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What is your favorite passage from the ‘Gnostic’ gospels?
Gospel of Thomas for me as well: Parable of the assassin:
The kingdom of the father is like a certain man who wanted to kill a powerful man. In his own house he drew his sword and stuck it into the wall in order to find out whether his hand could carry through. Then he slew the powerful man.
I can’t blame the Jesus Seminar for considering it plausible, precisely because it is so shocking. The Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus preached, being not only the inheritance of the meek, but also the slaughter of the strong.
And of course, on the looney tunes spectrum, the parable of Christ the Axe Murderer in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. This is Wikipedia’s subdued summary:
The text describes the life of the child Jesus, with fanciful, and sometimes malevolent, supernatural events, comparable to the trickster nature of the god-child in many a Greek myth. One of the episodes involves Jesus making clay birds, which he then proceeds to bring to life, an act also attributed to Jesus in Quran 5:110, although Jesus’s age at the time of the event is not specified in the Quran. In another episode, a child disperses water that Jesus has collected. Jesus, aged one, then curses him, which causes the child’s body to wither into a corpse. Another child dies when Jesus curses him when he apparently accidentally bumps into Jesus, throws a stone at Jesus, or punches Jesus (depending on the translation).
When Joseph and Mary’s neighbors complain, they are miraculously struck blind by Jesus. Jesus then starts receiving lessons, but arrogantly tries to teach the teacher instead, upsetting the teacher who suspects supernatural origins. Jesus is amused by this suspicion, which he confirms, and revokes all his earlier apparent cruelty. Subsequently he resurrects a friend who is killed when he falls from a roof, and heals another who cuts his foot with an axe.
Or, as I like to retell it as a party piece:
- Once, the boy Jesus was making clay pigeons, and animating them. And they flew away. And it was all very nice.
- A kid says to Jesus, “Hey! You can’t do that! It’s the Sabbath.” So Jesus smites him dead.
- Another kid sees this, and says “Dude! WTF?!” So Jesus smites him dead too.
- Another kid bumped into him. Smites him dead too.
- The parents of the village go up to Mary and Joseph, and say, “You guys have to leave town. Or at least teach Jesus to bless rather than curse. We’re running out of kids here.”
- And Joseph yanks Jesus’ ear. And Jesus says “You’d better watch out who you’re messing with.”
- So they take Jesus to the rabbi, and the rabbi starts teaching Jesus. Hoping to turn him away from a life of smiting.
- And Jesus says some gnostic stuff about celestial spheres and secret passcodes; “oh, and btw: Only Joking.” And brings the kids back to life.