Modern novels and movies claim the Church suppressed secret writings about Christ and his apostles for centuries...and they're right!
If you've heard of The Da Vinci Code, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Jesus Scroll, Holy Blood Holy Grail, Foucault's Pendulum, or The Golden Compass, you've been told that the Church hid the "truth" from the world.
In a way, these novels and movies are right. The Catholic Church did suppress and constrain the publication of these so-called "gospels." And with good reason. The Gnostic writings were circulated by pseudo-Christian sects who had broken communion with the Church. Many Gnostic texts claim to be eye-witness accounts of the apostles or secret divine messages which expand on Christ's public revelation. All of the Gnostic texts contain elements of heresy.
Claims to Secret Knowledge
Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means knowledge. In itself, knowledge is not a bad thing. However, in the Early Church, there were many groups of people who claimed to have received secret revelations about Christ, his mother Mary, or even the apostles.
Among these revelations are those contained in The Secret Book of John, a Gnostic text that rewrites creation and salvation history. Along with many other Gnostic texts, it was excluded from the formal list of the books of the Bible - called the "canon of Scripture" - by the Council of Carthage in 419 A.D. The Secret Book of John details a vision received by John the Apostle from Jesus.
Retelling the Story
Jesus tells John the "secret truth" about the creation of the world. He claims to be the Father, the Mother, and the Son, part of the incorruptible "Monad" - the great spirit who rules over all. In this reimagining of the Holy Trinity, there is the One (the Father), Barbelo, (a female emanence from the One), and Christ.
The Monad created aeons - pairs of male and female spiritual beings who are like angels. One of these aeons, Sophia, sought to conceive a son without her male counterpart. This son was born a monster, and he is called Yaldabaoth. This monster-spirit then becomes the "god" over physical creation.
According to The Secret Book of John, Yaldabaoth is the Yaweh of the Old Testament; an evil and perverse god who trapped the spiritual souls of Adam and Eve in matter. Yaldabaoth's wicked designs are perpetuated by human procreation... because bringing forth new life into a material world is a process of ensnaring more spiritual souls and trapping them in physical form.
Get the Truth
In recent years, Gnostic writings like The Secret Book of John have gained in popularity due to references from a variety of media sources. Even those of us who knew the claims in The Da Vinci Code were fictional struggled to articulate the historical truth.
Dr. Michael Waldstein, expert translator and commentator on the Gnostic text of the The Secret Book of John, will guide you through the claims of this false gospel. His commentary will help you understand why this book, and others like it, were excluded from the canon of Scripture. Dr. Waldstein discusses the danger Gnosticism poses to true Christianity - how it attempts to repaint salvation history, divide the so-called "God of the Old Testament" from Jesus Christ in the New, and distort the truth and goodness of God's creation. In this course, you'll get the truth you need to combat any Gnostic misinformation.
- Understanding Historical Gnosticism What are the Gnostic texts, and how did we get them? Discuss the origin of the Gnostic texts and their use.
- The Theogony of the Monad: Father, Mother, and Son Discover an in-depth study of the Secret Book of John. Study the unfolding of the first triad, the first part of Jesus' teaching, through the lens of the Gnostics. What is theogony, and how is it relevant?
- Sophia and the Begetting of Yaldabaoth Study the impersonal relationship between God and man as presented in the Gnostic texts. What issues does this present? What conflicts arise between this Gnostic teaching and the teaching of the Christian Church?
- The Creation of Adam and Descent of Eve Were there two creations of Adam? Discover how woman's creation, a Gnostic afterthought, affects the Gnostic view of woman's nature and dignity and, likewise, the resulting negativity toward sex.
- John’s Seven Questions on Salvation Explore the Gnostic view of human sexuality as a disorder–as exemplified in the first sexual relationship perpetrated by Yaldabaoth–and the importance of the Catholic belief that human sexuality is sacred.
- The Counterfeit Spirit and Human Sexuality Consider the last of the Secret Book of John's seven questions, explore the depth of Gnostic attitudes toward sexuality as a disorder, and revisit the dignity of women. Is it possible to value women appropriately within the Gnostic belief system?
- Origins of the Text: Judaism and Platonism After studying the Secret Book of John, join Dr. Waldstein for an in-depth reflection on the Gnostics and their teachings. What is truly happening in these texts? Why were they created, and for whom?
- Gnosticism and New Age Spiritualism Finally, with the study of the Gnostic text behind us, explore the nature of women in light of Christianity. The power sought through feminism and Gnosticism differs from what Christianity considers worthy and good. Contemplate these differences and discover fundamental truths held by the Catholic Church.
Meet Your Professor
Your professor for this course is Michael Waldstein. Professor Waldstein holds his Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Dallas, a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and his Doctorate of Theology from Harvard University in New Testament and Christian Origins. He is currently the Max Seckler Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University in Florida.
Professor Waldstein has served as the founding president of the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria, and was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Eichstaett, Germany. He served as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family from 2003 to 2009 and is a Distinguished Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.
Professor Walstein’s published works include a critical translation and comparison of the four Coptic manuscripts of the Secret Book of John. He also translated John Paul II’s Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. His articles have been published in Nova et Vetera, Communio, Anthropotes, and Journal of Early Christian Studies.
The Homeschooling Set includes the Streaming Video and Homeschooling Course Guide. Each Course Guide contains everything needed for a student to complete the course, including:
- Lesson Plan
- Final Essay
- Lecture Notes
- Answer Key
- Michael Waldstein, PhD
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