Judas' Extreme Makeover: Examining The Lost Gospel of Judas
On April 7th The Gospel of Judas was "unveiled" to the world at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington D.C., creating an international stir in the media and religious world. Arguably it is one of the most exciting discoveries since the Nag Hammadi library and Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered in the late 1940s.
How this gospel emerged from the obscurity of the Egyptian desert to the front pages of international headlines is a fascinating story in its own right. It was originally discovered near El Minya, Egypt in the 1970s and sold to an antiquities dealer named "Hanna" in Cairo in 1978. It was stolen in 1980 and moved to Europe, but recovered by Hanna after coordinating with a Swiss antiquities dealer. After attempts to sell the manuscript proved unsuccessful Hanna moved it to the United States where it sat in Citibank safe-deposit box in Hicksville, New York for sixteen years before being purchased by Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos in 2000.
After two unsuccessful attempts to sell the manuscript, and due to the rapidity of its deterioration (it had broken into nearly 1000 fragments) Tchacos moved it to the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art in Basel, Switzerland in February 2001 where it would be restored and translated over the next five years. Rodolphe Kasser, one of the world's leading Coptic scholars, was responsible for piecing together and translating the badly deteriorating text along with Marvin Meyer (USA) and Gregor Wurst (Germany).
The 26 page1 gospel is part of an ancient codex containing three other ancient works: the First Apocalypse of James, the Letter of Peter to Phillip, and fragments of a work that has been dubbed the Book of Allogenes.2 Pages of the codex can be viewed here and here. It is written in the Coptic language (ancient Egyptian language) using the Greek alphabet (a process called transliteration), but the Coptic scholars associated with translating this gospel believe it is a translation from a Greek original.
Lost Gospel, Unlikely Hero
Buried for nearly 1700 years, The Gospel of Judas is certainly new to modern eyes, but its ancient existence has long been known to historians. We simply lacked an extant copy, and knew little about its contents. The work was known to the early church, mentioned by certain church fathers, and rejected as heretical.3 For example, Irenaeus spoke of The Gospel of Judas in AD 180 in his seminal work Against Heresies i, 31, 1:
Others again declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. On this account, they add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.
The group to which Irenaeus referred was a tiny sect of Gnostic believers called Cainites. They took their name from the Biblical Cain, whom they praised for having stood up to (what they believed) the evil creator god of the Old Testament: Jehovah. Rather than serving Jehovah Cain served the true God: the Invisible Spirit who dwells in the kingdom of light. The Cainites were responsible for "rehabilitating" several disreputable characters of the Bible including Esau, Korah, sodomites, and of course Judas. This fact alone-their tendency toward historical revisionism-severely undermines the historical credibility of The Gospel of Judas.
Some are portraying this gospel's disappearance as some sort of Christian suppression or conspiracy. For example, Andrew Cockburn of National Geographic wrote, "They had gone unheard ever since the early church declared the document off-limits for Christians."4 Cockburn makes it seem as if there was an official church council that placed the gospel on an official "banned books list." This is pure fiction. While certain church fathers denounced the work, they did not do so in any official binding capacity. The supposed gospel was rejected by both clergy and laity on the simple basis that it contradicted the "rule of faith"5: the eyewitness accounts recorded by the apostles and their associates (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), and the traditions passed down from bishop to bishop going back to the apostles themselves.
Judas as Loving Servant
While much could be said about the contents of this gospel, of special note is its portrayal of Judas as Jesus' favored disciple, and the claim that Judas turned Jesus over to the authorities at Jesus' own behest. Judas, we are told, is not the great betrayer of Christ as recorded in the canonical gospels, but His loving and obedient servant; not the villain extraordinaire, but the hero of the story:
Jesus answered and said, "You will become the thirteenth, and you will be cursed by the other generations-and you will come to rule over them. In the last days they will curse your ascent to the holy [generation]." "But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me."
The fulfillment of this prophecy comes in the last few lines of the gospel:
Their high priests murmured because [he] had gone into the guest room for his prayer. But some scribes were there watching carefully in order to arrest him during the prayer, for they were afraid of the people, since he was regarded by all as a prophet. They approached Judas and said to him, "What are you doing here? You are Jesus' disciple." Judas answered them as they wished. And he received some money and handed him over to them.
