Summary Highlights of the Newly Discovered First Gospel (Qn, 66-69)

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. Joshua of Nazareth 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. Joshua 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 Galilean slave who had been Hellenized. 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, as well as a City Dionysia festival, effecting the manumission of slaves.
  2. Joshua in Qn performs a creative array of prophetic speech acts (blessing the poor; cursing the rich; healings; exorcisms; predictive oracles; moral instructions; aphorisms; 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 Joshua. 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 Joshua 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 Joshua were women, and a woman (likely Miryam, i.e., the Mary who was later called Magdalene) is the one who anoints Jesus as 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 anointing Jesus as the Messiah by pushing it way later, to the end of his 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 start of a new Exodus and the first occasion where Joshua is publicly recognized as Messiah by a group of men (three disciples, Moses, and Elijah) and by a heavenly portent. Moses and Elijah are the paradigmatic prophets leading resistance movements, and they speak with Jesus about a new “Exodus.” 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), 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 Joshua are armed with staffs, comprising what looks to be a formidable gang of would-be bandits ready to loot rich Romans and their wealthy Judean enablers.
  8. 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.
  9. Qn contains the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.This earliest major parable likely influenced creative retellings, such as the Gospel of John and its depiction of Lazarus being raised, the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, and the Good Samaritan in Late Luke.
  10. Joshua and Miryam in Qn are pictured as co-leaders of a slave revolt akin to Spartacus (antiquity’s most famous slave rebellion leader) and Boudica (who led a Celt revolt just before Qn was composed).
  11. Joshua 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 sympathized with Roman power and authority.
  12. Qn concludes with a female-led revolutionary resurrection story for Joshua where Miryam, though now partnered to James, still leads the movement, the empty tomb signifies the rebirth of political revolution which Moses and Elijah are present to bless incognito, all the while the men do not believe the women.