Friday, April 14, 2006
What the Washington Post, and all the other liberal rags that have jumped on the anti-Christian bandwagon don't realize is that Christians do believe that Judas betrayed Jesus. However! We also believe that Judas was doing God's will, because Jesus came to die and He knew that. He knew it was God's will for everything to happen as it did and that's why He wept at Gethsemanae. That's why He went to the cross. Any Christian with even a basic understanding of the Bible - and even those who don't believe but have read it or are familiar with the stories - knows this. This is no big shock, sorry Slate!
In particular, the New York times, in an article last week, made two statements that really annoyed me in their coverage of this "discovery."
1. "As the findings have trickled down to churches and universities, they have produced a new generation of Christians who now regard the Bible not as the literal word of God, but as a product of historical and political forces that determined which texts should be included in the canon, and which edited out." I would love to see the evidence they got to support this rhetoric, as I find it hard to believe that this trickle down (which happened a day or so before this article was printed) occurred and produced, overnight, a new generation of anything.
2. "For that reason, the discoveries have proved deeply troubling for many believers. The Gospel of Judas portrays Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus, but as his most favored disciple and willing collaborator." Who are these many believers, you wonder? So do I. But don't expect to find them anywhere in the article because not even the writer knows.
This is yet another instance where rhetoric is more important - and sells more papers - than facts. Happy Good Friday!
When did this happen? Last week? Here are a few notes about Judas' "gospel" that was most likely NOT included in the article.
1) This is not a gospel in the sense that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are Gospels. Matthew and John were eyewitnesses to Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Mark and Luke interviewed eyewitnesses for their accounts. No-one who walked with Jesus was alive when this was written.
2) Judas did not write his "gospel". He committed suicide after betraying Jesus. That he committed suicide was never a controversy. No-one disagreed with this fact. If Judas KNEW he was doing God's will he would NEVER have committed suicide.
3) Did I mention that Judas didn't write his "gospel"? That's because a gnostic writer penned it over a hundred years later. The first mention of it was a rebuke by Ireneas in 181 AD in "Against Heresies". Gnostics would work themselves into a lather and then write accounts through the eyes of historic people (one "gospel" is the Garden of Eden story through the eyes of the serpent!). None of their accounts are genuine. That includes all those "lost gospels" we keep hearing about. The liberals know this, but they are betting on religious peoples' ignorance of their own history.
4) Why is this piece oif religious fiction being splashed everywhere? Money and politics. National Geographic has alot of moola invested in this ancient piece of toilet tissue (i.e. follow the money) and the politics are overwhelmingly obvious.
5) The Bible as a unified reference dates from the middle of the second century, not the 4th century. The earliest accounts (and most genuine)of Jesus were the 4 Gospels and the collection of NT letters by Paul, Peter, John et al.
As long as there are people who reject the primacy of God, there will be someone trying to sell us on the notion that Jesus somehow cheated us. The Left will believe anything that casts doubt on Christ. After all, their Savior is the State.
Writing about 180 AD, the Christian bishop of Lyon, Iraneaus, referred to a heretical writing known as the Gospel of Judas. That work, written in Greek around the middle of the second century, has never been found; however, a translation into Coptic (Egyptian) from the third or fourth century has come to light. This is the manuscript that the National Geographic Society published in English, with considerable hoopla.
I think most of those who rush to buy this book will feel a letdown. After handing over $22, you find that the actual Gospel of Judas is only 26 pages long and, due to gaps in the papyrus fragments, reads very poorly. Its ideas are largely incomprehensible, even with the footnotes provided.
The Gospel of Judas purports to provide sayings of Jesus given to Judas during the week leading up to His crucifixion. It turns on its head the role of Judas that we find in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Instead of Judas being the betrayer, he acts in obedience to the instructions of Jesus. Judas in fact is Jesus’ favored disciple, the only one of the twelve who truly understands Him. In this scenario, Jesus asks Judas to help him return to the kingdom by helping Him abandon His mortal flesh. “You will sacrifice the man that clothes me”, he tells Judas.
The Gospel of Judas depicts the world as the product of a lower, bloodthirsty deity, not the work of the higher, true God. Thus, it rejects the biblical picture of Creation and of Yahweh, the Creator, in favor of a radically different view of the cosmos and its origins.
These ideas come straight out of the biggest doctrinal challenge with which the early church had to contend--Gnosticisn, a diffused blending of ideas from Christian, Jewish, Greek, and Roman thought. The New Age movement in our times provides a rough comparison.
Gnoticism comes from the Greek word gnosis, which means “knowledge”. The Gnostics claimed to have superior knowledge, and cast scorn on the teachings of the Bible as belonging to a foolish level of truth. They asserted that the disciples of Jesus were too stupid to comprehend His deep instruction, which He passed on in secret to those who were able to receive it. And in the Gospel of Judas, the tables are turned as the “villain” is revealed as the channel of Jesus’ true teachings.
Drawing on ideas from Greek philosophy, the Gnostics held that the body was evil. Thus, they denied that Jesus was truly God in the flesh. This is why the Apostle John, writing late in the first century, warned against anyone who does not accept the truth of the Incarnation (1 John 4:2, 3), and continually stressed that genuine spiritual knowledge is not something new but “that which you heard from the beginning” (1 John 2:7, 24).
What light, then, does the Gospel of Judas shed on the story of Jesus? Not one chink. The Gospel of Judas simply tells us what Gnostic mythology believed a century or later after Jesus’ death. The only new wrinkle is the role this “gospel” assigns to Judas Iscariot.
No Christian should feel in the least threatened by the “revelation” brought to light in the Gospel of Judas. The four biblical Gospels stand tall and unchallenged: they give us the story from those who actually saw and heard the Master.
The one aspect of the Gospel of Judas that bothers me is the part played by those involved in its publication. The Gospel, which was supposedly found by an illiterate garlic farmer in a remote burial cave in Egypt, has an odor about it. Its history is murky, replete with smuggling and thievery. The eventual owners could not sell it for a profit because it was an illegally acquired antiquity, so they needed another plan.
“They lit upon the idea of selling the (publication rights). The National Geographic Society bit book, line and sinker to publish (on) the Easter season”, notes James Robinson, an expert in ancient Coptic texts. “They sold the public a bill of goods.”*
This is the real story behind this ancient document.
*Quoted in “Decoding Judas’ Gospel,” The Sun [San Bernardino, CA], April 14, 2006.