tudor, a Roman Catholic, became queen in 1553, Jewel was deprived of his position at Corpus Christi. Jewel was prepared at first to compromise with Roman Catholicism, but later decided to join other Protestants in exile. He arrived in Frankfurt (present-day Germany) in 1555. The British exiles there were divided into an advanced reforming party (future Puritans) and a moderate party, with whom Jewel worked. After visiting other centers of reform and learning, he returned to England when Elizabeth became queen. The letters he wrote to Peter Martyr reveal the problems that faced the queen as she worked for a way to settle religious conflicts. In 1559 Jewel made his famous challenge as he preached at St. Paul’s Cross, London: “If any learned man of our adversaries be able to bring any one sufficient sentence out of any old doctor or father, or out of any old general council, or out of the holy scripture, or any one example out of the primitive church for the space of six hundred years after Christ [that is, in proof of specifically Roman doctrine and practices] I will go over to him.” In 1560 Jewel was appointed bishop of Salisbury. Apart from his work as a preacher and visitor of the diocese, he decided that he would take up the pen to defend the Protestant faith. The result was his celebrated Apology for the Church of England (1562), which, in the light of the Council of Trent (1545–1563), set forth the Church of England’s claims to be the true church of Christ. The book was written in Latin since it was intended for scholars, but archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, required that it be translated into English. Since then it has often been reprinted. The leading Roman Catholic opponent of Jewel’s teaching was Thomas Harding (1516–1572), a contemporary at Oxford. In their battle of words the main points of the controversy between Protestants and Roman Catholics over the next several centuries were put forth. Jewel also promoted the education of poor, bright boys. One of them was Richard Hooker, whose book Ecclesiastical Polity extended and developed his benefactor’s teaching.

JAFFRAY, ROBERT A. (1873–1945) Noted Alliance missionary who pioneered in South China, Indo-China, and the Netherland East Indies Born in 1873 in an influential Canadian family, Jaffray declined the prestige and wealth promised him and worked his way through A. B. Simpson’s Missionary Training Institute in New York. Upon graduation he and other new recruits, including Robert H. Glover, joined a small Christian and Missionary Alliance contingent who had just opened a work in Wuchow, China. For over forty years Wuchow became both home and headquarters for Jaffray and his ever-expanding ministries. He served as chairman of the Wuchow Bible School, editor of The Bible Magazine, founder and director of the South China Alliance Press, and author of numerous articles and booklets written in flawless Cantonese. In 1916 Jaffray added to his duties the direction of the new French Indo-China field and in 1927 was responsible for the missionary outreach to the East Indies with strong support from Chinese nationals through the Chinese Foreign Missionary Union, which Jaffray helped found. All this from a man who suffered from diabetes and heart disease! Increasingly burdened for the expanding East Indies work that spread from Sumatra to New Guinea and from Borneo south to the island of Lombok, Robert and Minnie Jaffray left their much-loved land of China and their only child, Margaret, who had since returned to the land of her birth as an Alliance missionary. They moved to the Celebes (Indonesia) in 1931. The terrors of World War II brought havoc to missions in the South Seas and eventual imprisonment and death to scores of dedicated missionaries, among them Jaffray. He died in 1945, weakened from starvation rations and ill treatment in a Japanese concentration camp.

JEROME OF PRAGUE (c. 1370–1416) Bohemian reformer After acquiring a basic education in Prague (present-day Czechoslovakia), Jerome pursued his studies at Paris and then at Oxford. At Oxford he became imbued with the teachings of an early reformer, John Wycliffe (c. 1329–1384), whose views encouraged a degree of opposition to the papacy and stressed apostolic poverty. Both emphases fit well with a resurgent Czech nationalism that resisted German imperial domination. On his return to Prague Jerome began to expound his new ideas. They were similar to, but evidently independent of, those of John Huss, another slightly younger Czech reformer, with whom Jerome had a friendly relationship. Because of his teaching and other activities, Jerome had to leave Prague. He went from one city to another, meanwhile gaining a considerable reputation. The king of Poland was impressed enough to invite him to establish a university at Kraków. It was not long, however, before the Polish bishops took offense—so Jerome resumed his wanderings. When Huss was arrested and put on trial at the Council of Constance (1414–1418), Jerome courageously went to that city to see him. Before the council Jerome offered a spirited but unsuccessful defense of his countryman. That act sealed his own doom. In 1415 he was arrested and held for trial. During the prolonged questioning he was impelled to renounce his opinions. Later his courage revived and he retracted those statements, an action that resulted in his condemnation as a lapsed heretic. Almost a year after Huss’s death, Jerome of Prague, too, was burned at the stake.

ISAAC, HEINRICH (c. 1450–1517) Composer of church music A versatile genius in an age when musical giants abounded, Isaac was born near the present-day Dutch-Belgian border. About 1484 he entered the service of Lorenzo di Medici in Florence (Italy), where Isaac was known as Arrigo Tedesco (“Harry the German”). When Savonarola came to power in 1494, Isaac moved to the imperial court in Vienna. Later he returned to Italy and died there. Isaac was a truly international composer, writing music to Latin, German, and Italian texts with equal facility. His output was tremendous. His Chroalis Constantius,consisting of over a thousand works for the diocese of Constance, included music appropriate to every occasion of the Christian year. That work was completed after Isaac’s death by his pupil, Ludwig Senfl, who was admired by Martin Luther. The melody of Isaac’s beautiful song, “Innsbruck,” became a Lutheran hymn tune.

