EXPLAIN THE THREE STAGES THAT IS INVOLVE IN STUDYING OF AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION


EXPLAIN THE THREE STAGES THAT IS INVOLVE IN STUDYING OF AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION
INTRODUCTION
The traditional beliefs and practices of African people include various traditional religions. Generally, these traditions are oral rather than scriptural, include belief in a supreme creator, belief in spirits, veneration of ancestors, use of magic, and traditional medicine.
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EASTER DAY


Easter (also called the Pasch or Pascha) is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.

Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on 21 March (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on 20 March in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between 22 March and 25 April. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian calendar whose 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian calendar, in which the celebration of Easter therefore varies between 4 April and 8 May.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are etymologically related or homonymous. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but attending sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church and decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb, are common motifs. Additional customs include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades, which are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians.

The second-century equivalent of Easter and the Paschal Triduum was called by both Greek and Latin writers Pascha, derived from the Hebrew term Pesach (פֶּסַח), known in English as Passover, the Jewish festival commemorating the story of the Exodus. Paul writes from Ephesus that “Christ our Pascha has been sacrificed for us,” although the Ephesian Christians were not the first to hear that Exodus 12 spoke about the death of Jesus. In most of the non-English speaking world, the feast today is known by the name Pascha and words derived from it.

The modern English term Easter, cognate with modern German Ostern, developed from the Old English word Ēastre or Ēostre, which itself developed prior to 899. This is generally held to have originally referred to the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Ēostre, a form of the widely attested Indo-European dawn goddess. The evidence for the Anglo-Saxon goddess, however, has not been universally accepted, and some have proposed that Eostre may have meant “the month of opening” or that the name Easter may have arisen from the designation of Easter Week in Latin as in albis.

 

 

 

Theological significance

The New Testament teaches that the resurrection of Jesus, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the powerful Son of God and is cited as proof that God will judge the world in righteousness. God has given Christians “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. Christians, through faith in the working of God are spiritually resurrected with Jesus so that they may walk in a new way of life.

Easter is linked to the Passover and Exodus from Egypt recorded in the Old Testament through the Last Supper and crucifixion that preceded the resurrection. According to the New Testament, Jesus gave the Passover meal a new meaning, as he prepared himself and his disciples for his death in the upper room during the Last Supper. He identified the matzah and cup of wine as his body soon to be sacrificed and his blood soon to be shed. Paul states, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed”;this refers to the Passover requirement to have no yeast in the house and to the allegory of Jesus as the Paschal lamb.

One interpretation of the Gospel of John is that Jesus, as the Passover lamb, was crucified at roughly the same time as the Passover lambs were being slain in the temple, on the afternoon of Nisan 14. The scriptural instructions specify that the lamb is to be slain “between the two evenings”, that is, at twilight. By the Roman period, however, the sacrifices were performed in the mid-afternoon. Josephus, Jewish War 6.10.1/423 (“They sacrifice from the ninth to the eleventh hour”). Philo, Special Laws 2.27/145 (“Many myriads of victims from noon till eventide are offered by the whole people”). This interpretation, however, is inconsistent with the chronology in the Synoptic Gospels. It assumes that text literally translated “the preparation of the passover” in John 19:14 refers to Nisan 14 (Preparation Day for the Passover) and not necessarily to Yom Shishi (Friday, Preparation Day for Sabbath) and that the priests’ desire to be ritually pure in order to “eat the passover” refers to eating the Passover lamb, not to the public offerings made during the days of Unleavened Bread.

Date

Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts, in that they do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars (both of which follow the cycle of the sun and the seasons). Instead, the date for Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on 21 March (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on 20 March in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily the astronomically correct date.

In Western Christianity, using the Gregorian calendar, Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25 included.[44] The following day, Easter Monday, is a legal holiday in many countries with predominantly Christian traditions.

Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar. Due to the 13-day difference between the calendars between 1900 and 2099, 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian Calendar. Easter therefore varies between 4 April and 8 May on the Gregorian calendar (the Julian calendar is no longer used as the civil calendar of the countries where Eastern Christian traditions predominate). Among the Oriental Orthodox some churches have changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and the date for Easter as for other fixed and moveable feasts is the same as in the Western church.

 

ADVANCE REASONS FOR THE TEACHING OF RELIGIOUS AND MORAL EDUACTION IN NIGERIA SCHOOLS.


INTRODUCTION

In secular usage, religious education is the teaching of a particular religion (although in England the term religious instruction would refer to the teaching of a particular religion, with religious education referring to teaching about religions in general) and its varied aspects —its beliefs, doctrines, rituals, customs, rites, and personal roles. In Western and secular culture, religious education implies a type of education which largely separate from academia, and which (generally) regards religious belief as a fundamental tenet and operating modality, as well as a prerequisite condition of attendance. Since people within a given country often hold varying religious and non-religious beliefs, government-sponsored religious education can be a source of conflict. Countries vary widely in whether religious education is allowed in government-run schools (often called “public schools”). Those that allow it also vary in the type of education provided.
People oppose religious education in public schools on various grounds. One is that it constitutes a state sponsorship or establishment of whatever religious beliefs are taught. Others argue that if a particular religion is taught in school, children who do not belong to that religion will either feel pressure to conform or be excluded from their peers. Proponents argue that religious beliefs have historically socialized people’s behavior and morality. They feel that teaching religion in school is important to encourage children to be responsible, spiritually sound adults.
Whereas moral education can be define as the guidance and teaching of good behavior and values. Moral education is taught to young children in schools, providing them with a sense of politeness and lawfulness.
National curricula for religious education do not spring from nowhere. They evolve over time as a reflection of the needs, perceptions and historical development for the societies concerned. Nigeria is a country with a population believed to be over 120 million, of various ethnic groups. Religion often coincides with the ethnic group, but not always. Basically most Hausa-Fulanis in the north are Muslims, and most Ibos in the south-west are Christians. However, Yorubas in the south-west are both Muslims and Christians with Muslims slightly in the majority and there is a fair amount of inter-marriage. Exact census figures are hard to come by, but it would be safe to say that Muslims are over 50% of the population, the remainder being Christians and followers of African traditional religions.
Islam first entered West Africa through trans-Saharan Trade in the 9th/10th century. It spread among the rulers and the urban population and then gradually into the rural areas. Scholars established Qur’anic schools and for many centuries up to the colonial period, Islamic schooling was the formal educational system in Northern Nigeria. The north was solidly Muslim apart from pockets of African traditional religion in the remote or mountainous areas. With better transport and communications during the colonial period. Islam also spread faster in the south, particularly into Yoruba land down to Lagos and the sea.
The pattern of education in the south and the north has been different. Christian missionaries were allowed by the British colonial power to set up mission schools in the south from the early days, and Government schools also were generally Christian-oriented. Any Muslim student in these schools would be forced to study Bible Knowledge and in most cases attend church. Conversion was frequently a condition for admission. No teachers were provided for Islamic Studies. Muslim parents had a difficult choice – to allow their children to get a modern education at the risk of losing their faith, or to keep their faith and to lose the opportunity to rise high in Government or the modern administrative system. This gave rise to the establishment of private Islamic schools for Muslims in the southwest. However, their medium of instruction was usually Arabic, so their products were equally unable to join the mainstream of higher education unless they went to Arab countries for further studies. For these reasons the Christian missionaries and their students in the southwest went far ahead of the Muslims in western education, and tended to look down on the Muslims as backward. There was, and in some cases, still is, serious abuse of their educational and religious rights and marginalization of Muslims in national development.
In the north, the situation was different. The British here came face to face with the Northern Emirates – the legacy of the Sokoto Caliphate established by the great religious reformer Sheikh Uthman Dan Fodio in the late 18th/early 19th centuries. After subduing the northern region by military conquest the British established good relations with the Emirs and their people, and adopted Indirect Rule through the Emirs. Change in education came slowly with the gradual establishment of a few modern Government schools and Teachers Colleges for boys and later for girls. In order to make these schools acceptable to the people, Islamic Studies were taught with a fairly
Traditional syllabus. The teachers were almost always the product of the traditional Qur’an schools and the syllabus emphasized memorization of the Qur’an and Hadith, Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), the articles of faith and basic moral education.
For a long time Christian missionaries in the north confined their educational and evangelical activities in the remote, rural and predominantly pagan areas to avoid confrontation with the Emirs. The British even set up the old Sharia Law School in Kano for the training of Shari’ah Court Judges and Islamic teachers as early as 1933. Some of its graduates were subsequently given scholarships to study Arabic, Islamic Studies and Islamic Law at the University of London in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Nevertheless the following can be seen as reasons for the advance so of the teaching of religious and moral education in Nigerian schools
1. The need and belief to instill discipline and self control on the individual
2. The need to train a better adult for national development.
3. The need to inculcate religious tolerance among the various worshippers and sects in the country.
4. The need and urgency to harmonize school curricula and make education universal in the country.
5. The need to preach and imbibe by the teachings of both the prophet Mohammed (SAW) and Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

