For instance one of the oldest surviving Biblical manuscripts which is now kept (and treasured) in the Cambridge University Library (Codex Bezae) mentions a story unrecorded by any other biblical version or manuscript: Jesus noticed someone who was working on the Sabbath day, and he said to him: Man! If you know what you are doing, you are blessed. But if you don’t know, you are damned and a transgressor of the Law. In our Bibles this story belongs between Luke 6:4 and 6:5. There are a great number of similar and even more enigmatic and surprising sayings which never made it into the official Bible and we will be talking about them this Sunday.
So, was Jesus censored or misrepresented by his early followers and evangelists? This question itself is an example of anachronistic misunderstanding. Such a notion would come only later with the appetite for control from the power-obsessed Church, an attitude which has been perfected by the bible thumping American fundamentalists.
Evangelists were writing what they thought important for spiritual orientation, but it never crossed their minds that it was the ultimate spiritual authoritative text. In the evangelist John’s own words (The original closing colophon: Of course, I didn’t record in this book all remarkable things which Jesus did. But what I have recorded I recorded so that you may be convinced that Jesus is the Chosen One/Messiah, the Son of God, and if you put your trust in him, you will have fulness of life. John 20:30ff) he did not attempt to give an exhaustive account of Jesus’ life and teaching. Gospels were meant to be invitations, open doors to Christian faith and Christian life. Like so many important aspects of life, Christian faith does not have any ultimate textbook or manual; it cannot be learned and fully understood from any books. Thankfully faith is to be lived in a community and all (including YOU) are invited and welcomed into this shared quest for the fullness of life.
|Facsimile from the Codex Bezae of the insertion of the Sabbath Work Agraphon, first in Greek and below in Latin. Context places this insertion clearly after Luke 6:4 and not after 6:5 as many sources indicate.|