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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Gospel of Judas

From the NY Times:
An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years. The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today. In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will "exceed" the other disciples by doing so.
Sort of a "false flag" operation, I guess. The whole betrayal story never made much sense to me anyway. Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, with people waving pond fronds and singing his praises. He threw moneychangers out of temples, gave sermons on mounts, was a whiz at food service, could skate like nobody's business, and wandered around trailing a group of homeless people everywhere he went. He must have been one of the best-known people in Jerusalem; the authorities didn't need Judas to point Jesus out for them. Unless, of course, a lot of that other stuff wasn't true. Or maybe he wore a mask!

I get the feeling that the bible was kind of like the 9/11 Commission report. The basic narrative was agreed upon, and then whatever evidence supported that narrative was included, and whatever didn't was left out. That chapter in Genesis which talks about how God was pretty happy with his world for a few billion years before he had Adam born to a monkey--out. The Gospel of Judas, obviously--out. Paul's letter to the Athenians, where he tells them that there's nothing unholy about man lying with man--out. The last verse of Revelation (Revelation 23:1--"April fools!")--out. (Think of all of the indulgence income the church would have lost without Revelation suggesting that the world was about to end. The big-money book if ever there was one; just ask "Left Behind" authors LaHaye and Jenkins.)

Believing in God or various gods or other supernatural things is understandable; the universe is immense and mysterious, and remains so, although on a different level, even after centuries of scientific exploration. Admiring the Jesus described in the four official gospels, even recognizing him as your favorite philosopher--that's fine (and it's too bad that that's the part of the bible that many supposed Christians pay the least attention to). But believing that one book compilation chosen by committee nearly two millenia ago is completely true, and contains the only truth you'll ever need--that's crazy. I would have thought that "The Da Vinci Code" might have blown more holes in this nonsense; too bad such important and provocative ideas (facts, really) were presented in such a crappy novel.