In a sense, Gnosticism was what people would refer to as non-denominational Christianity today. It was a compilation of all of the ancient religions of that time which acknowledged some form of God. This was in contrast to proto-Orthodox Christianity, which set the stage for indoctrinated denominations of Christianity. These types of Christians believed in a firm code of beliefs, as opposed to one which was compiled of several different ones. Christology simply acknowledges that Jesus Christ was a good example of a moral teacher. Docetism, however, gives more meaning to this concept, which makes it seem more appealing. Docetism acknowledges Christ as someone who was exactly who he claimed to be, a person directly sent by God himself. Marcion essentially believed in Docetism, rejecting the ancient Jewish scriptures as the meaning of life. Instead, he credited Judaism as the roots of Christianity.
Itinerate missionaries were members of the church who took it upon themselves to travel from place to place to perform their duties. Since their teachings weren’t necessarily consistent, this disrupted the balance of power between them and church leaders, who claimed to be the ones in the position of authority regarding the spread of Christian doctrine. This is what caused the increase of established Bishops and other church authorities. Most of the Canon was accepted by the 300’s, but the Second Council of Trullan of 692 made this official. Various churches throughout history gradually began to accept this as the New Testament, and thus dogmatic. Marcion of Sinope was the first Author to establish this as the foundational books of the New Testament as we know it today.
The Pauline Christians, the Jewish Christians and the Gnostics were the three primary groups of Christians that emerged during the 200’s. The belief systems of these groups were based on the individuals and groups of people who they were founded on; Paul of Tarsus, the Jews, and those who shared a variety of beliefs based on Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism. The groups used various consecrated buildings like temples and churches to perform different types of rituals and meetings. Sometimes these events took place in someone’s home. The rituals of these groups of differed. The Pauline Christians accepted Jesus as their savior and followed in his teaching, the Jewish Christians regarded Jesus as a good moral teacher while still abiding by their Jewish traditions, and the Gnostics believed in distorted variations of these religions as well as other ancient religions.
In a sense, The Gospel of Mary could be viewed as a Gnostic text since it talks about receiving a greater sense of enlightenment. However, this Gospel could also be considered to be a part of the standard Christian doctrine that Emerged during the first centuries with added “Knowledge,” depending on how one would want to view it. The relationship between Mary and Jesus in this text portrays them almost as if they were a couple, with Jesus “loving her more than the rest of the women.” It shows that they have a very special relationship. The relationship with Mary and the disciples is a mutual one in a sense. Mary could be seen as the only woman Apostle of Christ’s time. Orthodox Christians may choose to refrain from including this book in their sacred texts because the basis and credibility could be seen as contradictory to Christian beliefs. It illustrates a way to find “secret knowledge” through Christ, who also favors a particular woman over all of the others.
The roles of prestige and authority are established with churches in the form of various titles, such as priests, pastors, bishops, missionaries, etc. There were also known women prophets in earlier days as well, as they were regarded as equal. It was this change in belief that led to problems with positions of ministry and leadership. Since women were commonly seen as the weaker, more vulnerable gender, this made the idea of female leadership difficult to accept.