Skip to comments.Questions arise about scholars who collaborated in National Geographic’s Gospel of Judas
Posted on 04/24/2006 1:25:05 PM PDT by NYer
Washington DC, Apr. 24, 2006 (CNA) - Questions have arisen about the group of scholars who collaborated with National Geographic in its recent T.V. special about the discovery and contents of the alleged Gospel of Judas, which attempts to portray Jesus betrayer in a positive light.
Elaine Pagels is a feminist who has written several books against the Catholic Church, such as The Origin of Satan, written with the initial help of her colleagues at the Hebrew University of Tel Aviv. With the assistance of the openly pro-abortion MacArthur Foundation, she researched and wrote Adam, Eve and the Serpent, in which she accused Christianity of offering a distorted image of women.
Pagels admits she was raised an atheist and that her father taught her that religion was a childrens fantasy. Her opinion, which was posted on the National Geographic website, is that texts like the Gospel of Judas are changing the way in which we understand the beginnings of Christianity. According to Pagels, the story of the betrayal of Judas gave birth to an anti-Semitic sentiment among Christians.
Pagels support for the exhibit Art, Religion and Resistance, which featured Andres Serranos blasphemous Piss Christ, is well known. In an interview, she defended Serrano in the wake of a scandal in the U.S. Senate over the use of public funds for art exhibits, saying, Any person who studies what I study is doing that (same kind of work) also. Serrano comes from a devout Catholic family, she claimed.
Christians as anti-Semites
Another of the scholars sought out by National Geographic was Amy Jill Levine, a member of pro-abortion feminist groups as well as the Anti-Defamation League. She believes Christians have been generally anti-Semitic since the time of Jesus, as evidenced in a talk she gave entitled, Christians say the craziest things (about Jews).
She participated in an analysis of Mel Gibsons The Passion of the Christbefore the movie was actually filmedin which she claimed the movie was anti-Semitic. Levine, who calls herself a Jewish feminist Yankee, said at that time that Hollywood can easily change the truth, in reference to Gibsons film.
Levine claimed that those who composed and copied the Gospel of Judas challenged the traditional characterization of Judas as a villain, espoused a stricter sexual ethic than the canonical gospels, and offered an alternative theology to both the proto-Orthodox church and the Synagogue.
Judas, the closest friend of Jesus
Another expert for the project was Bart Ehrman, head of the Religious Studies Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In works such as Does Historical Evidence for the Resurrection Exist? and Lost Christianities, which present information from the Gnostic sects of the first centuries, Ehrman casts doubt on the very existence of Jesus.
He has also written Truths and Myths of the Da Vinci Code in which he attributes some truthfulness to the Dan Brown novel. He exempts Jews from guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus and blames the Romans alone because he says Jesus represented a threat for the empire.
Ehrman told National Geographic that the text portrays Judas as not the evil, corrupt, devil-inspired follower of Jesus who betrayed his master; he is instead Jesus' closest intimate and friend, the one who understood Jesus better than anyone else, who turned Jesus over to the authorities because Jesus wanted him to do so.
Marvin Meyer is another scholar who collaborated with National Geographic. Several of his works, including The Gnostic Discoveries, The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus, The Unknown Sayings of Jesus, The Gospels of Mary and Secret Gospels: Essays on Thomas and The Secret Gospel of Mark, were used by Dan Brown as an influence for The Da Vinci Code.
Meyer is Griset Professor of Biblical and Christian Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California, and director of the Chapman University Albert Schweitzer Institute.
Stephen Emmel, another expert, contradicted himself regarding the age of the Gospel of Judas during a National Geographic press conference. Initially he said the text dated to 400 A.D., but later he said it was written in 300 A.D. The program however, claims the text was penned in 200 A.D.
Emmel is a professor of Coptology at the Institute of Egyptology and Coptology at the University of Münster in Germany. We can all be grateful to the National Geographic Society for its effort to rescue this unique artifact for the good of science and for posterity," he said.
Craig Evans and Francois Gaudard are two other experts who collaborated with National Geographic. Evans, who has taught a various universities, denies that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, does not believe in the resurrection of Jesus or in his miracles and has written several works on the Gnostic sects in which he refers to the supposed anti-Semitism of Christians.
Gaudard, an Egyptologist and research associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, told National Geographic, This text not only seriously challenges one of the most firmly rooted beliefs in Christian tradition, but also reduces one of the favorite themes of anti-Semitism to nothing."
More MSM whining "We're talking about Christianity, why aren't you Christians watching us?"
Sooo, she admits that anti-Semitism is a bad thing. Alright, so far so good. You'd assume that the next step is denouncing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right? Wrong. Christians are the enemy of Jews! Muslims are peaceful and would never seek to wipe Israel off the map. Nor do they wish to convert or kill every Jew on the face of the planet.
I have listened to Ehrman he is a Christianity debunker.
This furor is about nada, zilch. This book of Judas has been known for centuries. For those interested here's a link to Early Christian Writings, some of value,some not.