IRVING, EDWARD (1792–1834) Scottish Presbyterian Pentecostalist Born in Annan (Scotland), Irving was educated at the University of Edinburgh. He then worked as a schoolmaster, learning foreign languages while waiting for ordination. In 1819 he became Thomas Chalmers’s assistant at St. John’s Church, Glasgow. Finding his powerful oratorical gifts somewhat overshadowed by Chalmers, in 1822 Irving accepted a call to London, becoming minister of the Scottish church in Hatton Garden and chaplain of the Caledonian Asylum. His preaching attracted large numbers of fashionable London society. His friends included writer Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881). Irving gave himself enthusiastically to the study of prophecy, then common in evangelical circles. He translated from Spanish a book by a Jesuit priest entitled The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty (1827). From 1826 onward, he took part in a series of prophetic conferences held at the home of banker Henry Drummond at Albury in Surrey. Irving wrote for The Morning Watch, a journal on unfulfilled prophecy. Meanwhile Irving’s church had moved into a large building in Regent Square. His sermons continued to fill the church even when his views on basic doctrines began to change. His doctrine of baptism appeared to include baptismal regeneration. His doctrine of Christ attributed to Jesus a fallen human nature. Irving’s Christology was the basis for his trial for heresy by the Church of Scotland and his removal from its ministry (1833). In the late 1820s prophetic study had led Irving to teach that churches could expect a spiritual renewal with the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit. He was thus somewhat prepared for the claims of divine healing and speaking in tongues occurring first in Scotland and then in his own congregation in 1831. Irving supported those who claimed to exercise such gifts. That unpopular position, plus the heresy charges, cost him his post at Regent Square. Other believers in the validity of the gifts of the Spirit soon organized what was known as the Catholic Apostolic Church, in which Irving was ordained as a minister. His last two or three years of life were sad; he had lost his previous fame and was a member of a strange new sect.

ISIDORE OF SEVILLE (560–636) Spanish archbishop and scholar Isidore was educated by his older brother Leander, who was then archbishop of Seville. Isidore succeeded Leander in that office in 600. An able administrator, Isidore presided at a number of important church councils, founded schools in each diocese under his supervision for training young clergymen, and forbade the forcible baptism of Jews in Spain. His major importance lay in his scholarship and in his successful attempt to prepare summaries of ancient knowledge for the benefit of the Visigothic peoples. By contemporaries he was looked on as the most learned man of his age. Isidore’s literary output was amazing in view of the troubled times in which he lived and his preoccupation with administrative affairs. He wrote Bible commentaries, spiritual exercises, theology, and history. His most extensive and famous work was his Etymologiae (Etymologies), a treatment of the liberal arts, medicine, law, the divisions of times, the Bible, theology, natural science, agriculture, warfare, games, architecture, and other matters. That work became an encyclopedic authority for a thousand years of European history; much of what medieval people knew of learning came from Isidore’s compilation. The title derives from Isidore’s assumption that knowledge of a subject begins with a precise consideration of the word that describes it. Some of Isidore’s encyclopedia is naive, but much of it is substantial.

HUNT, JOHN (1812–1848) Pioneer Wesleyan missionary to Fiji Born in Lincolnshire, England, Hunt was the first missionary to Fiji to have had theological training (Hoxton, 1835). Ordained in 1838, he proved an effective evangelist in Oxford and Australia before he went to Fiji in 1838. He stated his goals for Fiji were (1) the conversion of the Fijian people, (2) the translation of the Fijian Scriptures and training of men to interpret them, and (3) the revival of the doctrine of Scriptural Holiness. He was effective in each of these respects. The Great Awakening in mainland Fiji began under his ministry at Viwa and spread through his trained preachers. He translated the New Testament into beautiful Bauan idiom (1848) from the Greek. His training program (the Viwa Plan) became the model for all Fiji, and his Short Sermons the indigenous teacher’s textbook. He wrote a memoir of his colleague, William Cross. His Letters on Entire Sanctification (1848) became prescribed reading for Australian Wesleyan ministerial trainees for fifty years. No missionary did more to shape Christianity in Fiji. His notebooks are full of missiological and anthropological insights. Hunt communicated well to the cannibal world. He died at Viwa, Fiji, and was buried with a Fijian ceremonial dirge.

