05 April, 2006

Judas' "Good News" Fraud

For those who have been following the news lately, you have probably heard about manuscripts being made public by National Geographic entitled the "Gospel of Judas". I can't help but feel bemused by the bias of the news outlets:

CNN: "For 2,000 years Judas has been reviled for betraying Jesus. Now a newly translated ancient document seeks to tell his side of the story"

The Telegraph (UK): "Although the full details have not yet been made public, snippets discussed in academic circles say it will prove Judas was acting at the behest of God when he sold Jesus to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver. Its publication will raise fears among traditionalists that efforts may be made to rehabilitate a man whose name is synonymous with betrayal."

The LA Times: "For 2,000 years Judas has been reviled for betraying Jesus. Now a newly translated ancient document seeks to tell his side of the story. The "Gospel of Judas" tells a far different tale from the four gospels in the New Testament. It portrays Judas as a favored disciple who was given special knowledge by Jesus -- and who turned him in at Jesus' request."

The Times (UK): Judas did as Jesus asked – "'Gospel' reveals the other face of a traitor. For 2,000 years, his name has been synonymous with treachery and deceit, but Judas may finally have received some divine justice."

Etc, etc. etc...

It's a sad state of affairs.

The general public, including educated "Christians" are leaping en masse to the defense of a man who has apparently been unfairly vilified in Scripture for the past 2000 years. Judas' defense, according to the Gospel of Judas, is that Jesus asked Judas to turn him in. Without a doubt, this idea should make EVERY God-fearing believer cringe. To think we're now living in an age in which the betrayer of Christ is being turned into a tragic hero is disgusting.

What's the big deal?

Only this: The Judas Gospel seeks to undermine the validity of Scripture, the true intents of the man who betrayed Christ, and it ushers in the complete loss of perspective and meaning in the life of Christ during some of the most emotionally charged and important events ever recorded for us, including his death and resurrection. By giving Judas the 'good guy' label, as someone who was only following orders, we have destroyed the tragedy of Christ's death and the subsequent reaction of his Father. We have ripped emotion and meaning away from the most important event in the history of mankind and diluted it so it resembles something of a watered-down attempt by historians, scientists, and money-hungry corporations to dispute divine fact with feel-good fantasy. It's nothing short of shocking.

Some of what we should be remembering while considering the "Jesus told Judas" evidence we'll be hearing much more of in the days to come:

First, what do the historians say?
James M. Robinson, America's leading expert on such ancient religious texts from Egypt, predicts in a new book that the text won't offer any insights into the disciple who betrayed Jesus. His reason: While it's old, it's not old enough. "Does it go back to Judas? No," Robinson told The Associated Press on Thursday...Robinson has not seen the text that National Geographic is working on, but assumes it is the same work assailed by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons around A.D. 180. Irenaeus said the writings came from a "Cainite" Gnostic sect that jousted with orthodox Christianity. He also accused the Cainites of lauding the biblical murderer Cain, the Sodomites and Judas, whom they regarded as the keeper of secret mysteries. Robinson is an emeritus professor at Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University, chief editor of religious documents found in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, and an international leader among scholars of Coptic manuscripts. He says the text is valuable to scholars of the second century but dismissed the notion that it'll reveal unknown biblical secrets. He speculated the timing of the release is aimed at capitalizing on interest in the film version of "The Da Vinci Code" — a fictional tale that centers on a Christian conspiracy to cover up a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. "There are a lot of second-, third- and fourth-century gospels attributed to various apostles," Robinson said. "We don't really assume they give us any first—century information." (MSNBC.com)

Second, what does the history of the document tell us?
"The National Geographic much hyped documentary shows only a meagre thirteen pages, with text on both sides. When the Judas Gospel was first on the market in 1983 in Geneva, and seen by eminent American Coptologist, Stephen Emmel, he declared that he had inspected sixty pages of text of the Judas Gospel. According to...Bruce Ferrini (the seller of the manuscript), there were only twenty-five pages with text on both sides left, when he 'bought' it from Frieda Tchacos (who bought the document in 2000 and later sold it to Ferrini). Frieda, who in the documentary claims to be the saviour of mankind, modestly stating to be the chosen one to 'save' the gospel for prosperity, forgets to mention that instead of going for a Sainthood, she was marketing the manuscript for $1.5 million to Ferrini, immediately after she bought it in April 2000.

