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Archaeologists Find Lost Gospel, Scholars Can’t Locate Church

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The rediscovery of the Gospel of Judas, a Gnostic writing suggesting Judas did not betray Jesus but acted to free Jesus from his earthly form, has reignited debate over the nature and beliefs of early Christians. Scholars argue the text indicates a diversity of belief among early Christians, but that variety of church is illusory.

Early Christians knew of the Gospel of Judas and rejected it. Irenaeus, writing in the second century, called it a fiction:

They 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, which they style the Gospel of Judas (Irenaeus I, 31, 1).

That a Gnostic doctrine was widespread is self-evident. The apostle John railed against it in his writings to the churches, and historical works depict John as an ardent foe of Gnosticism. The apostle asserted that Jesus came “by water and blood” and not the water only (1 John 5:6), rebutting the Gnostic belief that Christ merely appeared at baptism, and fled the body before his crucifixion. To reject Christ’s death and resurrection was antithetical to Christian belief, wrote John.

Ancient Gnosticism was a conglomerate of religious beliefs that adopted Jesus as its prime figure. It preached salvation was through a secret knowledge, that physical forms were evil (e.g., the human body), and that only a select few could attain full salvation. Its leaders accepted some of the Christian scriptures, but mostly in redacted forms. Marcion received only some of Paul’s writings and a revised Gospel of Luke. The Gnostic church almost universally rejected canonical gospels and Christian orthodoxy. It represented an entirely separate movement, a point lost on many scholars.

The Rev. Donald Senior, president of the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago, in an MSNBC.com report states the Gospel of Judas “reveals the diversity and vitality of early Christianity. This diversity among various Christian groups was something taken for granted in the early centuries of the church, but may be a surprise to many people today,” he said.

An even greater surprise would be that any ancient church simultaneously encouraged and discouraged marital relations, celebrated and rejected the resurrection of the Lord, allowed and forbid the eating of meat, and accepted and tolerated every piece of writing concerning Jesus Christ. Senior’s concept of “early Christianity” belies historical truth and abuses the notion of “diversity” as a catchall for a church that never existed.

Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss; these scholars abuse truth with hype.

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  • When I went to Catholic school as a child, I was given to read a “Prayer to St. Judas.” I was taught that he’d been forgiven and made a saint.

    Is Judas not a saint?

  • Maxim G. Maw

    “The principal patron of Ancona, St. Judas Cyriacus, may possibly have been a local bishop who died or was killed during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On the other hand, he has been conjecturally identified with Judas, bishop of Jerusalem, who was slain during a riot in the year 133. The local tradition of Ancona, however, connects its patron with Judas Quiriacus, a legendary Jew who is supposed to have revealed to the Empress Helen, the place in which the Holy Cross lay hidden, and after being baptized and made bishop of Jerusalem, to have suffered martyrdom under Julian the Apostate. A fantastic account of his dialogue with the emperor Julian, and of the torments endured by him and his mother Anna, is furnished in the so-called “Acts” of his martyrdom. Ancona is said to owe to the Empress Galla Placidia the relics of its patron, but the saint’s head was brought over from Jerusalem by Henry, Count of Champagne, who built a church in the town of Provins to contain it. His feast day is May 4th.”

    pasted from here

  • Jordan Stratford

    “Scholars argue the text indicates a diversity of belief among early Christians, but that variety of church is illusory.”

    On what do you base this comment? We have no canon until Iraneaus in the late 2nd century, and even after 325 there was tremendous variance among Christians on such issues that took centuries to be codified as orthodoxy vs heresy.

    The idea that somehow even 75% of the Christian world agreed on what we now assume to be the basic tenets of the Christian religion before the fifth century is not only erroneous, it is deliberately misleading.

    It also disrespects those sincere seekers who deeply loved God and identified themselves as Christians despite first a hostile non-Christian population, and later a revisionist orthodoxy.

    No, that variety of church is not illusory.

  • john blair

    It probably won’t be too long before we see a First Gnostic Church on one street corner, Second Gnostic Church on another and so on.

  • gonzo marx

    so many Fallacies…so little urge to argue…

    so, instead i will content myself to pointing out something, and let the gentle Reader pondint it form there…

    for most of the gnosic sect…including christian gnostics…

    there is no “church”

    according to some scriptures…when a Teacher was asked what temple/church should his followers build..he replied…
    “what need is there for a House?
    split a log and I am within,
    lift a stone and you will find me”

    just a Thought


  • Jordan Stratford,

    Of course there was variance of belief, even within the orthodox church. But you cannot tell me that one church believed in the crucifixion and resurection of Jesus’ physcial form, and simeltaneously rejected the same. While orthodox Christians rejected the Gospels of Judas and Thomas, Gnostic groups rejected the canonical gospels. Isn’t it noteworthy that discoveries of the non-canonical gospels are largely absent the four canonical ones?

    Gonz Marx,

    If you step inside my “church” you will notice a sign of a building, stating, “This is not a church.” Below that image are pictures of the congregation and the words: “This is the church.” So your point is well taken; however, as I employ church in my blog, I mean a movement of believers. I believe the NT uses the word in that sense (or rather, the English word applies to one that means a gathering).

  • gonzo marx

    a decent Point, Mark…and i mean no disRespect to any in my commentary…merely reminding…
    “there are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt in your philosophy”

    as for “movements”…might i point out that perhaps the oldest “christian” sect are Manicheans…who happen to live in Iraq

    much of the difficulty in learning about these other histories and viewpoints comes from what are commonly reffered to as “the Dark Ages”, from 500-1500 AD in europe

    so much destroyed, denounced, revised and hidden

    and so i will leave it with this Thought…

    gnosis > dogma

    nuff said?


  • Josh

    Gnosis. What exactly do you mean by “gnosis”, Gonzo?

  • gonzo marx

    a fair Question, Josh…

    the word gnosis is greeek for “Knowledge”

    in the metaphysical sense the word is commonly used with, it would represent both intellectual “knowledge” and Understanding/Comprehension in the sub-conscious/spiritual meaning as well…even a “gut-feeling” if you would…

    example: you are taught about gravity and thus have an intellectual knowledge of it….but your gnosis occures when you are on the swing set….feeling 2 g’s of acceleration on the upswing, you jump off at the highest point…a moment of hanging there…and gravity asserts itself

    a diver on a springboard, a kid on a trampoline…all share that same “Moment” of comprehension

    a weak Analogy, but i do think it gets the point across…

    so…your next Question woudl most likely be “gonzo, how do you mean those terms in your little formulae above?”

    perhaps what i am attempting to Communicate in that bit is that i personally consider “groking in fullness”…or having this visceral KNowledge of things, and ocnsider that a greater Thing, than merely blindly accepting an Assertation due to authoritarian dictates or merely because someone insists “because I(insert authoritarian Source here) said so”

    hope that helps