HOWE, JULIA WARD (1819–1910) Social reformer and author; popularly known for her “Battle Hymn of the Republic” Julia Ward was born to a wealthy New York couple, Samuel and Julia Rush Cutler Ward. Her mother, a poet, encouraged her writing when she was a child. She later pursued studies in the field of law and literature, receiving the doctorate of law from Tufts and Smith colleges and the doctorate of letters from Brown University. She married philanthropist and reformer Samuel Gridley Howe in 1843. After extensive travels, they settled in Boston, where they raised a family of six children. Julia Howe was active in the Unitarian Church, occasionally preaching in congregations throughout New England. An ardent abolitionist, she and her husband edited the Boston Commonwealth, an antislavery periodical (1851–1853). She also campaigned for child welfare, prison reform, and equal education. She presided over the New England Woman Suffrage Association and the Woman’s International Peace Association. A prolific writer, she published volumes of poetry, biography, drama, and travel. She was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

HILL, ROWLAND (1744–1833) English evangelical leader Hill attended Eton School and St. John’s College, Cambridge. While at St. John’s he preached the gospel to many of his classmates. He also visited the sick and then later was engaged in itinerant preaching—the latter activity causing six bishops to refuse to ordain him. At last the Bishop of Bath and Wells ordained him deacon. But, because he continued to preach outside the parish to which he was licensed, he found it impossible to persuade a bishop to ordain him priest. So he continued his work as an itinerant preacher of the Evangelical Revival. As he was such a gifted preacher, rich laity built two chapels for him. One was in Wotton, Gloucestershire, and the other was the Surrey Chapel in London, opened in 1783. Attached to the Surrey Chapel were thirteen Sunday schools and a very large congregation, which he delighted with his humorous yet challenging rhetoric. His interests and concerns were interdenominational, and thus he was known as an “irregular” clergyman (i.e., not keeping to a regular parish). He was the first chairman of the committee of the Religious Tract Society, and he helped to promote the British and Foreign Bible Society and the London Missionary Society. He was concerned with social problems and actively encouraged the use of vaccination for smallpox

GROOTE, GERARD (1340–1384) Dutch scholar; founder of the Catholic lay community Brethren of the Common Life Gerard (Geert) Groote was born in Deventer (the Netherlands). His father, a prosperous cloth merchant, left him a substantial inheritance, making his academic pursuits possible. Groote eagerly delved into Greek, Latin, Hebrew, astrology, medicine, law, philosophy, and theology. After studying in Paris and Cologne, he received a canonry at Aachen. That appointment, combined with successes in public disputations, paved the way for further advancements. His career was interrupted in 1372, however, by serious illness. When he recovered, he began to pursue a life of living by the Spirit. Seeking to follow the way of Christ, he began preaching his devotio moderna, a “modern devotion” based on inner spirituality and charitable service. Soon he established one household for women and another for men devoted to cultivating that practical piety. He briefly stayed in a Carthusian monastery, but soon returned to Deventer. Groote’s spiritual renewal, evidenced by his convincing preaching, raised up defenders and opponents to his ministry. When the bishop forbade him to preach publicly, he withdrew to Windesheim near Deventer and founded an order of Augustinian canons. It was at the Windesheim monastery that the scholar Desiderius Erasmus studied. Groote kept a diary, which has been entitled The Following of Christ. Some scholars believe this is the same work called the Imitation of Christ, usually attributed to Thomas à Kempis, who attended the Common Life School at Deventer as a youth.

GLAS, JOHN (1695–1773) Founder of the Glasites, a splinter group from the Reformed Church of Scotland Glas was educated at St. Andrews and Edinburgh, and in 1719 became a minister in Tealing near Dundee. In his parish, he introduced the practice of monthly Communion and stressed the concept of the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom. His Testimony of the King of Martyrs (1728) brought him before the Scottish ecclesiastical courts. Glas argued three points: (1) a national church had no New Testament basis, (2) civil officials had no right to prosecute people as heretics, and (3) the two Scottish covenants (National, 1638, and Solemn League, 1643,) lacked biblical support. Glas opposed “founding the Church . . . upon any act of Parliament, or covenant, formed by the wisdom of man.” Deposed for heresy, Glas ministered to an independent group first in Dundee, then from 1733 in Perth, where the Glasites’ first meeting house was set up. Faith to Glas was an intellectual asset, and he held that Scripture did not authorize missionary tasks. The Glasites followed a strict discipline of dietary laws, caring for the poor, footwashing, giving the kiss of peace, and keeping the “love feast” followed by Communion. A genial man, Glas remained remarkably serene in the face of trial. Neither he nor his wife regretted leaving the national church for conscience’ sake despite subsequent hardships for their family of fifteen. Leadership of the Glasites gradually passed to his son-in-law, Robert Sandeman.

GOMAR (GOMARUS), FRANCES (1563–1641) Dutch Calvinist theologian Born at Bruges, Gomar studied at Strassburg under Johannes Sturm and at Neustadt-on-Hardt under Girolamo Zanchius, and also at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, taking his doctorate at Heidelberg in 1593. Between 1587 and 1593 he was pastor of the Dutch community at Frankfurt am Main, and in 1594 was appointed professor of theology at Leyden University. There he emerged as a strong defender of rigid Calvinistic orthodoxy and engaged in controversy concerning predestination with Jacob Arminius (1560–1609) after the latter joined the Leyden faculty in 1603. On Arminius’s death in 1609, Conrad Vorstius, an Arminian, was appointed as his successor—whereupon Gomar left the university. From 1614 to 1618 he taught at the French Huguenot seminary of Saumur, and from 1618 to his death was a professor at Groningen. Gomar was a delegate to the Synod of Dort (1618–1619), and he played a prominent part in that Synod’s condemnation of Arminianism in its definitions of election and grace.

