Friday, May 05, 2006

The "Gospel" of Judas Strikes Again

I want to say a couple more things about the Gospel of Judas primarily because every now and then I catch word of Christians, or at least nominal Christians, who are either confused by the book or out-and-out taken in by it.  It has been disheartening to hear of some who have bought the hype about the book hook, line and sinker.

Thanks to Steve at Out In The Sticks, I ran across this article by the New Testament scholar, Blomberg, detailing much about the Gospel of Judas and the controversy surrounding it.  A couple of excerpts:

Furthermore, Ehrman (like Elaine Pagels, who is quoted on the front book jacket, and numerous other scholars whose personal religious pilgrimages have left them with transparent axes to grind against historic Christianity) has yet to demonstrate that any of this diversity actually reflects mid-first-century Christianity rather than merely mid-second century Gnosticism. All the rhetoric about the Gospels that lost out to censorship by the orthodox Christians fails to disclose one fundamental feature of the early discussions on the canon: no one, to our knowledge, not even the Gnostics themselves, ever proposed that these later Gospels should be included in the New Testament!

I like that point-all this “gospel” and the other Gnostic gospels are able to support is conjecture about second century Gnosticism, and noting about early Christianity.  More from Blomberg:

The acceptance of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John cannot be reduced simply to the choices of the winners in ancient ecclesiastical politics. But the vehemence with which some people keep repeating this mantra shows that in our increasingly postmodern, ahistorical world, history today can be rewritten and re-invented by those who shout the loudest, whether or not they have the necessary supporting evidence!

I agree with his assessment that we are in a cultural milieu in which it is frighteningly easy to rewrite history and get the masses to believe you.  Historical fact no longer carries the place in our collective conscience it used to.  If you ask me, it is a little frightening.  Blomberg says something to that effect:

It is hard to know whether to laugh or to cry when one encounters people who think that literature of this kind forms some kind of threat to historic Christian faith.

Here is a little from Blomberg’s conclusion.  I love this:

What is really sad are the Christians who tell others not to read books like the Gospel of Judas at all (or to see movies like The Da Vinci Code). What a wonderful opportunity for believers to become informed and share intelligently with their non-Christian friends whose interest has been sparked in Christian origins in ways that pure scholarship alone seldom accomplishes.

Christianity, at least full-blooded Christianity, has its mind open and all its rational capacities turn on!

A companion article in Books and Culture Magazine quoted from the Gospel of Judas, and the point is that it is odd.  If you know your canonical Gospels, this does not sound anything like Jesus.

"Jesus said, 'Truly I say to you, for all of them the stars bring matters to completion. When Saklas completes the span of time assigned for him, their first star will appear with the generations, and they will finish what they said they would do. Then they will fornicate in my name and slay their children [55] and they will [… ] and [—about six and a half lines missing—] my name, and he will […] your star over the [thir]teenth aeon.'"

I wrote a small piece in terms of how one might approach talking about the Gospel of Judas with someone who is convinced of its authenticity and claims against orthodox Christianity.  It was written for a one-minute radio spot, so don’t expect a three-point, footnoted apologetic response.


No comments: