The Gnostic movement historically arose with Jesus’ disciples in the first century AD. Its followers practiced an advanced form of Christianity which Jesus didn’t teach the wider public.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 8 MAR 2018
BERTRAM, WA, 8 Mar 2018 – The Gnostic movement historically arose with Jesus’ disciples in the first century AD. Its followers practiced an advanced form of Christianity which Jesus didn’t teach the wider public. Many of these more advanced teachings were kept out of the Bible. These “secret teachings” can be found in non-canonical Gnostic gospels such as those contained in The Nag Hammadi Library, as well as the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. Being at odds with what Paul the Apostle was teaching, this historical manifestation of Gnosis faced persecution by the proto-Catholic church and was lost to the world for many centuries.
Following Jesus’ crucifixion, Christianity took on different forms. One group, the Gnostics, followed the deeper and more advanced side of Jesus’ teachings, while others only saw and followed the simpler, public side to his teachings. This split between the public side of Jesus’ teachings and the deeper, more advanced approach was initiated by Jesus himself during his lifetime. For example, in the gospel verses Matthew 13:10–52, Mark 4:33–34, and Luke 8:4–18, Jesus explains that he gave the deeper, more esoteric aspects of his teachings to his disciples only, while he taught the public through parables at a level they could understand.
This split became institutionalized after Jesus’ death, as much of the writing that makes up the New Testament was created by Paul of Tarsus, a self-proclaimed apostle who unlike the disciples he had never actually met Jesus. His teachings were therefore purely public, lacking the deeper, more advanced aspects which Jesus only taught to his disciples.
Nevertheless, Paul’s teachings were easy for people to understand and accept. As a result, close to 45 percent of the New Testament is comprised of works attributed to Paul, yet in all these writings only once is Paul attributed as actually quoting anything directly from Jesus.
Instead, Paul introduced his own elements to what has become modern day Christianity. He disagreed with the church of Jerusalem, which was formed by the original disciples of Jesus after his death, on a number of issues. There are even cases in Paul’s own writings where he directly confronts Peter—the disciple who Jesus called the rock upon whom “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18)—and was clearly trying to undermine him:
“But when Peter came to Antioch, I resisted him to his face, because he stood condemned… And the rest of the Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.” (Galatians 2:11, 2:13)
The new Gnostic movement within the church of Jerusalem suffered a major setback when following the Jewish rebellion in the first century AD, the Romans attacked Jerusalem and destroyed it. From this point on the real teachings from the church of Jerusalem went underground. Paul’s Christianity however, with its followers mostly based elsewhere, was left to flourish relatively unscathed.
There was no single unified church in the beginning, but over time Paul’s version of Christianity emerged as the dominant strand. Through years of ongoing censorship and persecution – such as that of Bishop Irenaeus, who is known historically for combatting “heresy” and defining Orthodoxy – along with the help and influence of Roman politicians, Paulians would determine the future course of Christianity including which texts would be included in the Bible, and which teachings of Jesus would be rejected.
The repercussions of these events remained hidden from public view for nearly two thousand years, as the information that survived about the original Gnostics was predominantly held by those who were persecuting them. Fortunately, however, texts used by the Gnostic movement like the Gospel of Thomas – which contains 114 sayings of Jesus which were not included in the canonical bible – and the Gospel of Judas – which shows Judas not as a betrayer of Jesus, but as Jesus’ most advanced disciple entrusted with a special mission – were discovered in the twentieth century. These texts, once lost for centuries, are now shedding light on incredible teachings and revealing at last a more complete picture of the original form of Christianity as taught by Jesus to his disciples.
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