FRELINGHUYSEN, THEODORE JACOBUS (1691–1748) Dutch Reformed minister Born in Germany in 1691, the son of a Reformed pastor, Frelinghuysen held two brief pastorates in the Dutch Reformed Church in Holland before coming to America. He was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church in the Raritan Valley, New Jersey, from 1720 to about 1747. Frelinghuysen was a forerunner of the Great Awakening, a religious revival which occurred in the American colonies from about 1725 to 1760. Like the key figures of the Great Awakening, Frelinghuysen stressed the importance of conversion, accompanied by conviction of sin, repentance, and reliance on the Holy Spirit. He insisted on evidence of conversion as a requirement for admission to Communion. Some members of his denomination resented his exercise of church discipline. Despite that unpopularity he made an important contribution to the organization of the Dutch Reformed Church in America. He helped form an assembly that the governing body of Amsterdam took under its jurisdiction in 1747. Frelinghuysen exercised a widespread influence, which continued in the middle colonies for some time after his death. Among those he inspired was Gilbert Tennent, an important Presbyterian missionary in New Jersey.

FRITH, JOHN (1503–1533) English reformer, scholar, and martyr Frith received his bachelor’s degree from King’s College, Cambridge in 1525. While serving as a canon of Cardinal (Christ’s Church) College, he actively preached Protestant doctrines. After a brief imprisonment, he was forced to flee. He escaped to Marburg (Germany) where he met Protestant reformer William Tyndale, whom Frith helped to translate the Bible. In 1529 he returned to England, where he was arrested under a warrant issued by Catholic chancellor Sir Thomas More. In the Tower of London Frith wrote extensively and formulated his views rejecting the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation of Christ through the sacrament of the Eucharist. Thomas More attacked Frith’s statements in a pamphlet to which Frith replied. Finally Henry VIII ordered him to be tried for heresy. Frith was condemned and sentenced by the bishop of London to death by burning. Refusing to refute his writings, he died at the stake.

FRANCKE, AUGUST HERMANN (1663–1727) German Pietist and educational reformer About 1687, while a professor of Hebrew at Leipzig, August Francke came under the influence of Pietist preacher P. J. Spener. Francke began holding Bible study devotional meetings, sparking a revival at the institution. This unorthodox practice and his outspoken opinions on other issues led to conflict with the more conservative faculty members. Eventually he was forced to leave the school. In 1692 Francke accepted a professorship at the new University of Halle and became a minister at a nearby church. He helped make Halle a center for Pietism and made important contributions to the study of philology. Francke’s educational reforms included founding an orphanage, grade school, high school, and a teacher-training school. To give his students practical job experience, he also opened a drugstore, bookstore, and publishing house. Prussian educational reform later incorporated many of his ideas.

EGEDE, HANS (1686–1758) Pioneer Norwegian missionary to Greenland A Pietist pastor, Egede took his family from northern Norway to Greenland in 1721. There, until 1736, he carried on the first evangelical missionary effort among the Eskimos. During a smallpox epidemic, Egede and his wife won the hearts of Greenland Eskimos as they ministered to the sick and buried the dead. His wife died in 1733. Learning the Eskimo language was difficult for Egede. His sons, Paul and Hans, however, had grown up learning Eskimo in Greenland and were able to assist their father. Many Eskimos became Christians because of Paul Egede’s preaching. After 1736, Hans Egede directed the mission work from Denmark while his sons carried on the work in Greenland. Ultimately two Eskimo believers, baptized by Egede, were brought to Copenhagen (Denmark) and introduced to Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf, leader of the newly established Moravian church. Since the Pietist Greenland mission was about to close, Zinzendorf began the historic Moravian missionary effort by assuming responsibility to carry on Egede’s work in Greenland.

EVANS, CHRISTMAS (1766–1838) Welsh preacher Born on Christmas day in Cardiganshire, as a youth Evans attended a Presbyterian chapel. Later, he joined a Baptist church. Ordained in 1789, he took pastoral charge of scattered Baptists in Caernarvonshire. There his experience of God gave a new dynamism to his preaching. In 1791 he moved to the island of Anglesey as minister to Baptist groups. Each year Evans made long preaching tours throughout Wales, and his dramatic sermons always attracted large crowds. He was known as the “Welsh Bunyan” (a reference to John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress) and could make crowds first roar with laughter and then moments later break into tears. Evans’s autocratic style was a recurring problem in his ministry. In 1826 he left Anglesey and had two short pastorates. These moves resulted from his unwillingness to accept the democratic congregational form of church government. In 1832 Evans returned to Caernarvonshire, where he lived the rest of his life. He died on a journey to Swansea and is buried in the graveyard of a Baptist chapel there. Many of Evans’s sermons, hymns, and tracts have been printed.

EVANS, JAMES (1801–1846) Methodist missionary to Canadian Indians Born at Kingston-on-Hull (England), in 1828 Evans began teaching at the Canadian Methodist Indian school at Rice Lake in Upper Canada. There he developed a system of phonetic writing of Indian languages. After being ordained to the Methodist ministry in 1833, he worked among the Ojibwa Indians in the St. Clair River area. In 1840, at the invitation of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Evans went to Norway House at the outlet of Lake Winnipeg, where he became superintendent of the Indian mission. Within a year he moved the mission to a site called Rossville, two miles from Norway House, which soon became the Methodist mission center of the West. Evans adapted his syllabic alphabet to the Cree language, publishing a Cree hymnbook in 1841. For the next twenty years a translating team organized by Evans used this alphabet to translate the Bible into Cree. Disagreements with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1846 led to Evans’s recall to England, where he died.

