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Judas: Another Gospel? Is it Genuine? Discovered in a subterranean chamber in Egypt in 1970’s. Carbon-14 dating: AD 220-340. A Coptic manuscript on papyrus. Quoted by Iranaeus Against Heresies AD180. Probably originated AD 150-170. Bottom line, it is genuine!

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is it genuine
Is it Genuine?
  • Discovered in a subterranean chamber in Egypt in 1970’s.
  • Carbon-14 dating: AD 220-340.
  • A Coptic manuscript on papyrus.
  • Quoted by Iranaeus Against Heresies AD180.
  • Probably originated AD 150-170.
  • Bottom line, it is genuine!
slide3

The Theme of the Gospel of Judas:

“The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot.”

Judas was Jesus’ closest apostle.

Jesus revealed secret, deeper knowledge of his purpose and ministry to Judas. This Gospel reveals this deeper knowledge (gnosis).

slide4

National Geographic Article:

“Some of these alternative versions (Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Phillip, Gospel of Judas) may have circulated more widely than the familiar four Gospels”

“A long-buried side of Christianity is re-emerging”

“In fact, it is unclear whether the authors of any of the gospels—even the familiar four—actually witnessed the events they described.”

is the gospel of judas a gospel
Is the Gospel of Judas a Gospel?
  • 3200 words long—about three chapters in length.
  • No miracles, no healings, no ministry to the people.
  • Not a biography of Jesus.
  • No passion account!
  • Not a gospel.
slide6

The Message and Content of the Gospel of Judas:

Judas Did Jesus a favor when he “betrayed” him!!!

content cont
Content (cont.)
  • A few vaguely familiar sayings “I come from a place which no eye has seen and no thought of the heart has ever comprehended.” (1 Cor 2:9)
  • Jesus heaps contempt on the apostles, he laughs at them for not understanding the deeper mysteries.
  • A vision of Priests sacrificing their wives and children, engaging in homosexual acts, all in the temple. “Those you have seen receiving the offerings at the altar—that is who you are.” That is the God you serve.” (GJ p. 38) The God of the Old Testament is an evil god!!!
  • “The cattle you have seen brought for sacrifice are the many people you [ie the Jews] lead astray.” (GJ p. 39)
content cont8
Content (cont.)
  • A bizarre Gnostic cosmology put into the mouth of Jesus
  • “Come, that I may teach you about [secrets] no person [has] seen…” (GJ, p. 47)
  • 12 Aeons (gods?) (see on Gnosticism below).
  • 72 heavens and 72 luminaries: six for each of the Aeons.
  • 360 firmaments and 360 luminaries: five for each of the heavens.
  • Characters such as Nebro, Yaldabaoth, Saklas, Galila, Yobel, Adonaios, Seth. “The first is Seth, who is called Christ” (GJ p. 52) Jesus is Seth, one of the five rulers of the underworld.
content cont9
Content (cont.)
  • The key like comes near the end: “For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.” (GJ p. 56) Believe it or not, this makes sense (to a Gnostic)!
gnosticism
Gnosticism

The source of Gnostic teaching was NOT Christianity.

a. Its practices come principally from the Mystery Religions.

b. Its theology came principally from Dualistic religion, such as Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism.

c. Its philosophy came principally from neo-Platonism (Plato, Plotinus).

d. Its story (or myth) came from Christianity.

Other sources: Nag Hamadi Library (1945, Egypt) Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Phillip, etc.

Gnostic Christian “gospels” are Gnostic writings dressed up to look like Christianity.

