Tag Archives: Christianity

Look What’s New at the Warner Library!

Warner Library serves Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. There’s a big browsing section of what new books the library bought.

004Title: A New New Testament: a Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts

Editor and Commentator: Hal Taussig

Publication Information: Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-79210-1

Library of Congress Classification: BS2361.3

Dewey Decimal Classification: 225.52

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Bible. New Testament—Criticism, interpretation, etc.
Christian literature, Early—History and criticism

Usually I pass right by religious texts, but this one gave me pause and I ended up taking it out.

A New New Testament: a Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts is the traditional New Testament supplemented with ten added works from early Christianity not included in the traditional canon.

Hal Taussig, the editor and commentator, chaired a group of scholars who sat down and decided which ancient texts to add. (Their short bios are included.) Several, like The Gospel of Mary (probably Magdalene) and The Gospel of Thomas, were “lost” until recently discovered, many coming from the Nag Hammadi Library, found outside the Egyptian village in 1945. (Appendix 2 lists the books in each codex.) Of these, several manuscripts may now exist, copied at different times with subtle changes. Other texts, such as The Acts of Paul and Thecla, were never lost, just not included in the canon.

The Acts of Paul and Thecla is surprising. The revered St. Paul does not look so good in this work. He is seen as hesitant and negligent in his dealings with Thecla, a woman who wants to be baptized. Taking matters into her own hands, Thecla BAPTIZES HERSELF then PREACHES the gospels of Jesus to anyone who will listen, becoming a disciple.

No wonder the Christian writer Tertullian attacked this book in the 2nd century. Throughout this book, Thecla is seen as a leader standing up to government authority and cultural biases, all the while maintaining her faith. Ironically, this book was popular throughout the Middle Ages and was viewed as an appropriate reading for women and missionaries.

Taussig refuses to use the term “Christianity” because no one is sure when this term came into existence. Instead, he calls the early Jesus people “Christ movements,” plural because there were many different belief systems in existence early-on. I taught a politics and religion class at Purchase College, the State University of New York, in 2001 and I used the term “Christianities,” but the meaning is the same. There were many different versions of Christianity with radically different views of Jesus and God.

What we have today is Pauline Christianity, that version of Christianity which St. Paul taught and endorsed: Jesus as God, the Trinity, etc. This version of Christianity was adopted by Emperor Constantine; henceforth, all other Christianities were now viewed as heretical. The three major branches of Christianity (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant) and any splinter groups are Pauline Christianity.

There is so much here. Each book, including those in the traditional New Testament, is introduced by Taussig. He includes a short bibliography at the end of every entry. The book also has: an overall introduction; Q&A on typical things asked about the New Testament; a companion section, consisting of nearly 100 pages of research; a bibliography; and subject and scripture indices.

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