Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Don't believe the hype!

There has been a lot of news stories about the gnostic Gospel of Judas. This is classic news coverage fueled by a desire to discredit biblically sound Christianity, as we well as the desire to make the 'almighty dollar'.

The problem is that if these fragments are in fact really the gnostic text attributed to Judas (some scholars doubt even that - reconstructing fragments is quite a task), remember that gnostic gospels fell out of use because they were false. Usually written by one sect or another and attributed to a long-dead apostle or disciple, these types of writings were proposed as some sort or 'secret' true knowledge (the meaning of the word 'gnostic') that has been hidden for a time and/or from those who are not enlightened. Of course, the classic example of a more modern day text like this is the Book of Mormon (hidden on golden tablets, only to be interpreted thousands of years later by Joseph Smith, using secret devices, and then the originals were spirited away again by the angel who revealed it to him). The other corillary to this is the modernist scholar/clergy in the church who takes scripture and begins his/her interpretation with "what it really means is..." or ends it with "but we know better now/we have advanced past that culturally".

Finally, as you see from the article below, ultimately this whole stir is about MILLIONS of dollars to be made in royalty publishing and broadcast rights! I found it on a website called The Tertullian Project www.tertullian.org/

Don't belive the hype about this new 'gospel'!
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From NewsWithViews.com]
Gospel of Judas: Authentic Fraud (9th April 2006)
An article by Jon Christian Ryter contains various interesting details, and sensible comments on attempts to misrepresent the text.
Excerpts:
The publishing rights of the recently found "lost" gospel of Judas Iscariot----which was converted into a made-for-TV spectacular on Sunday, April 9 on the National Geographic Channel----was secured by the National Geographic Society for a contribution to the manuscript's owner----the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art----purported to be more than $1 million to date. (The money was contributed by Gateway Computer founder Ted Waitt.) The Society has now embarked on a concerted effort to mainstream the apocryphal 3rd, 4th or 5th century AD papyrus manuscript as the legitimate diary of Judas Iscariot. The Gospel of Judas suggests that Judas was instructed by Christ to betray Him to the Sanhedrin so that His death would fulfill the Old Testament Messianic prophecies.
The Society plans several magazine articles, television specials and, they said, book deals as the controversy over the ethics of accepting ancient acquisitions on their own merit heats up in the media. ...
James M. Robinson, professor emeritus at Claremont Graduate University, America's leading expert on ancient religious texts from Egypt, said that while the codex is old, it simply isn't old enough. "Does it go back to Judas? No." Robinson told the Associated Press. "There are a lot of second-, third- and fourth- century gospels attributed to various apostles. We don't really assume they give us any first century information."
In his new book,
The Secrets of Judas (Harper-SanFrancisco), Robinson describes the secret maneuvering between Mario Jean Roberty, the Swiss lawyer who founded the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art, his client, Frieda Nussberger-Tchakos who bought the codex in 1999 for $300 thousand, Michael van Rijn----an art dealer, confidence man, smuggler, forger and author of an expose on art antiquities, Hot Art, Cold Cash; and two other key players----Ali and Hicham Aboutaam who are the two most notorious cultural heritage thieves in the world. Robinson's book deals with a two decade sales pitch by Roberty----first to buy, and then to sell the content of the Judas manuscript. The asking price was $10 million, but Roberty let it be known that the right buyer could steal it for $3 million.
However, the Maecenas Foundation was not allowed to sell the document under a Swiss law that forbids the sale of illegal antiquities. In other words, the "ownership pedigree"----the legal chain of ownership----of the codex has not been clearly established. Since Roberty cannot legally sell the codex he did the next best thing, he's selling the content. According to Roberty, he bought the codex from Tchakos in 2001 for $1.5 million and 50% the proceeds from the sale of its content. Roberty claims to have already spent more than $1 million on its restoration. Roberty may have found the fund-raisers best scheme and the National Geographic Society has the credibility to give the pseudepigraphic document the aura of authenticity it has thus far lacked....
The Coptic Orthodox Church has dismissed the codex as non-Christian babbling resulting from a group of people trying to create a false 'amalgam' between Greek mythology, the Far East religions and Christianity. The codex was written by a group of people who were alien to the main Christian stream of early Christianity. "The texts," Metropolitan Bishoy, the theological leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church. said. "are neither reliable nor accurate Christian texts, as they are historically and logically alien to the main Christian thinking, and philosophy of the early and present Christians."