The other day I spent some time at the big chain bookstore. I usually grab a cup of coffee, and then head over to the religion section. Most of the time I’m thumbing through books on Roman Catholicism. It’s unbelievable how many books Catholic apologists and those devoted to Rome put out. Usually, the ones I want to thumb through are sealed in plastic. I’m not sure why. It makes me wonder what information is so astonishing it must be shrouded in plastic to conceal it from the browsing public.
This time though, I branched out to the section containing books on the alleged lost books of the Bible. I was amazed how many books were put out on this topic. They weren’t simply translations or compilations of non-canonical writings. They were actually commentaries and analysis of this genre. Recently Simcha Jacobovici made a big deal about the Acts of Philip. He says it contains “a much more complete version of Mary Magdalene than the Gospels.” Are we to assume that the Gnostic literature gives us reliable information about historical New Testament people? Consider the picture of Jesus put forth by The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (possibly written about A.D. 125):
3.1. The son of Annas the scribe was standing there with Joseph. He took a branch of a willow and scattered the water which Jesus had arranged. 2. Jesus saw what he did and became angry and said to him, “You unrighteous, impious ignoramus, what did the pools and the water do to harm you? Behold, you shall also wither as a tree, and you shall not bear leaves nor roots nor fruit.” 3. And immediately that child was all withered.
4.1. Once again he was going through the village, and a child who was running banged into his shoulder. Jesus was angered and said to him, “You shall go no further on your way.” And immediately the child fell down dead. Some people saw this happen and said, “From whence was this child begotten, for his every word is an act accomplished?” 2. The parents of the dead boy went to Joseph and blamed him: “Because youhave such a boy, you cannot live with us in the village; your alternative is to teach him to bless and not to curse, for he is killing our children.”
5 .1. Joseph took the child aside privately and warned him, saying, “Why do you do such things? These people are suffering and they hate us and are persecuting us!” Jesus said, “I know that these are not your words, but on account of you I will be silent. However, they shall bear their punishment.” Immediately, those who accused him were blinded.
The use of Gnostic sources made me consider just what people like Simcha Jacobovici have up their sleeves. I think there is a concerted effort to put forth books left out of the Bible as if they actually contain reliable information. Why do this? It’s simply another way to attack sola scriptura. God has spoken, and this truth drives non-believers to extremes. Quoting Gnostic literature as more complete versions is a desperate attempt to undermine the reliability of the Bible. There is nothing more infuriating to non-believers than an absolute standard.
Quick Addition from James White: If you want to know what Simcha has up his sleeve, click here.