Once upon a time, before there were gospels of the kind familar to readers of the New Testament, the first followers of Jesus wrote another kind of book. Instead of telling a dramatic story about Jesus' life, their book contained only his teachings. They lived with these teachings ringing in their ears and thought of Jesus as the founder of their movement. But their focus was not on the person of Jesus or his life and destiny. They were engrossed with the social program that was called for by his teachings. Thus their book was not a gospel of the Christian kind, namely a narrative of the life of Jesus as the Christ. Rather it was a gospel of Jesus' sayings, a "sayings gospel." His first followers arranged these sayings in a way that offered instruction for living creatively in the midst of a most confusing time, and their book served them well as a handbook and guide for most of the first Christian century.According to Wikipedia, "The Lost Gospel develops the hypothesis of the 'Q' source for the common material of Luke and Matthew not found in Mark. Mack develops the thesis that this was the earliest writing about Jesus, developed over decades by a community which he describes with unwavering confidence." At the bottom of the first page of this book is this sentence:
Then the book was lost.
"It makes some difference whether the founder of a movement is remembered for his teachings, or for his deeds and destiny."So which is it? Is Jesus a wisdom teacher, who wanted us to make this a better world by following his social program and loving one another? Or did Jesus want us to worship him?
Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. Click here for today's Mister Linky.