4/08/2006                                                                                       View Comments

Gospel of Judas

Yesterday, the public learned about the discovery of a document dating from the early days of Jesus worship, the Gospel of Judas. This manuscript raises a host of fascinating questions for those who care about the origins of the Christian faith. Almost all Americans, about ninety percent, either were raised in or currently practice some form of Christianity that is rooted in Catholic orthodoxy. (Protestants draw their core doctrines from the orthodox Catholic tradition.) Steeped in these teachings, it is easy to see the Judas manuscript as a curious outsider and to ask how it compares to the true histories recorded in the more familiar gospels named after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

This question misunderstands history, and so it is a false question. During the first centuries of Christianity, the cult or worship of Jesus took many forms. Some groups taught that Jesus only appeared to be human, others that he was one of many divine intermediaries between God and humanity. Some incorporated Jesus into their worship without insisting that he was God. Some taught that God has three forms (now known as the Trinity) and others saw this as polytheism. Some saw Jesus as a perfect human sacrifice for human sin; others saw this notion as vile and pagan. Some Jewish Jesus worshipers insisted that Jesus must be honored within the structures of the Jewish ritual and law. Others rejected these rites and rules.

Each of these groups competed to establish itself as the true bearer of Divine Truth. It was not until the fourth century that a single group, shaped primarily by the teachings of Paul of Tarsus, won out. A council of bishops, with input from the Roman authorities, decided on a specific set of doctrines and created a list of officially sanctioned texts that today make up the Bible. Christian orthodoxy was established, and competing sects of Jesus worshipers became heretics. In the following centuries, they were suppressed and texts like the Gospel of Judas were destroyed when possible. In other words, although the Judas text became a renegade, it did not start life that way. In the beginning, it was simply one among hundreds of competing interpretations of the Jesus story which included those gospels that made it into the Bible.

Treating the Gospel of Judas (or any gospel) as a history, also misunderstands the texts themselves. Gospels were not written as literal histories but as devotional documents, designed to illustrate and underscore key points of worship and faith. The authors did not intend to create a historical record for the people of the future, but rather to capture the essence of God and goodness, as they perceived both. To truly appreciate these ancient manuscripts, it is crucial that we not distort them through the lens of modernity. We must avoid projecting modern scholarly intent onto the writers and orthodox Christian teachings onto the texts themselves. Only then can we get a glimpse into the vision of the writers and into our own history.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said. Fundamentalists have always had difficulty with history unless its their particular version of it. I've always found it fascinating that "Protestants," with minor text exceptions, hold sacred a collection of scrolls sanctioned by Catholics.

Anonymous said...

And the Catholics are considered by the Proyestants, destined straight to Hell, what zealous bigotry!

mq59 said...

I'm a Protestant and I don't think Catholics are all going to Hell.

I have some theological issues with the RCC, but I don't think any of them are substantial enough to disqualify them from being Christians.

Most Protestants I know share the same opinion (and I suspect most Catholics have the same opinion of Protestants--I have a friend studying to enter the priesthood and he said that I was a heretic, but it wasn't like I was going to Hell).

Riley J. said...

The new findings of the "Gospel of Judas" beg some questions. First the new stuff says that Jesus told Judas to give him up for sacrifice. I guess Christians can't call people Judas anymore when they do something bad. On a serious note, Christians have claimed "Truth" and say the Bible in infallible. This is another nail in the coffin of contradictions by the church who claimed the "whole truth".

This brings up the point that Jesus prophesized at the "Last Brunch" that Judas would give him up. This is a supposed miracle by many Christians that Jesus knew because he was god, but now we find out that Jesus told Judas to give him up. This changes everything in the dogma. I am willing to bet that Christians will just deny the text.

These contradictions of Christian faith and new text show there is no fullness of truth...but a bunch of lies or misconceptions at best. If Christians have a personal relationship with god, why didn't god tell them different?

Again, Christianity is proved to false in its faith and text. The fiber of christianity is again proven false.

Anonymous said...

Now the question is; Just where exactly, did Judas kiss Jesus?

mq59 said...

