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Judean Matthew I: the Jewish Prophet (revised)

Intro: This is part I of a two-part project to recover the original Judean Gospel from our present extant Gospel of Matthew (viz. Catholic Matthew). There are two parts because the Judean Gospel has two conflicting themes: in one Jesus speaks of a kingdom and the arrival of a Messianic figure other than himself. In the other theme Jesus has become identified with that Messianic figure. Accordingly part I, the “Jewish Prophet”, will begin with a selected passage (a fragment) from Catholic Matthew 10:2-23. Here Jesus speaks of the Messiah or “Son of man” as a figure other than himself; and there is no mention of a crucifixion. This is the first and earliest layer of the Messianic tradition of Jesus. It is a prophecy of a kingdom to come, the arrival of which is impending, and the disciples will not have completed their ministry when the “Son of man” arrives. This is accompanied by a command to preach to Hebrews only; and that before this ministry is complete, the kingdom will have arrived.

Four other passages have been included from Catholic Matthew chapters 24 & 25 (omitting CM. 24:1-4a, 14 & 25:14-30) which may have been spoken by the historical Jesus. Here Jesus specifically denies being the “Christ” (Messiah) and he utters prophecies regarding the destruction of Jerusalem as well as prophecies, illustrations and parables predicting the advent of the Son of man. These passages could be the basis for Jesus’s historical and legendary ethical teaching. And again, there is no reference to the crucifixion as being one of the signs of the end times.

A note regarding the second project: part II, the “Jewish Messiah”, will be a presentation of all those passages in which Jesus has become identified with the Messiah or “Son of man”. This is the second layer of the Messianic tradition and marks the evolution of Jesus from prophet to Jewish Messiah. And then in a separate project, to be called the “Catholic Gospel” it will be shown how Jesus evolved from prophet, to Jewish Messiah, to a universal Savior, and how all these conflicting themes remain preserved in our present Catholic Gospel of Matthew.

Read the Judean Matthew part II: the Jewish Messiah text.

 

JUDEAN MATTHEW I: THE JEWISH PROPHET

I. JESUS SENDS HIS APOSTLES TO PREACH THE GOSPEL: THAT THE KINGDOM IS AT HAND. [CM. 10:2-7, 9-16a, 17-21, 22b-23]

The names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom is at hand. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for truly I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

II. JESUS DENIES HE IS THE CHRIST-MESSIAH AND PREDICTS THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM AND THE ADVENT OF THE SON OF MAN. [CM. 24:4b-13, 15-44]

Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. (Note: I left in the phrase “for my name’s sake” as I believe it could be an expression of Jesus’s exaggerated view of himself and his prophetic message.)

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Note: in Hellenistic Judea all these things were already happening even before Jesus was born. These words reflect the sectarian and political strife that simmered in Judea under the Greeks and Romans.)

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place… (“let him that readeth understand” omitted)

Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Behold, I have told you before.

Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens (dunameis ton ouranonshall be shaken:

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

Truly I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

III. THE ILLUSTRATION OF THE TWO SERVANTS; THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS. [CM. 24:45-25:13]

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Truly I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Truly I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

IV. THE RIGHTEOUS REIGN AND JUDGMENT OF THE SON OF MAN. [CM. 25:31-46]

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Truly I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Comments: Four verses or parts thereof have been omitted from CM. 10:2-23, viz. verses 7b, 8, 16b and 22a. Verse 7 has the term “kingdom of heaven”. The words “of heaven” have been deemed a later interpolation and have been omitted. Verse 8, which refers to healing and miracle-working, was omitted because the emphasis in the overall passage is on the kingdom and the “Son of man”. The theme of Jesus and his apostles as miracle workers is a later addition and is part of the Messianic theme; in which Jesus and his apostles are embellished and they become miracle workers and healers similar to the legend of Apollonius of Tyana (Eusebius, Against Heirocles). Verse 16b was omitted as it probably originated from a proto-Gnostic source who wanted to add an esoteric element to this passage to try to harmonize it with proto-Gnostic thought. Verse 22b was omitted because it belongs to the Messianic theme and is clearly an attempt to identify Jesus with the “Son of man” when the overall passage makes the two out to be separate figures. Jesus does not say ‘hold fast till I come’; he says “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” (Cf. Rev. 2:25b)

In Matthew 24 the first verses 1-4a have been removed as a later device to set the context of Jesus’s words in the proceeding prophecy. In this device the apostles speak to Jesus as if he is the Christ and Son of man (cf. CM. 16:13-17). But immediately following in 24:5 Jesus denies that he is the Christ, which I believe is in the context of his original message as a Messianic prophet. If this is correct then Jesus already had unruly followers who were proclaiming him as the Messiah when he never said that or thought of himself that way. Verse 14 has been omitted as it is a later stall-tactic meant to explain why the original prophecy remained unfulfilled as stated, e.g., in CM. 10:23 or 24:34. Again, the original Gospel was to be preached to Hebrews only and the kingdom would arrive before the apostles reached all the cities of Israel, or in other words, before the end of their generation.

The parable of talents, CM. 25:14-30, was omitted because it is unlikely that Jesus would have used a metaphor from the ancient financial markets (controlled by the Romans) to communicate his end-time message to the masses. This passage belongs to a later stage of Christian theology.

Catholic Matthew 25:31-46 represents the beginning of what became the legendary humanitarian and ethical teaching that came to be associated with Jesus. But in its original context this passage represents the kind of justice that is dealt out by any regime that comes to power. Those who were friends to the cause and the party are rewarded, and those who didn’t help the cause and the party are deemed enemies to be punished. Make no mistake, this passage does not refer to some universal humanitarian altruism. Note these words: “Then shall the righteous answer him (the King), saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King (Basileus) shall answer and say unto them, Truly I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (CM. 25:37-40) This is about how the King’s brethren were treated. This does not refer to all the poor or hungry or imprisoned people of the world. And this is consistent with Jesus’s gospel message that is addressed to the Israelites only (CM. 10:5-6). And to conclude these comments I will point out once again that Jesus never refers to himself in these passages. He refers to another who is the “Christ” and “Son of man” and “King”.

By Jim West. Copyright © 2013; revised April 1, 2014.

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Judean Matthew II: the Jewish Messiah (A)

Intro: Judean Matthew part I the “Jewish Prophet” presents what is theoretically the oldest and most primitive, and perhaps the original form of Jesus’s preaching; which is preserved in Catholic Matthew chapters 10, 24 & 25. Here Jesus preaches a gospel about the “Son of man” but does not identify himself with that Son of man; and there is no mention of the crucifixion. This present project, part II, the “Jewish Messiah“, contains the larger Judean Gospel that is also preserved in Catholic Matthew, which identifies Jesus with the Messiah and Son of man, and introduces the doctrine of the crucifixion.

Part II is a theoretical reconstruction of the Jewish Gospel in the age of the Apostles viz. the first generation of Christians who believed that Jesus was miraculously resurrected and would bring the kingdom before the end of their generation (e.g. CM. 16:27-28, 24:34-35). In its over-all context Judean Matthew I shows the message of Jesus while he was present. Judean Matthew II shows the message after the crucifixion and in Jesus’s absence. An important detail here regarding the crucifixion is that this doctrine need not be construed to be about atonement, but may originally have meant a miracle from God to prove the messianic status of Jesus; and is symbolized by Jonah spending three days in the belly of a fish (CM. 12:38-40). The atonement concept was introduced by later theologians.

Due to length the Jewish Messiah must be sub-divided into two parts “A” and “B”. Part A covers chapters 1-19 of Catholic Matthew. These chapters have been edited and consolidated into 7 new chapters; with most or all of chapters 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of Catholic Matthew edited or omitted. Part B will resume with Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his confrontations with the Sadducees, and the crucifixion.

I. THE JEWISH/ DAVIDIC GENEOLOGY OF THE CHRIST-MESSIAH [CM. 1:1-17]

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;

And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;

And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

II. THE NATIVITY OF THE CHRIST-MESSIAH [CM. 1:18a, 20b, 21-24, 25b; 2:1-8, 13-23]

[Note: all passages in this account that refer to the Immaculate Conception or the Divinity of Jesus have been removed from the Nativity account. One important clue on this matter is that the claim that Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit is contrary to the extensive and detailed geneology that has been placed at the beginning of this Gospel in order to emphasize that Jesus was a descendant of David, of the line of Judah. In early Jewish Christian tradition Jesus is a man naturally born, from an earthly father and mother, and is chosen by God to be the Messiah (Eusebius, Church History, 3.27; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.26.2). The notion that Jesus was literally descended from a god, or God, is a pagan theme that can attributed to a gentile Christian editor. Another clue is that nowhere in the main text of Matthew is any significance assigned to the mother of Jesus (e.g. CM. 12:47-50, 13:55-57). Thus we are left with the prospect that the Immaculate Conception is a Catholic Dogma that has been added to the text; which in turn is based on a Gnostic doctrine that was introduced originally in the Gospel of Luke [1]. Passages omitted: CM. 1:18b, 19-20a, 25a; 2:9-12]

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, Mary thy wife shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Behold, a virgin (parthenos) shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel”, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Isaiah 7:14; note: in this passage the word “virgin” refers to a young maiden and not the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. In the Hebrew Bible the word most often used for a virgin is “bethuwlah“/ בְתוּלָה֙, e.g. Dt. 22:28, whereas in the one passage, Is. 7:14, the word is “almah” / עַלְמָ֗ה  which means a young maiden. See Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance “virgin”, almah #5959, bethuwlah #1330. The source of the confusion is that the Greek translation uses the Greek word for virgin “parthenos” in place of both Hebrew words.)

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And she brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” (Micah 5:2)

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1)

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” (Jeremiah 31:15)

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. (Judges 13:5)

[Catholic Matthew 3:1-17, the Ministry of John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus; omitted. Early Jewish Christian tradition indicates that Jesus was not connected with John the Baptist and was not part of John’s movement or was baptized by him. An example which cannot be ignored is where Jerome quotes a passage from what he identified as the original, Judean Matthew:

“In the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which is written in the Chaldee and Syrian language, but in Hebrew characters, and is used by the Nazarenes to this day (I mean the Gospel according to the Apostles, or, as is generally maintained, the Gospel according to Matthew, a copy of which is in the library at Cæsarea), we find, “Behold, the mother of our Lord and His brethren said to Him, John Baptist baptizes for the remission of sins; let us go and be baptized by him. But He said to them, what sin have I committed that I should go and be baptized by him? Unless, haply, the very words which I have said are only ignorance.” (Jerome, Against the Pelagians, 3:2)

The Clementine Homilies and Recognitions have no record of Jesus being baptized by or a follower of John the Baptist. In these sources John is acknowledged as being the greatest of the prophets and a fore-runner of Jesus. But regarding doctrine John is reckoned as the teacher of Simon Magus, and of John’s doctrine and sect it is said in Homily 2:23,

“There was one John, a day-baptist, who was also, according to the method of combination, the forerunner of our Lord Jesus; and as the Lord had twelve apostles, bearing the number of the twelve months of the sun, so also he, John, had thirty chief men, fulfilling the monthly reckoning of the moon, in which number was a certain woman called Helena, that not even this might be without a dispensational significance. … But of these thirty, the first and the most esteemed by John was Simon…” (Clementine Homilies, 2:23)

Both passages from Jerome and the Clementines may be evidence that John the Baptist was not originally part of the Gospel of Matthew; and that John was introduced into the text by a later proto-Gnostic writer. And this is followed by new material where Jesus speaks of the mysterious doctrine of Sophia, which could be an allusion to Helena (both symbolized by the number 30); and also a doctrine of another God and a baptism that is not sanctioned in scripture viz. the Law of Moses (cf. CM. 11:19, 27; 21:23-27).]

