Holy Week is upon us–as the Anchoress so aptly describes it, “Seven Days Which Shook the World.” This is the holiest season in the Christian liturgical calendar, and as such predictably draws out the worst in a culture drunk with secular skepticism. So it’s time for the obligate attack on Christianity, carefully shrouded in reasonableness and “historical research.” Time to drag out the Jesus Seminar with their tired pseudo-scholarship and self-important “votes” about which words Jesus did or didn’t say. Time for a Time Magazine cover asking “Who Is the Real Jesus?”, while between the covers predictable answering, “We don’t know–but he sure isn’t the fellow those Christians worship.” And time for those perennial favorites, the Gnostic gospels.
The Gnostic gospels, for those not up to speed on such things, were written several centuries after the biblical Gospels, and reflect a sect of Christianity–very loosely defined–which was far more pagan and polytheistic than Christian. A syncretic religious movement of the centuries after Christ (with roots far earlier), Gnosticism amalgamated paganism, Greek mythology and philosophy, Judaism, eastern mysticism, and Christianity into a porridge of religious beliefs emphasizing the importance of secret knowledge for salvation and a rejection of the flesh and the world as unredeemably evil. It was soundly defeated intellectually by early Christian Fathers of the church, and eventually foundered under its own pretentious weight before the dawn of Islam in the seventh century. It has seen something of a renaissance in our contemporary culture, where knowledge typically trumps truth, evidenced by such popular trappings as the daVinci Code craze.
And so, to celebrate the season, National Geographic has a television special on the Gospel of Judas, the “Lost Gospel.” This ancient Coptic text has been restored and translated by a team of experts–an impressive and historically significant effort. The problem arises, not from this substantial archaeological achievement, but rather by its popularization as an equally valid narrative to the Christian Gospels regarding the relationship between Jesus and Judas, piggybacking on the hype for upcoming movie based on the daVinci Code. The media will no doubt be foaming at the mouth about this, cooing about how this presents a more “human” Jesus, and not-so-secretly gloating about how historical research and modern scholarship destroy those foolish myths of naive Christians.
If you’re more interested in truth than that which passes for knowledge in today’s culture, you owe it to yourself to read Mark D. Robert’s takedown of this particular spin on an ancient text. It takes a little work sometimes to get the facts–but once you have them, you realize just how superficial and deceptive is much of the modern “discovery” about Christian history and doctrine.
Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for pointing to this important post.
And have a blessed and contemplative Palm Sunday. My meditation for today is that God can use jackasses–of which I am living proof.
8 thoughts on “Hanging the Gospel of Judas”
Thank you for the link to Mark Robert’s “takedown.” It’s the only link I’ve time to follow, right now, but it provided information I was wanting.
You’ve previously said you aren’t enthralled (my word) with end-times prophecies, but given all that’s going on in the world, and all the decline of the past 30+ years, I can’t help thinking that Da Vinci Code and this “gospel” (where’s the good news?!) of Judas are being used to further the spirit of the antiChrist. It seems to me the ride is getting rougher, all the time. I’m hangin’ on, tho’!
I’m not a great fan of end-time prophetic interpretation (its predictive success rate to date is exactly 0%), but believe in broad, fairly specific terms what these prophecies predict. We may well be in the “end times”–or it may be thousands of years hence. The bottom line is to understand that Christ may return today-and live accordingly. Even Jesus didn’t know the time of the end, while on earth–it’s presumptuous to think we can guess it ourselves.
Thanks for commenting–and God bless.
I read the “Gospel” of Judas. A feat of scholarship, to be sure, but otherwise unremarkable
This sort of pseudo-occult blather has been around this long. Just go to any bookstore’s “New Age” section and you’ll find variations on the same themes:
* The material creation is evil.
* Knowledge is esoteric, the property of the Knowing Ones.
* The movements of the stars mystically influence life on earth.
There’s truly nothing new under the sun, as the Preacher said. Two thousand years from now, no doubt, some scholar will unearth the “Gospel” of L. Ron Hubbard.
I appreciate that we cannot know or guess the exact time, nor even the year. Maybe not the decade. But, then, most good Jews, prior to Jesus’ birth and during his life on earth, insisted that no one could know when Messiah would come. And Jesus did say that we should know and watch for the signs of his coming again.
I took a class at the local university, back in the early-90’s, called The History and Religion of Israel in Ancient Times. Our primary source was the Bible–any of several approved translations. The course was taught by a Jewish woman who treated scripture with more integrity than an awful lot of Christians (she also gave the best “sermon” on grace that I had ever heard!). I took the course as a history class to help fulfill my minor requirements.
In fact, the Bible is used in a number of courses, and not only literature courses, because it is considered a reliable text. And a good reading of the Book of Daniel, especially with study notes of some kind, shows how much of Daniel’s end-time prophecy has been fulfilled–just as it was told to him.
Much more has been fulfilled in the 30+ years since I had had any teaching on the subject, until I listened to a sermon series by a very knowledgeable student of scripture, a couple of years ago. Is he right in all of his interpretation? Who knows? Time alone will tell.
I’m honestly not trying to convince you to “interpret” my way–which I don’t have–but to give you some context for my growing belief that the end, it does draw nigh. I base that not only on the sermon series referenced above, but on world events as they unfold; the continuing decline of moral and spiritual values; and the volume and crescendo of anti-Christian voices, in and out of the courts.
The bottom line, as you said, is to live as if Christ were coming today. Which “today” that will be won’t be known until He comes. I find myself longing for it, more and more.
I agree to a point with you Vicki, however, it’s those who become obsessed with the return of Christ, and end time prophecy at the cost of the relationship with Christ in the meantime that becomes wearing in the here and now.
In a discussion with someone on end times they told me that it was paramount that we as Christians understand exactly what each end time prophecy meant, what each horse stood for …what each iota of revelations stood for … and my only response was “it’s more important to know the essence of what it means, to explain it to those who you are witnessing to than to understand the details, my relationship with Christ is paramount, my understanding of what happens after he comes to get me … not so paramount, I won’t be here”
I DO need to understand end times … so that those asking me, I’m not ignorant to the scriptures (1 peter) and what it has to say about it. However, what is most important to ME as a Christian, is what goes on between me and God.
is my rambling making any sense?
Peggy, you’ll get no argument from me. I, too, have known Christians whose sole focus was on prophecy, with little discernible concern for the here and now. That is not where I am, as much of me still needs to be transformed. Of course, I *could* wait, maybe, to “be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” but why rob myself of increasing joy in this life? ;~)
One of the issues with a lot of the end-times prophesies (and you’re looking at someone who thinks the “Left Behind” series is fantastic – as literature and as a “what if” the book of Revelation is taken literally; Jerry Jenkins can write!)is that their focus seems to be on watching for the anti-christ than watching for Jesus.
My views are, from what I have read, known as “Pre-trib” but you know, I don’t really KNOW anything. I just have faith that things will progress as they should until the return of Christ. And that is what matters – that we make the best world we can until it happens. : )
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