Skip to comments.The Gospel of Judas -- The Betrayal of Truth
Posted on 06/09/2008 1:01:02 PM PDT by Gamecock
When the National Geographic Society and a team of designated scholars announced the "discovery" and release of the document known as the "Gospel of Judas" the international media went after the story with a frenzy. Headlines around the world claimed that the discovery would force a complete reconstruction of Christianity.
As I explained then:
The resurgence of interest in Gnostic texts such as "The Gospel of Thomas" and "The Gospel of Judas" is driven by an effort, at least on the part of some figures, to argue that early Christianity had no essential theological core. Instead, scholars such as Elaine Pagels of Princeton University want to argue that, "These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion, and demonstrating how diverse--and fascinating--the early Christian movement really was." What Pagels and many other figures argue is that early Christianity was a cauldron of competing theologies, and that ideological and political factors explain why an "orthodox" tradition eventually won, suppressing all competing theologies. Accordingly, these same figures argue that today's Christians should be open to these variant teachings that had long been suppressed and hidden from view.
There were disturbing elements to the story, however. The National Geographic Society clearly aimed at making a financial gain through the much-publicized book and television documentary. More importantly, the Society did not make the actual manuscript available for other scholars to check and consult.
A devastating analysis of the actual translation put forth by the Society and its chosen scholars came from Professor April D. DeConick of Rice University. In her book, The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says, DeConick proved that the most famous "finding" offered by the National Geographic Society translation (claiming that Judas was good and not evil) was a complete misrepresentation of the text and a profound mistranslation.
Now, in the current edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, the scandal surrounding the "Gospel of Judas" is significantly expanded. The paper's account reads like a spy story.
From the article:
Marvin Meyer was eating breakfast when his cellphone buzzed. Meyer, a professor of religious studies at Chapman University, has a mostly gray beard and an athletic build left over from his basketball days. His friends call him "the Velvet Hammer" for his mild demeanor. He's a nice guy.
The voice on the other end belonged to a representative of the National Geographic Society. They were working on a project and wanted his help.
"That's very interesting," he remembers saying. "What do you have in mind?"
"We can't tell you," was the reply.
That was not the answer he expected.
"Let me see if I understand this," Meyer said. "You'd like me to agree to do a project with you, but you won't tell me what that project is. Is that right?"
The paper performs a commendable service in providing an extensive analysis of the controversy surrounding the text and the project. Beyond doubt, there are major issues of scholarship and personal integrity at stake.
It is clear that the media were misled -- and that the media then mislead their audiences. Now, when the integrity of the entire project is called into doubt, the media are far less interested.
The Chronicle of Higher Education is to be commended, the National Geographic Society should be humiliated, and Christians should be reminded once again not to be shaken by media sensationalism. The discovery of the "Gospel of Judas" changes nothing except to add yet another manuscript to the pile of false gospels and Gnostic documents.
When those scholars misrepresented the "Gospel of Judas," they betrayed not only the public trust, but the truth.
While this is a topic that seemingly belongs in the religion Forum, I think this is a lesson for all conservatives.
Considering that the National Geographic also blows the horn for Global Warming and other liberal ideas, I think this article is a must read for all FReeprs, whether atheist, Jewish or Christians.
“The Chronicle of Higher Education is to be commended, the National Geographic Society should be humiliated, and Christians should be reminded once again not to be shaken by media sensationalism. The discovery of the “Gospel of Judas” changes nothing except to add yet another manuscript to the pile of false gospels and Gnostic documents.”
Every year, around Easter, this story comes out.....Interesting that it’s in the limelight this time of year....
“Considering that the National Geographic also blows the horn for Global Warming and other liberal ideas”
Yep...I used to have a subscription but cancelled it...total lib garbage imho....
Note an interesting observation; those who do accept that infallibility will come to blows with those who suggest that the same acceptance be given to more recent Catholic leaders and theologians).
