So while Pagels and others would have us suppose that these various Gospels simply circulated together, inviting believers to espouse radically different beliefs,^16 the facts indicate that these two groups of texts were not on an equal footing. The very fact that the canonical Gospels were written decades earlier is at least a preliminary indication that they could possibly also be more authoritative.

One scholar who agrees with this assessment is O.C. Edwards. Speaking in particular of Pagels’ thesis, he asserts: It is precisely as history that I find her work most unsatisfactory. Nowhere, for instance, does she give the impression that the basic picture of Jesus given in the New Testament gospels did not arise contemporaneously with the Gnostic portrait, but antedated it by at least half a century. As historical reconstructions there is no way that the two can claim equal credentials.^17