a window into early Christianity? (ms Pepys)
- Dear friends,
Here's some info about my new book that has just been published. It
contains the first ever translation of the anonymous gospel of MS Pepys,
the text that Dr. Boismard, as well as quite a few other respected
scholars have been very impressed by.
"THE MAGDALENE GOSPEL: a Journey Behind the New Testament", by Yuri
Kuchinsky; Roots Publishing, Toronto, 2002. (Trade paperback, 490 pages,
of which the Gospel, itself, takes up 108 pages.)
In my book, I argue that this mysterious medieval manuscript in fact
contains the earliest Christian gospel text that we now possess; thus, it
can be considered as the long-lost source of our standard canonical New
Testament gospels. I base this on a close analysis of 80 selected passages
of the Magdalene Gospel -- each one of them seems earlier than the
equivalent canonical passage or passages. To this may also be added around
30 passages in the Magdalene Gospel where the "Son of Man" title of Jesus
is missing, which appears to indicate that these 30 passages are likewise
more primitive than the parallel canonical passages.
In regard specifically to the Gospel of John, MS Pepys includes large
parts of what seems to be some primitive version of it -- I call it an
"Intermediate John". One salient feature of these very unusual Johannine
texts is that they are a lot shorter than our canonical versions of them.
Of course, according to the standard rules of textual criticism, this
should be seen as an important indicator of the primitivity of these
Besides including numerous close textual analyses and comparisons, my
commentary also deals with many difficult issues of early Christian
history. In particular, I'm proposing a whole new way to explain the
problem of Christian anti-semitism -- the question of how and in what
circumstances a number of anti-semitic and/or anti-Judaic passages have
been added to NT gospels.
I argue that the Jesus movement remained a part of Judaism a lot longer
than is commonly supposed. Also, it is my view that all four canonical
gospels originated as Jewish-Christian documents, and remained so until
about 135 CE, when a major re-editing of all these texts had taken place
in the wake of Bar Kochba's rebellion, to make them a lot more
Gentile-oriented. Also, the book includes a whole long chapter on early
Christian Quartodecimanism (the observance of Passover/Easter) -- the
subject that is but rarely dealt with in recent literature. For the most
part, the Magdalene Gospel represents a Jewish-Christian document, and it
seems to have been produced still at the time when the links between
Christianity and Judaism were a lot closer than they later became.
There are also numerous other historical and textual issues that I try to
tackle in my book; many of them are generally considered as quite
difficult, and have been rather neglected. In particular,
* I offer what may be described as a common-sense solution to the
Synoptic Problem. Of course, assuming that the Magdalene Gospel is indeed
a very early text, the insights that it would afford into this issue
should be quite considerable.
* I deal with some important textual issues -- the problem of
various early text-types. Myself, I believe that Western text is the most
primitive. In particular, I place a lot of importance on the Syro-Latin
textual tradition, and on Old Syriac texts.
* There is a chapter on the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew -- about how it
may fit into this whole puzzle of the earliest texts. I also offer a new
way to interpret the findings of WL Petersen in regard to the extensive
textual parallels between the Hebrew Matthew and the Dutch Diatessaron. At
the end of the book, I include a detailed Chart that outlines the
historical development of various early gospels and proto-gospels -- 16 of
them altogether -- starting with the proto-Lk, which I believe was the
earliest Christian gospel.
* The book includes a detailed consideration of the history of the
Diatessaron. I'm offering a whole new way to look at this mysterious 2nd
century gospel, that the scholars have been debating about for ages. In
particular, I argue that (1) Tatian did not really write the Diatessaron;
(2) that the Diatessaron is not really what it's generally taken to be;
and that (3) in fact it represents, and up to now has tended to mask
behind itself, the Gospel According to the Hebrews.
Another interesting puzzle is the later history of the Old Latin Gospel --
on which MS Pepys was apparently based -- in north-west Europe. And here,
the history of the Celtic Church had to be looked into in some detail. One
thing that emerges quite clearly from my investigation is that the
Culdees, the ministers of the Celtic Church, were in fact "Judaizers".
Early Celtic Christianity may even be described as a form of
Jewish-Christianity, which indicates that this was a very primitive
tradition. Considering this historical background, preservation of a
primitive "Judaizing" Christian text in northern Europe will no longer
seem as such an oddity.
Besides all this, my book also contains a large section dealing with the
problem of the Historical Jesus. In this connection, I deal with the
Gospel of Thomas, and with the purported Q-source. I also try to answer
the question, Was Jesus Apocalyptic?
In general, the picture of Jesus that emerges in the Magdalene Gospel is
often quite different from what we find in our familiar gospel texts. This
is a Jesus who comes through as a lot more human and vulnerable. Also,
this is Jesus who is a lot nicer and gentler with people around him,
compared to how we find him in our canonical gospels. And there are great
many other differences in this text -- for example, women are generally
portrayed in it a lot more respectfully.
For more information about the book, and how to order, you can go to THE
MAGDALENE GOSPEL Information Page,
Here, you will find the Table of Contents of the book, as well as the
Bibliography of the scholarly works cited. Also, for those interested, the
long Introduction to the book is also made available free of charge. (Of
course, my webpage has already featured the first 34 Chapters of the
Magdalene Gospel for quite a few months now, as well as plenty of other
Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku
What are the things of long ago? Tell us, that we may
reflect on them, and know their outcome; or declare
to us the things to come -=O=- Isaiah 41:22