This is Part 1 of a several part series.
Over the centuries, the figure of Paul has played a vital role in defining Christian belief, in many permutations. One can think of there being the “Sexist Paul”, the “Pro-Slavery Paul”, the “Libertine Paul”, the “Gnostic Paul”, and many others.

In the modern era, debates have formed surrounding the “New Perspective” on Paul and how to reinterpret his writings for the modern age. Its critics summarize this New Perspective, to give one example, as rejecting the notion of justification by faith alone, arguing instead that works are required for justification. The movement’s proponents explain it in a number of different ways; N.T. Wright argues that Paul charges us “with being and bringing signs of hope, of restorative justice, to the world… Let’s put the justice back in justification.” The Gnostic Paul by Elaine Pagels

Of interest is N.T. Wright’s argument in the linked article that “anything to do with strong religious emotion, anything which downplays outward observance… reinforce that gnosticism which is a poison at the heart of much contemporary culture”.

I would disagree with Dr. Wright, and in fact argue that his position is aligned with gnostic perspectives on Paul. In fact, as we continue looking at Elaine Pagel’s book The Gnostic Paul, we’ll see how certain gnostic thinkers interpreted Paul’s writings. Specifically, in this post, we’ll look at a gnostic interpretation of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

Interested in learning more? Click below to continue reading!

Alternate title for this post: 27 Days Later. You’ll see.

While many fears and anxieties have changed over time as cultures changed, human history has long been full of the stories of cannibals. Even in modern society, in which there is likely little to fear from cannibals, they still capture the imagination, whether in fiction and movies or– in certain rare but highly publicized cases– fears about real-world individuals. The idea of cannibalism strikes at the intersection of quite a few fundamental and universal fears, taboos, and grotesque concepts. In ancient times, it was no different. cannibal-blood

In the apocryphal text called the Acts of Andrew and Matthias, which according to David Brakke in The Apocryphal Jesus may have been originally been a part of the poorly preserved Acts of Andrew, the apostle Matthew make their way to the country of the man-eaters. There, flesh is eaten, blood flows freely, and hard drugs are consumed. This text may not teach radically change your worldview or teach you the secret metaphysical under-workings of the universe , but sometimes, we all need the apocryphal equivalent of a late night horror flick!

Do you dare follow along? Click below to continue!

I’m pleased to say that this week marks the one-year anniversary of Non-Canonical Christianity’s launch! Outside the blog, it’s been a year of tremendous and world-wide change, undoubtedly spearheaded by the effects of COVID-19. In a world of masks, vaccinations, and such tremendous shifting, it’s been a joy to work on the site. I hope you all have enjoyed reading it, too.Non-Canonical Christianity

In the below post, I’m going to share some specifics about the year and the different topics that the site has covered. Interested in reading more? Click below to continue!

Over the centuries, Christians have had lots of ideas about demonic or sinister powers. Some Christians believe that people can be possessed by demons… and an even smaller subset thinks that demons can even possess Christians! There are still people out there who’ll offer to exorcise demons from you. Going to someone else to cure your evil? Sounds like a good bargain!demonic tree

Modern ideas around demons and exorcism, however, can sometimes miss the point. We tend to think of demons like modern rationalists– do they exist, and if so, what are the objective implications? However, early Christians often thought about them radically differently; in fact, they thought about them in the opposite order! Rather than starting with a hypothesis (demons exist!) and then working through all the different things that this entails, they started by reflecting on their experience and then generating mythology to interpret that experience.

We’ve written before about how the Demiurge was used by early Christians to wrestle with tensions they faced in scripture. In the Gospel of Philip, the Valentinian writer explores the implications of the world they see through such mythological language. Why do people call things “good” that are actually bad? Why do good things happen to bad people? What is evil, and why is it so powerful?

If you’re interested to learn more about how the Gospel of Philip treats demonic powers, keep reading, below!