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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

It is common in current scholarship on the apocryphal Gospels to emphasize that their claims to represent the ‘real’ Jesus are just as valid as the claims of the New Testament Gospels: there is nothing intrinsic to any particular Gospel which demands it be made canonical. However, an examination of the earliest Christian rule of faith common to the apostles, as encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4, shows that that rule of faith emphasized the death and resurrection of Jesus, both in accordance with the Scriptures, as ‘of first importance’ in the apostolic gospel. We can compare a selection of early Christian Gospels with this rule of faith: this chapter examines the New Testament Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with the Gospels of Thomas, Philip, Mary, and the Nag Hammadi Gospel of the Egyptians. The result of a comparison of all these Gospels with the apostolic rule of faith is that the canonical Gospels are seen to conform to that rule, but the others examined do not. The New Testament Gospels, in contrast to the others, conform themselves to the pre-existing apostolic gospel.

Keywords: Gospels, canonical, apocryphal, rule of faith, death, resurrection, Jesus, Scripture

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