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Yet, a reading of these “gospels” reveals an entirely different genre of material. is more like various beads almost haphazardly strung on a necklace. Bruce observes that “the sayings of Jesus are best to be understood in the light of the historical circumstances in which they were spoken.

For example, the introduction to the in the same volume says that although it has some similarities to a New Testament Gospel, it “is not a gospel like one of the New Testament gospels. This in itself makes proper interpretation difficult. Only when we have understood them thus can we safely endeavor to recognize the permanent truth which they convey.

Since 1945, however, there are many primary documents. James Robinson, editor of notes that “there is the physical deterioration of the books themselves, which began no doubt before they were buried around 400 C. [then] advanced steadily while they remained buried, and unfortunately was not completely halted in the period between their discovery in 1945 and their final conservation thirty years later.” one often finds notations such as ellipses, parentheses, and brackets, indicating spotty marks in the texts.

Often the translator has to venture tentative reconstructions of the writings because of textual damage.

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Its central claims are rooted in events, not just ideas; in people, not just principles; in revelation, not speculation; in incarnation, not abstraction.

Likewise, if purportedly historical documents, like the gospels of Nag Hammadi, challenge the biblical understanding of Jesus, they too must be brought before historical scrutiny.

Part Two of this series will therefore inspect the historical standing of the Gnostic writings in terms of their historical integrity, authenticity, and veracity. Although much excitement has been generated by the Nag Hammadi discoveries, not a little misunderstanding has been mixed with the enthusiasm.

Nevertheless, he is “led to wonder about the bulk of the texts that exist only in a single version,” because these texts cannot be compared with other translations for accuracy.

Robinson comments further on the integrity of the texts: “There is the same kind of hazard in the transmission of the texts by a series of scribes who copied them, generation after generation, from increasingly corrupt copies, first in Greek and then in Coptic. A writing is considered authentic if it can be shown to have been written by its stated or implied author.