DABNEY, ROBERT LOUIS (1820–1898) American Presbyterian clergyman Born in Virginia, Dabney graduated from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia in 1846. He was pastor in Tinkling Spring, Virginia (1847–1853), and a professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary (1853–1883). He was professor of philosophy at the University of Texas (1883–1894) and in 1870 was moderator of the general assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church (the Presbyterian Church, U.S.). While at the University of Texas, he helped to found Austin Theological Seminary. During the Civil War Dabney served in the Confederate army, at first as chaplain and afterward as a combatant officer. Dabney combined a position of theological conservatism with a fervent belief in the cause of the American South. He was an articulate exponent of his position in lectures, sermons, and published works, and in the deliberations of the Presbyterian Church. He believed that the Civil War was caused by the North and wanted “retributive Providence” to demolish the North and destroy the Union. He was a strong opponent of any reunion of his church with the northern branches of Presbyterianism. Dabney, along with J. H. Thornwell, was a leading exponent of Southern conservative theology. Their views were adapted for southerners from those of Charles Hodge, a Princeton Seminary theologian. Dabney sought to bolster doctrinal orthodoxy in the face of attempts by James Woodrow of Columbia Seminary and others to revise it. In philosophy Dabney was a strong opponent of positivism and materialism. He died in Texas. His published works included Defense of Virginia and the South (1867) and Syllabus and Notes of the Course of Systematic and Polemic Theology (1871).

DYER, MARY (DIED 1660) Quaker leader hanged for defying Puritan colonial rulers by preaching Quakerism in Massachusetts Mary Dyer came to Boston from England in 1635 with her husband, William. They were influenced by Anne Hutchinson, a controversial woman who opposed the Calvinist doctrine of predestination and the Puritan hierarchy. Because of Hutchinson’s banishment and the increasing hostility of colonial officials, the Dyers moved to Rhode Island and helped establish Portsmouth colony. In England from 1650 to 1657, Mary Dyer was converted to Quakerism. Upon her return to Boston, authorities expelled and finally condemned her for preaching doctrines considered blasphemous and pernicious. Authorities offered clemency in exchange for her promise never to return, but she refused: “Nay, I cannot; for in obedience to the will of the Lord God I came, and in His will I abide faithful to the death.”

DUNSTAN (c. 909–988) Archbishop of Canterbury, 960–988 Dunstan decided to become a monk and priest after recovering from a serious illness. As abbot of Glastonbury he made the abbey famous for discipline and learning. Dunstan served as adviser to King Edgar and was appointed bishop of Worcester and London before becoming archbishop. As archbishop he cooperated with the king in introducing reforms in church and state. Dunstan is particularly remembered for his restoration of monastic life and for founding monastic houses at Peterborough, Ely, and Thorney. He was also a brilliant musician and illuminator (decorative illustrator) of precious manuscripts.

CANDLISH, ROBERT SMITH (1806–1873) Scottish church leader Born in Edinburgh, Candlish received an M.A. from Glasgow University and attended Divinity Hall (1823–1826). Licensed in 1828, he became assistant minister at St. Andrew’s Church, Glasgow, and later at Bonhill, Dunbartonshire. In 1834 he became minister of the prestigious St. George’s Church, Edinburgh. In 1839 he joined the evangelicals in the Church of Scotland, led by Thomas Chalmers, whom he supported on the patronage issue. Eventually Candlish took part in the formation of the Free Church of Scotland (1843). A man of great ability, Candlish maintained a position of leadership despite a rather abrupt manner. When Chalmers died in 1847 Candlish could have succeeded him as professor of divinity at New College, but he preferred to stay in St. George’s Church. In 1861 he gave the Cunningham Lectures, in which he attacked F. D. Maurice’s view of the fatherhood of God, thereby stirring up a controversy. The following year he became principal of New College. Candlish helped to organize the Free Church school system (later absorbed by the national system), was one of the founders of the Evangelical Alliance (1845), and wrote prolifically in the field of theology and its application. Among his better-known works are The Atonement: Its Reality, Completeness and Extent (1861); The Fatherhood of God (1865); and The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures (1866).

CARLILE, WILSON (1847–1942) Anglican minister; founder of the Church Army (Episcopal equivalent of the Salvation Army) Born in Brixton, London (England), and son of a merchant, Carlile took over the family business but suffered financial ruin in an economic slump in 1873. After a serious illness his thoughts turned to religion and he was converted to Christ. On one occasion he assisted Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey as their organist. Carlile studied at St. John’s College, Highbury, before being ordained. In 1882 Carlile founded the Church Army to work in the slums and new industrial areas of the cities and became known as “the archbishop of the gutter.” For the rest of his life his chief interest was the promotion of the Church Army. He visited labor colonies in Europe to expand his knowledge; he described them in The Continental Outcast (1906). Carlile composed a simple choral setting for Holy Communion which was widely used in working-class areas. In 1915 he was given an honorary doctor of divinity degree by Oxford University, followed in 1922 by another from the University of Toronto.

