The fragments of John, Thomas and the Egerton Gospel share the distinction of being the earliest extant pieces of Christian writing known.
And although the existing manuscript evidence for Thomas dates to the mid-second century, the scholars who first published the Greek fragments held open the possibility that it was actually composed in the first century, which would put it around the time John was composed.
Every one of these gospels was deemed true and sacred by at least some early Christians These Gospels demonstrate a great diversity among the early chruch, the diminish the claims of an orthodox purity.
One thing they all have in common is to that they show Jesus as a historical figure, working in public and conducting his teachings before people, not as a spirit being devoid of human life.
Hendrick says,"Gospels-whether canonical or not- are collections of anecdotes from Jesus' public career." Many of these lost Gospels pre date the canonical gospels, which puts them prior to AD 60 for Mark: Hendrick: The Gospel of the Saviour, too. Contrary' to popular opinion, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not included m the canon simply because they were the earliest gospels or because they were eyewitness accounts.
Another interesting feature is the presence of headers on each of the epistles in p46.
For instance, while p46 is often used as an example of the lack of the words "in Ephesus" in the opening of the epistle, you can clearly see written across the top of the page "προς εφεσιους," or "TO THE EPHESIANS." This evidence is something that could be missed if one consulted only a critical aparatus but did not actually look at the papyrus itself. We hope that with these papyri you will find answers to your textual questions, certainty of the accuracy of your transcriptions, as well as experience some excitement exploring ancient copies of the Bible, some of which are nearly two millenia old.
Some non canonical gospels are dated roughly to the same period, and the canonical gospels and other early Christian accounts appear to rely on earlier reports.
Thus, as far as the physical evidence is concerned, the canonical gospels do not take precedence over the noncanonical gospels.LAWRENCE - Fragments of a fourth-century Egyptian manuscript contain a lost gospel dating from the first or second century, according to Paul Mirecki, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas.Mirecki discovered the manuscript in the vast holdings of Berlin's Egyptian Museums in 1991.In 1946 Goro Mayeda published a dissertation which argues for the independence of the readings from the canonical tradition.This has been debated since then and continues to be debated. Daniels in his Clairmont Dissertation argued for the independence of the readings from canonical sources. Daniels, The Egerton Gospel: It's place in Early Christianity, Dissertation Clairmont: CA 1990).) and easier to navigate through, as they could be flipped through quickly, page by page, unlike a scroll which had to be rolled back and forth.