Fr. Mitch Pacwa
Media stories and certain best-selling books have alerted the public to alternative writings about Jesus, leading many people-including many believers-to wonder why we should consider only the four New Testament gospels as "gospel truth."
The alternative writings about Jesus bear the names of such prominent early Christians as Peter, Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Judas, James, and Andrew. Some of these writings purport to contain "secret" teachings of Jesus, to recount his childhood or to fill in other gaps in the story of Jesus. Some contradict the New Testament.
What should informed believers and nonbelievers make of them? Were they written by disciples of Jesus as they claim? How do they compare with the New Testament gospels? Are these works "lost gospels" or "false gospels"?