Ferrini, who is widely suspected of having seriously shortened the Gospel, exhibited one page without identifying it as coming from the Judas Gospel in his exhibition "From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book" in 2005.

In the anaesthetic one and an half hour documentary it is claimed that 85% of the entire Judas Gospel is complete… "

Read the article in full here

Third, what does the Bible say?
1. The Bible doesn't contradict itself because it's the inspired Word of God. (Corinthians 2:12 - 13, 2 Tim. 3:16 - 17)

2. Therefore, Jesus was either betrayed or he wasn't. This isn't a mutually compatible alliance. If Scripture is correct and Jesus was betrayed, how can Christ asking Judas to turn him in be considered "betrayal"? (note: the word "betray" is defined as: To deliver into the hands of an enemy in violation of a trust or allegiance) "Betray" is found more than a dozen times in the NT and it never once suggests something other than a breach of confidence and trust (see number 3 below).

3. Old Testament prophecy of Jesus' betrayl: Psalms 41:9: "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me." This prophecy is incorrect if the Gospel of Judas is right.

4. Jesus' language hardly indicates he told Judas to deliver him up to the authorities: Mat 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

5. Judas betrayal of Christ seemed to be as a result a matter of greed, not specific instruction by Christ himself: Mat 26:15 - 16 "And (Judas) said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him."

Fourth, what does the REST of the Gospel of Judas say?
If people are comfortable in taking a verse or two from this manuscript and waving it around as a truth, then surely the rest must be true as well. For example (closest translation available prior to official publication):

One day he was with his disciples in Judea, and he found them gathered together and seated in pious observance. When he [approached] his disciples, [34] gathered together and seated and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, [he] laughed. The disciples said to [him], “Master, why are you laughing at [our] prayer of thanksgiving? We have done what is right.” 

He answered and said to them, “I am not laughing at you. You are not doing this because of your own will but because it is through this that your god [will be] praised.” 

They said, “Master, you are […] the son of our god.” 

Jesus said to them, “How do you know me? Truly [I] say to you, no generation of the people that are among you will know me.”

When his disciples heard this, they started getting angry and infuriated and began blaspheming against him in their hearts. When Jesus observed their lack of [understanding, he said] to them, “Why has this agitation led you to anger? Your god who is within you and […] [35] have provoked you to anger [within] your souls. [Let] any one of you who is [strong enough] among human beings bring out the perfect human and stand before my face.”

They all said, “We have the strength.”

But their spirits did not dare to stand before [him], except for Judas Iscariot. He was able to stand before him, but he could not look him in the eyes, and he turned his face away.

Judas [said] to him, “I know who you are and where you have come from. You are from the immortal realm of Barbelo. And I am not worthy to utter the name of the one who has sent you.”

Immortal realm of Barbelo? Jesus laughing at his disciples? Disciples blaspheming Jesus? Any Bible student should be able to quickly discern the innumerable problems with this from a Biblical point of view...


When the final translation is published, pick up a copy and go through it yourself. It reads like a science fiction novel gone horribly wrong. The Judas soap opera is far from over so get a jump on the critics and educate yourself on what Scripture says about Christ, his disciples, and his betrayal. God's Word is supreme. If it doesn't match with what He's written for us, it should be discarded with yesterday's paper.

Judas betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver and then he hung himself. How anyone can paint him in a different light is inexcusable, inappropriate and incorrect. The Gospel of Judas has no part in Scripture.

This so-called "gospel" (def. "good news") fights against the rock of Scripture and in time the Judas argument will no doubt fall on disbelieving ears. How many people Judas pulls onto his bandwagon in the meantime is yet to be seen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your insight with respect to the 'Gospel' of Judas. I was deeply disturbed when it made its way into the news recently.

April 13, 2006 6:07 PM  

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