St Jerome vrs the Gnostics
St Jerome was right to consider the Gnostics to be heretics. However since he personally believed that The Gospel of Peter was a genuine gospel and not a "Gnostic Gospel" he should have taken steps to preserve that Gospel.Jerome is known for writing the Vulgate and for his decisions on the Canon at the council of Hippo 393 and Council of Carthage 397. A churchman asked Jerome once whether the Gospel of Peter was genuine and Jerome said yes. Then Jerome was asked why it should be left out of the Canon.The response which he gave was that "4 is a good number", Irenaeus in his "Adversus haereses" stated that "just as there are 4 winds there must be 4 Gospels".
These were intelligent men and it's not likely that was the only reason. At that time the Gnostics were interpreting a certain passage from Gospel of Peter to mean that: an image of Jesus hung on the cross (like some sort of 3D movie) so that Jesus himself did not personally suffer. The image supposedly projected by God himself.
THIS INTERPRETATION GOES AGAINST EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THE MESSIAH FROM 1000 BC ONWARD. JESUS HAD TO GO TO THE CROSS HIMSELF BECAUSE IT IS HIS BLOOD THAT REDEEMS A SINNER AFTER THEY REPENT. IF JESUS DID NOT BLEED, THEN THE HUMAN RACE IS NOT SAVED. ALSO WHEN JESUS WENT TO THE CROSS HE DEFEATED THE KINGDOM OF SATAN AND ESTABLISHED HIMSELF AS FUTURE RULER OF THE EARTH.
AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED IGNORING THE GOSPEL OF PETER WAS DONE TO TRY TO PUT A HALT TO THE GNOSTIC HERESIES. I give St Jerome 2 points for trying to stop the heresy but I would take away 4 points for causing the loss of the Gospel of Peter.THE FACT THAT JEROME CONSIDERED GOSPEL OF PETER TO BE GENUINE SHOWS THAT HE BELIEVED THE GNOSTICS WERE MISINTERPRETING THE PASSAGES FROM THE GOSPEL OF PETER. .
THIS BEING SAID, IT APPEARS THAT THE MAIN GOAL OF ASCETIC GNOSTICISM WAS A WELL MEANING GOAL. THAT GOAL BEING TO GAIN KNOWLEDGE. The Book of Proverbs says: "Get knowledge with all your getting" Most Gnostics do not appear to be malicious manipulators like the Nicolaitans that Jesus mentioned in The Book of Revelation.THE "IMMORALIST GNOSTICS" HOWEVER WERE QUITE IRRESPONSIBLE.Over the course of time many Ascetic Gnostics believed that all they needed was their horse. their sword and their Bible and they tried to lead a simple life in order to gain more knowledge.The kind of esoteric knowledge they craved however,God does not share with everyone. Abraham and Solomon perhaps knew many of the things they sought but the Gnostics started off on the wrong foot right off the bat. The Gnostic group was starting to form while the apostles were still alive and it doesn't seem that the Gnostics really tried too hard to contact the apostles. Those who have fire from heaven land on them seem to have the knowledge of the Holy Spirit instantly available to them. And during Pentecost that is what happened to the apostles: Acts Chapter 2. In the Old Testament, prophets often swallowed a scroll. If the Gnostics wanted knowledge they should have sought out one of the 12 apostles or Paul to gain knowledge. There is a passage in I Timothy which I'm pretty sure is a passing shot at the Gnostics:
I Timothy 6-20 : "O Timotheus the deposit committed to thee keep, avoiding profane and empty bablings and oppositions of falsely named knowledge (gnoseos) 21 which some professing concerning the faith, missed the mark." Greek /English Interlinear Bible
Getting back to St Jerome: When Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 AD he said " The lamp of the world is extinguished". Rome is not the light of the world nor has it ever been. And being the leader and genius that he was I'm disappointed Jerome said that. But as they say; "geniuses make big mistakes".St Jerome's contribution to Christianity is immense.Jerome lived roughly from 347 to 420 AD. After the Canon was established and the centuries to follow, the Gnostics especially the Cathars were mercilessly butchered by the Roman Catholic church. That too can be considered a heresy because the Bible considers excommunication as the solution for heresy, not killing (except self defence, defence of home etc.).This would have been an opportunity for reprove, rebuke exhort.
Eusebius a (263-339 AD) Christian writer who wrote "History of the Church" died about 14 years after the Council of Nicea 325AD. At the Council of Nicea the main topic of discussion was the deity of Christ. Questions about which books were canonical must have been an ongoing topic since Eusebius had strong opinions on the subject. If you get a chance check in Appendix F of The History of the Church (Canon of the New Testament).It is most interesting to see which books made it into the 3 different categories of: Recognized, Disputed and Rejected. Especially the disputed category. (Dorset Books, Marboro Press, Penguin Books)
In our present time The Gospel of Peter has only a few chapters that are surviving.
I wasn't aware until recently that the film "DaVinci Code" uses the Gnostics as backround to the film. When I saw commercials of the film on TV I decided not to go and see the film because it looked "too hokey". I thought that the anti-Christian community was trying to demean the Christian faith and that was the particular attack strategy from that year. You can be sure their attacks will continue. However, God will prevail.
Over the centuries Gnosticism cut a pretty wide swath, with all kinds of philosophies, including anyone who was disgruntled with Rome. Essentially it came to mean everything or nothing, if you take it as a sum total (you'd have to exclude the more serious groups like the Cathars). Because of Gnoticism's ambiguity, that is maybe the reason why anti-Christians find it so appealing. They put on an air of sophistication while not believing in anything at all.