Friday, April 14, 2006

"Gospel of Judas" -- I don't think so

The National Geographic Society has made much of the discovery and authentication of the "Gospel of Judas." Here's what the NGS website says: "The Gospel of Judas gives a different view of the relationship between Jesus and Judas, offering new insights into the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Unlike the accounts in the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in which Judas is portrayed as a reviled traitor, this newly discovered Gospel portrays Judas as acting at Jesus' request when he hands Jesus over to the authorities."

Well, I'm sure it's cool to have found and authenticated an ancient document, but the real question isn't its authenticity, but its veracity.

The situation is not unlike some organization in the distant future that finds an intact copy of The DaVinci Code and thinks that it says something significant about the mankind-changing events of Jerusalem in the spring of 34 AD.

That a "Gospel of Judas" was found doesn't seem especially surprising. It is especially unsurprising in light of the gnosticism that swirled around the Meditteranean in the first centuries AD. This work was likely a product of a gnostic accolyte. The writing was not totally unknown; it was referenced early on by Irenaeus, an early Bishop of Lyons.

The Church adopted a Biblical canon early on in part to specifically reject a body of writings in circulation. The "Gospel" of Judas was no doubt one of those.

Is it "Gospel?" I don't think so.

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