Even if He knew Judas was going to betray Him b/c He told him to, that doesn't mean that Christianity is false.

Unless of course, the Bible explicitly says, "Jesus knew through divine revelation that Judas would betray him."

And that's assuming the Gospel of Judas is even accurate. It's popular to say that the Gospels and some of Paul's letters were written by other people under their names (pseudogriphera or something like that); why couldn't the Gospel of Judas be pseudogriphera too?

Mike from Canada said...

Why would the "gospel of Judus" be in a Long Island safety deposit box for over 16 years???? Another sham to prove the unprovable!
"No one knows if Jesus Christ existed and if he did, nothing is known about him!" -Bertrand Russell

Dave8 said...

MQ59: "why couldn't the Gospel of Judas be pseudogriphera too?"

Why not the entire bible? The authors of the biblical texts, wanted to portray "their" message, and influence. They did so, by writing to the events of the times, and tying them to theologic precepts.

The OT authors, had an entirely different vision, of how their day-to-day life should be focused and tied it to theologic concepts, via literary devices. Their main vision, was a god who creates the new kingdom for the Jews after messianic prophecy is fulfilled, and thus, the Jews kept to every facet of law in order to keep as clean as possible, abstaining from unclean; food, sex, etc., etc.

The NT authors, from Rome, well... they had a different vision. Pauline Christians, took the stance, that the Jewish god would never arrive, and keeping such silly laws to keep chaste, was ignorant. The Jews of the time, were also extremely exclusive, and thus wasn't very accomodating and cooperative with other religious sects. Pauline Christians, wanted to create a more inclusive belief system, and thus, Paul, preached using the Jews' Tanakh, to bring Jews toward a more tenable lifestyle. Well, it appears this is how it started...

However, Paul died, years later, Rome and its elected & appointed religious officials, took that vision, and supported the notion of a universal belief system, protected and enforced by the Roman empire. Creating their own, exclusive religious belief system. It doesn't take much to read the history of the early church, to ascertain that this is how the events unfolded.

The Pauline Christians, borrowed from the Jews, and the Roman Catholics borrowed from the Pauline Christians, then, the Protestants borrowed from the Roman Catholics, and while all of these major borrowings were happening, splinter groups formed, when priests such as Tertullian started their own flavor of religious belief, i.e., early Pentacostalism, etc. The priest, was the creator of the term trinity, and part of the early Roman Catholic church, and even when he was alive, he left to start an entirely different view of religion.

The Abrahamic religions, evolved, and continue to evolve, each time someone pops their head up, and says, they had a vision of where the church or religions should be heading. The bible, is a living and changing document, the rate of change over time has been sporatic, as those who had the power to influence the writings, over time, did, for their own benefit. The most dramatic changes, occurring during the translation of the bible into different languages, and when leaders had the ability to influence the changes. Religion, has been by far, the most commonly used "tool", to establish the enemy or those who shouldn't be trusted. Need I mention, Atheism, as a common enemy among theists.

Religious texts, are nothing short of literary writings, used to influence people to behave in a certain manner. The common trait, is that there is typically, a single "leader", or very small group who is establishing what the influence should be and what the desired behaviors should be. Amusingly enough, using the same writings, with one or two word differences, either literally or intrepretively.

Many Christians look past the direct influence that these religious leaders have on their life, and convince themselves that they are being influenced by a higher power, or that the person they are receiving guidance from, is passing on the words from a higher power. The Gospel of Judas, is just another literary story, provided by some individual in history, who had their personal vision of truth. They put their vision in words, in the hope to inspire people to their cause.

The same process occurs to this day. Religion and its writings, just like many other structured systems, are set in place to influence people. Its the intent of the influence that becomes the interesting facet at that point. Personally, I don't care what someone says their belief is, however, the second they attempt to use their religious texts, in an effort to influence, do I call them out on the carpet do discuss the finer points of their historically eratic and unstable belief system.

