I need to clarify some words I wrote earlier this week regarding the National Geographic show about the Gospel of Judas. I said:
"This is one Christian who doesn't think she's been lied to all these years and my opinion regarding Judas has not changed...I didn't learn anything new."
Well, don't I sound like a narrow minded pompous ass!
Many thanks to Kevin who commented,
"You've talked about challenging the traditional views of your students in the hopes of getting them to a more mature thoughtful interpretation of American History. Why is there a different standard to the historical Jesus?"
Kevin has correctly slapped my hand and I appreciate it. There shouldn't be a different standard but perhaps, just perhaps, there is a double-standard because those of us who have the ability to apply historical analysis and also have faith are afraid--------afraid they will analyze their faith until it disappears.
Rev. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Society commented on the Gospel of Judas. He said, "the Judas gospel has no bearing on the Easter story much less on the faith of the Christian church." He dismissed the gospel as "nothing more than an ancient manuscript that tells an interesting story."
Without faith isn't that a description of the entire Bible?
Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, president of the Vatican's Committee of Historical Science called the gospel "a product of religious fantasy. There is no campaign, no movement for the rehabilitation of the traitor of Jesus."
These two certainly seem to be close-minded but as spokesmen for their faith what do you expect?
I thought the National Geographic show was good. They fully explained about the supposed author(s) of the gospel strongly suggesting that the text leans towards Gnostic teachings. At the time the New Testament was canonized none of the Gnostic writings that were known at the time were included. They were thought to be radical and apparently to the two religious spokesmen above they still are.
How does a person accept the Bible literally with the knowledge that it is a human product subject to exaggerations and omissions? How do we determine the author's authority or motivation? Some would say this is where faith would enter into the picture, but it's hard to reconcile historical facts alongside a literal Bible.
Getting back to what I wrote the other day.....I didn't learn anything new other than the specific information concerning the finding and saving of the gospel. I already knew the information about how certain writings were included in the Bible while others were left out. I already knew that the early Christian church had incorrectly allowed followers to use the Bible's treatment of Judas as a reason to place the blame for the crucifiction of Christ at the feet of the Jews.
I correctly advised the other day that the special didn't change my mind about Judas, and it didn't. My mind wasn't changed because I've never really bought the whole story that Judas conspired to turn Jesus over. Jesus told Judas to go and do what he has to do. Readers have no knowledge as to what might have transpired before. Someone had to turn Jesus over.... Peter denies Jesus three times as predicted. Have we blamed Peter for 2,000 years?
I do think that the Gospel of Judas is an important find that will continue the debate for faith vesus history, but unfortunately it won't end the debate. Humans don't know the absolute truth because it is beyond us, but the journey attempting to get there certainly is interesting.
If you want to read more about faith versus history visit Kevin at Civil War Memory (see my blogroll) and read his fantastic post titled, "The Historical Jesus and the Lost Cause".