• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


    from Twitter


    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    The Gospel of Judas

    First, a disclaimer: I am Christian. I do not, however, consider myself part of the "religious right" as my libertarian political philosophy often puts me at odds with what they say.

    That being said, I watched the Gospel of Judas show the other night on the National Geographic Channel, and wanted to hurl--hurl something at the tv. I think it's the scientist in me. I kept saying (outloud and much to the chagrin of my wife),

    "Where's the evidence? ...That doesn't prove that ... how can they make that assertion? Their evidence doesn't back up that."

    Et. cetera.

    You must understand--I grew up on National Geographic. I remember sitting for hours in the hot garage in Houston, Texas, reading through NG magazines from the '70s and '80s. I remember how much i treasured the issue where the cover was totally holographic with an eagle in the middle--the cover story celebrated the new technology of holograms. In school, as I grew older and fell in love with biology, I always held NG as a pinnacle of science journalism--to bring amazing photographs together with hard science to help explain the mysteries of the world.

    There was NO hard science in the Gospel of Judas. It ... how do I say ... betrayed my faith in National Geographic. The first hour was spent trying to debunk the image of Judas that modern Christianity believes in. Carefully spliced interviews of leading Christian theologians I've never heard of and have never influenced my belief painted Judas as a misunderstood character. He was a character painted in an evil light as post-crucifixion Christians tried to distance themselves from Jews. They tried to blame a Roman execution on Jews to assuage their own guilt. They looked down on Jews for stubbornly fighting the Romans in 70 AD.

    All of this conjecture might have gone forgiven had it stopped, but no, then they connected the character of Judas to anti-semitism in Europe and as a cause for the holocaust.

    Aside: Why does everything bad have to somehow lead back to the holocaust? Can't we just accept that people can be evil, and maybe commit evil acts NOT connected to an obviously horrific act of genocide that has garnered Hitler a special place in Hell??

    I don't know about you, but I've never thought of Judas as a Jew, and my acceptance of his betrayal of Jesus hasn't turned me into an anti-semite. Judas was an apostle of Christ, and his betrayal is a tale of tragedy.

    The second hour of the show showed how the 85% of the manuscript recovered revealed a document that purports Judas was asked by Christ to betray him. It glossed quickly over the fact that the gospel was written about 100-150 years after the other gospels, was not considered authentic in its own time, nor adequately explains the influence of gnosticism on the manuscript.

    That, could have been an interesting show. Two hours of explaining Gnosticism and how the Gospel of Judas helps shed light on this obscure early sect of Christianity. Ah, but history is full of "could have beens."

    Dave Kopel, of The Volokh Conspiracy, has a good post on Gnosticism and the Gospel's place in science.
    The roots of the Gospel of Judas and of gnosticism go back to Marcion (approx. 100-160 a.d.). After he was excommunicated for heresy, he founded his own sect, the Marcionites.

    ...The Marcionites believed that the physical world was created by the angry god of the Old Testament, and that Jesus had been sent by a different god, who had nothing to do with the created world. Marcionites strove to avoid all contact with the created world. They were celibate, and ultra-ascetic.
    It's a good post, which led a coworker to speculate,

    "If modern people believe in the Gospel of Judas, and start a religion around it, would it be called Judaism too?"

    Which brings me to my concluding thoughts. I don't read conservative christian blogs much, but I ran across this post to American Digest from Instapundit. Read it. Superbly written, even if you don't agree with what he says. Here's one of my favorite quotes (On professional intellectuals including the editors of NG):
    "Addicts of auto-erotic spiritual asphyxiation, their onanistic pleasure in these deeds is only enhanced if they [critizing and denegrating Christianity] can be performed during the most holy days of the Christian calendar. Only then can maximum profit and pleasure be assured.

    This dark thrill of denigration has the immediate benefit of pleasingly confirming them in their own Church of Zero ..."
    In the words of the modern American teenage Generation Why-er: "Ohhh! Snap!"

    No comments: