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‘My Mystery is for Me’: a Saying of Jesus? E-mail
Written by Dominic White OP   
Monday, 06 January 2014 15:01

For it is not in the way of envy that the Lord proclaimed in a certain Gospel (τινι εὐαγγελίῳ), ‘My mystery is for me, and for the sons of my house’ (μυστήριον ἐμὸν ἐμοὶ καὶ τοῖϛ ὑιοῖς τοῦ οἴκου μου). 

So says Clement of Alexandria (ca.150-215) in a passage of the Miscellanies (Stromateis) on the opinions of the Apostles regarding the veiling of the mysteries of faith. But which Gospel could be the source of this saying (henceforth ‘the Mystery Saying’)? It is not found in the canonical Gospels. In the same passage Clement quotes extensively from the canonical New Testament (e.g. Eph. 3:3-5; Col. 1:9-11, 25-27; Heb. 5:12-14, 6:1), and from the Epistle of Barnabas. Also he often cites the lost Gospel of the Hebrews and the Gospel of the Egyptians. The former is cited also by Didymus the Blind, Jerome and Origen, and only Origen wrote of it disapprovingly.  Fragments of the Gospel of the Egyptians survive only in Clement, who notes in one passage how it is misused by heretics, probably Gnostics.  But these numerous citations make it unlikely that either of these extra-canonical texts is the unnamed ‘certain Gospel’. Ehrmann and Pleše follow the scholarly tradition of classifying the Mystery Saying as an agraphon, an ‘unwritten thing’: that is, words ascribed to Jesus which have been transmitted outside the canonical Gospels.

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