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LA ATALAYA MARZO DE 2010 Por qué confiar en los cuatro Evangelios


Raquel Segovia

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Su popularidad es sorprendente. Han inspirado películas de presupuesto millonario [...] y libros superventas [...]. Se han incorporado a las creencias de sectas cristianas. Y hasta han dado lugar a nuevas religiones y teorías conspiratorias.” (SUPER INTERESSANTE, REVISTA BRASILEÑA)

¿QUÉ es lo que está causando tanto furor? Según dicha revista, se trata de un conjunto de pseudo evangelios, epístolas y apocalipsis descubiertos a mediados del siglo XX en Nag Hammadi y otros lugares de Egipto. Estos documentos están entre los llamados escritos gnósticos o apócrifos. *

¿Hubo una conspiración?

La desconfianza que hoy en día siente la gente hacia la Biblia y las religiones tradicionales ha abonado el terreno para que crezca el interés por los escritos gnósticos o apócrifos. Como resultado, estos han influido profundamente en la opinión de muchas personas sobre las enseñanzas de Jesucristo y el cristianismo. Cierta revista señala: “El Evangelio según Tomás y otros [escritos] apócrifos apelan a los sentimientos de un grupo cada vez más numeroso: personas que se sienten atraídas por lo espiritual, pero desconfían de las religiones”. Por citar un caso, se calcula que tan solo en Brasil “existen por lo menos treinta grupos cuya ideología se basa en las obras apócrifas”.

Desde que se descubrieron estos documentos, se ha extendido la teoría de que hubo una conspiración en el siglo IV para ocultar la verdad sobre Jesús. De acuerdo con esta hipótesis, la Iglesia Católica omitió ciertos relatos de su vida narrados en los escritos apócrifos y alteró pasajes de los cuatro Evangelios canónicos (Mateo, Marcos, Lucas y Juan). Según  escribió Elaine Pagels, historiadora y profesora de Religión, “ahora empezamos a ver que lo que denominamos cristianismo —y lo que identificamos como tradición cristiana— en realidad representa sólo una pequeña selección de fuentes específicas, elegidas entre docenas de otras fuentes”.

Esta autora no es la única especialista que opina que la fe cristiana no solo debería basarse en la Biblia, sino también en otras fuentes, como los documentos apócrifos. Por ejemplo, según se indicó en un documental de la cadena de televisión BBC, los escritos apócrifos presentan a María Magdalena como “maestra y guía espiritual de los demás discípulos; más que una discípula, era una apóstol a los apóstoles” (Bible Mysteries, “The Real Mary Magdalene” [Misterios bíblicos: La verdadera María Magdalena]). Hablando sobre este supuesto cometido de María Magdalena, el periodista Juan Arias escribió lo siguiente en el diario brasileño O Estado de S. Paulo: “Todo nos lleva a creer que, en sus inicios, el cristianismo fundado por Jesús era un movimiento profundamente ‘femenino’, pues las primeras iglesias eran las casas de las mujeres, donde oficiaban de sacerdotisas y obispas”.

Como vemos, numerosas personas dan mucha más credibilidad a las obras apócrifas que a la propia Biblia. Pero eso hace surgir algunas cuestiones: ¿debe basarse la fe cristiana en estos escritos apócrifos? Cuando contradicen la Biblia, ¿a cuál debemos creer? Por otro lado, ¿es cierta la teoría de que, en el siglo IV, la Iglesia trató de ocultar dichos escritos y alteró lo que la Biblia narra sobre Jesús, María Magdalena y otros personajes? Para obtener respuestas, analicemos uno de los Evangelios canónicos: el Evangelio de Juan. ¿Existen pruebas de que fue alterado?

El Evangelio de Juan bajo examen

A comienzos del siglo XX se halló en Egipto un manuscrito del Evangelio de Juan. Este fragmento, que se conserva en la Biblioteca John Rylands, en Manchester (Inglaterra), se conoce como Papiro Rylands 457 (P52) y contiene lo que en las Biblias actuales corresponde a Juan 18:31-33, 37, 38. Se trata de un documento muy valioso, pues es el manuscrito más antiguo de las Escrituras Griegas Cristianas del que se tiene constancia. Se cree que fue escrito en torno al año 125 de nuestra era, unos veinticinco años después de la muerte del propio Juan. Pero lo más destacable es que concuerda casi exactamente con otros manuscritos posteriores. Además, el hecho de que para entonces ya hubiera llegado a Egipto una copia del Evangelio de Juan apoya la idea de que este apóstol realmente escribió dicho libro —tal y como indican las Escrituras— y que lo hizo en el siglo primero. Todo lo anterior demuestra que el Evangelio de Juan fue redactado por un testigo ocular.