ASH WEDNESDAY


Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Western Christian calendar. Occurring 46 days before Easter, it is a moveable fast that can fall as early as February 4 and as late as March 10.
According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke; Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting.
Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a reminder and celebration of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered from the burning of the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.
This practice is common in much of Christendom, being celebrated by Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and some Baptist denominations.
Ritual
At Masses and services of worship on this day, ashes are imposed on the foreheads of the faithful (or on the tonsure spots, in the case of some clergy). The priest, minister, or in some cases officiating layperson, marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the sign of the cross, which the worshipper traditionally retains until it wears off. The act echoes the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ashes over one’s head to signify repentance before God (as related in the Bible). The priest or minister says one or both of the following when applying the ashes:
Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.
—Genesis 3:19
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
—Mark 1:15

Ashes may also be sprinkled on the top of the head, as shown in this 1881 Polish painting.
The liturgical imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday is a sacramental, not a sacrament, and in the Catholic understanding of the term the ashes themselves are also a sacramental. The ashes are blessed according to various rites proper to each liturgical tradition, sometimes involving the use of Holy Water. In some churches, they are mixed with a small amount of water or olive oil, which serve as a fixative. In most liturgies for Ash Wednesday, the Penitential psalms are read; Psalm 51 (LXX Psalm 50) is especially associated with this day. The service also often includes a corporate confession rite.
In some of the low church traditions, other practices are sometimes added or substituted, as other ways of symbolizing the confession and penitence of the day. For example, in one common variation, small cards are distributed to the congregation on which people are invited to write a sin they wish to confess. These small cards are brought forth to the altar table where they are burned.
In the Catholic Church, ashes, being sacramentals, may be given to anyone who wishes to receive them, as opposed to Catholic sacraments, which are generally reserved for church members, except in cases of grave necessity. Similarly, in other Christian denominations ashes may be received by all who profess the Christian faith and are baptized.
In the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance—a day of contemplating one’s transgressions. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer also designates Ash Wednesday as a day of fasting. In the medieval period, Ash Wednesday was the required annual day of penitential confession occurring after fasting and the remittance of the tithe. In other Christian denominations these practices are optional, with the main focus being on repentance. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 (whose health enables them to do so) are permitted to consume only one full meal, which may be supplemented by two smaller meals, which together should not equal the full meal. Some Catholics will go beyond the minimum obligations demanded by the Church and undertake a complete fast or a bread and water fast. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also days of abstinence from meat (mammals and fowl), as are all Fridays during Lent. Some Catholics continue fasting throughout Lent, as was the Church’s traditional requirement, concluding only after the celebration of the Easter Vigil.
As the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday comes the day after Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), the last day of the Carnival season.
Biblical significance