COSIN, JOHN (1594–1672) Bishop of Durham; writer Son of a prominent Norwich family, Cosin was a graduate of Caius College, Cambridge. He was ordained in 1625, and for several years he held various offices in the Durham diocese. In these same years he became known for his Anglican partisanship and his closeness with Archbishop Laud and the royal family. Probably he compiled his famous work, Collection of Private Devotions, at Charles I’s request. All this brought much disfavor with England’s Presbyterians, soon to have supreme political power. Cosin was appointed master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, in 1635 and dean of Peterborough in 1640. But in 164l, after the Long Parliament’s governmental takeover, his church offices were given to others. Hence he soon moved to Paris where he became chaplain to the exiled royal family and Anglican followers. Here he was known also for his friendship with Huguenots and disputes with Roman Catholics. Puritan rule of England continued from 1649 to 1660. But at the restoration of Charles II, Cosin again assumed prominence in the English Church. In 1660, he was made bishop of Durham, a post he then held until his death. Ever a staunch Anglican, Cosin did make attempts to reconcile Presbyterianism with the Church of England, attending the Savoy Conference of 1661. Yet in Durham church worship, he compelled both Presbyterians and Roman Catholics to adhere strictly to Anglican forms. Cosin was a gifted writer of liturgy, and in 1662, some of his phrases were incorporated into the Book of Common Prayer’s revision. Despite his conservatism, he stood for an allowance of divorce and remarriage within English Church discipline. This, of course, recapitulated early English Reformers’ ideas. But like their sixteenth-century forebears, most seventeenth-century English churchmen rejected any and all remarriage after divorce. Provision for divorce with remarriage was not made by the English Church and Parliament until 1857. Besides his devotional and liturgical writings, Cosin’s works were mainly polemical pieces, largely refutations of Roman Catholic views. His works have been reprinted in the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology. Cosin’s translation of the enduring hymn “Veni Creator Spiritus” has been preserved in the Church of England’s ordinal.

BRUNO THE CARTHUSIAN (c. 1030–1101) Founder of the Carthusian Order Bruno, born at Cologne (Germany), became master of the cathedral school at Rheims (1056) where he taught both the arts and theology. Although he had some problems with the archbishop and other associates, he refused an appointment to become a bishop on two occasions and became chancellor of the archdiocese in 1075. After 1080 Bruno began to turn away from the cares and distractions of the world. In 1084 he became a hermit and took up residence at Chartreuse near Grenoble (southeast France), a desolate location. The severe “rule” he adopted combined aspects of both the communal and solitary style of monastic life. It restricted manual labor to the lay brothers. Bruno died at a hermitage in southern Italy which he had founded, and he received sainthood from Pope Leo X, though some authorities believe he was never formally canonized. In 1130 Bruno’s rules were written down by one of his associates in the order. The name Carthusian was Latin for Chartreuse, the location of the order’s foundation. The order, which had only limited growth, never encountered the problems of corruption or administrative complexity that plagued many Roman Catholic orders. Its rule, followed strictly, called for great discipline yet achieved a balance between a life of self-denial and the daily needs of practical living. The order has boasted that it never required reform since it never became deformed. Bruno’s surviving writings include two letters discussing asceticism and some biblical commentaries on the Psalms and the letters of the apostle Paul.

BURNS, WILLIAM CHALMERS (1815–1868) Pioneer missionary to China Born at Duns, Scotland, Burns was accepted in 1839 as a missionary of the Church of Scotland to India. However, before he left, a mighty revival began under his preaching in his father’s parish, so he instead became an itinerant preacher during the spiritual awakening in Scotland, Ireland, England, and Canada. In 1846 the English Presbyterians recruited him for China, where he engaged in itinerant evangelism after six years’ resident ministry in the Amoy region. He left to others of the mission the gathering of converts into churches and the nurturing of congregations. He began the Presbyterian mission at Swatow and visited other newly opened ports. It is said that Burns deeply influenced J. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission. Among Burns’s literary works was a Chinese translation of Pilgrim’s Progress. Burns was drawn to the virgin territory of Manchuria and began evangelistic work at Newchwang in 1867. He died less than a year later, but his appeal to the Irish Presbyterian church brought successors to build on his foundation.