En contraste, los escritos apócrifos datan del siglo II en adelante, es decir, por lo menos cien años después de ocurrir los sucesos que narran. Algunos eruditos afirman que dichas obras se basan en tradiciones o en documentos anteriores, pero en realidad no existen pruebas que lo confirmen. Por lo tanto, la cuestión es: ¿qué testimonio merece más  confianza: el de un testigo ocular o el de alguien que vivió un siglo después? La respuesta es evidente. *

El Papiro Rylands 457 (P52), que es un fragmento del Evangelio de Juan que data del siglo II, se escribió solo unas décadas después del original

¿Y qué hay de la afirmación de que los Evangelios bíblicos fueron alterados para ocultar ciertos relatos de la vida de Jesús? En el caso del Evangelio de Juan, ¿hay alguna prueba de que haya sufrido algún cambio durante el siglo IV? Para averiguar la respuesta, hay que tener presente que una de las principales fuentes en que se basan las Biblias modernas es un manuscrito del siglo IV conocido comoVaticano 1209. Si en dicho siglo se hizo algún cambio, tendría que reflejarse en este documento. ¿Contamos con algún manuscrito más antiguo con el cual compararlo? Afortunadamente, disponemos de uno. Se trata del Bodmer XIV, XV (P75), que data de los años 175 al 225 y contiene la mayor parte de los Evangelios de Lucas y Juan. Al analizar ambos documentos, los eruditos no han hallado diferencias importantes. Dicho en otras palabras, el Manuscrito Vaticano 1209 demuestra que en el siglo IV no se hicieron cambios significativos en los relatos evangélicos.

En realidad, no existen pruebas de que ninguno de los Evangelios haya sido modificado en el siglo IV. Tras examinar una colección de fragmentos hallados en Oxyrhynchos (Egipto), el investigador Peter M. Head, de la Universidad de Cambridge, escribió: “En líneas generales, estos manuscritos confirman el texto de los grandes unciales [documentos escritos con letras mayúsculas que datan del siglo IV en adelante], los cuales conforman la base de las ediciones críticas modernas. Al analizarlos, no encontramos nada que cambie radicalmente nuestra opinión sobre la forma en que se transmitió el texto del NT [Nuevo Testamento]”.

Conclusiones

A mediados del siglo II, los cuatro Evangelios ya gozaban de plena aceptación en el mundo cristiano. Así lo demuestra una célebre obra realizada por Taciano entre los años 160 y 175, que se conoce como el Diatessaron (término griego que significa “a través de [los] cuatro”). Dicha obra, que combinaba los relatos de los cuatro Evangelios canónicos, no utilizó como fuente ninguno de los “evangelios” gnósticos (véase el recuadro  “En defensa de los Evangelios”). A finales del mismo siglo, el teólogo Ireneo afirmó que debía de haber cuatro Evangelios, pues eran “cuatro las regiones del mundo” y “cuatro los vientos principales”. Claro está, su comparación es discutible, pero demuestra que ya en aquel tiempo existían únicamente cuatro Evangelios canónicos.

¿Qué indican todos estos hechos? Que las Escrituras Griegas Cristianas —incluidos los cuatro Evangelios— no han cambiado esencialmente desde el siglo II. La realidad es que no existen pruebas de que en el siglo IV se tramara una conspiración para cambiar u ocultar parte alguna de las Escrituras divinamente inspiradas. De hecho, el biblista Bruce Metzger escribió: “A finales del siglo II, [...] las diversas  congregaciones de fieles —repartidas no solo por toda el área mediterránea, sino por la extensa zona entre las islas británicas y Mesopotamia— habían alcanzado un alto grado de acuerdo respecto a qué libros componían el Nuevo Testamento”.

Tras analizar todo lo anterior, vemos lo oportuna que es la recomendación de dos grandes defensores de la Palabra de Dios, los apóstoles Pablo y Pedro. Ellos advirtieron a los cristianos de su tiempo que solo debían creer en aquello que ya se les había enseñado. En una ocasión, Pablo le escribió a Timoteo: “Guarda lo que ha sido depositado a tu cuidado, apartándote de las vanas palabrerías que violan lo que es santo, y de las contradicciones del falsamente llamado ‘conocimiento’. Por ostentar tal conocimiento algunos se han desviado de la fe”. Y Pedro afirmó: “No fue siguiendo cuentos falsos artificiosamente tramados como les hicimos conocer el poder y la presencia de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, sino por haber llegado a ser testigos oculares de su magnificencia” (1 Timoteo 6:20, 21; 2 Pedro 1:16).

Hace siglos, el profeta Isaías dijo por inspiración divina: “La hierba verde se ha secado, la flor se ha marchitado; pero en cuanto a la palabra de nuestro Dios, durará hasta tiempo indefinido” (Isaías 40:8). Así pues, podemos estar seguros de que el Dios que inspiró las Santas Escrituras se ha encargado de protegerlas a lo largo del tiempo. Solo así se cumplirá su deseo de que “hombres de toda clase se salven y lleguen a un conocimiento exacto de la verdad” (1 Timoteo 2:4).

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