III. JESUS IS TEMPTED BY THE EVIL ONE. HIS MINISTRY BEGINS. PETER, ANDREW, JAMES AND JOHN ARE CALLED [CM. 4:1-25]

Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”. (Dt. 8:3b)

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, “He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone”. (Psalms 91:11-12)

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”. (Dt. 6:16)

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Dt. 6:13). Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, And his fame went throughout all Syria: And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

IV. THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT [CM. 5:1-6, 10-37, 7:21-29]

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

(Note: the sermon below has been amended at various points so that it reflects the failed end-time prophecy, viz. an imminent, approaching earthly kingdom rather than the mystic kingdom of heaven, which is a later revision of a more primitive message.)

Blessed are the poor: for theirs is the kingdom.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

[Catholic Matthew 5:7-9, blessed are the merciful, the pure in heart, the peace-makers; omitted. These virtues as stated are incompatible with the other Judeo-centric elements of the Judean Gospel/ kingdom theme. E.g. in CM. 10:13-15 Jesus condemns anyone who rejects the gospel message, condemning entire cities. In CM. 15:26 Jesus the Messiah was unwilling to heal a child because the child was not of Hebrew descent. The child is referred to as a “dog” in front of her desparate and begging mother. And again, in CM. 10:34f. Jesus states plainly that he has come to spread discord and violence, not peace. None of these passages can be regarded as coming from a person who is concerned with the mystic theme of a pure heart and the vision of God. And in the Hebrew Bible it is said that no man can see God and live (Exodus 33:20). This leads me to believe that CM. 5:7-9 originates from a proto-Gnostic writer who was trying to convert the Judean Gospel into a spiritual metaphor, by adding material.]

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom. (The word “righteousness” here referring to the Law of Moses.)

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (The “good works” here refer to the Law of Moses and charitable activities or alms.)

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For truly I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (This passage is evidently a polemic against St. Paul and the early Hellenist church which rejected the Law of Moses.)

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom. (The logic thus far indicates that the Judean Messiah is more zealous for the Law than even the Pharisees; hence “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.”)

Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the fire of Hinnom. [1]

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

Truly I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into the valley of Hinnom. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into the valley of Hinnom.

It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. (This is the one point where Jesus was at odds with the Pharisees, according this thesis. Cf. CM. 19:3-9.)

Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

[Catholic Matthew 5:38-7:20, On retaliation, neighbors and enemies, alms, prayer, fasting, wealth, judging, asking, the two ways, the two trees; omitted. As I showed in Proto-Gnostic Matthew I, the teachings in these passages are incompatible with the Law of Moses and even other statements in CM that are attributed to Jesus. This passage contains key ideas that are closer to Gnostic thought and theology rather than Messianic Judaism. A brief example here is a comparison of the Similitudes to the teaching on Alms and Prayer. The Similitudes command that alms be performed openly; whereas the latter states that alms and prayers should be performed in secret, and that there is no reward in an open display of piety. Another example can be seen in the teachings on retaliation and neighbors vs. enemies. Both of these teachings overturn key passages in the Law of Moses, which in turn contradicts the words of “Jesus” in CM. 5:17-19.]

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Again this is aimed at St. Paul and the Hellenist church which rejected the Law of Moses.)

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

V. THE MESSIAH PERFORMS HEALING AND MIRACLES. PETER’S MOTHER-IN-LAW. THE MESSIAH CALMS THE SEA. DEVILS ARE CAST INTO SWINE. MATTHEW IS CALLED [CM. 8:1-4, 14-18, 23-9:1, 9]

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

[Catholic Matthew 8:5-13, the Centurion’s servant; omitted. This passage runs counter to the theme that the Jewish Messiah ministers to Hebrews only (CM. 10:5-6, 15:24).]

And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses”. (Isaiah 53:4)

Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.

[Catholic Matthew 8:19-22, the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head, let the dead bury their dead; omitted. The narrative portrays Jesus as a popular guy who has the masses following him around. It is unlikely that he would have no place to sleep. The themes of the “Master” being homeless and instructing his followers to “let the dead bury their dead” are the words of an itinerant mystic and not a Messiah who claims the throne. This section belongs to the proto-Gnostic Gospel of Jesus the Mystic.]

And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

[Catholic Matthew 9:2-8, 10-34, a man’s sins are forgiven, Jesus and his disciples are accused of impiety, a woman with an issue of blood is healed, a maid is healed, two blind men are healed, a devil is cast from a dumb man; omitted. According to my theory the Judean Gospel existed in a period where there was no conflict between Messianic Christians and Pharisees (cf. Acts 2:46-47). That the Messiah would claim the power to forgive sins in this context, or claim any doctrines or powers at odds with the Pharisees is implausible. For this reason the accusation of impiety from the Pharisees has also been omitted (CM. 9:2-8). If we factor in the statement from the Sermon on the Mount, from CM. 5:17-19, then there is no reason to believe that Jesus brought a new and liberal ethic that the Pharisees would condemn. The conflict with the Pharisees belongs to the later proto-Gnostic and Catholic elements in Matthew. The accusation of impiety from the disciples of John the Baptist reflect tensions between proto-Gnostic Christians and the followers of John the Baptist. CM. 9:15-17 has Jesus speaking in symbolism that resembles the Gnostic doctrine of the Bridal Chamber and the tension between the Old and New testaments, viz. a conflict between proto-Gnostic sects. The woman with the issue of blood and the maid appears to be proto-Gnostic symbolism pointing to Sophia and Achamoth (CM. 9:18-26). The two blind men and the command to keep silent (CM. 9:30) is inconsistent with a man who performs miracles to demonstrate to the public that he is the Messiah. And the casting out of the devil from the mute appears to be a vehicle to create conflict between the Messiah and the Pharisees (CM. 9:32-34).]

VI. JESUS INSTRUCTS AND SENDS FORTH HIS TWELVE APOSTLES. JESUS REFUSES TO HEAL THE DAUGHTER OF THE CANAANITE WOMAN. JESUS HEALS MANY; THE MULTITUDES GLORIFY THE GOD OF ISRAEL [CM. 9:35, 10:2-16a-34, 38-11:1, 15:21-31] 

[Catholic Matthew 9:36-10:1, Jesus has compassion for the sheep, the labourers for the harvest; omitted. This passage shows Jesus as head of a humanitarian ministry rather than a messianic ministry. Moreover there is a notable change in language between these verses and what follows in CM. 10:2f. In verse one the “twelve” are referred to as “disciples” who are given powers to heal. What follows in CM. 10:2 is that the “twelve” are all of a sudden referred to as “Apostles” and they are sent to preach the kingdom. And what follows further in these verses shows that this was not some humanitarian campaign. There is a political tension beneath this which is consistent with a Messianic campaign where Jesus claims the throne. CM. 9:36-10:1 belongs to a different writer who wanted to portray Jesus as mystical, humanitarian savior who recruits followers for a new religion, and not a messianic movement recruiting support from the people.]

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (CM. 10:5 “of heaven”; omitted.)

Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Note the harsh retribution that is pronounced upon anyone who does not heed the messianic message of Jesus’s apostles.)

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. (CM. 10:16b, “be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”; omitted.)

But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (This passage reflects the strife in Judea that led to and coincided with the Jewish War with Rome, in which many Jewish factions fought each other as well as the Romans.)

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for truly I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. (This passage reflects the original dogma that has been expanded upon and embellished by Jewish Christians; where Jesus has become identified with the Son of man.)

The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord(kurion). If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.

What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna: valley of Hinnom). (Note the mix of Jewish and Hellenistic thought in this passage.)

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (This refers to Jesus’s crucifixion, obviously after the event.)

[Catholic Matthew 10:35-37, Micah 7:6, Jesus comes to set a man at variance against his father; omitted. This theme of Jesus deliberately destroying families is ethically and theologically inconsistent with the Law of Moses. This passage and the dubious context of Micah 7:6 are consistent with a proto-Gnostic theme.]

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, truly I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. (Note that there is no reference to healings or exorcisms in this passage.)

[Catholic Matthew 11:2-19, rejection by John the Baptist; omitted. This passage reflects a conflict between proto-Gnostic Christians and the followers of John the Baptist. CM. 11:10 and14 may be a gloss from a Catholic scribe, to place John the Baptist within a prophetic framework by connecting him with the prophet Elijah viz. Malachi 4:4-6. But there is an open question as to whether John’s doctrine and Baptism have any connection with the Law of Moses as mandated in the passage cited from Malachi, e.g. CM. 21:23-26, Clementine Homilies, 2:23.]

[Catholic Matthew 11:25-30, only the Son knows the Father, my burdern is light; omitted. This passage is a piece of proto-Gnostic theology that denies the authority of Moses, or the notion that Moses knew the Father. In opposition to the Law of Moses Jesus says “my burden is light”.]

[Catholic Matthew 12:1-45, Jesus’ conflicts with Pharisees, viz. plucking and eating corn on the Sabbath, Sabbath healing, the Pharisees conspire against Jesus, the Pharisees blaspheme the Holy Spirit, the Pharisees demand a sign; omitted. Jesus’s conflict with the Pharisees and their condemnation belong to sectarian tensions of a later period and reflect tension between Jewish Christians and proto-Gnostic Christians or Catholics.]

[Catholic Matthew 13:1-53, the Parables, viz. the Soils, the Wheat and Tares, the Mustard Seed, the Leaven, the Hidden Treasure, the Pearl, the Net, the Householder; omitted. These parables contain the mystic proto-Gnostic teaching and belong to a different Gospel.]

[Catholic Matthew 14:1-36, Herod the Tetrarch and the beheading of John the Baptist, 5000 are fed, Jesus walks on water, the healing at Gennesaret; omitted. The theme regarding John the Baptist is relevant to the Gospel of a proto-Gnostic writer who represents a rival sect to the followers of John the Baptist. It is being suggested here that Jesus is the successor of John the Baptist. The mystic feeding of the 5000, walking on water, the healing miracles at Gennesaret all belong to the theme of a mystic teacher and not a Jewish Messiah.]

[Catholic Matthew 15:1-20, a confrontation with the Pharisees over cleanliness and honor of parents; omitted. This is a another fictional passage that places Jesus the Messiah at odds with the Pharisees. Here Jesus accuses the Pharisees of perverting the Mosaic Law in order to avoid caring for elders. But in other passages in Catholic Matthew Jesus is portrayed as rejecting the same commandment, e.g. CM. 10:35-37 and 12:46-50.]

Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Note: I believe it is highly probable that this passage ended with Matthew 15:24, with the words “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. But there is an addition to this story in the Clementine Homilies which maintains that both this gentile woman and her daughter converted to Judaism after being healed. This passage is quoted here as an addendum:

“There is amongst us one Justa, a Syro-Phœnician, by race a Canaanite, whose daughter was oppressed with a grievous disease. And she came to our Lord, crying out, and entreating that He would heal her daughter. But He, being asked also by us, said, ‘It is not lawful to heal the Gentiles, who are like to dogs on account of their using various meats and practices, while the table in the kingdom has been given to the sons of Israel.’ But she, hearing this, and begging to partake like a dog of the crumbs that fall from this table, having changed what she was, by living like the sons of the kingdom, she obtained healing for her daughter, as she asked. For she being a Gentile, and remaining in the same course of life, He would not have healed had she remained a Gentile, on account of its not being lawful to heal her as a Gentile.

“She, therefore, having taken up a manner of life according to the law, was, with the daughter who had been healed, driven out from her home by her husband, whose sentiments were opposed to ours. But she, being faithful to her engagements, and being in affluent circumstances, remained a widow herself, but gave her daughter in marriage to a certain man who was attached to the true faith, and who was poor.” — Homily, 2:19-20)

And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

VII. THE SADDUCEES ASK FOR A SIGN; THE SIGN OF JONAH IS GIVEN. JESUS REVEALS TO HIS APOSTLES THAT HE IS THE MESSIAH. PETER “THE ROCK” IS APPOINTED HEAD OF THE CHURCH. JESUS REVEALS THE CRUCIFIXION. ON OFFENDERS AND THE OFFENDED BROTHER. INSTRUCTION ON MERCY. THE PHARISEES CONFRONT JESUS ON MARRIAGE. THE RICH YOUNG RULER. THE APOSTLES’ REWARD [CM.  16:1-2a, 4, 13-17a, 18a, 19, 21, 24-28, 17:22-23, 18:7-9, 15-17, 23-30, 19:1-9, 16-19, 23-29]

The Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. (Note: A number of points need explaining here: CM. 16:2-3 is not present in the Codex Sinaiticus and is omitted here as redundant. The Pharisees have also been omitted as there is no reason to have them agreeing here with the Sadducees on the issue of Messianic prophecy. Historically the Sadducees were the party that had its center in Herod’s Temple and were aligned with the Romans. The Pharisees were not aligned with the Herodians or the Romans. The adding of the Pharisees belongs to a later proto-Gnostic source. In this passage Jesus gives the sign of Jonah to the Sadducess, viz. that his resurrection will be the sign, the miracle from God, proving that he is the Messiah.)

[Catholic Matthew 16:5-12, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees”; omitted. This passage is from a proto-Gnostic source and is a comment on the passage viz. CM. 16:1-4, in which the Pharisees have been added along with the Sadducees.]

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that the Son of man is? And they said, Some say John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. (Note: CM. 16:13-14 has been revised to read in the third person speech rather than the incorrect first person context in the KJV, e.g. there is no “I am” or “ego eimi” in the Greek text. It is only in verse 15 onward that the dialogue shifts to first person speech.)

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Note: CM. 16:17b “flesh and blood has not revealed it” has been omitted as originating from a proto-Gnostic source and reflects a docetic theme. CM. 16:18b has been omitted as the reference to “Hades”, KJV: “hell”, is improbable coming from a Jewish writer. This phrase can be attributed to a later Catholic source.

[Catholic Matthew 16:20, Jesus commands his Apostles not to reveal that he is the Messiah; omitted. This is contrary to the purpose of Jesus’s ministry and authority, to prove to the Israelites that he is the prophesied messiah. This passage belongs to an esoteric proto-Gnostic theme.]

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (Note: this theme here need not be construed to reflect a doctrine of atonement, which is surely a later interpretation. The original meaning here could be that Jesus’s messiah-ship would be proven in that Jesus would be resurrected after the crucifixion, by an act of God–demonstrating that even the Romans would not be able to kill God’s appointed Messiah. This in turn would be an idea that was developed after Jesus the prophet actually did turn up alive after being crucified, leading his followers to believe that some supernatural event actually did take place. It is my position that the words in the passage above were never spoken by Jesus, the crucifixion and the sign of Jonah were ideas developed later by his followers to explain his survival of being crucified. There are many rational, logical explanations that could account for what actually happened; but to his followers this was a supernatural event, meant to reveal and validate his status as Messiah–which was invented by his followers and not the man himself.)

[Catholic Matthew 16:22-23, Peter rebukes Jesus, Peter is called “Satan”; omitted. It is inconsistent that Peter should be declared to be “blessed” and as the “Rock” and the foundation of the church in one passage and then denounced as “Satan” in the next passage. This passage belongs to a proto-Gnostic writer who viewed Peter as the figure-head of the Jewish church and of a doctrine that this writer considered to be false, probably in favor of Paul.]

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Truly I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

[Catholic Matthew 17:1-13, the transfiguration; omitted. This passage originates from a Catholic source and is an effort to reconcile the prophets and Jesus and John the Baptist under a Catholic theology; when other passages elsewhere show a different proto-Gnostic theme, e.g. CM. 5:38-48, 11:27, 21:23-27.]

[Catholic Matthew 17:14-21, Jesus rebukes a faithless generation; omitted. I remain uncertain as to the source of this passage. I feel that it may come from a proto-Gnostic or Catholic source, and less likely from a Jewish source, viz. the theme of Jesus as Messianic king. This passage shows Jesus as vexed, as a frustrated healer running out of patience with lowly humans. This is a mean-spirited passage with a poorly articulated message regarding faith; perhaps indicating that this passage is from a Catholic writer.]

[Catholic Matthew 17:24-27, the children pay tribute to kings to avoid offense, omitted. This is a difficult passage which may originate from either a proto-Gnostic or Catholic writer. Its message is that Jesus pays tribute to appease the Roman over-lords, i.e. to send the message to the Romans that Christians willingly pay their taxes.]

[Catholic Matthew 18:1-6, 10-14, the little children and the kingdom of heaven, the lost sheep; omitted. This passage is a metaphor for Gnostic redemption, in which God seeks to recover the lost sparks, which are allegorized as “little ones” and as the “lost sheep”.]

Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church (ecclesia): but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man (ethnikos) and a publican.

[Catholic Matthew 18:18-20, what shall be bound on earth is bound in heaven, where there are two or three gathered I am in the midst of them; omitted. This passage originates from a Catholic writer with a concept of Jesus as mediator between God and the Church. This is surely beyond the theme of Jesus as Jewish Messiah. This is Jesus in his function as the face of the Godhead.]

[Catholic Matthew 18:21-22, forgive seventy times seven; omitted. This passage is not direcly consistent with the parable that follows, where the lord of the kingdom was not inclined to show mercy as the first choice. The ethics between this passage and the parable, CM. 18:23-35, do not match. Verses 21-22 come from a proto-Gnostic writer whereas the following verses describe justice in the Messianic age to come.]

Therefore is the kingdom likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants (doulon: slaves). (Note: the words following “kingdom”, viz. “of heaven” (ton oranon) have been omitted as a gloss from a Catholic editor. In line with the Messianic theme the “kingdom” refers to an earthly restored Israel whereas the “kingdom of heaven” is the mystic idea of a proto-Gnostic writer.)

And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. (Note that selling families into slavery is a suitable metaphor for the “kingdom”.)

The servant (doulos: slave) therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the Lord (Kurios) of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan.

[Catholic Matthew 19:2, the multitudes followed Jesus and he healed them; omitted. This passage comes from another, either proto-Gnostic or Catholic souce, and is meant to portray Jesus as a healer rather than emphasize his messianic status, which was connected with end-time prophecies that eventually became awkward and obsolete.]

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

[Catholic Matthew 19:10-15, the disciples conclude it is not good to marry, Jesus speaks of eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, the little children; omitted. This awkward passage originates from non-Jewish sources and its final arrangement is surely Catholic. As the flow of ideas is framed, the idea of celibacy is presented as an alternative to marriage and signifies the apostolic, celibate priesthood. This is followed by the teaching that children must not be kept away. I doubt that this was the original flow of the passage; and that verses 13 and 14 belong to the dialogue that starts in CM. 18. The statement regarding eunuchs is a proto-Gnostic teaching meant to emphasize Jesus’ transcendant nature, that he is not engaged in the biblical institutions of marriage and procreation, according to the Mosaic Law. This latter passage has been allocated to its place in the proto-Gnostic Matthew where it has a valid context.]

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

[Catholic Matthew, 19:20-22, the rich young ruler wants more, “if you will be perfect”; omitted. This passage was added to the original Judean Gospel by a proto-Gnostic writer, who introduced the concept of initiation. As the passage presently stands there are two conflicting statements. First Jesus tells the young man that he will have eternal life, in other words ‘enter the kingdom’, if he keeps the commandments. But at the end, Jesus imposes a second condition that the young man must sell everything in order to enter the kingdom; and that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom. The real proto-Gnostic meaning is that it is difficult for a rich man to be initiated because he cannot let go of his worldy possessions and cares.]

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Truly I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

And Jesus said unto them, Truly I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

[Catholic Matthew 19:30-20:16, the parable of Labourers; omitted. The parable of Labourers contradicts the preceding statement in the Apostle’s Reward and also what follows in the Instruction on Ambition viz. CM 20:20-28. Here is a summary of the inconsistent flow of ideas: in CM. 19:27-29, Jesus tells Peter that all the Apostles will sit beside him on thrones in the “regeneration” (palingenesia). But immediately following in the parable of Labourers, CM. 19:30-20:16, Jesus tells his apostles that the “first shall be last and the last shall be first”. (I believe this is a proto-Gnostic theme meant to counter the status of the Jewish apostles.) Then, in the Instruction on Ambition, CM. 20:20-28, Jesus tells his apostles and the mother of John and James, that it is not his place to grant offices and rewards in the kingdom; thus he promises nothing to no one. And Jesus states idealistically that all are to be servants.]

[Catholic Matthew 20:20-28, the Instruction on Ambition; omitted. As stated in the preceding note: this passage contradicts the statement in the Apostles’ Reward. In the latter passage Jesus promises his apostles that they will reign and judge with him on thrones. But in this passage Jesus states that it is not his place to make promises regarding offices and rewards. Verses 22, 23 and 28 allude to the crucifixion and point to an early Catholic source for the passage.]

[Catholic Matthew 20:29-34, the blind men recognize the Messiah; omitted. In this passage the blind men are commanded to keep silent about the identity of Jesus, but this again runs counter to the notion that Jesus is supposed be revealed as the Jewish Messiah, who reveals himself through wisdom and miracles. This mystic parable belongs to the proto-Gnostic Gospel.]

End of part A; part B will resume with Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

By Jim West. Copyright © November 25, 2013; revised April 1, 2014.

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Judean Matthew I: the Jewish Prophet

(Note: this is the original version of a post that has been revised and expanded. The present text remains as the “short” version. The short version presents the single passage from Matthew 10:2-23 whereas the revised and expanded text also includes passages from Matthew 24 & 25. To read the revised and expanded text click here.)

