Tuesday, April 04, 2006

National Geographic Releases "The Gospel of Judas" on Palm Sunday Evening - Claremont's Robinson Predicts a Scholarly Dud with No New Insights

The National Geographic Channel has been pulling out all stops with its ad campaign for this Sunday's release of "The Gospel of Judas." For example . . .

SUNDAY, APRIL 9"The Gospel of Judas" at 8P et/ 7P ptThe Gospel of Judas is of one of the most important finds in biblical archaeology. Hidden for nearly 1,700 years, the document presents a new account of the life of Jesus. But can its authenticity be verified?

Veteran religion writer Richard Ostling helps put the matter into perspective . . .

By RICHARD N. OSTLING AP Religion Writer
NEW YORK Mar 2, 2006 (AP)— An expert on ancient Egyptian texts is predicting that the "Gospel of Judas" a manuscript from early Christian times that's nearing release amid widespread interest from scholars will be a dud in terms of learning anything new about Judas.

James M. Robinson, America's leading expert on such ancient religious texts from Egypt, predicts in a new book that the text won't offer any insights into the disciple who betrayed Jesus. His reason: While it's old, it's not old enough.

"Does it go back to Judas? No," Robinson told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=1680974

Let's get this straight. A Basel foundation owns the manuscript. A Geneva scholar has been working to translate it. The owners "cut a deal" with the National Geographic Society to bring it to light with a television special. And, they select PALM SUNDAY night as the most appropriate time to air a "special" with a revisionistic view of Judas arguing that Judas Iscariot was carrying out God's will when he handed Jesus over to his executioners?

This copy of the "Gospel of Judas," possibly the same "gospel" referred to by Irenaeus (AD 180), dates from the third or fourth centuries. It probably comes from a Gnostic sect known for its heretical views, including the lauding of Cain, the Sodomites, and Judas. They regarded Judas as the "keeper of secret mysteries."

While the press treats such "revelations' as possible faith-shattering bombshells, the truth of the matter is far more prosaic. A Vatican historian called the claims being touted as mere "religious fantasy." Journalist Stacy Meichtry observed that the "manuscript could bring momentum to a broader academic movement that argues Judas has gotten a bum rap among historians and theologians as well as in popular culture."

James M. Robinson, editor of Nag Hammadi Gnostic texts, writes that the journey of the text to Switzerland was “replete with smugglers, black-market antiquities dealers, religious scholars, backstabbing partners and greedy entrepreneurs.'' Robinson fears that the text, agreed by all to be quite fragile and in poor shape, may have been mishandled and parts of it lost forever.

But even liberal critic Robinson speculates that the timing of the release is aimed at capitalizing on interest in the film version of “The Da Vinci Code'' -- a fictional tale that centers on a Christian conspiracy to cover up a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene -- to be released in May and staring Tom Hanks.

1 comment:

SmallSoul said...

Apparently, the "Gospel of Judas" manuscript is just one among several in a codex or group of codices, including:
- a Gnostic codex in Sahidic dialect containing: the "First Apocalypse of James;" the "Epistle of Peter to Philip;" the "Book of Exodus' in Greek; "Letters of Paul" in a Sahidic dialect; and a "Mathematical Treatise" in Greek.

For all you Davinci Code folks, Mario Roberty, president of the Maecenas Foundation of Switzerland, involved in the work on and publication of the "gospel" suggested that the Vatican has had a copy of their own under lock-and-key all along: "In those days the Church decided for political reasons to include the Gospels of Luke, Mark, Matthew and John in the Bible. The other gospels were banned. It is highly logical that the Catholic Church would have kept a copy of the forbidden gospels. Sadly, the Vatican does not want to clarify further. Their policy has been the same for years: 'No further comment.'"

HBD wrote: They regarded Judas as the "keeper of secret mysteries."

There is a fairly recent book titled The Return of the Serpents of Wisdom: "This landmark book brings together the lineages and teachings of the spiritual masters around the world whose symbol has been the serpent or dragon."

Isn't it interesting how most of the ancient religions -- and many modern ones -- also regarded the serpent as a source and symbol of wisdom? The serpent or dragon has been the symbol of wisdom the world over, from the ancient Egyptians and Hindus to the Vikings and Druids and everything in between -- and beyond.

In Egypt, the sun god was Amun-Ra, who took the form of a snake. In China, two entwined snakes were believed to surrounded the world, symbolizing the power and wisdom of the Creator. In Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama was attacked by a snake which wound around his waist seven times. Because of the Buddha's intestinal fortitude (pun intended), the snake could not kill him; instead it became Buddha's follower. Agathodaemon, revered in ancient Greece as the personification of a family’s good fortune, was depicted in the form of a common symbol of household luck: a snake. In Greek homes today, harmless serpents are often fed and called "the master of the house."

Notably today is the teaching of the CJC-LDS -- the Mormons. They tell me that Jesus came to this continent to preach "the gospel" to the Indians (Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, etc., known to them as "the ten lost tribes of Israel) and was recognized by them as the god Quetzlcoatl -- the problem is, Quetzlcoatl was always depicted as a serpent, often a winged serpent with red hair (note the red-haired Jesuses in Mormon art), and was a god of war.

Pertinent to current discussions in light of the anticipated release of The Davinci Code and the connections with the Knights Templar, Freemasons, etc., is the Greek serpent Ouroboros, the snake biting his tail, symbolic of eternity (remember the symbol for the 90s TV series Millennium?). The Ouroboros symbol serves as the fastner (in the form of the sideways figure 8 [∞], infinity) for Freemason aprons: "The 28th degree of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, the Knight of the Sun (Prince Adept), incorporates the Worm Ouroboros (the dragon, or serpent, holding his own tail in his mouth), into its iconography, representing the immortal and eternal principle as well as both love and wisdom. The 25th degree, The Knight of The Brazen Serpent, also incorporates this symbol."

Most pertinent for this discussion, however, is the following:

Ophites (Greek ophis, ”serpent”), a group of Gnostic sects that flourished in the Roman Empire during the 2nd century AD. Like other Gnostics, they believed that the human soul is imprisoned in the body and the material universe and can be saved through gnosis, or revealed knowledge of the soul's transcendent origin. The Ophites revered the serpent as a symbol of spirituality and wisdom, holding that the serpent in the Garden of Eden imparted gnosis to Adam and Eve, who were therefore punished by God. (Gnostics in general identified the God of the Old Testament with the evil deity who, they believed, created the material world, and they venerated all those who defied him.) Most Ophites were nominally Christian, but they repudiated the human Jesus, as opposed to the spiritual Christ who temporarily inhabited his body and who taught the esoteric wisdom of gnosis. They were therefore considered heretics and eventually succumbed to the persecution of the early church. (Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved).

What is "revealed" in this "gospel" should surprise no one.