The Gospel of the Egyptians

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Peter Kirby
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The Gospel of the Egyptians

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The Gospel of the Egyptians

Mark 3:20-22
Then Jesus entered a house, sat down, and ate. Salome said, "Who are you, man? Whose son? You have reclined on my couch and eaten from my table.” Jesus said to her, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests but the son of man has no place to lay down his head and rest. Follow me, and I will teach you the secret of the one who sent me.” Salome said, "I will follow you wherever you go." And she followed him.
There was a woman, Mary Magdelene ... who was possessed by seven demons ... Jesus said, "The son of man came to abolish the works of the female" ... and the demons came out of her ... And she followed him.
21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Be-el′zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.”

Mark 10
13 And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

Mark 10
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

"And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, 'Son of David, have mercy on me.' But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightaway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb, they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do, and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan."

And they came to Jericho. And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and they received Jesus into their house.
Salome asked him privately: "Tell us, until when shall death be strong, and until what point will men die?"
Jesus answered, "As long as you women give birth."
They were astonished and said to him, "When will the kingdom of God come, then, and how will we know it?"
Jesus said, "When you have trampled the garment of shame, and when the two become one, and the male with the female, neither male nor female."
Salome said to him, "I did well, then, in not giving birth."
Jesus looked at her and said, "And you shall eat every plant, but do not eat the one that has bitterness."
But the women did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.

Mark 12:25
For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Mark 12:32-33
And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Mark 13:17
How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!

Mark 14
3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment thus wasted? 5 For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.” And they reproached her. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burying. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Mark 14
50 And they all forsook him, and fled.

51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body; and they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Mark 15
40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome, 41 who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered to him; and also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

Mark 16
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.

Sources:
See Ben Smith's post: viewtopic.php?t=1854

Gospel of Thomas 61
Salome said: Who are you, man, whose son? You have mounted my bed and eaten from my table. Jesus said to her: I am he who comes forth from the one who is equal; I was given of the things of my Father. <Salome said:> I am your disciple.

Luke 9:57-58
As they were walking along the road, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow You wherever You go." Jesus replied, “ Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”

Luke 8:1-3
Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

Clement to Theodore (yes, I know all the controversy)
To you, therefore, I shall not hesitate to answer the questions you have asked, refuting the falsifications by the very words of the Gospel. For example, after "And they were in the road going up to Jerusalem" and what follows, until "After three days he shall arise", the secret Gospel brings the following material word for word:

"And they came into Bethany and a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she knelt down before Jesus and said to him, "Son of David, have mercy on me". But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus got angry with them and went off with her into the garden where the tomb was. Right away there was a loud cry from inside the tomb. Then Jesus rolled away the stone from in front of the tomb. He went in where the youth was and stretched forth his hand and raised him up. The youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beg him to be with him. They they left the tomb and went to the young man's house, for he was rich. Six days later, Jesus gave him instructions of what to do and in the evening the youth came to him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth over his naked body. He remained with him that night, for Jesus thaught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And when Jesus woke up, he returned to the other side of the Jordan."

And these words follow the text, "And James and John come to him" and all that section. But "naked man with naked man" and the other things about which you wrote, are not found.

And after the words,"And he comes into Jericho," the secret Gospel adds only, "And the sister of the young man whom Jesus loved was there, along with his mother and Salome, but Jesus did not receive them." But many other things about which you wrote both seem to be and are falsifications.

Excerpts from Theodotus 67
And when the savior says to Salome: There shall be death as long as women give birth, he did not say this to make childbirth bad, it being one of the things necessary on account of the salvation of those who believe.

Stromata 3.6
Next we may destroy their case on the ground that they pervert the sense of the books they quote, as follows. Salome inquired: Until when will death be strong? The Lord said, not as if life were bad or the creation evil, but rather as teaching the natural sequence: as long as you women give birth. For in all ways birth is followed by corruption.

Stromata 3.9
Whence reasonably, after the word had told about the consummation, Salome says: Until when will men die? But the scripture calls him man in two ways, the one that is apparent and the soul, and again that being saved and that not being saved. And sin is said to be the death of the soul. And in keeping with this the Lord answers: As long as women give birth, that is, as long as desires are at work.

Stromata 3.9
But those who order themselves against the creation of God on account of the euphemism of Encratism also say those things that were said to Salome, of which we first made mention. And they are extant, I suppose, in the gospel according to the Egyptians. For they say that the savior himself said: I came to abolish the works of the female. What are of the female are desires, but the works are birth and corruption.