BRUCE, F. F. (FREDERICK FYVIE) (1910–1990) Scottish biblical scholar Born at Elgin, son of a well-known Plymouth Brethren speaker, Bruce studied at Aberdeen, Cambridge, and Vienna, and taught at Edinburgh, Leeds, and Sheffield (1935–1959) before appointment to the historic Rylands Chair of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at Manchester (1959–1978). The foremost figure in the post–World War II resurgence of evangelical scholarship in Britain, he was a man of total integrity who would never accept long-entrenched views without fresh examination. His loyalty to the Brethren was lifelong and unquestionable, yet he believed in the full participation of women in the Church’s ministry. He did not like the prefixing of “evangelical” with “conservative” and was generally impatient with partisan labels. Highly acclaimed also by nonevangelicals, he was president of both the Society for Old Testament Studies and its New Testament counterpart (he also had a D.D. from Aberdeen and was a fellow of the British Academy). In a busy life he took time to encourage younger writers in habits of meticulous research and presentation of material. Only after his death did his wife learn from numerous letters something of his unobtrusive help to individuals both pastorally and academically. In addition, he edited the Evangelical Quarterly (1949–1980) and Palestine Exploration Quarterly (1957–1971), and published commentaries that covered most of the New Testament. Among his many other works are The Books and the Parchments (1950), Second Thoughts on the Dead Sea Scrolls (1956), The Spreading Flame (1958), Israel and the Nations (1963), New Testament History (1969), The Message of the New Testament (1972), Paul and Jesus (1974), Paul: The Apostle of the Free Spirit (1977), History of the Bible in English (1979), the autobiographical In Retrospect (1980), The Real Jesus (1985), The Pauline Circle (1985), and The Canon of Scripture (1988).

BULTMANN, RUDOLF (1884–1976) Prominent twentieth-century German theologian and New Testament scholar; known primarily for his theological method of “demythologizing” the New Testament Bultmann was born in Wiefelstede and educated at Tübingen, Berlin, and Marburg universities. He taught at Marburg (1912–1916), Breslau (1916–1920), and Giessen (1920–1921), and then returned to Marburg (1921–1951). In 1951 he was appointed professor emeritus at Marburg and thereafter made several lecture tours to Scandinavia, Holland, and the United States. He delivered the Shaffer lectures at Yale University (1951), which became his book Jesus Christ and Mythology (1958). His 1955 Gifford lectures at Edinburgh University (Scotland) were published as The Presence of Eternity (1957). Bultmann’s theological thinking stemmed partly from his family heritage. His father, born to missionary parents in Sierra Leone (Africa), was a clergyman in the Evangelical Lutheran Church; his maternal grandfather was also a minister. The political events of twentieth-century Europe also contributed to his thought. One of his brothers was killed in World War I, the other in a concentration camp in World War II. Bultmann was a supporter of the German “Confessing Church” in the 1930s and a signer of the Barmen Declaration, that movement’s statement of opposition to Nazism’s growing control over church affairs. Theological debate in the universities helped to shape Bultmann’s systematic thought. Various German theologians and biblical scholars (among them Hermann Gunkel, Adolf Harnack, Johannes Weiss, and Adolf Julicher) influenced the young Bultmann. He was also impressed by the teachings of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), often called the “father of liberalism.” Two contemporaries, Karl Barth and Friedrich Gogarten, both shared with Bultmann an existentialist outlook on life, although Barth eventually renounced his early philosophical zeal. Especially influential was Bultmann’s Marburg colleague, existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889–1976). Such influences and Bultmann’s own originality created a unique modern theology of New Testament interpretation. Bultmann’s first book, The History of the Synoptic Tradition (1921), was based on an interpretative method known as “form criticism.” The material of the Gospels supposedly existed first as an oral tradition in various “forms” conditioned by different circumstances. Bultmann contended that the forms of New Testament tradition were rarely intended as historical reports, but were shaped by preaching and teaching. Thus he concluded that the Gospels were not reliable sources for a history of the life of Jesus; they were theological, but not factual. Bultmann’s later thought further developed a division between theological truth and historical fact. His 1941 essay “The New Testament and Mythology” set forth his own ideas and laid the foundation for a significant symposium on biblical interpretation published in English as Kerygma and Myth (1953). He understood the historical elements of the New Testament to reflect a “myth” or worldview that is unacceptable to a modern scientific outlook. Hence that old worldview must be reinterpreted (demythologized) in order for the truth contained in the Gospels to become clear to the modern mind. Building on Heidegger’s existentialism, Bultmann closely associated theological truth and present human experience. For Bultmann, the truth of the Gospels can be grasped only through an act of decision in response to the “proclaimed Word of God” (kerygma in Greek). Such decision is not based on reasonable historical evidence (Bultmann denied that possibility), but on an experience of Christ’s eternal presence. According to Bultmann, the New Testament authors were not trying to write facts about God and the world. Rather, they were expressing in inadequate human terms their encounter with the kerygmatic Christ. God had acted and spoken in Jesus, but humans wrote the Bible as their reaction to God’s Word. Bultmann rejected the Bible’s three-storied universe (heaven, earth, and hell) and its view of history as spiritually controlled; he believed those concepts were derived from Jewish apocalypticism (prophetic, visionary writing) or gnostic redemption stories. He also disqualified such doctrines as the Virgin Birth, the Atonement, and the Resurrection. The modern worldview and sense of morality, said Bultmann, prohibit blind acceptance of such material as factual stories. For Bultmann, a loss of belief in Jesus’ historicity is a benefit for true faith; to locate Jesus in a world of facts and “objectivity” would miss the present meaning of Christ, the object of faith. However, the inadequacy of biblical language and doctrine does not mean that nothing significant happened in biblical history. In Jesus, God confronted the Bible’s writers; today he confronts the readers of the Bible. The “myths” are not to be dismissed but interpreted, or demythologized, for clear communication of their meaning for faith. By demythologizing the New Testament, Bultmann believed he was recovering Christianity’s essence and making it accessible to the modern mind. The basic focus of interpretation for Bultmann’s theology was human existence as a complex of anxieties and decisions. He saw authentic life as full of risks, offering a person no guarantees. For Bultmann, Christian faith is similar to other human choices, resting on unseen realities expressed in the story of Jesus Christ rather than on factual certainties. Theology, to Bultmann, must also lack easy guarantees and be dialectical in character. Christian theology proclaims that God has acted for people’s good in Christ. Such a faith replaces anxiety and guilt with love and confidence toward God, who makes life’s risks worthwhile. Bultmann’s views provoked a debate that has not ended. Some critics have objected to his selective use of an existentialist philosophy in his theological work; theologians and philosophers alike suspect that he inadequately united the two disciplines. His views of history have also been challenged as a threat to faith rather than a help. Demythologizing could logically lead to belief that Jesus never lived and that factual history has no bearing at all on the content of faith. Bultmann’s use of the term myth has also been criticized; all kinds of symbolic or analogical language might be included in his definition, leaving no possibility for any way to speak about God. His theology thus could lead to a godless worldview, or at least one in which nothing about God could be known. In addition to works already mentioned, Bultmann’s important writings include Jesus and the Word (1926), The Gospel of John (1941), Essays, Philosophical and Theological (1954), and a three-volume Theology of the New Testament (1948, 1951, 1953).