Intro: This is part I of a two-part project to recover the original Judean Gospel from our present extant Gospel of Matthew (viz. Catholic Matthew). There are two parts because the Judean Gospel has two conflicting themes: in one Jesus speaks of a kingdom and the arrival of a Messianic figure other than himself. In the other theme Jesus has become identified with that Messianic figure. Accordingly part I, the “Jewish Prophet”, will be a presentation of the passage (fragment) from Catholic Matthew 10:2-23, in which Jesus speaks of the Messiah or “Son of man” as a figure other than himself; and there is no mention of a crucifixion. This is the first and earliest layer of the Messianic tradition of Jesus. It is a prophecy of a kingdom to come, the arrival of which is impending, and the disciples will not have completed their ministry when the “Son of man” arrives. This is accompanied by a command to preach to Hebrews only; and that before this ministry is complete, the kingdom will have arrived.

Part II, the “Jewish Messiah”, will be a presentation of all those passages in which Jesus has become identified with the Messiah or “Son of man”. This is the second layer of the Messianic tradition and marks the evolution of Jesus from prophet to Jewish Messiah. And then in a separate project, to be called the “Catholic Gospel” it will be shown how Jesus evolved from prophet, to Jewish Messiah, to a universal Savior, and how all these conflicting themes remain preserved in our present Catholic Gospel of Matthew.

JUDEAN MATTHEW I: THE JEWISH PROPHET

JESUS SENDS HIS APOSTLES TO PREACH THE GOSPEL: THAT THE KINGDOM IS AT HAND. [CM. 10:2-7, 9-16a, 17-21, 22b-23]

The names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for truly I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Comments: Three verses or parts thereof have been omitted from the passage above, viz. verses 8, 16b and 22a. Verse 8, which refers to healing and miracle-working, was omitted because the emphasis in the overall passage is on the kingdom and the “Son of man”. The theme of Jesus and his apostles as miracle workers is a later addition and is part of the Messianic theme; in which Jesus and his apostles are embellished and they become miracle workers and healers similar to the legend of Apollonius of Tyana (Eusebius, Against Heirocles). Verse 16b was omitted as it probably originates from a proto-Gnostic source who wanted to add an esoteric element to this passage to try to harmonize it with proto-Gnostic thought. Verse 22b was omitted because it belongs to the Messianic theme and is clearly an attempt to identify Jesus with the “Son of man” when the overall passage makes the two out to be separate figures. Jesus does not say ‘hold fast till I come’; he says “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.”  (Cf. Rev. 2:25b)

By Jim West. Copyright © July 9, 2013; revised April 1, 2014.

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Proto-Gnostic Matthew: Introduction

Read the Proto-Gnostic Matthew, part I text part II text

In this project, the Proto-Gnostic Matthew, it is my hope to bring forth the spiritual essence of the Gospel of Matthew, which is to say, to bring forth the spiritual truth of the Gospel as the early Gnostics understood it. But it is important that my readers understand that this is not necessarily something that came straight from Jesus’s mouth, because the evidence in question is not that simple or harmonious. To be honest, I believe that the words compiled here were never literally spoken by an historical Jesus, and I will explain the reasons why below. Those words that probably were spoken by the historical Jesus will be compiled in a follow-up project called “Judean Matthew”. For me the evidence in Matthew shows that the spiritual essence of this Gospel emerged as part of a process of reflection and re-invention; a process which began when Jesus’s end-time prophecies failed to materialize, viz. that Jesus’s kingdom did not arrive at the end of his “generation” (e.g. Mt. 10:23, 16:28, 24:34-35).

All discerning readers and scholars are aware of this paradox and the fact that the Gospel message went through revision and re-invention. This evidence is still preserved in Matthew; and it can also be seen in the differences between Matthew and the Gospel of John. And the problem is stated explicitly in 2 Peter 3:3-8. In both the Gospel of John and in 2 Peter it can be seen how this original “end-time” Gospel message has been re-worked. In the Gospel of John the Kingdom becomes a spiritual reality and not an end-time expectation (Jn. 3:5-8). There is no clear end-time doctrine or second coming in John. And in 2 Peter we are introduced to the innovation that Jesus was never mistaken but that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pe. 3:3-8). Yet this is not what Jesus promised in Matthew: “Truly I say unto you, this generation shall not pass…” (Mt. 24:34, 10:23)

In Matthew it can be seen that two conflicting Gospel messages have been combined and one supercedes the other. In one Jesus sends his apostles to the Hebrews only; and he predicts an earthly kingdom, and that his disciples will not get through all the cities of Israel when it arrives (Mt. 10:5-6, 23). But then there is a second message which says that the Gospel must be preached in all the world first and then shall the kingdom arrive (Mt. 24:14, 28:18-20). What we have here is a process of reflection in which new ideas enter the picture.

From a Gnostic perspective the Gospel of John touches on the truth of the matter, that the kingdom is spiritual (whereas 2 Peter replaces one lie with another). And in John one can see where true spiritual inspiration has entered the process. The old end-time expectation has been replaced entirely by the spiritual Kingdom. And this was a situation where the Holy Spirit revealed itself through the writer’s process of repentance and reflection. A similar situation exists in the Gospel of Matthew: the old and original strata of the literal end-time prophecy is still present in the text (e.g. Mt. 10:23) and it even goes through a 2 Peter style twist (Mt. 24:14, 28:18f.). But even beyond this there was another teaching, and another meaning, that was introduced which was purely spiritual. This is what was inspired by the Holy Spirit upon repentance and reflection–that the true kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of God, is a seed planted within a person, and not a literal worldly event.

In the Proto-Gnostic Matthew I endeavor to bring this latter message forth from the mainstream Gospel of Matthew as stated above, and to separate out the other theological and literal end-time elements, to get to the core of the true, spiritual message that is preserved in Matthew. Hence-forth the main-stream Matthew will be designated here as Catholic Matthew. And in my thesis there are at least three conflicting gospels preserved in Catholic Matthew: 1) the original Judean Gospel; 2) the Proto-Gnostic Gospel; and 3) the Catholic Gospel in which all these elements are preserved and which have been used to serve the interests of the later Catholic Church and reformations that followed. (Note: the Judean Gospel is comprised of two gospel themes: 1) the prophet who predicts the coming of the Messiah; and 2) the prophet who is identified with the Messiah. This will be documented in a seperate project which will be entitled Judean Matthew.)

An important note on the difference between the terms Gnostic and Proto-Gnostic, and how this applies my evaluation and editing of Catholic Matthew: The term Gnostic refers to the heretical movement as described by the Catholic Fathers. They describe a Gnostic movement that made full use of Catholic Matthew and attributed the diverse and conflicting elements to Sophia or the Demiurge (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.2.1.). The term Proto-Gnostic refers to an earlier period before the Catholic Church was organized and Catholic Matthew existed. In that earlier period the Gospel of Matthew existed in a different form as may be witnessed in the Gospel quotes of Justin Martyr and Clement of Rome (viz. 1 Clement). In both the sources mentioned the Gospel texts and passages from Matthew are quoted that do not match the Gospel of Matthew we know today, which first appears with the Catholic Fathers. In this context, the term Proto-Gnostic refers to a writer who was already expressing ideas that resembled and certainly did inspire later Gnostic thought, viz. the theme that Jesus came to reveal an unknown Father, a spiritual kingdom and a spiritual seed. Our present Gospel of Matthew contains these ideas which were added to the Judean Gospel at a time before Catholic orthodoxy was clearly defined, and gentile Christians and Hellenist Jews were open to a multitude of concepts that did not conform to the original Judean Gospel. Both of these conflicting themes, these conflicting forms of theology and spirituality, remain preserved in our present Gospel of Matthew, viz. Catholic Matthew.

In light of the confusion that remains preserved in Catholic Matthew I believe that modern Gnostics (or aspiring Gnostics) need their own version of Matthew and I submit this text as an alternative–mostly cleansed of other ecclesiastical or theological agendas. These teachings are a rich source of spiritual insight and can allow modern readers to understand why the Gospel of Matthew was so important to early Gnostics.

It may be a helpful note here for some readers, for the sake of context, that the diseases and curses healed by Jesus were the very curses prescribed in the Law of Moses, in Deuteronomy 28:15ff. Jesus is portrayed as accomplishing these things by the power of a “secret” and “perfect” Father who was unknown to Moses. These statements can be found in the text, and with so many irrelevant passages removed, I hope this message will be more clear and coherent.

Proto-Gnostic Matthew part I covers the first 13 chapters of Catholic Matthew, with either parts or all of chapters 1, 2, 4, 10 and 11 removed; and the remaining text edited and re-organized into 11 new chapters. Proto-Gnostic Matthew part II continues with the beheading of John the Baptist which begins with chapter 12 (Catholic Matthew 14) and covers chapters 14 – 26 of Catholic Matthew, with most of chapters 15 – 26 edited or removed, and chapters 27 – 28 omitted. The remaining text is consolidated into six new chapters, 12 – 17. Part II ends with a concluding essay on the Crucifixion myth. This text is subject to revision at any time as may be necessary due to further study or helpful feedback from readers.

And finally, if you consider yourself a Gnostic and you choose to believe that Jesus actually did speak the words compiled here, then I want to assure you that I respect your position–and there is nothing in the text that will threaten or interfere with your vision. I have stated my position here in the Intro not to dictate correct doctrine, but so that you the reader would know something about my mindset and my method for compiling this text. — jw (revised June 10, 2013)

Read the Proto-Gnostic Matthew, part I text part II text

By Jim West. Copyright © April 7, revised November 18, 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Proto-Gnostic Matthew II

INTRO: Proto-Gnostic Matthew part II continues with the beheading of John the Baptist which begins with chapter 12 (Catholic Matthew 14) and covers chapters 14 – 26 of Catholic Matthew, with most of chapters 15 – 26 edited or removed, and chapters 27 – 28 omitted. The remaining text is consolidated into six new chapters, 12 – 17. Part II ends with a concluding essay on the Crucifixion/ Resurrection myth.

Read the main Introduction text Read Part I text

XII. HEROD THE TETRARCH BEHEADS JOHN THE BAPTIST. JESUS DEPARTS TO THE DESERT WITH MANY FOLLOWERS [CM. 14:1-13]

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John the Baptist’s head in a charger.

And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.

And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

XIII. JESUS HEALS THOSE WHO FOLLOWED HIM OUT FROM THE CITIES. THE 5000 ARE FED. JESUS WALKS ON WATER. MANY MORE ARE HEALED. THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES ACCUSE JESUS AND HIS FOLLOWERS OF NOT OBSERVING THE CLEANLINESS LAWS. THE PHARISEES ARE “BLIND LEADERS WHO LEAD THE BLIND” JESUS FEEDS THE 4000. BEWARE OF THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES [CM. 14:14-15:20, 32-39, 16:5-12]

And Jesus went forth and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me.

And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit (phantasma); and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord (Kurie), if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord (Kurie), save me.

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. (Note: Jesus likewise violated this commandment and encouraged his followers to do so in Catholic Matthew 10:35-37 and 12:46-50. So the words of Jesus here cannot be a literal appeal to the Law of Moses or the “commandment of God”. The purpose of the statement here is to expose the hypocrisy and conflict in the laws and piety of the Pharisees.)

Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Isaiah, 29:13)

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. (Note: the phrase “every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted” can be easily understood in a dualistic context, viz. not everything comes from the Father.)

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

[Catholic Matthew 15:21-31, the crumbs from the master’s table; those who have been healed by Jesus glorify the God of Israel; omitted. This passage belongs to the original Judean Gospel where Jesus’s ministry was directed toward Hebrews only (CM. 10:5-6). To refer to other people and their afflicted children as “dogs” surely belongs to a Judeo-centric tradition.]

Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.

[Catholic Matthew 16:1-4, the Pharisees and Sadducess ask for a sign; omitted. This passage is part of the failed end time prophecy theme.]

And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

XIV. REVELATION OF THE SON OF GOD NOT BY “FLESH AND BLOOD”. THE CRUCIFIXION IS REVEALED. PETER IS SATAN. ON HUMILITY. THE PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP. FORGIVE 70 TIMES 7. THE KINGDOM AND THE RICH MAN.  THE PARABLE OF LABOURERS. THE BLIND MEN RECOGNIZE JESUS AND ARE HEALED [CM. 16:13-17, 20-26, 17:22-27, 18:1-6, 10-14, 21-22, 19:16, 27-28a, 20:1-16, 21-26, 20:29-34]

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that the Son of man is? And they said, Some say John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. (Note: CM. 16:13-14 has been revised to read in the third person speech rather than the incorrect first person context in the KJV, e.g. there is no “I am” (“ego eimi”) or “you are” (“su ei”) in the Greek text. It is only in verse 15 onward that the dialogue shifts to first person speech.)

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (uios tou theou tou zontos: son of the God of the Living).

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

[Catholic Matthew 16:18-19, Peter the Rock, the Church, the keys of the kingdom; omitted. This passage originates from a Jewish Christian writer who wanted to place ecclesiastical authority into the hands of Peter, probably in opposition to other Hellenist Christians who followed Paul or Nicholas (cf. Clementine Homilies, 17:19). Later Catholic leaders made use of this passage and the Roman Catholic establishment venerates Peter above the other Apostles.]

Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord (Kurie): this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan (satana): thou art a snare (skandalon) unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. For many are called, but few are chosen.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

[Catholic Matthew 16:27-28, the son of Man will appear with his angels, there be some standing here, which shall…see the Son of man coming in his kingdom; omitted. This passage is part of the failed prophecy theme.]

[Catholic Matthew 17:1-21, the transfiguration, instruction on faith; omitted. The transfiguration is an attempt to base Jesus’s authority on Moses and Elijah as stated in Malachi 4; which also ties in John the Baptist. Yet there are other passages in Catholic Matthew, e.g. CM. 5:38-48 & 11:27, which do not acknowledge the authority of Moses or a connection with John (CM. 21:23-27). The transfiguration passage belongs to a Catholic source who wants to tie all these figures together under a Catholic theology. The rebuke and instruction regarding faith (verses 14-21) is highly judgmental, mean-spirited and inconsistent with the compassionate spirit of the proto-Gnostic Gospel.]

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

Peter saith unto him, Of strangers (allotrion). Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. (Note: the purpose of this passage may have been to appease the Romans, to portray Jesus as a man who still paid the tribute. For Gnostics or Catholics this position allowed them to live in peace with Roman authorities and to not be confused with any revolutionary, nationalist or Zionist movement.)

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Truly I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea..

[Catholic Matthew 18:7-9, the condemnation against offenders (viz. those who lead astray); omitted. This passage is from a Catholic writer and is a condemnation of libertine teachers (read: Paul) who taught that the Law of Moses was no longer binding on Christians. I believe it is possible that this passage is based on an earlier Jewish fragment that was aimed at St. Paul (cf. CM. 5:17-19ff.). The references here to the valley of Hinnom indicate that this passage includes material that originated from a Jewish writer (cf. CM. 5:21-30).]

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

And if so be that he find it, truly I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

[Catholic Matthew 18:15-20, the offended brother, “where two or three are gathered together in my name”; omitted. This passage appeals to the Law of Moses as the basis for settling conflicts between Christians, and surely originates from a Jewish Christian writer. CM. 18:20 contradicts Gnostic thought that Christ is present in every person alone, e.g. in the Gospel of Thomas, 30: “Where there are two or one, I am with him”.]

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord (Kurie), how oft shalt my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.

[Catholic Matthew 18:23-35, instruction on forgiveness; omitted. This parable is a poorly reasoned and deeply flawed metaphor about forgiveness in the kingdom of heaven, e.g. CM. 18:25, where the “lord” in the kingdom commands that a subject’s wife and children be sold into slavery in order to pay his debts.]

[Catholic Matthew 19:1-15, On divorce, eunuchs and the presence of children; omitted. This passage is from the Judean Gospel and portrays Jesus’s inflexible stance on the Law as regards marriage. The disciples conclude that it is not good to marry. Jesus replies with a comment about eunuchs. This exchange is followed, seemingly in awkward fashion, by the command that children should not be kept away. CM. 19:11-12 has been transposed to CM. 22:30 where it has a valid context in the proto-Gnostic teaching there present. CM. 19:13-14 contains a restatement of CM. 18:4, 10 which is included in the proto-Gnostic Gospel. The Proto-Gnostic Matthew continues with CM. 19:16 below.]

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

[Catholic Matthew 19:17-20, “there is none good but one”, “keep the commandments”; omitted. The overall passage from CM. 19:16-24 contains two conflicting themes: 1) one pleases God and gains eternal life by keeping the Ten Commandments; 2) one can only be initiated by following Christ. Note also that verse 24 contradicts verse 17, showing that this passage does not contain a coherent message as it now exists. In Gnostic thought these two themes are irreconcilable. I am uncertain of the provenance of the passage. My best guess is that it originates from a Jewish Christian writer and has been modified by a proto-Gnostic writer who added the initiation theme. I have separated the conflicting elements and set forth the Gnostic theme here. The Jewish Christian theme will be included in my project Judean Matthew.]

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect (teleios), go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Truly I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Truly I say unto you

[Catholic Matthew 19:28b-30, the Apostle’s reward; omitted. The supposed reward is part of the failed prophecy theme and belongs to the Judean Gospel. Moreover the reward passage is in conflict with what follows in the parable of Labourers, which comes from a proto-Gnostic source. The problem is that the parable contradicts the preceding statement regarding the Apostles’ reward. The latter says that the Twelve Apostles will be exalted; whereas in the parable it is said that everyone will receive the same compensation regardless of whether they were first or last. What follows below is the parable of Labourers which starts following CM. 19:28a. Verse 30 has been omitted as a gloss viz. an attempt to connect the reward with the parable when one really contradicts the other.]

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Cf. Irenaeus viz. the Gnostics and parable of Labourers, Against Heresies, 1.1.3.)

[Catholic Matthew 20:20-28, the sons of Zebedee and a mother’s ambition, omitted. This passage reflects the failed prophecy theme regarding how the Apostles will hold authority in Jesus’s “kingdom”. The ethic attributed to Jesus here is admirable, viz. that all who will be in positions of authority will be as servants. This passage contradicts the Apostles’ Reward passage where Jesus explicitly states that his apostles will reign and judge along with him (CM. 19:28). Whereas in this passage Jesus says it is not his place to appoint offices (CM. 20:23b).The references to the crucifixion in verses 22 and 28 point to an early Catholic source.]

And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.

And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord (Kurie), thou son of David. And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord (Kurie), that our eyes may be opened.

So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.

XV. JESUS ENTERS JERUSALEM IN STEALTH; THE DISCIPLES ARE AGAIN TOLD OF THE CRUCIFIXION. THE MONEY-CHANGERS ARE DRIVEN FROM THE TEMPLE; JESUS HEALS THE SICK. ON THE BAPTISM OF JOHN. THE PARABLE OF THE TWO SONS. ON TRIBUTE. ON MARRIAGE AND THE RESURRECTION. SOME ARE EUNUCHS FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. GOD IS GOD OF THE LIVING [CM. 20:17-19, 21:12-17, 23-32, 22:15-30, 19:11-12, 22:31-33]

And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

[Catholic Matthew 21:1-11. Jesus enters Jerusalem in Triumph; omitted. In other passages, e.g. CM. 16:20 and 20:31, Jesus’s followers are said to have kept silent regarding Jesus’s identity as Jesus himself commanded. Supposedly Jesus’s followers were unwilling to identify him even in Jerusalem and it took one in Jesus’s inner circle, Judas, to point him out to authorities. This passage originates from a Judean or Catholic writer who wishes to portray Jesus in the context of Messianic prophecy viz. that he is the king of the Jews. And a clumsy effort is made to create a fictional incident where Jesus supposedly fulfilled a prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. In Gnostic thought Jesus is the mythical Son of God the Father and not an earthly king.]

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Isaiah, 56:7, Jeremiah, 7:11. Note: in Gnostic thought the ideal “house of prayer” is expressed in Isaiah by Sophia, but the physical counter-part, the physical reality, is Herod’s temple establishment where poor people are preyed upon by money-changers and vendors.)

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Psalms 8:2)

And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

[Catholic Matthew 21:18-22, the cursing of the fig tree; omitted. This passage belongs to a Catholic writer who portrays Jesus as condemning the Jewish nation/ religious establishment (cf. CM. 27:25).]

And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?

And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?

And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

But what think ye? A certain man had two children (tekna); and he came to the first, and said, “Child (Teknon), go work today in my vineyard”. He answered and said, “I will not”: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, “I go, sir (kurie)”: and went not.

Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Truly I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. (Note: in Gnostic thought “Jesus” is understood here to mean that the publicans and harlots will enter the mystic kingdom because they have repented and accepted the mystic teachings of John and Jesus. The Sadducees and Pharisees cannot enter because they will not accept the teachings, and will not repent. The Sadducees and Pharisees are those who profess an external piety, viz. they say yes and display piety on the outside; but on the inside they won’t enter the vineyard. Whereas the publicans and harlots, who say no to religion and piety, yet are the ones who inevitably heed and enter the vineyard and perform the work. The vineyard is a metaphor for the soul.]

[Catholic Matthew 21:33-46, the parable of the land-owner, the chief corner-stone; omitted. These passages come from a Jewish writer who presents Jesus as presenting the claim for the Messianic throne. Moreover, the parable of the land-owner appears to reflect a distinction between the “son” and the “lord” which may be consistent with Jesus’s original message, in which he did not identify himself with the Messiah. Also: in CM. 21:45-46 the priests want to lay hands on Jesus but fear the multitude who believe him to by a prophet. Yet we have already noticed elsewhere that Jesus wanted to keep his identity secret; e.g. CM. 16:20 & 20:31.]

[Catholic Matthew 22:1-14, the parable of the marriage feast; omitted. This passage is incompatible with any spiritual message. It is a vicious threat of revenge in which evil is repaid for evil and is incompatible with the ethic attributed to Jesus, e.g., in CM. 5:38-48. The parable of the marriage feast may belong to the earliest strata of Jewish-Christian doctrine. It is a metaphor for Israel, the bride, being united with her new husband, the messianic king. Of note is that the threats of revenge are not connected with a crucifixion or any harm to the king’s son who was to be wed, and remained unharmed. The revenge warned of was in consequence of the servants (douloun: slaves) being mistreated or killed. This parable should not be confused with the Gnostic metaphor of the marriage of Sophia with the Savior. Rather, one should be seen as the dark and material shadow of the other, if these are to be connected at all.]

