<%image(20060406-gospel of judas.jpg|190|126|judas)%> The Gospel of Judas has been found in the deserts of Egypt and I am tempted to be excited . . . but then I think about all of the trashy novels that will soon be published and I grew weary and depressed. My goodness, we’ve been wrong all along, Judas was really Jesus’ buddy who betrayed him as a publicity stunt. The story practically writes itself. It complements The Gospel of Thomas and The Da Vinci Code so well. I can only pray that Dan Brown doesn’t get his grubby little paws on it.
The New York Times reports:
“The Gospel of Judas is only one of many texts discovered in the last 65 years, including the gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene and Philip, believed to be written by Gnostics.
The Gnostics’ beliefs were often viewed by bishops and early church leaders as unorthodox, and they were frequently denounced as heretics. The discoveries of Gnostic texts have shaken up Biblical scholarship by revealing the diversity of beliefs and practices among early followers of Jesus.
As the findings have trickled down to churches and universities, they have produced a new generation of Christians who now regard the Bible not as the literal word of God, but as a product of historical and political forces that determined which texts should be included in the canon, and which edited out.
For that reason, the discoveries have proved deeply troubling for many believers. The Gospel of Judas portrays Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus, but as his most favored disciple and willing collaborator.”
I can only imagine the kind of “historical” fiction (I’d rather call it “ficitonal historical fiction”) in local book stores, gobbling up the time of publishers and the minds of otherwise intelligent people. The publishers will reject projects of greater literary merit and members of the public will claim that these ficitonal historical fictions have changed their lives. I’m sorry, but Dan Brown’s success has made me a pessimist.
In all likeliness, it seems that the Gospel of Judas will not make too much of a stir beyond what the recent interest in Gnosticism has already done. Conspiracies will always abound. Historical accounts will differ. But in the end, I still believe that the Bible as we have it is the most reliable representation of what happened. Church councils tirelessly worked on the canon of scirpture and centuries of church history seem to agree with the verdict. It’s fun to root for an underdog, but the fanciful story told in the Gospel of Judas has a far more vicious bark than its actual bite.