“Ash Wednesday” by Carl Spitzweg: the end of Carnival.
Ashes were used in ancient times to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent’s way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. An ancient example of one expressing one’s penitence is found in Job 42:3–6. Job says to God: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. The other eye wandereth of its own accord. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (vv. 5–6, KJV) The prophet Jeremiah, for example, calls for repentance this way: “O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes” (Jer 6:26). The prophet Daniel recounted pleading to God this way: “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). Just prior to the New Testament period, the rebels fighting for Jewish independence, the Maccabees, prepared for battle using ashes: “That day they fasted and wore sackcloth; they sprinkled ashes on their heads and tore their clothes” (1 Maccabees 3:47; see also 4:39).
Other examples are found in several other books of the Bible including, Numbers 19:9, 19:17, Jonah 3:6, Matthew 11:21, and Luke 10:13, and Hebrews 9:13. Ezekiel 9 also speaks of a linen-clad messenger marking the forehead of the city inhabitants that have sorrow over the sins of the people. All those without the mark are destroyed.
It marks the start of a 43-day period which is an allusion to the separation of Jesus in the desert to fast and pray. During this time he was tempted. Matthew 4:1–11, Mark 1:12–13, and Luke 4:1–13.[18] While not specifically instituted in the Bible text, the 40-day period of repentance is also analogous to the 40 days during which Moses repented and fasted in response to the making of the Golden calf. (Jews today follow a 40-day period of repenting during the High Holy Days from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur.)
In Victorian England, theatres refrained from presenting costumed shows on Ash Wednesday, so they provided other entertainments.
Dates
Ash Wednesday is a moveable fast, occurring 46 days before Easter. It fell on February 17 in 2010, March 9 in 2011 and February 22 in 2012. In future years Ash Wednesday will occur on these dates:
• 2013 – February 13
• 2014 – March 5
• 2015 – February 18
• 2016 – February 10
• 2017 – March 1
• 2018 – February 14 • 2019 – March 6
• 2020 – February 26
• 2021 – February 17
• 2022 – March 2
• 2023 – February 22
The earliest date Ash Wednesday can occur is February 4 (in a common year with Easter on March 22), which happened in 1573, 1668, 1761 and 1818 and will next occur in 2285. The latest date is March 10 (when Easter Day falls on April 25) which occurred in 1546, 1641, 1736, 1886 and 1943 and will next occur in 2038. Ash Wednesday has never occurred on Leap Year Day (February 29), and it will not occur as such until 2096. The only other years of the third millennium that will have Ash Wednesday on February 29 are 2468, 2688, 2840 and 2992. (Ash Wednesday falls on February 29 only if Easter is on April 15 in a leap year.)
Observing denominations
These Christian denominations are among those that mark Ash Wednesday with a particular liturgy or church service.
• African Methodist Episcopal Church
• African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
• Anglican Catholic Church
• Anglican Communion
• Traditional Anglican Communion
• Individual Baptist churches may hold a service
• Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
• Some congregations of the Church of the Nazarene
• Church of God (Anderson)
• Church of North India
• Church of South India
• Some congregations of Community of Christ
• Ecclesia Gnostica
• Some congregations of the Evangelical Covenant Church
• Some Free Churches (e.g., Free Methodist Church)
• Liberal Catholic Church
• Lutheran Church
• Some congregations of Mennonite Church Canada
• Some congregations of Mennonite Church USA
• Methodist Church in India
• Metropolitan Community Churches
• Moravian Church
• Old Catholic Church
• Reformed churches (Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), etc.)
• Roman Catholic Church
• United Church of Christ Congregations
• United Methodist Church
• Wesleyan Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church does not, in general, observe Ash Wednesday; instead, Orthodox Great Lent begins on Clean Monday. There are, however, a relatively small number of Orthodox Christians who follow the Western Rite; these do observe Ash Wednesday, although often on a different day from the previously mentioned denominations, as its date is determined from the Orthodox calculation of Pascha, which may be as much as a month later than the Western observance of Easter.
National No Smoking Day
In the Republic of Ireland, Ash Wednesday is National No Smoking Day.[19][20] The date was chosen because quitting smoking ties in with giving up luxury for Lent. In the United Kingdom, No Smoking Day was held for the first time on Ash Wednesday 1984, but is now fixed as the second Wednesday in March.

