24th April 2006
Some folks have asked me about the significance of the much publicised "Gospel of Judas". The story of this "gospel"'s discovery surfaced around Easter time. Funny that. Around the time that people might get to hear a peep or two about the notion that Jesus was supernatural in some way, and whammo, some new "shocking truth about Christianity" gets major media air time. The Gospel of Judas even got a mention on Rove Live. Well, then, it must be true.
The GoJ was part of a collection of antiquities that was dug up around 1970 then auctioned off to a rich Egyptian in 1982. But it only got all this publicity in Easter 2006.
In a nutshell this manuscript suggests that Jesus told Judas to betray him, among other things, and has Jesus rabitting on about aeons, luminaries and virgin spirits. It also had him scoffing at his disciples constantly, in a manner that would have earned him, not the adoration of crowds of Jewish peasants and fishermen, but a punch in the mouth. Blah ...This one gets thrown into the "Gnostic" pile. If you want more info on the Gnostics go here. The Gnostics did pretty much what the academia and media/ entertainment gurus of the world do today; design their own Jesus. In fact, the term "Gnosticism" has begun to be coined by the New Agers of late, since the New Age movement goes through constant facelifts.
In the case of the Gnostics, secret wisdom was the key to salvation. That's about the only theme one can derive. Apart from that, the Gnostic Gospels are an incoherent babble of esoteric, vague philosphical claptrap. The early Church fathers such as Irenaeus (c. 180 AD) acknowledged freely the heresy of the Gnostics, and there are reasons for them being being labelled heresy.
But, (sigh), as the world, and especially Australia, is prone to side with the underdogs, the term "heretic" gets redefined as "those poor free-thinkers who were persecuted by the big bad church for having their own ideas".
The main point here is that such a piece gets thrust down everyone's throat as though it has some kind of academic merit. Or even more ludicrous, that it should change early Christian history. Why? Because the Secular Poltically-Correct (SPC) insist on this thing called diversity. That Jesus was just this clever guy who told us all to be nice to our mothers and made a few slick comments. That Christianity fabricated the notion of Jesus' deity and singular path to salvation (a la Da Vinci Code, or should I say all the tedious conspiracy novels plagairised by it), when we'd much rather pretend that he promoted a whole glut of different spiritual ideas.
The SPC don't like the singular idea. Diverse spiritual ideas sound much better.
In much the same way, I don't like the idea of gravity either. But I have to put up with it sometimes.
What is particularly ridiculous about all this, is that the SPC are so desperate to promote the "other gospels" because of the attractiveness of diversity, that they lose sight of the only gospels that actually have consistency, sense, meaning and are the most textually verifiable.
You see, the bizarre collection of Gnostic gospels, to which the so-called Gospel of Judas belongs, are so completely devoid of any singular meaning or consistency the only diversity is diversity of error. In the Gospel of Phillip, for example, we have Mary Magdelene elevated to high priestess, giving the message of Goddess worship, yet in the Gospel of Thomas we have Jesus telling Mary to go away and uttering that women must become like men to enter heaven. So much for Goddess worship. We have a mish mash of strange, etherial spiritual beings, firmaments, ghostly events, and none of them collude or form a coherant message. It is quite evident the gnostics had way too much spare time to muse over their own fantasies.
Let's apply the secular logic another way. In 1000 years or so, archeologists dig up the lyrics to Rolling Stones songs. They will, no doubt, presume that the central religious belief of our time was worshipping the gods of Satisfaction through the high priestess Honky Tonk Woman, and that everyone was encouraged to have Sympathy for the Devil. All that silly Christianity stuff was a notion invented later by some corrupt oppressive regime.
That some ancient writings may promote "diversity" is totally irrelevant. What is relevant is what actually happened, and what the evidence says.
It's quite simple. The four gospels we have in the Bible:
- are the only ones that together make coherent, consistent sense
- were written in the first century by eyewitnesses or in close collusion with eyewitnesses of the events they describe
- were written with such cultural, geographical and textual accuracy that they demonstrate absolute scholarly credibility, and are often used in secular studies
These very Gospels tell of a Jesus who claimed to be God manifest as a man. A Jesus who was executed, dead and buried, then got up and walked out of his grave. These are the gospels which say that God dealt with the consequence of our own sin and this is the only answer for our screwed-up lives. A singular, specific idea. That's why society doesn't like it.
The contents of the Gnostic gospels, on the other hand
- resemble the ravings of an illiterate rock star with a drug problem
- were written at least 150 years after the events they claim to describe
- demonstrate little or no cultural sensitivity to the environment in which Jesus lived and worked, clearly don't know much about 1st century Judean life and therefore have no historical credibility.
The Gospel of Judas is being promoted by the Entertainment Industry. Like everything else there, it's not real. You don't get informed by people whose sole qualification is that they managed get their face on TV, or they sold a book, or they look good in a frock. The truth doesn't come to you for $24.95 at Dymocks. It's not sold to you with advertising on commercial TV. The truth is actually free.