While we may guess that the assertion “the resurrection revealed nothing new” perhaps provides a hint about Koester’s personal view, it must again be stated that the Q and Gnostic theses by no means require disbelieving either Jesus’ death or his literal appearances. In other words, even those who may disbelieve apparently do not do so because of the Gnostic data. But it is also evident that the interest in Q and Thomas, with their relative silence on these subjects, still do not even keep Koester from concluding that the belief in Jesus’ resurrection was centralfor the first believers.
In sum, we conclude our discussion by asserting that the general Gnostic trajectory fails, and for several reasons, some of which have not been mentioned here.^47 The Gnostic sources are too late, besides lacking evidence that they are based on eyewitness, authoritative authority.
Furthermore, the New Testament canon was not formulated in an open forum where orthodox and Gnostic texts circulated on the same level. And while it may have been the late second century before canonical concerns were basically solved,
46 Koester in Robinson, Nag Hammadi, Volume II, pp. 84–86.
47 Other problems with the Gnostic scenario take us beyond some of the immediate issues that are addressed in this chapter. While certain sayings of Jesus have been interpreted in different ways, this is definitely not the same as saying that Jesus’ teachings support Gnosticism. His teachings about God, creation, the nature of the physical body, eternal life, the message of salvation and the necessity of taking His words to the entire world are some examples of the differences. (See Habermas, Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus, p. 64.) Pagels provides still more instances of contrasts between the teachings of Jesus and those of the Gnostics (Gnostic Gospels, pp. 177–178). Another crucial area concerns the origin of Gnosticism. The predominant view is that it was derived from Christianity. Fitzmyer refers to Gnosticism as a “parasite” in this regard (p.123). (See Robert Grant’s Gnosticism and Early Christianity, as well as Edwin Yamauchi, Pre-Christian Gnosticism: A Survey of the Proposed Evidences[Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973]). Many other critiques on related topics are found in Ronald H. Nash, Christianity and the Hellenistic World(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984).
the Gospel corpus (plus Acts) and the epistles of Paul had long before had an established tradition. In fact, somewhere during the time frame between the writing of some of the canonical books themselves until about 40 years after the close of the canon, these two collections of texts appear to be well-established as Scripture.
Last, there are a number of reasons why even the reliance on the Q and Gnostic traditions do not constitute grounds on which to deny the gospel facts of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Several responses were given to show that, at every turn, such a thesis is strongly opposed by the data.
Therefore, it must be concluded that the recent interest on the part of some scholars in this Gnostic scenario does not threaten the historicity of the life, teachings, death, or resurrection of Jesus. The majority of critical scholars have rejected such a conclusion and we have attempted to argue that there are certainly firm grounds for doing so.