I had a moron attempt to cite a book, "The Case for Easter" by, Lee Stroebel, after having heard of the discovery of a fish with embryonic legs, recently. As if, Lee Stroebel's influence, would somehow, overcome the findings and establish the need to keep the faith. Of course, after asking one or two questions, and getting the deer in the head-lights look, did they respond, "well, its unfortunate that there are evangelicals are the most vocal and outspoken, giving christianity a bad name."

I didn't ask him, if his "influence" using Lee Stroebel's book was any less of an influential event than an evangelical going door-to-door proselytizing. Oh, sorry off topic, lets tie it in. If Jesus was omniscient, he influenced Judas to commit suicide, by his very actions, not very noble, for a servant of a god.

David90212 said...

I am sure that he was just a guy who was asked to do something, he did it and later regreted it. Kinda like someone being asked to pull the plug.

The Xians will have to accept that Judas wasn't the bad guy.

But then again, when has a good Xian let facts get in the way when a good fairytale will do.

Remember this always -- the Bible was written by people who thought the Earth was flat.

mq59 said...

David,

One of the Psalms describes how God is "enthroned over the circle of the Earth," while another describes "the canyons of the deep."

At the very least, the writer of the Psalms did not believe the Earth was flat, and he somehow knew about oceanic trenches, which people did not know about until the 20th Century.

boomSLANG said...

Firstly, the earth is NOT a "circle".....and secondly, a circle can be flat. But nice try.

The point is that if the verses in question are taken at face-value, then they often contradict reality. It isn't until the believer comes along and weasle-words things by playing the "semantics" card, that the verses "make sense". An omniscient being who knows the future would never make such blunders, yet, we know that man DOES makes such blunders---even NOW---let alone 2000 years ago.

euphgeek said...

The text is an interesting read. You can download a translated copy of the Gospel of Judas at the National Geographic website here:

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/_pdf/GospelofJudas.pdf

Dave8 said...

MQ59: "One of the Psalms describes how God is "enthroned over the circle of the Earth," while another describes "the canyons of the deep."

MQ59, if you study religious history, and a little comparitive religion, you'd find, that its a well known fact, that the authors of the bible, per the "written" scripture, believed that heaven was a dome over the earth, that the earth was flat sitting on pillars, and underneath the earth, was hell. Now, perhaps, you didn't read those passages in the bible, but, if you need me to quote some passages, about primitive writings, I think I can accomodate. Again, you don't appear to believe in a flat earth, but then, that just goes to show, the evolution of the foundations of the early church's belief, and yours, as you seem to believe differently than they did, well, unless you actually believe in a flat earth, sitting on pillars.

(Psa 93:1 NRSV) … He has established the world; it shall never be moved;

(1 Sam 2:8 NRSV) For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

(Isa 24:18 NRSV) or the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.

MQ59, what is "your" intent, for using religion to influence. Religion, is a tool if used for more than just a personal belief, where are you trying to guide people, and what is your purpose? Why do you believe a bible written by primitive mankind thousands of years ago, is somehow the way to lead people, I don't see the point.

Oh, and an omniscient god, would not make such ignorant comments, about flat earth, unmoving earth, and, by the way, the earth isn't truly a sphere either, if you want to delve into orbital mechanics, we can go there, just know, that its more likely people wrote the bible, with their ignorance, than a "god", through ignorant people. A "god" would seem to be capable of getting a point accross to the authors of a bible, such is the basic job of any educator, well, unless god, isn't even fit to educate those who were supposed to have written the "holy" bible for all eternity.

mq59 said...

On the matter of the circle bit, yes a circle can be flat, but when people believed in a flat Earth, did they believe it was circular or square?

Furthermore, what about the canyons of the deep?

Do you know the Hebrew for "the Earth will not be moved"? Perhaps there's been a translation error.

I'm taking the honors intro to religion class at my university this fall. It's Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (there's another religion class that covers the eastern faiths).

We shall see.

mq59 said...

Euphgeek,

That's very interesting. Much more radical than I expected--I was thinking of the traditional story, from Judas's perspective.

Instead, we get Jesus laughing at the disciples and lots of hard-to-understand Gnostic imagery.

I'll have to look at it in more detail when I'm not so tired (just got back from the gym).

boomSLANG said...

"...but when people believed in a flat Earth, did they believe it was circlular or square?"

