This Gospel Is Almost Completely Unknown

My new book, "THE MAGDALENE GOSPEL: a Journey Behind the New Testament" is now available. Click here for details.

A Different Approach To Primitive Christianity

Handling Snakes

articles by Yuri Kuchinsky posted and discussed in various academic biblical lists

Starting early in 2000, I've been exploring the Magdalene Gospel (also known as "Pepys Gospel", or the "Pepysian Gospel Harmony"), and I've been struck by many of its very unusual and valuable features.

My new book on this subject has been published in 2002. It includes the translation of this whole rather long document, as well as an extensive commentary, where I demonstrate conclusively that this gospel is indeed prior to our canonical Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

And here's a new addition to this webpage. Here you can see a detailed analysis of John 2:1-11 (Jesus turning water into wine) .

Part 2 of this analysis is now available here.

In Part 1 of this analysis, I've made a detailed comparison between 4 versions of this miracle -- the canonical Greek version, the Magdalene version, plus 2 more versions as found in other little-known Diatessaronic witnesses. As a result, I've demonstrated that -- however surprising this may sound -- the Magdalene Gospel's account of this miracle is prior to our standard canonical text.

Also, all this information had been posted to some academic biblical lists, where the scholars didn't seem to find anything wrong with my analysis. (Still, some valid criticism was made, and it was later incorporated into my study.)

And now (July, 2003), in Part 2 of my analysis of this passage, I've added 2 more Diatessaronic versions of this miracle to the consideration. As a result, even more support for my theory is now available! Check it out...

Some more of my new research that didn't go into my 2002 book is available here.

My translation of the first one third of the Magdalene Gospel has already been available on the Net since the summer of 2001. It can be found here, together with the Middle English text in GIF files. Also, the "Analytical Summary" of the whole gospel can be found there,

This Summary comes from the original Oxford 1922 edition. It's been compiled by Margery Goates, and it's very useful in comparing the text of MG with the canonical passages, which are often very closely paralleled in MG. Although a few mistakes can be found there, it's quite useful for a researcher. (The biggest mistake is right at the beginning, where Goates says that her Analytical Summary indicates "the debt of each paragraph of the harmony to the canonical gospels". In actual fact, the opposite seems to be closer to the truth.)

A reprint of the original 1922 edition, that also includes a small dictionary and notes, is now available from Boydell & Brewer booksellers. But this edition does not include the translation of this text.

While the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew has been discussed in academic literature and on Internet discussion groups already since 1987, the date of its first publication, the Magdalene Gospel was mostly my own discovery. (Or at least this is what I thought at first. But later, after doing some research about it, I discovered that Dr. M-E Boismard, a very famous biblical scholar, had already been there before me! Because, in his book dedicated to MG, he certainly pointed out many of its very unusual qualities already, well before I got to it. And yet my own take on this text is quite different from his.) In any case, virtually nobody knows anything about the Magdalene Gospel as yet. There's only a handful of professional scholars who are even aware of it, and almost all of them think quite highly of it, but the matter didn't move from there much as yet.

For a number of reasons, this little-known document appears to be very important for the study of New Testament, and of early Christianity in general. The Magdalene Gospel, I believe, is pre-canonical almost in its entirety. I mean by this that almost all of MG preserves earlier versions of the passages that are also found in our New Testament. If I am correct about this, and some of the evidence is brought together further on, then MG will be a great discovery indeed, the importance of which is difficult to overestimate.

[Here's a note added in Jan, 2001. My recent research suggests a very good explanation for these highly unusual features of MG. Now, it turns out that MG may in fact represent the Gospel According to the Hebrews, an ancient Christian gospel that many Church Fathers commented upon, but that until now was considered lost.]

In my published book in MG, I am focusing on direct comparisons between the Magdalene and the canonical texts. The purpose of these comparisons is to demonstrated conclusively that the Magdalene Gospel generally precedes canonical texts. At this time, I have over 80 separate arguments to back me up, based on well over 80 separate passages in the Magdalene. Prominent among them is a listing and analysis of passages where the family of Jesus, his mother, his disciples, John the Baptist, the disciples of John, as well as other Jews are all treated in a more positive light, compared to the canonicals. There are at least 45 passages such as these in the Magdalene. Also, consistently, the Magdalene ms portrays a much closer association between Jesus and JB, and his disciples. To me this represents pretty significant evidence, indicating that the Magdalene Gospel represents an ancient Jewish-Christian composition.

Also, a very important item will be my analysis of a complete absence of "Son of Man" title in the Magdalene. About this, see below.

Originally, I began by studying how John the Baptist is portrayed in MG, and this seems to reveal some important new information about the Historical Jesus. I have done a study of a uniquely close connection in MG between these two incidents: the beheading of JB, and the feeding of the 5000. You will find this item below.

