Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way

Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way

Paperback

By (author) Philip Jenkins

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 216mm x 23mm | 318g
  • Publication date: 5 December 2002
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195156315
  • ISBN 13: 9780195156317
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 678,177

Product description

Was Jesus really a subversive mystic whose true teachings were suppressed by an authoritarian church? Has the real nature of Christianity been deliberately obscured for centuries? Do 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? In this incisive critique, Philip Jenkins thoroughly and convincingly debunks such claims. 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. And 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 offer no reliable new information about Jesus or the early church. They have attracted so 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, scandal-hungry media as the basis for a social movement that could have dramatic effects on the faith and practice of contemporary Christianity. 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.

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Author information

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 and Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History. He lives in University Park, PA.

Review quote

"A quite absorbing book."-Clergy Journal "A sober, and sobering, account of how some scholars have enthusiastically embraced 'new' or 'hidden' gospels which just happen to support certain currently fashionable ideologies-and of just how unwarranted such claims actually are."-N.T. Wright DD, Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey "Jenkins has brilliantly identified the mythic dimension of the recent fascination with hidden gospels and alternative Christianities."-Luke Timothy Johnson, author of The Real Jesus "Jenkins makes clear that the inflated claims of the boosters of the Gospel of Thomas are neither well founded nor all that new. This book places the recent 'selling of Nag Hammadi' within the larger context of American academic politics, social trends, and New Age religions, and does all this in a manner that remains accessible to the general reader."-John P. Meier, author of A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus "...nontechnical, lucid, and well argued."-Choice