In a League of Its Own
It is important to understand that The Gospel of Judas is not essentially identical to the canonical gospels, differing only in this one historical point. The Gospel of Judas bears virtually no resemblance to the canonical gospels. Absent from this gospel are the sine qua non doctrines of Christianity including Jesus' deity and bodily resurrection, substitutionary atonement, and salvation by grace. It reflects an entirely different theological system. Gnosticism was not a mere denomination within the Christian religion, but an entirely different religion that competed with Christianity. Gnosticism was to ancient Christianity what Mormonism is to Christianity today. While they share some of the same Biblical characters (Jesus, the apostles) they give opposing historical accounts of their words and deeds; and while they share some of the same theological terms (God, Jesus, salvation, grace) they invest them with very different meanings.
To demonstrate just how different from the canonical gospels The Gospel of Judas really is, I will quote at length a section of Jesus' discourse on cosmology6:
Adamas was in the first luminous cloud that no angel has ever seen among all those called 'God.' He  [ ] that [ ] the image [ ] and after the likeness of [this] angel. He made the incorruptible [generation] of Seth appear [ ] the twelve [ ] the twenty-four [ ]. He made seventy-two luminaries appear in the incorruptible generation, in accordance with the will of the Spirit. The seventy-two luminaries themselves made three
hundred sixty luminaries appear in the incorruptible generation, in accordance with the will of the Spirit, that their number should be five for each.
The twelve aeons of the twelve luminaries constitute their father, with six heavens for each aeon, so that there are seventy-two heavens for the seventy-two luminaries, and for each  [of them five] firmaments, [for a total of] three hundred sixty [firmaments ]. They were given authority and a [great] host of angels [without number], for glory and adoration, [and after that also] virgin spirits, for glory and [adoration] of all the aeons and the heavens and their firmaments.
The multitude of those immortals is called the cosmos- that is, perdition-by the Father and the seventy-two luminaries who are with the Self-Generated and his seventy-two aeons. In him the first human appeared with his incorruptible powers. And the aeon that appeared with his generation, the aeon in whom are the cloud of knowledge and the angel, is called  El. [ ] aeon [ ] after that [ ] said, 'Let twelve angels come into being [to] rule over chaos and the [underworld].' And look, from the cloud there appeared an [angel] whose face flashed with fire and whose appearance was defiled with blood. His name was Nebro, which means 'rebel'; others call him Yaldabaoth. Another angel, Saklas, also came from the cloud. So Nebro created six angels-as well as Saklas-to be assistants, and these produced twelve angels in the heavens, with each one receiving a portion in the heavens.
Confused? It's no wonder Irenaeus and the early church rejected this gospel! It is as different from the four canonical gospels as night is from day. The faithful followers of Christ did not buy it, and neither should we.
The gospel begins in the following manner: "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated Passover." The emphasis of "secret" knowledge identifies this text as a Gnostic, not Christian gospel.
"Gnosticism" comes from the Greek word gnosis meaning "knowledge." Gnostics embraced an extreme form of metaphysical and ethical dualism: matter is evil (if not an illusion), spirit is good. They believed in one ultimate, and several lower deities. Among the lower deities there was Jehovah who created the evil material world, but the ultimate deity was the Ineffable One: the impersonal Pleroma (fullness) that dwells in the kingdom of light. They claimed that within every human being resides a divine spark that's imprisoned in an evil, material body, unable to escape because of spiritual ignorance. Salvation is the liberation of this divine spark from the body to ascend to the realm of the Pleroma, and is obtained through secret, mystical knowledge (gnosis) delivered to humans via messengers sent from the realm of the Pleroma (of which Christ was one). The gnosis these messengers provide awakens the divine spark within the elect few to whom it is given. Marv Meyer described the Gnostic faith as follows:
Gnostic texts are mystical texts. That is to say they have to do with the fact that there is a bit of the light of the divine; there is a spark of the divine in every person who has knowledge. And if that person can just throw away all ignorance and come to a self-knowledge of who he or she actually is, then that person will recognize that there is a bit of God that is inside of that person. That's what these texts are about. That's the knowledge that these Gnostic texts try to communicate.7
The contrast between Gnostic and Christian theology could not be greater: (1) the material world is evil rather than good; (2) ignorance, not sin, is what's wrong with the world; (3) redemption comes through knowledge rather than accepting Christ's substitionary atonement by faith; (4) salvation is limited to an elect few who possess secret knowledge rather than available to all; (5) Christ is not the one true God incarnate who died for our sins,8 but an intermediary spirit who came to disclose secret knowledge to the elect; i.e. He is the revealer rather than the savior.
