A cottage industry of books has emerged in the past few years responding to apparent "attacks" on the Christian faith by such perceived enemies as the Jesus Seminar, Bart Ehrman, Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code, and the discoverers of the so-called Jesus Tomb. Targeted also in these books are the texts of the Christian Apocrypha (CA). The books are transparently apologetic with the aim of disparaging the CA and the Gnostics who (they say) wrote them so that their readers will cease being troubled by thei texts' claims. The problem with such books, at least from the perspective of those who value the CA, is that they often misrepresent the texts, their authors, and the scholars who study them. Proper research and sober argument take a back seat to the apologists' goal of buttressing the faith.
In many ways these books read much like the works of apologetic writers from antiquity, such as Irenaeus and Hippolytus. They too were concerned about the impact of non-canonical texts and heretical ideas on their readers and sought to reinforce the faith by denigrating and ridiculing their enemies. Then and now accuracy was sacrificed to the needs of apologetics. Yet, perhaps there is something that scholars of the CA can learn from the modern apologists, something not only about ourselves but also about those who were attacked by the heresy hunters of the past.
Tony has very good insights in this piece, and I hope he considers writing a book on this subject. It would be a real service to the field. Tony shows how there is a group of scholars writing for the popular audience today who use the same techniques as the ancient heresy hunters in order to discredit the apocryphal materials, techniques like name-calling, ignoring scholarship to the contrary, misrepresenting scholarship to the contrary, etc.
This is one of the major reasons, in fact, that I started this blog, have begun to write books on Gnosticism and the other gospels for general audiences, and have increased the number of general lectures that I am giving. I am very concerned that the general public has been misled and misinformed by scholars who are writing with apology as their main goal. These authors appear to be ill-informed about the apocrypha and scholarship on it, especially Gnosticism, and this information is being passed on as credible by editors and publishing houses that do not care to promote good scholarship, but only are concerned about the dollar.
So send me your questions. What do you want to learn about? And I will write some posts in response. Let's get your questions answered.