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"Gospels" of "Me"

An extract from Document Is Genuine, but Is Its Story True? by Laurie Goodstein in the April 7, 2006 issue of New York Times:

"GNOSTICISM has become practically a household word, largely thanks to the novel "The Da Vinci Code," as well as to scholars of early Christianity like Elaine Pagels, who write for a popular audience.

"Many more Gnostic Gospels have been translated and distributed -- Mary Magdalene, Philip, Thomas and even "The Gospel of Truth"... [since 1959, when the Gospel of Thomas was first published in English]. Some churches are holding study groups to pick over books on the "historical Jesus."

"The Gospel of Judas is only the latest crumbling parchment to surface in the sands of Egypt like an ancient time capsule. Even before its formal introduction at a National Geographic Society news conference yesterday, scholars have been part of a debate that will soon be echoing in churches, on the Web and in Christian publishing.

"The real debate is whether the text says anything historically legitimate about Jesus and Judas."


HAPPENED TO SEE parts of "The Lost Gospel of Judas" show on CNA just now. Learnt through a Google search that the National Geographic Society introduced the modern translation on 6 April, with a television special on on April 9.

Rather puzzled as to how seemingly credible media could give so much attention to such questionable claims.

As Jesuit priest Gerald O'Collins, a longtime professor of Christology at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, had pointed out, the Gospel of Judas does not deserve name 'gospel'. The Gospel of Judas and the others, while including events supposedly related to the life of Jesus, seem to be texts "attempting to bolster the importance" of the personalities they are named after and not of Jesus. "A 'Gospel' is a literary genre -- established by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- focusing on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus."

In other words, these Gnostic "gospels" are more like "wishful writings" that are "All about ME"! Interestingly, they involuntarily contradict one another, don't they? Judas was the "only one" who truly understood Jesus and worthy of being entrusted "the mysteries of the kingdom", Mary Magdalene was also the "only one"... (Meanwhile, all the other disciples are immoral idiots -- what a 'loving' 'Christian' observation!) So, just how many "only ones" can there be?

Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky, put it really well, "The manuscript tells us nothing about the historical Jesus or the historical Judas... It tells us a lot about a group that were labeled heretics in their own day."

(Note: Unlike the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which were written in Christianity's first century, Gnostic works were produced in the second century and afterward. See also Facts vs. Fiction in the Da Vinci Code.)


by tree#138680 on Mon May 15 06 11:20 am | profile

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