Who cares?....the Earth is NEITHER a circle, NOR a square. It was clearly implied that just because the bible uses the word "circle", that the redactors of said bible could NOT have meant "flat". Such an implication is a perfect example of how the bible can be used as a "grab-bag" for those who have an agenda.

"Furthermore, what about the canyons of the deep?"

Another irrelevant question. This is just more ambiguous wording left wide open to interpretation...the kind of wording that uninformed humans with limited vocabulary would use to describe what they didn't fully understand. Moreover, it hardly sounds like anything an omniscient being would use---especially a being who presumably knows the language and meanings of generations to come.

"Perhaps there's been a translation error."

Perhaps....but yet, surely no one is going to sit there and suggest that the ONLY "translation errors" are the ones that DON'T work in favor of Christianity and it's agenda. Please...wise up.

.:webmaster:. said...

Flat Earth Picture

mq59 said...

A round, flat Earth. Interesting.

I'll go googling to see if I can find a primary source (ie an actual ancient flat-earth map).

Since we're in part discussing "scientific truths in the Bible," here's a link that's collected several of them:

http://www.carm.org/bible/ms_science.htm

Thoughts?

mq59 said...

Primary sources of flat-earth maps:

http://www.ethicalatheist.com/docs/flat_earth_myth_ch8.html

http://www.1americanatrail.com/mapsb.html

Hmm...

boomSLANG said...

"Hmm..."

WTF?.. "Hmm" WHAT, exactly?

Honestly, what's the point of "googling" a "flat-earth map"? And secondly, who gives a rat's ass WHERE you find one? Hell, you might find a picture of "Jesus" on an Atheist website, too---but that fact wouldn't implicate Atheists as being "believers in Christ"; it doesn't make a person "guilty" by association. So please, lose the false arguments.

Understand---it's the way the X-ian bible, and other ancient texts, portray the shape of the earth and it's relationship to the rest of "space"----and to THIS day, there are bible-literalists out there who STILL believe the earth is flat, even in light of all the scientific evidence to the contrary----THAT is the point, since obviously some people are missing it.

I swear, I've never seen anyone go off on so many irrelevant tangents in a debate....::eyeroll::

freeman said...

The most curious point of the "new gospel" is the list of sub-GODS that jesus names. Saklas was the creator of earth and humans, one not worth of praise, according to jesus! lmao

Dave8 said...

MQ59, Atheism doesn't make claim, hold creeds, have some policies drawn up, or have a non-bible written by a non-god to substantiate its claims. Its only got one premise, and that is that "god(s)", don't exist, and each Atheist has their own level or threshold, epistemologically speaking, that would have to be met, in order to "change" their view.

Christianity, has a "creed", actually from the beginning of the early church, starting with the "apostles creed", on up through the ages, credos continued to be created. Man Christians, substantiate their belief, based on the faith they give to anonymous authors for the most part who wrote scripture thousands of years ago.

Now, its obvious, if "an" Atheist, believes in multiple universes, etc., that this insight makes them no "less" an Atheist, because, their belief in multiple universes doesn't negate their premise that "god(s)" don't exist, until epistemological evidence is presented.

So, lets make this simple. Atheism doesn't require "faith" in other people, its a self-statement... Christianity "does" require "faith" in other people, to establish validity of the belief system.

You have "faith" in people who lived thousands of years ago, MQ, that they were telling you the gospel truth. Now, it really doesn't matter whether, you believe they were divinely inspired, or if "god" himself scribed those pages. All, You, have, are the words on the pages to view, and derive meaning for your belief system.

Here are the authors you have placed your "faith" in, in order to find truth...

Dan 4:10-11 NRSV - Upon my bed this is what I saw; there was a tree at the center of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew great and strong, its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth.

Isa 40:22 NRSV - It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in;

Prov 8:26-27 NRSV - when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

Mat 4:8 NRSV - Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor;

Job 38:13 NIV - that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?

Job 11:9 NRSV - Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.

