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Christianity / Apocryphal gospels /
Secret book of James
Also called: The Apocryphon of James

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In Christianity, Gnostic apocryphal gospel dating to anytime between early 2nd century and 300 CE. The available text was found with the Nag Hammadi find in 1945.

Its structure is like a letter written by James, intended to have been the brother of Jesus. This authorship is by scholars not considered authentic.

The content of this gospel is clearly Gnostic. Jesus reveals himself 550 days after the resurrection, when he takes James and Peter aside to "fill them" with the final teachings. The text makes James a superior character to Peter, who repeatedly misunderstands Jesus. Peter's inability to understand makes this gospel fit perfectly with the Gnostic tradition, Peter being the representative of mainstream Christianity, all those who cannot achieve the highest wisdom.
There is not only a struggle between James and Peter, but also with the other disciples as well. A reference towards the end of the text, "...children who are to come after us...", is believed to refer to a certain group of Christians, although unknown to us today.
The teachings of this gospel were a rejection of the doctrine of atonement as well as the second coming of Christ. Jesus promotes martyrdom, equating suffering with wisdom. By that the death of Jesus on the cross has a different meaning from mainstream Christianity, not being an act of salvation.
The Gnostic approach of the gospel has no discernible elements of Valentianism or any other known Gnostic theologies.

By Tore Kjeilen