Stromata 3.9
But those who [prefer] all things rather than to conform to the evangelical rule according to the truth, why do they not quote the things that follow those said to Salome? For when she says: I did well, then, in not giving birth, as if not accepting childbirth as fitting, the Lord responds saying: Eat every plant, but do not eat the one that has bitterness.

Stromata 3.13
On account of this Cassianus says: When Salome inquired when the things about which she had asked would be known, the Lord said: When you have trampled the garment of shame, and when the two become one, and the male with the female, neither male nor female. First, then, we do not have this word in the four gospels delivered to us, but in that according to the Egyptians.
Parallels:
See Ben Smith's post: viewtopic.php?t=1854

Thomas 22: 22 Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, "These nursing babies are like those who enter the (Father's) kingdom." They said to him, "Then shall we enter the (Father's) kingdom as babies?" Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter."

Thomas 37: 37 His disciples said, "When will you appear to us, and when will we see you?" Jesus said, "When you strip without being ashamed, and you take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and trample them, then [you] will see the son of the living one and you will not be afraid."

2 Clement 12:1-6
Let us, therefore, in love and righteousness expect every hour the kingdom of God, since we know not the day of the appearing of God. 2 For the Lord himself, when he was asked by a certain man when his kingdom should come, replied, When two shall be one, and that which is without as that which is within, and the male with the female neither male nor female. 3 Now two are one when we speak the truth one to another, and there is, without hypocrisy, one soul in two bodies. 4 And by that which is without being as that which is within, he meaneth this: He calleth the soul that which is within, and the body that which is without; in like manner, therefore, as thy body is visible, let thy soul be made manifest by good deeds. 5 And by the male with the female neither male nor female, he meaneth this: When a brother seeing a sister doth not in any way regard her as a female, nor doth she regard him as a male; 6 when ye do these things, he saith, the kingdom of my Father will come.

Dialogue of the Savior 49-52: Judas said, "Behold! The governors dwell above us, so it is they who will rule over us!" The Lord said, "It is you who will rule over them! But when you rid yourselves of jealousy, then you will clothe yourselves in light and enter the bridal chamber." Judas said, "How will our garments be brought to us?" The Lord said, "There are some who will provide for you, and there are others who will receive [...]. For it is they who will give you your garments. For who will be able to reach that place which is the reward? But the garments of life were given to man because he knows the path by which he will leave. And it is difficult even for me to reach it!"

Dialogue of the Savior 84-85: Judas said to Matthew, "We want to understand the sort of garments we are to be clothed with when we depart the decay of the flesh." The Lord said, "The governors and the administrators possess garments granted only for a time, which do not last. But you, as children of truth, not with these transitory garments are you to clothe ourselves. Rather, I say to you that you will become blessed when you strip yourselves! For it is no great thing [...] outside."
Hypothesis: The idea that there is a "Secret Gospel of Mark" is Clement's invention. Clement otherwise refers to it as "The Gospel of the Egyptians." Like the Secret Gospel of Mark, Clement of Alexandria treats the Gospel of the Egyptians as authoritative. In the letter to Theodore, Clement has realized that the sayings in the Gospel of the Egyptians are too difficult to bear and must be attributed to the corruptions of the Carpocratians: "But since the foul demons are always devising destruction for the race of men, Carpocrates, instructed by them and using deceitful arts, so enslaved a certain presbyter of the church in Alexandria that he got from him a copy of the secret Gospel, which he both interpreted according to his blasphemous and carnal doctrine and, moreover, polluted, mixing with the spotless and holy words utterly shameless lies. From this mixture is drawn off the teaching of the Carpocratians."

Clement of Alexandria specifically calls out this passage, thus indicating that more material was found here in the text of Carpocrates:
And after the words, "And he comes into Jericho," the secret Gospel adds only, "And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and Jesus did not receive them."
That Salome was associated with the Carpocratians is confirmed by Celsus (the "Harpocratians" who followed Salome in Against Celsus, 1.47). The fact that Salome is only mentioned in the Gospel of Mark is also suggestive, as if she had to be written out of the canonical gospels. Also suggestive is the fact that Carpocrates is said to have taught in Egypt, making it natural that his group would be associated with the "Gospel of the Egyptians."

Another aporia, not called out in Clement's letter, is found in the third chapter of Mark:
20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.”
Why did his family hear? That he went home? That a crowd gathered? That they could not eat? Perhaps a more difficult passage originally stood there, about Jesus going into a home and eating, which has been replaced by a negation (similar to the way Clement's "Jesus did not receive them" may have obscured a passage which said something quite different).