Deu 13:7 NRSV - any of the gods of the peoples that are around you, whether near you or far away from you, from one end of the earth to the other,

Here is a few more verses that mention the ends of the earth

Deu 28:49, Deu 28:64, Deu 33:17, 1 Sam 2:10, Job 1:7, Job 28:24, Job 37:3, Psa 2:8, Psa 19:4, Psa 22:27, Psa 33:13, Psa 33:14, Psa 48:10, Psa 59:13, Psa 61:2, Psa 65:5, Psa 72:8

Psa 93:1 NRSV - He has established the world; it shall never be moved;

1 Sam 2:8 NRSV - For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

Isa 24:18 NRSV - or the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.

The Bible’s solid sky dome

"Here God is imagined to create a solid sky dome that separates the waters into two parts.
One would become the oceans and the other would remain above the solid sky dome to provide an explanation of where water came from to cause clouds and rain in the absence of the knowledge of evaporation."

Gen 1:6-7 NRSV - And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."

http://www.goatstar.org/the-bibles-flat-earthsolid-sky-dome-universe/#flat%20earth

Psa 148:4 NRSV - Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

"Here celestial bodies are attached to this sky dome."

Gen 1:14-17 NRSV - And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so. God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.
God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,

"Notice that the lights, the Sun, the Moon, and the stars are set inside the sky dome."

"Here it is mentioned that the sky dome is hard."

Job 37:18 NRSV - Can you, like him, spread out the skies, hard as a molten mirror?

Prov 8:28 NRSV - when he made firm the skies above,

"God is imagined to walk on top of the sky dome."

Job 22:14 NRSV - Thick clouds enwrap him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the dome of heaven.

Yeah, MQ59, they were creating hypotheticals, kinda' like a god hypothetical, this is where your belief system is founded, on pure hypotheticals. Now, with all of these "non-accurate" and erroneous hypotheticals, proven wrong, via science, it makes one wonder about the credibility of the other obviously "imagined" hypotheticals.

If you need more, let me know, of course, you could read your own bible, as the alternative.

An Atheist, doesn't lose "credibility" because of what another "atheist" prints, publishes, etc. Your religion is built on the pillars of anonymous authors who were clueless, of basic science, of course, some made basic observations, that were accurate, but, one would think a "god" would be more near the "perfect" realm, as opposed to the grossly misguided passages seen in the bible, again, people wrote the bible, not a god, nor was a "god" pushing the pen vicariously through a goat herder...

Dave8 said...

MQ59: "I'm taking the honors intro to religion class at my university this fall. It's Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (there's another religion class that covers the eastern faiths)."

Well, perhaps, you can tell everyone once you've become fluent in Hebrew, why numerous passages throughout the bible, had the exact same contextual meaning... flat earth, sky-dome bubble around the earth, earth sitting on pillars, god walking on sky-dome, an ocean above the skydome that seeped through to water the planet, etc., etc.

Once you study a little more, perhaps, you'll understand that much of the bible was the imaginary creation of hypotheticals, that have long since been neutered as potent material. What you have left, is nothing less, than the study of the cultural history of the Jews, and early Rome, and their search for yet, another god, to replace all the other gods of the time, like El for instance.

.:webmaster:. said...

From an article on this posted here

For Minister Darryl Bowdre and Reverend Rudy Bond the first thing in question for them, is the central character behind the "Gospel of Judas."

"Knowing human nature, had I been Judas caught in this controversy, who's to say he didn't put his own spin on it or didn't tell his own version of the story to someone else and repeated it," says Minister Bowdre...

Even though the "Gospel of Judas" brings up another possibility of what actually happened, they say Christians aren't led by scientific documentation...

Lino Sanchez said...

Hello!

Reference to: "how it compares to the true histories recorded in the more familiar gospels named after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John."

"true histories"! FICTIONS!!!

Lino Sanchez

Basement Activist. said...

Even liberal scholars agree that the "gospel" of Judas is dated long after even the four gospels.

Historically, its irrelevant.

However, the spate of books WILL make a lot of money for various atheists.

.:webmaster:. said...

Basement A brings up an interesting point!

I think it'd be an interesting study to compare the profits from the Christian publishing industry with those accumulated by the atheistic publishing industry (if there even is such a thing).

