Summary Highlights of the Newly Discovered First Gospel (Qn, 50-65)

Thought it would be a nice courtesy to readers to distill down some of the highlights from Qn, the very First Gospel out of the Jesus movement, a text that I discovered and announced a few weeks ago and am busy proving and reconstructing each day. A partial preliminary edition and translation has now been released for public viewing. While I have called this text Qn or the Gospel of the Poor, we might also consider calling it the Gospel of the Enslaved Messiah, the Slave Gospel, the Abolitionist Gospel, or the Gospel of Liberation.

  1. Jesus in Qn is pictured from the outset as a new Aesop, a brilliant, witty, justice-minded slave who speaks truth to power. The opening quotation, “Physician, heal yourself,” is a verbatim quotation from Aesop’s Fables. Jesus nearly being thrown off a (geologically/geographically non-existent) cliff in Nazareth clearly imitates the Life of Aesop, where Aesop is killed by being thrown off a cliff at Delphi. Aesop was one of the most famous slaves of antiquity, known as an adept storyteller who proved himself far more intelligent than his master and rival philosophers. He regularly got into trouble by speaking truth to power. The Aesop opening of Qn casts Jesus’ escape from Nazareth as the story of a runaway slave. Late Luke confirms and reinforces this reading by depicting the Nazareth sermon as a declaration of the Jewish holiday of Jubilees, the 50th year when slaves and debts were freed. Late Luke also envisions the inaugural sermon of Jesus as a City Dionysia festival, bringing manumission of slaves.
  2. Jesus in Qn performs a creative array of prophetic speech acts (blessing the poor; cursing the rich; predictive oracles; moral instructions; parables) all consistently aimed at freeing people from slavery, debt, and social stigma, and at the just distribution of money and food.
  3. Similar to the Gospel of Mark, Qn has no birth, infancy, or childhood narratives for Jesus. Unlike the Gospel of Mark, Qn has no baptism or temptation of Jesus nor any opening heavenly portent making or declaring him Messiah.
  4. In Qn, the first male follower/companion/protector of Jesus is a Roman centurion, who is there from the start of his public life to its end at the crucifixion.
  5. In Qn, the first followers/patrons of Jesus were women, and a woman (likely Miryam, or the woman later called Mary Magdalene) is the one who anoints and makes Jesus Messiah with her tears. The Gospel of Mark later misogynistically undermined and displaced all of this by picturing Jesus baptized in the Jordan river by a man (John the Baptist) and affirmed as the “son of god” (the Davidic Messiah) directly by god as a father figure through a heavenly portent. In Mark, Jesus then calls twelve male disciples at the start of his ministry after going up a mountain as if divinely orchestrated; but all of this is entirely absent from Qn. The Gospel of Mark also misogynistically displaced this tradition of Mary Magdalene making the Messiah by pushing it way later, at the end of Jesus’ ministry as a funerary preparation more in keeping with women’s traditional roles in respectable Jewish and Roman society.
  6. The Transfiguration in Qn serves a clear, unique purpose as the first occasion where Jesus is publicly recognized as Messiah by a group of men (three disciples, Moses, and Elijah) and by a heavenly portent. The Gospel of Mark later borrowed the male witness and heavenly portent motifs (“this is my beloved son”) and retroactively narrated them into Jesus’ baptism (which, again, was not present in Qn as the earlier/earliest Gospel), yet still copied and transformed the Qn Transfiguration story, leading to redundant messianic heavenly portents in Mark and its textual heirs (Matthew, John, Luke, etc.).
  7. In Qn, the seventy male followers of Jesus are armed with staffs, compromising what looks to be a formidable gang of would-be bandits ready to loot rich Romans and their wealthy Judean enablers.
  8. Qn contains the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. While Mark and Matthew did not copy this parable, it still likely influenced creative retellings, such as the Gospel of John and its depiction of Lazarus being raised, the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, and the parable of the Good Samaritan created in the Late version of Luke.
  9. Qn contains our earliest retrievable form of the Lord’s Prayer, a form that is distinctive for its simple monotheism and its singular focus on food distribution and debt forgiveness.
  10. Like Spartacus, Jesus in Qn is pictured as the leader of a slave revolt. Besides Aesop, Spartacus was the most famous, heroic, and beloved slave in the ancient world.
  11. Jesus in Qn is pictured as being crucified by himself, not with two other “evildoers” who were released. Indeed, the “two evildoers” in Qn probably describe the wicked, hypocritical authorities (i.e., Herod and Pilate) who crucified Jesus! The Gospel of Mark later added the crucifixion of the two “bandits / lestai” to claim the fulfillment of prophecy (LXX Isa 53.12), to defend the non-violent Jesus as being wrongly executed because of mere guilt by association, and to narrate a public execution for treason in a way that showed deference to Roman power and authority.
  12. Qn concludes with a brief resurrection story for Jesus where a group of women are the only witnesses of the empty tomb, only recipients of an angelic theophany, yet still disbelieved by the male disciples.