In addition to the fact that Salome is eliminated from the other gospels, the reference to the women "who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered to him" suggest that there could have been earlier stories about the women who followed and ministered to Jesus. Likewise, Luke's passing reference to Mary "from whom seven demons had gone out" suggests that the story of the exorcism of Mary was well known already from other texts and traditions. That the women may have been associated with the support of Jesus from various houses is also suggested by the reference in Luke that they "provided for them out of their means." This in turn suggests that we are justified in thinking that an aporia in Mark next to a narrative about going to a house would be a prime candidate for identifying a pre-Markan text where the women previously figured.

The fact that Mary is associated with an exorcism provides a full explanation for the reaction in Mark 3:22, suggesting that Jesus could have performed an exorcism on Mary Magdalene in the pre-Markan text at this point. Some kind of surprising saying -- such as "The son of man came to abolish the works of the female" -- would explain the statement of the (so-called) family of Jesus in Mark 3:21 that he has lost his mind.

But why did Mark 3:20 say that they could not eat? By the logic of negating the original text, the original story had Jesus eating. And we are in need of some better explanation for the story of Salome, who appears later as someone who followed Jesus since Galilee. We find this kind of story, the story of the calling of Salome, in the Gospel of Thomas 61.
"Salome said: Who are you, man, whose son? You have reclined on my couch and eaten from my table. Jesus said to her: I am he who comes forth from the one who is equal; I was given of the things of my Father. <Salome said:> I am your disciple."
And what could have been the story that Clement was negating, by saying that Jesus did not receive Salome and the other women? Perhaps it included what appear to be the most difficult sayings in the Gospel of the Egyptians, which Clement references and interprets multiple times elsewhere. It is some kind of dialogue between Salome and Jesus regarding the kingdom of God.

So what would any of this mean, in the original text?

Well, it's far from a radical departure. All of the thematic and doctrinal elements seem to fit into the rest of the Gospel of Mark.

Mark 12:25 shows that the Gospel of Mark can take a dim view of marriage, even in the remaining material. Mark 13:17 takes on an unexpected but also very reasonable interpretation, which may well be original, in light of the sayings found in the "Gospel of the Egyptians" against childbirth.

Mark 12:32-33 suggests that Jesus is abolishing burnt offerings and sacrifices, just as the prohibition of the "bitter herb" can be understood as a prohibition of eating meat with the passover meal (Exodus 12:8, "with bitter herbs they shall eat it"). Mark 14:12-26 tells the story of the "festival of unleavened bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb," but lamb is completely absent from the meal that Jesus eats, which consists of bread and wine. There's also a suggestion not even to drink wine until the coming of the kingdom of God in Mark 14:25.

Above all, there's the saying of Jesus about children and the kingdom of God:
“Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
From this follows several other themes: we are to be apart from marriage and childbirth, just like a child. We are to be neither woman nor man, just like a child. We are to be without riches, just like a child. We are to take off the clothes of mortality and be "naked," just like a child is naked and not ashamed, unlike Adam and Eve after they sinned. Only then can we inherit the kingdom of God and be clothed with immortality, as the "young man" who is "dressed in a white robe" is. Then it is that "two become one, and the male with the female, neither male nor female" -- a saying that finds a very wide number of echos in early Christian literature, which says something about becoming more like the image of God. It harks back to Genesis 1:27 - "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

There are two examples of faithful disciples, and they are the unnamed woman and the unnamed youth. There are also two groups of unfaithful disciples, the twelve (including Peter, James, and John) and the women (Mary, Mary, and Salome). All of the male disciples "forsook him and fled," while all of female disciples "said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." The extensive parallelism between the male and the female, how both can fail and how either can know the secret of the kingdom of God, is related to the "neither male nor female" theme. The longer text gives substance to these Markan themes and fills in serious narrative gaps, such as the calling of the women and the calling of the unnamed youth, suggesting that it could have been the original text of Mark.
davidmartin
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Re: The Gospel of the Egyptians

