If you believe the stories you’re reading in newspapers about the Gospel of Judas, let me buy you a subscription to The Weekly World News.

GetReligion joins the parade of bloggers pointing out the obvious for the masses who seem determined to flaunt their gullibility.

Here’s where the fun starts:

Before I criticize the ridiculous ignorance of the media in covering this very old story, let me offer a critique of the church. If Christians knew anything about their history, if they knew anything about how the New Testament canon came to be formed, I doubt these stories would be met with more than a yawn.

Sometimes I get the feeling that Christians — and others — think the Bible was delivered to the church in present form upon Christ’s death and resurrection. In fact, the Gospels, which were written soon after Jesus’ time on earth, were fixed into the canon by the last quarter of the second century. Other books were included by 220 A.D. But there were many, many other books that were considered. And then there were some extremely heretical books that were never really considered. Various principles for inclusion were debated, but as a rule the books were tested against each other. So if the Apostles themselves said, for instance, that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, you would be hard-pressed to include a book written by a sect centuries later that said Judas was all good.

The thing is that for those who know their church history, Gnosticism is not news. It is a syncretistic movement with roots in pre-Christian times. It reached its zenith around the time the Judas Gospel was written. And it was based on the very non-Christian idea that its adherents possessed a secret message, bequeathed to a select few, that held the key to higher life.

For crying out loud, Irenaeus condemned the Judas writing in 180 AD in his book Against Heresies.

But if you’re so eager to find something that debunks Christianity that you’ll embrace any poorly researched claims that come along, I recommend you kick back for another viewing of The Last Temptation of Christ, in which Judas (Harvey Keitel) betrayed Jesus according to Jesus’s instructions.

But at least THAT story’s author admitted in the prologue of his fiction that his story was an imaginative embellishment of the true story, and not to be accepted as an alternate gospel.


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