It is time for a new New Testament.
Over the past century, numerous lost scriptures have been discovered, authenticated, translated, debated, celebrated. Many of these documents were as important to shaping early-Christian communities and beliefs as what we have come to call the New Testament; these were not the work of shunned sects or rebel apostles, not alternative histories or doctrines, but part of the vibrant conversations that sparked the rise of Christianity. Yet these scriptures are rarely read in contemporary churches; they are discussed nearly only by scholars or within a context only of gnostic gospels. Why should these books be set aside? Why should they continue to be lost to most of us? And don’t we have a great deal to gain by placing them back into contact with the twenty-seven books of the traditional New Testament—by hearing, finally, the full range of voices that formed the early chorus of Christians?
To create this New New Testament, Hal Taussig called together a council of scholars and spiritual leaders to discuss and reconsider which books belong in the New Testament. They talked about these recently found documents, the lessons therein, and how they inform the previously bound books. They voted on which should be added, choosing ten new books to include in A New New Testament. Reading the traditional scriptures alongside these new texts—the Gospel of Luke with the Gospel of Mary, Paul’s letters with The Letter of Peter to Philip, The Revelation to John with The Secret Revelation to John—offers the exciting possibility of understanding both the new and the old better. This new reading, and the accompanying commentary in this volume, promises to reinvigorate a centuries-old conversation and to bring new relevance to a dynamic tradition.There have been a series of contributions to the Huffington Post on this new publication:
There are at least two posts directly discussing or written by Hal Taussig, the general editor: see here (for an interview) and here for a more recent piece by Taussig himself posted today (5/20/2013).
There are two pieces (here and here) written from a Jewish, Rabbinic perspective, both of which seem to be particularly fond of The Thunder: Perfect Mind. And then a more general discussion here.
Jim Davila has noted that it sounds a bit gimmicky (and it does), but anything to give attention to apocrypha.
The council that voted on which texts to include consisted on 19 members; they added 10 texts.
The ten texts are: Prayer of Thanksgiving, Gospel of Thomas (no surprise here), Odes of Solomon, The Thunder: Perfect Mind, Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Truth, Prayer of Apostle Paul, Acts of Paul & Thecla, Letter of Peter to Philip, Secret Revelation of John.
The council included:
It raises the question, though: if you were to add anything to the New Testament (or if you were to recommend an ancient Christian text for people today to read that is not in the current NT), what would it be? (And, though not addressed in this project, if there were any books in the NT you would like to see removed, what would it be?)