As promised, here is the second part of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the top six apocryphal gospels, meaning the rejected and obscure gospels outside of the four accepted by mainstream Christianity as “authentic” (snicker).
Those four are, of course, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There were dozens of others and I’ve selected the six that provide the best opportunities for comparative mythology.
3. THE GOSPEL OF THE SAVIOR – The narrative of this gospel centers around dialogues between Jesus and his apostles in the last few days before his arrest and crucifixion. Some of the material is similar to the Gospels of John and Matthew, but some is Gnostic, with references to discarding the useless garment of the body so the soul can return to the empyrean realm.
The most striking departure in this gospel comes in the Garden of Gethsemane segment, when Jesus, as God the Son, traditionally prays to God the Father to spare him the ordeals that lay ahead. In The Gospel of the Savior Jesus transports himself and his apostles to the throneroom of God the Father where he makes his appeal in person. The apostles, who stay awake for once in this version, look on as Jesus and God the Father converse in this scene, which serves as this gospel’s substitute for the traditional transfiguration episode of other gospels.
In the end, as in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus resigns himself to the suffering he must endure. He addresses a mental image of the cross with the words “Oh cross, do not be afraid! I am rich. I will fill you with my wealth.”
2. THE GOSPEL OF NICODEMUS – Despite the title of this gospel, Nicodemus doesn’t even show up until section 5. This alternate scripture started out as The Acts of Pilate, and covered the story of Christ’s trial and execution from the point of view of Pontius Pilate. This half of the gospel serves the uber-propogandistic purpose of making Pontius Pilate look even more reluctant to prosecute Jesus than the canonical gospels do. Naturally, this makes Pilate – and therefore the Roman Empire – look better, and the Saducees and Pharisees – and therefore the Jews – look worse.
In later centuries a second part was appended to The Acts of Pilate and it became known as The Gospel of Nicodemus instead. This second part treats us to the most detailed account of Jesus’ descent into Hell to free the virtuous souls who have found themselves trapped there since the time of Adam and Eve. That journey is a treasure trove of material for comparative mythology buffs. There are echoes of descents into the Netherworld by goddesses like Inanna, Demeter, Frigga and others as well as themes reminiscent of Anat and Baal, Isis and Osiris, all the other dead and resurrected deities of the world.
In addition to parallels to all those seasonal myths of the pagan world this gospel features another intriguing element. Not only does it depict Satan’s reaction to Jesus the Redeemer’s invasion of his domain to free the wrongly damned, but Hell itself is presented as a sentient entity that actually speaks. The conversations and relationship between Satan and the infernal region that is both his prison and his kingdom make you wish more of such material had survived.
1. THE AQUARIAN GOSPEL OF JESUS THE CHRIST – Everyone familiar with the so-called “Jesus Sutras” knows the theory stating that Jesus taught for a time in India before returning to the Roman-occupied Middle East to face his destiny. This gospel goes to the Nth degree with such a concept and simultaneously fills in the 18 years of Jesus’ life left unaccounted for in canonical writings.
The work depicts Jesus spending those missing years roaming throughout Tibet, Assyria, Persia, India, Egypt and Greece, mastering the esoteric teachings behind all of the belief systems of those regions. After undergoing initiation ceremonies in each of those faiths to show a general respect for them, he then tutors his teachers in turn, showing them where their beliefs are wrong. In Gnostic terms he teaches those “holy men” that their major deities are really the Demiurge Yaldabaoth and instructs them how to escape Yaldabaoth’s trap of perpetual reincarnation in the flesh and free their souls forever.
Naturally Jesus knows that crucifixion awaits him when he tries to bring his teachings to the Middle East but he also knows it will allow him to demonstrate his message to the fullest. If you enjoyed the poet Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, which used the Roman god Jupiter as a Yaldabaoth figure and Prometheus as the Jesus/ Sabaoth figure you should genuinely love The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ.
Over the years this has become my favorite Eastertime reading. It includes passages that can appeal to people like me who don’t belong to any of the world’s religions. Some of those sayings are “The clergymen cannot be reformed; they are already dead. The new age calls for liberty; the kind that makes each person a clergyman and enables him to go alone … “, “The chains that bind men to the carcasses of Earth are forged in fancy’s shop; are made of air and welded in illusion’s fires” and above all “The sons of men are looking up for greater light. No longer do they care for gods hewn out of wood or made of clay. They seek a god not made with human hands.” All that plus a Holy Trinity consisting of God the Father, God the Son and God the Mother. Check it out if you can!
FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2012/04/01/the-top-six-alternate-gospels-and-scriptures/
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