National Pornographic has done it again. Not only are they continually searching for my long lost, long armed uncle, they now profess to have a keen interest in matters of scripture.
With word coming out of the their New York offices that at long last they had obtained the gospel of Judas, I immediately wondered what they could be up to now. Reading up on the story online last night, I began to see the familiar bait and switch in the headlines, and the misleading terminology. And let us not forget it is Easter weekend, a significant holiday for many branches of Christianity.
I am trying not to sound like I am beating a dead horse while I attempt to write this column, nor am I simply ranting about the mainstream media. Whether or not that point comes across properly is yet to be seen, but I will give it my best shot.
I find that with many of the subjects that the media articulates upon, such as global warming and evolution, they write the article in such a way as to promote the idea which they believe in or to cast doubt on the naysayers’ point of view. When you read carefully and diligently and really listen to what is trying to be said, sometimes it is plainly obvious as to the reason for writing the story the way it is written. The goal is often to lead the reader to a specific conclusion.
In a minute, I will look at the latest article in the New York Times regarding the alleged gospel of Judas Iscariot, a disciple of Christ whom some are now claiming was shown in a different light than is historically accurate. First, let’s look at the claim itself.
It has been widely publicized that there has been found another gospel. Most people have heard, of course, of the 4 gospels, those being Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Why then should it surprise us that yet another has been found? For one thing, the current 4 gospels complement one another, and while varying slightly, each tells pretty much the same account of the life of Jesus Christ, the son of God.
With this newest gospel, we are led to believe that we not only have a new ‘version’ so to speak, it is in the same breath suggested that the Bible is once again a fraud. If the account in what is being called the gospel of Judas were to be truthful, then the other four accounts simply could not be. There is little room to miss that point.
There are many other Christian texts that have been discovered from the era in question, and many other ‘gospels’. They can be found in what is known as the Apocrypha, a book of early Christian works that did not meet the requirements set out by those earliest scholars who arranged the Christian Bible.
This latest writing has been dated to around 300 A.D. or roughly 1700 years ago. While I may have my doubts as to its legitimacy as Christian in origin, I do not doubt its age. It has been scientifically validated, as much as can be expected, and there is widespread agreement by all parties involved as to the accuracy of the dating which used not only the sometimes accurate carbon dating method, but more scientific means such as the analysis of the writing style, the ink, and the papyrus itself.
Back to the Time’s article. Karen L. King, a professor of the history of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School had this to say: “You can see how early Christians could say, if Jesus’ death was all part of God’s plan, then Judas’s betrayal was part of God’s plan. The standard gospels either give no motivation for Judas’s betrayal or attribute it to the pieces of silver or the influence of Satan.” This is clearly a false statement, and makes me wonder if a professor of early Christianity would actually state it. Matthew 26:15,16 state: And (Judas) said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
We are told to believe that Judas betrayed Christ to fulfill prophecy. Of that it is certain. The new argument (for some, at any rate) is that Judas was a willing player in this part. Not according to Mark 14: 21 which states very clearly: “but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.” That hardly sounds indifferent now, does it not? Why don’t I feel that this was some sort of agreement?
Matthew 27:5 is the most pointed of all of the accounts of the true motive of Judas and his actual spiritual inclination as it refers to Jesus. There is little doubt that this was not simply play acting as Judas betrayed Christ. He was fulfilling scripture, but not as a knowledgeable actor playing his role. His betrayal was legitimate. Matthew 27:5 states his grief and horror at his actions, which he later realized were against the Son of God. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. Hanging one’s self is not simply something that one decides to do to fulfill another’s prophecy. It is an act of desperation, of lament, sorrow, and anguish.
The article continues to discuss the implications of this newly found papyrus codex. “the discoveries are expected to intrigue theologians and historians of religion and perhaps be deeply troubling to some church leaders and lay believers”. No doubt about it, this is the hope of many.
Not a day goes by it seems that some new ‘important’ discovery is made whether it be in the way of missing links, new clues to our ancestry, proof of water on Mars, etc. There is a determined industry worth billions of dollars dedicated to proving the Bible’s supposed fallacies.
To me, it is mind boggling how so many who do not claim to be believers can spend their entire lives in the pursuit of the golden grail, that being to them the one thing that will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is myth and that the stories of His book nothing but fairy tales. Why such an effort? Why not simply laugh at those of us who believe? Are we some kind of benign threat to their happiness?
Food for thought, indeed. Have a wonderful weekend, and remember: Christ is risen.