CHRISTAIN DAY OF WORSHIP,SATURDAY VS. SUNDAY


Statements from other churches.
Christendom has become so confusing and conflicting about the actual date to celebrate the holy Sabbath day. While some say it’s Saturday, others argues its Sunday. This raging argument has continue to contrast millions of followers, while conflict statements have been heard from acclaimed scholars. Even Jesus Christ said of the Pharisees, ‘in vein they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’, for laying aside the commandment of God, that you may keep the tradition’ (mark 7:7-9). Yet notice what other churches admit regarding their observance of Sunday instead of Saturday.

ROMAN CATHOLIC
Stephen Keenan, a Doctrinal Catechism, p. 174:
“Question: have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?
“answer: had she not such power, she could not have done that which all modern religionists agree with her-she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority…
The convert’s catechism of catholic doctrine, 3rd ed., p.50:
Question: which is the Sabbath day?
Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Question: why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer: we observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the council of Laodicea (c.363) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.”
Catholic press, Aug. 25, 1900:
“Sunday is a catholic institution, and… can be defended only on catholic principles … from the beginning to end of scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.”
METHODIST
: Charles buck, A theological dictionary, “Sabbath”
“Sabbath in Hebrew language signifies rest, and is the seventh day of the week… and it must be confessed that there is no law in the new testament concerning the first day.”

Clovis Chappell, ten rules for living, p.61:
“The reason we observe the first day instead of the seventh is based on no positive command. One will search the scriptures in vain for authority for changing from the seventh day to the first.”
PRESBYTERIAN
The Christian at work:
“some have tried to build the observance of Sunday upon apostolic command, whereas the apostles gave no command on the matter at all… the truth is, so soon as we appeal to the literal scripta (literal writing) of the bible, the sabbatarians have the best of the argument.”
ANGLICAN
Isaac William, D.D., plain sermons on the catechism, vol. 1:
“Where are we told in scripture that we are to keep the first day at all? We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are nowhere commanded to keep the first day… the reason why we keep the first day of the week holy instead of the seventh is for the same reason that we observe many other things, not because the bible, but because the church, has enjoined it.”
EPISCOPAL
Philip Carrington, Toronto daily, oct. 26, 1949:
“The bible commandment says on the seventh day thou shalt rest. That is Saturday. Nowhere in the bible is it laid down that worship should be done on Sunday.”
BAPTIST
Harold lindsell (editor), Christianity today, Nov. 5, 1976:
“There is nothing in scripture that requires us to keep Sunday rather than Saturday as a holy day.”

To conclude, a Sunday morning resurrection could not be the reason for changing the weekly day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. But even if Christ resurrected on Sunday, why would his disciples-who had kept the seventh-day Sabbath with him-have abandoned his example of keeping the Ten Commandments and switched to Sunday-keeping? And why would they have picked Sunday, a day already associated with pagan sun worship? Saturday still remains the authentic day of worship for all true worshippers of Christ as commanded in the bible. For a broader term, log unto the article ‘WAS JESUS RESURRECTED ON SUNDAY’ by me. Therefore, Christ’s true disciples would certainly not have kept Sunday as the “lord’s day”!