Is there any significance to The Gospel of Judas? In short I would argue that it contains nothing of theological significance on the grounds that it contains nothing of historical significance (a point I will argue for later). The only scholars touting the Gospel of Judas as a find of theological significance are those who have an ideological bias in favor of Gnostic forms of Christianity and against traditional Christianity. Such figures include Karen King, Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, and Marv Meyer-all of whom desire to remake historic Christianity into a more Gnostic-like mold.
They claim this find demonstrates the diversity of Jesus traditions circulating in the early church, and undercuts the notion that Christianity was a monolithic and well-defined religion in the early centuries of the church. They claim there were many versions that competed for dominance, but what came to be historic and orthodox Christianity won out over the rest through political maneuvering and the suppression of dissenting views. Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University, is representative of this line of thinking. She wrote in the New York Times, "What is clear is that the Gospel of Judas has joined the other spectacular discoveries that are exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was."9 And again, "This changes the history of early Christianity."10 Do the existence of competing Jesus traditions in the early church cast doubt on the historical veracity of orthodox Christianity?
While it is true that the early church had its share of heterodox detractors, they were fringe movements-often of late origin-that never gained a wide following. To argue that their mere historic existence in the first few centuries of the church undermines an established and virtually universal Christian tradition would be comparable to someone in the year 2509 using the presence of Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons in our day to prove there was no orthodox version of Christianity in the 21st century! There will always be competitors to orthodoxy, but their presence does not make the orthodox view any less orthodox or any less true.
The fact of the matter is that the earliest Gnostic "gospels" postdated the earliest canonical gospels by about 100 years. You cannot have the Gnostic version of Christianity vying with the canonical version to be accepted as the "real version" if the canonical version preceded it by so many years. The orthodox version, along with the four canonical gospels that present it, was well-established and accepted throughout the early church prior to the advent of Gnosticism. Gnostics, and the gospels they wrote were late-comers who tried unsuccessfully to crash the orthodox party.
Even if Pagels is right in her claim that a host of diverse views existed in the early church (none of which enjoyed dominance), what follows from that? Does it follow that no version of the Christian faith is true to the historical Jesus? No. The mere existence of other Jesus traditions that fabricate history for theological purposes does nothing to invalidate the real deal. Does it follow that the orthodox version of Christianity is false? No. The historical veracity of orthodox Christianity stands or falls on the historical evidence. And suffice it to say that historic Christianity has been tried and vindicated time and time again. Can the same be said of the Jesus story presented in the Gnostic gospels? Absolutely not! One will need to do more than point to the diversity of views in the early church to dethrone the solid historical veracity of orthodox Christianity presented in the canonical gospels and believed by the church at large.
While Pagels et al present this supposed "diversity" in the early church as something positive I doubt most historians would agree. Why? Because history is not diverse. It is what it is. A diversity of historical accounts usually indicates a diversity of historical error. James Patrick Holding said it best when he wrote:
Diversity is the buzzword of the day, but my response as usual is, "Who cares about diversity of error?" Perhaps the media would get happy if some of us provided some "diversity" by suggesting that Richard Nixon did nothing wrong with Watergate but was in fact framed by Bob Woodward. Or maybe the Pagels-Ehrman Axis would appreciate some "diversity" in our understanding of the lives of those two scholars by writing a "biography" portraying those two as having a torrid love affair. Then, when they object, we can accuse them of trying to suppress something, or of being afraid of diversity, and simply say we are "exploding the myth" of their personal lives being so clear of wrongdoing.
Once again: In the end, there can only be ONE story of history that is correct; the rest must be wrong, or all stories are wrong. The GoJ [Gospel of Judas] and the canonical Gospels offer mutually exclusive portraits of Jesus. Diversity of views is irrelevant to what actually happened.11 (emphasis in original)
So why should we believe the Gnostic portrayal of Christ is more accurate to history than the canonical gospels? We are not told. Again, the mere existence of these alternative Christianities is thought to cast doubt on the historical veracity of the canonical gospels.
