The Gospel of Judas: Fact or Fiction?
By Dr. Ron Carlson<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
National Geographic Magazine, well known for its anti-Creation, anti-Christian, humanistic evolutionary bias has put on the cover of its magazine this month "The Gospel of Judas" just in time for Good Friday and Easter. Sunday night, April 9th they will also air a special on the National Geographic Channel promoting this supposedly "lost Gospel" of Judas. This document purports to be a copy of the writings of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, telling the story of how he and Jesus conspired together to have Jesus betrayed to the Romans, thereby manipulating events to assure Jesus' crucifixion.
The <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />University of Arizona, who did radiocarbon dating on the papyrus of the so-called Gospel of Judas found near el Minya, Egypt in the 1970's, dates it at between 220 A.D. and 340 A.D. The 26-page codex was written in the ancient Coptic language and found in the Egyptian desert having decayed into thousands of small fragments like a jigsaw puzzle.
With these facts in mind, several things should immediately come into question. First and foremost is the reality that history tells us that Judas was so distraught when he saw what happened to Jesus that he went out and hanged himself almost immediately. In fact, Matthew 27:3-5 indicates that Judas hanged himself as soon as Jesus was condemned, even possibly before the crucifixion! The biggest problem with this "gospel of Judas" theory is that the true Gospels, which were eyewitness accounts of actual historical events, confirm Judas' death. Matthew was completed by 60 A.D. and it is very likely that all four of the Gospels were completed prior to 70 A.D. Thus many people were alive to verify their authenticity and truthfulness. We also have 3500 complete manuscripts of the New Testament and over 5700 portions of the New Testament from the first three centuries; all testifying to the fact the Judas killed himself almost immediately after the betrayal of Jesus. Providing further early verification of the death of Judas shortly after the betrayal of Jesus, the Doctor Luke confirms this fact in his book of Acts, which was completed around 62 A.D. In Acts 1: 15-26, Doctor Luke reports that before the day of Pentecost, the disciples met in the upper room to choose another disciple, since Judas had already died! Thus, to believe that Judas betrayed Jesus, then thought, "I better write a gospel about this secret conversation with Jesus and our conspiracy before I hang myself", is in the realm of fantasy and fiction.
(As a side note: Some have suggested that Acts 1:18 which says that "Judas fell headlong onto the rocks and his intestines burst open" is a contradiction of Judas's death in Matthew 27 which says he went out and hanged himself. This is not a contradiction, but rather two eyewitness accounts of the same event giving in greater detail of what actually took place. In 1969, I was a student at Jerusalem University College in Israel on Mount Zion. My dorm room overlooked the "valley of blood" where Judas died. To this day the sheer rock walls have small trees, with their roots clinging to the side of the rock for moisture, growing out of the rock. It's obvious that Judas did go out to hang himself. He either did not tie the rope tight enough and when his weight hit it, the rope broke or came loose and he fell headlong onto the rocks at the bottom. Or, because of the way the small trees cling to the sides of the rock, his weight caused the tree to break or come away from the rock and he fell headlong onto the rocks and his intestines broke open.)
The Gospel of Judas is another of the "Gnostic gospels" that were written years after the completion of the eyewitness based, historical accounts found in the four Biblical Gospels. These Gnostic gospels originated in an attempt to rewrite history to fit the agenda of people who, like today, want to discount the clear truth of God's revelation of Himself and His redemptive plan for humanity. The Gnostics were a heretical cult that believed that the inner self was held prisoner by a material body, a prison from which they hoped to escape. This Gospel of Judas holds that Judas was helping Jesus to get rid of his flesh, so that his inner divine being could be free. It reminds one of the modern Gnostic cults like "The Heaven's Gate" Cult of the 1990's that followed Marshall Applewhite in suicide believing they would leave their bodies and join a U.F.O. orbiting the earth behind the Hale Bopp comet. This is why the Gnostic gospels were never accepted by the early Church or the early Church Fathers and were declared by them to be heretical and false and contrary to the historical facts, which people knew from eyewitness accounts.
The National Geographic channel, on its website, promotes the T.V. special on Sunday, April 9th with a picture of someone holding an apple with a serpent slithering around it. It has the caption: "It's tempting to believe what we've always been told" seeking to imply that somehow the Biblical Gospels are not the truth. The release of the Gospel of Judas, with such fanfare before the Passion Week, follows The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, now being made into a movie, which claims that Jesus was married, had children, etc. etc. People ask me if The DaVinci Code is true? Please understand. The simple answer is found in the New York Times Best-Seller list. The book is listed under "FICTION". Why? Because it's FICTION!!!!
We also now have the The Jesus Papers being promoted this week on CNN, MSNBC and the Fox News network. This book claims that Jesus did not die and the resurrection was made up! The problem is, the author does not base any of his conclusions on historical facts, but rather, his entire thesis is based upon some secret paper that only he and some unnamed mystery theologian have seen, a paper that he has not produced for any legitimate scholar to study or examine.
None of these things should surprise us as Christians. The Bible tells us in
2 Peter 3: 3- 4 "in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?'" The Bible warns over and over again about the deception and deluding influence of the last days where people will fall away from the faith and believe what is false (Revelation 12:9; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Matthew 24: 3-24).
These recent articles, books, and movies promoting this revisionist history of Jesus Christ are simply one more example of why Christians today, as much as ever, need to heed the call of Jude 3 and "contend for the faith". With all of the publicity that these bogus claims about the life of Christ are getting, non-believers are going to naturally come to us with questions about these matters. This is why we must study up on the truth as it relates to these fallacious theories about Jesus, so that when the questions come, we may follow Peter's admonition in 1 Peter 3:15 to "be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
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