IANAL said...

The gospel of Judas is probably a fake.

From the Hitler Diaries to the James Ossuary, there is money in them thar hills.

Why should this be any different?

The give away is that all this stuff is being released at the same time as the DaVinci Code movies.

Just another scam.

.:webmaster:. said...

Think of all the sermon topics against the book and all the apologetic anti-Judas-Gospel literature that is already being written and sold...

No doubt about it   big money!

I guess it's too bad those early Christians didn't burn this book along with all the rest that they destroyed.

Damned heretics!

Anonymous said...

Sceptical critics presuppose that our most primary sources for the life of Jesus are not the Gospels, but rather writings outside the New Testament, specifically the so–called apocryphal gospels. These are gospels forged under the apostles’ names, like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Philip, and so forth. These extra–biblical writings are said to be the key to correctly reconstructing the historical Jesus.

Professor Luke Johnson, a distinguished New Testament scholar at Emory University, points out that all of the recent spate of books claiming to uncover the real Jesus follow the same, predictable pattern:

1. The book begins by trumpeting the scholarly credentials of the author and his prodigious research.
2. The author claims to offer some new, and maybe even suppressed, interpretation of who Jesus really was.
3. The truth about Jesus is said to be discovered by means of sources outside the Bible which enable us to read the Gospels in a new way which is at odds with their face value meaning.
4. This new interpretation is provocative and even titillating, for example, that Jesus married Mary Magdalene or was the leader of a hallucinogenic cult or a peasant cynic philosopher.
5. It is implied that traditional Christian beliefs are therefore undermined and need to be revised.{1}
If you hear of books following this familiar pattern, your critical antennae ought to automatically go up. You are about to be duped. For the fact is that there is no source outside the Bible which calls into question the portrait of Jesus painted in the gospels.

Let me take just a couple of examples which are favorite sources of the Sceptics. First, the so–called Gospel of Thomas. The Sceptics consider this such an important source that they include it along with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in their edition of The Five Gospels.

Now what is the Gospel of Thomas? It is a writing which was discovered in Egypt just after World War II. It was part of a collection of Gnostic documents. Gnosticism was an ancient near–eastern philosophy which held that the physical world is evil and the spiritual realm is good. Salvation comes through secret knowledge of the spiritual realm, which liberates the soul from its imprisonment in the physical world. The so–called Gospel of Thomas is shot through with Gnostic philosophy. It was no doubt part of the literature of a Gnostic Christian cult, much like New Age cults in our own day. Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas as old as AD 200 have been found, and most scholars would date the original to have been written in the latter half of the second century after Christ. One evidence of this fact is that the Gospel of Thomas uses vocabulary that comes from second century translations and harmonies of the four gospels.

Thus, the vast majority of scholars today regard the Gospel of Thomas as a derivative source from the second century after Christ which reflects the view of Christian gnosticism.

Incredibly, however, Sceptics regard the Gospel of Thomas as an early, primary source concerning Jesus and use it to revise the portrait of Jesus found in the Gospels. Now what reasons do they have for dating the Gospel of Thomas so early? Amazingly, their whole approach to this question is reasoning in a circle. It goes like this:

1. The Gospel of Thomas is an early, primary source.

“How do you know?”
2. Because no apocalyptic sayings are found in the Gospel of Thomas.

“Why is that evidence of an early date?”
3. This is evidence of an early date because Jesus wasn’t into Apocalyptic.

“How do you know he wasn’t?”
4. Because the Gospel of Thomas proves he wasn’t.

“Why believe what the Gospel of Thomas says?”
1. The Gospel of Thomas is an early, primary source.

Thus, Howard Clark Kee of Boston University hails this procedure as "a triumph of circular reasoning!"{2} British New Testament scholar Thomas Wright says it’s like Winnie the Pooh following his own tracks in the snow around a clump of trees and each time he sees more tracks he takes this as evidence that his quarry is even more numerous and more real than he thought before!{3} No wonder that the Sceptics haven’t been able to convince very many of their colleagues by means of arguments like this!

