Monday, May 20, 2013

Who, Pray Tell Me, Gentle Readers, Has Not Heard Of The Recently-Discovered Gospels And Other Early Christian Writings?

Startlingly, Hal Taussig claims that "the public knows little about" the "more than 75 otherwise unknown documents from the early Christ movements of the first and second centuries [which] have been discovered in the sands of Egypt, the markets of Cairo, or in unprocessed sections of European and Near Eastern libraries in the past 150 years," and "churches almost never read them."

What? Who are this public who've never heard of the Gospel of Thomas or the Nag Hammadi Library or the Gospel of Mary Magdalene or any other of these finds of the past century and a half? In what illiterate, non-TV-gettin backwaters do they live? These texts make headlines, they make the covers of magazines like TIME, they have been edited and translated and put into bestselling books by people like John Dominic Crossan and Elaine Pagels, plenty of adult Sunday-school classes in liberal churches read and discuss them all the time. Half of the nonsense on the "History Channel" was inspired by them. You can't browse much at all through Huffington Post Religion without stumbling across a story about one or more of these "startling" discoveries. Yet Taussig claims that "hundreds and then thousands" of people have been gobsmacked "as [he has] taught these documents over the past 20 years in seminaries, colleges, the church where [he pastors], and many groups around the country," and asked him things like: "Why don't I know about these works? Why aren't they in my Bible?"

No foolin, Hal? Thousands? Hal says: "I began to think that the larger public really needed to have a chance to read the most valuable of these new discoveries alongside the powerful works of the traditional New Testament."

Well, what a heroic soldier of enlightenment Hal Taussig is! Or maybe, just maybe, he's trying to hype his new edition of the Bible by making it seem much more new to people (The word "New" is in its title twice) than it really is. I wonder how many people will buy A New New Testament, take it home, open it up and say "Hey wait a dang minute! The odes of Solomon?! The Gospel of Truth?! None a this dang stuff is new to me! I bought this new Bible for 32 dollars cause a these 12 additional pages?!" I wonder whether Hal is losing any sleep at at all wondering the same things.

Thousands, Hal? Really? Oh well. What do I know.

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