On a recent visit to the Danville Public Library, I was confronted with something that I thought was “old news.” Last year I wrote an article entitled “The Lost Gospel Hype” dealing with the media frenzy surrounding the so-called Gospel of Judas. At that time there were new books being released along with news coverage and a two hour documentary on, of all places, The National Geographic Channel.
I had thought all this hype over an obviously fictional story surrounding Christ and Judas had pretty well run its course. However, as I was browsing through the new books at the library there were three on the Gospel of Judas prominently displayed. With the discovery of these new books, I thought I would do a little update on “The Lost Gospel Hype.”
The introductions to these books make their agenda very easy to see. For example, in “The Gospel of Judas” by Kasser, Meyer and Wurst, the introduction immediately begins by casting doubt on the accuracy of the New Testament by representing the death of Judas as a contradictory account. Notice, in pointing out how the New Testament presents Judas as the “quintessential traitor,” Meyer says, “the end of Judas, according to the New Testament, is as ignominious as his actions. He takes blood money from the authorities for his betrayal of Jesus, and either he hangs himself (as in Matthew) or his belly is ripped open and he dies in a ghastly fashion (as in Acts).” Meyer presents it as an “either, or” scenario with no possibility of harmony between the two. The fact is that the accounts of Matthew and Acts regarding the death of Judas complement each other perfectly. Judas hanged himself, died and became bloated, as a corpse will do, and then he burst open upon hitting the ground when the rope either broke or was cut. There is no contradiction! However, there is a very obvious motive of Meyer revealed here. From the outset, one can tell by page two of this book that the Bible is not going to get a fair shake.
The second part of the book is the text of “The Gospel of Judas.” For more on the contents of the manuscript itself please see the original article, “The Lost Gospel Hype.”
Part three of the book is the commentary of the manuscript. The chapters in this section also reveal the books slant toward a questioning of our modern Bible. For example, “Christianity Turned On Its Head: The Alternate Vision of the Gospel of Judas.”
Here is another very telling quote from the introduction. “Barges once noted concerning the gnostic accounts he was discussing, ‘Had Alexandria triumphed and not Rome, the extravagant and muddled stories that I have summarized here would be coherent, majestic, and perfectly ordinary.” In other words, if not for the Roman Catholic Church (which the New Testament actually reveals to be the result of the great apostasy) our Bibles would be totally different. Instead of the Gospels and letters we now have, our Bibles would be composed of the Gospels and letters found in places like the Codex Tchacos, from which comes the Gospel of Judas, and the Nag Hammadi Library. Again, for an idea of what our Bibles would look like under those circumstances, see “The Lost Gospel Hype.”
If you don’t think that books like these are trying to convince us that we should turn to other sources for our knowledge of Christ and God and how to serve him, just look at this quote from “Reading Judas: The Gospel Of Judas And The Shaping Of Christianity” by Elaine Pagels & Karen L. King. From the introduction, “Much of the Gospel of Judas is filled with Jesus’s [sic] brilliant teaching about the spiritual life….The answers to these questions lead deep into the agonizing controversies and exultant visions of God that would ultimately come to shape Christianity and capture the hearts and souls of people for millennia to come. These are the matters we address in ‘Reading Judas: The Gospel Of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity.” Maybe a better subtitle would be “The Gospel of Judas and the Reshaping of Christianity,” because that is clearly the agenda of those who continually tout about these so-called “lost books of the Bible.”
There can be no doubt that the agenda is to cause us to doubt our Bibles and to turn to the wisdom of men rather than the wisdom of God (cf. 1 Cor. 2:5). We must always remember, and make sure that any with whom we have influence knows, that salvation is by the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16; Js. 1:18; 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Pet. 1:22, 23; et. al.). Anytime someone starts going on about some “lost books of the Bible” just “be ready to give an answer” (1 Pet. 3:15) from the word of God. He said that His word would “endureth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:25). We can be assured that the New Testament we have today is the same one that the apostles gave. Clement of Rome wrote around 97 A.D. His writings are among the earliest uninspired Christian texts. At this time he quoted from a very large number of the New Testament letters, indicating that the letters in our Bibles were in the church before the end of the first century, long before the Roman Catholic Church had anything to do with it. The evidence for the accuracy of our Bibles is overwhelming and we should never allow anyone to cause us to doubt that.
There is no doubt that the books will keep coming and the weak and doubting among us will be taken in by them. Let us be prepared to stand up for the truth!