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Friday, April 07, 2006

The Gospel of Judas and Other Funuscripts

The always-linkable Washington Post has this story on the so-called "Gospel of Judas," an ancient manuscript of which was found in Egypt recently. Apparently, this is one of those Gospels that that early Christian church rejected out to halfcourt. Of course, the theological fun we have in 20th-21st century America is doubting the early Christian church and proclaiming things like the Gospel of Judas "coequal" with the real Gospels as we examine it for things that can be used to attack Christianity, no matter how lame. Just look at the Gospel of St. Thomas, which has been trumpeted over and over again despite that presence of a preteen Jesus zapping people with his eyes. But we think we've discovered some "hidden knowledge" that's been surpressed for years, and we go crazy for it. Just ask Dan Brown, who sleeps on a big pile of money.

According to the news article, the Gospel of Judas paints a sympathetic portrait of Judas. Gone is the greed and the betrayal, and in its place is following orders and self-sacrifice. Nevermind the fact that Judas couldn't have written it, and therefore he must have told someone about the time Jesus gave him all these secret orders and knowledge that nobody else knew about (think a Gnostic may have written this? Sheesh), and that makes this at least a secondhand story. This is part of the reason why the early church rejected it. But that won't stop people today from misusing it for their own sociopolitical ends, as this part of the article suggests:

Biblical scholars said the Gospel of Judas differs from the four New Testament Gospels in at least two important ways. First, it portrays Judas not as the betrayer of Jesus but as the most favored of his disciples, the only one who truly understood Jesus.

Some scholars suggested that view -- if it had been accepted -- might have lessened anti-Semitism over the centuries. "The story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas gave a moral and religious rationale to anti-Jewish sentiment, and that's what made it persistent and vicious," said Princeton University professor Elaine Pagels.

Yeah, because the Jews didn't clamor for his crucifixion or anything. So, if there was no betrayal, and the Sanhedrin just had Jesus grabbed of their own accord, anti-Semitism is reduced? The Jewish leaders weren't Jewish? Judas is the only Jew in the story? That doesn't make sense.

And even if Elaine Pagels' insane statement was true, would that be a reason to accept it? Truth is reduced to whatever causes the least amount of intolerance? That's Orwellian to the Nth degree, people. WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE RECOGNIZE THE SLIPPERY SLOPE DOWN WHICH WE ARE TRAVELLING? CAN ANYONE STOP US FROM DESTROYING EVERYTHING WE HOLD DEAR FOR THE SAKE OF POSTMODERN POLITICAL CAUSES?

Sorry about busting out the all-caps again. I really was shouting, in my head.

4 Comments:

  • At 2:41 PM, Blogger pete said…

    Elaine Pagels loves Gnosticism. I had to read some of her stuff in college. The best way to get tenure is to adopt some wacky worldview and see it in every aspect of life. You can get , easy, 5-6 books out of an approach like this. No real person will read them but in some backroom deal you can get other college professors to assign it as assigned reading for their classes in exchange for assigning their books to your students.

     
  • At 8:44 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    On top of that, bad journalists value your opinion enough to put you in their articles.

     
  • At 2:22 PM, Blogger Bearded One said…

    And how long before ELCA starts adding this to their canon? You know, along with Jesus being beaten with an octopus, and deeds.

     
  • At 12:09 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    Well, DOGS doesn't lend itself to extra letters. Maybe DOGGS with the second "G" being "Gospel of Judas."

     

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