Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Gospel (?) of Judas

Since two people pointed this news item out to me, perhaps I should give my two cents' worth.

Or three...
1) To be fair, I have not read Elaine Pagels and I probably ought to just to be informed. On the other hand, I don't know what 'myth of monolithic religion' needs exploding. The history of the early Church is one heresy after another (if you will grant me the mental reservation of using the traditional word 'heresy'). One of my favorite Patristic books is Irenaeus' Against the Heresies. The first part of it is an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of all the varieties of Christian belief and practice of his time, including a reference to the Gospel of Judas. The point is, the Gnostic were in error then and are in error now. Anybody can write a Gospel if they want; it's up to the successors of the Apostles to tell us which ones bring salvation and which bring error.

2) I've written this before in other contexts: the overwhelming majority of Scripture scholars, believers and non-, will be totally unmoved by this discovery (as will the Vatican). As hermeneutical methods have become more scientific, a by-product is that, whether you believe the canonical Gospels or not, objective scholarship can come to a strong consensus as to what their authors meant. And the meaning of "Judas" is clearly from a different camp. It is far too late to be considered evidential for its presentation of Jesus' life and teaching. Sometimes people forget how long a hundred years is. As Peter Dembowski likes to say, "People forget that there were a hundred years in the fourteenth century, just like the twentieth." This is to anticipate:

3) Most telling for me is that most of the time, major media is trotting out scholars who apply every convenient critical tool to the canonical gospels to imply that they are not historically accurate. Now a document a hundred or a hundred and fifty year later is supposed to have reliable historical information? Not that I'm surprised: a good number of people think that the DaVinci Code, written two years ago, contains reliable information about such 'historical' non-events like the good cleric Copernicus being burned at the stake.

Mind you, I've read most of the Gnostic gospels I can get my hands on. It's not for nothing that I find Irenaeus fascinating. However, as Fr. Senior of CTU put it, these documents tell us very little about Jesus and a whole bunch about the beliefs of those who wrote them.

Peace to you in Jesus Christ!

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
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may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
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Origen of Alexandria
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