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a denarius. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way. (Note: I remain uncertain as to the source of this passage. If it is Judean then it is a plausible and clever diversion to a difficult question, which in turn is open to interpretation. The answer attributed to Jesus can be seen either as an evasion on a political issue; or it could mean that one avoids political conflicts by separating religion from politics.)

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.

[Catholic Matthew 22:34-40, the two greatest commandments; omitted. This passage is intended to harmonize the theology and ethic of Jesus with the Pharisees and sages such as Hillel. Moreover the quotes attributed to Jesus from Deutronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 amount to a contradictory and hypocritical statement. The commandment to “love the Lord” (Dt. 6:5) is from a passage where the Lord commands his followers to invade and slay their Canaanite neighbors, including their children (Dt. 6:10, 7:1-2).]

XVI. THE PHARISEES ARE CONFOUNDED BY A MYSTERIOUS DOCTRINE: PSALMS 110:1. MOSES AND THE PHARISEES ARE CONDEMNED. JERUSALEM IS CONDEMNED. A WARNING ON FALSE-PROPHETS. [CM. 22:41-23:2, 3b-13, 27-32]

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.

He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, “The LORD (Kurios) said unto my Lord (Kurio), Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?” If David then call him Lord (Kurion), how is he his son? (Psalms 110:1) [1] 

And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: but do not ye after their works. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

[Catholic Matthew 23:3a has been omitted based on the premise that the proto-Gnostic Jesus does not acknowledge the authority of the Law of Moses, e.g. CM. 5:38-48, 11:27. Also, the condemnation heaped on the Pharisees in this passage, viz. CM. 23:4-39, is out of context with the supposed premise that the “Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat” and “whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do”. In its present state CM. 23:1-39 is a vitriolic, antisemitic diatribe from a Catholic writer that reflects the tension between Christians and Jews in Roman times.]

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi (Rabbei).

But be not ye called Rabbi (Rabbei): for one is your Teacher (didaskalos), even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father (patera) upon the earth: for one is your Father (pater), which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters (kathegetai): for one is your Master (kathegetes), even Christ.

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Cf. Gospel of Thomas, 39)

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

[Catholic Matthew 23:33-36, Jesus claims to send the prophets and wise men that the Pharisees will persecute and crucify, “All these things shall come upon this generation”; omitted. This passage reflects a Catholic view of history fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem.]

[Catholic Matthew 23:37-39, Jesus condemns Jerusalem. “Ye shall not see me henceforth…” (Ps. 118:26), omitted. This passage belongs to the failed prophecy theme along with CM. 23:36.]

[Catholic Matthew 24:1-51, warning against false Christs and prophets, the end time prophecy; omitted. The warning regarding false claims that Jesus is “Christ” and against other false Christs and prophets probably originates from the earliest strata of the primitive Judean Gospel; where Jesus considered himself a prophet and did not identify himself with the Messiah. The rest of the passage is an end-time prophecy that was never fulfilled, save the destruction of the Temple. But the Son of man never arrived.]

[Catholic Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins; omitted. This is another metaphor for the failed end time prophecy, as is clearly indicated in verse 13.]

[Catholic Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of talents; omitted. The themes in this passage involving the use of “slaves” (“doulous“) and the practice of usury (which in another questionable parable involves debtors being sent to prison and wives and children sold into slavery, CM. 18:25, omitted) are completely incompatible with any spiritual message. Moreover this contradicts the words of Jesus in CM. 11:30 “For my yoke is easy, my burden is light”. The relationship between teacher and student is not one of master and slave.]

[Catholic Matthew 25:31-46, the Son of man will judge the nations; omitted. This passage contains ideas and imagery that may resemble Gnostic teaching, and it has something that resembles a lofty ethic. Inevitably this passage is part of the failed end time theme. It speaks of how Jesus will get his revenge on those who mistreat his followers. Make no mistake here: this is not a universal teaching about caring for the poor, the sick or the imprisoned; the message here is how Jesus’s followers, his “brethren”, are treated (CM. 25:40). This all fits with the message of the Judean Gospel as preserved in CM. 10:5-6.]

XVII. THE CRUCIFIXION: THE PRIESTS AND PHARISEES PLOT AGAINST JESUS. A WOMAN ANOINTS JESUS FOR BURIAL. JUDAS AGREES TO BETRAY JESUS FOR 30 PIECES OF SILVER. THE PASSOVER IS CELEBRATED. JUDAS BETRAYS JESUS WITH A KISS. JESUS EXPRESSES THE PASSION OF SOPHIA WHILE THE DISCIPLES FALL INTO SLUMBER. PETER DENIES JESUS THREE TIMES [CM. 26:1-23, 25-45, 47-58, 69b-75]

And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Truly I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. (Note: In Gnostic tradition the number 30 is a symbol of Sophia, who is designated in Gnostic myth as the 30th Aion. In this passage the 30 pieces of silver symbolize that Judas is acting according to the will of Sophia–as compared with Peter who opposed the crucifixion, and is designated as “Satan” (CM. 16:23). The Gnostics in turn had a “Gospel of Judas” as mentioned by Irenaeus [2]; and an actual Gnostic text by that title has been found and was translated and published in Marvin Meyer’s Nag Hammadi Scriptures. In Gnostic myth Judas is not a villain; instead he is someone who carries forth a divine plan. The lesson is that Judas alone understood the mystery of the betrayal and the crucifixion. And the end purpose was that the “Archon” would be condemned for slaying an innocent man; M. Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, pg. 768; Gospel of John, 12:23-32)

Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.

Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Truly I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

[Catholic Matthew 26:24, “…woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.”; omitted. This passage is a contradiction: if Peter is called “Satan” for wanting to prevent the crucifixion then how can Judas be condemned for wanting to accomplish it? In Gnostic thought this paradox does not go ignored, as I have noted above. The 30 pieces of silver symbolize the plan of Sophia in the myth/ mystery of the crucifixion. Moreover, I do not consider CM. 26:14-16 and 20-23, 25 to reflect the correct sequence of ideas. The former should follow the latter and verse 23 should be understood to mean that Jesus chose Judas to go and reveal him to the authorities. However, in the original Judean Gospel Judas Iscariot may have been an actual traitor. But in Gnostic thought the narrative has a different, symbolic meaning.]

And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. (Note: the latter sentence is a reference to the after-life which is the kingdom of the Father. The elect of who have the seed of the kingdom in their hearts wil inherit the Fullness (Pleroma) in the after-life.)

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, “I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. (Zech. 13:7)

Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Truly I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. (Note: Irenaues reports that in the following passages Jesus is filled with the passion of Sophia, and not his own passion, viz. Against Heresies, 1.8.2. I have included these passages from Catholic Matthew 26:36-45, but I remain doubtful this originates from a proto-Gnostic writer; one problem being that the words attributed to Jesus cannot be connected with the Psalms or any other prophetic source.)

And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

[Catholic Matthew 26:46, “Rise, let us be going…”; omitted. This passage contradicts the preceding passage where Jesus tells his slothful disciples to sleep on, and seems to be an occasion to denounce Judas as a traitor when that may not be the real meaning of the narrative.]

And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him.

And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (Note: In Gnostic thought Jesus does not refer here to the Jewish messianic prophecy but to an esoteric prophecy that is hidden in the writings of the prophets and refers to the hidden plan of Sophia.)

In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

[Catholic Matthew 26:59-69a, The chief priests and the council try to frame Jesus, Jesus claims they will see the Son of man in the clouds, Peter sits outside the palace (69a); omitted. There is no way to verify any of the information here viz. that the chief priests tried to frame Jesus. And Jesus’s prophecy of the Son of man in the clouds is part of the failed end time theme. This part of the narrative has Jesus playing the role of false prophet while the Jewish priests and the council take the blame. Under the tenets of the proto-Gnostic teaching (e.g. CM. 5:38-48, 6:6, 11:27) Jesus would have been condemned for blasphemy just as St. Stephen was portrayed in Acts 6:11, 7:53-54 (cf. Dt. 13, Jn. 8:58-59, 9:29) And finally, verse 69a has been omitted because it says that Peter sat outside the palace whereas verse 58 says that he entered and sat inside the palace. Moreover, perhaps by coincidence, or not, verse 69b neatly follows verse 58 and everything in between seems to be a disruption].

Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. (Note: this theme of Peter’s three-fold betrayal may be a symbol reflecting both the Jewish Christian and Catholic opposition to Gnostic teaching which Gnostics see as the true spiritual essence of the Gospel and remains preserved in Catholic Matthew.)

CONCLUDING ESSAY: ON THE CRUCIFIXION AND THE RESURRECTION

I have omitted the crucifixion and resurrection accounts from Catholic Matthew (CM) which includes part of chapter 26 and all of chapters 27-28; because I cannot verify that it is part of the Proto-Gnostic teaching. The account of the crucifixion in CM appears to be the product of someone’s effort to re-construct an historical event in which the Jewish nation is assigned the blame for the death of Jesus. The priests are said to have brought forward two false-witnesses and a host of other charges which really cannot be substantiated. And Jesus himself continues to insist that his priestly accusers will soon see the Son of man coming in the clouds (CM. 26:63-64). In theory, I suspect that there was a crucifixion event that was reported in the Judean Gospel and was brief in detail. This foundation was later added to by other writers, and an early Catholic writer is probably responsible for the crucifixion and resurrection accounts that exist in their present form—with all the anti-Jewish bias and fairy-tail embellishments that go with it (e.g. CM. 28:2-6).

This is not to say that early Gnostics did not make use of the entire text of Catholic Matthew, including the crucifixion, as Irenaeus affirmed. But as Irenaeus also explained, they attributed one part of the Gospel to Sophia and another part to the Demiurge (Against Heresies, 3.2.2.). And I want to mention once again that the purpose here is to separate the spiritual part. Yet even in a passage such as Catholic Matthew 27:46, which may not have come from a proto-Gnostic writer, the Gnostic reader would see Jesus’s lament “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” as an inspired utterance of Sophia’s passion, as expressed originally in Psalms 22:1 (Ireneaus, ibid., 1.8.2.).

Getting back to the historical question of the crucifixion: Personally I do lean toward the theory that there was a real Jesus and a real crucifixion; but it was all a misunderstanding and Jesus never actually died. He turned up alive after his crucifixion; and his superstitious followers took this for a miracle and this led to the founding of a Jewish sect. Meanwhile Jesus fled to the far-east to avoid anymore trouble with the Judean and Roman authorities. He promised his followers he would come back someday with an army of angels; but he never returned.

Gnostic tradition has turned this historical Jesus into a mythological figure and has disregarded his original and obsolete message. A whole new set of teachings and a different theology have been attached to him—which took root once the original prophecies failed with the passing of the Apostles to whom Jesus made his original promises regarding the end of the Age (see Proto-Gnostic Matthew: Introduction). The Gospel of John itself is a product of this transformation, where the kingdom is spiritual like the wind, and there is no clear doctrine of the End of the Age and a second coming.

In Gnostic tradition the crucifixion is a symbol with two principle meanings:

1) Jesus’s crucifixion condemns the cosmic archons and their Law (the Law of Moses) which are exposed as unjust, e.g. John 12:27-32; see also the Nag Hammadi Library: The Concept of our Great Power, 40-42; Second Discourse of the Great Seth, 58-59, J. Robinson, Nag Hammadi Library, pp. 314, 366; M. Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, pp. 397f., 481).