THE FAMILY OF JESUS


According to Matthew 1:18-25, Mary became pregnant with Jesus while she was engaged (but still unmarried) to Joseph. After Joseph found out about the pregnancy, he wanted to break off the engagement. But then an angel came to him in a dream, told him about Jesus, and persuaded him to go through with the marriage.
Mary was still a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus, and he was her first child. But she apparently had some other children later. Evidence for this is found at Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3, which indicate that Jesus eventually had four brothers and at least two sisters. The names of his brothers are given as James, Joses, Simon, and Jude. Unfortunately, his sisters aren’t named, and we don’t even know how many there were.
Some Christians believe that Mary was a virgin throughout her life, and that Jesus was her only child. People who believe this argue that the brothers and sisters mentioned in the gospels must have been step-brothers and step-sisters. However, Luke 2:7 refers to Jesus as Mary’s “first-born”, thus implying that she had other children later. In fact, most biblical scholars believe that all of the mentioned children were sons and daughters of Mary who were born after Jesus.
Joseph was a carpenter, and he presumably taught this trade to Jesus. However, there is evidence that Joseph died prematurely. Apparently he didn’t accompany Mary to the wedding at Cana, and he doesn’t appear in any subsequent part of the story either. Also, according to John 19:27, after the crucifixion Mary went to live at the home of the un-named Beloved Disciple, which she probably wouldn’t have done if her husband had still been alive.
When Jesus left home to begin his ministry, other members of his family appear to have disapproved. According to Mark 3:21, they said that he was “out of his mind”, and some of them attempted to “take charge of him” and bring him home. Matthew 12:46-50 indicates that he refused to talk to his mother and brothers when they tracked him down and tried to see him. And John 7:5 says “even his own brothers did not believe in him.”
The gospels don’t say how long this rift with his family lasted. But there must have been a reconciliation at some point, because Acts 1:14 says that Mary and all four brothers later joined the Nazarenes, the original community of believers who lived in Jerusalem after Jesus departed.
According to Luke 1:36, Mary was a relative of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Luke 1:39-56 says that Mary went to live at Elizabeth’s home in Judea after she became pregnant with Jesus and stayed there for about three months. Some scholars have suggested that Mary used Elizabeth’s home as a refuge while waiting for Joseph to decide whether to accept her as his wife.
The oldest brother of Jesus was named James. He became a very important leader in the early church, and is the named author of the New Testament Epistle of James. Because he was very pious, and followed the Jewish religious laws very strictly, he was called James the Just (or James the Righteous). He was condemned to death and executed in Jerusalem in 62 AD.
Another brother of Jesus, called Jude, is the named author of the New Testament Epistle of Jude.

THE LOST GOSPELS OF THE CHRISTAIN BIBLE


According to some estimates, early Christians wrote at least twenty gospels that weren’t included in the bible. Many of these non-biblical gospels apparently disappeared later, although it’s possible that copies of some of them still survive at unknown locations. Luckily, several that appeared to be missing have been found again in modern times. But some are still missing, and could be permanently lost.
Gospels that were left out of the Bible are called non-canonical gospels. Many scholars also call them apocryphal gospels, because most of them have unknown origins. This uncertainty about their origins was one reason many of them were excluded from the Bible. But some were also excluded because they expressed unorthodox or heretical views.
Scholars know about the past existence of some missing gospels because they are mentioned in other ancient writings that have survived. Parts of some lost gospels were even copied into surviving writings, so that a portion of their original content is still preserved.
In fact, people are often surprised to learn that parts of several lost gospels may have been preserved in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This preserved material has been identified by certain characteristics which indicate that it was copied from other writings. Thus the authors of the New Testament gospels apparently got some of their information from earlier writings. Modern scholars call these earlier writings “sources”, and have determined that there were probably three of them. But apparently all of them have disappeared.
These three lost sources may have been the first gospels. Their ancient names are unknown, so they are usually identified by modern names, specifically the Lost Q Source, the Pre-Markan Passion Narrative, and the Signs Gospel. Because no copies of any of them have survived, they are sometimes called hypothetical gospels. But most scholars believe that they really did exist at one time.
Actually, these three missing gospels aren’t completely lost, since material from them is preserved in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In fact, considerable knowledge about their original content has been obtained by studying this preserved material.

