My Faith is Shattered

Or at least that’s what the New York Times expects, now that the “Gospel of Judas” has been published.

The Gospel of Judas is only one of many texts discovered in the last 65 years, including the gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene and Philip, believed to be written by Gnostics.

The Gnostics’ beliefs were often viewed by bishops and early church leaders as unorthodox, and they were frequently denounced as heretics. The discoveries of Gnostic texts have shaken up Biblical scholarship by revealing the diversity of beliefs and practices among early followers of Jesus.

As the findings have trickled down to churches and universities, they have produced a new generation of Christians who now regard the Bible not as the literal word of God, but as a product of historical and political forces that determined which texts should be included in the canon, and which edited out.

For that reason, the discoveries have proved deeply troubling for many believers. The Gospel of Judas portrays Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus, but as his most favored disciple and willing collaborator.

You mean to say there were heretics in the second century? And they wrote stuff? Alas!


  1. Well put! I wish my response had been as succinct…

  2. And they expect people to believe that these things were dead for 2000+ years because we sat on them?

  3. The gnostic writings were not accepted because they were written long after the fact and focused on presenting their own arguments, and not a historical Jesus.

  4. Suppose I told you that Abraham Lincoln actually commissioned John Wilkes Booth to shoot him and that the information about this plot was transmitted orally from 1865 to 2006 with no paper trail? Well, that’s the distance between Jesus and the Gospel of Judas.

  5. Seems like nothing will come of it. They’ve discovered manuscripts like this before. Definitlely an interesting historical find, but hardly significant doctrinally or even religiously. No new denominations or cults are going to be based on it and hopefully no thinking Christian’s faith will be shaken.

  6. I enjoyed this from Catholic World News (HT: First Things):

    Newark, Apr. 8 ( – Archeological researchers in Ridgewood, New Jersey, have discovered an ancient Christian document that offers a radically new account of the founding of the Catholic Church.

    The newly discovered document, which scholars have named “The Gospel of Skip and Muffy,” was found in an abandoned row house in New Brunswick, New Jersey, which had formerly housed a Rutgers sorority.

    Theologians and anthropologists agree that “The Gospel of Skip and Muffy” is likely to cause intense debate among Christians, forcing a complete re-examination of all Catholic teachings.

    There is no possible debate, however, about the authenticity of the document. “It was typed on an IBM Selectric II,” reported Dr. Ernest Litewaite, an associate professor of Contemporary Archeology at Kutztown State. “Using a Courier 72 10-pitch element.” The document is believed to be a copy of an earlier statement, crafted by students at an East Coast private college sometime around 1970.

    “The Gospel of Skip and Muffy” is an extended dialogue between two young theologians who take a startling new approach to the faith. The document suggests that young Christians of the 1970s generation did not accept Church teachings on some controversial moral issues.

    B.F.D. Zeitgeist, a Professor of Serious Christianity at Dupont University, said that the Gospel of Skip and Muffy will force Christians to re-examine the nature of Church authority. He pointed to one key passage in the manuscript:

    “The Church is– I mean– it’s just a bunch of, like, rules and stuff,” said Muffy.
    “Yeah,” Skip replied. “I mean, really. Hey, don’t let that thing go out.”

    Ultraconservative Catholic officials may not accept the validity of the new Gospel. Spokespersons for the Newark archdiocese did not immediately return a reporter’s phone call. But Msgr. Pius Grümbling, a pastor in Hoboken, replied to queries by saying: “OK, that’s right. We do not accept the validity of this document.”

    . . .

    Professor Litewaite said that he had found the manuscript of the Gospel of Skip and Muffy several months ago. “The significance of the discovery was immediately obvious,” he said. “But my publicist suggested that I should wait until Holy Week to make it public.”

  7. Sometime in 2415 A.D. (sorry…C.E.), a scholar will discover a National Inquirer issue from the 1990’s and write about how it fundamentally changes our understanding of history at the end of the 20th century..

  8. I wonder how much you’ve read about how the rest of the books of the Bible were selected though? And how each time the various books were translated they were altered. How can you know some of the 66 books of the KJV aren’t heretical? Do you really think the selection of those particular 66 books was inspired? How? They were selected ages after they were written. And they were written ages after the events transpired.

    These are questions every Christian (and non-Christian) should feel empowered to investigate. Seems few do.

  9. I’ve read enough to think that I would choose “recognized” over “selected.” It’s not as though “ages” after the fact church leaders suddenly decided to create the canon. Generally, as necessity arose, whether through the appearance of questionable writings or other controversies, those in authority made more explicit what had not always needed to be so explicit: these are the ones that have known authority; those are not. However, I’m not suggesting it was always as clear-cut as the decision to reject the “Gospel of Judas.”

    By the way, my guess is that the reason many people don’t study Church history has less to do with not feeling “empowered” (whatever that means) and more to do with why they don’t study anything else: they’d rather spend their time watching TV or playing video games.

  10. I think it males little difference whether human beings “recognized” or “selected” the books which would be in the Bible. Are you saying their recognition was divinely guided or inspired? Otherwise, it seems pretty clear that whether they were selected/recognized/gathered by human beings who are quite capable of being mistaken in their judgment. After all, different sects of Christianity have completely different ideas about what should and shouldn’t be in the Bible or which translation is more accurate. So, from any outsider’s perspective, the selection process is pretty obvious.

    Also, consider the fact that the more militant adherants to the Koran are probably equally convinced that they have accurately discovered/recognized/selected only the truly inspired texts for their own scriptures.

  11. By the way, I’m not saying that the Gospel of Judas should be considered canonical. I’m just pointing out that the canon was (obviously) selected by humans beings and that there’s still great differences to this day around what the canon should be.

    As far as translations are concerned, can I suggest you read Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus to see how the scriptures have evolved over time? I think it’d be interesting to see a fundamentalist refutation of such a book, though I suspect little to no discussion of such literature is encouraged within that milieu.

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