Ad hominem arguments are fellatious. To argue with their output, one needs to pick apart their logic, lingustics and textology, not their biographies. What was the name of that islamic professor whose best argument was "you are a heretic"?
I doubt you are going to find many "pro-canonical" Biblical scholars who are going to be interested in participating with a TV special that hypes a work that contradicts the traditional Bible.
Hey, hey, hey.... my favorite guy in the NT (next to Jesus) is finally getting a fair shake! Quit nit-picking!
Ill need to do Penance for it, but I sat down to watch it the other night. I shut it off halfway through. Not because I questioned the science, but because of the arrogance of the Coptic Scholars. I was really struck by their attitudes..
There's no way to know
if the version getting press
is real or contrived.
So many 'experts'
involved with the project have
such passionate views
against the 'classic'
Christian view of Jesus Christ,
they give support to
should be called questionable.
They may overlook
or their 'zeal' might persuade them
to forge things themselves,
using their knowledge
to create very good fakes.
(And this attention
to the strong bias
among so-called experts might
call into question
other high profile
revisionist Christian finds . . .
Should we really trust
all the 'Dead Sea' scrolls?
Even today the story
of their 'discovery'
is just that, story.
Two generations ago,
we hadn't wised up . . .)
You might want to reconsider the spelling of that...
"The Davinci Code" and "The Gospel of Judas" are mainstream attempts to undermine the importance of the Gospel. They target Jesus Christ's divinity by insisting that He was just a regular man. A regular man who married a woman and also knowingly asked people to sin.
By defiling Christ's wonderful message (and subsequently deceiving mankind), they serve the interests of Satan.
Ignore these dishonest films, and keep your faith strong in the Lord. There is no other path to grace, peace and truth without belief in the Gospel.
No, Judas does not count as a Gospel!!!
I'm not sure what, if anything, ad hominem argument has to do with oral sodomy.
To argue with their output, one needs to pick apart their logic, lingustics and textology, not their biographies.
I'm not sure what "textology" is, either.
The author of the article is not mentioning their biases in order to refute their arguments - he is mentioning their biases to demonstrate that the media is obssessively one-sided in their coverage.
His point is that we have seven so-called experts who all take a view antithetical to that of orthodox Christianity while not one scholar is there to take the other side of the argument.
What was the name of that islamic professor whose best argument was "you are a heretic"?
You realize, of course, that this itself is a form of the ad hominem argument?
This wouldnt be the first time NG put their agenda ahead of accuracy.
You would be able to find plenty.
The reason why they were not included was that they are not invited - because any Christian scholar would be able to blow holes in these heterodox arguments wide enough to drive a Mack truck through.
I'm not a scholar, although I have a far superior theological background to Pagels' and also am more knowledgeable about the source languages than she is. I would have loved to have been able to get a few zingers in, and I doubt that I am alone.
They couldn't wait to bring this and the Mary Magdelene was Jesus' wife and they had children stuff out at Eastertime. Big slap in the face. It's all about destroying Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church/religion. Secular humanism triumphant. PC multiculturalism/moral relativism, communism the list is endless and disgusting.
Like what?... I have been a Catholic Christian all my life and I don't recall anyone who is devout in their faith say anything that disparages the Jewish people.
But I guess Amy can call Christians anything she'd like. Sounds like a double standard to me.
This book is a bunch of crap....however did you know there were TWO Judas Apostles?
Elaine Pagels made her bones in the atheist/agnostic community with The Gnostic Gospels, 1979. It was known then that if anything she was a gnostic herself -- and took especial glee from twisting Christian tails, just as the heretical Gnostics did in the early centuries following the death of Christ. As for the book on Judas, I recall that Iraneus writing in the 3rd century rejected it out of hand (sorry, I don't have the book at hand but I believe it was in "Against Heresies").
Why bring Monica Lewinsky into it?
You mean they suck?
Nice read, but even as a sympathetic Christian, I found the piece a bit too offended by the alleged gospel.
Let's examine it plainly: one of the disciples had to betray Jesus or prophecies would be left unfilfilled. It's therefore logical Jesus may have chosen his betrayer, as he chose them all in the first place.
Peter denies him three times and is made the "rock of the Church."
I believe you miss my point. I'm saying that the point of the telecast is to promote or manufacture controversy where none exists, not to be a balanced or varied consideration of the theological implications of the document. I submit that few "orthodox" scholars would participate in a show that promotes this kind of hype.
IMHO few scholars, for or against traditional interpretation of the NT, find the Gospel of Judas all that revolutionary.
Amy Jill Levine did a fairly balanced job in that Teaching Company series I have of The Old Testament.
They can stick their "pro-abortion" credentials though.
I'm not familiar with the others.
Two questions still relieve some of the controversy of this however (for me anyway):
1)How could Christianity have proliferated without Judas? and,
2)How could America have been founded without Christianity?