A second example is the so–called Gospel of Peter. Although this writing was condemned as spurious by early Church Fathers, the actual text was unknown to us until a copy was discovered in an Egyptian tomb in 1886. Like the Gospel of Thomas it bears the marks of Gnostic influence and uses uniquely second–second vocabulary, so that scholars unanimously regard it as a second century writing.

Nevertheless, John Dominic Crossan, the Jesus Seminar’s co–chairman, bases his entire reconstruction of Jesus’ death and burial on his claim that the Gospel of Peter actually contains the oldest primary source about Jesus and that the four gospels are all based on it. Therefore, he says, the gospels have no historical value because they have no source of information about Jesus’ death other than the account in the Gospel of Peter. Even though the Gospel of Peter itself does describe Jesus’ resurrection, Crossan’s pressuposition to naturalism prevents him from believing in that event. But with the biblical gospels out of the way, Crossan can claim that the Gospel of Peter is just legendary and that there is no confirming testimony to Jesus’ resurrection.

One of the strangest aspects of Crossan’s reasoning is that he seems to have completely forgotten about the Apostle Paul. Even if Crossan were right about the Gospel of Peter’s being primary, its testimony would still be independently confirmed by the writings of Paul, who refers to Jesus’ burial and even lists the witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. Thus, even if the account of the resurrection in the Gospel of Peter were foundational to the four gospels, there’s no historical reason to deny the resurrection.

But in fact Crossan’s theory about the primacy of the Gospel of Peter’s account is virtually universally rejected by New Testament scholars. The prominent Canadian scholar Ben Meyer has called Crossan’s arguments "eccentric and implausible."{4} Even Harvard University’s Helmut Koester rejects Crossan’s reasoning as "seriously flawed."{5} There are no signs of literary dependence of the four gospels on the account in the Gospel of Peter. The obvious conclusion is that the Gospel of Peter is based on the four gospels, not the other way around. Thomas Wright sums up by stating that Crossan’s hypothesis "has not been accepted yet by any other serious scholar" and the date and origin suggested by Crossan "are purely imaginary."{6}

What I’ve said about the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Peter could be said about all the other apocryphal gospels as well. According to John Meier, a prominent American New Testament critic, the idea that the apocryphal gospels offer us new information about Jesus is "largely fantasy."{7} The fact is that these writings are later, derivative writings shaped by the theology of the second century and later. What this means, in the words of Professor Johnson, is that despite all the hoopla, "The writings of the New Testament remain our best historical witnesses" to the life of Jesus.


{1}Luke Timothy Johnson, The Real Jesus (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996), p. 31.

{2}Howard Clark Kee, "A Century of Quests of the Culturally Compatible Jesus," Theology Today 52 (1995): 22.

{3}N. T. Wright, "Taking the Text with Her Pleasure," Theology 96 (1993): 307.

{4}Ben Meyer, critical notice of The Historical Jesus, by John Dominic Crossan, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 55 (1993): 575.

{5}Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels (London: SCM, 1990), p. 220.

{6}N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), p. 49.

{7}John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew, vol. 2: Mentor, Message and Miracles, Anchor Bible Reference Library (New York: Doubleday, 1994), p. 5.

freeman said...

I really wish I knew who wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke and John!!!

The author of these books ("gospels") was perpetuating a fraud!

Today is a very good Friday! May the myth of Jesus die once and for all!!!!!!!

Jim Arvo said...

I have neither the time nor the inclination to respond to everything you've said, but I'd just like to point out that your early premises are way off-base, so you end up attacking a straw man. For example...

Anonymous: "Sceptical critics presuppose that our most primary sources for the life of Jesus are not the Gospels, but rather writings outside the New Testament,..."

That's absurd. I can't think of a single scholar who makes such a ridiculous black-and-white distinction. The fact is that *ALL* the gospels (canonical and non-canonical) ought to be (and have been) scrutinized with great skepticism. In other words, simply bowing to the judgment of the 4'th century council by focusing exclusively on their chosen gospels would introduce an unnecessary bias. Each gospel should be judged by its own merits, and by the light of critically examined extra-Biblical information, and by the harmony/dis-harmony among them as a whole, etc. I don't see any short-cuts, nor do any legitimate scholars that I am aware of.