For your respective ping lists
Although within the past year or two National Geographic finally acknowledged that the DDT ban brought on by Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was based on lies and has killed tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people in the past thirty years.
Well, I’ve been questioning whether I should renew my subscription to NatGeo because of all the green/lefty politics tripe they put in these days. This seals the deal. I’m not renewing.
The real Gospels were written in Koine Greek (and one possibly in Aramaic) - a dialect which is very well-documented in the 1st century and earlier.
The Gospel Of Judas was written so long after the events it claims to relate that it would be as authentic as someone in 2008 writing an account of the first conversation between Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Today's "Christians" are open to variant theologies. Think of all the church ladies who regularly go to the palm reader or Democratic Caucus. Think of the evangelical left.
Doesn't make them Christian, though.
It doesn't matter how fully and thoroughly the scholarly debate proceeds NOW; the horse is still out of the barn, the milk is still spilled, the eggs are still scrambled, the serious misrepresentations presented as confirmed fact in the program still live on in the minds of millions, who will remain blissfully ignorant until National Geographic steps forward and corrects the mistranslation.
It should also be noted that in the early years of the Christian church, there were probably proportionally as many kooks and “original doctrine thinkers” as exist in society today.
Gnostics, especially, would attract a lot of these people, with the idea that God would speak to them directly, instead of via the written word or priests.
Importantly, such people pride themselves in their ignorance of existing doctrine, and prefer to “wing it” with whatever pops into their heads.
And I’m sure that many of them were as sensible as the Time Cube guy is today:
It's good to see them exposed: and by such an able man as Albert Mohler, a top-drawer thinker and writer, in my estimation.
I want to thank you too, Natural Law, for your rather wry comment.
Now, here's something I would like to hear from y'all about. Modern feminist/deconstructinist theologians like Princeton's Elaine Pagels argue that the early church was unstructured and doctrinally diverse, using all sorts of variant texts and not at all "set in order" with recognized bishops, councils, texts, and doctrines.
On the other hand, most Christians have the view that the Church which gave us the present list of books which comprise the Bible was identifiable, faithful, and doctrinally sound: competent, in other words, to "canonize" the canon.
They would trace their Biblical and doctrinal roots through Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, who in his Easter letter of 367 gave a list of exactly the same books as what would become the New Testament canon, using the word "canonized" (kanonizomena) in regards to them. Pope Damasus I's Council of Rome in 382, issued an identical biblical canonin the Decretum Gelasianum. Then the African Synod of Hippo, in 393, approved the New Testament, as it stands today, together with the Septuagint books, a decision that was repeated by Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419. These councils were under the authority of the Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, who regarded the canon as already closed.
So goes the telling of history accepted by most Catholic, Orthodox, and I think Reformation figures.
So what say ye all? Is Pagels right, that there was no real agreement or structure or authority in the early Church?
Or were Athanasius, Damasus, Augustine and their successors right??
Or some third interpretation?
Hope I haven't made myself too obscure here. I'm really interested in the answers.
We dropped the National Geographic 20 years ago because of it's liberal/green slant on on topics.
What we have to accept is that because the canon process was administered by imperfect men, the message it produced is imperfect. Like an exercise in vector analysis, we must consider as many inputs as possible so that the resulting message is acceptably close to the original intent without claiming that it has been perfectly preserved.
OK, Natural Law, and thank you. You've made your point of view pretty clear: that the canon of Scripture is imperfect. What evidence can you offer us, now, for your assertion that "the early Church lacked infrastructure, orthodoxy and oversight"?
“...Princeton’s Elaine Pagels....”
Pagels is a silly woman and a heretic. Real theologians snicker when she walks into a room. No one argues with her anymore and sadly her reputation for sloppy scholarship and even sloppier thinking has all but destroyed whatever reputation Princeton’s religion department once had.
National Geographic, of course, is no longer worth the paper its printed on as its circulation figures demonstrate.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.