AYLWARD, GLADYS (1902–1970) Missionary to China Born near London, daughter of a postman, Aylward was converted at eighteen while in domestic service. She determined to be a missionary in China, but lack of educational qualifications led to her rejection by the China Inland Mission. Nothing daunted, she saved money from her small salary and in 1832 embarked on an incredible journey by train through Siberia. Further hampered by the Russian-Chinese war, she finally went through Japan to join missionary Jeannie Lawson in isolated Yangcheng. They opened an inn and attracted listeners by telling Bible stories. Not only did Aylward adopt a Chinese life-style, but she also became a naturalized Chinese citizen in 1936. After Miss Lawson’s death Aylward continued and extended the work. When the Japanese invaded China in 1940 she led nearly a hundred Chinese children on a historic and hazardous journey to safety, a feat that inspired the film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. After a serious illness she returned to England in 1947, then went back to the Orient to open an orphanage in 1955, serving there until her death. Biographies of her were written by Alan Burgess (The Small Woman, 1957) and Phyllis Thompson (London Sparrow, 1971).

ALLINE, HENRY (1748–1784) Nova Scotian evangelist Born at Newport, Rhode Island, of Congregational parents, Alline went to Falmouth, Nova Scotia in 1760. After a conversion experience in 1775 he began a preaching career that lasted until his death. His central message was the need for salvation through the new birth. He was the principal instigator of the New Light Movement in the Canadian maritime colonies, which led to the decline of the Congregational Church in the Maritimes and to great strength for the Baptists. Alline gave tremendous impetus to evangelical Christianity in the Maritimes.

ALBRIGHT, JACOB (1759–1808) Founder of the Evangelical Association, one of several forerunners of what is today the United Methodist Church Born to German Lutheran immigrant parents in Pennsylvania, by the age of thirty Albright had fought in the last years of the American Revolution and had earned a local reputation as a successful farmer and honest tile-maker. His religious life had been uneventful. For most Americans the early years after the revolution were spiritually barren. Albright, however, was brought to an active commitment to Christ through a severe shock in his personal life. In 1791 several of his children died suddenly. The sermon at the funeral of one of his children aroused his conscience. Shortly thereafter, Albright came in contact with a “class” of local Methodists and developed an intense concern for the gospel. He was soon licensed as a lay preacher, but held back from active preaching because he lacked confidence in his educational preparation. Finally in 1796 Albright’s burden for Pennsylvania’s large German population overcame his reluctance, and he began to preach widely. By 1800 enough Germans had responded to Albright’s preaching to form three small “classes.” In 1803 the “Albright People,” as they were called, formally ordained their leader, and in 1807 the group’s first conference was held. At that time these “German Methodists” (another of their nicknames) had five traveling ministers, three ministers in towns, and a total membership of two hundred. Albright was named the group’s bishop. The official name chosen was “The Newly Formed Methodist Conference.” The name was appropriate because the new group held views very similar to the Methodists. It took steps, in fact, to join the Methodist Episcopal Church. Albright and Francis Asbury, the early leader of America’s Methodists, were on friendly terms, but Albright’s denomination did not join the Methodists in his lifetime. The Methodists were unwilling to have a German-speaking body permanently in their midst. After that rebuff, Albright’s group called themselves “The Evangelical Association.” By 1808 Albright had worn himself out with constant traveling and died of tuberculosis. His association (later called the Evangelical Church), was organized into classes and conferences. It preached a doctrine of salvation along lines laid down by John Wesley and Francis Asbury, providing strong evangelical preaching and warm spiritual fellowship for many German-speaking Americans. Years later, in 1968, a merger with the Methodists finally occurred when the Evangelical United Brethren Church (from a 1946 merger of the Evangelical Church with the United Brethren Church) joined with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church.