2) The crucifixion and passion are symbols of cosmic events which in turn are directly connected with travails and transformations within the soul. It is also denied that Jesus suffered any passion, and that the passion and crucifixion are really symbols of the primeval travails of Sophia/ Achamoth. Even the utterances in the Psalms that are attributed to Jesus are really the utterances of Sophia. Irenaeus and other church fathers report these doctrines (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.7.2., 1.8.2, 2.20.1-5; Tertullian, Against Valentinians, 27; Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pp. 325, 327; vol. 3, pg. 516). And in the New Testament itself it can be seen where Paul himself affirms similar ideas in 1 Corinthians 2:1-6; where Paul makes a distinction between the doctrine of Christ crucified and the hidden Sophia which is spoken among the “perfect” (teleiois: initiates). And in Galatians 4:26 Paul states that the earthly Jerusalem is a type of the “mother” which is above. In Hebrews 6:1 “Christ” is again referred to as an elementary doctrine that is not directly connected with “perfection” (teleioteta: initiation).

Whether in Paul, or in Gnostic tradition (which follows Paul), or even in Catholicism, the crucifixion and resurrection are a theme that is inspired by the Mystery religions, viz. the doctrine of a god who dies and lives again (Justin Martyr, 1 Apology, 21-22, Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics, 40; Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pg. 170; vol. 3, pg. 262f.). Catholic writers such as Justin Martyr do not deny this connection, but they insist that Jesus is the one who literally lived this all into history. And again, in Gnostic tradition this is a symbol for the fall and redemption of Sophia/ Achamoth, in which all initiates take part (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.6.1., 1.7.1.).

Regarding the resurrection: Gnostic tradition denies that Jesus ever really died. His body may have died, but his supernatural essence was unaffected and experienced neither death nor suffering (Nag Hammadi Library: Apocalypse of Peter, 81-83; Letter of Peter to Philip, 139; J. Robinson, Nag Hammadi Library, pp. 377, 436; M. Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, pp. 495f., 592f.). Thus in Gnostic tradition it is generally held that there is no literal fleshly resurrection, and that Jesus only appeared to be a fleshly being. The earliest texts that promote these ideas are the Letters of Paul. In Philippians 2:7 it is said that Jesus appeared in the “likeness” (“omoiomati”) of man. And in Romans 8:3 it is said that God sent his Son who appeared in the “likeness” (“omoiomati”) of “sinful flesh”. And in 1 Corinthians 15 there is a distinction between “earthy” and “heavenly” bodies and that Christ bore a “heavenly” body (1 Cor. 15:47-49). And regarding the resurrection it is said that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:50). The supposed “passion” or suffering of Jesus is not a theme in Paul’s letters; and neither is it a theme among the Gnostics who followed in Paul’s footsteps.

In Gnostic thought the non-fleshly “resurrection” and the absence of passion are symbolic of the perfection or maturity of the philosopher: who has no fear of death or suffering, and is only concerned for the fate of the soul, not the body. In Gnostic thought this enlightenment of the soul is the true meaning of the resurrection that one finds in this life. It is to find salvation from the ignorance and oppression of the world even before the body dies. To live in ignorance and oppression is to be part of the fall of Sophia and to be a prisoner of the Archons. To discover the spiritual seed, the essence of the kingdom of Light, within one’s soul is to find peace and liberation; this is the true resurrection, which is to participate in the redemption of Sophia/ Achamoth.

Here finally is a quote from the Letter of Peter to Philip: “My brothers, Jesus is a stranger to this suffering. But we are the ones who have suffered through the Mother’s transgression. For this reason he did everything symbolically among us” (M. Meyer, ibid. pg. 593; Cf. J. Robinson, ibid. pg. 436).

And also from the Treatise on the Resurrection: “Rheginus, do not get lost in details, nor live according to the flesh for the sake of harmony. Flee from divisions and bonds and then you already have the resurrection” (M. Meyer, ibid. pg. 55).

In the New Testament, in the Letter to Colossians 2:12-18, it is said that the disciples already share in the resurrection of Jesus and that they have been freed from the Law of Moses and the “worship of angels”. Similar ideas are found throughout Paul’s letters, especially in Galatians.

NOTES

1] Catholic Matthew 22:44. The quote from Psalms 110:1 alludes to the connection between Jesus and the mysterious dispensation of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4). In Gnostic thought Melchizedek is a symbol of the priestly and theological dispensation that is separate from the theological dispensation of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites; the latter symbolizing the unjust rule of angels. Historically and linguistically, Melchizedek is a relic of the pre-Israelite culture of Jerusalem under the Jebusites (hence the city of “Salem”). Historically, Melchizedek was probably the name of a high-priest of Jupiter (i.e.”Zedek” see G. Buttrick, Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 3, pg. 343; James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, “Melchizedek”).

2] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.31.1. Regarding the Gospel of Judas, Irenaeus wrote: “… For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.”

By Jim West. Copyright © April 1, 2013; revised July 7, 2014.

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Proto-Gnostic Matthew I

Read the Introduction text 

PROTO-GNOSTIC MATTHEW, PART I

[Catholic Matthew 1:1-17, Christ’s geneology; omitted. In Gnostic thought Christ is sent from above and his connection to any earthly family is irrelevant (cf. Jn. 7:40-44). In the gospels of Mark and John the geneology is omitted; and a contrary geneology is recorded in Luke.]

[Catholic Matthew 1:18-2:23, the Nativity; omitted. The Nativity has been omitted based on the following factors: Both Mark and John omit the Nativity and Luke contains a contradictory account. Moreover the Gnostic tradition of the Nativity more often reflects the Lukan account as opposed to Matthew (e.g. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.30.11-12; cf. the Mandean Ginza viz. John the Baptist, M. Meyer, The Gnostic Bible, pg. 550). And finally, the version in Matthew is contradicted by other passages internally which show that no miracle ever took place that was connected with Jesus’s mother, viz. CM. 12:46-50, 13:54-58. The passages cited indicate that the Nativity was never part of the original text of Matthew; it was added later.]

I. THE MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST. JOHN CONDEMNS THE SADDUCEES AND PHARISEES AND TESTIFIES OF JESUS, THAT HE WILL SEPARATE THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF (THE SPIRITUAL FROM THE MATERIAL). JESUS IS BAPTIZED BY JOHN. [CM. 3:1-17]

(A note on John the Baptist for context: in at least two historic sources John the Baptist is credited as being the god-father of Gnosticism. The Mandeans considered John to be the Christ of their sect. And in the Clementine Homilies Simon Magus is said to have learned his doctrine from John [1]. Most noteworthy here is John’s doctrine of wrath. Simon had a similar doctrine that condemned false religion and predicted a final dissolution of the cosmos, presumably dissolved in fire, so that Simon’s elect can be redeemed, viz. the Great Announcement; Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 6:14; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.23.3.) 

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Kuriou), make his paths straight” (Isaiah, 40:3). And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. (Note: in Gnostic thought Isaiah 40 can be seen as a cryptic reference to Sophia. Cf. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.5.3.)

Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, that you have Abraham for your father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (Cf. John 8:39, 44; 1:17-18)

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (Note: this passage can be compared to Simon’s teaching from the Great Announcement as reported by Hippolytus: “If, however, a tree continues alone, not producing fruit fully formed, it is utterly destroyed. For somewhere near, he [Simon] says, is the axe (which is laid) at the roots of the tree. Every tree, he says, which does not produce good fruit, is hewn down and cast into fire”; Refutation of All Heresies, 6:11. Cf. NHC: Gospel of Philip, 83)

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Cf. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.3.5. Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 6:11. Note: it is not assumed here that John’s words have any connection with the prophecy of Elijah in Malachi 4:1-6. [2])

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. (Note: John’s supposed subservience to Jesus is more than likely an invention of the proto-Gnostic writer and we should not assume that this was part of John’s original doctrine. In Catholic Matthew 3:1-17 it may be understood that Jesus’s ministry and teaching are connected symbolically with the dispensation of John the Baptist. In the bias of Proto-Gnostic Matthew (and Catholic Matthew) Jesus is assigned priority over John; but at the same time, Jesus’s ministry and wisdom begin with John.)

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

[Catholic Matthew 4:1-10, the Temptation; omitted. This passage runs contrary to Gnostic thought as Jesus here appeals three times to the Lawgiver of the books of Moses. In other parts of Matthew Jesus appeals to another, unknown God, e.g. CM. 5:43-48, 6:6, 11:27. These passages are contrary to the theology in CM. 4:1-10.]

II. JOHN THE BAPTIST IS IMPRISONED. JESUS GOES TO CAPERNAUM AND BEGINS PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. SIMON PETER, ANDREW, JAMES AND JOHN ARE CALLED. JESUS PERFORMS HEALINGS AND EXORCISMS. [CM. 4:12-5:2]

Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying,

“The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” (Isaiah, 9:1-2)

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.

And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

III. THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT: THE BEATITUDES; ON JUSTICE, NEIGHBORS AND ENEMIES [CM. 5:3-4, 6-10, 20, 38-39, 25, 40-48]

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

[Catholic Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”; omitted. This phrase is part of the failed end time prophecy which I have discussed in the Introduction, e.g. CM. 10:23, 24:34. The rest of the passage, viz. CM. 5:3-10, is consistent with a spiritual teaching.]

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (The Sermon on the Mount continues with CM. 5:38 below.)

[Catholic Matthew 5:11-16, on persecution and being a light to the world; omitted. These themes are contrary to the teachings in CM. 6:1-6 where the disciples are told to perform their alms and prayers in secret, and that they have no reward if they perform them openly.]

[Catholic Matthew 5:17-19, not one stroke or dot of the Law has passed; omitted. This passage is an injunction from a Jewish Christian directed against St. Paul. Internally, the passage is absolutely contrary to what follows in CM. 5:38-48.]

[Catholic Matthew 5:21-37, on murder, grudges, adultery, divorce and oaths; omitted. This passage contains the ideas of a Jewish Christian reformer who seeks to establish a new ethic within the boundaries of the Law of Moses, and not contrary to it. What follows in CM. 5:38 onward is completely contrary to the Law and all the ideas preceding from CM. 5:17-37. Starting with verse 38 parts of the Law are being abolished. Also, I find it unlikely that the rhetoric about the “valley of Hinnom” (translated as “Hell” in the KJV [3]) would have come from a proto-Gnostic writer.]

Ye have heard that it hath been said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Ex. 21:24, Lv. 24:20, Dt. 19:21): But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Truly I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. (Cf. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.25.4.)

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy” (Lev. 19:18, Dt. 23:3-6).

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? (Cf. Catholic Matthew 10:5-9, 15:22-26)

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

IV. SERMON ON THE MOUNT: ON THE GIVING OF ALMS, ON PRAYER TO THE SECRET FATHER, ON FASTING AND MATERIAL POSSESSIONS, THE SINGLE EYE LIGHTS THE BODY [CM. 6:1-13a, 14-34]

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Truly I say unto you, They have their reward.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee. (Note: Clearly this contradicts the words in the Similitudes, viz. CM. 5:14-16.)

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret (krypto); and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee. [4]

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the hypocrites do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: (Note: this phrase in Catholic Matthew 6:13b “for thine is the kingdom, and power, and the glory. Amen” is not found in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts.)

