Formerly titled "Counterfeit Gospels: Gnostic Writings in the Early Church.
Modern novels and movies claim the Church suppressed secret writings about Christ and his apostles for centuries...and they're right!
If you've heard of The Da Vinci Code, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Jesus Scroll, Holy Blood Holy Grail, Foucault's Pendulum, or The Golden Compass, you've been told that the Church hid the "truth" from the world.
In a way, these novels and movies are right. The Catholic Church did suppress and constrain the publication of these so-called "gospels." And with good reason. The Gnostic writings were circulated by pseudo-Christian sects who had broken communion with the Church. Many Gnostic texts claim to be eye-witness accounts of the apostles or secret divine messages which expand on Christ's public revelation. All of the Gnostic texts contain elements of heresy.
Claims to Secret Knowledge
Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means knowledge. In itself, knowledge is no bad thing. However, in the Early Church there were many groups of people who claimed to have received secret revelations about Christ, his mother Mary, or even his apostles.
Among these revelations are those contained in The Secret Book of John, a Gnostic text that rewrites creation and salvation history. It, along with many other Gnostic texts, were excluded from the formal list of the books of the Bible - called the "canon of Scripture" - by the Council of Carthage in 419 A.D. The Secret Book of John details a vision received by John the Apostle from Jesus.
Retelling the Story
Jesus tells John the "secret truth" about the creation of the world. He claims to be the Father, the Mother, and the Son, part of the incorruptible "Monad" - the great spirit who rules over all. In this reimagining of the Holy Trinity, there is the One (the Father), Barbelo, (a female emanence from the One), and Christ.
The Monad created aeons - pairs of male and female spiritual beings who are like angels. One of these aeons, Sophia, sought to conceive a son without her male counterpart. This son was born a monster, and he is called Yaldabaoth. This monster-spirit then becomes the "god" over physical creation.
According to The Secret Book of John, Yaldabaoth is the Yaweh of the Old Testament; an evil and perverse god who trapped the spiritual souls of Adam and Eve in matter. Yaldabaoth's wicked designs are perpetuated by human procreation... because bringing forth new life into a material world is a process of ensnaring more spiritual souls and trapping them in a physical form.
Get the Truth
In recent years, Gnostic writings like The Secret Book of John have gained in popularity due to references from a variety of media sources. Even those of us who knew the claims in The Da Vinci Code were fictional struggled to articulate the historical truth.
Dr. Michael Waldstein, expert translator and commentator on the Gnostic text of the The Secret Book of John, will guide you through the claims of this false gospel. His commentary will help you understand why this book, and others like it, were excluded from the canon of Scripture. Dr. Waldstein discusses the danger Gnosticism poses to true Christianity - how it attempts to repaint salvation history, divide the so-called "God of the Old Testament" from Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and how it distorts the truth and goodness of God's creation. In this course, you'll get the truth you need to combat any Gnostic misinformation.
Professor Michael Waldstein holds his Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Dallas, a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and his Doctorate of Theology from Harvard University in New Testament and Christian Origins. He is the Max Seckler Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University in Florida. Previously, he taught at the University of Notre Dame and the International Theological institute in Gaming, Austria. His published works include a critical edition of the four Coptic manuscripts of the Secret Book of John, a Gnostic text discovered in the Nag Hammadi codices. His articles have been published in Nova et Vetera, Communio, Anthropotes, and the Journal of Early Christian Studies.