Anonymous: "Professor Luke Johnson, a distinguished New Testament scholar at Emory University, points out that all of the recent spate of books claiming to uncover the real Jesus follow the same, predictable pattern:..."

The list that "Professor Jonhson" then produces is another straw man, which is apparently an attempt to silence (or discredit) the scholars with whom he disagreed in one fell swoop. The fact is, there are numerous opinions on the historicity of Jesus, even among the comparatively liberal participants in the Jesus seminar. The characterization provided by Johnson is very simplistic; rather than addressing the points that they raise, it seems he is looking for a convenient excuse to divert his eyes. I've seen the same tactic among those who wish to pretend that Christianity has no particular connection with earlier so-called "Pagan" beliefs. It simply does not do to dismiss them with a wave of the hand, claiming that they all make the same simple-minded mistake. It just aint so.

In short, you seem to buy into all this claptrap rather than investigate it yourself. Before discarding what the "skeptics" say, I urge you to first consider what the skeptics ACTUALLY say; not some, ridiculous characterization. But it seems you make this mistake repeatedly in your long post. Hence, I don't see much value in what you've written.

boomSLANG said...

You nailed it, Jim Arvo---

....so in a nut-shell, Anonyfundy is saying that no one should listen to those "biased skeptics" take on the Gospels....but yet, "hey!....look over here and pay close attention to what 'Professor Gospelopolous' has to say on the matter." LMAO!..good stuff!

.:webmaster:. said...

Anony-fundie is a copy-and-paster.

here and here.

Jim Arvo said...

WM: "Anony-fundie is a copy-and-paster."

Geesh. Looking back, I should have guessed that and done a Google search first. As there was no attribution given, I view that post as something akin to plagiarism (I'm giving the poster some wiggle room here, since it *was* anonymous). Have you anything to say about your conduct, Anonymous? (Of course, you're also a hit-and-run poser, aren't you? I'm wasting my time...)

Anonymous said...

Why would you have such vial things on your site such as the icon picture of a boy peeing on a Jesus icon and a gallery of images of sex art? The focus is not on the ART here but the SEX...it's very clear where this sites roots stem from..........

I hope others that come here can open there eyes and see!

Anonymous said...

Beyond Blind Faith
The life of Jesus Christ. Was he the Son of God? A brief look at the life of Jesus and why it's not blind faith to believe in him...
http://www.everystudent.com/features/faith.html

.:webmaster:. said...

The art is Christian. Most of the artwork was created for the Church and is on the walls of chruches.

If you have see sexual inuendo in the artwork, you have a problem with Christianity.

BG said...

Anony: "Why would you have such vial things on your site such as the icon picture of a boy peeing on a Jesus icon and a gallery of images of sex art? The focus is not on the ART here but the SEX...it's very clear where this sites roots stem from.........."

Your Jesus symbol, you know, the "fish" (Ichthys), is an early goddess vagina symbol, and your Jesus is in the crack... do you know who put Jesus in the crack of the vagina? Christians. It's out of their sheer stupidity that they have no clue about their own origins - or perhaps they do, which is a little more disturbing.

Ichthys:
"The word also meant "womb" and "dolphin" in some tongues, and representations of this appeared in the depiction of mermaids. The fish is also a central element in other stories, including the Goddess of Ephesus (who has a fish amulet covering her genital region), as well as the tale of the fish that swallowed Osiris, and was also considered a symbol of Isis."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichthys

Your Jesus symbol, you know, the "cross", is an early symbol for capital punishment, like the electric chair for instance... do you know who wears capital punishment symbols as jewelry? Christians. It's out of sheer stupidity that they have no clue that they are wearing a symbol used to kill someone they in theory care for. Do you wear electric chair, car, gun, etc., symbols around your neck to remember the instrument used to kill a loved one? Christians do.

Get an education, take a research class on sinology, and learn about your belief system, perhaps you will stumble across something that makes more sense than a vagina with your god spelled on the crack.