When they are detached from their original historical setting and arranged in an anthology, their interpretation is more precarious.”Without undue appeal to the subjective, it can be safely said that the Gnostic material on Jesus has a decidedly different “feel” than the biblical Gospels.
Or has substantial corruption taken place through distortion, additions, or subtractions? The original writing of the various documents, of course, took place sometime before A. 350-400, but not, according to most scholars, before the second century.
The New Testament has been preserved in thousands of diverse and ancient manuscripts which enable us to reconstruct the original documents with a high degree of certainty. Before the discovery at Nag Hammadi, Gnostic documents not inferred from references in the church fathers were few and far between. The actual condition of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts varies considerably.
There are few if any cases of known authorship with the Nag Hammadi and other Gnostic texts.
Scholars speculate as to authorship, but do not take pseudepigraphic literature as authentically apostolic.
Or must we remain in utter agnosticism about the historical Jesus?
Unless we are content to chronicle a cacophony of conflicting views of Jesus based on pure speculation or passionate whimsy, historical investigation is non-negotiable.
Since 1945, however, there are many primary documents. James Robinson, editor of notes that “there is the physical deterioration of the books themselves, which began no doubt before they were buried around 400 C. [then] advanced steadily while they remained buried, and unfortunately was not completely halted in the period between their discovery in 1945 and their final conservation thirty years later.” one often finds notations such as ellipses, parentheses, and brackets, indicating spotty marks in the texts.
Often the translator has to venture tentative reconstructions of the writings because of textual damage.
The text affirms that Luke was after nothing less than historical certainty, presented in orderly fashion and based on firsthand testimony.
If Christianity centers on Jesus, the Christ, the promised Messiah who inaugurates the kingdom of God with power, the objective facticity of this Jesus is preeminent.
Jesus then discourses on the precosmic fall of “the mother” who acted in opposition to “the Father” and so produced ailing aeons.