Those like Pagels side-step the issue by denying that any of the gospels-Gnostic and canonical alike-give us reliable historical information about Jesus. For Pagels Christianity is not necessarily tied to history: "The Christian message is a message about faith and hope and, you know, the relationship between God and human beings. It's not a matter of historical fact."12 "We don't look to the gospels for historical information, but for the fundamentals of the Christian faith."13 "I don't think that we have in this Gospel what I would call historical proof. We also don't have that in the other Gospels."14
This invites a question. If neither the canonical or Gnostic gospels give us accurate historical information about Jesus as Pagels claims, then why should anyone care that The Gospel of Judas says Jesus asked Judas to betray Him? After all, we are talking about fiction, and fiction don't need no fixin'! We cannot be expected to correct the canonical story based on The Gospel of Judas because the notion of correction entails a move away from error and to truth based on an objective standard. If neither the Gnostic nor canonical gospels contain accurate historical information, the canonical gospels cannot be corrected by the Gnostic gospels anymore than Moby Dick can be corrected by Lord of the Flies. Fiction can only be changed, not corrected. Only if the canonical gospels are claims to accurate history, and only if The Gospel of Judas is a claim to accurate history would the differences matter, and a possible correction be in order; and yet that is what Pagels denies. In doing so she admits the gospel is theologically irrelevant.
Pagels' view invites a second question as well. Why fuss over the fact that the fictional Gnostic-Jesus lost out to the equally fictional canonical-Jesus if both are just works of fiction fabricated by the early church with little basis in historical reality? Wouldn't the early church be free to choose whatever fiction they wanted to define their fairy-tale religion, and reject the rest? Of course! No one can complain that they unjustly or incorrectly chose the orthodox version, because without historical veracity as the standard by which the competing versions were to be judged acceptable or rejectable, it is impossible to make a bad choice. It was their fiction to choose and they chose it. Who can say whose fiction was better? Certainly not Pagels and Ehrman who come along 1800 years after the fact!
Contra Pagels we are not dealing with competing fictions, but with competing claims to historical veracity. And with historical veracity as the standard and guide for orthodoxy, the version of Christ presented in the canonical gospels is the clear and undisputed winner.
Christianity is Wed to History
To truly understand why The Gospel of Judas is so important for us to wrestle with, and why it has the potential to damage the Christian faith we need to back up a bit to understand the nature of Christianity and the foundation on which it rests. The Judaeo-Christian religious tradition is rather unique among the world's major religions in that it is grounded in the reality of God's redemptive activity in history, not blind faith, religious wishful thinking, or "feel-goodism." Christianity is not a philosophy, a way of knowledge, or faith for the sake of faith, but a particular understanding and acceptance of the significance of particular historical events.
This is both the strength and vulnerability of Christianity. It is its strength because archaeological and historical data confirm the accuracy of the Biblical accounts. And if the historical claims of the Bible prove accurate (that which we can investigate), it confers credibility to the spiritual claims/authority of the Bible (that which we cannot investigate). And yet the histocentricity of Christianity is also its vulnerability because it makes it susceptible to falsification. It could always be shown that the "story" presented by the gospels is historically unreliable, undermining the credibility of its spiritual claims. It is at this Achilles Heel of Christianity that The Gospel of Judas purportedly strikes, and it is for this reason the gospel is important to consider.
If The Gospel of Judas is historically reliable it calls into question the divine inspiration of the four canonical gospels and challenges the historical foundation of Christianity itself. Without that historical foundation Christianity falls apart. If Gnosticism is true, Christianity is simply false.
Was the world's worst villain actually our Lord's hero? Is Christianity as we know it a false portrayal of Christ and His teachings? Should The Gospel of Judas cause us to re-examine our faith as some suggest? To answer these questions we must answer two foundational questions: (1) Is the gospel authentic? (2) Is it true?
Whenever something purported to be of ancient origin surfaces in modern times it is important to establish is authenticity. Is it the work of a modern forger or is it the Real McCoy? The Gospel of Judas was subjected to a wide array of testing to determine just that. Radiocarbon dating, paleographic evidence, contextual evidence, ink analysis, and multispectral analysis all collaborated to authenticate the document as a genuine ancient Coptic manuscript from the third or fourth century.15
Five samples of the document were submitted to the University of Arizona's radiocarbon dating lab-the same lab that carbon dated the Dead Sea Scrolls. The director of the facility, Tim Jull, reported that the papyrus dates between A.D. 220-340. This date corresponds to the findings of the other four tests. Al Mohler rightly concluded that "the scholarly research behind the publication of the gospel of Judas appears to be sound and responsible. The codex manuscript was submitted to the most rigorous historical process in terms of dating, chemical composition, and similar questions. In the end, it appears that the document is most likely authentic, in terms of its origin from within a heretical sect in the third century."16
Is It True?
