Monday, June 27, 2011

Gnostic Books Omitted from the Bible

The books omitted from the bible are the so-called missing books of the bible.  First any Christian should know that the Roman Emperor Constantine played a big part in putting the Bible that we know together.  The First Council of Nicea was held in 325 AD and this meeting created the first uniform Christian doctrine of belief, what we still know today as the Nicene Creed.  A little over fifty years later this creed with its “true God” and Jesus as the “only Son of God" was enforced with the full might of the Romans throughout the Empire as Christianity was made the official religion: One God, one Empire, one Religion.

    The most interesting alternative thinking in early Christianity is found in the lost texts of the Gnostic Gospels. Also called the Gnostic Bible these Gnostic scriptures are a series of religious texts that were discovered accidentally by two farmers in 1945 in Egypt near Nag Hammadi, and therefore, also go by the name the Nag Hammadi Library. What makes these texts interesting in relation to Christianity is that they are estimated to date back to between the 2nd and 4th century AD, which puts them very close to the time of Jesus and right in the time of early Christianity.

    Knowing that the Church banned Gnostic belief as heresy, anyone with an open mind should be interested in what a Gnostic believed if we want to understand the Church and its history. In our search for God we should ask: why were these books omitted from the Bible? What knowledge was so dangerous to the Roman Church and why?

   In The Gnostic Scriptures we find The Testimony of Truth, which tells us that, “Do not expect, therefore, the carnal resurrection, which is destruction.” This view, dating back to about the second century, is very much aligned with modern science—the flesh dissolves.

   The text is interesting, because it also has another view on why Adam and Eve where cast out of Paradise. It lets us know that, “The serpent was wiser than all the animals that were in Paradise, and he persuaded Eve, saying, ‘On the day when you eat from the tree which is in the midst of Paradise, the eyes of your mind will be opened.’”

   The Testimony of Truth then boldly asks:


“Of what sort is the God? First he maliciously refused Adam from eating of the tree of knowledge. And secondly he said, “Adam, where are you?” God does not have foreknowledge; otherwise, would he not know from the beginning?”


  Later the text answers the question of what sort of God this is by saying: “I am the jealous God; I will bring the sins of the fathers upon the children.”

   In the East the serpent is the symbol of Kundalini energy and not a symbol of evil or temptation as in the Bible. But, why are serpents wisdom in the East?  Kundalini is the power of consciousness, or supreme energy, also called mother of the universe. In Sanskrit the word means “coiled up,” and therefore, the symbol of a snake is the ancient symbolic representation, not of the evil, but of the supreme power of consciousness.

   If we for example call the Kundalini energy for the Holy Spirit, then this could give us a different perspective on the words of John: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

   In this interpretation it is the Holy Spirit as the power of consciousness that gives us eternal life. And one could even suggest that the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge in Genesis might be one and the same. That would make eternal life possible through knowledge of the truth (good and evil) as we just saw in the Bhagavadagita.

   In her book The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, points towards the serpent as an instructor and she quotes from the text, The Hypostasis of the Archons:


“Then the Female Spiritual Principle came in the Snake, the Instructor, and it taught them, saying, “…you shall not die; for it was out of jealousy that he said to you. Rather, your eyes shall open, and you shall become like gods, recognizing evil and good.”…And the arrogant Ruler cursed the Woman…and…the Snake.”


   Here Eve, the “Mother of the Living,” is a feminine spiritual principle that raises Adam from his material condition to bring him out of ignorance toward becoming like a God. It would seem natural to human nature (and historical correct) that arrogant male rulers would become jealous about this competition, whereby both the woman and the snake were cursed.

   Through history, and even today, this curse has proven to be a powerful political tool of suppressing women with male aggression. And at the same time, the important question of personal identity has been left out. It seems logical to conclude that when these words were written around the second century, Gnostics saw the clear danger in the form that Christianity was taking as it became an organized religion.

   In a modern day society, it certainly must seem good to most people that Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge. I am sure that most of us are happy to be conscious and able to think for ourselves rather than being told what to think. In a democracy where everyone works together to solve the problems ahead, it is reasonable to give every individual the freedom to think.

   However, the view of the Bible goes in the opposite direction, believing that “paradise was lost,” which could be interpreted as ignorance is bliss, and I find it very interesting to note the negative direction. The Bible has a negative perspective from Adam and Eve being thrown out of paradise to the Book of Revelation—from paradise to the end of the world. This negative view on the world is also reflected through the views of “evil” and “sinners” that still today deserve punishment. The God of the Bible is an angry God that judges over irresponsible children living in an evil world.

   The Gnostic perspective on the other hand is positive. It talks about ignorance instead evil, and sees a positive future through enlightenment and the gaining of knowledge. Surely such a view is far more optimistic than the pessimism of the Bible, and with a positive outlook on life it should be much more possible to create a positive future. 

   The Gnostics called the God of the Bible a “jealous God” because this God said: “I am God, and there is no other.” Looking at the history of the Church enforcing this one and only God, it is clear that this God has been much more angry than loving. We should not forget that the Roman Catholic Church was created on the foundation of the Roman Empire, after Emperor Constantine won the first battle in the name of the cross and Christianity later became the state religion of Rome. History also tells us that the doctrine of the Incarnation took root about the same time as Pope Urban II sent Christians of on the Fist Crusade with “God wills it!” After more than a thousand years of debate, in 1098 Saint Anselm published his Cur Deus Homo—Why God Became Man—and Jesus were since transformed from prophet into the one and only “son of God.”

  Before we become upset at the past, it is worth taking into consideration that humanity has gone through a transformation as our thinking has evolved. Therefore, now that the children have become adults and outgrown their parents, I find it more important to ask where we should look for guidance. And as a philosopher, it is clear for me that we should look for truth by ourselves, and never accept someone else’s truth. It was for this reason that Luther translated the Bible, so that we could all seek the truth by ourselves, instead of having it dictated to us.

   It is not only possible but fairly easy to find other interpretations in the Bible that speak of an incorporeal resurrection. The Bible does in fact make a clear distinction between the body and the spirit. In 1 Corinthians we find: “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”

   With this separation between the mortal and the immortal, Jesus uses the wind as a metaphor to describe the eternal spirit: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

   In 1 Corinthians 15:40, we find that this distinction is made clear: “There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.”

   The Gnostic Scriptures offer an account that supplements this view of the Bible:


“If one does not understand how blowing wind came into existence, he will blow away with it. If one does not understand how body, which he bears, came into existence, he will perish with it...Whoever will not understand how he came will not understand how he will go.”


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