Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Maccabee - Jesus Christ Mentions the Apocryphal Testament of Abraham

Many scholars tend to be dismissive of the relationship between Christ and the Apocrypha, boldly contending that Jesus specifically rejected the Apocrypha and only accepted the 39 Books of the Protestant Old Testament as Biblical Canon. Thus, Protestant denial of the Books of the Maccabees, for example, is then considered a God-given command which they proceed to eagerly follow: Sorry to throw a wrench into their claims, but this must be exposed for what it is- a lie. More and more scholars are now understanding that some of the more obscure, and misunderstood, portions of the Gospels have Apocryphal roots and origins. Here is just one example:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

- Matthew 7:13-14

Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able.

- Luke 13:24

What is Jesus Christ stating here? Or, to be specific, what is He talking about anyway? Well, most people rightfully assume that the 'narrow gate' is a sinless, Christian life and faith, while the 'wide gate' is a sinful, non-believer's life and faith. The question is, where did Jesus get this imagery from? Did Jesus simply make it up, or was he referring to a popular Jewish legend concerning the gates of Heaven that was typical of the era and that is specifically mentioned in the Apocryphal Book called the Testament of Abraham. Here is the exact quotation:

So Michael turned the chariot and brought Abraham to the east, to the first gate of heaven; and Abraham saw two ways, the one narrow and contracted, the other broad and spacious, and there he saw two gates, the one broad on the broad way, and the other narrow on the narrow way. And outside the two gates there he saw a man sitting upon a gilded throne, and the appearance of that man was terrible, as of the LORD. And they saw many souls driven by angels and led in through the broad gate, and other souls, few in number, that were taken by the angels through the narrow gate. And when the wonderful one who sat upon the golden throne saw few entering through the narrow gate, and many entering through the broad one, straightway that wonderful one tore the hairs of his head and the sides of his beard, and threw himself on the ground from his throne, weeping and lamenting. But when he saw many souls entering through the narrow gate, then he arose from the ground and sat upon his throne in great joy, rejoicing and exulting.

And Abraham asked the chief-captain, 'My Lord chief-captain, who is this most marvelous man, adorned with such glory, and sometimes he weeps and laments, and sometimes he rejoices and exults?' The spiritual one said: 'This is the first-created Adam who is in such glory, and he looks upon the world because all are born from him, and when he sees many souls going through the narrow gate, then he arises and sits upon his throne rejoicing and exulting in joy, because this narrow gate is that of the just, that leads to life, and they that enter through it go into Paradise. For this, then, the first-created Adam rejoices, because he sees the souls being saved. But when he sees many souls entering through the broad gate, then he pulls out the hairs of his head, and casts himself on the ground weeping and lamenting bitterly, for the broad gate is that of sinners, which leads to destruction and eternal punishment. And for this the first-formed Adam falls from his throne weeping and lamenting for the destruction of sinners, for they are many that are lost, and they are few that are saved, for in seven thousand there is scarcely found one soul saved, being righteous and undefiled.'

- The Testament of Abraham 11

The Broad Gate

GOSPEL: For the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.

APOCRYPHA: For the broad gate is that of sinners, which leads to destruction and eternal punishment. And for this the first-formed Adam falls from his throne weeping and lamenting for the destruction of sinners, for they are many that are lost, and they are few that are saved, for in seven thousand there is scarcely found one soul saved, being righteous and undefiled.

The Narrow Gate

GOSPEL: Enter through the narrow gate...For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

APOCRYPHA: when he sees many souls going through the narrow gate, then he arises and sits upon his throne rejoicing and exulting in joy, because this narrow gate is that of the just, that leads to life, and they that enter through it go into Paradise. For this, then, the first-created Adam rejoices, because he sees the souls being saved.

Indeed, the similarities between the Gospels and the Apocrypha are quite astounding, to say the least. Most scholars today are fairly convinced of the Testament of Abraham's staunchly Jewish origins and believe that an original version in Hebrew has been tragically lost to history. Nearly all of them agree that the Testament of Abraham isn't an originally Christian text, and may have been written down in Greek either by Essene or a Pharisee. The Testament of Abraham did not borrow from Jesus, but vice versa. This leads to only one inescapable conclusion, Jesus Christ mentions an Apocryphal legend in the Gospels directly and specifically.

This single comparison goes far in legitimizing the Apocrypha, including the Books of the Maccabess. One could surmise that Jesus could have been familiar with the Testament of Abraham and mentions the legend in passing in the Gospel texts by both Matthew and Luke. One thing is for sure, the Gospels do, in fact, contain evidence, that Jesus Christ was familiar with the Apocrypha, which may have been considered Biblical by some at the time, and He even mentions certain portions of them in the New Testament. To deny this would be to deny reality.

May the LORD God bless you in the name of St. Judas Maccabaeus.

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