JB's status is quite exalted in MG, more so than in the canonicals. (In this, there's a close parallel to the Hebrew Matthew here.) My conclusion is that the Historical Jesus was a close associate of JB. While this theory has been proposed before, now it seems to have received an important confirmation. So, based on this, it seems like the Historical Jesus took over JB's movement after JB was killed.

So here are my articles about or relevant to the Magdalene Gospel as posted to various biblical discussion lists. The following few items opened up my research. The more recent material is at the end of this file. Check Loisy-L archives for my latest analyses.

Below, you can observe how my research progressed right from the beginning. Yet the basic approach that I now take in my book is quite different from what you see in many of the articles that follow. This text, of course, has been a territory almost completely unexplored, so I had to learn as I was going along.

-- the Magdalene Gospel -- a review (Mar 28, 2000: Part 1),

[NOTE: I now consider the following item as rather obsolete. My approach has changed since the time when I first wrote this.] -- Jesus and JB in the Magdalene Gospel (Apr 5, 2000: Part 2),

Instead of this, I recommend the following recent article that deals with this general area, -- JB's disciples visit Jesus (Part 2; 11 Jun 2001),

-- Jesus and JB in the Magdalene Gospel (Apr 10, 2000: Part 3),

-- early version of Transfiguration? (Mar 11, 2000),

In the following article, the Magdalene Gospel is mentioned briefly. That was my first acquaintance with this intriguing document.

-- Mt 27:52-3, the Tomb Burial, and primitive Mt (Jan 27, 2000),

And here are some additional articles about MG that I wrote next. These had been added in July 2000. The discussion of this very curious document continued apace on the Net.

As posted to TC-List,

-- Diatessaron and the Magdalene Gospel (Jun 19, 2000),

-- Re: Diatessaron and the Magdalene Gospel (Jun 21, 2000),

-- Re: medieval diatessarons (3 Jul 2000),

-- Prof. William Petersen's critique of MG, with my two replies linked at the end of it (long files),

-- Canaanite woman in Mt pericope (Jun 23, 2000), including some replies linked at the end of it. In this case, MG certainly shows the disciples of Jesus in a lot more friendlier light than the standard Greek text. This is yet another indication that MG represents an ancient Jewish-Christian gospel,

-- Canaanite woman in Mt pericope (Jun 28, 2000). This includes some additional historical attestations for the unusual readings found in MG,

The following two articles look at the Diatessaronic tradition, and the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew in connection with the Gospel of Thomas,

-- G[ospel of] Thomas, ancient harmonies, and HMt,

-- GOT [Gospel of Thomas] and DT [Diatessaron],

Here are some articles dealing with Diatessaronic studies, and with a special place of MG in the Diatessaronic tradition,

-- The Magdalene Gospel & the Diatessaron (Jun 30, 2000). This includes my review of J.N. Birdsall, "The Sources of the Pepys Harmony and its Links with the Diatessaron," *NTS* 22 (1975/76), 215-223,

-- Approaches to Diatessaron (July 24, 2000). This is a general article about a poor reception Tatian's Diatessaron seems to be receiving from the current generation of biblical scholars,

-- Approaches to Diatessaron (July 26, 2000). A follow-up to my previous post, with a critique of current attitudes to DT,

These articles look at the very important Anointing scene in four canonical gospels. Yes, MG also seems to cast considerable light on the early history of these variant Anointing texts.

My understanding of these relationships was evolving as I was researching and writing these four articles, and as I was receiving some feedback from scholars. At this time (early Oct, 2000), I tried to put this whole matter into a more or less unified perspective. So the following very long article incorporates and combines material from the following four shorter articles. Also, I've corrected a few errors that crept in.

"Anointing of Jesus": the complete article (Oct, 2000)

The following older articles are included for general reference, but also as links to some of the replies from other scholars that arrived (or failed to arrive, as the case may be).

-- Anointing at Bethany (Apr 19, 2000),

-- Anointing Scene (Apr 25, 2000),

-- more about the Anointing pericope (Jul 6, 2000),

-- three commentaries on Lk's Anointing (Aug 8, 2000),

This is a synopsis of the most important book on MG published so far: M-E Boismard, LE DIATESSARON: DE TATIEN A JUSTIN, Gabalda, Paris, 1992. For the first time, these arguments have been presented in English.

-- Boismard on the Magdalene Gospel (as posted originally on Jul 29, 2000),
And this is an updated version of the above.

