Originally posted by David C
Yes, I understand the methods used to date the Gospel. Does the fact that it was written a generation later than the current canon determine that it is less likely to be accurate in its' portrayal of the events described? If so, what could have been the motivation for its' authorship?
Well, since we can more or less determine that Gnosticism grew out
of 'mainstream' Chrstianity based on the lack of sources before a
certain period and the increasing number of them afterwards, we can
conclude that a text which demonstrates a highly-developed notion of
Gnosticism is going to be later than one that demonstrates a poorly-
The motivation was that Gnostics thought that their brand of Christianity
was the 'right' one. So, they took principal characters from the historic
Christian pallette and painted a picture which conformed to their
theological framework. Given its removal from individuals or communities
which would have had a close tie with Jesus or His Disciples, its value
as a historic record suffers by being both late in a stemmatic rendering
for transmission of text and is highly edited within the Gnostic framework.
By contrast, while we know that Sts Matthew and Luke edited their
primary documents ('Q' as it were and St Mark), we have the dual
advantage of 1) Knowing at least in part what documents they had
(more or less) to edit; and 2) Knowing that they and their documents
originate much closer to the 'original' (oral) source, either Jesus Himself
or at worst a disciple of a Disciple.