Sunday, February 03, 2008

"Banned" from the Bible

Yes, those are scare quotes around "banned."

I know I shouldn't do this, but I watched the Heresy Channel again tonight. (I will have to include this in my next confession.) This evening's show discussed books that were excluded from the New Testament canon. You see, to exclude something is apparently the same thing as condemning it. Yes, indeed, it feature J. Dominic Crossan and a host of others who talk about books that the Catholic Church forbade.

Some examples...

- The Protevangelium of James - yes, the very document that confirms Catholic tradition concerning the matter of the virgin birth, the names of Mary's parents, the age and status of Joseph. Accepted by many local churches as inspired, but not by all. It's still considered a valuable text in supporting Catholic tradition for obvious reasons.

- The Shepherd of Hermas. Just tossed out as an example of one of many.

To the credit of the producers, one of the guests noted that these books weren't added to the canon because they were known only to some locales and not to the Church as a whole. I didn't hear any mention of the fact that some of these books were mentioned specifically by the early Church fathers—sometimes in appreciation, and other times (as with the Gospel of Thomas) in condemnation.

I know I shouldn't punish myself by watching these mockumentaries, but sometimes I just can't look away.
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