I just got through a first read of Hedrick and Mirecki’s Gospel of the Savior: A New Ancient Gospel. The first thing that strikes me is a comparison between the reception of the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of the Savior, the two new ancient gospel texts published recently. There was a little hive of publishing activity regarding the Gospel of Judas, but almost nothing regarding the Gospel of the Savior has come out in book form since it was first released.
I attribute this to the sensationalism of the initial publication of the Gospel of Judas but also, secondly, to the very fragmentary form of the Gospel of the Savior. You can’t easily just sit down with the latter in translation and muse about it. Everywhere you must first wrestle with the difficult questions of what might be in those lacunae, the missing parts of the text that lie beyond, in every direction, that which we actually can read.
Hedrick and Mirecki have done an excellent job with the text. Everything you could ask for is here in the book: photographs of the plates, an introduction focusing on the history of the find and the text-critical questions surrounding it, a critical text that scholars can use, and a translation that makes it accessible to most readers. They also present a commentary that can only be considered conservative in the best sense of the word, restricting itself to the evidence, as well as a lexicon for the original text (Coptic and a bit of Greek).
As presented in the introduction and the annotations, there is extensive literary contact between the Gospel of the Savior and the Gospel of John as well as between the Gospel of the Savior and the Gospel of Matthew. Literary dependence seems assured in these two cases. No judgment can be made regarding the Gospels of Mark and Luke, due to the fragmentary nature of the text, but there are two hints of similarity to the unique parts of Mark.
One is the reference to the “greatest commandment” of the Gospel of the Savior p. 99.11-13 that has its parallel in Mark 12:31 (but which is followed by a parallel to John 15:13, viz. “For no commandment is greater than this, that I lay down my life [for] people”). The other is a reference to Jesus rising in “three days” instead of on the third day, which is only found in the Gospel of Mark (8:31, 9:31, 10:34) among the Synoptic Gospels (but see also John 2:13). There is also a strange point of contact with Luke 1:23 in the fragment of page 116*, so marked because its uncertain relationship to the earlier pages, but only a few words survive (“complete,” “the service,” “go to them”), and coincidence seems as likely as anything else.
Another interesting parallel presents itself with the Gospel of Thomas.
GSav p. 107.42-48 “I am the [fire that] blazes; who [is near to me, is] near to [the fire]; who is far from me, is far from life.”
Gospel of Thomas 82. “Jesus said: He who is near to me is near the fire, and he who is far from me is far from the kingdom.”
In the text, the Savior is consistently identified as such, or as the Lord, which is the basis on which it has been given its modern title. There are several references to the “cross,” as if the cross were a participant and more than just the place of crucifixion, not unlike some other apocryphal literature (as, for example, the Acts of Philip, the Acts of John, the Christian Sibyllines, the Gospel of Nicodemus, Acts of Andrew, the NHL Apocalypse of Peter, an Ethiopic translation of the Apocalypse of Peter, and presumably the Gospel of Peter).
The text of the Gospel of the Savior is mostly missing, which leads one to wonder if any other fragments or quotations come from the same document.