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Christianity / Apocryphal gospels /
Gospel of Bartholomew
Also possibly called: Questions of Bartholomew; Resurrection of Jesus Christ; Apocalypse Of Bartholomew

Full text in translation There is no surviving text of this gospel

In Christianity, apocryphal gospel of which the definite, final text has never been identified. The actual existence of a gospel of this kind is attested by Jerome.
There exists at least two main theories to what represents the gospel, but most scholars agree that the Questions of Bartholomew is the actual text. The other, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, is by some considered the entire gospel, or possibly a fragment of it, alone or together with the Questions of Bartholomew.
Certain elements of this gospel suggest that it dates to a much later period than most other gospels, perhaps as late as 6th century. Other elements perfectly fit a dating as early as the 2nd century. One way of interpreting this, is to consider elements of the gospel as dating to different times, either as a result of editing or as additions.
Extant versions of this gospel exist in Greek, Latin and Slavonic versions. There are clear variations between these. The gospel has been identified as most likely originating in Egypt.
Scholars disagree to what impact the texts actually had. Some suggest they were only used with small groups, other that they must have been widely distributed.

In the canonical gospels, Bartholomew is among the least visible disciples, mentioned only by name. In his gospel, however, he stands out among the disciples as the most active in asking questions.
Usually, in apocryphal gospels, the name-giving disciple is usually promoted as the foremost among them. In Bartholomew this has a unique twist, as Mary explicitly defines Peter as the foremost among them. Still, towards the end of this gospel Bartholomew is given a prominent position.

The gospels passes through 3 narrative stages, in which first Jesus, then Mary and finally Satan inform the disciples about central secrets.
Central to Jesus' part is his descent into Hell, where he has as his assignment to release the patriarchs, among them Adam, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This descent happened during Jesus' crucifixion. After his descent, he returned to complete his time on the cross.
Mary tells about the immaculate conception, and about the many signs and the promise she received long before the pregnancy.
The gospel moves into the third part with Satan when Jesus shows Satan to the disciples upon the request of Bartholomew. Seeing Satan kills them, and they have to be brought back to life by the miraculous powers of Jesus. Jesus then puts Bartholomew in control over Satan. Bartholomew uses this power to ask Satan about his secrets. Satan begins with narrating about how he came to be. He was the first angel created by God, made from a handful of fire. His original name, Satanael, means 'Angel of God', but this was changed into Satanas, as he no longer wanted to be associated with God.
Satan goes on to tell that for always he is confined to Hell, having dedicated servants to trap human souls on earth to his evil ways. Among the many details in his narrative is that he actually seduced Eve.
The information of the gospel is, as Jesus instructs, not to be shared with those unworthy.

By Tore Kjeilen