A good overview of how MG may have preserved all these ancient traditions that it seems to preserve, and all these very primitive versions of gospel passages,

-- transmission of the Magdalene Gospel (21 Aug 2000),

How can MG help us to understand the history of composition of Jn 3:22-36, this very important passage in the Gospel of John?

[CORRECTION: While typing in the MG version for this article, I inadvertently omitted a phrase. Here is the corrected verse, with my translation. MG: "After that com Jesus in to Jude with his deciples & bapti3ed that folk. & John by that other half bapti3ed the folk also." My translation: "(22) After this, Jesus with his disciples came to Judea, and baptised the people there. (23) And John, in another part of the country, also baptised the people."]

-- JB and Jesus (Jn 3:22-36) (Jul 31, 2000),

MG has a very interesting version of Mt 5:6, Mt's fourth beatitude, indicating that the community of MG may have observed Jewish food purity laws. The discussion about the best translation of this passage went on for quite a long time, but in the end, my translation was accepted by most posters,

-- MG and ritual food purity (Aug 12, 2000),

-- Middle English text translation help (Aug 18, 2000),

-- more on Magdalene beatitude 4 (18 Aug 2000),

In MG, Peter does not describe Jesus as "Christ" in the important passage parallel to Mt 16:16 (Confession of Peter). Also, a possible parallel with the Hebrew Gospel of Mt exists here,

-- New GMark article from Ted Weeden now available (Jun 6, 2000),

-- the meaning of "al hol[y] lyueande" (Jun 8, 2000),

The following two long articles look at a possible historical context of MG. I provide here the evidence that the form of Christianity that first arrived to the British Isles was quite unlike the usual Roman-Catholic Christianity, and in fact was very close to Torah-observant Jewish-Christianity. Unfortunately, still, this evidence is very little known,

-- who were the Culdees? (28 Aug 2000),

The following article (updated) includes many good WWW links to further information about the Culdees. You can find them at the end of the article,

-- Twelve Apostles and the Culdees (26 Oct 2000)

And here are more updates (Jan, 2001). I continued to research the historical background of MG in Britain, and now turned up some evidence of a Culdee connection. Also, a possible pre-history of MG in the Middle East has been researched.

-- Culdees and the historians (24 Oct 2000)

-- the Magdalene Gospel and the Culdees (2 Nov 2000)

The following two articles examine how the status of Mary is portrayed in the opening chapters of Lk. Lk 2:5 refers to her as "betrothed", but this passage in MG has "wife". This is directly relevant to the historicity of the virgin birth concept. It seems pretty obvious to me that MG preserves the earlier version here.

As you can see, this whole very long debate was about one word only. This is how things are normally approached in the very conservative world of biblical studies. If one is proposing some radical new theory that calls for a radical re-evaluation of previous beliefs, one has to start with debating about one word for a while. Meanwhile, MG has thousands of such primitive readings, but I guess we have to go step by step...

-- the Magdalene and Lk 2:5 (6 Nov 2000)

-- original text of Lk 2:5? (14 Nov 2000)

-- 1st Chapter of the Magdalene Gospel translated (3 Dec 2000)

These latest updates are made in July 2001.

-- Samaritans (24 Apr 2001)

-- Jesus & the Samaritans in the Magdalene (28 Apr 2001)

-- John the Baptist's ministry was very well established in Israel (23 May 2001)

-- Roman antisemitism ca 135 (15 May 2001)

-- JB's disciples visit Jesus (Part 2; 11 Jun 2001), also Part 3 linked at the end of this

-- And finally, here's my open letter to Prof. William L. Petersen, who's currently considered as the leading authority on the Diatessaronic textual tradition, to which the Magdalene belongs. In this letter, I'm trying to explain why he and others have missed the real importance of ms Pepys (Jul 4, 2001).

The following group of articles deal with the Son of Man title of Jesus (SOM). In hundreds of years of biblical scholarship, many thousands of books and articles have been written about SOM. And yet nobody so far has had the slightest idea about any primitive pre-SOM gospel editions. So this is really my discovery, and it is likely to change the course of biblical scholarship. The evidence for ancient pre-SOM gospel layers is constantly increasing at this time. Indeed, this may be the most unexpected thing to happen in biblical studies for a very long time.

-- SOM in HMt and the Magdalene (1 Jun 2001)

-- more missing SOM passages (4 May 2001)

-- one missing SOM passage (9 May 2001)

-- Lk 22:27c - another missing SOM passage (16 May 2001)

There are 45 articles in this section altogether (as of July, 2001). So, as you can see, I've done quite a lot of work already analysing the Magdalene Gospel, in order to understand this intriguing ancient document, and its true place in history. But this only scratches the surface, really, because there's so much there to study. Virtually every page of MG presents an attentive reader with many great surprises.

Roman Mosaic

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