Saturday, March 04, 2006

Gnosticism and the Gospel of Judas

The archaeology world is abuzz with the soon to be translated and published "Gospel of Judas", a Coptic writing from the time of Bishop Irenaeus in the 2nd Century A. D. There is probably no connection with the Biblical Judas Iscariot, but a manuscript of this antiquity is certainly to be prized in and for itself.

The most famous collection of Gnostic Coptic codices is the Nag Hammadi library. I studied it a bit in college, and was most impressed with The Hypostasis of the Archons and The Gospel of Truth. It really is interesting stuff to read, and quite impressive if you are of a certain age. Or of a certain mindset, as was the most famous scholar of gnosticism, Elaine Pagels.

G. K. Chesterton had this to say about Christological apocrypha and esoterica, in his book Orthodoxy.
People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly Chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.

National Geographic seems to have the exclusive rights to the codex at present, and will deliver the goods, no doubt. But for follow-up in the months and years ahead, I suspect Biblical Archaeological Review will have more in-depth analysis. So keep your eyes peeled!

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