April 2006, the National Geographic Society surprised us with the Gospel of Judas, (not to be confused with the Gospel of Howard) found in the 1970’s Egyptian dessert.
Background on gospels: the Bible has four of them, each named after its author: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Gospel means good news. Did Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, write the Gospel of Judas? If so, he had to write fast. Jesus gave him secret revelations only days before Judas took his own life.
No, Judas is not supposed to have written the gospel himself, but even so, when would he have told anyone his inside information? He was busy around that time, handing Jesus to the authorities, then feeling remorse over the deed, then taking his life over it.
Like different newspapers covering the same events, gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke overlap a lot. The Gospel of John, written many years afterwards by the nearly 100 year old apostle, contains about 90% new material. You shouldn’t be surprised at that. The needs of the Christian community would have changed in 30 years, and so John highlighted different deeds and teachings of Jesus, more relevant to Christians of his time. He acknowledges in his final sentence that there is no end to material he could have drawn on.
The Gospel of Judas was written long after this time, and thus the connection to Judas, who lived only a few days after Jesus gave him his claimed secret revelations, has to be shaky. The content is heavily mystical, not at all like the other writings.
Elaine Pagels of Princeton University says texts like Judas are “exploding the myth of a monolithic religion” in favor of Christian diversity. Nonsense. It explodes nothing that the Bible canon itself doesn’t explode.
Below are 5 separate scriptures from the New Testament. Look them up if you like. The statements make clear that the authors were indeed striving for monolithic unity, and not Christian diversity. And why not? They were the apostles after all, the same fellows in the Last Supper painting. They knew what Jesus had done and said, and they wanted to keep the record untainted, a fight they ultimately lost, at least in the short run. Do you really think, for the sake of diversity, that they would welcome a new gospel, written years after their own deaths, by someone who couldn’t possibly be in position to know anything?
The Gospel of Judas is useful if we keep in mind what it represents….the view of a breakaway sect, not Christianity itself. Unfortunately, you know and I know that next years’ Christmas or Easter sop from the TV networks will be the “real” story of Jesus, based on the Book of Judas.
2 Pet 3: 15 Furthermore, consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given him also wrote YOU, 16 speaking about these things as he does also in all [his] letters. In them, however, are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unsteady are twisting, as [they do] also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
1 Tim 4:1 However, the inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons, 2 by the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, marked in their conscience as with a branding iron; 3 forbidding to marry, commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who have faith and accurately know the truth.
Acts 20:29 I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among YOU and will not treat the flock with tenderness, 30 and from among YOU yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.
1 John 2:18 Young children, it is the last hour, and, just as YOU have heard that antichrist is coming, even now there have come to be many antichrists; from which fact we gain the knowledge that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us. But [they went out] that it might be shown up that not all are of our sort.
2 John 9 Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. He that does remain in this teaching is the one that has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to YOU and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into YOUR homes or say a greeting to him.