Some other non-biblical gospels have been discovered more directly, because actual physical remains have been found. Examples include the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Judas. All of these were discovered in modern times. But only fragments or secondary translations have been found, so the complete original forms of all of them are still unavailable.
These three rediscovered gospels are named after Simon Peter, Mary Magdalene, and Judas Iscariot, but those weren’t their real authors. Their real authors are unknown, and will probably never be identified. In ancient times anonymous authors would sometimes ascribe their books to famous people in an effort to get more publicity and authority for them.
Ancient writers mentioned a number of other gospels which they knew about, but which apparently no longer survive. These include the Gospel of Matthias, the Gospel of Perfection, the Gospel of the Seventy, the Dialogue of the Savior, the Gospel of the Twelve, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Nazarenes, the Gospel of Bartholomew, the Secret Gospel of Mark, and the Gospel of Eve. Other gospels may have also existed, but even their names have been lost.
Some early gospels may have vanished because they were secret gospels and very few copies were made. Others could have been lost due to wars, conquests, upheavals, and persecutions. In addition, there have been accusations that early church leaders intentionally destroyed some gospels in order to cover up embarrassing facts about the origins of Christianity. Some intentional destruction did take place, but exactly what was lost can’t be determined.
But the modern discoveries prove that a missing gospel can sometimes be found again. And there is a chance that more will be found in the future, especially since small fragments of several possible unknown gospels have been uncovered in various excavations.
Here are brief descriptions of some of the best-known lost (or rediscovered) gospels:

The Gospel of Mary
The existence of this gospel was unknown until several fragments were discovered in modern times. Since the only long fragment is a Coptic translation, most of the original Greek text is still lost. And even the long fragment may only include about half of the book.
Because the “Mary” in this gospel is depicted as a very prominent disciple, most scholars assume that she is Mary Magdalene, although in the extant text she is always just called Mary. The gospel emphasizes her prominence by presenting her as a strong leader, and by suggesting that she was the most favored disciple of Jesus and received a special revelation from him. It also suggests that this led to a conflict with Peter, who may have seen her as a threat to his position as overall leader of the disciples in the period after Jesus departed.
Indications of a rivalry with Peter are especially evident in the last section of the extant text, in which Mary gets into an argument with Peter and his brother Andrew over some private revelations that Jesus had given to her. This section may derive from memories of a historical conflict between her and Peter which eventually caused her to leave the group. Thus, although this gospel probably wasn’t written until the second century, it may preserve some traditions passed down from an earlier period.
The Gospel of Mary contains some gnostic ideas, particularly in the section which describes the revelations she received from Jesus. This connection with gnosticism, together with the prominent role that the gospel gives to a female, may have led to its suppression by orthodox Christians.

The Gospel of Peter
A fragment of this gospel was discovered in Egypt in the late nineteenth century, and two more possible fragments have been found since then. But a large portion may still be missing. Hopefully the remainder will eventually be found, because the available text contains some interesting material, including the only known description of Jesus leaving the tomb after his resurrection.
Ever since the first fragment was discovered, this gospel has been controversial. A few scholars think that it preserves some of the beliefs and views of the earliest Christians. But most regard it as a secondary work containing a mixture of fanciful elements and material copied from the New Testament gospels.
One intriguing part of this gospel is its account of the exit of Jesus from the tomb. This exit takes place during the night as some Roman soldiers stand guard nearby. Suddenly the soldiers see two men (or angels) descend from heaven and enter the tomb. A short time later the men come back out with Jesus between them. At this point the men look so tall that their heads reach to the sky, and Jesus looks even taller. They are followed out of the tomb by a cross. Suddenly the soldiers hear a voice from heaven, and the cross answers it.
The description of this scene puzzles many people, since it appears to depict a wooden cross that can walk and talk. But some scholars think that the passage is actually describing a cross-like formation of resurrected saints who have returned to life along with Jesus and follow him out of the tomb. A few scholars also see connections between this account and a passage at Matthew 27:52-53, which describes a similar resurrection of dead saints.

The Gospel of Thomas
This gospel was probably first written in Greek, but the only surviving complete text is a Coptic translation discovered in Egypt in 1945. Its initial section indicates that it contains the “secret sayings” of Jesus, and the main text then gives 114 of these sayings. In most of the passages Jesus speaks as a teacher and his disciples make comments and ask questions.
Because the initial section of this gospel refers to “secret sayings”, many scholars believe that it was a secret gospel, at least originally. This means that it was thought to contain secret knowledge, and that only certain individuals were allowed to read it. Several other secret gospels, or fragments of them, have also been discovered.
The Gospel of Thomas may preserve some authentic teachings of Jesus that aren’t found in the bible. For this reason, many scholars regard it as the most important surviving non-canonical gospel.

The Gospel of Judas
The only extant copy of this gospel was found in Egypt, but the time and place of its discovery are uncertain, and there are indications that it passed through the Egyptian black market at one stage.
The existing copy is a Coptic text, probably a translation of a still-lost Greek original. Unfortunately the manuscript is damaged in many places, and some pages are missing, so that translation and interpretation are difficult. However, many scholars believe that it was a secret gospel used mostly by certain gnostic sects of Christians.
This gospel is notable in that it may depict Judas Iscariot as the most loyal disciple of Jesus, and an innocent martyr instead of an evil betrayer. But because of the damage to the manuscript, and the difficulties of interpretation, there is some uncertainty about this matter. In any case, this is one of the later gospels, probably not written until the second century, and most scholars doubt that it contains any authentic information about the real Judas Iscariot.

The Lost Q Source
This hypothetical gospel is also called the Lost Sayings Gospel and the Q Document. Like other hypothetical gospels, its probable existence has been inferred from studies of the New Testament gospels. In fact, it is thought to be the original source of many of the teachings of Jesus that are preserved in Matthew and Luke. The name “Q” comes from the German word “quelle”, which means “source”.
Most scholars believe that this gospel was primarily a collection of the sayings of Jesus, with little narrative material or biographical information. In the earliest period these sayings must have been preserved orally, but later someone apparently collected them and wrote them down. They may have been collected for the use of early Christian missionaries as an aid in spreading the new faith.
Scholars have put together possible reconstructions of this gospel by extracting material from Matthew and Luke, but some uncertainties are involved in exactly what should be included. There is a chance that some of the original parts of this gospel have been completely lost.

The Pre-Markan Passion Narrative
Scholars have deduced the probable existence of this hypothetical gospel from careful studies of the Gospel of Mark. These studies indicate that the author of Mark obtained some material from an earlier source. This source is now lost, but the evidence suggests that it was a short narrative of the arrest, interrogation, and crucifixion of Jesus. For this reason, it is called the Pre-Markan Passion Narrative (or Lost Passion Narrative).
The unknown author of this missing work had a good knowledge of what happened to Jesus during and after his arrest. It might have even been written by a member of the first community of believers, known as the Nazarenes, who lived in Jerusalem in the years after Jesus departed.
Reconstructions of the original form of this gospel indicate that it gave a simple straight-forward account of what happened before and during the crucifixion. Because this account may be the basis for all the later accounts, whoever wrote it performed an extremely important service.
The evidence suggests that the Pre-Markan Passion Narrative ended with either the burial of Jesus or the discovery of the empty tomb, so that it probably didn’t describe any post-resurrection activities of Jesus.

The Lost Signs Gospel
The likely existence of this hypothetical gospel has been deduced from studies of the Gospel of John. It is called the Signs Gospel because it apparently described some miracles of Jesus which it called “signs”. Its unknown author may have regarded the ability of Jesus to perform these miracles as one of the “signs” that he was the Messiah.
These miracles include the changing of water into wine (John 2:1-11), the giving of sight to the man born blind (John 9:1-8), the healing at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-9) and the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45). The fact that these particular miracles aren’t mentioned in the other gospels indicates that their authors probably hadn’t seen the Signs Gospel.
In addition to the miracle stories, this gospel may have also contained some information about John the Baptist, and about the crucifixion and resurrection. But it probably didn’t have much information about the teachings of Jesus.

AUTHURS SUGGESTION:
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