True Lies                                                        

 

There is an article in the May issue of the National Geographic magazine. Its contents relate to the research and translation of the “Gospel of Judas” supported by that society. To people knowledgeable about the origin of the canonical Bible, this is not a great discovery. We know from the history of the church that there have been more than 55 volumes of so-called gospels recorded. Around 20 of them still remain, generally known as the Apocrypha. This “Gospel of Judas” manuscript was written in the ancient Egyptian Coptic on papyri. Experts have determined it to be part of the 3rd and 4th century Gnostic bible. The leading Coptic expert Rodolphe Kasser engaged by the National Geographic Society admitted that these were the most tattered and incomplete ancient manuscript he had ever seen. The papyri were first discovered in the Egyptian desert in the 1970’s, and were passed around for many years afterwards. From 2001 onwards, the National Geographic Society funded their analysis and translation into English. They believe that the most earth-shattering revelation is the positive characterization of Judas Iscariot. He was deemed the most faithful of Christ’s disciples, and it was Jesus Himself who instructed Judas to betray Him so that His godliness may be released. This discovery runs fully contrary to the negative image of Judas in the canonical Bible.

 

Without a doubt, the “Gospel of Judas” belongs with the heretical teachings of the first century’s Gnostic sect. Its substance and teachings are similar to the other apocrypha. At the time of the early church, Gnostic beliefs had already welled up and generated a detrimental influence in the church. Paul warned the church at Colossae and Timothy against this apostasy (Colossians 2:16-19, 1 Timothy 6:20). In his latter years, John also mentioned in his letters the appearance of the spirit of the antichrist that would deny the status of Christ (1 John 2:18-22, 4:1-5). The church father Irenaeus, in his writings of 180 A.D. that strongly denounced the heretics, forcefully declared the error of the Gnostics (also known as Sect of Knowledge) and pointed to the “Gospel of Judas” as fictional history. Early church fathers and church tradition had already identified it as heretic.

 

The “Gospel of Judas” was determinedly not written by Judas Iscariot. After betraying Jesus, he promptly committed suicide from his remorse (Matthew 27:3-5). It also cannot be called a “gospel”, for not only does it contain no message of salvation; it differs greatly from the teachings of Christ in the four canonical gospels. After carefully reading this “Gospel of Judas”, the writer discovered that it has at least the following attributes of heretical Gnosticism: (1) Judas claimed to know where Jesus came from, and that was from the incorruptible domain of Barbelo. Barbelo is a word commonly used in other Gnostic writings, meaning a kind of glorious emanation from which God was generated. This doctrine repudiates Christ’s divine nature of having no beginning and no end. (2) The book records Christ revealing to Judas in particular matters of the spiritual realm. Its content is disorganized, full of mystery, and contrary to the systematic Truth disclosed in the Bible. In talking about God, it says that He continues to accept the sacrifices of believers. The Book of Hebrews clearly states that Christ fulfilled the deed of sacrifice by offering Himself once for all, and it is no longer necessary to live according to Old Testament rituals (Hebrews 7:27). (3) When discoursing on the origins of angels and the territories they administer, the book says that there are five angels who rule over the underworld. The first angel is called Christ, and he has authority over everything. One distinction of the Gnostics was that they diminished the divinity of Jesus Christ, and treated Him as a ranking angel. 4) The book mentions an angel called Saklas, who said to the other angels, let us create a human being after the likeness and after the image. So they fashioned Adam and Eve. And it records Jesus telling Judas that God ordered Michael and Gabriel to grant the spirit to man as a loan, so that they could offer service. This totally re-writes the historical truth of man’s creation by God as stated in the Book of Genesis.    

 

The National Geographic magazine shrewdly highlighted these words said by Jesus to Judas in this apocryphal book: “But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.” It also claimed that Judas had the guidance of a star to accomplish Christ’s plan. The writer hopes that everyone will be aware not to overlook the other fantastical and fabricated entries that contradict canonical Bible because of the selective reporting of the magazine and media. From an archaeological  perspective, the “Gospel of Judas” is an authentic historical relic. But if contrasted against the Bible’s consummate Truth, it is just a pack of lies.

 

By: Daniel To