Ex: Sophia of Jesus Christ = Book of Eugnostos the Blessed

mystery religions
Mystery Religions
  • (Greek) Cult of Dionysius, (Egyptian) Cult of Osiris, Eleusinian Mysteries (Persian) Mithraism.
  • Like New Age Religion of today. Mysticism.
  • Stressed deep “knowledge” gnosis in Greek, and thus the name Gnosticism.
  • Initiates gradually given deeper hidden knowledge
  • This knowledge revealed through symbolic/mythic rites
  • For example the Baccanalia—the chief rite of Dionysius. Sex, drugs, alcohol, ecstatic dancing, stories to achieve a mystical experience
  • In GOJ, Jesus is a sort of guru to Judas, leading him into the deeper mysteries. “[Come] that I may teach you about [secrets] no person [has] ever seen. For there exists a great and boundless realm, whose extent no generations of angels have seen.” (GJ p. 47)
  • Does this come from actual events in Jesus’ life or because of the influence of Gnosticism on the writer of the Gospel of Judas?
dualist religion
Dualist Religion
  • For example Zoroastrianism (Persia), and later Manichaeism
  • Dualists see the universe as dominated by a conflict between good and evil. The God of good and the God of evil are in a more or less equal battle for the souls of men. Light vs Darkness. Soul is good, body is bad.
  • Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament is a God of body, therefore he is an evil God. Jesus is spiritual and good but Jehovah is physical and bad.
  • Marcion rejected the Old Testament, Matthew, Mark, John and part of Luke. He was big on Paul. Jehovah is a worldly, evil God.
  • “The cattle you have seen brought for sacrifice are the many people you lead astray.” (GJ p. 39)
neo platonism
Neo-Platonism
  • Greek philosophy from Pythagorus, to Plato, to Plotinus.
  • The earth is a physical and therefore an inherently evil place.
  • Through philosophy, introspection, we move to the higher, spiritual reality, we enter the quintessence.
  • By contrast: Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
  • Here is where the Gospel of Judas gets its cosmology of Aeons, etc.
  • Jehovah/Adam are physical and bad. Jesus is NOT a physical being, nor can he be.
neo platonism cont
Neo-Platonism (cont.)
  • The cosmology of the Greek philosophers included Aeons
  • Sophia, also known as Barbelo is an Aeon
  • Sophia’s thought emanated Ialdabaoth (or Nebro) a physical, evil god.
  • Gospel of Judas adds: Ialdabaoth’s thoughts eminated Jehovah.
  • This explains the Gnostic contention that Jesus was not a physical being.
  • “For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.” (GJ p. 56)
summary on gnosticism
Summary on Gnosticism
  • The Gospel of Judas is Gnostic, through and through
  • Gnosticism is not Christianity. It is (weakly) influenced by Christianity. It is a Mystery Religion cult, combined with Greek cosmology and philosophy, wrapped up in Dualistic religion, with a thin veneer of Christianity.
  • The New Testament response: 1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim to you concerning the Word of life.”
  • 1 John 3:22 “Such a man is the antichrist.”
slide16

So, who cares?

You should.

National Geographic: Marcionites, Ebionites, Gnostics, Orthodox Christians are all equally valid views of Jesus which fought it out. What we know as Christianity is the one that won out (DaVinci Code). The Gospel of Judas is just another of many equally valid pictures of the true Jesus. “In fact, it is unclear whether the authors of any of the gospels—even the familiar four—actually witnessed the events they described.”

This is a lie!!!

slide17

Gnostic writings:

Even the Gnostics did not take them as historical facts. They interpreted their stories/myths as allegories with deep, hidden meaning.

Even Marcion, in his “canon” did not list the Gospel of Thomas or any other of the Gnostic writings! No apostolic authority.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts:

Clearly to be taken as literal history with obvious literal meaning. Jesus really walked on water. We know when and where he was born, where he lived, who he touched and healed. He died a horrible, physical, bloody death. This is unmistakably literal.

why only four gospels
Why only four gospels?
  • If you accept the others, you have to throw out the Old Testament.
  • Dates they were written (as opposed to the Gnostic writings).
  • Apostolic authority.
  • Manuscript evidence.
  • Church Father quotes.
  • Evolution of the church canon.
dates of composition
Dates of Composition
  • Matthew 60’s AD
  • Mark AD 50’s or 60’s
  • Luke AD 63 (based on details not included in Acts)
  • John AD 70-90
  • Alternative, non-canonical gospels: 2nd and 3rd centuries AD
  • Gospel of Thomas AD130-150
  • Gospel of Judas AD 150-170
slide20

Apostolic Authority

Justin Martyr AD 150 four “memoirs of the apostles.”

Irenaeus: MML&J are the “four pillars of the Gospel.”

The New Testament canon was chosen as those books which, by consensus, had apostolic authority.

The four gospels are the only ones even the heretics ever saw as being truly apostolic.

slide21

Manuscript evidence for the canonical gospels

The Rylands

Fragment

John 18:31-33, 37

AD 125

church father quotes
Church Father Quotes
  • Ignatius d. AD 115 Quotes from Matthew, John and Luke.
  • Polycarp, writing to the Philippians in AD 120 quotes from Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, 1,2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1,2 Thessalonians, 1,2 Timothy, Hebrews, 1 Peter, and 1,3 John
  • Clement of Rome AD 95 or 96 quotes from ten of the twenty-seven New Testament books.
  • Nearly the entire New Testament can be reconstructed from quotes of the church fathers in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
  • None of these ever quoted from a Gnostic gospel, ever!
development of the new testament canon
Development of the New Testament Canon
  • Four gospels circulating and recognized as apostolic by AD 100 or even by AD 90.
  • A group of letters of Paul circulating together and recognized as apostolic by AD 100
  • A still fluid, but developing complete list of canonical books by AD 150. (some doubt about Hebrews, 2,3 John, Revelation, 2 Peter, Epistle of Barnabus, Didache).
  • By AD 200, the New Testament as we know it was canonized by acclamation of the church. (The Muratorian Fragment, AD 175)
slide24

Summary:

The Gospel of Judas is not a gospel at all. It is a non-Christian, Gnostic writing from some time after AD 150 with absolutely no apostolic authority and virtually no historical content. It is of great interests to historians of religion in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd century AD, but it has nothing new to tell us about Jesus or about true Christianity.