Let's cut to the chase. The Gospel of Judas is not a genuine gospel (it does not chronicle events in Jesus' life, but rather extended secret dialogues between He and His disciples), and everyone agrees it was not written by Judas. So much for the title! So what can a non-Christian non-gospel written by a non-Judas tell us about historic Christianity? Not much!
Dr Simon Gathercole, a New Testament expert from The University of Aberdeen, said the following concerning the gospel's historical value:
The so-called "Gospel of Judas" is certainly an ancient text, but not ancient enough to tell us anything new about the real Judas or Jesus. It contains a number of religious themes which are completely alien to the first-century world of Jesus and Judas, but which did become popular later, in the second century AD. An analogy would be finding a speech claiming to be written by Queen Victoria, in which she talked about The Lord of the Rings and her CD collection.17
Craig Evans of Acadia Divinity College agreed saying, "There is nothing in the Gospel of Judas that tells us anything we could consider historically reliable."18 Even the pro-Gnostic scholar, Elaine Pagels of Princeton University, confessed, "I don't think that we have in this Gospel what I would call historical proof."19 To understand why scholars would conclude this let us continue our examination.
Too Late in the Game
While the copy of The Gospel of Judas we possess is from the third or fourth century, the original was written earlier. Irenaeus mentioned it by name in AD 180, so it must have been written no later than AD 179. And based on its theological content most scholars agree it could not have been penned earlier than AD 150. This means the gospel was written somewhere between 120-149 years after the events it purports to describe. Unless its author was at least 140 years old it could not have been penned by an eyewitness!
Contrast this with the canonical gospels. It is almost universally accepted among both conservative and liberal theologians that the canonical gospels were written in the second half of the first century by eyewitnesses and/or their close associates. It is also agreed that the earliest of the Gnostic texts (including The Gospel of Judas) were written in the second half of the second century. That is a difference of 100 years, and a difference of eyewitness testimony versus hearsay testimony (if not outright fabrications). As Coptic scholar, James Robinson, told the Associated Press, The Gospel of Judas cannot give us any new insights into the historical Jesus and Judas because while it is old, it is not old enough.20 Even the earliest proposed date, AD 150, is not enough to rescue this gospel from historical irrelevancy.
While counting heads does not guarantee the truth, it's usually a good indicator. This is no less true of The Gospel of Judas. The fact that we only have a single surviving manuscript of the gospel is revealing. Compare this to the more than 5600 extant Greek manuscripts of the canonical New Testament.21 When we add the early translations into the pot the figure rises to more than 24,500! This is fairly conclusive evidence that the church widely rejected the Gnostic gospels such as The Gospel of Judas in favor of what became the four canonical gospels.
No reputable historian would re-write history based on the discovery of a single manuscript when it contradicts what we know from multiple sources contained in thousands of earlier documents. James Hamilton Jr., assistant professor of biblical studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Houston campus, offers an apt analogy:
What would happen today if a "newly discovered" document was found from the American Revolution[?] "Let's say the document was written by someone loyal to Great Britain, and let's say that it suggested that George Washington asked Benedict Arnold to betray the American cause. Given that the facts are well-established, and given that the sympathies of the author of this document are clear for everyone to see, would this document change our understanding of American history? I think not, and I think the same is true of the gospel of Judas.22
It would be just as ludicrous to throw away the established testimony of the canonical eyewitness testimony on the basis of a single manuscript written by a questionable source some 120-145 years after the events in question. All suggestions that we do so are not rational, but sensational in nature.
As mentioned earlier, the canonical gospels are written in a thoroughly historical setting. Jesus' words and deeds are set in a specific historical context replete with geographical and temporal markers that can be tested for historical accuracy. Contrast this to Gnostic gospels like Judas. As far as can be told the discourses in The Gospel of Judas take place in a land far far away in a time long forgotten. We are not provided with any historical setting that can be cross-checked by external sources. It consists wholly of religious assertions that read like the wild imaginations of a science-fiction writer and religious enthusiast. Anybody can make up a story; anybody can make religious claims. The question is why should we believe it? When it comes to The Gospel of Judas, frankly, I see no reason to.
