Monday, April 10, 2006

Judas' Resurrection

Yet another assault on Biblical Christianity has been unleashed. This time it is the Gnostic Gospel of Judas. Within this writing, Judas is the stellar friend of Jesus who understands Christ like no other. He alone can be trusted with betraying Jesus! Jesus must be betrayed so that his divine spirit will be set free from his all too human body.

Isn't it amazing the things we can’t find a trace of in the sixty six books of the Bible? If only we had found the Gospel of Judas earlier. Thousands of people could have spared themselves from martyrdom, stopped wasting time praying and finally figured out that life really is meaningless!

Liberal scholars and the National Geographic Society are embracing the Gospel of Judas and proclaiming that it carries equal weight with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Brandishing the Gospel of a traitor, they desire to rewrite our understanding of Biblical history.

The Gospel of Judas is certainly not a recent discovery. Ireneaus, the bishop of Lyons, had this to say about the Gospel of Judas circa 180 A.D:

They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.

The Gospel of Judas is obviously a late and highly embellished rendering of fiction. The copy now being paraded on the news and on National Geographic is written in Coptic and was translated from an earlier Greek version. It bears the marks of a fully developed Gnosticism which only came into existence well after the time of eyewitnesses to Christ's earthly activities.

Here is an excerpt from one of the more interesting passages (please forgive the translators conjectural emendations):

The multitude of those immortals is called the cosmos— that is, perdition—by the Father and the seventy-two luminaries who are with the Self-Generated and his seventytwo aeons. In him the first human appeared with his incorruptible powers. And the aeon that appeared with his generation, the aeon in whom are the cloud of knowledge and the angel, is called [51] El. […] aeon […] after that […] said, ‘Let twelve angels come into being [to] rule over chaos and the [underworld].’ And look, from the cloud there appeared an [angel] whose face flashed with fire and whose appearance was defiled with blood. His name was Nebro, which means ‘rebel’; others call him Yaldabaoth. Another angel, Saklas, also came from the cloud. So Nebro created six angels—as well as Saklas—to be assistants, and these produced twelve angels in the heavens, with each one receiving a portion in the heavens.

Gnosticism sought secret knowledge to open the doorway of immortality. Within Gnostic belief, the spirit of man partakes of the divine essence, but his physical body shackles him to drudgery. Gnostics view the corpus as evil and abuse it either by throwing it into extreme pleasure or extreme impoverishment. The ultimate ideal of Gnosticism is separation of the spirit from the body.

Gnostics were some of the early perverters of the unembellished story of Christ’s death and resurrection. Dissatisfied by the story of God’s loving sacrifice on their behalf, they denied Christ came in the flesh. In fact, Christ was in a worse condition than being in hell when he was in physical form. An incipient form of Gnosticism probably inspired John to write “And you can know which ones come from God. His Spirit says that Jesus Christ had a truly human body” (CEV, I John 4:2).

This early heresy would later become highly embellished, highly symbolic and totally separated from reality. I guess it is the perfect topic for our “modern scholars” at National Geographic. I never cease to be amazed that hacks can dredge up old heresies and recast them as scholarship.

To take a peek at the Gospel of Judas and Gnosticism, visit the following sites:

Wikipedia on Gnosticism
National Geographic Web on Gospel of Judas
National Geographic Video on Judas
(highly recommended, but you had better have a decent internet connection – 4Mbs)
Christianity Today on Gospel of Judas
Comprehensive Articles on Gospel of Judas
(Great site that contains a translation of the Gospel of Judas in English!)