Sunday, April 15, 2018

Geographical References - Non-Canonical Gospels, Other than Gnostic Gospels

The next installment in the "geography" series covers the more commonly-known documents that are often referred to as gospels, but are not in the Bible, other than the Gnostic gospels discussed in the previous post. Again, against the background of the modern-day features that come pre-loaded on google maps, I have plotted the geographical items referenced in these alternative gospels. Additional notes are placed below the map.

The documents reviewed for this map, each with is own layer, are:
  • The Gospel of the Savior
  • The Infancy Gospel of Thomas 
  • The Proto-Evangelium of James 
  • The Gospel of Peter 
Among the four documents reviewed here, there are four distinct places mentioned:
  • Bethlehem: 4 mentions (all in the Proto-Evangelium of James)
  • Israel: 33 mentions (often indirectly by identifying a character as an "Israelite")
  • Jerusalem: 8 mentions
  • Judea: 7 mentions
Prominence of Israel as the Main Geographic Reference

Over 60% of all geographical references in these four documents are to Israel, including referring to someone as an Israelite. Israel is the only place mentioned in all four of the documents. In the Gospel of the Savior, the two references to Israel are the only geographical references. The Gospel of Peter mentions Israel twice. In the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the narrator's introduction of himself as "Thomas the Israelite" constitutes 1/3 of the mappable geographical references in the document (the other two are references to Jerusalem). While the other documents reference "Israel" once or twice each, the Proto-Evangelium of James mentions Israel frequently, tallying up 28 of the 33 references to Israel, and 28 of the total 52 geographical references in the four documents currently reviewed. These references are often in the context "tribes of Israel", "children of Israel", "God of Israel", and similar constructions. That is, slightly over half of all geographical references in the four documents are references to Israel in the Proto-Evangelium of James.

Later analysis will put this finding in context against other documents to be reviewed.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Geographical References - Gnostic Gospels

I'm now trying my hand at some basic google maps to plot the geographical references in the Gnostic Gospels. The map below reflects some of my learning curve with google maps, no doubt. Amid the many modern-day features that come pre-loaded on these maps -- and it doesn't seem that google currently allows these pre-loaded features to be turned off -- I have plotted the geographical items referenced in the Gnostic Gospels. Some notes are in order and are placed below the map.

If we consider the classification "Gnostic Gospel" to be useful -- which is beyond the scope of this post -- then this map includes geographical references from all the documents that I have typically included in this classification: The Gospel of Thomas (Coptic), the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Truth, and the Gospel of Mary. Among those 4 documents, together they reference a total of 5 different geographical items, with Jerusalem being mentioned 3 times in the Gospel of Philip for a total of 8 references to those 5 different geographical items:

Israel / Israelite Jerusalem Jordan Judea / Judaea Samaria / Samaritan
Gospel of Thomas (Coptic) 1 0 0 1 1
Gospel of Philip 0 3 1 0 1
Gospel of Truth

Gospel of Mary

The Gospel of Truth and the Gospel of Mary are counted among the Gnostic Gospels, but do not mention any geographical locations.

For thoroughness' sake I'd want to mention why a reference to "Nazareth" isn't plotted even though the Gospel of Philip includes several Nazareth-related words: it is because the author of the Gospel of Philip does not seem to consider it to be a geographical reference. Here is the passage in question from the Gospel of Philip, for those who want to assess for themselves whether "Nazorean", "Nazarene", or "Nazara" was recognized by the Gospel of Philip's author as having any geographical significance:
The apostles who were before us had these names for him: "Jesus, the Nazorean, Messiah", that is, "Jesus, the Nazorean, the Christ". The last name is "Christ", the first is "Jesus", that in the middle is "the Nazarene". "Messiah" has two meanings, both "the Christ" and "the measured". "Jesus" in Hebrew is "the redemption". "Nazara" is "the Truth". "The Nazarene" then, is "the Truth". "Christ" has been measured. "The Nazarene" and "Jesus" are they who have been measured.
The map above has layers, and when reviewing it in google maps you should be able to turn on and off the layers corresponding to each particular gnostic gospel, to allow an individual view of a particular gospel, or a combined view of all (the default view).

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Christ is risen!

I have come to love life, and to enjoy it. And so I thank God that he thought our lives worth saving.

He is risen indeed!