When presented with a single document-written by a group who post-dates the events in question by more than 100 years, at a time when no eyewitnesses are left to set the record straight-that claims to know something about the historical Jesus and Judas that contradicts earlier accounts written by eyewitnesses, we should be very skeptical. The burden of proof is not on Christianity to defend its enormous historical and textual tradition against this one aberrant manuscript, but rather on those who would suggest that this manuscript single-handedly calls historic Christianity into question. Frankly, it will take more than a single, late, Gnostic text to makeover Judas and the Christian faith. We can rest confident in that!
1. It is contained in thirteen double-sided pages of papyrus.
2. The First Apocalypse of James and the Letter of Peter to Phillip were previously known to scholars through the Nag Hammadi find in 1945.
3. It is important to understand that The Gospel of Judas-along with all other Gnostic gospels such as The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Peter, and The Gospel of Thomas-were rejected by, not lost to the early church. This is important because there are some who will claim that these gospels may be lost books of the Bible. Theologically and logically speaking there can be no such thing as a lost book of the Bible. For further reading see my article titled "Defending the Inerrancy and Canon of Scripture".
4. Andrew Cockburn, "The Judas Gospel"; available from http://www9.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/gospel/feature.html; Internet; accessed 15 April 2006.
5. The "rule of faith" was a concept developed by early church fathers such as Irenaeus and Tertullian as a way to ensure doctrinal orthodoxy. The rule of faith is the idea that doctrinal authority resides in the apostolic writings, tradition, and the bishops. It assumed that new doctrines were heterodox, and apostolic succession/doctrine was preserved among the bishops and in the sacred writings. The early church reasoned that since the bishops were taught by, and appointed by those who came before them, and those that came before them were taught by, and appointed by the apostles themselves, that the bishops as a group were the best judge of doctrinal orthodoxy. For example, Irenaeus wrote in Against Heresies III.3.4:
"But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time, a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics."
6. "[ ]" represent places in the text where words are missing due to textual deterioration. Words that appear in [ ] are likely reconstructions of the missing text.
7. Marv Meyer, "A Bit of God Inside", video clip; available from http://www9.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/gospel/video.html; Internet; accessed 12 April 2006.
8. In Gnostic theology the purpose of Jesus' death was only to release Christ (the spirit) from his earthly body (Jesus), not to pay for the sins of humanity. Many Gnostics made a distinction between Jesus and Christ. Jesus was the human body, while Christ was the heavenly messenger. That is why Jesus purportedly told Judas that he would only be sacrificing "the man that clothes" him. This reflects the Gnostic disdain for the material body.
9. Elaine Pagels, "The Gospel Truth"; available from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/08/opinion/08pagels.html?ex=1302148800&en=baece6c9988972fb&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss; Internet; accessed 15 April 2006.
10. Quoted in Andrew Cockburn, "The Judas Gospel"; available from http://www9.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/gospel/feature.html; Internet; accessed 13 April 2006.
11. James Patrick Holding, "Another Garage Sale Gospel"; available from http://www.tektonics.org/garagesale.html; Internet; accessed 28 April 2006.
12. Quoted in an ABC News article, "Did Jesus Ask Judas to Betray Him?"; available from http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=1810169&page=4; Internet; accessed 15 April 2006.
13. Quoted in "The Judas Gospel"
14. Quoted in "Did Jesus Ask Judas to Betray Him?"
15. See National Geographic's authentification page for more detailed information.
16. Albert Mohler, "Responding to The Gospel of Judas"; available from http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=23005; Internet; accessed 11 April 16. 2006.
17. Jenny Booth, "Judas Did Not Betray Jesus, Lost Gospel Claims", London Times, April 6, 2006; http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2121611,00.html; Internet; accessed 18 April 2006.
18. Quoted in Cockburn, "The Judas Gospel"
19. ABC News, "Did Jesus Ask Judas to Betray Him?"
20. Richard N. Ostling of the Associated Press, "Expert Doubts 'Gospel of Judas' Revelation"; available from http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=1680974; Internet; accessed 12 April 2006.
21. Some who wish to champion the lost gospel claim this disparity in number is due to the banning and burning of the gospel by the orthodox. This explanation will not do. It would be nearly impossible to locate, round up, and burn every copy of the gospel in the Empire.
22. Michael Foust, "Orthodox Scholars: Gospel of Judas not a Christian Document"; available from http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=23035; accessed 20 April 2006.
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