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.

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