This seems much ado about nothing. But then, I come at it from a Jewish perspective.
Is it possible for anyone to report anything without bias anymore? Does everyone have an agenda? Is every opportunity before the microphone or the camera merely a chance to advance that agenda? What ever happened to Sgt. Joe Friday? "The facts, just the facts, ma'am!"
So long as it will debunk christianity .... yes! Where are the voices denegrating Islam?
Was that from the Gospel of Judas?
How did I know you were gone B/4 I even clicked on your name?
A full version in Acrobat PDF will be available tomorrow in Vivificat!
I have never heard this theory. From what I understand, the origin of the deadly split between Church and Synagogue is not very clear. Obviously there were episodes such as the stoning of Stephen in the book of Acts, and Saul handing Christians over to the Priests as recorded in that same book. But Christianity was a sect of Judaism practiced solely by Jews until the dispersion after Stephen's stoning. The early followers of Jesus did their initial preaching in the Synagogue, only preaching to non-Jews after the Synagogue had rejected them. Peter had to have a visit from the Holy Spirit to preach to non-Jews and had to defend himself in front of a Council in Jerusalem for the practice. And even though Paul was considered the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul was an observant Jew.
What we do know is, at some point the Jews added a 19th prayer to their list of 18 daily blessings, the prayer cursed the apostate. This is believed to be a curse against those who became Christians. Also (not sure which happened first) the Church decided that it was wrong to remain Jewish if you converted to Christianity and so outlawed Jewish observances.
To blame any of that on Judas, who was only one of 12 Jews who were considered Apostles, is just plain stupid.
(fill in a mental picture of me rolling my eyes with exasperation)
Join the club. ; )
I am a Roman Catholic practicing my faith in a Maronite (Eastern) Catholic Church. Of all the Catholic Churches, the Maronites retain the Jewish heritage more than the others, through the use of Aramaic/Syriac in their liturgy and the architectural design elements of their churches.
What we do know is, at some point the Jews added a 19th prayer to their list of 18 daily blessings, the prayer cursed the apostate. This is believed to be a curse against those who became Christians.
Do you have a link? I would be most interested in reading through these prayers. Thanks!
But, but, I thought that Dan Brown said that person was Mary Magdalene! ;o)
Is anyone truly surprised that this herd of independent minds was behind the special on the "Gospel of Judas"?
Ignore these dishonest films, and keep your faith strong in the Lord.
The problem is less with practicing christians than with those who have strayed. The DaVinci Code is a magnet, regardless of its status as a novel, to draw the weakened away from our Lord. How interesting that as we approach its film release, National Geographic should compound the 'dilemna' with the Gospel of Judas or that the media should give press to a scientist's suggestion that our Lord walked on water, using a 'rare' ice formation on the Sea of Gallilee. These notions are all laughable to the believer, but raise doubts for the borderline christian.
It's a war. We live in evil times. Why doesn't NG put together a documentary on the origins of the Qu'uran? We all know the answer to that question.
No! Who is the other one?
It is not a danger to solid Catholics. Actually parts of it are so blatant in its Christian hate, that even Christian haters may wonder why it is so jagged. The documentary even asks if Judas should be made into a saint.
You're right. But the majority of lapsed catholics or fallen away christians will use this documentary to justify their behavior. That was my original point. The DaVinci Code should prove to be far worse.
Over the past several months, the media have focused their laser beams on stories such as these and they seem to be emerging faster than anyone can counteract them.
It is hardly ad hominem to put out that they belong to the same theological party.
You got that one in the ten ring... Pagels is a fraud, a New Age cover-up artist for the neo-pagans...
Her whole book, The Origin of Satan, can be shown false by just one thing - - the etymology of the word Satan itself, which is a Hebrew word...
It is not so much hatred for the Christians (and they do hate Christians), but it is their seething hatred for the Judaic roots of Christendom. They really hate Genesis and Mosaic Law in particular, the Christians are just a proxy for that hatred. Their Jewish enablers are traitors (left wing Jews) who worship the Golden Calf (sort of like those enablers the Maccabees slaughtered along with the pagan Greek occupiers in 164 BC).
Both the Christian Scriptures and the Jewish Scriptures were all written by Jews...
Yahweh and Yeshua are Zionists without exception or compromise... the Bible says so... (Jesus drives a Hummer with a Star of David on the doors.) Shalom.
They as persons [or their "party"] do not even exist for the purposes of the argument about "gospel of Judas" text and its interpretation and correlation to other texts. Their opinions on that text are to be judged on the merits [or lack thereof] - the merits of the opinions, not of their authors.
Thanks for the info.
"You're right. But the majority of lapsed catholics or fallen away christians will use this documentary to justify their behavior. That was my original point. The DaVinci Code should prove to be far worse.
Over the past several months, the media have focused their laser beams on stories such as these and they seem to be emerging faster than anyone can counteract them."
Many people have been influenced by the Da Vinci Code and other such propaganda. It is very evil stuff.
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