Why Shouldn’t We Trust What the Non-Canonical Gospels Say About Jesus?
by J. Warner Wallace
Many Christians are unaware of the ancient legends, distortions and stories about Jesus known as the “non-canonical gospels”. Maybe that’s why opportunistic skeptics are able to make outrageous and profitable claims about Jesus every Christmas and Easter season. In just the past few years we’ve endured the timely arrival of the “Gospel of Judas”, a version of the “Gospel of Barnabas” and the dubious “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”. Promoters are now working hard on yet another “lost” gospel due to be released next Easter with all the fanfare of an accompanying a book and documentary. These skeptical “experts” would like us to take these documents seriously today, even though the experts who observed their arrival in antiquity excluded them from the canon of Scripture. The non-canonical legends, distortions and stories about Jesus are just that: legends, distortions and stories.
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The authors of these texts hoped that they would be taken seriously. In fact, most of these non-canonical writings were utilized by one group or another for some period of time alongside the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. As regional groups of Christians began to scrutinize their own spiritual texts and think about the criteria making these texts authentic, they eventually came to reject the late, non-authentic accounts of Jesus. Thousands of years later, we too need to understand these non-canonical accounts are little more than legend, and there is no reason to trust their contents:
Just Because They Claim to Have an Important Author
The authors of the non-canonical gospels often tried to present their claims by applying the name of an apostle or eyewitness to the text as though this person authored the account. Those early Christians who were closest to the action recognized that these legends appeared late in history, (after the death of the alleged authors), and typically identified them as late forgeries. Non-canonical accounts are not legitimate simply because they claim to have been written by an apostle…