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Truly I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee. [3]

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The light of the body (somatos) is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

V. SERMON ON THE MOUNT: JUDGE NOT; THE HOLY AND THE PROFANE; SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND; THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT; THE NARROW GATE; THE GOOD AND EVIL FRUIT. [CM. 7:1-20, 24-29]

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

[Catholic Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord… depart from me ye that work lawlessness”; omitted. This passage is evidently a polemic against St. Paul and his teaching on the Law of Moses.]

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

VI. JESUS HEALS THE LEPER, AND THE CENTURION’S SERVANT; THE “OUTTER DARKNESS”; PETER’S MOTHER-IN-LAW IS HEALED; THE SON OF MAN HAS NOWHERE TO LAY HIS HEAD. “LET THE DEAD BURY THE DEAD” THE SEA IS STILLED; DEMONS ARE CAST INTO SWINE [CM. 8:1-9:1]

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean?

And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. (Cf. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.7.4.)

When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Truly I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

When the evening was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. (Isaiah, 53:4)

Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.

And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.

And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts. And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.

VII. JESUS CLAIMS THE POWER TO FORGIVE SINS; IS ACCUSED OF BLASPHEMY. MATTHEW IS CALLED. PHARISEES ACCUSE JESUS OF CAROUSING WITH PUBLICANS AND SINNERS. THE FOLLOWERS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST LIKEWISE ACCUSE JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES OF IMPIETY. JESUS SPEAKS OF THE BRIDAL CHAMBER; A WOMAN WITH AN ISSUE OF BLOOD IS HEALED. A RULER’S DAUGHTER IS HEALED. TWO BLIND MEN ARE HEALED; JESUS IS BETRAYED. A DEMON IS CAST FROM A DUMB MAN; THE DUMB MAN SPEAKS. THE PHARISEES ACCUSE JESUS OF DOING THE DEVIL’S WORK. THE HARVEST; JESUS CALLS HIS TWELVE DISCIPLES [CM. 9:2-10:4]

And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. (Cf. Dt. 28:15ff., 28:21-22)

And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? (Note: if Jesus has the power to forgive sins, then why is it necessary for him to go to the cross as a “ransom” as stated in Catholic Matthew, 20:28?)

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.

But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. (Note: Matthew obviously did not write this.)

And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice (Ps. 40:6): for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.

Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.

And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2.20.1.)

But Jesus turned about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.

But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.

And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.

And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us.

And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.

Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.

And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.

But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.

As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.

But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.  

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

[Catholic Matthew 10:5-33, Jesus’s instruction to his Apostles, viz. preach to Israelites only, the kingdom will arrive before all the cities are reached (CM. 10:5-6, 23, etc.); omitted. This entire passage clearly belongs to the earliest stratum of the Judean Gospel and is contradicted by other passages in Catholic Matthew, e.g. CM. 24:14, 28:19.]

VIII. JOHN THE BAPTIST’S FOLLOWERS QUESTION JESUS. BOTH JESUS AND JOHN ARE REJECTED BY MANY IN SPITE OF THEIR WORKS. “SOPHIA IS JUSTIFIED BY HER WORKS” [CM. 11:2-9, 11-13, 15-21]

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. Truly I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

[Catholic Matthew 11:10, 14, John the Baptist is the fore-runner and messenger for Jesus, John is Elijah, Malachi 3:1, 4:4-6; omitted. The passages from Malachi 3:1, 4:4-6 may originate from a Catholic scribe who wanted to place John within a prophetic theological framework that made him subordinate to Jesus and also a follower of the Law of Moses. But it is an open question as to whether John followed Jesus or the Law–as this overall passage already suggests, implying that John rejected Jesus. Regarding John’s doctrine and the Law see CM. 21:23-26 and also Clementine Homilies, 2:23, where Simon Magus’s teaching is said to originate from John the Baptist.]

But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have played the flute unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.

But Sophia is justified by her works (sophia apo ton ergon autes).

Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

[Catholic Matthew 11:22-24, condemnation of the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum; omitted. The condemnation prophesied here belongs to the original Judean “end time” theme and is inconsistent with the repentant spirit of the proto-Gnostic Gospel, i.e. rejecting the literal end-time prophecy.]

IX. JESUS COMES TO SET MAN AT ODDS WITH THE DEMIURGE, FAMILY AND TRADITION. JESUS SPEAKS AGAINST THE AUTHORITY OF MOSES: “ONLY THE SON KNOWS THE FATHER”. [CM. 10:34-42, 11:25-30]

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (Cf. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.3.5.)

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. (Cf. Malachi, 4:4-6)

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (Irenaeus, ibid.)

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, truly I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord (kurie) of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. (Note: the Greek word for Lord in this passage is Kurie rather than Kurios; the latter being the word used in reference to a divine being; cf. Catholic Matthew 4:10 “for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God (Kurion ton Theon), and him only shalt thou serve”. Whereas Kurie is informal and is the equivalent of calling someone “sir”, e.g. Catholic Matthew 13:27 “So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir (Kurie), didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?“)

Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Catholic Matthew 11:27. Note: Irenaeus refers to this passage as the “crown” of Gnostic doctrine, viz. the Marcosians; Against Heresies, 1.20.3.)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

X. THE PHARISEES ACCUSE JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES OF VIOLATING THE SABBATH. JESUS HEALS BUT COMMANDS SILENCE. THE PHARISEES PLOT AGAINST JESUS AND BLASPHEME THE HOLY SPIRIT. THE SIGN OF JONAH IS GIVEN. JESUS REJECTS HIS FLESHLY MOTHER AND BROTHERS [CM. 12:1-40, 46-50] 

At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.

But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? (1 Sam. 21:6, Lev. 24:5-9, Ex. 29:32)

Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? (Numbers 28:9-10) But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.

But if ye had known what this meaneth, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice”, (Hosea 6:6, Ps. 40:6) ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord (Kurios) even of the sabbath day. (Note: Hosea 6:6 and Psalms 40:6 are key passages that contradict the Law of Moses.)

And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And the Pharisees asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.

And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath days.

Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.

Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying,

“Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” (Isaiah, 42:1-4 LXX. Cf. Catholic Matthew 10:5-6, 15:22-26)

Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men.

And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this aion, neither in the one to come.

Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit.

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. For by your words ye shall be justified, and by your words ye shall be condemned. 

Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah (Jonah, 1:17): For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Note: the words expressed here can be taken to be symbolic of the death and rebirth of god as taught in the Mystery religions. See my essay at the conclusion of Proto-Gnostic Matthew part II for more details.)

[Catholic Matthew 12:41-45, the men of Ninevah and the queen of the south will rise to condemn this “generation”; omitted. Again, this is the expression of a failed prophecy and is an expression of condemnation that is inconsistent with the spirit of repentance and mercy.]

While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Note that there is no mention here of the miraculous role that Jesus’s mother supposedly played in his own conception and birth! This can only mean that the infancy narrative was never a part of these teachings. This passage here was a very important factor in my decision to remove the Nativity as found in Catholic Matthew 1:18-2:23.)

XI. THE PARABLE OF SOILS. JESUS CONCEALS THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM IN PARABLES. THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND TARES (A METAPHOR FOR PSYCHIC AND HYLIC SOULS) . THE PARABLES OF THE MUSTARD SEED, THE LEAVEN (SOPHIA), THE HIDDEN TREASURE, THE PEARL, THE NET, THE HOUSE-HOLDER. JESUS REJECTED IN NAZARETH. [CM. 13:1-58]

The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he (auton) sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith,

“By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Isaiah, 6:9-10)

But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For Truly I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and immediately with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, “Sir (Kurie), didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?”

He said unto them, “An enemy hath done this”. The servants said unto him, “Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?” But he said, “Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Note: the reference to the “enemy” and the “tares” would be meaningful to cosmic dualists who held that there was a completely separate, evil principle in the universe that was outside of God’s control and existed in spite of God’s will and not because of it.)

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Psalms, 78:2/ 77:2 LXX)

Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man [5]; The field is the kosmos; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil (diabolos); the harvest is the end of the Aion; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this Aion. (Note: the reference to the “devil” and “children of the wicked one” would be meaningful to cosmic dualists such as the Manicheans and Albigensians, who taught that there was an evil principle that existed separate from and was outside of God’s control.)

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; that which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the Aion: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea.

Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him.

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Read the Proto-Gnostic Matthew, part II text

Notes

1] The Mandean sect and John the Baptist, viz. the Right Ginza; M. Meyer, The Gnostic Bible, pg. 550. Simon Magus learned his doctrines, viz. “Helena”, from John the Baptist, Clementine Homilies, 2.23; J. Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, pg. 233.

There are at least three concepts in Catholic Matthew 3:1-17 that resonate with Gnostic thought:

i) John’s opposition to the Sadducees and Pharisees who symbolize the established, organized religious order; ii) the tree which does not bear good fruit cf. Jesus’ saying that an evil tree cannot produce good fruit, CM. 7:18-20; iii) the separation of the wheat from the chaff, which in Gnostic thought represents the separation of spiritual and material substance cf. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.3.5., NHC: Gospel of Mary, 7-8, Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:50.

The rhetoric about the “wrath to come” and the burning of branches need not be construed to be a reference to an end time Messianic prophecy but may refer to a cosmic dissolution as taught by Simon Magus or the Valentinians (e.g. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.7.1., 1.23.3.; Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 6:11, 14). 

2] In orthodox tradition John the Baptist’s doctrine of judgment and the burning of branches is connected with the prophecy of Elijah in Malachi 4:1, 5; “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” … “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord”.

Whether or not there was an original connection between John and Elijah is a whole other matter. It is also, in my view, an unproven assertion that the words attributed to John in CM. 3:10-12 ever had any connection with Malachi; while it is obvious that these words do resonate with the words attributed to Jesus in CM. 7:18-20 and the teachings of Simon Magus, who is said to be the disciple of John. Again it must be noted that Simon Magus also had a doctrine that condemned false religion and predicted a final dissolution of the cosmos, presumably dissolved in fire, so that Simon’s elect can be redeemed (viz. the Great Announcement; Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 6:11, 14; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.23.3.).

3] The valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) was located on the South side of the ancient city of Jerusalem. In pre-Israelite times it was said to be a place where human sacrifices were carried out. In Roman times it was said to be a place where the residents of Jerusalem dumped their refuse, and where corpses that did not merit a proper burial were burned.

Among Jews and early Christians the valley of Hinnom became a metaphor for a place of punishment in the after-life. In the King James translation Gehenna was translated as “hell”, and “Gehenna tou puros” as “hell fire” (e.g. CM. 5:22).

4] The King James translation has “the Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward you openly”. However the oldest and most reliable Greek manuscripts have no word for “openly” or any reference to openness.

5] Catholic Matthew 13:37, “He that soweth the good seed (sperma) is the Son of man“. An insight on how Gnostics read this passage and how they conceptualized the “Son of man” may be seen in this passage from the Nag Hammadi text Eugnostos the Blessed, 81-82: “Then Son of Man consented with Sophia, his consort, and revealed a great androgynous Light. His masculine name is designated Savior, Begetter of All things. His feminine name is designated Sophia, All-Begettress. Some call her Pistis (faith).”

By Jim West. Copyright © March 11; revised September 16, 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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