latest media frenzy over the Gospel of Judas reveals “the [secular]
media's profound ignorance of ancient history,” says Brian St. Paul,
editor of Crisis Magazine, in his April 13th e-letter to readers.
The third-century manuscript claims that Jesus took Judas aside three days before the Last Supper and asked the apostle to turn Him in. In turn, the secular media has reported, Judas wasn't such a bad guy after all and Christianity may have gotten the whole thing wrong from the start.
But Brian St. Paul points out that the Gospel of Judas is one of the many Gnostic gospels, which “offer no reliable historical insight into the actual events of the first century.” In sum, the Gospel of Judas is “hardly a theological earthquake.”
“Gnosticism was a parasite theology. It latched onto whatever religion was available and rewrote the host's scriptures and doctrines to fit its own unique beliefs,” explains St. Paul. “Often, the villains of the original religion were turned into the heroes of the Gnostic variation.”
St. Paul explains that one of the primary tenets of Gnosticism is salvation through hidden or secret knowledge. The Gospel of Judas begins by stating that it is “the secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot.”
“While the Gospel of Judas sheds no light on historical Christianity, it is nevertheless a significant find,” says St. Paul. “After all, it's a pretty big deal when an ancient work long considered lost is rediscovered. And the document does flesh out the heavenly pantheon of second-century Gnosticism.”
St. Paul concludes by quoting St. Irenaeus and his comments in A.D. 180 on the historical unreliability of the Gospel of Judas: “[The Gnostics] 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,” he added, from “which they style the Gospel of Judas” (Adversus haereses 1:31:1).