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Mark 12:25 shows that the Gospel of Mark can take a dim view of marriage, even in the remaining material. Mark 13:17 takes on an unexpected but also very reasonable interpretation, which may well be original, in light of the sayings found in the "Gospel of the Egyptians" against childbirth.
From memory the quote of the gsp. of Egpytians is ambiguous on whether Salome bore children or not, contradicting itself
"Eat every herb but not the one that is bitter" doesn't help much! EG There was a bitter herb used to cause abortions in those days could it mean that? It was so popular it was driven to extinction
The Dialog of the Saviour has similar material apparently against childbirth (with apparent disagreement between Jesus and Mary over it?)
What i'm getting at is certain groups could have taken ambiguous material and sayings, or even Paul, as being against childbirth whether or not they originally had that interpretation or meaning
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Re: The Gospel of the Egyptians

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davidmartin wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 12:43 am From memory the quote of the gsp. of Egpytians is ambiguous on whether Salome bore children or not, contradicting itself
Can you explain more?
davidmartin wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 12:43 am What i'm getting at is certain groups could have taken ambiguous material and sayings, or even Paul, as being against childbirth whether or not they originally had that interpretation or meaning
Yeah, that certainly is true.
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Re: The Gospel of the Egyptians

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Peter Kirby wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 12:47 am Can you explain more?
ah it was to do with whether Salome had actually born a child or not
In your quotation it says "I have done well in not giving birth". I've seen this in a few places
In another one I found at earlychristianwritings it says
"I would have done better had I never given birth to a child," suggesting that she might not have been right in giving birth to a child
So i was confused whether she bore a child or not, cause i was curious about that reply to not eat bitter fruit, plus it relates to identifying women from the gospels before I gave up on that!
Anyway FWIW I recon that reply to not eat bitter fruit is a kind of rebuke to what she said, also what if the 'bitter' is a clever reference to Mary maybe one of her children was so named and he's not having that, he likes Mary. So she was teasing him and knew he would bite
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Re: The Gospel of the Egyptians

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It would be interesting to see how the existence of an unnamed Egyptian gospel referenced in Clement of Alexandria with Salome as a star when Salome only appears in Mark isn't an argument for this gospel being the same as the one mentioned in the Letter to Theodore where the same Clement advises Theodore not to name a secret Egyptian gospel of Mark. But of course, I lack the intelligence of others in the field. Does Morton Smith make the case that the Gospel of the Egyptians = secret Mark? I know F F Bruce did.
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Re: The Gospel of the Egyptians

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Secret Alias wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 10:46 am It would be interesting to see how the existence of an unnamed Egyptian gospel referenced in Clement of Alexandria with Salome as a star when Salome only appears in Mark isn't an argument for this gospel being the same as the one mentioned in the Letter to Theodore where the same Clement advises Theodore not to name a secret Egyptian gospel of Mark. But of course, I lack the intelligence of others in the field. Does Morton Smith make the case that the Gospel of the Egyptians = secret Mark? I know F F Bruce did.
Any thoughts on the suggested reconstruction?
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Re: The Gospel of the Egyptians

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Digesting it.
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Re: The Gospel of the Egyptians

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Secret Alias wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 10:46 am It would be interesting to see how the existence of an unnamed Egyptian gospel referenced in Clement of Alexandria with Salome as a star when Salome only appears in Mark isn't an argument for this gospel being the same as the one mentioned in the Letter to Theodore where the same Clement advises Theodore not to name a secret Egyptian gospel of Mark. But of course, I lack the intelligence of others in the field. Does Morton Smith make the case that the Gospel of the Egyptians = secret Mark? I know F F Bruce did.
Can you give a source for the claim about FF Bruce please ?
In his Ethel M Wood Lecture about Secret Mark Bruce compares the Gospel of the Egyptians to Secret Mark but he does not identify them.

Andrew Criddle
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Re: The Gospel of the Egyptians

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Also the meeting in Mark, Jesus and the woman in Tyre.. dogs eating crumbs that fall from the table
G.Thomas - Salome says 'you have eaten from my table'. I see a connection here of the eating from tables
Also in Thomas Salome asks who he is, in Matt she knows exactly who he is 'son of David' messiah, thus Matt. knew Thomas?
That would make the daughter possibly Magdalene who was possessed like the daughter according to Mark and Luke
So for whatever it's worth Salome may have been mother of MM if this connection isn't a leaky sieve
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Re: The Gospel of the Egyptians

Post by Aleph One »

This is really cool. So I take it you think gEgyptians could be a narrative (and sayings) gospel? I only ask because the quotations and references I found on your Early Christian Writings entry seem to point to a gThomas-style saying/gnostic dialog gospel although we have so few excerpts that may not mean much. Or maybe the whole narrative vs. sayings gospel dichotomy is overblown? :confusedsmiley: Either way I like it!
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