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Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Wayby Philip Jenkins
Synopses & Reviews
This incisive critique thoroughly and convincingly debunks the claims that recently discovered texts such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and even the Dead Sea Scrolls undermine the historical validity of the New Testament.
Jenkins places the recent controversies surrounding the hidden gospels in a broad historical context and argues that, far from being revolutionary, such attempts to find an alternative Christianity date back at least to the Enlightenment. By employing the appropriate scholarly and historical methodologies, he demonstrates that the texts purported to represent pristine Christianity were in fact composed long after the canonical gospels found in the Bible. Produced by obscure heretical movements, these texts have attracted much media attention chiefly because they seem to support radical, feminist, and post-modern positions in the modern church. Indeed, Jenkins shows how best-selling books on the "hidden gospels" have been taken up by an uncritical, drama-hungry media as the basis for a social movement that could have powerful effects on the faith and practice of contemporary Christianity.
This text disputes the myth that Jesus was a subversive mystic whose true ideas were suppressed by early Church authorities. It offers as evidence the fact that supporting texts for this idea are younger than the gospels and resists its revolutionary claims as an alternative Christianity.
The first full-length critical analysis of the "hidden gospel" phenomenon shows why these texts arouse such interest and why they are so misleading. Brilliantly researched and sharply argued, "Hidden Gospels" unearths both the complex agendas and flawed methods of scholars who have created a whole new mythology about Jesus and the early church.
About the Author
Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of many books, including Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Social Crisis, Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History, and The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania.
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